Day Nine Post-Op

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We’re doing so well that I guess I’m left to worry about the little things, the odd things, the could-be-a-sign-of-doom-or-could-be-absolutely-nothing things.

I’m quite good at that, actually.

So far the things are: eye goop, coughing, licking his front legs.  Also just relentless dog depression.  The coughing was only short bouts two days a few days ago, so I’m hopeful that was just poor air quality or allergies or something.  We’re in a bit of a unique situation in that we were pretty sure R did have a little lung met when we took his leg off.  Caused some debate at that point, but there was a 1/100 chance the little dot wasn’t a lung met, and even if it was he might live months longer and did I want him possibly living those months in constant fear of breaking that leg?  Well, no.  So we took the leg, no knowing how long we had left.  Hence, coughing is scary.  Eye goop I’ve weirdly heard can also be a lung met thing?  So, of course, I assume immediately that’s that too.  But we’re gonna keep hoping that’s allergies too.  Then the leg licking.  Assume he’s got horrible front leg pain and we’ll be hobbling by the end of the month.  Or, you know, allergies again.  (I may or may not be such a little neurotic worrier that I made them x-ray his front legs before we did surgery just to make sure he wasn’t one of the like 5% of weirdos that has bone tumors in other limbs as well.)

The doggie depression just won’t quit.  I try to give him a little more freedom and entertainment every day, but then it’s also another day has passed without what he really wants…  So I think we’re always just breaking even.  Today we tried food in the snuffle, chews hidden under blankets, purple rhino ‘tug’ (but I really only ‘tug’ long enough to shake his head a few times and let him have it if he actually starts to pull), squeaky squirrels hidden in my hoodie, and a walk all the way to the corner and back (including ACROSS THE STREET).  Still not enough.  Still no love.  No love for Momma. Poor Momma.  She’s gonna be as depressed as R by the end of this.

Four more days until [for the love of all that is good in the world, PLEASE] stitches come out.  Will also be our first chemo potentially.  We’ll see how that goes.  COVID time is indeed weird and I think it makes the vet way more stressful for R than otherwise.  He knows I’m going to leave him and walk out the door.  He basically tries to claw up my body to make sure I can’t go.  I feel terrible.  I know some people choose not to do chemo because of that stress to the pup (and it WILL be stressful for R) but I figure it’s four stressful visits balanced against maybe many more months of fetch and sunshine.  Hope R agrees with that tradeoff.

Hope R agrees with all these tradeoffs.


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Week One

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So I believe we’re exactly one week post-surgery as of like 2pm this afternoon.  We’ve had an unbelievably easy ride of it so far; I feel both lucky and a little guilty since I know so many people have much greater struggles at first.  So far, so good around here.  It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s certainly been a lot better than I was braced for.

Really our only issues are being weirdly drugged out at night and so waking me up on occasion just slapping the plastic cone against walls as he decides to go stand somewhere really random, and usually a little creepy.  Like, last night he was just standing in the hallway to the bathroom when he woke me up and the just kept standing there for like fifteen minutes with his cone-heal half-turned to look back at me.  I finally got up to see if he was actually stuck with the cone, but no.  Just being a weirdo.

That and boredom are what we’re dealing with.  He is so, so sad that I will not play our usual games. Which actually makes me a little sad too, admittedly, since the whole reason I took his leg was so that he could go back to his long walks and playing fetch without being worried about fracture.  In the meantime I’ve been trying every other form of entertainment I can come up with, but none of them last us for long.  Hiding kibble in muffin tins beneath tennis balls, ‘find it’ with squeaky squirrels, frozen kongs…  It’s just not enough for a dog that, even with the bone tumor was used to walking at least a mile most mornings and playing fetch for a half hour or so.

But if boredom is what we’re dealing with, shit, we’re doing amazing.

