Years ago I threw in the towel on expecting much out of January. (Apologies to all of you with January birthdays. I know your perspective must be quite different.) It’s that double whammy of post-Christmas adrenaline drain and cold, snowy, gray weather that makes everyday life feel dull and problem situations seem that much worse.
We’ve had the bad weather, and Mom and I both have struggled with a vague malaise following the holiday flu (with Mom coping with migraines and spinal pain as well). Friday we got hit with the kind of sorry situation that makes us wish for just the dullness of winter.
I came out into the living room Friday afternoon and found Addie sitting and staring out of the living room window in a way that seemed odd. Next to her was a round stain on the carpet that I was sure wasn’t there before. I sent her outside in case she was going to feel sick again, but she wanted in right away and hoped for food besides.
She hadn’t been sick again by the time we finished our dinner, so I absentmindedly fed Addie her evening meal, a handful of cubed dog food. Mom had grabbed herself some chocolate treats she made for lunch, and while she was enjoying them, Addie sat on the rug in front of her table and proceeded to vomit. I’d started yelling and jumped up to try to drag Addie outside, but before I could reach her she attempted to “recycle” what she’d just dumped on the floor. She was so insistent it took both Mom and me to block her way, and I finally got her out the back door.
She seemed okay when she came back in, so Mom and I made a quick run to Costco. When we returned home, I ran in to get Addie for her much-anticipated evening ride. I immediately noticed a huge round stain on the carpet near my footstool. Obviously Addie had been ill again. This was troubling since she never throws up.
She was fine on our ride. When we got back home, Mom set in cleaning the new stain and I went into my room to change clothes and do a couple of things. When I came into the living room, there behind the sofa was still another big stain.
Mom and I were both uneasy. We settled down for the evening and started to watch a movie we’d recorded, but there was something about the way Addie looked that bothered me. Finally I said, “I’m taking her to the vet ER.” Addie danced on her hind legs, she was so excited that she got to go on another ride. There didn’t seem to be anything really wrong, but I knew I wouldn’t get any rest if we didn’t have her checked out.
I even downplayed it to the tech who signed us in at the Care Center, saying, “I don’t know if there’s anything actually wrong with her, but…” They dragged Addie through the swinging doors and I settled down with a magazine, expecting a long wait. Another tech came out and talked with me at length, then more waiting. Finally I was called back to talk to the doctor. Something in the tech’s face and the doctor’s manner made me concerned.
“Addie has what looks like a push pin in her stomach,” the vet said and showed me an x-ray of Addie’s belly. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was a nail; furthermore, I was fairly sure where it had come from.
Addie’s developed a bad habit of chewing up wooden items. I lost several nice wooden floss bobbins when Addie raided my thread basket next to my chair. Despite trying to keep things of her reach after that, she still managed to nose into a partially opened zippered sewing basket in my bedroom, pulling out and chewing up a couple of the marking pencils I use for needlework. Her most recent episode had been to drag a rustic bent willow-style chair that Mom uses to display a fabric doll off the console table and ravage the chair. We had come in the previous Sunday night to find part of the chair in splinters, the doll and her accessories tossed aside (thank God). Now, gazing at that x-ray, I was fairly certain the nail was from that chair; possibly Addie had swallowed some part that still had the nail in it.
The vet explained they’d keep Addie overnight and give her lots of fluids to see if she’d pass the nail without incident. However, if the nail didn’t move or if it re-positioned into a more dangerous spot, Addie would need stomach surgery.
The estimate for their excellent care was staggering. I knew from Mom’s past episodes with Rusty that she’d pay anything to keep a dog well, but I also knew the cost was going to cause shock and dismay. Of course, there was also the concern about Addie and really feeling her absence in the house. Mom went on to bed and managed to sleep; I, staying up much later, felt that horrible void of a pet’s absence, and I continued to think of Addie as I tried to fall asleep and every time I woke up.
