Molly appeared in my first and second blog posts ever, more than five years ago. Back then she was recuperating from surgery on her right hip, awaiting the day she could have arthroscopy on both elbows. She came to us that way, with hip and elbow dysplasia, although the symptoms did not begin to present until she was 6 or 7 months old.
Ever since a weekend at our favorite kennel last fall, Molly has shown signs of increasing lameness. We rested her and boosted her arthritis medication, and she seemed to get better, but a few weeks ago, running in deep fresh snow, she fell, and since then has been awfully lame.
Our vet contacted the original surgeon at Tufts, who felt that if the elbow was the problem now, the only surgery to be under consideration would be elbow replacement, which sounded like too much for us on all sorts of levels. Our vet was not satisfied to drop her inquiries, however, and suggested we get a second opinion. She sent Molly’s x-rays to an orthopedic surgeon who practices here in Portland. He did Sam’s OCD repair three years ago, and we were happy with those results, so I was glad to take her to see him.
After examining Molly, who was at her most charming this morning and offered him a paw immediately, the surgeon determined that the elbow was no more problematic than the average arthritic elbow of a 6-year-old dog. The real trouble, he said, was medial instability of the shoulder. This is probably the injury she sustained while spending the weekend at the kennel last September and re-injured a few weeks ago.
The good news: the injury is not painful and the treatment is restricted activity with gradual increase. We know how to do that! The surgeon’s theory is that limited exercise to the point just shy of what causes lameness builds the shoulder up again. He thinks we can back off the Tramadol she has been taking, since the reason she was lifting her paw was likely not elbow-related but just to avoid putting weight on the front leg to "favor" the shoulder.
We have also made an appointment with our former vet, who is a veterinary acupuncture practitioner. We’ll be going for the first appointment next Wednesday. This is the vet who taught us all about puppies as an 8-week-old Molly, all 13 pounds of her, dozed on the examining table between us, and I trust her implicitly.
Our current vet has been wonderful. I am deeply appreciative of her instinct to get someone else to look at Molly and her generosity in referring us to a former member of her practice for special care.
I read that "medial" can mean, in addition to other things, "average," and I have certainly been in an average state of instability as I contemplated the possibilities for Molly. The fact that her breed has an average lifespan of 7 to 7-and-a-half doesn’t mean I’m prepared to believe we’ve run out of possibilities for her. To say I’m relieved tonight is understating the case, but it’s about all I dare to say.
Molly has been away from blogging given her sore shoulder, but she will probably get back to it soon. Meanwhile, click on the animated Berner, and she will wag her tail!