Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Atticus To Have Eye Surgery

Next Wednesday Atticus and I will be returning to Angell Animal Medical Center. Dan Biros, his veterinary ophthalmologist, will be performing distichia cryoremoval surgery on both his upper eyelids.

Distichia are small extra eyelashes (cilia) that grow where they shouldn't be growing and in Atticus' case, cause corneal abrasions. It's irritating to the eye and I can see him squinting at times. And since Atti's eyes seem even more important to him than other dogs - because of all that unique and soulful gazing he does - I agreed with Dan Biros that the time had come to put an end to those irritating little lashes. All too often I see him squinting when he shouldn't be so the lashes are bothering his eyes. Dan's already yanked these little hairs out but the grow back again.

On Wednesday I'll be dropping him off at Angell early in the morning then I'll spend a rare day without him as I wander the streets of Boston waiting to pick him up. They'll put Atticus under for about an hour and freeze the areas on the upper eyelids where these lashes have formed and that will kill them. According to Dan, "Complications are rare but may include corneal ulceration, conjunctivitis, recurrence of the distichia. We expect some bystander alopecia (hair loss) and eyelid margin depigmentation at the affected areas. Vision should not be affected but rather protected by the cryosurgery. Postoperative swelling can last up to seven to 10 days but is most prominent three to five days after surgery."

As for that postoperative swelling, I'm told Atticus will look like a boxer after a match so he'll be up for some tender, loving care after its done. And he may look the tiniest bit different in some places where his very black eyelids could turn pink here and there. He may also lose some of those long lashes he has. But in the long run what's most important is that Atti's eyes will be better and it won't bother him to simply look out at a view.

The surgery isn't inexpensive, but his eyes are so very important to him.


John said...

Please post the good news as soon as you can after you pick him up Tom. I worry about the little guy any time you mention the word vet. Luckily being a guy he won't need Hart's eye lash mascara for dogs when he is done.

Thomas F. Ryan said...

John, I sure will update that night. He won't be a pretty sight, but I'm told it's a routine surgery. He's in good hands at Angell.

Alice said...

Best of luck to Atti. He's in good hands. I agree, it is a routine procedure.

Karl said...

Best of luck to Atticus from us too. We'll be thinking of the little guy next Wednesday.

Michelle said...

Hi Tom and Atticus,

I just watched you two on Animal Planets Dogs 101. What an inspiration and great duo you two are!

Best wishes to Atticus. I'll be thinking of him when he's in surgery and look forward to any updates post-surgery.

Lisa J. Winter said...

I just watched you guys on Dogs 101 and I was so impressed and moved! Tom please do post how everything went!


Jemk said...

Good luck to Atti! I'm sure he'll be fine. I'll be praying for his quick recovery!

macsurf said...

Hey Tom,

Mike Cook here. Jake, he's my Atticus, and I wish Atti, and you, a speedy recovery.

I'm sure leaving Atti @ Angell, and having to roam around Boston for a few hours alone, will be even more stressful for you than Atti's procedure will be for him.

I can relate to that.

Jake and I are working on a kids book about his growing up on the beaches and reefs of Puerto Viejo.

If I ever get more tech savvy, I might even start a blog when we head home in early October.

Bu, more important, best of luck and a speedy recovery to Atti.

Ciao for now

Jemk said...

Tom, how did Atticus' surgery turn out? I pray that all went well for him!

Cindy said...

Hi Tom,
My guess is that we're all pretty eager to hear how Atticus made out Wednesday. Hope you are both doing well and that no news is good news yet it's not how most of us are wired. :O
Cindy ~ Hampton