Last Friday morning, we realized something was wrong the moment we stepped out of our bedroom. Rocky was being especially quiet and meek. When we opened his crate, he didn't even want to come out; usually he will run out and start jumping and licking.
I tried to bring him out for a walk, and that's when I realized.
He couldn't walk.
Usually Rocky is the most excited and happiest on walks, but on that morning he just refused to budge. I brought him all the way down our condo, and when the lift doors opened, instead of leaping out like he usually does, he just stood there. He couldn't walk out, I had to half-pull him out.
Something was very wrong.
With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I rushed Rocky to the animal hospital. I didn't even bother with the regular GP vet, coz this really felt like something quite serious...
I wheeled Rocky around in a box coz he wasn't able to walk.
We went to Gasing Animal Hospital, as I like a doctor in Gasing-- Dr Goh. Dr Goh is really good and has always been helpful and patient with us.
Unfortunately, Dr Goh works half-day on Fridays. The only available doctor then is an Indian lady (don't want to name names here), which I was really reluctant to see.
The last time Rocky had a skin problem whereby ONE nipple was scabbing wtf, she was assigned to us. And she actually told me that it's not scabbing but dirt. -_- I am very sure it's not dirt, coz Rocky was always scratching that area plus we cleaned the scabbing daily! Despite my persistence that it was a skin problem, she just gave me a raised eyebrow and just sent us home.
So honestly, I am quite skeptical of her. But I had no choice, as no other doctors were available at that time. I don't mind waiting for Dr Goh who would be coming in later in the afternoon, but I was reading up about canine spinal complications (one of the highest possibilities of sudden immobility), and every second counts. So I decided to go ahead with her consultation.
In the consultation room she looked at Rocky for awhile, pressed him a little, and told me flatly, "It might be a spine problem la."
Spine? That doesn't sound good. So I asked her what should we do.
She said that we needed to do an X-ray to confirm the problem, but Rocky has to be sedated for that.
Sedated? Sounds serious too. Usually dogs which are too young or too old are not recommended to be sedated.
So I confirmed with her: "An X-ray is in order right now?"
She quickly said, "No, I am not saying that!" and continued with "But if we don't do an X-ray we won't know the problem."
She is just trying to cover her own ass! Basically she didn't want to prescribe any solutions or treatments, she wants me to make the decisions so that I can't blame her if anything goes wrong.
Nevermind, I asked to proceed with the X-ray. I paused, and asked her what are the possibilities or implications of this 'spinal problem' of Rocky's.
She shrugged and told me, "Worst case, paralysed la."
And then she stepped out to do the X-ray preparations.
That's when I broke down and cried.
Halfway through crying, the hubby called (he was in a meeting before that), and I tearfully updated him.
When he hung up, I turned around and Rocky was gone!!!!
The doctor took Rocky away to be sedated when I was on the phone!!!!
Like a mad woman, I ran out to the waiting area but they were nowhere to be found. I frantically asked around, but no one knows where they were.
A lightbulb went off in my head, "The X-ray room! Where is it?" And after getting the directions I ran upstairs.
I happened to stumble onto them right before they administered the jab.
It means a lot to me to be there with Rocky while he drifts off to into his sedated cloud, and honestly I think it's so rude and irresponsible of the doctor to just take away my dog before informing me first.
I couldn't bear to watch Rocky being jabbed (very fragile nerves after crying just minutes before that), so I turned away for a bit, thinking that the drugs will take awhile to take effect, and I can stroke his head till he falls asleep.
Instead when I turned to Rocky, he looked like that already:
Although his eyes were still open, but he was actually already unconscious! I started sniffling again 'cause I didn't even get to say goodbye. :/
(His tongue is purposely pulled out so that he doesn't suffocate)
After that, I was just walking around the room, stealing glances at an unconscious Rocky while the hospital staff lugged and moved him around like a rag doll. All while quietly crying and picturing Rocky with wheels on his hind legs to aid his movement.