Also, I admit I’m ready not to be stuck in my living room pretty much 24 hours a day, but if I’m not here to guard his bum, then I have to cone him.  And like every dog in existence, he hates the cone.  And I hate making him do something he hates, especially when I’m not doing any of the things he likes.  So.  I basically haven’t left the living room except to shower and yesterday I mowed the lawn.  A week.  Binge watching British murder mysteries is awesome, but there are limits to all things in life.

I think I’m going to sneak out to the garage for my first workout this afternoon.  Latest by tomorrow.  He didn’t do anything stupid when I was mowing the lawn yesterday.  He wasn’t happy about it, which is why I might wait one more day.  He whined on the other side of the door.  Normally he has no problems with me leaving for a couple hours.  So, that tore at my heart a little.  We’re going to try a day off the Trazodone today and see if that helps with the weird want-me-in-sight that we seem to be suffering.

Doesn’t want to cuddle though.  Oh, no.  The one thing that would probably make this all a bit cozier for Momma…  He wants me near, but no touchy, Momma.  He will allow petting, and he seems to downright enjoy the warm compress times when I sit next to him and pet him and… yeah, I totally still sing because he seems to just like to hear my voice while we’re doing it and I just don’t have that much to monologue.  We moved on to Broadway tunes last night.

We’re definitely not really back to life as we knew it yet.  Don’t know if we’ll have R with us long enough to really go back to that.  But it is nice not to be scared of fracture all the time.  At the moment we’ve just replaced that fear with fear of falling on the incision.  But I imagine that will fade when the stitches come out.  Then we’ll at least have gotten a bite to fear out of our lives.  Probably worth it for a recovery that has so far mostly just been R bored and staring at me creepily with drug-puppy eyes.

Everyone told me my attitude was going to be one of the most important factors and luckily since R has had such a relatively easy ride, so far I haven’t found it hard to be calm and positive.  The most I’ve been stressing over is why he’s had his tail tucked up to his belly most days.  (That’s why we’re trying a Trazodone-free day today.)  And happy?  Of course I’m happy that “my little kangaroo boy” is home with me and bouncing around the yard.

(Actually, legit guys.  Once the stitches are out and he’s off pain meds and I think he’s pretty much just totally comfortable again, I think I’m going to fall in love with the cute little hopping.  When he starts to trot back into the house after potty breaks it’s all, ‘boing, boing, boing, boing’ and I think it’s adorable.  Once I don’t have to feel slightly guilty for thinking he’s adorable when he’s hurt, I’m just going to fall completely in love with his hopping.)

Day Three

So far, smooth sailing.

Still makes me nervous.

Also, pup is sad today.  So sad.  So, so sad.

Momma won’t play with the tennis ball.  Momma won’t let us walk around outside.  Momma won’t let us have any fun at all.  Because Momma sucks.

Also the drugs are still making him weird.  I hate when I find him standing in the middle of the room just staring vacantly into space like he can’t figure out what he’s supposed to be doing and he can’t figure out how to lie down and he can’t figure out of he even wants to.  It’s like having a dementia dog, which is a whole different heartbreak I’m really not having to face, so the mockery of it is just, mean.

This whole thing has been mean though, so I suppose what difference?

I think we made a couple of positive steps today though.  He laid down on the incision for maybe an hour or two for a nap.  He couldn’t lie down on it at all yesterday.  He still mostly pops back up when he tries to lie on that side, but there was that one time today…  Concurrently, he seems to have figured out how to lie on the leg-side today.  Learning to circle the other way around was a really complicated process, apparently.  So I gushed over him when he figured it out this afternoon.  Aaaand he is, right this very minute, lying in his $200 orthopedic bed he has disdained up until now.  So. Shit.  Awesome.  I think it’s mostly just because he has laid literally everywhere else in this room by now.  But still.

