8/21/04 - Spent 1.5 hours at the vet today getting xrays for Roxy. She's dragging both legs. As near as we can tell, she probably twisted her back and has a swollen disk - prednisone time. She should be okay in time but it all relates to her shortened hindleg. Since she has a lot more activity here, I guess she has more opportunity to twist her back. She'll have to be relegated to the bottom floor of the condo and living room.
New vet called saying he spied either an old injury, tumour or abscess on the xray. Wants to reassess Monday - Regular vet is back on Tuesday. Already knew she'd need pred so I didn't give her an NSAID.
I hope it is just a soft tissue injury
Roxy has seen the physio already and I had a treatment course of lasering and physio to try and keep arthritis at bay.
8/23/04 - Roxy is about the same - maybe a tad bit better. Got her contained in the duck box now to restrict movements. She sees the physio tomorrow. New vet is concerned for long term prognosis and already talking carts. He thinks it's the mark on the upper vertebrae(abscess or tumour) but concedes that could be an old injury where bone was reabsorbed. I think it's her lower back and the upper injury is left over from her accident as a 3 month old. Signs of an old fracture in her good leg too.
Looks like my house may have been too active for her.
8/24/04 - Several specialists looked over Roxy's xrays and couldn't see any problems on her vertebrae. One specialist saw a weak point on her pelvis. None of them liked how her legs looked but that wasn't the problem.
She is slowly improving and the physio gave me lasering and massage instructions. Roxy needs to stay confined for about a week to give her back time to heal. The physio thinks she probably torqued it while jumping a level. She can do ramps but no steps in future.
So the prognosis is that she will probably be okay but it will take time.
Basically she wasn't used to so much activity and freedom to move.
9/4/04 - I made Roxy a cart. Works like hotdamn. Took 3 tries with wheel placement before I found a nontip but narrow-enough-to-go-anywhere position. She tried it out for a couple of hours in the garden and was taking corners on one wheel by the end of the session. If the ground is uneven she can tip but I've seen her right herself. She even went into the jungle under the apple tree to fight over a windfall apple with Phyllis.
I think she is more likely to start using her back legs if they are a natural position - they just hang from the back of her cart - toes drag on the good leg. She can't reverse (or hasn't yet) because her leg gets pushed into the wheel. No risk of entanglment but it would stop her from moving. And move she does - very fast.
She can't wear it all the time because she can't hunker down and relax while strapped in. Her hindquarters are always up and to sink on her front end probably bugs the back.
I'll have to make the living room cart friendly.
She is one happy pig.
9/5/04 - I think I should have been an engineer. Roxy loves her wheels. a friend thinks I should call it "squeals on wheels".
She's wearing it in the living room. She had a couple of tips when she went too fast and got caught on edges but once she calms down she's like an old pro. Caught her making a flip spin move to reverse directions. She quickly tipped herself while moving, spun and righted herself on the momentum. She rolled around the hay bowl looking for the best spot to eat. She also figured out how to relax her front. If she relaxes and gets startled she tends to take off fast resulting in a full tip so someone needs to keep an eye on her when she's wearing it.
Hard to tell if the other pigs are impressed or could care less. They are all gathered around her now. Isabel was sniffing at her harness. I saw her bowl past them at top speed outside. I think then they were thinking"what the....????"
She hasn't left the area by the liquor cabinet but when she could walk she didn't really stray too much.
9/9/04 - Roxy was paddling her good leg while wheeling across the floor. It looks like the cart might be working.
Keeping her legs free and back straight is allowing instinctive leg movements.
Very exciting to see this small improvement.
9/10/04 - Roxy is starting to use her good leg to push off. She has excellent movement in it but her back is still too weak for her to walk. The cart is really helping her heal I think. She just spent the afternoon in the garden grazing.
She is getting stronger every day.
9/12/04 - when I took her cart off because I was going out, Roxy took her first real step before collapsing. She is regaining the use of her leg. I don't think she would have without her cart.
9/14/04 - Roxy saw the physio today. She said that wherever she is at a month after the problem started is probably where she'll stay. Roxy has one week left. She is getting better slowly but I doubt she'll be walking without help in a month.
Her cart was a hit at Critical Care.
http://www.guinealynx.info/photos/roxy-2.jpg SIDE (displayed above)
http://www.guinealynx.info/photos/device-1.jpg RIGHT BOTTOM (displayed above)
During her roller time, she developed incredible upper body strength and has the feel of a body builder. I can't pick her up with one hand because her upper body is so muscular.
This glue glued the neoprene and wheels to the flipflop and glued the velcro to the neoprene.
An old flipflop
1/8" thick neoprene - google for internet source or buy scrap pieces from dive suit shops or use scraps from an old dive suit or check medical supply stores who often have mats and braces made of neoprene.
1 inch diameter wheels that are 1 1/2" high to the top of the "u" shaped metal thing that houses them. I would love to find smaller wheels but these were all that were available at my hardware store. Do not use wheels on an axle. Axles prevent tight cornering.
Pour a martini
Cut a section of flipflop to support the pig belly. The pig butt should hang over slightly for elimination of body waste. I cut mine in a teardrop shape with the pointy end supporting the ribcage. I trimmed the sides at the base of the tear drop shape for range of leg motion.
Cut out as much as possible from the thickness of the flipflop(in the shape of the wheel housing) to embed the wheel housing. The aim is that the pig is in a natural body position once the cart is on. 1 1/2 inches is not ideal for height so embedding the wheels helps to compensate. Smaller wheels would make it a lot easier. You want the hindfeet to be able to reach the ground if the pig has signs of movement. A totally paralysed pig would have to have the hindlegs high enough that the feet don't drag.
Glue the wheels into the flipflop. This may take a few tries. A wide wheel base is more stable than a narrow one but will get caught on obstacles if the pig free ranges. A narrow wheel base will result in frequent tips. Ideally you want the wheel base only as wide as the pig for easy rolling. The wheels should be positioned close to the hip area. A pig who has some leg movement can have wheels closer to the midsection but if the wheels are too tall it put the pig into an unnatural arched position. The good thing about the Miracle Glue is that it will glue sections of flipflop back if you screw up and cut too much out.
For the shape of the neoprene strap section, follow the links showing pics. Each pig will be slightly different but all pigs will need a strap to go around the neck, a strap to go around the midsection(front legs are free to move between the midsection and neck strap) and a strap to go around the lower tummy. Separate strips of neoprene join each strap and run down the back. This keeps the strap in position while the pig wearing the cart. The Miracle glue bonds neoprene to neoprene perfectly.
The neck strap is the smallest in circumference and the midsection strap is the widest. Allow enough extra for tightening or loosening. Use velcro for attaching. The Miracle glue works for this part too, or you can sew the velcro on.
Glue the neoprene strap harness to the flip flop.
Fit pig into cart. The strap should be as tight as possible to keep the cart from slipping around but not so tight as to restrict breathing. You want the pig and cart to be as one.
It might take a couple of tries to get it right so make sure you have extra materials. Once the pig is in the cart you will see what needs adjusting or redoing.
It took me about one evening and 3 martinis to design and make the cart.
You could glue the harness to the cart before attaching the wheels but it is harder to cut the flipflops if they are already attached. Could require an extra martini refill.