Friday, January 22nd, 2016 was a very scary day for Makiko and my family. It is a day that I won’t ever forget.
The night before I had gone out with a very close friend and her daughter. They love Makiko dearly and always get a lot of pleasure out of giving Makiko gifts, as we get a lot of pleasure out of being on the receiving end. One was this cute stuffed animal and the other was this beef femur bone. Oh boy Makiko wanted that so bad at the restaurant but she behaved like a good girl until we got home. When we got home, Makiko played with both but then ultimately ended up going to town on the bone.. she tends to do this and so I wasn’t too worried.. except about 25 minutes later, there wasn’t any bone left. I was a little shocked, but again, nothing occurred to me to really worry.
At 2:15am, I woke up to Makiko jumping off of the bed and then immediately throwing up everywhere on the floor by my bed. Oh poor baby.. I cleaned her up and cleaned up the floor and then she seemed fine and we went back to bed.. but she was having some trouble settling. She woke up around 6:15am, and was throwing up everywhere again.. okay.. this might be more of a tummy bug now.. Only then she proceeded to throw up in almost every room of my house.. over several hours.. so I called out sick for work and stayed home with her. Around 10am, she had stopped throwing up for a bit, so we decided to take a nap. She hadn’t had any food or drink at this point and seemed pretty comfortable, so we laid down on the couch. And then about 15 minutes later she was throwing up all over me and the couch. I was starting to think about calling the vet at this point but then I went to shower, since I had just gotten thrown up on.. as I was getting out of the shower and putting pajamas back on, Makiko squats in the bathroom. Oh NO… I can’t have poop AND throw up in my house!!! Keep in mind, Makiko never goes to the restroom in the house, so this was totally unexpected. Wet hair, no socks or shoes.. very cold day.. I pick Makiko up because she is refusing to budge and carry her outside. She has loose stool, diarrhea, pees, and then throws up.. right outside my door. That’s as far as I could manage to carry her because I couldn’t safely carry her down stairs. She’s a little under half of my body weight. After she does all that business, she lays down on the concrete, and refuses to move.. I try and coax her inside, nothing. Okay, this is really scary now.. she won’t move.. time to call the vet. Vet scheduled us to come in. Eventually Makiko came inside, I grabbed a towel, called Uber, and off we were headed to the vet. Luckily, she didn’t throw up INSIDE the Uber car but did throw up immediately before we got in. I had a very understanding driver, thank goodness.
We arrive at our vet’s office and she takes x-rays. At this point, my Mom and great-aunt had arrived (after getting rear-ended on the way), and then the vet comes in and says there are about 20 shards of bone that are stuck in her stomach. It doesn’t look like she can pass them and if she does try and pass them, they could possibly perforate her intenstines. This is life threatening and they are recommending surgery. At first, I freaked and wanted to know if they were just exaggerating and she could pass them. But no.. So it is now after hours on Friday.. the emergency center we went to last time Makiko had an issue doesn’t have a surgeon on staff anymore… and the other place they knew of wasn’t accepting surgery patients that night.. so they found another one in Irving (a suburb of Dallas) called VCA Metroplex.. and off we went to go there.
Our vet had already called us in so they were expecting us and nearly greeted us at the door. They had all of our x-rays and everything already so Makiko was examined by the veterinarian in the back and then Dr. Martinez came in. She explained that surgery was needed and that they couldn’t do an endoscopic retrieval because there were too many pieces, they would be in there all night, and that the pieces were large and sharp and might end up doing severe damage on the way out.. therefore a gastrotomy/enterotomy it was. We left Makiko there that night and around 9:30pm she went into surgery, was done around 11:30pm which is when we got the call that everything went well and she was awake.
Okay, so let’s pause there real quick. If you all know me, you know Makiko and I do EVERYTHING together, including cuddle at every possible chance and we sleep literally side by side, sometimes even cheek to cheek. I had only been away from her. in almost our 3 years together, only one time before and that was when we wondered if she had an obstruction and was at the other surgery center before.
The next day, Saturday, I was DYING to come see her. Visiting hours started at 1pm and I had a wedding to get to at 4pm, so we went right at 1pm. Makiko looked MISERABLE. She had this HUGE incision on the underside of her stomach, which was covered up by what looks like a menstrual pad. (Pictures are at the bottom of this post so if you get grossed out easily, you might want to skip them). Her tail was tucked in between her legs, she barely wanted to move, she didn’t get excited to see us.. she was just drugged and not happy. However, they assured us that she was feeling a lot better than with all those shards in, she was just heavily medicated. So we took her outside to use the restroom and a brief walk, loved on her, and then gave her back for another night of monitoring. They had told us that she would likely be able to get discharged tomorrow. Dr. Martinez had called us several times at this point to give us updates and I had also called and spoken with vet techs to get frequent updates. The next morning (Sunday) we received the confirmation call that we could pick Makiko up that evening. Before picking her up, we went and got more food because I was almost out and also got a Nylabone to get her because those were Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) approved. We arrived at VCA Metroplex and the tech came in and gave us 5 medications that we had to give Makiko at different intervals and different amounts, along with a special diet that would allow her stomach to heal. Makiko is NOT easy to pill so we purchased pill pockets (Greeny’s).. man those things are amazing! We were told to come back in 10-14 days to get the stitches out and to check the incision often to make sure it looked good. We had left Makiko’s leash with her and also I had brought one of her favorite portable beds. Jenni, her puppy raiser, had made this amazing fleece bed for her that we both love. I wanted Makiko to have something that comforted her in this time so I sent that with her, with the understanding that it might not get returned because they have so much laundry, but I really hoped it would. We got the leash back but then forgot about getting the bed back until later on that evening. I called.. they couldn’t find it already.. they kept looking and then one of the techs found it and said she put it back at the front with Makiko’s name on it so that I could pick it up when we went to get her stitches out.
