March 25, 2009

Another day, another crisis


So, there was a backlash to all the adrenaline yesterday, of course.  Got out of bed this morning wearing full body armour . . . invisible full body armour, but it weighed like two broadswords and a Shire horse.  Daisy dropped round after I was more or less upright and dressed, giving me an excuse not to go hurtling for another half an hour while we exchanged dog news:  Mike is reconstructing her garden in a new* dazzlingly stark and austere style to look like the surface of Mars.  Very striking.  Daisy is expecting the Innovative Garden Design Award in the post any day now.  She looked out the kitchen window at my plant-pot garrison and said, awed, that’s a lot of work

 Hmm.  Well . . . yes.  I’m just not very good at doing things the easy way.**  I even remember looking at this tiny garden after I’d fallen inappropriately in love with the cottage–originally my office-cottage was supposed to be farther out of town–and thinking, never mind, I’ll just have to get heavily into alpines:  ie teeny weeny things requiring endless amounts of fuss.  Instead I’m doing original research in pot garrisonry.  I’m sure if I ever found myself in a flat with no garden and no balcony*** I’d manage to create labour-intensive window boxes.  As well as hanging a grow light in the sitting room and turning it into a jungle.†

Don’t your dogs jump over that little fence? said Daisy.

No, I said.

Why not? said the latest recipient of the Innovative Garden Design Award.

Um . . . because I used to nail their little paws to the floor when they were puppies?  Daisy’s problem is that she has a family.  She actually leaves Mike to amuse himself now and then.  I spent a lot of time during the hellhounds’ first six or eight months of tenure peeling them off the stakes-and-netting fence that Atlas put in first.  By the time I’d given up my fantasy of simply training them not to trash the garden and asked him to put in the little picket fence, I figured I could however afford to make it sturdy but symbolic, which is to say I can step over it carrying a (large) pot with a plant in it†† although hellhounds can jump twice that high.  Easily.  Especially after, for example, fleeing pheasants.†††

And so, speaking of jumping. . . .

After Daisy left I had no more excuse, so we went out and hurtled.  And I felt odder and odder . . . and odder . . . this isn’t just‡ ME any more . . . and came back to the cottage and even black tea did not assuage me.‡‡  And eventually I gave up work and lunch and life and so on as a bad job and went and lay down.  It doesn’t take long for the patter of little feet and the little pointed faces with the little bright eyes peering at me to follow.  So I made room and . . . er . . . lay at attention to grab them as they arrived, because it’s not merely a very high bed but there’s no good launch-space either.  About an hour later the phone rang.  I don’t know why I decided to answer it‡‡‡ but hellhounds, as hellhounds will, followed me, so we had to go through the whole rocketship thing again.

And this time, as Darkness came up, he screamed.

I’ve been worrying about Darkness for a while.  For a long time it has seemed to me that he jumps into the car rather cautiously, and he also holds himself more . . . intensely.  I don’t want to say ‘tense’ because if you weren’t already worrying I think it would just look like his style:  he’s not the loose-limbed looby that Chaos is;  and while Chaos in full flight drops down a gear and goes into red shift, Darkness is the true sprinter, so it’s not surprising Darkness is the more heavily muscled.  But he’s squeaked a few times going upstairs this last week, he was slightly lame for the duration of one hurtle a few days ago, he has strangely restless fits as if he can’t get comfortable . . . and I’ve been poised for some clear indication that it’s not just a pulled muscle§ and I should take him and my chequebook to the vet.  I am of course terrified that it’s a hernia or an ulcer or something to do with two and a half years of chronic diarrhea:  although I’ve felt him all over (top and bottom) and he says Hey!  Attention!  Yes!  Rub my tummy while you’re at it!, and haven’t been able to find any sore spots.  And the funny thing is that he’d had one of his restless fits the first time he jumped up on the bed–but after the second he flopped down instantly and didn’t move again.§§

So a little before the evening surgery at the vets’§§§ I dragged myself out of bed, took them for their final hurtle–during which Darkness appeared entirely normal–and tottered off to consult the experts.

And the vet said no, his gut is soft and he doesn’t mind me prodding him . . . but he does not want his hind legs stretched out, I think it’s back trouble.

So I’ve come home with a name and a flyer, and I’m about to enter the wonderful world of animal physiotherapy.  Stay tuned.

Oh, and I’m a little better too.¤ 

* * *

 * One might almost say groundbreaking

 ** Yes, yes, I know.  But Superman has ME, you know.  You don’t really believe all that guff about Kryptonite, do you? 

*** Perish forfend 

† Twenty years ago–pre Peter–gardening was something other people did. 

†† Which is a good thing, since I managed to choose the wrong places for the two gates to be put in. 

††† Oh, gods, Darkness caught another rabbit the other day.  I should really try to find someone to teach me to dispatch only half killed rabbits.  Escaped is fine.  Dead is fine.  In between is . . . so extremely not fine. 

Just she says!  JUST! 

‡‡I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it is perverse that the three best stomach-settlers I know are strong black tea, champagne and dark chocolate.  Possibly not all at once. 

‡‡‡ Computer Man, to see how the RaspBerry and I are getting on.  Ask me tomorrow, I said. 

§ Possibly since the recent rabbit 

§§ Since my nerves are now completely shattered I keep checking to make sure he’s still breathing. 

§§§ Yes, again the vets who were going to send me to a fancy GI specialist in London rather than suggest I try hellhounds on a no-cereal kibble.  I’ve agonised about this endlessly, of course, even after I took Chaos in a few weeks ago because he was bleeding from the anus,^  but I’ve more or less come to the conclusion that this is Life.  You’re ultimately responsible.  Experts are only experts.  And you’re all mortal, and things fall through the cracks.  And these are the guys who pay house calls so you can have your beloved friend put to sleep at home, even if it’s a Sunday afternoon, if she reaches the end of the road on a Sunday afternoon.

And today, furthermore, I managed to say something about the two and a half years of chronic diarrhea during which no vet ever said to me ‘try taking them off all cereal grains’ and felt that I was heard, so maybe I can stop needing to take a deep breath before I cross their threshold again, and the vet who told me to put them back on chicken and rice till he could set up an appointment with the GI specialist can stop avoiding me in the street. 

^ Remind me again why I wanted dogs?  Certainly not because they’re a huge amount of expense, worry, and trouble.  

¤ I’m immediately better because it probably isn’t a hernia or an ulcer.  Also Peter applied champagne to the problem.  Champagne appears to have succeeded where black tea failed earlier.  I’m about to see if dark chocolate can finish the job.


Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.