Over the past 3 years, Gadgette has brought our family so much joy; however, the last 16 months have been very difficult on her, along with my wife and me. Since June of 2017, my wife and I have done everything in our power to keep her as healthy as possible with all the health issues that have come up.
Let me explain...
It all started in May of 2017. My wife and I noticed Gadgette was limping on her leg rear leg. As any good dog parents, we immediately called and scheduled her a visit with our primary vet. They examined her and gave us a referral to a specialist in the area because they had suspected that she had torn her ACL. We were shocked and so nervous because aside from her limp, Gadgette didn’t appear to be exhibiting any pain. We kept her comfortable and started having her wear a harness in order to keep her close and support her as she was walking. We scheduled an appointment with the specialist and upon that visit, he told us her ACL was completely gone and she would need major surgery. We discussed the options and opted for her to have a TPLO due her her age, which at that time she was just under 2, as well as her size.
June 2018: Gadgette has her TPLO surgery and had to stay over at the hospital for a night; the surgery went well and we followed all of the post surgery instructions to a “T”, thanks to my neurotic wife (Love you!). We took her for her post-operative appointments, did some exercises at home with her, and kept her as calm as we could so she could heal. After about a month, she was back to being herself and playing with her “brother” Gizmo.
From July 2017 to January 2018, things were relatively calm with Gadgette. She was doing everything like she normally had done before her surgery with no issues; so we were not expecting what was to come and wouldn’t have even imagined we would be where we are today.
March 2018: One day, Gadgette has gone outside to go potty, and upon coming inside, we noticed Gadgette was limping on her left rear leg. We had thought that maybe she may have slipped on the ice and pulled something, but after having dog her surgery last year, we became more cautious dog parents. We called her primary vet and let them know our concerns and brought her in shortly there after. Everything seemed okay and we went about our days, making sure to keep an eye out on any changes with her leg.
April 2018: It was time for Gadgette to go to the vet for her check-up and dental cleaning. A few days before that appointment, we had noticed Gadgette nipping/itching at her leg, the same one the surgery had occurred in. Since she has long hair, and has a lot of skin sensitivities, we didn’t think much of it. She was redirectable and would stop when we would tell her “no” and there were no other signs of trauma.
But little did we know, in a way she was trying to tell us something was wrong....
The day before Gadgette’s vet appointment, my wife and I decided to take her to a local pet store where you can bathe your own dogs. As I mentioned before, Gadgette has some skin sensitivities and my wife and I prefer to bathe her ourselves when we can. As we were washing her, we noticed that area of her leg that she had nipped at before was swollen and irritated. My wife and I cleaned her up the best we could and knew that we needed to talk to the vet the next day.
We dropped her off that day, informed the vet of our discovery, and asked if it was a “hot spot” due to her hair and sensitive skin. After the doctor examined her, she discovered that these wounds were much more severe than we imagined. Our vet informed us that she felt that Gadgette had kept nipping at herself because she was trying to get to the plate they put in during the TPLO since it was likely causing her discomfort. We immediately started Gadgette on an antibiotic that they injected into her hip and cleaned the area multiple times a day. We would go in for wound rechecks and flushing of the area every few days. A week or so went by, and things seemed to be looking better. However once the antibiotic wore off, the wounds came back more aggressively. We continued with the cleaning, flushing, and added a more aggressive, and expensive, antibiotic.
Now we were into May 2018: Things again started looking better. Gadgette was wearing the cone of shame at this time and we continued to medicate and clean the area. Her leg was healing and we were feeling great about everything; but we spoke too soon. Once that second antibiotic was out of her system, the infection resurfaced. By this time, we had done x-rays to assess for a possible bone infection or complication associated with her TPLO; but it was almost a year after it, so we didn’t even think it could be related. However, our primary vet wanted to rule everything out and contacted the surgeon that did Gadgette’s TPLO. Upon their discussion, it was determined that if the infection that Gadgette had wasn’t going away, the next recommendation would be to remove the TPLO plate since that was likely causing this complication.
After many visits to the vet, the decision was made to remove the plate from her leg since orthopedically her bones were healed and there would be less complications with removing the TPLO plate.
June 2018: Gadgette went back to the specialist and had her TPLO plate removed. She spent the night at the animal hospital and we were told that we had a similar recovery as her initial TPLO surgery. But something was different; this time she was bandaged from her toes to her hip. At first we didn’t think anything of it, but when we asked why that was, we were told that no one at the animal hospital put a cone of shame on her after her surgery and she licked her incision site so they bandaged her. We brought her home and kept her calm and on some pretty intense antibiotics for the first few weeks. They told us that she had a medication resistant staph infection, but the medication she was on was going to eliminate it and a culture that was done after her surgery showed that she was clear of any infection. We went for weekly bandage changes and incision appointments and were told that she was healing well.
At her last bandage appointment, they removed her staples from her leg and wrapped her leg one last time. My wife was told that there were “a few spots that needed to heal a bit more” and we could remove her bandage at home in 7 to 10 days.
