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Ginko in Surgery Today

Today, Ginko goes under for his third knee surgery in his 10 years. Surgeons sawed apart and screwed each knee back together (a procedure called TPLO) at age 3. Due to increasing problems with his right knee, they’ll take that hardware out in hopes of solving his pain issues. Last week, even with two different pain meds, he cried and cried and cried.

We had to postpone his surgery last month, after the medical scare with Tom, but we couldn’t put it off any longer. His pain has been that bad.

Most dogs keep their screws and plates for life, but some families choose to have them removed once the bone has healed for several months. Despite various concerns, including infections racing to the plates and possible cancer implications, we assumed all along that Ginko would keep his bionic knees that took me a year to pay off.

BUT, his pain continues to go up, and his functionality continues to go down. We had that one scare in early January, where his leg swelled up big, and he began carrying it, rather than using it. Pain meds, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories turned that around, but something is still not quite right with that right knee.

Our best guess is that something is loose, even though x-rays done in January don’t show it. We hope getting that hardware out will stop what’s known around here as HOT FOOT, where he will suddenly startle while standing or laying down like someone just lit his toes on fire.

I’ve literally seen all four of his feet come off the ground from the jolt of pain.

If one outcome of all this is that I NEVER see that again, I’m a happy girl.

One Big Worry

But, I have a bigger worry. Back when I wrote “When Knees Go Bad” for The Bark magazine, about cranial cruciate ligament injuries in dogs, I learned that some thought there was an association between the plates used in TPLO and bone cancer (osteosarcoma). The problem, however, is that the plate location is also the spot where bone cancer often starts in dogs in general, so it’s really hard to tell if any cause/effect or risk increases exist.

When I asked for an estimate on how much this removal surgery would cost, I heard a range that goes from X to 2X. In other words, if it goes well, it’ll cost X. If they get in there and find a lot of scar tissue or something they need to biopsy, then we could be looking at twice the amount. Just his pre-anesthetic blood work  they did on Saturday came to $113.

During Ginko’s wellness exam earlier this year, our regular veterinarian agreed with me that she felt something “squishy” on that right knee. My hope is that it’s just a pocket of inflammatory fluid. My fear is that it’s something else.

One More Hit?

And for those privy to the never-ending family medical realities around me since late last summer, you KNOW I’m bracing for the worst news because no matter how much I think positively (including wearing my “Optimism can take you anywhere” hat), the hits just keep coming.

I truly, truly hope this is not another one.

I’ll report more when I know more. Until then, keep Mr. Ginko in your #PawCircle.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

jsg - July 27, 2010

All fingers and paws in this home crossed for you and yours!

Mary Haight - July 26, 2010

Hope all went well, today Roxanne. Haven’t seen a tweet from you. Best to you and yours.

Candy Blakeslee - July 26, 2010

Betsy and Norman are sending POTP (Power Of The Paw) to Ginko. POTP always works!

MarthaAndMe - July 26, 2010

Fingers and paws crossed over here for you.

KB - July 26, 2010

Good thoughts coming your way from here. I hope that it goes super smoothly with no surprises, and that Mr. Ginko loses his pain.

We’ve had super good luck with our pet health insurance. K had two $3K events within 6 months. Our insurance paid 80% of each one, no hassle, no questions. I really didn’t expect it to work so well.

OK, back to the important stuff, strong thoughts for Ginko and for you.

Greg - July 26, 2010

Thinking good thoughts for Ginko. I hope its much closer to X than 2X.

Dog-geek - July 26, 2010

Best wishes for Ginko – I hope all goes well and this takes care of the problem! We’ll have our fingers and paws and whatever crossed over here!

Susan - July 26, 2010

Allie and I are sending all possible good vibes to you guys. Keep us posted.

Elayne - July 26, 2010

Paws crossed for Ginko. Let’s hope it’s the ‘everything goes easily’ option.

Allie - July 26, 2010

I will be sending positive thoughts your and Ginko’s way. I hope that removing the plates helps with the issues he’s having and that there’s nothing else going on there!

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