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Update on Dr. Beth

Hi, everyone! I have officially reached 6 weeks past my date of surgery. On August 2, I underwent amputation of my right leg, just above my knee, due to complications with hardware failure from childhood bone cancer. Please know that this was not a failure from my surgery in April; a different area in my thigh bone had failed, that did not have repair previously. So far, the bulk of my home care has been decreasing swelling in my leg, getting the incision to heal, and managing the pain. Most of the surgical pain and swelling is gone now. I did go through a great deal of phantom pain the first three weeks, but this seems to be improving over time. This is something I will deal with on and off through life. A lot of the medications I use make me fairly drowsy, which can be annoying to fall asleep so easily in the middle of the day.

I am hoping to return to work in the middle or end of October. This is just a projection, as things can change. Most importantly, I will need to have an ultralight wheelchair to practice. I am not allowed to work on crutches, as there are too many risks of a fall. This would be the case if I were in an office setting as well; it has nothing to do with the veterinary profession. We are in the process of getting this approved and then ordered. I also need to be able to get through part of the day without pain medication. I am getting closer with this over time. Thirdly, I need to get my driver's license updated, which requires a road test using a left foot gas pedal. I have been practicing for the last week or so, and hope to be successful on test day! I will not be magically walking on my new prosthetic leg. That will not be as likely until about 3 months from now, and will continue to improve as the months go by. Hopefully, over about a year's time, you may not even notice which leg is the prosthetic leg! On a side note, I encourage you to check out the Paralympics on NBC sports network evenings through this week to see how others cope with their challenges.

Once I do return to work, it will be very light hours initially. I ask for everyone to have patience with me, as it will be a new challenge simply to examine pets on a table differently, to arrange for medications to be prepared, and to maneuver for different procedures. I am hoping to be able to do a fair number of surgeries sitting down, which is easily an option.

Bellwood will obviously update you on my health as the next few weeks move along. I have not been in the most social mood to write an update until now, but you all deserve to know how I have been doing. I appreciate all the well wishes and cards from you! They are all so thoughtful! I truly look forward to being back at Bellwood to see you all!

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