Lewis walking on his own!

Lewis has been walking now with the entire external fixator removed, and no internal plates or other support to the bone. The only foreign object in the bone is the remains of a broken screw from the original plate that was installed back November. The screw is embedded deeply enough that it is almost impossible to remove. He still is fighting the stubborn infection, and has drainage requiring flushing and antibiotics. The infection may finally improve on its own now that the pins have been removed, or may require further surgery if an operable sequestrum can be located. However, Dr. Silveria feels we can begin to think about bringing Lewis home and continue his treatment here! Perhaps by the July 4th holiday he will back on his own farm after a 6 month absence!

Dr. Silveria and I recalled the 10% chance he gave him when he arrived at OSU; Lewis has truly beaten the odds. Dr. Silveria and the staff and Ohio State have worked so hard for Lewis; and definitely performed nothing short of a miracle!

Stay tuned, we may be able to post scanned images of the “before and after” radiographs of Lewis’ leg; a true appreciation can really be gained to see what the doctors had to work with when all this started!

Lewis comes home Saturday!

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Some of the Wonderful Vet Students that have cared for Lewis

Lewis will be coming home tomorrow! We are worried about transporting Lewis, as his leg is still fragile, so the thoughts and prayers of his many friends that he has made over the internet will be needed and greatly appreciated tomorrow during our travel. We will update this page as soon as we are home.

Lewis’ break is slowing healing, with the bone bridging the gap and callous formation, but more healing is still needed before the leg is back up to strength. Some outside exercise, fresh air and sunshine should help Lewis continue to recover. We will be watching Lewis closely and taking Lewis back for radiographs in a few weeks.

Never saw a happier animal… Home at last!

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Lewis walking on his own at home

A three and 1/2 hour ride in the minivan ended Lewis’ eight month absence from his own herd this afternoon. While Lewis cannot see, he still almost led me through the gate and to the fence separating his private “barn yard” from his herd mates. I literally had to hold him back, and the entire herd took turns greeting him across the fence. He almost jumped for joy and started to run; we kept him on a lead and kept control until the initial excitement of being home wore off, as the bone is not completely healed and we do not know how much action it can tolerate.When we picked Lewis up at OSU this morning, we were impressed by how well and bright he looked, especially after being in the hospital for almost six months! When we called his name he strained to “see” who we were, and we felt sure he still recognized us. His enthusiasm seemed to show a sense that something exciting was going to happen, though I am sure he did not know he was going home. I could see the “good ole Lewis” there, which I thought might take awhile to return. The wonderful, caring hands that have taken care of him all these months at OSU kept his spirit intact as well as his body!

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Lewis gets a back scratch from Fred

While he is very lame yet, he gets around very well and uses the leg to walk. He stood in the minivan until well past Dayton, and then finally lay down, which was a much safer traveling position. He napped, ate hay, and switched positions on the long trip home, but became very alert and stopped eating even his grain when we began the final two miles up our hill and to the farm. It seemed he may have known where we were; perhaps by smell as we had the windows open. Once out of the van he was sure he was home!

The doctors are fairly confident that Lewis still has some infection, though the drainage has stopped and he appears to be healed up. We anticipate returning him to OSU within a couple months for a checkup radiograph, however he will have to return sooner if and when the infection become apparent. More surgery will then have to be done, but hopefully his leg will have healed enough by then that his recovery at that point we be speedy and complete.

We again wish to thank all the staff at OSU for their terrific care and support. In particular, Dr. Silveria, who is leaving for a practice in his home country of Brazil. We understand it is the natural course of things for him to return to his homeland to practice, but we regret that he has to leave the Midwest. Lewis certainly owes his life to Dr. Silveria, who was willing to work so hard to save him. Lewis will continue his care in the good hands of Dr. Anderson, and again, we feel that Thank You will never be enough!

Every day a victory!

Lewis seems to be doing well; he enjoys his back scratches, occasionally visits other llama pals through the fence, and munches grass in his private barn yard. His digs include a shady porch sporting two fans for those hot days. Rubber mats covered by closed cell foam camping pads, with a surface of heavy indoor/outdoor carpet give him a firm but cushioned sleeping area. Now that the awful heat wave has finally broken, Lewis as well as his buddies are enjoying the last of summer!Lewis is still stiff when he first gets up and is reluctant to put weight on his leg when he stands, but he still moves out well when he walks. Without X-ray vision we can only pray that the bone is healing, and his reluctance to fully use the leg will gradually dissipate with time and increased strength. For now, we do not want him to overload the leg anyway, so keeping him separate and avoiding too much exercise is the key.

