PATIENCE FOR THIS PATIENT
An “Amber Alert” had been issued for Jeseppi. Jeseppi’s owners had adopted him as a three-week old kitten while they were in New Mexico. He had been found so covered with fleas and ticks that he had to be completely shaved to get himself cleared of these parasites that can kill such a young kitten. Jesseppi’s new owners had loved and cared for him the last few years as he matured into beautiful, long haired, grey and white cat, but now he was missing.
Jessepi’s owners were frantic trying to find him. Jessepi had a microchip so they knew if he was found and taken to a shelter or veterinarian office, the microchip would allow others to know how to contact his family. Shelters and veterinary offices were notified by a pet “Amber Alert” pleading with everyone to be on the watch out for this very loved family member. Jessepi’s owners had done everything they could to find him, but there were many days filled with worry and uncertainty.
Almost three weeks later, Jessepi came home. Only he knows everything that happened on his little trip, but he had a pretty seriously wounded front foot, which is why he was brought into me. It appeared that his foot had been caught in a trap or something else that had held the foot tightly for at least several hours. There was an obvious wound on top and underneath foot with the toes distal to the wound having only minimal circulation to them-if any at all. Other than this injury, Jessepi seemed to be doing well. His temperature was normal and he was eating well. He wasn’t bearing any weight on the injured foot, but he seemed to be doing great in every other way.
I told the owner that it was likely Jessepi would need surgery and most likely would lose two or three of the toes on that foot. Since he was doing well otherwise, I recommended giving him some time to allow his body to do some healing and allow the truly devitalized tissues to become more obvious. It was just going to take some time and patience to deal with this wound. I gave him a shot of Convenia (an antibiotic that lasts 14 days) and treated his foot with our laser unit. Laser therapy has many indications as I pointed out in one of my recent articles. I used the laser in this case to help with any pain or swelling, to increase circulation to any tissues that still had a blood supply, and to speed up healing.
I rechecked Jessepi three days later. He was doing great in every way except for the foot. He still wasn’t using the foot and those affected toes looked about the same. I used the laser on the foot again and set up to recheck it again four days later. On that next recheck it was obviously time to surgically fix his foot. All the tissue distal to the wound obviously lacked any circulation at all. Two days later, I did surgery on Jessepi’s foot. By being patient, the surgical repair of the foot was made much easier. The damaged tissues easily separated from the healthy tissues. Although he did lose three toes, the rest of the foot looked great. He did lose about a quarter of the large pad of the foot, but it appeared the rest of the pad was healthy and would heal allowing him to hopefully bear some weight on the foot.
After stitching up the foot, I used the laser again and bandaged the foot to help with any bleeding and keep the foot clean. I scheduled to see him a few days later to remove the bandage, recheck the foot and laser it again. I told Jessepi’s owners that we still need to see how the foot heals up, but that I was very happy with how the surgery went and thought there was a good chance he would eventually be able to use the foot.
I don’t consider myself a very patient person. I really like to just get things done and move on. There are times though when patience is absolutely needed. Thru the years I have found that with many traumatic wounds, patience and allowing the body to heal and recover some on its own is the best course of action. It certainly worked that way for Jessepi.
Chad E. Higgins, DVM has owned Amanda Animal Hospital for the last 19 years. He treats dogs, cats, ferrets, and other little furry critters.