Torn ACL: Jasmine’s Recovery Log
I’m not a doctor, and I’m by no means telling you what to do if your dog tears an ACL. So just know that every dog is different, and I’m sharing this information because I wish I had good x-rays and cost details available during my research.
As you all know from my ramblings about training Jasmine in protection work, Jazz tore her ACL (or CCL as referred to in official doggie language) while playing in our backyard, but I didn’t know to what extent. She had been walking well and had a surprising amount of energy while on anti-inflammatory medication, so she was very comfortable between the time she hurt herself and the time of surgery (2 weeks).
As a side note, Jasmine’s insurance did not cover this opperation since I haven’t had her (or the insurance plan) long enough. So if your pup is injured and you need to fork up the cost upfront, you’ll find all that good juju here.
Tuesday October 1, 2019: Pre-Operation Consultation
Jasmine and I met with her surgeon for a consultation and price estimate. He had me walk her up and down the hallway as well and prance her around just to examine her gait. After that, he took an x-ray of her left knee.
Yeah, I had no idea what he was showing me, either. To make it worse, I felt like I was in some graduate-level class about bones and cartilage. After my long, incredulous gawk, he was nice enough to break it down in Neanderthal talk so I could understand him…
This area is supposed to be solid black, so he said it was obvious there was fluid buildup in her joint. And the little swirls in this highlighted area indicate a torn ligament, although he stated he wouldn’t know the extent of the tear until he was inside her knee. He planned to do an arthroscopy and stick a little video camera in her prior to doing any major surgical procedure.
But even from the x-ray he was confident that she had a partial ACL tear just because her knee was really stable, and he recommended a TPLO surgery where they would reconfigure the mechanics of her knee so an ACL wouldn’t even be needed and the other…stuff in there…would compensate for it.
I chose to continue with the surgery even though it was a partial tear. I had a partial ACL tear in 2006 (without really knowing it) and blew my knee out in 2009 while in college, so I knew her ACL would do the same thing in time. Perhaps in a few weeks Jasmine would feel better, but then she’d go through this cycle of her hurting herself then healing, only for her ACL to completely tear at some point. And the likeliness of her other one tearing as well is upwards of 50%…so yay.
*Supposedly* this procedure will protect what’s left of Jasmine’s ACL, but the surgery and her recovery will be as if she had a complete tear.
Lots of crying on my end.
This little arrow is pointing to arthritis on her kneecap! ARTH-FREAKING-RITIS! That really surprised me because I didn’t think arthritis could form within 2 weeks…so that was odd. Jasmine is currently on joint supplements because that’s what I do with all my dogs, and she’s only 3, so at this point I was very hung up and obsessing over this freaking arthritis.
After some more crying, her surgery was scheduled for the next day, and the doctors left me with a cost estimate I’ve attached below. I expected about $4000 which doesn’t include any additional physical therapy I may want to do with her.
I’ve summarized costs below if you don’t want to read over the pdfs (because who reads anymore, amiright??)
(blood work and exam—the surgeon didn’t charge me for the x-ray ♥️)
Surgery: $3,669.97 – $3,919.97
Wednesday October 3, 2019: Day 0, The Surgery
Jasmine was dropped off at 7:30 am. Apparently this hospital performs 4-10 ACL surgeries a week! That’s a whole lotta slicing and dicing!
Of course, I was a downright mess. I have been for weeks now. I went to work after dropping her off, and I was anxious (more than usual) and incredibly stressed out. The people closest to me can attest to how utterly cray I have been.
Jasmine went into surgery after 2:00 pm and came out an hour later. Her surgeon called me to give me an update, and the surgery was successful. She had a partial ACL tear as he initially suggested.
But when the surgeon (let’s just use his name, Adam, because it’s weird calling him “the surgeon”) took images and explored her knee for the repair, he found an isolated lateral meniscus tear which he said really surprised him, because with ACL injuries it’s usually the medial meniscus that’s affected and not the outside. It appears that the cartilage on the outside of her knee had eroded. AND he suggested it was a pre-existing injury because her knee was misshapen and not in alignment which would have happened over a long period of time.
Which inevitably led to her most recent ACL injury.
That was a bunch of information to process, but I got two things out of it: 1) Jasmine was okay; and 2) I wasn’t only just conned into getting Jasmine (which I don’t regret one bit) but she had a previous injury no one had told me about!!
I was livid. I saw RED. Revenge revenge REVENGE!
As much as I wanted to act on my anger, vengeance wasn’t going to fix Jasmine. So I’m currently working on getting any of her past records that have been kept from me in hopes that I can prevent injury again in the future.
The actual cost of her surgery: $3560.25
The total came out to be within the range they estimated.
The bad news is I had to pay all of this upfront and out of pocket since Jasmine’s insurance doesn’t cover ligament tears until…well…next week. HA!
