Monday, August 13, 2018

Rehabbing for Retirement

Unfortunately, I am retiring Maddie from agility.  Her right shoulder is trashed.  I took her to Aiken, South Carolina for an ultrasound.  It was a 3 hour drive, but the best available to us and I would agree that it exceeded my last experience.  The official diagnosis is:
  1. 1)  Right biceps tendon has mild fiber damage.
  2. 2)  Right bicipital bursa and shoulder joint have effusive and proliferative synovitis.
  3. 3)  Right supraspinatus lateral insertion has moderate fiber damage.
  4. 4)  Right infraspinatus has active fiber damage at insertion.
  5. 5)  Right glenohumeral ligaments have moderate fiber damage.
And in layman's terms:

The ultrasound showed quite a few changes probably secondary to a prior (undetected/untreated) injury to her shoulder. Both the shoulder bursa and the lining of the joint showed inflammation which has caused fluid to build up within the joint. Many of the ligaments and muscles showed chronic inflammation and damage. One of the muscles showed active inflammation which indicates the shoulder is no longer stable and is continuing to deteriorate.
The sad thing is that the vet found all that even after I had rested Maddie for 5 weeks.  At one point in the ultrasound I asked "does anything look okay?"  Each area investigated she was pointing out more damage, more injury.  

Maddie is barely 6 years old and I just will not cripple her for more agility time.  I want her retirement to be active like Riley's retirement especially since it could be 3 times longer.  So I will continue with the rest and rehab protocol to heal her as much as possible so when she is 12 years old, she is still hiking too.

So my take aways from Maddie's agility career are 2 things.  One, is that you need to be careful with rehab/chiropractor vets that want to approach every issue with a chiropractic adjustment.  I took my perfect, clean slate puppy to a rehab vet on a regular basis as a preventative measure.  I was hoping the rehab vet would catch problems early so we could address and avoid permanent damage.  The rehab vet did indeed find her shoulder problem early and often.  In fact, prior to the MGL tear finally being diagnosed last year, Maddie indicated shoulder pain at least EIGHT TIMES since she was 2 years old.  I asked the rehab vet why we had ignored it and she said that she was not limping.  Really?  I can wait for limping for free!  The point was to catch it before she was limping!  Each time Maddie indicated pain on her exam, it was brushed off as just a normal athlete ache or pain.  I am so mad at myself for just accepting that as an answer.  I agree that anyone participating in a sport is going to have their issues, but at the very least her shoulder should have been investigated when the shoulder pain presented itself more than once.  
So then after resting and rehabbing the MGL tear last year, Maddie competed for 5 months.  Then in May of this year, Maddie started to show significant lameness when she had rested a few hours after a workout.  She would warm out of it, but it was too significant to ignore.  The odd thing is that we were not finding anything consistent on exam.  

The second take away is that I have always felt like Maddie was holding back a little.  She was slow off the start line especially in Jumpers, had sporadic problems in the weaves, and lacked pizazz at times.  Well, of course she did!  Her shoulder hurt!  So I am sad that I was always wanting a little more from her not realizing what she was actually giving me.  So with that, "Maddie, I promise to do everything I can to make sure you are healed as much as possible so you have a long and active retirement. Thank you." 
Friends, if you do dog sports, learn to examine your own dogs.  The "Care of the Racing Greyhound" book has a detailed exam.  There are videos on Youtube, seminars, and ask friends more knowledgable than yourself to show you.  Since Maddie's MGL tear last year, I had made it my mission to learn how to examine my own dogs.  I am probably still not great at it, but I now have an exam that I have pulled together from a variety of sources.  It is awkward at first, but you get better at it and develop a routine.  Practice on your young dogs and your retired dogs.  The retired dogs will have issues for you to feel and look at.  They are good practice.  But if you are worried about something, it is so nice to be able to put your hands on your dog right away rather than wait for an appointment.  Plus you should know your dog better than anyone.  If you do regular exams, you will know the dog's regular range of motion, temperatures, and overall feel. Leave the diagnosing to the vets, but it is nice if you can arrive at  your appointment being able to say "I am finding pain and heat here".  Or if you are asked, "has this always been this way?" you will know the answer.

Probably not as important with other breeds, but if you work with greyhounds, take pictures of their feet once or twice a year.  Especially when they are young and perfect.  I can't tell you how many times I've referred back to foot pictures wondering if something has changed. They come in handy!
Also, don't let massage and chiropractic care be a replacement for x-rays and ultrasound. Massage and chiropractic care are important, but I wish I had done an ultrasound 2-3 years ago.  

Lastly, keep a journal!  It does not have to be wordy.  Just make a 30 second note about the day.  I use an app on my phone called "My Wonderful Days".  Most of my entries are super short.  Agility training. Or hike at Red Top.  Or day off, nail trim.  Or exam. All good.  I also make note of anything abnormal for the day.  Use keywords you can search later.  It is the only reason why I know Maddie indicated shoulder pain 8 times.... I had written it down. 

Love and know your dogs!  Learn from my mistakes! Happy training!  Hopefully I will be back in the agility ring next year with Ivy.