Elgin’s 5th birthday, persistent hygroma…padding necessary!

Elgin tolerated his 4th chemo treatment very well, with no resulting leg-swelling.  In my previous post, I bemoaned the infected callous (hygroma) Elgin had developed on his only rear leg.  We had him on antibiotics and were doing laser treatments to the infected site.  All seemed well.

We celebrated his 5th birthday, and while I am not a pet-party-thrower, I made him a special cake and made him wear a silly hat.  I felt compelled to mark this birthday, as it had special significance; this summer we were in doubt if he would see this day.

I’ve been watching his hygroma.  It was apparently healed, but has begun looking pink and shiny and feels hot again.  The reason I doubted it was completely healed was that Elgin is pretty hard on this particular limb now, when he gets up from a laying position.  He drags his weight forward until it is more centered over his front legs and then he pops that back leg up under him.  As he does this, he drags his back hock along the ground with force, grinding that callous into the ground.  There’s no way I can see that he could ever build up enough callous to withstand this.  Because it’s in such an awkward area, it’s difficult to bandage.  I looked online and saw options for hygromas on front legs, but the only thing I found for rear legs was instructions on how to put children’s sweatpants on him.  I’m sure that’s effective, but I don’t want to have to put pants on him again… he wore shorts when he had a fresh incision, and it was a rather high-maintenance solution, they frequently fell off, came off, and looking silly.

So when I saw that his infection was back, and oozing, two nights ago, I used vetwrap and wrapped the area to try and protect it until we could get to the vet’s on  Monday.  As he dragged that leg to get up throughout the day, the vetwrap scraped off.  I feared that if I wrapped it any tighter, it would become uncomfortable and hinder his movement or inhibit healing.  So, in desperation and frustration, last night I set to work to invent something sturdy that would pad his hygroma and not inhibit movement or air circulation, AND stay put.

I took some soft leather and some velcro and some fake sheepskin material, and made a …thing.  I’m not sure what to call it, but it seems to work, and it will be something I can forsee him having to wear for a long time. I take it off him when we go for walks, but it goes back on the rest of the time.  It’s loose enough so it doesn’t squeeze his leg or hinder his movement, but the sturdy leather protects that hygroma from the grinding, scraping dragging that he does when he stands up. We will see what the vet thinks when I take him in tomorrow to have that hygroma looked at again.

Elgin’s surgery went very well…

We left the house this morning at 6am to get to UC Davis for his pre-surgery appointment.  Elgin was quite hungy and begged for my toast.  I took a picture and will post it below.  He has an odd way of begging.

We met with the surgeon and she very thoroughly went over how the procedure would go.  He was pretty anxious, panting and blushing (he gets pink around his eyes when he’s all agitated). But he did really well, and handled it like a trooper. I discovered at the oncology appointment that if I have them take Elgin out of the room first, instead of us leaving him in there with the staff, it goes much better for both of us.  We left him last time, and he strained against his collar a bit and wanted to come with us.  I felt so awful.  This time, he was fine leaving with them, going for a “walk”.  I felt much better too.  Not to say I didn’t cry on the drive home, though.

We got the hallway runners today and I laid them out on the hardwood floors so he’ll have more grip when he learns to walk with 3 legs.  I think tomorrow we will recieve the baby gate to block off the stairs, and a better pad for his crate (he likes to spend time in there frequently, and opens the door with his nose.) We should also be getting the Ruff Wear Webmaster harness on Thursday.  It should be interesting, helping him learn to get around. I also took the time to vacuum and sweep…I should enjoy this brief respite from dog hair!  I was going to do “slobber patrol” but I ran out of time.  As other DDB owners can attest, slobber patrol is essential…I’ve even scrubbed slobber off the ceiling before! Another good thing (if there can be in this situation) is that his snoring isn’t rattling the whole house…. I am an audiobook narrator and frequently have to leave the booth to stomp downstairs and wake him up because his snoring is coming through on the recording.  But is was actually sad, the silence.

UC Davis has been great, calling us twice tonight to update us.  They will call again in the morning, and we’ve asked them to email us the post-op care instructions so we can be sure we have everything he’ll need and we are not scrambling to get to the pharmacy or whatever.

We had an interesting discussion at dinner tonight… how much did the leg weigh?  Joseph guessed 5lbs, Gary guessed 15-20, I am going to say 10.  When the vet assistant/nurse called to update us tonight I asked her and she said she didn’t know but was curious about that herself.  The leg was wisked away to pathology for further testing, and she said she thought they’d weigh it there.  Are we mobid or what!?

On a happier note, our neighborhood is just fantastic.  We have had so many emails, calls, texts and visits (they even brought a bottle of wine!) to see how Elgin is doing and how we are holding up.  These people are the tops!  They’ve offered their assistance, should we need to go do something and need help caring for Elgin.

We are profoundly grateful for everyone’s prayers and warm-wishes.