The good news is that this current ACL tear was likely caused by a pre-existing injury, so the likelihood of her tearing the other one is significantly lower than 50%.
Thursday October 3, 2019: Day 1, Coming Home
Jasmine came home! She was so happy.
One of the nurses gave me her medication and instructions for the next 2 weeks. We’ll have to come back in 10-14 days to get her stitches out, and I’ll be meeting with a physical therapist to come up with a game plan toward recovery.
Jasmine is walking on her own, and going potty on her own, but she’s on a strict exercise restriction for 2 weeks. I am only allowed to walk her on a leash for potty breaks, and they’ve given me a sling that wraps around her tummy to help her get up.
The medication she’s taking:
Fentanyl Patch – this is a patch that’s bandaged to her foot for pain relief
PetLabCo Joint Supplements
Tramadol – for discomfort once the fentanyl patch can be removed
Carprofen – anti inflammatory
Trazodone – anxiety/sedation
Right now she’s sleeping, and I’ve created a little nook for us so I can monitor her for at least the next week. I’ve taken some time off work to be with her, and I’m so glad I was able to do that.
Even though she’s peed, she hasn’t yet (is that TMI?). The doc said she probably won’t for a few days even though she’s been eating like crazy since she’s been home.
Friday October 4, 2019: Day 2
Jasmine’s knee looks awful. Legitimately AWFUL.
Like a raw turkey leg, amiright?! The bruising has gotten very bad and there’s more fluid pooling in her ankle.
Last night she howled and groaned like she was the leading role in The Exorcist. She was in pain, I’m sure she was hallucinating from all the drugs administered to her in the hospital, and she just wasn’t having a good night whatsoever. My poor girl.
She continued groaning throughout the day, and then she in the afternoon! Woohoo!
After she took a dump, her moaning stopped. I’m not sure if she was constipated, or what, but I was really happy she was able to just chill out after that. Today, she walked well on her own, and she’s still limited to short leash walks just to go potty. I also whipped out the cute little sling to help her get up off the floor, but she doesn’t care for it much.
I call it her butt swing.
For the most part, she’s hobbling around and doing her own thing. I’m hoping she doesn’t howl like I’m torturing her tonight. My neighbors might think I’m some kind of animal abuser.
Saturday October 5, 2019: Day 3
I *attempted* to put Jasmine in her kennel today. Her Elizabethan collar is enormous so she was annoyed. Since I’ve been supervising her 24/7, she hasn’t been wearing it. But, of course, the one time she did have it on, she managed to untie the knot I made and slept in her kennel with the cone kicked into a corner. Ugg. Good thing she doesn’t want anything to do with her stitches. She looks at the inside of her knee and cringes just like I do. She doesn’t even want to lick the incision.
After icing her leg in intervals, the swelling seemed to go down. The bruising was still horrific, but at least it looked like it was healing…and not getting worse. I could tell Jazz was in pain, but she was not moaning. Thank GAAWD for that because neither one of us enjoyed hearing that!
Even though she was hurting, she was obnoxious and anxious. It was like she didn’t have surgery. I continued to give her the anxiety pills that are supposed to calm her down, and she just hid them in her lips and spit them out when I turned my back.
The good news is the surgeon said that Jasmine is super athletic so she might be able to start walking in 2 weeks! I was under the impression she wouldn’t be able to do anything at all for 8 weeks, and maybe that’s still the case, but I’m hoping that she’ll be able to gradually increase her activity until she’s officially given the ay-okay to get back into doing the things she loves.
Sunday October 6, 2019: Day 4
Jasmine is back to her old self now. Meaning, she doesn’t act like she’s a druggie. She was uncomfortable in the morning (and I knew this because of her loud, annoyed grunts), but physically she didn’t seem to have any issues walking around.
She is, however, getting frustrated with me because I keep taking her toys away. She doesn’t understand why she can’t play, and that’s probably the hardest part about this process. I have to force her to be sedentary when, for the past few months, I’ve been working so hard to get her drive up.
Instead, she sleeps. And I’ve been joining her because she looks so darn cute.
Perhaps all this sleeping is working wonders for her, because her bruising is entirely gone! There is only minimal swelling now, and I haven’t even been icing her leg a whole lot.
Do you see how much her hair has grown in already? Maybe her bruise is hidden underneath the fuzz lol. She is growing her winter coat now, and I think that’s why her fur is growing back so quickly.
Whatever the reason, I’m grateful she won’t look like a half-breed poodle for much longer.
I’d be even more grateful if she’d eat a little more because she hasn’t been eating anything I hide her medication in. I’ve resorted to placing a pill on my fingertip and pushing it down her throat so she can’t hide the little bastards in her lips to spit out later. Unfortunately, I have to do this 14 times a day…
Tuesday October 15, 2019: Week 2, Getting her stitches removed
Thank you for your support and love for Jasmine. You are so amazing. I love the packages and letters, and I am beyond grateful for everything you’re doing to calm my anxiety.
