Why Keeping Amber in Stitches Was No Laughing Matter

February 9th, 2012 by Robin Reynolds

The way in which Amber greeted us upon her release from the hospital did not prepare us for the rocky road we have traveled over the last three weeks. Just the day after bringing her home, her stomach turned bright red.

Yikes! Is she bleeding internally??!!

Not wanting her to have to endure the long trip back to the hospital unless absolutely necessary, I emailed a picture of her stomach to the surgeon. He told us that some bruising was to be expected from the surgery, but the picture showed more than he anticipated. He suggested that we mark the area with a marker and if the redness spread, we would have to bring her back in. We did as we were told and the next day the redness subsided. We breathed a short sigh of relief.

But as soon as it came time to remove the Fentanyl pain patch, Amber just couldn’t seem to get comfortable –despite the fact that she was receiving other pain medications. We tried everything to try to make her more comfortable—upping the pain-reliever, Tramadol, which only seemed to make her more anxious; lowering the amount of Tramadol, but giving it more often; treating her with acupuncture, which had no real effect…

I feel like a pin cushion!

…and adding in Gabapentin, an anti-seizure medication that is supposed to help with phantom pain, which made her sleepy, but did not stop the constant twitching. Every day, she just seemed to get a little worse—she didn’t want to eat; she didn’t wag her tail when she saw us; and she pretty much stayed in one spot, except to shift restlessly. Direct palpitation of the surgical site, however, did not seem to register pain with her. We are sure that we drove our vet crazy with our daily calls, trying to figure out what to do for her.

Finally, one night as my husband remarked how enlarged her one hip looked in comparison to the other. I had noticed it, but just thought it was typical swelling from the surgery. Nonetheless, the next day we took her back to our vet, who figured out that Amber was allergic to her sutures and had developed a couple of seromas. Unfortunately, the stitches were not ready to come out yet, but Dr. Wight was able to drain some of the fluid and gave Amber a laser treatment.

Ohhh! That feels good!!

The laser treatment was like a miracle. By the next day, the swelling had reduced substantially and she seemed much more comfortable. Dr. Wight also discovered that Amber’s liver enzymes were elevated, so we started her on a liver cleanse and started to cut back off on the pain medications. Since that time, Amber has had a series of laser treatments and we weaned her off all pain medications long enough for her liver enzymes to be back in the normal range. Amber continues to have issues with twitching and muscle spasms and we have put her back on a low dose of the Tramadol and are going to give Amantadine a try to help the spasms. She has turned a corner for the better, but she has taken the road less traveled.

What alternative pain relief methods have you tried and what’s worked for you?


10 Responses to “Why Keeping Amber in Stitches Was No Laughing Matter”

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  2. Danielle Smith says:

    So glad to hear that Amber is doing better. That looks so painful. Our dales are so stoic! Sending hugs, love, kisses, and more airezen your way Amber!!! Keep us updated on her recovery, please.

  3. kathy holmes says:

    Oh my gosh, she has had a tough time! Poor Dear. She looks so good in the last photo, thank you for sharing this with us. Best of luck to you.

  4. Tessa Hopkins says:

    Glad the gorgeous Dale is feeling better. Poor baby.

  5. Lori Nelson says:

    Keep us posted on how Amber is doing. Sending lots of airezen your way!

  6. Heide Hennen says:

    So glad to hear she is better now, that looked painful…poor sweetie. Thanks for sharing I was wondering how she was doing. Give her a big kiss from all of us :)

  7. Pam Vander Heyden says:

    Oh my heavens, you really did a fantastic job of staying right on top of this.. And Amber did her best to let you know something bad was happening. Poor Girl.. Poor parents..
    You all weathered through it and thanks for sharing, this information is so great for all of us to know, just in case we need some special insight..

  8. Sue Shannon says:

    I can’t help you with alternative pain management methods, but I would suggest adding the supplement Milk Thistle to her diet. When any of my ‘dales are on anti-inflammatories (or any other meds, for that matter), I give them a Milk Thistle capsule twice a day with meals for liver support. I’m so sorry that Amber has had such a tough time with this. Sending Aire-hugs from WI.

  9. Jamie Leib says:

    Geesh!! Poor Amber and you guys! You must be so stressed out. She is such a sweet girl and our ADT’s are so stoic and they never really complain so it’s hard to know what is going on with them. Big hugs!!! Jamie

  10. Terry says:

    Oh my gosh!! That first photo looks so painful! I’d be twitching too, if my belly was that red. So glad to see Amber is on a better path now. I’m interested in what others have to say about alternative pain management methods, too.