Yesterday was rather a big day for my dog Sheba. After a day of rest at home – including a serving of grilled lamb from her favorite restaurant, OK Falafel House -my radiant red Border Collie was ready to return to the hospital to receive the injections that would give her much-needed relief from advanced osteoarthritis.
A sample of her fatty tissue had been FedEx’d on ice to Vet-Stem in San Diego, where it was processed for Sheba’s own stem cells. The cells were carefully packaged on ice,and sent back to the Humane Society. We returned to the Humane Society of New York clinic for part two of Sheba’s Vet-Stem treatment: The injection of those overnighted stem cells into her hips and bloodstream.
No Christmas present was ever more anticipated by me than the precious package containing three doses of Sheba’s stem cells. It arrived by FedEx at the Humane Society yesterday morning, perfectly on time despite Mercury being retrograde. Poor Sheba knew something was up, something good, but was quite annoyed with me for fasting her overnight. Again. The no-food-or-water-after-11 p.m. drill was a necessary evil, as Sheba had to undergo anesthesia to receive an injection in each hip, a procedure too painstaking and painful to perform while the patient is conscious.
My Dad kindly chauffeured Sheba and me to the hospital. It was one of those chilly, rainy April days in New York that make a dog’s arthritis more painful than usual. Sheba’s pinched, crouching posture was a dead giveaway that she felt that damp chill keenly. On the way down the stairs to our building, she took her sweet time with each step. The effort clearly exhausted her. Once in the vehicle, she rested her weary head on my Dad’s right arm.
Yet when we arrived at our destination, she forged determinedly – if slowly – ahead for the half-block walk from the car to the clinic, stopping only to relieve herself. It was as if she knew something good awaited her, and she was not about to waste time. I assured her I’d see her very soon, and headed backhome.
A few minutes before 3 p.m., I got the call from Dr. Higgins that Sheba was about to go under. Thedoc conferred a rare honor on me: Permission to come and observe the procedure! Luckily, I’d charged my trusty Kodak digital camera, so I was ready to record this exciting moment.
When I arrived, Sheba was anesthetized, lying on her left side with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. A blue sheet covered her hip, exposing a hole of flesh where the needle went in. Both hips had been expertly injected, each with one dose of Sheba’s stem cells. Now it was time for the intravenous injection. The Doc expertly installed the catheter in Sheba’s foreleg, then attached the third vial to it, and pushed its contents in.
The Vet-Stem procedure was done! It was time to revive my dog. As she came to, her tongue slowly tucked itself back in her mouth where it belonged. I left my groggy sweetheart so she could emerge from anesthesia fully and safely, but before I went, I told Sheba how proud I was of her, and promised her all the Falafel House meat she could eat as a reward.
At 6 p.m. I returned to collect her. She was as awake and alert as I’ve ever seen her. No sooner was the gate to her kennel unlatched than she charged out of it. Yes, charged. Sheba proceeded to lead me all the way down the long hallway, through the waiting area, and out onto the sidewalk, her lion-styled tail bobbing merrily along. She stopped short twice – to relieve herself – then continued her forward march until we reached the getaway car.
Once home, she climbed the stairs to our building and made a beeline for her recovery crate, where the comfy MicroDry Pet Mat awaited her (for a chance to win one for your dog, leave a comment here). She happily devoured the promised lamb, and took a nice, long drink of water. Three hours later, it was time for a quick relief walk. Sheba hopped down the stairs with surprising speed – a big difference fromthe morning’s slow, step-by-excruciating-step pace.
Sheba’s sleeping soundly as I write this. She’ll need her strength for the healing period ahead. I expect great things from this procedure, and will keep you posted on Sheba’s progress.