Stitches - painting by Nicole Cleary

Stitches – painting by Nicole Cleary

Before Thanksgiving and during a rather bad nor’easter, our little dachshund Leo started acting unwell. At first he was walking around a bit less. Then when he did walk, it would look slow and careful. Finally he seemed to just lay down almost all the time. We knew something was wrong, but just weren’t sure what it was.

That day we made the next available vet appointment, but within a span of two days, he went from bad to worse. When he rose from his bed one Saturday morning, he was dragging his back feet as if he were paralyzed from the waist down. At this point we felt this was extremely serious, declared an emergency with our vet and brought him in immediately. Our vet said he just pinched a nerve in his back, prescribed some anti-inflammatories, and said he’d recovery fully in a few days. We were quite relieved to hear it was nothing more serious.

When we brought him home from the vet he was running a jumping around as if full of energy and we thought the crisis was over. But as we weaned him off the medication in the following days, he slowly became worse and worse. Over that time he stopped eating and going to the bathroom. Finally appearing to be in more pain then before we took him to the vet just a few days before. So we decided to rush him to the animal hospital in hopes of getting him a much more effective diagnosis and immediate care. The hospital claimed he was in severe back pain and wanted to keep over-night. To relieve some of the pain, they sedated him and put him on feeding tubes. The following morning they would run an MRI and determine the problem and how to treat it.

That morning while I was in a long meeting at work, we received the news that a disc had ruptured in his spine. That broken disc was sawing open vital nerves and arteries as well as irritating all the muscle in the area. We were informed that if we did not act immediately he would almost certainly become paralyzed for the rest of his life. The procedure itself wasn’t fool-proof and there was a chance he could still be paralyzed even after the procedure.

At this point I was fairly certain I would lose my loyal dachshund friend at the young age of 5. Even though this is a relatively common injury for the dachshund breed, it was extremely rare that it would happen to a dachshund as young as 5. Obviously I wanted to do whatever I could to save him, but the cost of the surgery was extremely steep and would entirely wipe out our savings up until that point. It was a big decision, but we felt it was necessary to make it quickly, and we felt confident in the expertise of the staff. In the next half hour, we called the hospital back and gave them the permission to operate.

Later that afternoon we got a call back from the surgeon, saying the work was a success, but that we wouldn’t know for sure how much of his mobility would return until after he recovered.

Leo with stitches photo 1

My dog Leo right after back surgery

He was held at the hospital for monitoring the next 3 days. We were very excited to hear from the nurse that he was recovering remarkably quickly and retained all of the spirit of a young pup. When he was ready, we finally took him home. At first it was very difficult to watch him move around. He would not walk very far and was very wobbly on his legs. Thankfully, within a week he was back to his normal self. When he went back for his check-up, the doctor was extremely proud of our little Leo and declared he would make a full recovery.
Even now, you can see where the nurse shaved his hair on his back and the scar from his surgery. He was better and I was happy, but still very emotional. While he was in the hospital, I created the painting above entitled “Stitches” to visualize how I felt about my little friend and the pain he went through.

Leo with stitches photo 2

My dog Leo finally relaxing at home

Stitches - painting t-shirt by Nicole Cleary

Stitches – painting t-shirt design by Nicole Cleary

Stitches - painting iphone skin design by Nicole Cleary

Stitches – painting iphone skin by Nicole Cleary

Stitches - painting laptop skin design by Nicole Cleary

Stitches – painting laptop skin by Nicole Cleary

Stitches - painting crop1 by Nicole Cleary

Detail of Stitches – painting by Nicole Cleary

4 Comments on “Stitches”

  1. Mark1 says:

    Very cool the way you put those stitches on a tee shirt. Oh, and I am so glad your dog is better. Good post! —Mark—

    • nmbpro says:

      Thank you! It’s interesting how easily my dog seemingly forgot he had surgery or was ever in pain – now happily oblivious as he runs, jumps, and plays.

  2. seniorhiker says:

    I’m glad the surgery was successful. I like what you’ve done with your painting of stitches.

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