I wrote a ten-page post about what’s been going on with Martha over the last five days, but instead have decided to offer the Cliff’s Notes version.
She started acting strange late Wednesday night and by Friday morning was whisked into emergency spinal surgery. As it turns out, she has a genetic condition causing the discs in her vertebrae to break down prematurely. When we visited the surgeon for the initial consultation, she gave Martha a 50% chance at full recovery. If I didn't want to do surgery (which by the way, costs about as much as small vehicle), the neurosurgeon advised putting her down immediately as the compression on her spine was causing intense pain and would continue to do so unless the pressure was relieved. Slightly exhausted from a tumultuous prior 24 hours and unprepared to make such a major decision at that moment, I opted for the surgery in an attempt to buy some time, get some rest, and clear my head.
Once in the surgery, it was determined that Martha’s case was more severe than originally thought. The surgeons assumed she had one ruptured disc; it turned out that she had two ruptures and two more on the verge (her T-11, T-12, L1, and L2 for all you spinal nerds). What was normally a 60-90 minute surgery turned into three hours. After the surgery, her condition continued to deteriorate over the weekend (it was expected to get better immediately following), and the neurologist suspected that her spinal cord had begun to die – a condition that would create complete paralysis in every part of her body including her lungs and diaphragm, ultimately causing asphyxiation. But then yesterday night, the downhill slide suddenly stopped. (Halle-freakin-llujah.)
She is coming home tomorrow, but the journey isn’t over yet. Today, she is paralyzed from the waist down and completely incontinent, or as I told her when I visited this afternoon, a shitting paperweight. Over the next month or so, we will do exercises to keep her muscles in shape, turn her at regular intervals to prevent bed sores, share a few beers and some good times, and clean up a lot of poop and pee while hoping that her spinal cord heals and she regains sensation in the lower part of her body. If she does not, then I will take her back to the neurologist and put her down with the best drugs known to man('s best friend).
She is not particularly thrilled right now, but I can't say that I blame her. (Plus, she has no idea how much fun we're going to have in the coming days...bags upon bags of Snausages totally on the house in addition to lots of cuddles and kisses. Maybe I'll even catch her an almost-dead squirrel.) We'll see what the next few weeks bring. If anyone's got it in them to overcome something like this, it's Martha.
In the meantime, both of us are very, very tired, but on the upside, she licked my face today when she saw me, something I usually chastise her for but which today brought a great thrill.
|Mostly she's just peeved that she can't scratch her ears.|