Jasmine ran out of her medication yesterday. Thank the Laawd because I was running out of ways to make her take them. My creativity is limited, and there’s only so many ways to hide medication in food!
She’s eating well and walking like a rockstar. She has a surprising amount of energy…I thought this would be easy considering she usually sleeps all day anyway, but she wants to play ALL. THE. TIME.
The little fuzzies on her leg are growing back quickly, too.
This afternoon, she got her stitches out, and it’s almost her 2-week milestone. I’m so proud of her.
The first week was by far the worst (especially those initial days after bringing her home), and Jasmine’s behavior and recovery fluctuated quite a lot then. But now we’re making consistent progress, and her surgeon said that each week she’ll be closer to getting back on the field and doing the things she loves.
They wouldn’t let me video her stitches getting taken out. Sad. But ya girl tried!
After she got her stitches removed, I met with the physical therapist and a technician, and they walked me through some exercises to do with her. Because Jasmine is a flexible little imp, they were surprised at how fast she was recovering. She already has 100% of her range of motion!
I think a lot of this is because she still has the majority of her ACL and her joint is relatively stable, but I mean…you saw the x-rays—they completely rotated her joint! Ouch!
What made me cry was when the surgeon said, “She’s in less pain now than she has been the past few years with that pre-existing injury.”
Ugg. That just wrecks me. I can’t believe she had been running around with an injured knee that hadn’t been fixed…and that I didn’t know about it.
She is happier than I’ve ever seen her.
Iddn’t she cute?!
And the good news is she gets to start a walking regimen. We’re starting with 10 minute walks 2x per day, and we’ll increase this by 5 minutes every two weeks until she’s cleared for all activity. So at least she’ll get some exercise now.
The physical therapist also shared some additional things I can do with Jasmine to expedite her recovery like laser therapy, hydrotherapy, and bringing her in to get stretched by one of the technicians.
Below is an outline of the cost associated with that program, and the blue sticky note is their recommendation for a joint supplement.
Honestly…laser therapy sounds all nice and good to get rid of inflammation in the joint, but I can do that myself. Same with the ground exercises. These are all things I can make time for.
However, I really liked the idea of hydrotherapy (putting Jasmine on a treadmill in a tank full of water) because she has a lot of energy to burn off. She’ll be able to exercise without having any pressure on her joints. So I did choose to go with a 10-session hydrotherapy program.
Hydrotherapy Sessions: $438.00
$438 is not bad for 10 sessions! I was expecting something more along the lines of $300, but this is still more reasonable to me than what they quoted for everything combined.
Jazz starts hydrotherapy next Tuesday! Good thing I taught her how to swim this summer…lol. I definitely plan on getting videos of that.
Tuesday October 22, 2019: Week 3, Hydrotherapy
Jasmine started hydrotherapy today! She’ll be doing 2 sessions a week for 5 weeks. They wouldn’t let me go into the therapy room with her (boo!), but they took videos and pictures for me!
So at least I got *something!*
It’s like she forgot how to walk! She’s trying so hard, and it’s so adorable! Supposedly, the therapist let Jasmine sniff around, get into the tank, and eventually they filled it with water.
Jasmine did so well! Every day she surprises me with her willingness to learn and try new things. She inspires me! And I’m honestly really happy the therapist sent me videos because my anxiety was off the charts, and I always wonder what they’re doing with her when they take her away.
Jazz does 3 minute intervals on the water treadmill for 15-20 minutes. Then they put her in a dryer so she’s all soft and fluffy when she comes back out to me.
Eep! We’re approaching the halfway mark of her recovery, and I can’t WAIT to see her whole again.
Friday November 22, 2019: Week 7
The last few weeks have been a whole bunch of the same: Jasmine being nuts. I’ve never seen her so alive! We are 7 weeks into her recovery, I can’t believe it!!
She’s less awkward, don’t you think? Unfortunately, Jazz is allergic to something they put in the water, so we stopped hydrotherapy sessions a little early. But honestly, she’s been doing so well that we all didn’t think she needed it.
Yesterday we visited with the physical therapist. Jasmine’s injured leg is 1cm smaller in circumference, and she has full range of motion in her joints and no swelling. I was expecting much more muscle loss than 1cm, so that was super comforting and exciting!
Then today, Jazz had her visit with the surgeon to get final x-rays and check her bone healing.
I am happy to announce that Jazz is cleared for activity! We were *supposed* to be cleared in December, so it’s a very pleasant surprise that we were given permission to continue training early. Omggg I can’t wait. I’ve been to a few of the protection classes since she’s been injured (living vicariously through everyone else has been absolute torture), and I feel like we have a long way to catch up…
I’m so excited to get back on the field with my girl.
As for steps moving forward, Jasmine and I are going to start running again and getting in shape because we resemble beached whales. I may have to re-teach Jazz her name, but it’s not like we haven’t been through this before.