Getting Through the First Post-surgery Night

Last night was a very long night.

Trying to find a comfy spot in an uncomfortable situation

Trying to find a comfy spot in an uncomfortable situation

So far, it seems Chico’s eye surgery went well. Dr. da Costa says that because the cataracts had been building up in Chico’s eyes for a while, the material that makes up the eye’s lens casing (I have no idea what this is technically called) was very tough and fibrous, so it took a while to laser through to remove the lens and implant the new one, but otherwise things went smoothly.

Chico, however, was not a happy camper. Once home, the poor baby whimpered and cried through much of the night. He did not want to be left alone, not even for a minute, and he was clearly in distress, keeping both eyes tightly clenched and trying desperately to get around the Elizabethan collar to scratch at his right eye. Between comforting him and administering the many eye drops and meds he has to take, it was quite overwhelming. Mom and I worked in shifts to give him his meds, which include a pill for pain, plus two other oral meds, and three different types of eye drops, including one he gets every two hours, one every four hours and one every six hours. We set alarms for the overnight doses, but I hardly needed an alarm, I awoke on the hour every hour, afraid I’d miss my shift.

IMG_1008I didn’t.

Chico was a little better this morning, opening his eyes slightly and not crying as much. He still whimpered a bit, but I think it was, in large part, because he was hungry. Unfortunately, he couldn’t have his regular morning meal, as he was scheduled for an 8 a.m. post-op stay at the eye specialist office. He’ll be there all day for a battery of tests to monitor his eye pressure and glucose and check for complications.

From the front office, I could hear him begin to howl as the assistant carried him to the exam room. I cried a little bit on the ride home after leaving him there. I felt so bad, seeing him in discomfort. But I know–I hope–in the end, it’ll all be worth it.

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The Big Day

On the way to surgery

On the way to surgery

Every time I arrive at mom’s house, Chico thinks it’s time to go bye-bye. Along with barking and “talking,” he does this thing where he jerks his head to one side, as if to say, “Let’s go!” This morning when I arrived was no different. He barked hello, nuzzled my legs and jerked his head. But I know he was also asking where’s my breakfast?

Chico’s getting his eye surgery today, and that means no food, water or insulin beforehand.

We hopped in the car, buckled up and headed to Mid-City. Along the way, I mentally talked to Sean, asking him to stay with Chico all day, stroke his head and hold his little paw so he wouldn’t be afraid. Chico and I arrived to the eye specialist office without incident—that is until we walked through the door and a little gray poodle in an Elizabethan collar saw Chico and went crazy. The little pup, sitting on its owner’s lap, barked and squirmed. So then Chico started barking and howling, as he’s often wont to do around other dogs. The two of them made such a racket, and I was concerned about the gray pup because clearly she was recovering from eye surgery, so outside, temporarily secured to a bench, Chico went. The gray pup’s owner joked, “She saw him and that’s a good sign.” Well, yes, I guess it is.

I must admit, I felt a bit of anxiety when it was time to leave Chico and I walked away from the vet assistant, who had scooped him up and was cradling him in her arms. Moments earlier, I had signed the surgery consent form and reread the disclaimer listing all the things that could go wrong in surgery. As with any surgery there were risks. Scary ones, from complications related to the anesthesia to the fact that results aren’t guaranteed to loss of life.

But Chico’s going to be all right.

I know Sean is watching over Chico, and I know he is so proud of—and grateful for—all of his family and friends who stepped up to make this day a reality for his bud Chico.

So now, mom and I sit and wait until later this evening. The doctor will call with an update following surgery, then, if all went well, once the anesthesia wears off, we can bring Chico home.

Ever the prankster, Sean thought Chico needed some eyebrows, so he gave him some for one day

Ever the prankster, Sean thought Chico needed some eyebrows, so he gave him some for one day

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Day Before the Big Day

Along with the pre-op eye drops Chico’s been getting seven times daily since Sunday, tonight the little guy must take two different types of oral medications to help prepare for eye surgery tomorrow. He’s getting a bit tired of all the eye drops, though. Usually, he stands there patiently, eyes open wide as he gets his drops. But yesterday, he squeezed his eyes shut and didn’t want to open them. Little does he know that these daily drops are really just the beginning.

Besides the steady medication he’ll receive after surgery, he’ll have to take it easy and get plenty of rest. So he spent some time exploring the yard today.

Good luck with your surgery tomorrow, Chico!

