Thursday, January 10, 2008

Good Days, Bad Days

I don't want to turn this blog into a diary. I myself can't stand people's diary-blogs, because unless the author is a very interesting and gifted writer, they mostly are full of externalized garbage that should have stayed firmly internalized. I am neither gifted nor all that interesting. But there are so many of you pulling for the Big Red Dog and this is the best way to keep you all updated. Plus, I need to put it somewhere. I'm sorry for giving it to all of you.

I promise, one of these days I will have the energy and spirit to take happy photos again.

Red Dog has developed some new complications. When I went to pick up the Three Buttheads from Cookie Uncle's yesterday, I brought RD along for the ride and noticed he was frantically licking his leg where the catheter had been inserted. Upon closer inspection (and a shave of the leg) on Cookie Uncle's living room floor, I realized there was something seriously wrong with his elbow. He had developed a very nasty decubitus ulcer, or what you may be familiar with as a "bed sore." I don't know about you, but I thought those were reserved for bed ridden old people.

Well, RD is a bed ridden old people. Four days of laying inert with fluid building up in his arthritic elbow caused an abscess which burst under all that licking. It is really rather disgusting and it smells bad as well. The tissue over his elbow has necrotized altogether.

**WARNING - GRAPHIC PHOTOS TO FOLLOW**
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Bed sores are serious business and don't like to heal too much. I'm ticked off that no one noticed it before this - including myself, since I am with him all the time, but I feel like one of the many veterinary professionals who have seen him about a thousand times since he got sick might have noticed this! OTOH, they were all pretty concerned with his pancreas and not his elbows, understandably. Also, he is a very hairy dog. His elbows are usually covered in the stuff.

The big black spot is necrotized (dead) tissue where the abscess began. The lesions to the left of it are where the abscess blew out. Gross huh? Just be thankful it's not scratch and sniff. Seriously.


We went back to the vet clinic today to have this thing flushed and to start him on yet another arsenal of drugs to combat this infection - Baytril, Metoclopramide, Torbugesic, Cefazolin, Tramadol, Clavamox ... I feel like I'm being assaulted with hard-to-pronounce words on a daily basis.

And the words get worse too. While we were at the vet clinic - today it was Dr. Shaw, since Terry left for vacation after diagnosing RD and yesterday was Dr. Burque's last day as the locum - the horrible phrase "Cushings Disease" was tossed at me as well. Every new set of medical eyes has something new to tell me about my dog, and Dr. Shaw pointed out the thin skin, thinning hair coat, muscle wasting and bloated abdomen, classic signs of a dog with hyperadrenacortisolism. Cushings Disease is a very common side effect of a dog on long term, high dose steroids, like Prednisone. You know, the drug that gives Red Dog the gift of being able to walk.

Cushings Disease is also a major facilitator of liver and pancreatic issues. The margarine container? Just a red herring. For all intents and purposes, by giving RD prednisone every day for long periods, we made a horrible deal with devil - your dog can walk, lady, but it'll kill him. I knew that of course, but I never believed it, if you know what I mean. And even when I believed it, I didn't think it would happen to my dog. And in the rare moments when I chose to acknowledge it would happen to my dog, it always happened a really long time off. Except it's never a long time off - even when it's a really long way away, it gets here eventually.

You see this rock? I'm wedged between it and a hard place. He's off the steroids now, which means in another week or less - assuming he lasts that long - he won't be mobile. Already he is rocked right back on his hindquarters to take the pressure off his elbows and has to be carried down the stairs again to the truck. On Monday I seriously f*cked up my back lifting him into the car, so it's getting harder and harder to manage him.

Not one of the good days. It's a bad day. I started to wonder today if I was doing my dog any favours by trying to keep him alive. Dr. Shaw warned me that though RD appears to be improving, to remember that the pancreatic / digestive enzymes that were released into the abdominal cavity have done a lot of damage to his internal organs and the resultant scarring could make things unpleasant. That's assuming he doesn't relapse, and assuming an embolism in his lungs or heart doesn't kill him first.

After a while you start to feel sort of tapped out in the emotional department. My bank account reached that breaking point a while ago (and that just adds a bigger emotional cargo to the already huge load, you know - like maybe if I could afford to do something else I could fix him). I'm starting to feel claustrophobic in my home as I never leave, unless it's to take RD to yet another vet appointment. Now I have to keep my eagle eye on him to make sure he doesn't lie on his bed sore. It's just one hit after another after another and it, you know, sucks.

Anyway.

