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**
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.
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.