When we finally arrived at the Ohio State Vet Hospital I found my way to the registration desk. After filling out a few papers a vet student came find me.
A group of students assembled and we brought her in. Puzzle was placed on a make shift calf stretcher. It was simply a metal cart with lots of padding.
Her admittance was similar to that of a human. Vitals, blood draw and medical history was taken. Next her cast was removed. She wasn’t too keen with this. On top of what I’m sure wasn’t the most pleasant procedure, due to her leg becoming mobile again, she was hungry! Just like a person, she was prohibited from eating Tuesday morning so she could go in to surgery immediately if needed. One thing that we’ve learned is Puzzle is a girl with an appetite!
After her initial work up, Puzzle was taken to X-rays. We obviously knew her back right leg was horribly broken, but a better look was needed to develop a medical plan.
X-rays revealed that had a complete break of her Tibia as well as several hair line fractures around her hock (rear knee) area. One possibly went in to the joint. This left us with 3 options:
- Re-cast and include a brace made of heavy wire. This would help immobilize the hip, but not completely stabilize it. The pro is it is cheap. The big con was the outlook was not much more positive than simply casting.
- Pins. Pins would be placed above and below the break. This would stabilize the bone, allowing it to heal while casted. Pro- reasonable price, fairly good outcome. Cons- pins have a higher risk of infection because the pin is both inside and outside of her leg. She would also have a fairly bulky, combersome cast for 6-8 weeks. During this time she would need to be recasted and have pins adjusted 1-2 times.
- Plate and Screws. A large plate would be placed along the break and screwed in to stabilize. This would provide pressure to heal the hairline fractures. Also only a follow up visit to remove sutures would be needed. Pros- no cast, very mobile immediately after surgery and best chance for complete healing. Cons- price
After much consideration, thought, calling Tom for his thoughts and listening to my mother inform me they had more money wrapped up in a cat once (that’s a whole other story) I made the decision to have them use a plate.
Puzzle was immediately taken to surgery. They were worried if she sat over night her break may have punctured the skin. This would open a whole can of worms to infection.
We were allowed to watch the surgery! I’m not sure how many packs of fruit snacks nor how many cheesy John Deere YouTube videos Henry watched, but we occupied a toddler for a nearly 3 hour surgery. No small feat!
Here’s a few photos from surgery. I edited out students faces. I didn’t want to share anyone’s picture they didn’t want shared!
Here is an X-ray after the pin was placed and every thing was patched back up!
A 6 inch plate and 8 screws later her leg was back in one piece! Seven screws run straight thru the plate (1 is visible in this X-ray) then 1 runs in towards her hock to hold all the tiny fractures together.
Incredibly she eagerly sucked down a bottle of milk almost immediately after surgery. She was then so happy to eat, she tried to bounce, like a normal happy baby! This isn’t something that’s ok after major surgery to a leg. She had to be mildly sedated, foods just too exciting 😂
The following morning the hospital called to give us an update. She was eating like a champ, walking around and overall happy. They then gave us the great news that she could come home the following afternoon!
Shortly after the phone call from the vet, my phone rang with a call from the tire store. The manager called to see how Puzzle was doing! I gave her the happy report.
Thursday afternoon we made an uneventful trip back to Columbus to pick up Puzzle, the newly bionic calf!
There are few things that will do in the fate of a cow quite as quckly as a broken leg. They’re painful, hard to fix on a large animal and not always the quickest healing as they are constantly bearing weight.
Late Sunday night one of my heifer calves had her leg stepped on by a full grown cow. Unfortunately the accident left her with a broken tibia.
Broken limbs can actually be casted on newborns with a fairly high success rate of healing. However this is on the lower portion of their legs where joints can be immobilized. Breaking the upper part of a leg is generally a death sentence. It’s simply too hard to immobilize shoulders and hips.
We decided to call the vet in the morning. He walked in, took one look and said we should really just put her down. As disheartening as it was, it was what I expected but hoped not to hear. After a little more examining her he told me he would attempt a cast. While not having much hope it was our only option.
Now I had been patiently waiting for this baby for months. She is the first grandbaby of one of my best cows. This cow also doesn’t like to have heifers. As in she is 9 with only 2 daughters. This is despite our best efforts to help her along reproductively. Accidents like this seem to only happen to special calves. The dismal outlook was beyond depressing.
While wallowing in self pity, the idea popped up about moving her to Ohio State’s vet school. We called to see what kind of an investment this would be. After deciding it was worth a shot, we scheduled to take her down the following morning.
Tuesday morning was a lot of rushing. Getting kids on the bus, loading up the calf (who’s name is Puzzle) and grabbing my mom for moral support in taking a calf and a toddler on an hour and a half drive.
Our first of many incidents happened shortly after departing. The road we normally take to the interstate was closed, leaving us to take a longer route. Then some haphazardly placed road cones and a slightly left of center semi gave us a close enough view of an already down telephone line. Don’t worry, it gets better.
While looking for out exit to drive in to Columbus the truck starts to shake. I moved over a lane and slowed down. Still thumping… The tread was falling off of my back tire. Lovely. Coincidentally the spare tire for the truck was on the stock trailer. An hour plus away.
All I have to say at this time is thank goodness for my google maps app. I searched for a tire shop. After calling 3 places I found one who had the tire I needed.
The tire shop gave me the number to a tow company. It was a mere 60-90 minute wait. This may be a good time to note the air conditioner in our truck doesn’t work. Don’t fear the breeze from the traffic not moving over kept us cool. Puzzle however was sitting in a black truck cap. So we pulled her out to cool off.
Ninety minutes later our tow truck showed up. He was a nice man, who had an air conditioned tow truck. That was very appealing to the 3 of us by this point in time. He was tickled to be escorting his first ever bovine rider!
Once we arrived at the tire shop, they were more than accommodating. They bumped us up in line and showed us a nice shady spot where Puzzle could relax. This is where she let her little agvocate light shine. All, I mean every one, of the mechanics came out to see her! One asked for her picture, one thought she was a goat and they all were smitten with her. To the point they called the following morning to see how she was!
Siri, who had been gracious enough to direct us on our adventure, stopped smack in the middle of an intersection. Thankfully we saw a campus police cruiser. He was kind enough to make up for Siri’s short comings and we finally arrived.
After a 5 hour trek we made it. This trip should have taken us an hour and a half. Yes it was that fantastic.
Stay tuned for part 2 with the fun things that followed our arrival!