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Chris and Julie – Freya

Freya is our 2 1/2 year old Doberman. On the 16th September 2007, she was running to pick up her toy in the park and as she turned to come back, she was on 3 legs. There was no noise; no I’m feeling sorry for myself just this one leg tucked up and Freya still running quite fast on the 3 normal legs. We massaged the leg And used ice and we didn’t walk the following day. There was no sign of pain except that this one leg was being carried high and she was protecting it. I called the vets early and decided to take her to our own vet and just check the leg was okay. Unfortunately it was a lot worse. Freya had snapped her right cruciate ligament. We were amazed at how high Freya’s pain threshold must be. The vet told us we would have to wait for the swelling to go down then he would operate. The operation was set for 21st September at 08.40 after what seemed like an eternity of Freya being cooped up indoors and still running mad around the house on 3 legs. The operation we were told was a success although the vet told us it had taken longer than he had originally thought. Freya was home with us again all sleepy and feeling sorry for herself now, but we didn’t mind she must have been in pain. We gave her plenty of cuddles and love as usual and we hoped that she would feel better real soon. I was working nightshift approx a week later and came home to find that my usual greeting at the front door by Freya didn’t happen, she didn’t even look up, she was just gently whining and I sensed that something was wrong. I woke my partner (as we had both been taking turns at sleeping-well attempting to grab half hour’s sleep here and there!! on a mattress in the sitting room to look after Freya around the clock. Freya wasn’t herself at all, the leg was swollen and hot and the change in her it was upsetting to see such an active dog go downhill so fast. We took her back to the vet, who put her on a broad spectrum antibiotic “SYNULOX 250mg twice x daily” Following this visit the swelling in the leg steadily got worse and the top two stitches had the flesh cutting above them. I came home and saw that had happened overnight and too k her back to the vets. They removed two top stitches. We continued to ice her leg on return to home and were told to keep an eye out for leakage from the wound and to take her back if there were any other problems. My partner is a paramedic and she said to me that night “you don’t think it could be MRSA do you?” my god I had been silently worrying myself sick about that and had seriously started looking into her wound and what it looked like etc on the internet. I had never even heard of animals getting mrsa. I found The Bella Moss Foundation website and began been reading through it, I read for hours. I decided to call the number. I got hold of Jill on her birthday she was out with friends, but took my call in a quiet room. We spoke for a long time and Jill called me back to save my phone bill. Jill helped me feel calmer about Freya’s situation, explained what may happen, what we needed to do and what we needed to ask our vet and how we needed to barrier nurse her as until now we had not worn gloves (the vet either!!) Jill was a blessing in disguise, she promised to call me the next day, which she did and continued to do so throughout Freya’s illness, offering advice and giving me contact numbers of genuine knowledgeable people who were a fantastic help in our time of upset-(Thanks to all the friends of The Bella Moss Foundation who were so kind and helped us greatly.) I again returned home in the am to find Freya’s leg had completely swollen out from the hip to her ankle/foot area and she had become so withdrawn and disinterested and I was seriously worried. I even tried to get her interested in her favorite treats and sliced up an apple for her she placed it in her mouth. She looked up ate me and let it drop to the floor. She had no energy. Back to the vet and this time they took all of her stitches out on the 4th October 2008, to see if these were the problem causing the swelling reaction. My partner and I asked the vet “could it be MRSA?” the vet looked at us and said “no I don’t think so I’ve never had any cases of it but we’ll take a swab of the leg and see what the results say”. The vet did not wear gloves and put Freya on more antibiotics. The sample came back a few days later confirming it was MRSA. My partner and I were very anxious and upset about the confirmation of our fears for Freya but at last we may get somewhere along the lines of curing her of this awful illness. The vet gave us ANTIROBE 150mg 2x daily. I also explained to the vet about our contact with Jill and the foundation, he had never heard of it so I called him later to give him all the details of the website to look it up and he said he would find out as much as he could now that we knew what Freya had. We did feel that the vet’s staff must have all been briefed on Freyas illness before we arrived and we soon realized that the staff became reluctant to give us information without first asking the vet. Also their attitudes changed towards us, we felt like we had caused the infection and we were the bad ones, it was awful. I actually told the vet how I felt and that it was pretty poor considering we all should be aiming for the same end result : to have Frey get well again and for us not to be treated like criminals when the greater chance of the infection being picked up was in his surgery. The vet disagreed, told me they had a locum member of staff and he would talk with her but he never really owned up to the source of the MRSA. Since then have treated much much better from his staff. I did threaten with taking this matter further if we couldn’t afford Freya’s treatment after the insurance money ran out and he said he would sort it out for us if it did, therefore I guessed that was as good of an admission I was going to receive. The infection took approx a week to show on Freya after her operation, this begs the question – How many dogs/cats and other animals are treated in that theatre in that week and no matter how much cleaning is done it has to be the right type of cleaning, using the right type of materials to avoid cross contamination etc. ? We knew Freya had contracted the infection during hospitalization and we even asked for a swab to be taken to find out the strain of the infection but that was never done. If we wanted to know the strain it would cost us an extra £100.00 !. Freya is now starting to return to her old self : eating and drinking and greeting us when we come home. We continue to build her walks up and have had two swabs back as normal. I really thought we’d loose Freya, but through Jill’s positive ness, kindness and help most days on the phone or text, she pulled me through it. Even now Jill still continues to ask how Freya is and offer’s us help in any way she can. Jill is a god send to people like us and dogs like Freya, because if you need information on MRSA it’s still a battle to get the right information and knowing what to do for the dog going through this awful infection. It’s paramount that the help that you need is available- and thanks to brave Bella and Jill it is! Freya had an awful lot of muscle wastage in her right leg after the operation and we now continue to build it up by taking her to hydrotherapy and we saw a physio for advice. Freya is not a natural swimmer so it is taking her a while to relax and enjoy it but I’m sure when the leg feels stronger she will stop splashing so much and learn to enjoy her time in the pool. We also had advice from Jill about building up her immune system and we continue to do this. There is a round, raised soft lump left joined through her second set of scars after her second operation (which removed the crimp incase the MRSA was hiding under it and the surgery that was originally done to mend Freya’s cruciate ligament). December 12th 2007 we visited the vet for a check up, he is pleased with her progress, she has even put on weight but the lump needed to be swabbed and now we await the return of the results. Fingers crossed it’s nothing serious. We will keep you updated and I know we have a friend in Jill for the help we need and the friends surrounding Jill to contact for advice and we will never be able to thank them enough! Thank you and big hugs from Chris and Julie, London.

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