Monday, March 14, 2005
When I got home from work on Friday, February 18, everything seemed fine. Virginia and Tinker gave me their usual enthusiastic greeting ("hi hi hi, we have to go to the bathroom, and then we wanna eat!"). After dinner I noticed that Tinker was making a very quiet whine. That was highly unusual. Tinker is the happiest dog in the world. He loves everyone, everything, and life in general. He's got a better disposition than most people I know.
I figured maybe he had to do some major business outside, so out we went. Sure enough he made a nice "gift" and we went back inside (after cleaning up of course). Tinker continued to make a low "breathy" whine though. Something was definitely not right. My wife got home from work and we tried to figure out what was up. There were times he would start to settle down and other times where he was in obvious discomfort. Finally, at 5 AM on Saturday (a word from the wise - don't wait that long), we took him to Animal Emergency and Referral Associates on Bloomfield Ave. in Fairfield.
AERA is a referral center with various veterinary specialists during the day and an emergency clinic at night. The emergency vet that checked Tinker, Dr. Sturla, felt that Tinker had a pulled muscle. He didn't seem to be in any strong pain- he was excited at being some place new, and was walking around and sniffing everything. He apparently was masking the pain when Dr. Sturla checked him out. X-rays were not taken. Nothing was mentioned about a potential back problem or what signs to look for. We were not advised to keep him on crate rest with minimal movement. We were sent home with an oral steroid for Tinker and a sedative to help him sleep.
Most of Saturday was pretty uneventful as Tinker slept most of the day. We caught some naps too after the long previous night. Saturday night would be anything but calm. Tinker was in more pain by Saturday night and was screaming in pain at times. He was walking like a drunken sailor and occasionally his back legs gave out on him. We scooped him up at 2 AM and headed back to the AERC. Again, we realized we should have acted quicker. At times he seemed to be momentarily better (sleeping, laying relaxed), but it never lasted long.
When we arrived at the hospital, Tinker was rushed to the back for bloodwork and X-rays. Our fears came to fruition. Tinker had a ruptured disk in his back and was now paralyzed in both back legs. A sickening feeling came over me. Tinker was given a pain killer and sedated. Dr. Sturla reviewed the X-rays with my wife and I. It was difficult to concentrate knowing our little guy was suffering.
We would have to wait until Monday to find out more. That's when the AERC's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Hunt, would be in. It was a very sleepless night.