Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas "Gifts"...

...the kind you can't take back or regift; the kind only your critters can give you. Elvis has been feeling puny lately and by Monday I knew a trip the vet was in order. I had to go in to work on Tuesday, so I scheduled an appointment for Wednesday, which suited me anyway, since that's the day Dr. Redding is at the office in Siler City. By Tuesday, Elvis had yellow snot (sorry, but there's not a more tasteful description I can use here) coming out of one nostril, and I knew it had to be a sinus infection, a tooth infection (yep, that same mouth that just had dental cleaning and removal of bad teeth a mere three months ago), or both. At the vet's office, he weighed in at 7.2 pounds, which means he had lost a pound since his dentistry as well. A pound might not sound like much, but when you weigh only 8 pounds to begin with, it's a huge percentage of your body weight.

Anyway, sure enough, there was an infected molar. At first Dr. Redding suggested putting him on Clindamycin for a week and then re-evaluating things, but I nixed that idea (largely because that particular antibiotic gives Elvis blowout diarrhea within just a couple of days of starting him on it--and it's the kind of blowout that even escapes a covered cat pan). I hopefully suggested that maybe we could just pull it then (we? I'm sure Dr. Redding just loves me!). Elvis hadn't eaten since Monday, so anesthesia on a full stomach was no object. And since Dr. Redding had to be in there for a while waiting for a dog that had been in a dog fight to stabilize enough to stitch him up, he agreed to go ahead and try to remove the molar. I also asked that Elvis be given some fluids, since he seemed a bit dehydrated to me. And you know, if you're going to be spending money at the vet's the day before Christmas, you may as well go all out!

So the tooth was pulled, and sure enough one of the roots led straight into his sinus, which is why the yellow gunk was coming out of his nose. I was hoping that the extraction and the antibiotics (Clavamox) would give Elvis some quick relief, but we don't seem to be that lucky. Elvis is doing his best chipmunk expression, yellow gunk is still coming from his nose, and food still holds little interest for him. And that brings us to the next part of this fun story.

I mentioned earlier that Elvis had lost right much weight. While talking to Dr. Redding about what to feed him, we decided that if it came down to it, force feeding would have to be an option. Now, Elvis is bad enough just trying to get a dropperful of antibiotics down him, so I could just imagine how much fun I'd have trying to force feed him. But I'm sure not going to let him die of starvation over an infected tooth that's no longer in his head....

So after offering him a couple of yummy things this evening, none of which he managed to do more than a tiny bit of licking at, I decided the time had come to get some food into him. Dr. Redding had said that he needs to ingest 10 percent of his body weight daily (food and water). I did the math and figured out that this meant I must get 11 oz. of food/water into Elvis each day. Gah! That's a lot! So I took out the Royal Canin kidney diet, added water, and got out my handy 60 cc (2 oz.) syringe that goes with the feeding tube intended for weak lambs. Not being overly ambitious, I didn't fill the syringe but half full. I figured I'd be lucky to get one ounce down him ayway. Not owning a smock, I donned my bathrobe. I'm no fool--I expected that I would be wearing a good part of that ounce of semi-liquid, no matter how hard I tried not to be. I also took a towel to wrap Elvis in so he couldn't claw me to shreds while I was busy trying to save his life.

Let's just say that I succeeded in getting a good part of it in him, but it wasn't easy or very pretty. I felt like I was choking him the whole time, I did indeed end up wearing some of it (or my robe did anyway), and Elvis looked much the worse for wear when I was done than he did before we started. But he got something in his belly (at least I hope it was his belly and not parts meant for other functions, like breathing), and maybe if he'd get something in there, he'd feel a bit better, which ultimately will make him want to eat more. Or not. I hope he starts trying to eat soon, because trying to get 11 oz. down him every day is not going to be pleasant for either of us. And the alternative is a hospital stay, which I'd very much like to avoid.

Are you pitying me yet? No? Well, that's okay--I'm not done. My plan this morning was to feed all the critters inside and out, and then head up to Renee's in Madison to have Christmas dinner (mid-day) with them and go check out a place for sale (25 acres) in Mayodan, just a few miles from Renee's house. When I know the dogs are going to be crated a good part of the day, I like to try to get them one good walk before I go, and today was no exception. So I opened the gate to let the slavering (the archaic meaning of the word) pack through, and they raced for the creek as they always do. The usual scene when I get to the creek is Willow standing in the water, pulling on tree roots, and Lark crouched on the bank, waiting for me to say "Go, Larky, Go!" as her signal to jump into the stream of water coming out of the culvert that carries the creek under the road. The other dogs are usually milling around, digging holes or whatever.

The first thing I noticed when I got down to the creek was that there appeared to be blood on the bank, and enough of it that I could easily see it from a good 50 feet away. Blood is never a good sign. So I walked across the driveway and called Lark to me, since the blood was exactly where she stands while waiting for my signal. Sure enough, she has either stabbed something into her foot or somehow sliced it along the top between her outside toe and its neighbor on her right foot. Great. Well, she's not limping and I don't think she'll bleed to death, so I decide to continue the walk. So off up the road we go.

