So back to that exciting Friday…..our heroes had finished the spay/deceased baby surgery on Holly on Thursday, and started the day on Friday with rug removal from Frankie’s intestines, and now – as Friday afternoon rolled in, they waited for the arrival of the newest Harley’s Haven save – Cricket.
Cricket’s story was that she was a puppy who was born on an Amish breeding farm – she was purchased, but then returned and had some ongoing diarrhea. Living on a farm such as this is not the same as living in a home – these dogs live out in small pens or hutches, so the level of attention to them, as far as what their behaviors or habits look like, is much much lower than it would be in a home. So, the fact that they noticed her diarrhea, means it had to be pretty severe. She ended up having a prolapsed rectum – this is where the colon everts, and actually comes out when they are straining so hard to go to the bathroom. It is really painful, and can be life threatening if left untreated, as it is really unsafe to have the colon, which is obviously meant to be inside the body, on the outside of the body! She was seen by a veterinarian and had It repaired, but the repair had failed and she prolapsed again, and that is what leads her to our rescue. They asked us to take her, as they couldn’t repair it again, and wanted to give her a chance.
Cricket arrived and was so very sad. She is a 10 month old French bulldog, and has that adorable little smooshy face that bulldogs are known for having, and that makes them so endearing. But she was also incredibly sad because her poor butt was so sore. Her colon was severely prolapsed – by far the WORST I have ever seen (to be fair, I think I have only seen 2 others, but this was so much worse). It was prolapsed out about 3-4 inches, and the part that was out the farthest was dry and blackened, and had a ton of debris and wood shavings from her bedding stuck to it. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, what have I gotten myself into….’
Ok sure, we can fix this (internally screaming and freaking out) – I started with some pain management, and flushing off the tissue to get a better idea of what was going on with the colon to see if it was still alive and we could fix it! There is a trick with swollen tissue too where we apply sugar, as it helps to draw water out to decrease swelling – so we slathered that baby up with sugar and waited. And waited. And no amount of sugar, or flushed, or gentle traction, could get that damn colon to go back into the body.
Ok….plan B – I phoned a friend. I called the best surgeon I know, Dr Guy Denardo – and he didn’t answer. So I called him again….and left a panicked voicemail. As I saw it, I had 3 options – we kept doing what I was doing, which wasn’t working, we sedate her and go into her abdomen – and try to pull it back in from the inside (something I had never done before, and was just speculating would work), or we put her to sleep (which honestly, was not an option). As I was wrestling with the fact that I just had to anethestize her and get over my fear – he called me back. After a few minutes of listening to my nervous rambling, he said the same thing – you have to go in. My biggest fear was that I would do that and STILL wouldn’t be able to correct the prolapsed tissue – but he assured me that I would, so here goes nothing.
Off to surgery we went, and I made an incision into her abdomen like I would for a spay. I did a quick explore, and the rest of the abdomen was normal, thank goodness. I found her colon and started applying gentle traction to pull the colon back into the body. I had one of the nurses work externally while I worked internally, and we just kept slowly inching the colon back into it’s proper place. This was a very tense 15 minute of my life – I really felt unsure of what I was doing, but didn’t know WHAT to do, other than to just keep trying. After some time slowly massaging and pulling, the colon slipped back in – success!! Holy crap – we did it!!! After a brief celebration, I had to figure out how to keep it from happening again. There is a procedure called a colopexy, where you make an incision in the colon and the body wall inside the abdomen, and suture them together to physically hold the colon in place and prevent it from leaving the body again. I performed the colopexy, flushed the abdomen, and closed her up with a wing and a prayer.
She woke up beautifully, and we all held our breath. She recovered enough to go out for a walk, and we all held our breath. She had her first bowel movement, and we really held our breath. But through it all, her colon stayed in place!! The next few days in her foster home, we had a series of text messages with me neurotically checking in by just sending the message – ‘butt in?’ And her foster mom, Kait, triumphantly returning with ‘butt in!’ Each day that passed the likelihood of it prolapsing again got lower and lower.
Cricket has gone on to be adopted by a wonderful family, and is doing great – we have continued to struggle with some diarrhea with her, and we are working through some food allergies, but her new family is very dedicated and through it all – that butt has stayed in!! Holly has also fully recovered and continues to do amazing, and Frankie has also made a full recovery. While this 24 hour period was very exciting, and I was extremely grateful that I could be there for these 3 patients and could help to save them, I am also very happy to NOT have to have a Friday like this for a very long. I’m also extremely grateful for my amazing team that was there through this whole thing too, and were just as important in saving these lives! Here’s to another day, another surgery, and another life saved – and no more prolapsed rectums!