Soaking up some sun before the big day

Soaking up some sun before the big day

Exploring the yard

Exploring the yard

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New Insulin Dosage

Chico’s glucose levels are close to where his vet wants them to be, but they aren’t ideally regulated just yet. Following Friday’s visit, Dr. Gentinetta raised his insulin to 5 units twice per day. Mom and I believe this is the amount Sean was actually giving Chico…a total of 10 units per day, not 10 units for each daily dosage as we initially thought.

Anyway, Chico started his new dosage Friday night. Both his doctors agree that he can have his surgery on Wednesday. We were concerned for a minute that we would have to reschedule the surgery so Chico could get another glucose curve, but the eye specialist says no need for that.

Pre-op meds begin today!

Rest up little pup; your big day is fast approaching

Rest up little pup; your big day is fast approaching

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More Pre-op Preparation

Pre-op meds

Pre-op meds

I picked up Chico’s pre-op medications yesterday from the Eye Center for Animals. The cost wasn’t as high as anticipated; it was $131 dollars for the meds. I also received an updated estimate for surgery only to the right eye. As well as removing the cataract, Chico’s lens will be removed and a new one implanted. With the cost of the new lens, the surgery will be about $3,000 after the discount Dr. da Costa is applying to the fee.

The discount is courtesy of a close family friend named Allison whose late pup had received care from Dr. da Costa. Allison’s dog also had diabetes and eye surgery. She spoke to Dr. da Costa on my family’s behalf the week following Sean’s funeral, and she set up the initial appointment. She also generously paid for that appointment. My cousin, Angela, brought Chico to the appointment and gathered a ton of information for us about all that the surgery would entail. In those first weeks, caring for Chico was really a communal effort! (But more about that in a later post.)

The one unexpected thing to occur yesterday at the eye specialist office was that Dr. da Costa expressed that he wanted Chico to see Dr. Gentinetta—Chico’s vet—for a glucose curve before the surgery. A glucose curve is a test that checks glucose levels every hour over the course of several hours, thus it would require Chico to spend a full day at the vet. This unexpected vet trip would set me back an additional $121.

Ready to go to the vet; sweater on 'cause it's cold outside

Ready to go to the vet; sweater on ’cause it’s cold outside

Luckily, I was able to schedule the appointment for today. If I hadn’t, there’s a chance Chico wouldn’t have been able to get his surgery on Wednesday. Actually, there’s still that chance…

When an eye surgery is scheduled, Dr. da costa reserves the entire facility and staff for the surgical patient. No other animals are treated the day of the surgery. Therefore, if a scheduled surgery needs to be canceled or rescheduled, 48-hour advance notice is required, otherwise significant cancellation fees are incurred. That means I only have until Monday at 8 a.m. to change Chico’s appointment if necessary. So that left only today as an option to see Dr. Gentinetta. It was imperative to get Chico in for the test.

Now, I just hope his glucose levels are good and Dr. Gentinetta approves Wednesday’s surgery.

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Preparing for Pre-op

Today, I’m going to the eye specialist to pick up Chico’s pre-op medications. For three days prior to the surgery, Chico must get three different types of eye drops several times a day, as well as oral antibiotics the night before. One of the eye drops, a strong steroid, costs $109. Chico’s actually been getting these drops since the day he received his retina test.

Today, I’ll also get a new estimate for the cost of the surgery since Chico is now only getting the cataracts in his right eye removed.

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The Retina Test

In the car, on the way to get a retina test

In the car, on the way to get a retina test

Chico’s very first visit to the eye specialist was before the hypoglycemic scare. Dr. da Costa at the Eye Center for Animals discovered that Chico had a small scratch on his left cornea and a small amount of inflammation in both eyes. Dr. da Costa prescribed antibiotic eye drops for both eyes. Chico takes his eye drops as he does his twice-daily insulin shots—like a champ. He is such a good dog. He doesn’t struggle or flinch.

The corneal scratch healed and the inflammation was reduced. The next step toward getting the surgery was to have a retina test done on both eyes. This test determines whether the surgery would work for Chico.

Chico went back to the eye specialist on December 19 for his retina test. The great news is that based on the retina test results, his right eye is a good candidate for the surgery. The not-so-good news is that the left eye isn’t. The retina in Chico’s left eye is partially detached, which causes complications for the surgery.

This week, I scheduled Chico’s surgery on his right eye for Wednesday, January 8.

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