Willow always follows after us, because she has to give that tree root--the one she's been fighting for months and months--a few last good tugs. So I usually just keep an eye out for her to pass on by, and soon enough she does just that. But what's up with her gait? Oh, she's walking--or should I say hobbling--on her bad hind leg, and packing the leg formerly known as "the good hind leg." Aaaahhhhh! These are not the kinds of "gifts" I would have wished for on Christmas day. But Willow has done this sort of thing before, so once again I figure I'll just go ahead and continue the walk. After all, there are still seven dogs yet uninjured, so why not give them all equal opportunity to somehow damage themselves on the walk that's turning into a bloodbath?

Amazingly, we made the rest of the circuit and back to the house with everyone else intact. I still had to pull up the three sheep I wanted to have ready for Ishmael, since he swore they'd be here today to get another sheep (you've probably already guessed that they never showed up). I put the various lame dogs in the house and decided to use Phoebe to gather the flock and bring them to the round pen. While the job wasn't done as neatly as it would have been done had I used one of my experienced dogs, it did get done in good order, and once I had given those sheep some hay and water, I went back in the house to work on Lark.

The advantage of a small dog is that I could hold her up to the kitchen sink, put her paw under the running spigot, soap it up really well, and rinse it without too much trouble. Of course, all this stuff takes time, and I was pushing up against the time I should have been leaving to make the trip to my sister's. I decided I'd finish examining/treating Lark at Renee's. I hoped that being crated for the day would help Willow with what ailed her, put the dogs up, loaded Lark in the van, along with my first aid supplies, gifts, food, etc., and took off.

At Renee's, I found Elvis' human counterpart in my nephew Jordan. It turns out that his father's health insurance is changing, and he will no longer be covered. Since he has dental coverage now, he took advantage of that to have all four wisdom teeth pulled on Tuesday. He also had the chipmunk face look going, and the poor thing can't eat much, so I guess I wasn't the only one having a not-so-merry health-issue-filled Christmas. At least in my case, the only thing that was really suffering (or soon to be suffering) is my pocketbook. I can eat (and ate plenty!), which means that life isn't all bad, right? And of course my Christmas cards with IOUs were a big hit (you know how it is when you seldom write checks and so don't realize you're out until you need to write a check, as in checks for Christmas, and of course the new checks you've ordered haven't yet arrived). Oh well, it's just more fuel to add the the fire of the "Crazy Auntie" lore....

While at Renee's, I got out the clippers and clipped the hair around Lark's wound. It looked like a puncture and a tear, but it was hard to really examine, because when I started messing with it, it started to bleed pretty heavily again. I opted to put some neosporin on it and just wrap it to apply some pressure. Lark made a big deal of the wrapped foot, refusing to put weight on it. The play for sympathy seemed to work, since she got plenty of handouts (ham only, please; none of that other so-called food).

After eating, we drove out to take a look at that farm property. It's very near a large park, so development potential around it is limited. The house itself is cute, but there is a neighboring compound that is rather unsightly. That's probably why the property was reasonably priced for 25 acres. We couldn't tell if the part of the property that's behind the tree line was open or overgrown, and the satellite image we pulled up on Google when we got back to the house was pretty unhelpful. I'm going to have to call the real estate agent and find out what that back part of the property is. It looked pretty open from what we could see through the trees, but we couldn't just get out and go look because the owners were home and probably wouldn't have appreciated several strangers poking around their property.

By the time we got back to Renee's it was getting late enough that I needed to head home if I wanted to get chores done before dark. When I got back here, I cut the bandage off Lark's foot, and it had bled quite a bit. She's still barely using it. If she's still as bad in the morning, I guess we'll be off to the vet. Merry Christmas to me!

Willow was also still pretty gimpy. But she gets a nightly dose of Previcox, so I figure I can wait with her, keep her on crate rest for a week, and give the NSAID time to do its work and then re-evaluate her. At least that way, I will have gotten another paycheck!

So my Christmas was certainly interesting. And I think I can say "'Tis better to give than recieve," because I seem to be on the receiving end of the neverending vet bill, thanks to the "gifts" my critters have bestowed on me this Christmas. Still, we're all here, and mostly in one piece, and we can count our many blessings. But, please, dogs, cats, and everyone else, could you cut me a break in the New Year?


Kelly said...

Well atleast they are all still alive.....But I am bringing Jen to you, try to keep her safe :)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I was hoping for some relief in your expensive tale somewhere along the way; whew! But like Kelly said, at least they're all alive. Hope everyone stays healthier and uninjured for you in 2009!

Allie Oop said...

Sounds like an expensive Christmas to me. I'm glad all is (basically) well. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a better 2009.


Deb (aka Allie Oop)

MaskedMan said...

Sometimes, surviving is the best you can hope for.

Congrats on surviving!

Oh, and you're like only the second person I've ever met who uses "puny" for "feeling ill." My wife is the other.

Hang tough.