I have watched so. much. BritBox the past few days.  And eaten so. many. snacks.  I think I’m going to try to head back out to the garage gym on Monday.  Get my shit pulled back together, like, my personal, ME, health stuff.  This whole past month basically I’ve just been nutritionally a mess and basically doing not much to counteract that in the gym.  I realize it’s priority 392 on my list right now, but it’s still on there somewhere.  It doesn’t help that I’m not sleeping well either.  I am very spoiled by usually getting 7ish hrs a night.  Plus… my squat rack is my therapist.  That ninety minutes to two hours most days when I watch brainless cooking TV and pick up heavy shit?  That’s my me-time.  I just know I’ll feel horrible of R manages to hurt himself somehow while I’m me-timing.  So I’m debating putting him in the garage with me or leaving him in the pup-proofed living room.  Such debates.

I wish R wasn’t so sad being cooped up with me in here.  The reason I took the leg was so he could play fetch again because fetch is his joy in life.  I just want to give him that joy back.  Soon.

 

Day Two

So. I suck at this.

I actually think R has taught me a lot about loving another creature and navigating interpersonal (interspecies, technically, I suppose) boundaries and overall about patience and being gentle and calm when dealing with a creature that’s frustrating you BUT…

I still have a lot to learn.

I actually view R as kinda practice for if I ever have a small human creature enter my life and I have to say in a lot of ways there are similarities (Diarrhea at two am? Health insurance? Constant, crippling worry?) and I’ve definitely improved BUT…

So much still to work on.

My patience is so much better than it was when I first got R.  I got him a few months before I went off to graduate school.  Back then I was a little shit, frankly.  I mean, R was kinda a shit too, so I guess we were well matched.  But it only took me twenty minutes of him pulling on his leash on walks before I’d be pulling back rather more forcefully than I would now consider appropriate and I even alpha rolled him a few times when he was being super shitty, which I’ve since apologized for about a billion times. Eventually I learned that when I got frustrated it only wound R up tighter.  The more “grrrrr” I got, the more crazy he got.  And, not just expressing “grrrr” but any “grrr”, even if it was supposedly well-hidden on the inside. So I learned how to breathe deep and let out my frustrations with a long exhale and chill the f*** out.

I still have limits though.  And one of my triggers for regressing to my former sharp temper is when R does something I’m worried might hurt him.  So day two of recovery and I spoke sharply to him twice today.  Which makes me feel like kinda a sh** again.  Day two?  That’s how long it takes me to lose my cool?  He started to hop backward into the door to the yard today at one point because he really, really wanted to go back out and see the neighbor.  And the outer door is a light touch so I was worried he’d fall through it onto the concrete step out back and really hurt himself.  Sharp reprimand one.  Then he was whapping me repeatedly with the plastic cone and trying to hop under the table to get ahold of his pill pockets a bit early and being under the table with all the chair legs to run into seemed like a minefield so.  Sharp reprimand two.

I apologized.  But I’m pretty sure dogs don’t actually understand apologies.  Better if you can just not do the shitty things in the first place.

Ah, the continual quest for self-improvement.

Otherwise, day two went pretty well.  Except that R is epically bored already.   He seems to be healing well so far.  The wound hasn’t bruised up almost at all and no swelling yet.  We’ve been careful about staring our warm compresses today and we’ll keep doing that for the next week.  I don’t want to drug R out of his little mind (I like his little mind!) but he wants to do too much too soon and I’m finding it hard to keep him happy without our usual run-around time.  I mean, even with the bone tumor, R was still walking an average of a mile or so a day and playing fetch maybe twenty minute in the backyard.  (Which was already a huge step down from the 3-mile, hour fetch days we started with in lockdown.)  So NOTHING?!  He’s going mad already.

This morning we tried to sprint after a rabbit in the backyard.  (On leash so he only got six feet.)  Then we tried to drag Momma to the fence to say ‘hi’ to the neighbor.  Was not allowed.  ‘Hi’ involves jumping both front feet to the top of the fence for frantic kissing.  Then spent most of the afternoon staring forlornly at Momma sitting on the mattress in the living room and any time she so much as shivered, leaping up, ready to go anywhere, anywhere, anywhere she might want to go!

