Saturday, October 15, 2011

Connected by helping hands

This week, some lyrics of Bob Dylan have been noodling through my head - "May you always do for others, and let others do for you..." I appreciate all the encouragement sent to us this week, and last night as I collapsed at home, it was with a real sense of being connected by those acts that we do for each other. I am happy to know that Ginny was touched by the little quilt her Canine-L friends dispatched me to acquire for her at last week's auction, and I know Maribeth is also going to enjoy the ones I put in the mail for her too. Those transactions inspired me to purchase quilts for two other people as surprises and I'm looking forward to making those friends smile. As I struggled with Luther this week, I got a kind email from Maura offering to run any errands I needed, Terisia appeared at the shop yesterday to express her concern and to thank me for supporting her in a dog problem via a late-night phone call the evening before. And as I try very hard to ignore all of the pressing needs of the weekend, Sue has offered to help me with attending to Kearney's much-needed grooming, and Ina just told me she's bringing over a home-cooked meal for us.

May we always do for others, and let others do for us.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I'm posting the photo of Luther before surgery because the ones afterward are grim. Here he is with his "don't cut off this one!" warning label on his front leg (which they allowed him to keep through surgery - the label as well as the leg, I mean). He is in inconsolable misery tonight.

First: it was an abscess, a large plate-shaped one under the skin that had found the external cyst as a release valve. Dr. Ron said the abscess itself is larger than his hand and he couldn't just excise it because there would be about a 4-inch skin gap that couldn't be closed. He was concerned that he was seeing a mast cell tumor in the middle of the mess, but all of the cells he looked at under microscope appear to be infection, not cancer. (This is the only piece of good news so you can stop reading right here if you like.)

This is why I love a doctor who practices the art of medicine as beautifully as he does the science of it. I want a surgeon who knows when something could snowball and doesn't need to showboat over it. So this has become a two-surgery process. For today, just the external growth came off, the area was explored and a good deal of it cleaned by flushing, drains installed and antibiotics begun.

Managing drains for the next several days - I can probably pull them out this weekend. Two weeks of heavy antibiotics to try to knock down the infection. Recheck in two weeks to determine next steps; Ron says another surgery is likely, hopefully where more of the problem can be removed but with a more feasible way of closing him up.

He refused to get up when it when it was time to leave the clinic. I waited out front and finally Dr. Ron said come on back, maybe he will get up for you. There was really no reason why he couldn't or shouldn't, but he just wouldn't. We put him on his feet and he slowly got part of the way, carried him the rest. Ron says it isn't from anesthesia - it was pretty brief, minimal, and reversed hours ago - so maybe he's just exhausted and sick and miserable. On the way home he just melted into the car seat, and when we stopped by Dog Tired for some supplies and Miss Lindsay came out to say hello, he wouldn't even lift his head for her.

Once home, there was no moving him off the car seat without cries of pain and weak attempts to bite. Matthew and I just worked at it slowly, lifting him slightly and shifting him an inch or two, again and again until we got him out of the car. Again he refused to walk, so was carried into the house and onto his bed, covered him with a blanket and he has not moved an eyelash since. He isn't sleeping, he is just staring and....holding. very. very. still.

Now we just wait, and go through it together until we get to some place that isn't this place. I'm holding it together, but my stomach is just in tense knots and my jaw is locked tight to keep any feelings from falling out unexpectedly!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The shadow passes

I think Luther has finally let go of a grief burden today. Lately he had seemed so abruptly changed. Quite old all of a sudden, sleeping a lot, not even wanting to get up for school nor caring that he was left behind. Though it could be a natural part of old-age sinking, there also seemed to be a depressive aspect that I presumed could be from grief at Saylor's disappearance. Yesterday I saw very subtle signs that he was brightening, and today for the first time in weeks he got out of bed without coaxing, and moved with purpose into the day. More interested and engaged, snuggling and playing. I haven't seen this smile (Luther with Miss Sue, Dog Jog 2011) for two long months, but now I believe its return may come. Luther, my sweet boy, my best boy. You have such a dear, precious heart.