I should know how long a dog's small intestine is. I don't. I mean I do now, 3-4 meters, which is about 9-12 feet. So if I open an abdomen of a sock-eating dog and find quite a length of necrotic intestine, next time maybe I will not panic.
I had another horrible cold. I had only three dogs coming in, including my cousin Bella. "Pete, can I go home when I am done?" I begged. He directed me to go right home and recover. "Just two patients to go and I will," I promised.
My very next patient was Sock Eater. X-rays confirmed an obstruction. We could fit our hands around the offender in her very thin abdomen.
We saw our last patient, and Kelly and I prepared for surgery.
We cheered when we found the area of concern. We grimaced when we saw the extensive length of dark red bowel loops. Nothing dead could stay. I made a tiny incision and removed a very long sock. We watched for the intestines to pink up. They did not.
Kelly scrubbed in. We got to work. When we were done, we had a stitched together dog, a (smelly) sock and a length of intestine waiting to be measured.
"How long is a dog's intestine?" Kelly asked.
"I think four feet," I answered.
"I hope I am wrong...this is four feet and one inch! 124 centimeters!"
Fortunately, I was wrong. VIN (Veterinary Information Network) corrected me, and reassured me that dogs could do well with a shortened small intestine, but they did best with at least 50% of what God gave them. I had removed an estimated one third of Sock Eater's small intestine, a dramatic first for me.
I had planned to go home and sleep off my cold while Sock Eater recovered and come back to check her, but I found I could not leave her. She and I slept on the treatment room floor as her anesthesia wore off.
I hugged Sock Eater's family as they left to transfer her. Apparently, it is not emotional enough to have a mournful dog beg you for help with her beautiful brown eyes. This is also a family we love dearly.
Sock Eater spent the night in the capable hands of the emergency clinic team. I called in the morning to check on her. "The team is in rounds. They will call you back." I could read nothing in the receptionist's voice.
One and a half hours later I called back and begged, "I just need to know if she's alive or dead!" The team member laughed and quickly told me Sock Eater was finishing breakfast.
I vowed to be as happy as I was stressed, to celebrate as long as I would have mourned.
It was an excellent weekend.
I am so happy Sock Eater is doing well.
Post from one year ago today...
January 3, 2016