The thing is, the doctor saw me crying, but not once did she console me. In fact, she treated me as if I was invisible.
Shortly after that, the X-ray results were out.
We could see that Rocky's spine is healthy and good, but his hips structure-- not so much. He has hip dysplasia, which is a (genetic(condition whereby the head of his thigh bone (femur) doesn't fit perfectly into his hip socket. Therefore, the bone can actually snap in and out of position (!!), and thus causing pain. Over time, the pain will get worse (as there is more wear and tear to the joints), and it will get increasingly difficult for him to walk.
I must make it clear here that the above description of hip dysplasia is what I summarize in laymen terms after reading numerous articles on this condition. The doctor didn't tell me much, she only told me two things-- 1) your dog has hips dysplasia (at that moment I didn't even understand what does that term means), 2) there is nothing she can do, she can only prescribe some supplements. It is almost as if she was brushing me off.
I checked the clock, Dr Goh should be in anytime now. I requested to wait to see Dr Goh for a second opinion. She said okay.
Alas, I ended up waiting at the hospital for about 5 hours. Dr Goh had to conduct a surgery immediately after stepping into the hospital, and he was busy even after then. During that time, I read up all I could about hip dysplasia. There is no cure for it. Rocky can no longer run or jump as it's very bad for his hips.Thank god for the hubby who came later in the day to accompany me. We held hands and went up to see Rocky, who has by then awaken from his slumber, and looked at us with his confused big brown eyes behind the rails of his cage. We laughed, and teased Rocky, put our knuckles near to his snout which was poking out of the cage, allowing him to sniff us, letting him know that we were there for him
We kept on reminding the receptionist that we were waiting for Dr Goh; she got annoyed, I think. In the end it was almost 6pm when Dr Goh greeted us with a "How can I help you?". He looked through the X-rays, and his explanation to us was so thorough. He found X-rays of a dog with normal healthy hips, and showed us the anatomy and structure whilst making comparisons to Rocky's X-ray. He explained to us the implications of such condition, and what we can do to alleviate Rocky's pain. He recommended doctors whom we can go to for surgery. In short, he was many times more helpful than the initial doctor that we met.
Rocky being really sticky with us on Friday night.
Anyway, thank you so much for all your concern on my Dayre posts! Rocky is doing well now, he can walk again though we are always keeping an eye out for any limping as that means he might be in pain. He will have to be on supplements for the rest of his life, and he has to stop running or jumping as these activities are too high-impact for his hips.
We have done some research since then, and I have to say that we are quite partial to the idea of hip surgery for Rocky. Dr Goh said that we don't need to contemplate surgery at this point as we can still rely on the conservative method of supplements. However, Rocky is only 1.5 year old, and is an active puppy who loves running and jumping and long walks. We want him to lead a full, healthy and active life, and the fact is, he still as such a long road ahead of him. We will be seeking for second and third opinions in the coming weeks, but we have already decided to start saving for his surgery. :) That being said, whilst we are open to the idea of surgery, we will only contemplate it after Rocky matures into adulthood.
In the meantime,we are doing the best we can to care for this little pup.
Rocky's supplements are too large for him to swallow, so we boiled a large pot of chicken stock to frost into little cubes-- we dissolve the medicine into the chicken stock else he won't consume it!
I try to see things on the positive side. It's a blessing in disguise to discover Rocky's hip dysplasia condition at such an early stage, because then we can start managing it with supplements and precautions. If the condition was discovered when Rocky is much older, it might have progressed to a very critical stage and we might have much limited options whether due to his old age or a worsened condition. Also, I am grateful because I am not alone. The hubby is the who diligently boiled the chicken soup and defrost it every morning. Together we make fun of Rocky at home, singing "All I want for Christmas is a brand new hip" to the well-known Christmas jingle, and chuckling when we label Rocky a 'hipster'. We can't change the reality, but we can change the way we think and handle the matter on hand.
The fact is, the day we brought Rocky home with us, he is family. And when it comes to family, nobody gets left behind.