I call Missy my wonder bitch.
The call came out of nowhere. At 9 am on October 10, my Missy, a rescued blonde cocker spaniel, lost the use of her hind legs. Overnight, he went from Michael Jordan’s athleticism to a paraplegic. We had 24 hours to decide if surgery was a viable option.
Missy is the kind of soul who limits her steps to three at a time. He ran where others walked. He jumped where others jumped. She lived to take a ride in the car where she was sitting on the front console. Her will and determination could cause a sleeping adult to come downstairs in the middle of the night when she deigns herself a necessary gift.
We now had 24 hours to match a medical miracle with our little girl Missy. We expected an MRI to show a slipped disc, easier to repair and with a better chance of her walking again. The results showed damage over a period of time, he had only been silently compensating.
A team of doctors said surgery may or may not restore your ability to walk. She is a fighter and we had to give her a chance to fight. On October 11, she was prepped for surgery. The surgery went well, but there was still no promise of normalcy. Only the promise that there will be a new reality of normality.
From Missy and this period of convalescence we have learned a lot about how to meet our challenges. Perhaps you can also learn to face your challenges:
Four months later, we have all learned. We have learned to be thankful for a puppy neurosurgeon, a physical therapist, an oncologist, laser acupuncture, and the water tape. What I am most grateful for is this dog with a heart, a will and an attitude of steel.
1. Deal with problems quickly
We had to quickly decide if surgery was going to be a viable option. We collect expert opinion as quickly as possible and move forward. Somehow we were lucky that medical reality dictated a quick decision. The takeaway lesson is that regardless of the challenge or the situation, moving forward is always a good thing.
2. Assume the best
If I could speak for Missy, I think she always assumed the best. The day after surgery he tried to walk. Even when he couldn’t walk without help, he still assumed he could. The surgery has been followed by physical therapy that includes laser acupuncture and hydrotherapy. Every additional two minutes he spends on the water ribbon that I hug like the first moon landing. When people roll their eyes at this story, I roll their eyes at their lack of faith. From the beginning I assumed that if I gave him all the advantages, the best would happen.
3. Listen to your inner voice
My voice and her inner voice didn’t always speak in unison. My voice said, you can’t use your back legs, wait until I get a towel to get under your belly. His voice said: I will crawl where I have to go. My voice said, you have to be confined until you regain the use of your legs. His voice said, I can drag my hind legs to get where I want to go. Finally, I heard OUR inner voice: a combination of my caution and her optimism.
Four. Live your life according to your standards. . . mainly
We made three ramps for her to use because she was not allowed to use steps early in her convalescence. As you have improved in “leaps and bounds,” choose the steps above the ramp. She insists that she can make a ladder herself, and if she isn’t cared for, she would be jumping into the car. My job in life is to constantly alter your expectations.
5. Adapt reluctantly
As she progressed, she was allowed to negotiate the steps herself, on a leash, doing them one by one. A huge improvement from having to go up and down stairs every day. After a few weeks, it seems like he reluctantly agreed to the terms. Even in his world, all the mountains are not worth dying for.
6. Fight continuously
My girl is a survivor. Since his first day after surgery, he has fought for success. The neurosurgeon first told us that he might not walk again; You may not have control over your bodily functions. She struggled not to be confined, she struggled to walk, she struggled to walk alone, and she struggled with me every day to have as normal a life as possible.
7.Accept the realities
This is a challenge for both of us. We see different realities. She sees where she was most of her life and asks why not? I think about where I was on October 10 and I never think about it again. So my reality gives you a little more freedom each day, and your reality gives you less freedom than before 10/10, and more freedom than I ever dreamed you would have.
After his surgery, I was amazed by the amazement of people that he gave a 12 year old dog, this surgery, this therapy, the best hand of minds and hands of medicine to offer. I knew I had to give him every opportunity that I could identify and allow myself to. And she has given me back my old Missy, almost, and a renewed belief that anything is possible.
With special thanks to my Moshe, Metropolitan Vet Hospital, Dr. Axlund, and Dancing Paws Animal Wellness.