Healing Henry


Henry let out an anguished screech as I tried to move him into a good position on the couch. I was hoping he’d let me apply a warm compress to the bandaged surgery incision on his tummy.

“I’m sorry Henry,” I said, gently scratching him behind the ear. His crying sent a shock of empathy pain through my gut. But it was more than empathy. The previous day I’d accidently yanked my gastrostomy tube while washing my car, then  aggravated the injury by lifting some heavy boxes that needed to be put away. Luckily, the tube didn’t come completely out, (that would have required a trip to the ER), but I tore the tissue where the tube enters my stomach. You’d think I’d be more careful, since I’ve been living with the hazards of this feeding tube for more than five years, but I was so nervous about Henry coming home after surgery, I wasn’t thinking about myself.

When I pictured Henry’s eleven-pound body being cut open, memories of my own exploratory abdominal surgery flooded me. Waking up afterward was horrific. As the anesthesia wore off, the pain set in. That was when I learned that nearly all movement involved my abdomen in one way or another. The slightest twist or turn sent searing pain through my body. Simple breathing hurt, and a cough or sneeze felt like being stabbed with a sword. Now, Henry was going through the same thing and I didn’t know how to comfort him.

When Don and I picked Henry up from the hospital on Sunday, the surgery nurse carefully explained the aftercare instructions. We’d been through this with Dixie three times, so I thought I knew what to expect. She had to wear an E-collar, aka “the Cone of Shame,” to prevent her from chewing the stitches out, and we limited her activity for 2-3 weeks. I started to read the instructions for Henry, and the first thing I saw was “Henry must be confined to a crate for 8 weeks.” EIGHT WEEKS?? Could this be right? Yes, the nurse explained, it’s critical that we strictly limit his activity for the full 8 weeks so the incisions can heal fully. The splenectomy and gastrectomy must have really torn him up inside.

The nurse also said we must keep him on a short leash to take him outside to pee and poo. We have two steps on our front porch that lead to the back yard, so we’ll need to pick him up each time. Normally I can manage this, but since my stomach tube got yanked, it’s hard to pick anything up without having a lot of pain. How was I going to help Henry? Don will help when he’s home, but Henry will be in my care most of the day. I suddenly felt useless and worried about Henry getting hurt. What if I drop him? What if he hates being in the crate and cries? What if I’m a bad mommy and he doesn’t heal properly?

Don could see I was overwhelmed and scared, and assured me that we’ll figure this out. All of us, including Henry, will adjust to the changes, and we’ll be fine.

He’s right, of course. Henry is doing well. He’s eating and pooping, and with a little cheese, he takes his medicine. He doesn’t mind being in the crate during the day, but at night, he cries to be on the bed with us. The danger with that is that he could jump off while we’re sleeping and hurt himself. So, last night I slept in the living room, and he was content to sleep on the floor next to me. We’re learning and managing.

Now we’re waiting for the biopsy results…


9 thoughts on “Healing Henry

  1. Oh, poor Henry. I understand his misery after surgery especially the pain and confinement. It’s always painful when your companion, human or animal, is in pain and you want to help but are unable to relieve them of it. Hang in there, Martha. Think positive and hope for the best for you and Henry. We miss seeing you and Henry in the office. Be well.

  2. Oh my, serious stuff!

    Am worried about the tear in your tissue/tube connection…..any chance of an infection there? Please be on the lookout! Should you even be lifting Henry and his crate?

    Poor Henry…he probably feels OK in confinement, though…..less pain from movement. The cone must be a nuisance….but essential. Eight weeks does sound like a very looong time! Sure glad you waited with the surgery til you returned from your trip!

    Hope everything goes well from here😍

    I love you, Mom

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Martha – sent your message to two of my close friends – one David Levinson and the other Charlene Howard — both of them ask about you frequently and thought you wouldn’t mind if I forwarded the info re Henry. Here is David’s response to you ..

    David Levinson Tosimonmurphy08@sbcglobal.netToday at 2:21 PMThanx     pls give my warm wishes to Martha for her and Henry. Don’t know if she remembers me?

    • Hi Linda,
      Thank you for sharing m post with Charlene and David. I remember them both well. I appreciate their kind thoughts. Henry does too! He is doing alright. Sometimes he likes the crate, but at night he cries to be with us, so I’ve been sleeping on the couch with him on the rug next to me…on a short leash and wearing his cone. The 8 weeks of confinement would be like 14 months for a human. I think we’re adjusting, but I’m worrying about him all the time!
      Hope you are well.

  4. Marty, I agree with your Mom, but I’m bossier! Get that tube looked at asap, or you could end up in a real mess and who will help Henry then? Do you need help? I could drive over this weekend… I will, just let me know.
    Love you.
    PS – Tube. Soonest. Right? Right!

  5. Here’s what we know about Henry. He’s TOUGH! He’s going to live and he’s going to be fine! Martha…you really need to STOP forgetting about your tubes, etc…..ok? Those of us who also love you and are inspired by you want you to take THE BEST CARE!

    By the way….my vet says he honestly believes that dogs don’t ”feel” the same kind of pain that WE do, simply because they’ve no idea why it’s there/what the future holds. He says it’s a temporary discomfort. And, after so many years of seeing dogs with horrible injuries, etc, I think he’s right.

    I’ll bet Henry’s very near you right now and that he’ll be MUCH better tomorrow.

    (((((GENTLE PATS)))))

    • Thanks Pam. Henry is tough. In the past couple days he’s been pretty peppy sometimes. He also has low energy periods, but that could be from his pain medication and healing.
      I love what your vet says about pain. I think he’s right too, and have to remember that.
      His bandage is starting to fall off and he has soaked it with pee pee,but he won’t let me remove it. The vet said it’s okay if it falls off. I hope it doesn’t cause an infection in his incision.
      There were times yesterday when he pranced around like nothing had happened. I think he’s on the mend, but I will feel better after we get through the next week without complications.

  6. Sending strong healing vibes to Henry and you☀️☀️. Please remember the “Oxygen Mask Rule!” You must take care of you, or you won’t be able to care for Henry (sent with love).

    • Thank you Lori. I appreciate your kind reminder. I need to be reminded all the time!
      Henry seems to be healing. Yesterday there were times when he was out of the crate and seemed totally normal. His appetite is good too. This morning he was pretty tired, but that could be his pain medication. I hope you are well. Thank you again for caring.

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