Every day since Brillo’s bilateral cataract surgery has brought new discoveries for us. Due to the delay in treatment because the first doctor told me Brillo was “not a candidate for cataract surgery”, he did experience a few days of post-operative glaucoma. Dr. Matt had us return every day for a week to monitor Brillo’s eye pressures, due to the trauma his eyes went through with the difficult break up of his hardened cataracts. By the second day he was able to diagnose the rising eye pressures, indicating glaucoma, and added two more drops to our regimen. But by the two week mark, Brillo’s pressures were again normal!
Despite that minor glitch, Brillo can see the birds and squirrels in our yard at their feeders and loves to lay in the warmth of our house watching them flit around. On one of our first walks Brillo saw something that intrigued him and he trotted to it, then sniffed it (instead of the other way around)! He recognized one of his dog buddies a block away. He stares at me constantly waiting for attention or a treat! He can navigate the house at night without night lights in every room. He no longer freezes in fear when he can’t figure out where he is. He doesn’t cry in corners, because he never gets lost in them. He doesn’t bark to me to get him down from someplace he jumped up onto—his sense of depth is back and he can jump down by himself.
Brillo no longer trips up curbs, falls down steps, or walks into my legs. He can judge his leaps onto the patio, instead of coming up short and crashing. He can tell what door is open and how wide it is, instead of bashing into the glass. He sees and responds to our old hand signals, and recognizes my silently clapping hands as praise, hand wiggles expressing my excitement, arm waves to tell him to come, go right, or go left. Although he remains deaf, he watches me talk to him in rapt attention.
I was in the yard with Brillo one afternoon about a week after surgery and when we both headed back to the sliding glass door, Brillo was in front of me. When he reached the closed glass, I came up behind him. He saw my reflection in the glass and alerted. I stood behind him, smiled, and waved hello. Brillo’s tail waved in recognition! He could see my reflection, knew it was me, and was happy to see me! He hadn’t seen reflections in that door for at least two years!
Best of all, my confident, independent little clown is back! His sense of humor, prancing trot, and wagging tail are frequent and happy. He bosses visiting dogs again, instead of following them around as guide dogs. Brillo looks out the windows of the car on every trip to Dr. Matt’s. He recognizes his own neighborhood and street. He knows Dr. Converse’s office and plants his feet outside his door again (no offence, Dr. C!). The entertainer can again “work a room” for pats, attention, and tidbits.
Every trip to Dr. Matt’s includes the “cotton ball test.” Dr. Matt drops three cotton balls to see if Brillo’s eyes track the movement. Brillo only humors him. He shoots Dr. Matt a look that says, “Really! Can’t you think of anything more intelligent? This is boring.”
This challenge has bonded us in trust. It was worth every vacation postponed, every financial sacrifice, and every minute of every day I spend nursing him. Every penny I spent on Brillo’s exams, surgery, and medicines was worth it.
Brillo and I are closer than ever. After all, what other major miracle can a minor human make come true for their best friend?
Comments from Dr. Matt:
“I am grateful that I could participate in your life journey with Brillo. You are dedicated to him, and he is dedicated to you. Dogs really allow us to be our best selves. I have performed cataract surgery on dogs as young as 6 months and as old as 16 years. The average age for dogs with cataracts is around 10 years of age, so Brillo is one of the oldest dogs that I have operated on. That said, age is not a disease. Older dogs benefit from vision restoration for whatever time they have left. I have never operated on an old dog and had the client regret it.
“Meeting you and participating in your journey of dedication to animals is why I will keep practicing until I can’t. It is the most joyful thing that I can do with my life.”
Continued in next blog–Important Information on cataract surgery for dogs~