It's not that I'm giving up on my dog, because he sure isn't giving up on me, or on himself. And doG knows I don't want him to die. But I'm starting to really wonder how much more he can take, and how much more *I* can take. Eventually I have to leave my house. My other dogs need to get out, as they are going stir crazy as well. Life has to return to some semblance of normal soon. This Limbo place is a shitty place to be and sooner or later, we're going to have to move on to some place else. I'm just not sure where it's going to be or how we're going to get there yet.

But again, I have to thank all of you, friends of Red Dog, for your kind words and prayers and vibes and black magic and everything else you've been sending our way. And to my "real life" friends, who let me bounce this sadness and anger off them every time I need to - Fred and Robyn and my sister and especially Mike, who knows exactly where I'm coming from. And Dove and Cheryl, who run a dog walking company and generously offered to take the Three Buttheads out for a good hike tomorrow and tire them out for a bit, and would not take a penny in return.

And Cookie Uncle - well, I wouldn't have gotten this far without him. All you ladies who failed to bid on him when you had the chance ... silly ladies. Cookie Uncle brings me food, because he knows I'm not eating. He comes and walks the other dogs to get them out of my hair, and when we thought RD was going to die, he took the other dogs home with him so I could have some peace. He drove me and RD to Critical Care because he knew I wasn't in a position to do it myself. And if yesterday had been the day we let RD go, he would have taken us there and been with us through it as well. He's been a truly great friend.

As for Red Dog ... there's only one person complaining in this house, and that's me. RD hasn't murmured a word of protest, even though we keep shaving him and poking him and cramming things down his throat. He's tough as nails, this dog is.

He's a border collie.

65 comments:

Janet said...

Not only can I not think of what to say, I'm having a hard time seeing the screen through the tears. It's just so hard to get through these times, with your dog who depends on you. I'm glad you have friends to lean on, and I know you're listening to Red Dog. Hugs to you both.

Anonymous said...

Red Dog is in my prayers...as are you.

jane said...

I'm glad you feel you can share your agony with your virtual friends.

Thoughts, hugs, prayers.

sluj said...

RDM, I really wish there was something I could do. As was mentioned on the Boards, if you have a personal Paypal, a lot of us are ready to pitch in financially. Just let us know if there's anything else we can do, and if nothing else, the mojo will continue.

dp said...

Gah. You are a better woman than I will ever be and RD is so lucky to have you. We are all thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

Those are some pretty scary medical words but we will keep sending energy to RD and you. I know we all wish there was something we could do to help. Since you are home with RD its great that friends are helping with the other W's but I hope you get a chance to get out, too. Being cooped up is bad for mental health and you need all the strength you can get right now.

Robin

Mom2MaggienBailey said...

You and RD are in my thoughts and prayers.. I wish there was more I could say... I continue to think and pray for you guys...

Triumph said...

Sobbing and praying for you both. :(

K xoxo

Anonymous said...

Know that as the two of you walk this journey together that even though we don't know what it is means to be either one of you, we're all surrounding you in a huge circle (albeit a virtual circle) of love and support. RD and his food lady are special friends and companions and nothing can take that away from you- not even the inevitable.

Much love and prayers and healing thoughts to you.

Tiffanie

cookiemonster1975 said...

oh, sweet RD, and food lady, i am at a loss. my thoughts are with you no matter what difficult choice you have to make.

myhandle said...

All I have to say is *hugs*. And ditto to what everyone else has said.

borderluver said...

RD how I wish you could come and play with my sheepies. St least one more time. Please get better.

RDM You will know, when it's enough. He will tell you.

Sasha's Mom said...

Hugs and puppy kisses coming from Florida... RD and you, dear Food Lady, are in our prayers.

ParadiseGizmo said...

I've rec'd this and given it. I hope it helps you and RD in this difficult stage of your journey together. You'll know when, Food Lady. You'll know.

******
May I Go Now?

May I go now?
Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to pain filled days
and endless lonely nights?
I've lived my life and done my best,
an example tried to be.
So can I take that step beyond
and set my spirit free?

I didn't want to go at first,
I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now
to a warm and loving light.
I want to go
I really do.
It's difficult to stay.

But I will try as best I can
to live just one more day.
To give you time to care for me
and share your love and fears.
I know you're sad and afraid,
because I see your tears.

I'll not be far,
I promise that, and hope you'll always know
that my spirit will be close to you
wherever you may go.
Thank you so for loving me.
You know I love you too,
that's why it's hard to say goodbye
and end this life with you.

So hold me now just one more time
and let me hear you say,
because you care so much for me,
you'll let me go today.

- by Susan A. Jackson

Anonymous said...

