|I turned one year old on January 4, 1999 and it was time for my first
hip replacement operation. Dr. Andy Baker wanted new x-rays taken
in December so he could measure my bones and order the implant from BioMedtrix.
They also took x-rays of my other joints just to make sure the rest of
me was going to develop and mature correctly (sometimes dogs with hip deformities
will also have other joint problems too). Everything looked fine,
so my operation was set for Friday January 8th at Dr. Baker's Nolana Animal
Hospital in McAllen, Texas. He also does this operation at the Houston
Veterinary Referral Hospital, but that was further from my home.
We live in Gregory Texas, just north of Corpus Christi and about a 3 hour drive from McAllen. Dr. Baker said I needed to check in on Thursday for my Friday morning operation, then if all went well, I could go home on Saturday morning.
My "aunt" Renate and "uncle" Jon drove me down since mom and dad had
to stay home and work.
Well, here's the place! The hospital is located in a shopping center right across from a big movie theater. Jon took me for a little walk past the hospital sign before I checked into the hospital.
The entry to the hospital has two doors - one for cats and one for dogs. That's a really neat idea.
You can see how bad my left hip had become. While I could still use it, my foot barely reached the ground and I usually kept most of my weight shifted on my right side. Believe it or not, I COULD run short distances, but it was a strange kind of bunny hop. Yep, it was definitely time for me to get a new hip.
The hospital was really nice and all the staff members were very friendly. I was checked in and shown to my "room" for the night.
They shaved all my fur on the back left side - I looked like one of
those big poodles with a fancy haircut! The operation was scheduled
at 10 a.m. and would be performed by Dr. Baker and assisted by Dr. Elliot
Craig from Houston - two doctors for surgery, just like "people" operations!
I was quite impressed (and so were mom and dad)! The doctors also
had an assistant who kept an eye on my vital signs.
Dr. Baker and Dr. Craig work together even though one lives in McAllen; the other in Houston. Dog hip replacement surgery is done at both places; Dr. Craig flies down to assist operations in McAllen, and Dr. Baker flies to Houston to perform operations with Dr. Craig. They do about 3 hip replacements each month.
My operation took almost 3 hours. The next morning, I stood up for Dr. Baker and seemed to be O.K. My temperature was normal, so he called mom and dad to come and get me. I was ready to go home!
Dr. Baker showed mom and dad my "before and after" x-rays. Both
my hips are bad, but my left one was the worst as you can see below - I
had no hip socket to speak of and my leg bone was no where near it.
But, my new hip joint fixed all that!
Someday I'll probably have to have my right hip replaced, but I should be able to get around much better when I've recovered from my first operation.
After surgery, the Doctors made hobbles for my back feet so that my legs can't splay out and hurt my healing muscles if I fall. I can only take baby steps and have to wear this contraption for three weeks before it can be taken off. Mom and dad have to keep me on a leash for 6 weeks and I can't play with Patches during that time either (boy will this be a boring recovery!) It may take 6 months to build up my left leg muscles, but after that, I should be better than ever.
My hip implant should last 15 to 20 years, longer than I will probably live. One of Dr. Baker's first operations was for a huge 10 month old Mastiff and the dog passed away at age 12 with his artificial hip joint just as good as the day it was put in.
Dr. Baker said that in his experience, 1 out 100 dogs may reject the
plastic cup that holds the socket into the hip. Once in a while,
a patient may get an infection or suffer trauma to the hip replacement
if they have a hard fall off a high place. I don't plan on climbing
any high spots anytime soon or maybe ever!
I walked to the car on my own (taking little baby steps with my hobbled back feet) and was lifted into the back of the Chevy Tahoe. I stood up and looked out the windows all the way out of town - a FIRST ! Before the operation, I couldn't stand up while the car was moving since my bad leg couldn't support me. Well, it sure can now! But, I was still feeling puny from the surgery and slept most of the way home, except when we stopped for hamburgers - I stood up again and put my head over mom's shoulder for a bite or two.
I was really tired when we arrived home. Mom and dad fixed barricades (doggie gates) in two rooms so Patches and I couldn't get together and play. I was a little whiny the rest of the evening but had a good nights sleep.
The next morning I felt a lot better and greeted mom with a big sloppy
kiss. We went for a nice short morning walk and I was getting around
Each day I felt better and stronger. By Wednesday, I could even fold my left leg under me and push up from the floor when I needed to get up! The last time I remember doing this was when I was about 5 months old.
Wednesday was the day I chewed off one hobble too - got my foot all
wet and slobbery and that thing slid right off! Mom thought I was
chewing on a big rawhide bone, but I fooled her! <doggie grin>
She wasn't too happy with me and while daddy rubbed my belly so I wouldn't
get up, Mom cut the loop apart, grabbed a roll of duct tape and put it
back on (well durn!). Between you and me, I don't think these hobbles
are going to last three weeks!
We went for some short walks each day and I had no trouble getting around. My fur is even starting to grow back in as you can see above. Good thing I live in South Texas and it doesn't get too cold down here in January.
A week after the operation, I was almost back to my old happy, smiley
self! I can't wait for them to take down the doggie gate so I can
play with Patches again, but that will have to wait a few more weeks.
Stay tuned and we'll keep you posted on my recovery ...
P.S. If you want to read more about my implant and total hip replacements for dogs, go to the BioMedtrix Web Site. My new hip came from them!