July 4, 2018: My wife and I had just gotten home from going to visit our newborn godson and were discussing when to remove Gadgette’s bandage. Since it had been 7 days, and in the honor of freedom, we decided to remove her bandage. We slowly started removing layer upon layer, and the further in the more concerned we got. As we got to the last layer of bandage , we panicked. Gadgette had a very large and deep wound on her leg! We immediately took sterile gauze and wrapped her leg and rushed her to the emergency vet, which is where she also had her surgeries. Over 6 hours later, it was determined that she had developed a “bandage sore” and that we were going to need to culture, treat, and care for this new wound.
We brought her back each day for daily assessment and bandage changes in order to ensure she healed from this. My wife spoke with the medical director of the clinic and he informed us that they would provide these bandage changes for free due to the likelihood that this was caused since she was bandaged from the very beginning. We felt good with that since we seemed to have a plan, support, and we were seeing improvements in Gadgette’s leg.
July 21: We took Gadgette for her normal bandage change appointment. The day before we had noticed a “bubble” on the incision line of her knee. Since we were taking her into the vet the following day we took note of it and would tell them. When they came to get Gadgette, my wife and I mentioned and showed this area to the vet tech and they told us they were going to talk to the vet about it. After her bandage change, we spoke with the vet who informed us that this was “robust scar tissue” and that since Gadgette had two surgeries within a year in the same area that can occur. We didn’t think to question anything since that seemed to make sense and we trusted the doctors with Gadgette.
July 25: My wife came home from work and noticed that what we were told to be “robust scar tissue” was staring to ooze. Since Gadgette was going to need a bandage change the next day, we decided to take her a day early to check this out. After hours at the vet, we were informed that they were concerned that Gadgette may have a bone infection that would either require IV antibiotics that could damage her kidneys, or need her leg amputated. We were at a loss for words. My wife was inconsolable and at that point we needed time to think. We were given a treatment plan that was around $1,500 and told them that we would call our primary vet the next day to see if we could get some tests done cheaper to determine what was happening with Gadgette. We came home that night and discussed what our realistic options were; and as sad as it was, we had to discuss if we would have to put her to sleep.
At this point, with Gadgette’s first surgery last year, and these complications that have occurred, we had spent well over $15,000. And on top of that, my wife and I found out in July 2017 she has poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and we had to start fertility treatments to start our family.
July 26: My wife spoke with the medical director at the specialist, and our primary vet, and explained the events of the night before. Our regular vet and my wife developed a plan that we could afford so we felt some relief; and after talking to the medical director at the specialist, they agreed to do the tests they recommended the night before for free.
I took Gadgette back to the specialist that night and they did an x-ray and culture of her leg. I was told at that point that they didn’t think there was a bone infection (thank God) and they started her on some different antibiotics.
We started a new round of oral antibiotics and things again seemed to be going well. A few days after the culture and starting the new medication, We continued her bandage changes and medications and thought we were in the clear.
August 9: I again took Gadgette for her bandage change. My wife asked me to verify with them some details about her medications since we were getting to the end of 2 weeks on a medication and to check the area at her knee since it seemed to be bruised and scabbing. When I mentioned it to the vet that evening, I was told they wanted to culture the area again and possibly add another medication. I called my wife and told her and we decided to wait to talk to the medical director and our vet until we made a decision.
August 10: My wife spent most of the day on the phone with the specialty vet and our primary vet. She spoke with the vet that saw Gadgette the night before and was told that due to how her leg looks, she was recommending a very expensive oral medication or doing daily IV antibiotics that require daily renal tests due to the risk of kidney failure. She also got a message from the medical director of the speciality vet stating that “anything to do with Gadgette’s knee is your responsibility, we were only going to take care of the bandage sore.” This didn’t make sense to us, since a few weeks ago they did a culture and x-ray of her knee due to the “bubble” that formed which we were told was “robust scar tissue”. My wife contacted our primary vet and told her what was happening and they discussed that due to these continued issues with this specialty vet, it was time to get a second opinion and look at the unfortunate option of possibly having to amputate Gadgette’s leg.
As of today, we are continuing her current antibiotics and bandage changes and trying to figure out our next steps. Our primary vet is making phone calls to some other vets due to the complexity of Gadgette’s case and we are going to be working toward getting a second opinion; however, we are at a loss.
We have spent all that we can, plus more; realistically in the last 16 months we’ve gone through our entire savings on surgeries, vet visits, and medications. We looked into pet insurance after Gadgette had her first surgery, but at that time it wasn’t an option since she already had had a major surgery. At this point, we feel like we are at the place that we are out of options, and that’s where this page comes into play. The road to removing this infection seems to be never ending. One moment we are told things are progressing well, and the next we are back to hearing that we may have to look at amputation.
We would have never thought we would be in this situation and feel sad and nervous. If our only options to save Gadgette are thousands of dollars, we don’t know how we will afford it. With our fertility treatments and other bills, we unfortunately just can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars more and that breaks our hearts. As sad as it is, we may need to make some difficult decisions if we aren’t able to come up with money for the treatments.
Gadgette turns 3 on August 22nd, and we would love for her to be able to get the gift of healing in order to be with us for many years to come. She’s the sweetest dog and our baby girl.
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