So.  I upped the trazodone a little bit for the afternoon.  But I don’t like how it makes him seem not like himself.  And kinda anxious, I guess?  Like he’s worried what’s up.  I feel like he knows he’s not himself.  (I’m anthropomorphizing.  I hate how I feel on drugs.  The very few times I’ve had to have real drugs for surgeries and whatnot I have hated the weird fuzzy I’m-not-me-or-in-control-of-me feeling.  I’m attributing something similar to R.  Probably making that up.  But he’s not happy.  For whatever reason.)

So… How do I keep my pup entertained in confinement?  I was looking up brain games today but the only one that looked promising was food hidden under tennis balls in a muffin tin and that has the potential downside of R wanting to PLAY with the tennis balls.  We’ll try it tomorrow, but a little worried that might backfire.

Also, gotta keep working on my own patience.  Still a little bit of a little sh**, I guess.  Self-knowledge sucks sometimes.

My new motto for the day?

“We don’t touch the bums.  No bums, baby.”

We’re pretty profound.

First Full Day At Home

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Well, I’ve gotten pretty much no work done today.  I suppose I’ll have to do a couple hours each day over the weekend to make up for the lost hours.  I couldn’t work because… my dog has been lying on top of me all day.  He didn’t seem calm and happy unless he was literally lying on my body.  This is a classic sign that R does not feel 100%.  Normally, he’s such a boy.  He’ll cuddle for an hour or two and then… He wants his space, thanks.  To have a cuddle bug for a whole day has always been my absolute sign that I have a puppy that doesn’t feel good.

So.  Inconvenient.  And also sad.

All that said, he’s doing so. well. today that it’s freaking me out.   I suppose that sounds like a weird thing to say for, like, a normal person.  But I’m one of those ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ types.  When things go too well I start to give life the side-eye.  “What are you up to?” I ask the Fates.  They never answer.  Either you get smacked in the face with a smelly fish a few days later, or you feel silly for the magnitude of your pessimism and wonder if you ever fully grew out of your emo phase.

R is already pretty good and hop, hop, hopping about.  Honestly, the biggest issue today was convincing him we should just lie around all day.  He wanted to be attached to me, but he would have been just as happy to be attached playing tug in the living room or trying his damnest to run around the backyard.  (He can’t totally run yet, but, actually kinda yeah.  He books it back inside after potty.)

He’s bored already, frankly.  I had to let him have the cone off most of the day so he could chew his dura-chew wishbone thing and lick the frozen peanut butter kong and get extraordinary amounts of ear scratches.  (I am literally blocking his butt with my arm at all cone-less moments.  I’m an obsessive little sh**.)

He’s been good about letting me ice too.  As long as I sit there the whole time and stare at him lovingly and…  I maybe sang to my dog for, well, four icings at 10-15ish minutes a pop…  He’s had almost a solid hour of private concert.  Ah, those years of childhood vocal lessons, finally paying off.  I was running out of songs, so we broke out the real old-school British lullabies my mom used to sing.  We were really digging deep.

Oh! And he. pooped.  I know, I know.  He’s amaze-balls.

As for me?  I find myself less distressed by his lack of leg than I expected to be.  I thought I was really going to have to fight through that instinctive ‘wrongness’ I feel for a split second when I see a major injury like that.  But… It’s still R’s beautiful little face, and his little bear paws, and his little hop, hop, hopping I think will actually strike me as cute eventually.   Now it’s still kinda sad, because he’s hopping because he’s hurt.  But eventually. (Hopefully we will get long enough to get to ‘eventually.’)

It probably helped that he wasn’t as drugged out of his little mind today and therefore was more like… R.

I pretty much felt like I was spending a very, very low energy day with… my dog.

Stay tuned.  I have heard people describe this healing process as a ‘roller coaster’ like a hundred times.  So this appears to be an up.  Which implies…

Yeah.

Eeeeep.