The nervous system is one of the most complex systems of the body. Even minimal damage to a nerve could result in catastrophic dysfunction of the body. In addition, patients with neurological diseases require extensive health care to regain normal function. While they can be the most frustrating patients to work with, they can also be the most satisfying.
One of my favorite patients so far is a geriatric Basset Hound diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). He came in for acute hind limb lameness. After a series of orthopedic and neurological exams, IVDD was highly suspected. This was confirmed by an MRI, and a spinal cord decompression surgery was performed right after the MRI. During surgery, I was excited to have the chance to witness a window being created in the vertebrae, the spinal cord running above the vertebral body, and the extruded disc material being removed by a fine surgical instrument. After the exciting part came the challenging part – postoperative care.
Because motor function was affected, my patient wasn’t able to urinate on his own and his urinary bladder was extremely full. We needed to closely monitor the size of his urinary bladder and express it if it got too big. Sometimes urine overflow did occur, and we would give him waterless baths several times a day to prevent urine scald. We also needed to flip him from one side to the other every 6 hours to prevent bed sores. What’s fascinating is that we integrated other treatments to facilitate his recovery, such as rehabilitation and acupuncture. I always love to see different services in the hospital cooperate in diagnosing and treating patients because teamwork makes dreamwork!
After my first IVDD patient, I fell in love with neurological patients. I know the disease could be difficult to deal with, however, it’s so comforting to see a patient improve slowly but surely after all the effort!