That night I headed back to my apartment (which is about 45 minutes from where my Mom lives/where I spend my weekends). I had to lift Makiko in and out of cars, in and off the couch, in and off the bed, etc. That first night was pretty tough because Makiko had some trouble getting comfortable. She also had that HUGE cone on her head. Although, I do have to say that this cone worked a lot better than the cone/”dress” we had last time. It was a pain in the butt to take on and off her (but that’s probably the point, right?) but it didn’t interfere with her ability to walk and she could fit a pillow or my arm between the cone and her head when she slept and be comfortable. Regardless, she still had a tough night that first night which meant I had a restless night too. The next morning we went to work and she just stayed in the bed all day, pretty drugged up. I did tell her to “stay” and she has been pretty good at staying but at one point I was gone a little too long, the door was open, so she slowly went prancing down to Diane’s office, (only two doors down) my good coworker friend, and then Diane came and got me. (Sidenote: It’s awesome to have good coworkers and friends who care about your baby as much as you do and who your baby trusts and knows to go to if she needs something and I’m not there :))
We went home that night and took it easy. I didn’t do a whole lot of working on my computer, only cuddling and spending time with her. We had a lot of pills to do at different intervals and she had three feedings instead of two. We did our pills and fed her and went to bed a little early. Around 2am, she tries to jump out of bed (and is successful… ugh) which she was NOT supposed to be doing because of her stitches. She then is acting super antsy like she has to use the restroom. We go outside, she pees a lot, and then we go back inside and I get ready to lift her back onto the bed and feel a wet spot. This was all bizarre for several reasons.. Makiko never has to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night so that was a bit odd. We concluded that this was because she had that late feeding and water and she is SO regulated that this just threw her off. But second, why is there a wet spot.. on my bed.. very close to my spot on the bed? We never really concluded what it was. I can’t smell so I wasn’t able to tell if it was urine or not.. but my guess is it probably was. I would have noticed if she squatted and peed right next to me so I’m pretty sure it just leaked. Poor baby. Okay, so stripping the bed I go.. And then back to sleep. Nights after recovery – 2… nights full of very disrupted sleep – 2…
The next day at work I had to be at a meeting at the City Hall so I brought a blanket for Makiko to lay on, her cone, etc. Oh goodness that was an adventure.. SO much to carry.. using my cane because Makiko isn’t reliable.. just a bit of a nightmare. I looked disshovelled.. I’m sure.. but I was there! The day after Makiko’s surgery, my aunt who is an amazing veterinarian in Colorado (Dr. Susan N. Whitmore, Companion Animal Clinic) sent me the shirt we had used last time when the cone was such a nightmare. Although this cone wasn’t nearly as bad, it was a little more “professional” looking to me to have the shirt if it worked just as well. It actually worked better than last time. Makiko didn’t want to scratch, lick, or bite at her incision site with it on. During the evenings, I took it off and put her cone back on because I couldn’t watch her obviously as much.
The rest of the week went pretty well. I did get concerned at one point though because she had a lot of puffy pink in her scar and to me, that looked like tissue coming out of her scar/skin but really that was just normal and her body healing.
I wanted to get Makiko’s stitches out at the 10 day mark because lifting her on/off high things and just being so careful was NOT easy at this point. Makiko had tons of built up energy and she was ready to GO. However, it would have been about 4 hours of driving at that point during the evening during the week, which neither my boyfriend or mother could really do, so we waited until Friday when I was going home for the weekend anyway and got them removed. The vet tech said it looked pretty good and her stitches were removed. Meanwhile, all the front desk customer service associates were trying to find this blanket that had been put up front for me. Sadly, they weren’t able to find it but promised to keep searching and mail it to me.
Makiko is now 3 weeks post-surgery and doing well. She is back to guiding like a champ and being her normal goofy self. I am way more careful with bones and pretty much everything now. My good friend didn’t know that this could happen and I didn’t know either, obviously, or I wouldn’t have given it to her. I wish I had paid more attention to the brand because I would write the company. It HORRIFIES me though that these are being sold in pet stores if they are such a no-no, which apparently according to 3 vets I have spoken to, they are. Makiko has a LOT of toys, so I have to go through them soon and throw out the ones that could potentially be problematic. While I know this is necessary for her well-being, this is somewhat hard for me for some reason. I guess I just love all of her toys and love her having all of the toys.. but I keep telling myself that she will still have PLENTY even after the editing is done.
I really wanted this blanket back though.. that was still bothering me. Last night the main customer service lady at the front desk said it still hadn’t been found. So, I wrote an email on the VCA website and there was an option to direct it to a supervisor. This morning I received a call (it woke me up actually) that had said they found it and were mailing it to me. Yay!
As you probably know, guide dogs are bred to be pretty health and intelligent. Makiko hasn’t had a lot of the more common health issues that most dogs have, but holy moly has she had some pretty crisis health situations – first it was the obstruction.. nothing passing in her stomach/ileus that led us to go to an emergency surgery center to see if anything was obstructing her (which whatever it was passed)… then it was the tumor on her side that could have potentially been cancerous and was removed (but turned out benign), and then there was this.
I’m ready for us to just continue on for many more years now, crisis free.