The Patients You Remember - A 3 Legged Miracle, by Wendy M

The Patients You Remember - A 3 Legged Miracle, by Wendy M

Postby chelynnah » Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:53 pm

The Patients You Remember - A 3 Legged Miracle

I was working as a vet tech when two whippets walked in through the front door. Their younger whippet, a 5 yr old male, came in for a check-up and vaccines. Their 9 yr old girl on the other hand was there for something much more serious. She had a tumor on her shoulder/elbow that had been removed once already and reoccurred. It was getting so large that the skin was stretching thin and prone to tearing.

I gave both dogs a quick exam. I noticed the owners seemed nervous and tentative as I began checking her. "We just don't know what we're going to do," the wife said, close to tears. "They said if the tumor came back we'd have to amputate her leg and I just don't think I can put her through that." I said we should wait and see what the vet thought, but that even if the verdict was amputation it was much easier for animals than for people. I told them I'd be right back with the vet.

As I briefed the vet about the 2 whippets I told her the owner’s misgivings about putting an older dog through such a trauma. Sometimes people think of treatments in human terms, like how hard it would be for a person who lost a leg. We went back into the room ready to help the owners make an informed decision. The vet definitely thought the tumor wasn't a candidate for removal without taking the leg. The owners looked stricken as we continued to explain that dogs adjust quite well to life on 3 legs and that most likely the surgery would give her years of happy life. We asked them to take time to think about it and get back to us.

I wasn't optimistic about the owners opting for surgery and I certainly didn't judge them. After all, she lived with them for 9 yrs and they knew what was in her best interests. I was thrilled when they dropped her off a few weeks later for amputation. I stayed with her through the entire procedure. I must have checked her a million times that day, her sutures, heart rate, making sure she was warm enough. The receptionist buzzed back that her owners were there to pick her up.

I gathered her medications and discharge instructions and carefully scooped her up out of her crate. As I carried her out to the waiting room her owners caught sight of her and rushed towards us. "Wait," I asked them. I slowly set her down and let her get her balance. Tail wagging furiously, she hopped the rest of the way to her owners all by herself. They couldn't tear their eyes off her; it was like they witnessed a miracle. "I can't believe she can walk!" they exclaimed "She just woke up from surgery!" I gave her a big kiss between the ears and grinned like an idiot as I watched her slowly hop out the door.

Wendy M

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