Sunday, December 9, 2012


"Doctor would like to remove the external fixator today, with your permission. Or, we could schedule her for next week." Next week? Hell's bells, get that thing off the pup already! "Yes, please, if she's ready, by all means do it today." Four weeks and five days since the pup was kicked by the horse, but who's counting? It's done! Over! She's healed!

Well, not quite. Puppy still has to convalesce, gradually rebuilding her strength with short walks several times a day. The pins that held the fragments of bone in place had to pass through healthy bone, leaving holes that now have to heal. And until those holes are closed in with solid bone, the leg is still fragile.

That's what can't be seen - the internal effects. Looking at her you see a happy, active, inquisitive, beautiful puppy. She doesn't realize she's "full of holes", as it were, and she wants desperately to race and bounce and wrestle and chew (especially chew! don't get me going on the damages those teeth have wrought!). An observer would have to look hard to realize anything is amiss, because she sure doesn't look like an invalid. The only indications of her ordeal now that the apparatus was removed can be seen only if you're looking for them - externally her leg shows lumps and bumps where the skin, muscle, and other living tissue reacted angrily to cold steel having being thrust through it.

That cold steel that held the fragments of her tibia and fibula in place was crucial. Without those steel pins locked firmly onto her leg, drawing the splintered pieces together, her body's attempts to heal would have resulted in deformation and probably lifelong pain. Fortunately for Purple Girl, friends, clients, and complete strangers were generous in their assistance, helping me defray a portion of the cost of complex orthopedic surgery that provided her the opportunity to heal.

The people who helped pay for the surgery were crucial, the expertise of the surgical team was crucial,the apparatus of pins and plates was crucial. The apparatus itself represents the work of countless others who ultimately were crucial to Purple Girl's second chance...the apparatus was designed by bioengineers, manufactured under exacting engineering standards, installed and maintained and tweaked by a specialized surgeon with an entire team of medical professionals.

Yet, it was the pup's own body that healed itself. Everything else just supported that process. Without the support, the healing couldn't have happened. All of that assistance, expertise, and nurturance provided the framework within which Mother Nature could work another miracle. Life sustains itself, given a chance.

When something breaks, it's not always possible to fix it...whether that something is a glass or a toy or a bone or a heart. As I should know by now, healing is an ongoing process. Appearances are deceiving, and since individuals - puppies or people - generally don't recognize, let alone advertise, their own internal dents and scrapes and bruises and holes, those around them may interact with them more roughly than their stage of healing warrants. Looking at Purple Girl's liquid chocolate eyes, imploring me to please, oh please, just let me run! I instead have to engage in compassionate tyranny...lock her up in a hug and give her a massage until she relaxes, allowing herself to enjoy what she has, rather than what she thinks she wants. What she thinks she wants would in reality cause her harm, set her healing process back, perhaps even be the death of her.

Sometimes, for healing to occur, we can't engage with life as we once did. Perhaps not ever again. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. When trauma has wrought changes, to body or soul, the trajectory of the life is changed, the life that proceeds from that point is altered. Not necessarily limited, and often the healing process results in an augmentation of the original. Purple Girl is one very lucky puppy. Because of her age, the healing process was in hyper-drive, and though it is not yet complete, she will soon run again.

Ultimately, we heal ourselves.