I have no words that could bring you any comfort. But, my heart is breaking for you both. I wish I had a magic wand and could take all this pain away.

Please know that you and RD are in our thoughts 24/7. I hope all of our well wishes and prayers and good vibes are giving you and RD strength through all of this. Take care of yourself and give RD hugs and kisses from those of us who only know him through his pictures and your stories.

Mary

kittyhouse said...

I feel so sad for you reading your words. I wish there was something that I could say to lift your spirits and help you get through this. But if there is.. I cannot think of it right now. I am crying for you and for your beautiful RD

lvmygoldie said...

RD your food lady and the whole fucking world loves you and her too, but don't tell we do - she is not mushy. Until it comes to you - you are her heart dog and her love and if it is your time you will wait for her to come. Know this RD you are cared for and will not be forgotten - you are a shining example of love and caring. You are RD.

lvmygoldie

Buzz's Food Lady said...

I'm here. I'm sorry.

Schnitzie said...

This is the toughest time to be a mom to a beloved furkid. As you've said, RD will let you know when it's his time.

For now it does seem merciful that you have this chance to have him awake and aware...able to return to you the love that you are pouring into him. He trusts you implicitly to give him the most loving care that will be best for him, taking everything into consideration. I can't imagine Red Dog being in any better hands.

I'm so glad to hear of the help you are getting from your local friends. I am among those long-distance friends, who would be happy to help eliminate financial considerations from your decision-making process.

You are not alone, S. Continuing to send love, positive juju and prayers for you and Red Dog.

Peanut said...

I don't know what to say. Have you looked into natural hydrocortisone?
I don't know much about it but know several people who swear by it in place of the pred. I do know you have to get a rx for it and it can be gotten from here. http://www.pethealthpharmacy.com/index.html
It might be something to look into and ask your vet about.

Jen said...

Scorch, Wolfie, and I send all of our love and juju. I wish there were words, but there aren't. Just know that you and RD are always in my thoughts, as well as a whole group of Floridians who know your dogs through your pictures. I often pull up your website during breaks at training class, and everyone is wishing you and RD the best.

cockermom said...

I am so sorry all this is happening to you. I hope you and RD find peace and a small measure of comfort in the fact that so many feel for you and have you in their thoughts and prayers, You will find the right path.

moorecje said...

Oh food lady, I'm sorry you and RD (and the other pups) have to go through this. I lost a cat to FIP a few years back and it was absolutely heartbreaking. I have no words to comfort you, just know you and your boy are in my thoughts.

Get better, RD.

MahnaMahna said...

I hold you in my heart, RD. You are a good boy.

tears...

carmilee said...

You and Red Dog are in my prayers both Lucy and I are sending all the positive energy we can your way. I wish there was something else we could do for you.

Ann said...

My heart is hurting for both of you. Thoughts are with you both at this difficult time.

Ann

Hornblower said...

(((((hugs))))

Laura said...

You and RD are in my thoughts...like everyone else, I wish there was something I could do...

Anonymous said...

I keep going back to the line where you wrote that he will let you know when he's had enough. I look at what you've written, all the disaster and foreboding and doom. And then at the very bottom, his sweet face looking back at me. That's all that matters... his sweet face and the time you've had together. You'll know because he will tell you.
For yourself, lean on others now. There can be no givers if there aren't takers. You've given so much; please allow yourself to take a bit now.
Peace and loving thoughts.
Salmonmoose (Michelle in Oakland, CA)

kristi said...

Oh jeez. Praying for a miracle. We send all the best thoughts that the FSM (blessed be his noodly appendages) can muster.

Bear, Wick and Lou have paws crossed for good ol' RD.

Walkies said...

Throught the tears and sadness comes the true spirit of caring that Red Dog personifies. He's strong for you his food lady.

He may be getting closer to the all healed goodness of the rainbow bridge, but then again he in his ideas might want to stick around.

You'll know. If you need any help getting back on your feet, please say so. I would be more than willing to help.

Red Dog has touched us all.

ACB said...

I have no idea what to say but just wanted Red Dog to know how much he is loved. From day one of finding this blog through PetFo, you've been my favorite and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you Food Lady for sharing your Woofers with us; they have meant very much to me and my life has been enriched because of them. I adore, worship, drool, praise, and snuggle you as much as I can from way down South, Red Dog. Peace be with you big guy.

bordercat said...

Food lady, I have never met you or RD, but my heart is breaking for you. I been unable to stop the tears since this whole miserable thing began. I think yours and Red Dog's plight has touched so many of us because we have all had to walk down the difficult path you find yourself on now. This is the inevitable outcome we all face when we open our hearts to these amazing creatures. Hold Strong, This may not be Red Dog's time. His will seems too strong.

almost60 said...

