Monday, September 16, 2013

Looking Back

A lot of this has been shared on Facebook already, but I need to write about it some more because that's how I deal with stressful stuff. Plus, I wanted to include some of the non-medical happenings and share some pictures.

One week ago yesterday, everything in my world was normal. It was a lazy Sunday spent half-heartedly studying for the CPDT exam when I would have rather been reading a novel, so when my friend Elizabeth invited me over for supper, I gladly accepted. I took Maisy with me even though Eliz has an 18 month old, figuring that Maisy could hang out in a crate if it got too stressful.

It really wasn't. Maisy and Baby O got along wonderfully. In fact, Baby O was more interesting in giving Maisy treats than anything else. Feeding Maisy became a reward for everything else- eating supper, taking a bath, putting on a diaper. First do this, then you can feed Maisy.

We came home, went to bed. Maisy did need to go out in the middle of the night, but considering the sheer amount of junk Baby O had fed Maisy, I wasn't surprised. I did note that she looked a little stiff when we went up the stairs to our apartment, and made a mental note to email her chiropractor to schedule a visit.

Maisy was not in bed with me when I woke up, which is weird. I came out into the living room to find her sitting hunched over, glassy-eyed and panting. She took her medicine, but refused to eat breakfast. I called the vet.

From here, you know the story. In the span of 24 hours, she went from happily playing with a toddler to being admitted to the ICU. That first night, even with IV pain medication, she would cry out in pain every time she was touched. She had a high fever and we didn't know why. Nothing significant came up on spinal or thoracic x-rays, blood work, a urinalysis, or from a neuro consult. She had a spinal tap done, and we finally learned that she has an inflammatory disease of the spinal cord, although we won't know what caused it until the result come back sometime this week.

Those days are a blur in my mind. Visiting hours are pretty limited, but thankfully I have a flexible job and an understanding boss. I saw Maisy twice a day, with regular phone updates in between. The morning after being admitted, she looked better, but just barely. She couldn't settle down until I physically held her in my lap, but it wasn't long until she got up and asked to go back to the ICU. Heart breaking.

That evening, once again I came and brought her to the visiting area. She was restless but also reactive, barking at every noise and movement outside the closed door. I felt awful for her; being sick is bad enough, why did her anxiety have to rear up again? Still, with a lot of coaxing (read: cookies), she was able to lie down with me for a bit. She was even offering me her paw in exchange for food.

On her last day in ICU, I went to visit before she had the spinal tap. Because it was done under general anesthesia, she couldn't have treats. Still, she seemed more settled and curled up with me on the floor. The tech told me that she'd been a bit of an attention-seeker overnight; if the staff were on the other side of the room, she was quiet, but if they were working with an animal in the cages near hers, she'd begin howling. As soon as they came to check on her, she seemed to brighten up and quit vocalizing.

Still, it was clear that it was mom that she wanted. When the vet came in, asking to take her back for a quick test, Maisy refused to leave my side and they had to tug a bit on her leash. When Margaret (Maisy's former vet behaviorist, who works in the same building) came to visit us a bit later, Maisy got up and hid behind me... even though she knows and likes Margaret in other contexts. And when I finally gave her back to the ICU staff, Maisy would not go with them. I had to turn and walk away before she would, and I think that was the hardest thing I've done in awhile.

Maisy was glad to come home. With the antibiotics and steroids, she is making progress each day. I'm actually pretty surprised at how quick her recovery has been. Today- one week from when all this started- she tried to initiate play with a dog friend, has been bringing me her ball, and is just generally acting like herself. She doesn't have her normal stamina and endurance yet, and I expect I'll need to keep her quiet for awhile, but I think she's out of the woods.

Now that I think she's going to have a full (or incredibly close to it) recovery, I'm finally feeling the full impacts of the week's events. I'm finally acknowledging how scared I was. I'm finally feeling the physical effects of so much emotional stress. It was a weekend full of naps and massages and hot baths. And spending time with my dog. I want nothing more that to be with her just one more day; thankfully, it looks like my wish will come true.

I will end today's post in gratitude: I am grateful that Maisy is home and improving. I am grateful that she is acting mostly like herself. I am grateful to the staff at the U who took such good care of my baby dog. I am grateful to all my readers and friends and their friends who made it possible for me to get Maisy the care she needed without having the stress of money over my head. I would have made it work, but I don't know how. It probably would have involved a lot of Ramen and skipped meals. So thank you all for your support and love. I have so much to be grateful for. 

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