Most of you know that we really love our Boston Terrier, Madison. Madison had a cancerous mass cell tumor removed from her leg in February 2002. It took two surgeries to get the clean margins they look for in the biopsy. It was very scary, but that's only the beginning.
Because Bostons have short noses they also have elongated soft pallets in their throats that sometimes causes breathing problems. She has always been terrified of thunderstorms and had difficulty breathing during these episodes. One night she choked on a rawhide bone and thick foam blocked her airway, she turned blue from lack of oxygen. We rushed her to the emergency vet, they tranquilized her and put her in the oxygen cage for 5 hours. We were scared to death. They said it would probably happen again and more frequently as she got older. They said she should have surgery to remove the excess tissue in her throat. We contacted our regular vet and he agreed that it should be done.
We thought it would be just a one night stay in the hospital. But it turned into 5 weeks in intensive care. The whole family was so upset we didn't know what to do. First, they did a scope of her sinus and lungs to make sure there were no other problems. They found a polyp in her sinus and had to remove it. Then they removed the elongated palate. The doctor said it was about the size of a marshmallow. She had a huge buildup of foam and a lot of swelling and had to have a temporary trach. They kept trying to take the trach tube out, but she'd stop breathing and turn blue everytime.
Then her doctor was going on vacation, he made the decision to leave the tube in until he got back in two weeks. She had a huge staff of technicians watching her 24 hours a day and taking her vital signs every 30 minutes. She was in and out of oxygen, tranquilzed, medicated, you name it. She wouldn't eat for them, not even the beef we took down there. So I had to go down there everyday for 5 weeks and feed her by hand. Sometimes she wouldn't even eat for me.
It was really hard seeing her with that tube in her neck. She couldn't bark or whine, she just made blowing sounds through the tube. It was so sad to see. But she was in the best Emergency Vet facility in the entire area. They have over 80 people working there and she had the best care she could possibly have had. Our regular Vet said he was glad that we took her to the specialist because he couldn't have provided that level of intensive care 24/7.
When the doctor returned the swelling had gone down and the foam had stopped accumulating. He tried to remove the tube again and she was ok for about 16 hours. Then she started to turn blue again. He put the tube back in, put her back into the oxygen cage and called us. It seemed that for some reason she just couldn't breathe well enough though her nose anymore. Whether it was the nasal polyp or the back of the throat, it didn't matter. She had to have an airway. If you leave the tube in it has to be pulled and cleaned every 4 hours for the rest of her life. So he had to do a permanent trach which is just basically a hole in her throat with no tube.
We were devastated. We had been trying to avoid this from the beginning, giving her plenty of time for the swelling to go down and time heal. The prednisone she was taking to prevent more mass cell tumors could have been slowing down the healing process. After the tough time she'd have of it, fighting for 4-1/2 weeks just to breathe, after all we'd been though, we were totally committed to getting this little dog back home, no matter what.
He did the permanent trach, then because she had loose skin folds on her neck the skin was hanging down over the hole when she layed down. He called us and said he'd have to do another surgery to remove some excess skin under her chin. OMG, we couldn't believe what she was having to go through. He did that surgery in only about 20 minutes. Making two incisions on either side of the whole and giving her a little "nip and tuck."
He kept her another three days. Finally she came home and we had to clean the site 4 times a day to keep the hole from healing over. She is such a good patient though we only had to call her and she'd come roll over on her back and have us clean her throat with Q-tips. We had to take her back for several check-ups after that. The fur still hasn't grown back from where they shaved her for the IV's and surgeries. We still clean her throat at least 3 times a day. She has taught herself to bark again. It's not like before, but you can still hear her all over the house.
Now she's almost back to her old self again, except she doesn't snore anymore, we miss that. We have to watch her weight so she doesn't get anymore fat and skin around her neck again. I don't think she can smell as well as she could before. She eats things she never ate before like tomatoes, kiwi, banana, watermelon, carrots, and store bought doggie treats. She only wanted real homemade beef jerky before.
We are so happy to have her back. Now she runs and jumps and plays fetch more than she ever did. Before she hated the summer, she couldn't take much heat. She'd pant and get overheated very quickly. Now she likes to lay outside on the patio and bask in the sun. We don't let her stay too long though because her bare skin is still subject to sunburn now.
We hope her medical problems are over now. The whole family is so relieved to have her home where we can pamper and spoil her completely.
Photos copyright © 2002, Sharon and Diane Meck, all rights reserved. Do not duplicate.