Old age was the toughest part of sharing life with my last two dogs. And going through it with the second dog only taught me that no two situations are the same. So, this is in no way meant to tell you what to do, or how to do it. You are unbelievably wise, and I count myself privileged and fortunate for each peek into your world. I know you discount your talent, but believe me, a mix of (in no particular order) humor, inspired writing, honesty, exceptional insight and the photography skills to reflect that unique vision, are just some of your qualities that keep readers coming back to this blog again and again.

As I mentioned in my last message, I had a reprieve of three years with my last dog. I was so sure his time was up that people at work, and in the choir I sing in, had prepared sympathy cards:) From him, I learned to enjoy the moment. I first made the mistake of mourning for him while he was busy getting on with his life. Eventually, after lots of tearful vet visits, I had no choice but to trust that he would let me know when it was time. That day did finally come, and there's no sugar-coating it. It sucks, plain and simple, but like you, I knew that we had had a damn good time together, and in spite of mistakes, I had done the best I could to let him live his life as dog-fully as I possibly could.

So, no advice, food lady, except to ask you to continue to share your thoughts, however painful, with us when you can. Hugs and love to you and Red Dog, with a tip of the hat to Cookie Uncle too. I've recognized for some time now that he's a keeper:)

another dog mom said...

Know that your virtual community and fans are sending you all our good vibes of support for you and the incredibly handsome, strong and humble Red Dog.

scotchmist said...

You said in your blog(I think it was your new year one) that Red Dog was honest and true. What you've written tonight is one of the most honest, poignant and heartbreaking pieces I've read.
All of us who's ever lived with and loved an animal knows what you're going through.

River said...

I really don't know what to say - sorry seems so lame and pathetic for what you and Red Dog are going through.

No matter what happens, Red Dog knows what a wonderful home you've given him and knows you are a truly great owner doing all you can to give him the best you possibly can.

Turbo Taj said...

((((Hugs)))) to all of you. I hope the good days soon outweigh the bad ones.

dognutmom said...

{{{{hugs}}}}}}

As I read this post and then the comments below it, I was writing my comment in my head. Then I read almost60's comment and it said it all.

I lost my first dog 12 years ago, but he just "went", fell over and died at an old age.

But then, I lost two dogs within 1-1/2 years a few years ago. When the first dog went, it was 10 days of being in another world. I only went out when I absolutely had to, like you, mostly to the vet. My other 2 dogs were very understanding with my neglect of them, thank goodness.

The second dog rebounded several times. I said goodbye to her 3 times, but she bounced back. Even though she was old and had been sick for months, it was still hard

It is just plain hard and there is no easy way to get through it. Doesn't matter if it is sudden like my first dog or expected like my last, it just plains sucks, pure and simple.

No words can make it better, but knowing that there are people around you that care and can help, and then the energy from those out here in the world that have truly enjoyed your blog (you do have a gift) can help a little.

Your family is in our prayers.

JoJo said...

This is heartbreaking to read. Take some comfort, what little of it you can, in knowing that others share your sorrow. Be confident in your decisions and follow your heart - your beautiful Red Dog will tell you when it's time.

This poem, by Henry Scott Holland, an English poet, was read at my grandfather's funeral. It moved me so, and I hope you can take some comfort in the words.

I Am I and You Are You

Death is nothing at all...
I have only slipped away to the next room...
I am I and you are you...
Whatever we were to each, that we are still.

Call me by my old familiar name,
Speal it to me in the same way you always used.
Put no difference into your tone,
Wear no false air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, without the ghost of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident.

I am but waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner.
All is well.

katiemc811 said...

Oh, Red Dog, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I am crying at work thinking of what you and your Food Lady are going through. Best wishes.

Love,

Katie, Fergus and Ryder

meredeer said...

Just like with our parents and oved ones, we always wish for them a peaceful exit from this world, asleep and unaware.

RD is a strong, loyal dog, too strong to aimlessley wander off into the light. He wants to remain here, for you.

You have made each other whole and even death cannot release that bond.

When his time comes, at the hands of God or in your caring arms, he'll know he was blessed, and so are the rest of us for knowing him.

A gentle hug for a broken-hearted friend,
Fawn

estrellafugaz said...

My heart aches for what RD and you are going through - I will keep you both in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Food Lady,

You happen to be both gifted and interesting, so no more of that kind of talk. You and RD are in my prayers.

((Food Lady & Red Dog))

Anonymous said...