Thank you to all his loyal fans; he still appreciates your thoughts and prayers, as at some point new radiographs will tell the story of how well he is healing. For now though, he seems content, comfortable, and our old happy Lewis again!

July 22, 2001 Lewis has been home now for about two weeks, and is doing well. The unseasonably cool weather we were having when he arrived home has been replaced by more typical, hot and humid July weather. Lewis enjoys two personal fans on his private, shady porch. He is happy to take short walks with me through his yard, and loves to have his neck and back scratched. Lewis is “talking” to us, something we have not heard since he left home. He has been the only llama to use his voice in short, grunt-like hums when he wants attention or is questioning where you are or what you are doing. It sure is nice to have the old Lewis back!

We are not seeing any change in Lewis’s leg, as we are always alert for swelling or discomfort. His limp is still severe, but he gets around very well and even seems playful at times when we walk. We are hoping he is continuing to heal, and we feel he seems happy at home which should help his body to recover from the months of medications and treatments.

A New Year and doing great!

January 1, 2002
A New Year and doing great!Lewis has been home now since July, and it has been over a year since his initial injury. He still favors the leg and walks with a significant limp, but it does not curtail his activity as far as we can tell. We have added a walled windbreak to his sunny porch for the winter, and he seems snug and comfortable.

We often see Lewis “challenging” the “big boys” through the fence, or sniffing noses with the “little boys” who are adjacent to his barn yard. He even gets into grain stealing at feeding time; and occasionally spit battles through the fence! While his spirits seem very good, we feel he probably misses close contact with another camelid. We have decided to try to find an alpaca buddy for Lewis; stay tuned for future developments!

Farewell to a Dear Friend

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Lewis a True Inspiration

Yesterday was a very difficult day for Laura and I.  We had to say farewell to Lewis, our farm mascot.  Over the past ten years Lewis has taught Laura and I much about courage and overcoming adversity.    Lewis was born totally blind.  After a slow start he began to amaze us with a sixth sense that seemed to enable him to see–even though he did not have a retina in either eye.  We were amazed how he could find his way around the pasture and the way he could walk right up to us when he wanted his back scratched; even when we were zigzagging our way to the barn.

In 2000 while we were at the ALSA National show, Lewis’ left rear leg was badly fractured when vandals broke into our farm and left gates open allowing our male llamas in with the females and Lewis.   Lewis spent over 7 months at the Ohio State Veterinary hospital recovering from a very severe rear spiral leg fracture and several post operative infections.  After four surgeries, months of antibiotics and tons of love and care from many veterinarians and students, Lewis walked out of the hospital under his own power.

Over the subsequent eight years Lewis has taught Laura and I about courage and the importance of enjoying life’s simple pleasures.   Lewis’ simple pleasures included a good back scratch, nice flakes of alfalfa and talking to Laura and I with his honks which signaled his need for attention.

This past winter we realized that Lewis was having increased difficulty walking.  Favoring his once-broken rear leg had eventually resulted in the joints of his other three legs breaking down prematurely.  When the warm weather of spring finally arrived we saw some improvement.  However, over the past two weeks Lewis starting spending most of the time in his stall, only getting up to eat and drink.   During the past few days Lewis could no longer stand even though he made many courageous attempts.  Even though Lewis could not stand he still enjoyed his meals and getting his back scratched.  Unfortunately we knew that it would only be a matter of time before the lack of exercise would result either in depression or other health issues that would lead to infection or pneumonia.

One of the most difficult things we have had to do during our 15 years of raising llamas was asking our vet to end Lewis’ life.  Even during the procedure, Lewis demonstrated his courage by gently leaning against me as our vet inserted the needle that would end his life.  Lewis quietly fell asleep in my arms as Laura and I struggled with our grief.

The coming days will be especially difficult for Laura and I when go to the barn at feeding time and are not greeted by Lewis’ gentle honk and demands for his daily back rub.

I’m sure God has a special place for gentle companions like Lewis.  I’m sure Lewis now has a perfect body that allows him to run and play in a perpetually green pasture full of rich alfalfa, with perfect eyes that let him finally see all that he has missed these last ten years, and he has angels waiting to scratch that special spot.

Fred

Thank you to Everyone

Fred and I want to thank everyone for their kind condolences on our loss of Lewis in September.  We’ve had many dear friends send both emails and special cards, and other rememberances.  One gentleman that we have never met sent a donation in memory of Lewis to the Oklamahoma State University Veterinary Hospital.

Many of you have met Lewis during his brief years with us, while many more of you have only read his story online.  He was a courageous llama that taught us so much about life and happiness and overcoming adversity.  His memory will be with us always, and the many thoughts and prayers from his “fan club” and our friends have indeed helped us handle his passing.

Laura