Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Odo and the power of healing

Every once in awhile I like to do a profile of a case that is somewhat unique.  Today's story is about Odo.  Warning: a few of the pictures in this blog are quite graphic.

Odo is a very cool friendly 18 year old black cat.  One Saturday last month, Odo's owner brought him to the clinic to check out some wounds.  Seems as though Odo, who lived his life as an indoor cat, decided that he just couldn't live his whole life without seeing what the outdoors was like.  About a week earlier, he had escaped from the house and was gone for a day.  At first when he came back home everything seemed ok until the night before he came to the clinic when his owner noticed some draining wounds on his back and sides.  When I walked into the exam room, Odo's owner said that the wounds were REALLY bad.  I hear that all the time, but since I have been looking at wounded animals for 20 years, my REALLY bad and an owner's REALLY bad are usually two very different things.  Most wounds are gross, but not bad at all.  In Odo's case, his wounds were REALLY bad.  Even so, Odo was standing on the exam table and bright and alert and happy.  His "dad" even reported that Odo had wanted to eat that morning.  When an animal that is obviously in serious trouble is gosh darn happy, you just have to go along with it.  (Reminded me of a golden retriever I saw over 20 years ago.  It had disappeared for 3 days and when it came home, it had been shot with a high powered rifle through the lower part of the back leg.  The entire lower leg was just hanging on by a thread of skin and the dangling lower leg was even twirling around.  That dog was happily wagging its tail and hopping on three legs all over the clinic. Can't keep a good dog down.  geez!)

Back to Odo.  So we took Odo to the treatment area in the clinic where we can clip fur and wash infected wounds.  With no tranquilization and no fussing at all on Odo's part, he let us clip all the fur away from the sides of the chest and back area.  He just stood there and purred.  Go figure.  The wounds were large, full of pus and went 360 degrees all the way around his chest.   As best I can describe it, the holes in the skin looked like holes in Swiss cheese. There was dead and dying skin and tissue everywhere.  Odo let me trim off most of the dead skin and flush the wounds out with sterile saline.  I think the word "wow" was uttered about 137 times between myself and the staff.  I told Odo's dad that I was really worried that there may be some sort of underlying disease going on to cause the wounds to get as bad as they did.  He did not want to get into an extensive medical work-up due to Odo's age and I had no problem with that.  But since Odo was so gosh darn happy, we decided to put him on antibiotics and see what happened.

What happened next is amazing.  And it's not like I haven't seen it before, but every single time it amazes me.  The healing power of the body.  Given a little help and some tincture of time, it is amazing to watch the transformation.  Again, the first pictures are pretty graphic so you have been warned.

I really think this first picture does not do justice to how bad this was.  This was taken before all the fur was shaved off.  This was only one side.  The cat's top of his back, both right and left sides and the bottom of his chest all had the same amount of holes and pus.

Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of what this all looked like after shaving the fur, but I did take this pleasant close up shot.

One week later this is what one side of Odo's chest looked like.

And two weeks after this, here is what Odo looked like.  A little scarring as the skin regrows and contracts, but the wounds are almost healed and Odo is doing fantastic. 

Amazing.  Every single time.

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