I'm sending you all of the love and hope and strength that I can muster to help you get through this tough time. I sucks that this is all happening to RD. He'll let you know when he's done. Please keep updating us - there are so many people reading your blog and pulling for you both.

Anonymous said...

Oh, food lady, my heart bleeds for you and for Red Dog. Please know that you don't walk this journey alone - all of us with dogs have either walked it before or are preparing to. You will do what is right for Red Dog. And we will be here for you to vent to/cry to/collapse on.

riosmom said...

As others have said, please know you DO have funds if money will make a difference, will let you try something else. I would be *honored* to help as would others. Please know that and let all your decisions be based on RD and RD only - as I know they are.

Continue to listen to him and to your heart. I know what you are going through and, doG, it is so unbelievably hard. You are both in our prayers.

Benny said...

Red Dog and you have been in our prayers for days. Today a special prayer goes out for you guys.

A prayer for the strength to handle all of this.

We're here for you too.

Bucketmom said...

I don't even have the words...I've been catching up because I love your blog and haven't visited in a while, and I'm saddened to see all of this. RD couldn't ask for a better Food Lady - one who is dedicated to him and his quality of life. I don't envy the hard road ahead of you, but know that I'm thinking of you and RD.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a hugger, but ((hugs)). My heart hurts for you and RD. I can't imagine...

Prayers and thoughts sent to you both.

~Paula

DebC said...

To have acompanion like RD is a blessing, but with the blessing comes a burden. One of the hardest things to bear about having a pet is saying goodbye to our companions. I do believe you will know when/if it is time to say goodbye. My heart is breaking for you both. Take care, RD and Food Lady.

notmyhandle said...

I've been keeping you guys in my thoughts. Please give him a hug for me.

Barbara said...

Thank you RDM for sharing this. Even though, I have been through something painfully similar, I know it's not the same.

RD knows you are there for him, and he is grateful (even if you take unflattering pictures of his bed head).

So sorry.

Virtual hugs and scritches to you and RD (and the other Woofs, Woo, and Angry Donut).

Barbara & the Bedlams Pack

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking of you guys. Poor RD and poor you. I wish there was some magic cure that could fix everything {{HUGS}}
Koalove & Kalea

muppetdog said...

I'm so sorry to hear RD is having so much trouble. Have been thinking of him lately. Our thoughts are with both of you.

LeannInNorthVan said...

I wish there was more I could do then just sit here and cry for you and RD!! We're praying and thinking good thoughts for you both!!!

Leann and the Furry clan

Riva said...

I'm still hurting for both of you and sending all of my best thoughts. I actually have an infrared light machine called a Bio-Scan that might help with Red Dog's walking issues...if you want me to send it up I could maybe do that (I need it back, its rather spendy, but I would lend it)...it's easy to use and I've seen it do amazing things in humans and horses.

And also important...COOKIE UNCLE -- YOU ROCK!!! Talk about a wonderful friend...thank you for taking care of the Food Lady and the crazy threesome!

BecJones said...

Sending our love from Sydney.

We are hoping and praying every day for a miracle. I just wish I could reach through the screen and give you both a hug.

Cherish your time together, however long that my be. He will let you know when it is time.

Bec, Delta, Charlie

alicia marie said...

I'm so sad at reading this, but I know it's only a fraction of the sadness you are experiencing. My thoughts and prayers to you and RD. He has had a fantastically wonderful fulfilling life!

Anonymous said...

RD and RDM. Our thoughts and woofs are with you.

Giz and all

Anonymous said...

We continue to keep you and RD in our thoughts. I get emotionally exhausted just reading the updates. I can only imagine what you must be experiencing. We are pulling for RD and sending all the positive energy your way that we can muster. Take and know that we are thinking of you.

Mary

gooddog said...

All my love and good thoughts go to Red Dog and you tonight.

Barb (Tassie) said...

This is such a sh*tty place that you and RD are in right now. I was in a similar place with my previous boy, Sam, but was spared some of the decision-making because he died before we could start massive immune-suppression theory. Even now, 6 years later, I still do the 'What if' thing whenever a situation like yours comes up. You will cope, because, from what we know of you, you are strong and determined - but whatever happens, it will surely hurt - and for a long time. Please know that you have our long-distance support - support not only because we've been in similar situations, but because through your work for the dogs, and your willingness to share help and advice on the BC Boards, you've darned well earned that support.
Barb in down under Down Under

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Red Dog!

Natalie said...

I'm so sorry RDM... RD really is a special dog. It must hurt so very much to watch him spiral downwards like this. :(