Thursday, April 22, 2010

Carmella Sees The Orthopedist
This morning we headed to Northlake Veterinary Surgery to find out the extent of the damage to Carmella's ligament and get her set up for a custom brace.

The office was not far from my house, set off the street in an unassuming little building surrounded by a small strip of land containing ornamental grass like that outside of GA. Veterinary Specialists. Sitting just outside Stone Mountain nobody would know from looking at the outside that this small clinic housed state-of-the-art facilities and dealt in high-dollar treatment for canine and feline orthopedic disorders.

Only when you entered did you find out that many rescue organizations brought their dogs here; dogs with broken legs needing repair, dogs with hip displaysia, and dogs with a whole variety of joint and ligament problems, many of whom had been down on their luck until finding that right person willing to go to the mat for them.

A large black Newfoundland limped with his owner to the car, back leg and side shaved.

As we waited in the waitingroom a red Doberman came out with an elderly woman. "What a beautiful dog" I commented.

The woman regarded me with amusement and with a tight-lipped smile said, "An expensive dog!" Sure, it was pure-bred, and most likely show quality but that wasn't what she meant.
Carmella pulled heavily on her leash and whined in anticipation of meeting new people, new dogs, and new experiences. She looks at the world with curiosity and wonder much as a young child does on vacation.
The receptionist asked me to fill out another new patient form because the online system had failed and they'd lost data for the past week. My friend and I talked to each other and some of the women in the waitingroom.

A few dogs came and went and then a vet tech called Carmella back to one of the inner examining rooms.

I noticed that the room contained two small rugs; one on the table and the other on the floor below. Carmella nosed around sniffing and listening at the door to the people and dogs who had come in the front entrance, then plopped down on the small swatch of carpet in front of the chair I was sitting in. She got up and lay down several times, bounced on her leg trying to propel herself forward with exuberance toward the sounds she heard coming from the next room.

In walked a tall, thin young man with dark brown curly hair and a scruffy beard who looked more like a stoner than someone you'd expect to find in an animal hospital. He wore blue scrubs and seemed a little disheveled. He came around the metal examining table with outstretched hand smiling broudly.

"Miss Carlington?" he said in a falsetto voice. "I'm Dr. Corse". Shaking my hand, he then looked at Carmella who had already started to jump up on him. "She's not shy" he laughed, taking hold of her on the head with both hands and looking her in the eye. Carmella licked him and wagged her tail.
"This dog has a very interesting history" he went on. "Dr. Muller told me, and I don't think I've ever really seen a case like hers with myoclonus and a carpal ligament injury. Whether or not the two are related is hard to know for sure but we can do both a neuro exam and an orthopedic exam to see how much of this is related to possible nerve damage and how much related to the ligament, how much might be arthritis-related with one of the joints in the wrist." He went on to explain that in some cases the central nerve can be affected and cause lameness and sometimes it is intact and not a contributing factor.

We discussed the options of surgery, a brace, and stem cell transplant, and I was glad that he was not averse to the idea of stem cell transplant although he said that not alot of research has been done on its use on this type of ligament. He had heard about that German Shepherd with Hip Dysplasia on TV lately who had a successful outcome treated by Dr. Hines in Alpharetta. I told him I would rather work towards regeneration of the ligament than destruction of bone which would forever and irreversibly change her range of motion. I couldn't bring myself to go that route. Something about it is repugnant to me. He said with the brace there was no rush to do surgery, but that he didn't think it would heal from the amount of scar tissue which might develop over time and her leg would probably do the same flimsiness once it was removed after any length of time.

In any case stem cell transplant might or might not work, but it sure couldn't do any harm. I'd heard the same thing about the CSF procedure from Dr. Muller, and it ended up working to cure the distemper, so I thought, this kind of statement is a good sign. Maybe the two are cut from the same cloth.

He examined Carmella's response to pinching the top of her foot and leg, and tapped on her tricep. He noted that the main nerve was intact but that there could be some problem in smaller surrounding nerves although it was impossible to know for sure because of the jerking that might be disrupting her reflexes.
Then he walked her around and felt all her joints, commented on what good overall physical condition she was in.

I told him that I had read up on the brace and that would give me time to look further into the stem cell transplant and exactly which technique might help heal both of her current problems in the leg, while preventing any further deterioration. He seemed to think that was a good plan, and said he could take some X-rays to see what small parts of the wrist might be affected so that the right brace could be built for her. They would put her under "light sedation" and then move her leg to see how far it hyperextends on X-ray. I asked whether there was any risk of making the injury worse, and he said that the pressure applied for that was less than the pressure she applied standing on it.

He said that they could do that and make the mold today and that it would all take about 2 hours or so.

They said they'd call me when she was all done and then my friend and I left to kill some time at my house. Carmella was finished around 3:00 and we headed back to pick her up. She was a little calmer than usual but not extremely sedated.

The vet filled out some forms, and I filled out some forms related to the brace, the vet tech told me it would be delivered to me in about two weeks and then the receptionist checked me out. The bill just about knocked me out and I asked her to give me as much time on my Care Credit as humanly possible because I'm going to need it! I pulled out a few of my business cards and asked her to spread the word to all the staff that I make jewelry and that these sales will help pay off Carmella's veterinary expenses. She nodded and took them.

Carmella had a lttle bit of diarrhea in the pinestraw outside but other than that did not to seem to have any side-effects.

We headed home and I gave her dinner, then finished a small bowl of pasta myself.
I listed a few things in my supply shop while Carmella took a nap. Then I took some cute pictures of her when she woke up stretched and moved around a bit in the kitchen.
I want to thank all those who have donated recently! Your contributions are much appreciated! To those who are reading and would still like to help Carmella, keep it coming;

* Purchase an ad on my blog in the "Top Spots"
* Buy Jewelry from
* Purchase Supplies from
* Use the Please Donate to Carmella Button in my sidebar for whatever amount you can afford.

Every reader who helps Carmella in any of these ways will be an important part of the solution and will bring us a little closer to our goal of $6,000.

In today's economy medical expenses can be almost as devastating as the health problems they come from, not only in human health but for pets as well. These animals rely on us to be their protectors, and as any animal-lover can attest, they give back so much more!

Step by step we are returning Carmella, this incredibly special dog, to full health.
With Love and Action All Things Are Possible!


lindaspud said...

panther1I know how much love you must feel for Carmella. Our shepherd has had two ACL's tear and has two tibular plateau leveling osteotomies. He is healthy and happy. Carmella will thank you forever for your love. You are a special person and Carmella was meant just for you!

Jan said...

Hi Pippit, keep up the good work, I know you will both
come thru this in fine form !

Giftbearer said...

Thanks for your kind comments!

Linda, two ACL tears! That sounds expensive! Yikes!

Angela said...

Carmella is adorable!!

Little Lovables said...

poor girl! it sounds like she is in good hands!

Purely Paige said...

Carmella has such a sweet face. And she is very lucky to have you!