The dog bit and wouldn’t let go


IN the blink of an eye, your life can change.

As cliche as that sounds, a few months ago, I was almost certain the course of my life had taken a turn for the worst.

It was late September and I had plans for my week off with my birthday three days away. And then my dog bit me.

Rescued from an abusive home, he had always been temperamental and had nipped me before.

But this time, he bit and wouldn’t let go. I saw my life flash before me while he sank his teeth deeply into my calf.

I managed to free myself. My dog moved away.

I watched my blood spurt continuously out from the puncture wounds. But I didn’t scream; I just sat down and said: “Okay”.

What ensued was beyond any nightmare my mind could conjure up.

What I thought would be a bunch of stitches and a week of bed rest became 37 days confined to a hospital bed plus six operations.

I feared that I would limp forever and worried if I could return to work as my job isn’t a conventional desk job.

I needed someone to hold me when I walked to the toilet, dragging my injured leg which had a negative pressure wound therapy machine attached to it (to draw out fluids to help the wound heal).

I carried the machine like a handbag to the loo, dreading the laborious process of answering the call of nature.

My operations were scheduled every three days so at some point I just looked forward to the heated blanket they would give me pre-surgery.

Soon after, I wasn’t even allowed off the bed, meaning I had to resort to the hateful bedpan for those calls of nature.

As someone shy and uncomfortable around others on normal days, I cannot begin to describe how difficult it was for me to have people aid me while I peed.

One skin graft and complete bed rest later, I was sure I could start walking around.

But boy...was I in for a shocker when even dangling my leg off the bed was a major task.

It took me weeks of slowly coaxing my leg to stand, let alone walk.

It then took me weeks to learn to walk without limping.

Now, I still have a long way to go as my tissue rebuilds and the scars fade. I am back to work, with multiple layers of bandage to keep my leg safe.

The bitten part may be palm-sized now, so it was unbelievable that for the better part of the 37 days, I needed 24-hour attention as I could neither feed myself nor move without assistance.

My mother deserves a special mention for having to deal with me. She only left me when my colleague and friend Liew Jia Xian turned up to relieve her.

My mother was so saddened to have had to put that dog down. We have two more at home; both are darlings.

We have always had dogs of all sizes and backgrounds, including those which were abused and then rescued.

None were aggressive or showed signs of sudden fits of rage.

The dog that bit me, however, always showed signs of aggression and distrust. He was a bit possessive of my mother, and yet was aggressive towards her too when she tried to bathe him.

As someone who has always been able to calm dogs down and have complete control, he was the only dog I couldn’t figure out.

You have to make the effort to train them from the beginning, immediately start building trust and get professional advice, something I overlooked with this dog.

What I learned is that simple kindness goes a long way. The hospital staff never let me feel like a burden and the doctor never gave up on minimising the damage.

I will never forget the many moments feeling helpless, unsure if the skin graft would take hold and if my last surgery would really be the last one or if I had more coming.

I am slowly getting back to normalcy. I was really lucky and will savour ever bit of what is ahead of me.

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