Intervertebral Disk Disease

Oyster's Story (as told by her mom)

The day of Oyster's injury was atypical in the sense that I had left her alone for a much longer stretch of time than usual.  Because I had been away from her for longer than normal, I was eager to get home to what I anticipated to find, my boisterous, high - energy crazy pup.  When I walked in the door and didn’t here her bounding toward me, I had a sinking feeling that something was not right.  As I called her name, I was met with a slow moving, clearly uncomfortable version of my dog.  I encouraged her to walk toward me, though I knew she was in pain, hoping to get a better idea of what was going on with her.  When she wouldn't walk down the stairs to go outside, I knew instantly that she needed to see a doctor.  I packed her up and took her to a local Emergency Vet (it was about 10pm on a Saturday night), where she was seen and treated for what the doctor believed to be a pinched disk.  Though, Oyster was on pain medication, she spent the entire night motionless and clearly in great pain.  By mid afternoon the following day, I noticed that her back legs were giving out.  She was losing her ability to walk.  The severity of her injury finally sunk in.  I was terrified, but wasn't sure what to do next.  Over the course of a couple hours and many phone calls, I was finally referred to SVS, specifically Dr. Sanders.

Once again, I jumped into the car and headed to what would eventually become Oyster’s home away from home for the next 2 weeks.  When we first arrived, we were greeted with compassion and understanding and within minutes Oyster was given IV pain medication.  For the first time in almost 24 hours her body relaxed and I knew instantly that we were in the right place. The staff at SVS walked me back to the ER where Oyster would stay the night.  I was relieved to see that all of the animals were comfortably sleeping in their crates.  Not a single animal appeared to be in any discomfort.  I felt very relieved to leave Oyster in such capable and compassionate hands.   

The next day we learned that Oyster was likely going to need back surgery for a ruptured disk.  We would need to perform an MRI to confirm Dr. Sander’s suspicions.  As a single woman, and owner of a small business, the cost associated with this procedure and a likely subsequent surgery and hospital stay, was overwhelming to say the least.  Though the expense was great, I knew in my gut that I had to do what was best for Oyster.  When I chose to adopt her, I made a commitment to her care, and in the end the choice seemed clear.  I remember asking Dr. Sanders what he would do if Oyster were his dog.  He said that based on her age, he would give her a shot at walking again.  He also prefaced this with his understanding that I might not be up for caring for a potentially paralyzed animal, or the costs associated with the surgery.  Under no circumstance, did I feel any pressure or judgment from Dr. Sanders.  He provided guidance and information, but ultimately let me choose, how I wanted to proceed with Oyster’s care.  Considering the circumstances, I found the experience of working with Dr. Sanders to be very positive.  I later read that Dr. Sanders is known for his bedside manner, which I found to be very true in my story. 

  

The weeks following Oyster’s surgery and hospital stay were challenging and scary to say the least.  We chose to do hydrotherapy with Liz Brown LVT two times a week.  When I picked Oyster up to bring her home for the first time, Liz cautioned me to remember that with neurology, healing takes time, and not to worry if I didn’t notice any major changes right away.  Those words resonated with me, especially on the days that seemed overwhelming and that we weren’t making any progress. 

  

I am truly grateful that I had Liz’s support and advice along the way. I remember one day at hydrotherapy, Oyster had just come out of the tank and took several steps while simultaneously wagging her tail.  Though I had seen some signs of leg movement and tail movement before this, the look on Liz’s face made me realize that we had turned a major corner.  Dr. Sanders also happened to be near by and was also able witness her breakthrough.  It was a very happy day for me, and I was thrilled to see all of our hard work paying off. 

Of course there was still a lot of work to be done, and to this day, we continue to work with Oyster to reach her ultimate potential, but I am beyond thrilled with our decision to give Oyster a shot.  She is one very special dog and I am glad she is mine.

I am truly grateful that I had Liz’s support and advice along the way. I remember one day at hydrotherapy, Oyster had just come out of the tank and took several steps while simultaneously wagging her tail.  Though I had seen some signs of leg movement and tail movement before this, the look on Liz’s face made me realize that we had turned a major corner.  Dr. Sanders also happened to be near by and was also able witness her breakthrough.  It was a very happy day for me, and I was thrilled to see all of our hard work paying off.