Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Down and down, round and round we go!

[WARNING: if you’re not really a dog-lover you might want to ignore this one. I only put it in because I worked on it at the time – February! - and want it for my memory’s scrap-book.

Yes, February was a hard month. March was even worse. With the next few posts I aim to put those months behind us and, with Lucy, move into a better and brighter future… You’ve gotta keep trying!]

Oh my gosh, will it ever stop? What a spiral of decline Lucy and I have found ourselves caught up in. As if a black hole opened up as soon as Tom left and there was nothing we could do to get out of it because this place was it. A dark vortex where every thought brought an obstacle hurtling towards us and every movement, pure, physical pain.

We were being sucked down into it, lower each day, until we became it and our lives together just one, self-perpetuating, nightmare.

A bad place to be in, for too long.

So, what-we going to do about it?!

Well, first of all, let me tell you the tragic tale of Lucy’s latest health debacle…

With primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), my thing, all the symptoms stay pretty much the same. That is, there’s not usually anything new to deal with, it’s just the same old things, getting, progressively, worse. Every day.

But for poor Lucy, lately… Ah, it’s just been one thing after another. And all new. All different. And all alien to us (Tom and me) – who are human (!) and have never owned a dog before.

I guess it’s to do with her being pedigree and, therefore, too refined – delicate – bred from a few choice adults, as opposed to coming from tough stock, as say a mongrel might, with strong, non-incestuous parents (not that pedigrees are incestuous by choice, they’re often just closely related). Mongrels, naturally (the operative word!), are not designed (as some pedigrees are, i.e. toy poodles like Lucy) for their looks or roles as lap-dogs (for example). By natural law, then, they are more likely to have strong constitutions and remain healthy longer.

Poor Lucy, on-the-other-hand, chosen as a pedigree to ensure a good personality - which we certainly got - health-wise is the antithesis of some of the sturdier cross-breeds we see on our block…

Over the course of this blog, you’ve heard about all her other problems and the different ways we’ve tried to help (as little of the Vet as possible - I admit it - but then we don’t use doctors, other than for diagnoses, either). If we’ve been wrong ever, then I’m sorry, but we have tried – and we’ve worked hard (herbal remedies – see MS – My Scene – have to be carefully researched and do take quite a bit of preparation; but then, of course, they’re good for you and cause no side effects, so are always worth it).

Lucy is one of the family and, therefore – as much as possible – will be treated (intentional pun!) with the same respect we are (T. and I). Maybe more!

Which is relevant to the present ‘tale’ - or rather, under-the-tail - of woe.

Yep, be warned: if you’re not into hearing about all those ughy nether regions of a canine (and, Lord knows, nor would I have been, pre-getting to know Lucy [what is it they say, “All poodles are dogs but not all dogs are poodles.”? Well, quite. Perhaps I still don’t like dogs, per se – though, I concede, Lucy can’t be only good one!]), you’d better skip this next bit and move on to the end (where I hope things will become more salubrious!).

It goes like this… You know how dogs (and maybe other animals) sniff/smell each other’s behinds/bottoms? Well, that’s all (apparently – we didn’t know before this saga) to do with two little (kidney bean-sized in “toys”), what’s-called, anal sacs, which are glands filled with - what-to-us is foul-smelling - liquid to turn on, or off, other animals. I hope that’s correct. And I hope it made sense. But the thing is, where usually these sacs will empty themselves through normal defacation (and/or the groomer/vet will see to it), sometimes they don’t clear properly, get blocked, infection forms and an abcess develops. If that infection is then “allowed” to go unchecked (thereby spreading, via the blood-stream [septicaemia], throughout the body), the abcess can swell and in time, burst.

This is called anal furunculosis. And it’s what happened to poor, dear Lucy.

Looking back, I wonder if I couldn’t have spotted the signs sooner: difficulty going to the loo; itchy skin; head-shaking as if there’s some alien being inside you (well, I know that one from having infections); “attacking” and biting – just like an MSer (all right, this one!) when being annoyed at the same time as feeling pain.

But, as it was, the first time I got truly alarmed was when I saw Lucy’s whole posture change (her bottom and lower spine seemed to sag) and she felt obvious discomfort in that area, where I now understand the sacs/glands to be. (she started to chew at it). Scary stuff. I rang Tom and we both did what we could until two days later when, after leaving my lap, she left blood behind.

One torch and a magnifying-glass revealed more of what we were dealing with: not a season but this “abcess-thing”, next to the anus, with a hole in it and what looked like pus, mixed with blood, coming out of it. Very, very nasty.

At first we were all fear and panic and pity. But, sometimes, it comes out as anger with each other instead, which is silly and upsets everybody. All I know is Tom loves to remind me, that (because of my MS) I can’t really look after a dog and I know it’s true but, nevertheless, she’s here now, so let’s just get on with it…

I do all the ‘phone stuff and Tom does all the do-ing. He took her down to the Vet in the morning.

Brought her back, told me very little (so I had a day on Google!) and left for work and his - other! – home! Ah! Hard, hard, hard. Two of us again (Lucy and me) both crippled, both depending on each other – and God! – and both alone in separate rooms (it’s how she seems to want it – like a cat going off to die, I am sadly reminded).

She was in a terrible state – knocked out by lots of drugs the “man in the white coat” had - apparently, immediately - pumped into her and, without a doubt, very ill.

It was our (Tom’s and mine – and the Vet’s, I suppose!) mission now, to rid her of the infection. But with - all prescribed, all pharmaceutical - mega-anti-biotics (to kill her immune system completely)? Filled to the brim with anti-inflammatory, pain-killing and anti-dermatitis (side-effect, or did he just work out that she had that [as you know, we’d wondered.]) tablets? Bottom bathed daily in some evil (i.e. perfume) -smelling chemical solution?… I don’t think so. Not in this house.

No. Here, as in the animal world, things have to be more natural…

So, a couple of days into that (incongruous), laboratory list, still with a doped-up, not-eating poodle and following more research into the above-mentioned drugs and their attendant side-effects, I’m happy to report we took Lucy away from all that and put her on a similar herbal regime to the one I use myself against candida albicans (and did use to cure TB) – see again MS – My Scene.

I’m ‘happy’ to report it, because, here we are this evening – five days after it all began - and we have Lucy back in the sitting-room (T.’s here), bright-eyed and, not quite, bushy-tailed, but running about and asking for food/attention – even trying to sit on my lap – like she used to. As Tom says, “a nuisance [under his feet!] again!”

It’s brilliant. And, yet, one more reason to thank God for His miraculous herbs.

However, even if Lucy is truly well again and this last battle has been fought and won, it doesn’t detract from the fact that something must be done about this situation. It can’t go on, because, I know, I can’t go on – my body will not, for much longer.

So, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to heave ourselves out of this spinning abyss? We’re getting dizzy.

Well, I see a few ways we might:

- we could die (oh, to know the light and peace of Heaven!);
- we could win the Lottery (not much chance, I never do it!);
- any or all of my books (that I haven’t written/edited yet) could become best-sellers.

And there I’ll leave it, because that last one’s my favourite and the one I’m working towards, almost daily – against the odds.

Because dreams turned to goals get you out of bed in the morning. And that way we might just get out of here, away from all the Mammons, and, by God’s grace, all the way to Rome.

Where, of course, everything will be perfect!

P.S. My camera broke but there’s a picture of Lucy when she was just recovering – Elizabethan collar round her neck – watching Lost. It’s on Tom’s ‘phone and he’s obviously forgotten that I asked for it. I’ll remind him!