Mom called early to check on Addie’s condition. She was doing well enough but the nail hadn’t passed. Around 10:30 that morning we got the news from the doctor: The nail had stayed right where it was and Addie would have surgery that day.
I don’t usually keep my cell phone on since I rarely use it, but I’d given the surgeon my number to use as a primary contact. I had it on the table through lunch with Mom, Diamondqueen, and J.Hooligan. I’d been told they were going to start prepping Addie right away, but when I hadn’t heard anything by 12:30, I phoned the Care Center. They were prepping her then for surgery, so the wait when on.
The phone was next to my bed as I tried to make up some of the sleep I’d lost the night before. The unaccustomed jangling melody of the call startled me awake around 1:30. Addie was in recovery, had come through the surgery okay, and they’d removed a nail 1/4″ long from her stomach.
We learned Addie would be staying at the Care Center all night and possibly Sunday night as well. We called to check on her status several times as the weekend went on, but turned down offers for us to come visit her. I’d gone in to see her before I left her behind on Friday evening and she broke my heart. She was excited to see me, relieved I was going to get her out of the crate, and I had to turn around and go. We didn’t want to disappoint her again.
By Sunday evening, though, I couldn’t stand not to check on her. Despite a freezing rain prediction and falling temperatures, I made my way over to the Care Center around 6:30. I waited 40 minutes for them to bring Addie to me, and when I saw her my heart fell. She was so out of it I wasn’t sure if she knew me or not; or, part of it was she was ticked at me for what she’d had to go through. She didn’t act particularly thrilled to see me, but I petted and hugged her anyhow. The tech said she hadn’t been outside yet and I could take her if I wished. I was relived that Addie at least could walk around so well. For that brief period it had stopped raining, so we had a short stroll up the pavement in front of the center and back.
I took her back into our room and tried to sit with her, but she was shivering (or trembling) and looked so worn out I didn’t have the heart to put her through any more. I walked along when they took her to the swinging doors since she was dragging a bit at the leash, then hung back, feeling desolate.
Fortunately, Addie was allowed to come home about the same time the next evening. I’d brought along her collar and leash and given them to the surgical assistant. When she returned with Addie, the dog was almost scampering, her tail wagging wildly. The assistant said she’d gotten extremely excited as soon as she saw her leash. We’d already gone over the long “do and don’t” list, so I walked her carefully to the car and prepared to lift her up into the back seat. She paused with her paws on the seat, but before I could hoist her, she jumped up on her own.
She also tried to jump down on her own in the garage and yiped sharply. After that she was wary of the couple of steps we had to climb into the house. Mom said she looked “pale and thin,” and indeed, somehow she did. At first she wouldn’t lie or even sit down, although I lay on the floor in the middle of the quilt, cushions, and blankets I’d spread out. After being on her feet for about 20 minutes, she went over to the couch and acted as if she was going to jump up, something she really wasn’t supposed to do. I hoisted her behind to help her, and she immediately settled down on “her spot,” obviously glad to be home.
Mom brought in the seat cushion from her love seat sleeper to make a kind of wide step for the couch, and I folded a blanket on top for additional height. Addie has adjusted nicely to stepping up and down her makeshift staircase, although she hasn’t been doing it often. We had to keep her on a bland diet these first few days, chicken and rice, which for the first 24 hours she was all to happy to eat right on the couch.
Her convalescence has been going well, although I fret about her licking her 7-inch long incision (we’ll probably put her cone on her tomorrow since she’s feeling more sprightly now). She’s supposed to have minimum activity, including jumping, but tonight she suddenly got up and trotted back to my bedroom. I’d forgotten to close the door, and by the time I got there she had already onto my tall captain’s bed–her usual routine when I stay up watching TV after Mom retires for the night. Addie gets her staples removed about a week from now, which will make me feel a lot better (her, too, I hope).
An ongoing strain, to be sure. But, at least for now, Addie seems to be doing okay. And by the time this is all over, we’ll look up and find that January is almost gone–with, knowing how life goes, the next crisis just around the corner.