Before the surgery I didn’t get a lot of support for my decision to have the chips removed behind the scenes I guess you could say. A couple of people thought that I should retire him to pasture and avoid the surgery. A couple of others thought I should go with injections, and someone else believed I should blister Chaco.
I researched everything with every spare moment I had. I lost sleep researching all of these different options. Injections would not prevent further damage to the cartilage, and the cortisone could cause too many health problems. Injecting hyaluronic acid was another suggestion to dissolve the chips. I couldn’t find much information on this, but what I did find for chips to be reasorbed by the body was that the chips needed to be small (his were anything but small), and the injury needed to be new (his injury was over 2 years old). Blistering for chips nobody recommended, I couldn’t find any literature to support it, and there was no evidence of loose ligaments/tendons or an upright patella, which blistering could benefit. However, everyone said blistering should always be a last resort and to do targeted exercises first to try and correct any problems. Nobody found any evidence that Chaco has loose ligaments or an upright patella.
He told me that the surgery would probably be an hour long, and he would take an hour to an hour and a half to get out of Recovery. I could visit with him around noon the next day after the surgery.
Great. I took Harley home, and for the first night in awhile I slept.
The next morning I kept myself busy with chores, the dogs, and brushing Harley. I called at 10:30 to see if the surgery was over. Instead of starting at 9am as expected, there was a vet emergency, so it began at 10am. It was going well, Chaco was doing great, and the surgery should be over soon enough. I went back outside and hung a camera in the barn, so I could keep a close eye on him at night. I also put three pebbles in my shoe, and I walked around on them for an hour. All I can say is I don’t know how Chaco did it. At the end of the hour I could barely take it anymore, and I had bruises on the bottom of my foot along with some very raw skin from where they rubbed. Why he didn’t buck anyone off is amazing to me, and it shows what an amazing heart he has.
At noon, still no word. At 1pm still no word. I was beginning to panic thinking that something was going very wrong. at 1:30pm I called again, and I was told he just went into Recovery. Finally, around 2:30pm I got a phone call telling me that he was out of Recovery, and he got all three chips out. Due to the time, and it takes 2.5 hours to get there, I wouldn’t be able to see him.
Dr. Everett said that it took so long, because the last one was really hard to find and get to. He told me that there was a lot of cartilage damage, and on a scale of 1-10 he was a 6. He said if I would have left the chips in there, all of the cartilage would have been eaten away.
Two of the chips are as big as human teeth, and one chip is bigger than a human tooth:
I’m not sure what kind of work Chaco will be able to do considering the cartilage damage. I have some decisions to make as how to progress with rehabbing him and protecting the cartilage that remains. What I do know is that this was the right thing to do without a doubt. None of the other suggestions would have done him a bit of good. I am grateful for all of the suggestions, because it made me research everything to the point where I knew there really was only one option to move forward on; this surgery.
I want everyone to know that supported this surgery that we are so grateful to you for your help. We are also grateful to everyone that didn’t support my choice, because your doubts helped us reaffirm our choice. Chaco’s healing is everyone’s achievement. This surgery was the most holistic choice I could have made. All I know is he doesn’t have to walk on three pebbles anymore, and that makes me so happy for him.