Nothing from the vets yet. If I haven’t heard from them by tomorrow afternoon I’ll go round and do the Haggard and Hysterical Hellgoddess* at them, just to make sure (a) they haven’t forgotten to tell me because they’re having a busy day and (b) if they haven’t heard from the lab maybe they should do a modicum of checking up. They could say that their client is a haggard and hysterical hellgoddess** and they’d be grateful to have something to tell her. That noise in the background, they could say, is the client under discussion gnawing holes in the clinic’s window frames.
Hellhounds have eaten four and three-quarters meals in a row—NOT WITHOUT EFFORT FROM YOURS TRULY—and there was a certain falling-off from Chaos on the subject of dinner, but I am hoping this is just a blip and not the return of a recent much-feared trend. Crap production is not finest kind either—not that they ever produce finest-kind but what’s happening now is a trifle ominous. . . . I really hope there are lab results tomorrow and that they are, while probably guaranteed non-definitive, at least suggestive.
Hellterror seems as normal—although ‘normal’ applied to a bullie is a bit of a non sequitur—aside from the continued manifestation of hellhound-type un-finest-kind crap. I’m telling myself that this is, in its perverse way, a good thing. It proves there’s something wrong that we can seek till we find.
And I’m basically so tired I could die. I did finally get some sleep last night, but not enough—‘enough’ at this point would probably be into triple figures—and we didn’t have lunch till teatime*** partly because I let myself lie down for a moment† after breakfast and someone stole two hours like picking my pocket.
Not that the day has been a day anyone would want more of than they could help. It’s the 23rd of May in the south of England and we’re having sleet and hail. Okay, you can get hail any time†† but SLEET? Sleet on the 23rd of May in the south of England is rude.
I have indeed spent most of the day playing stupid word games on Astarte. This is all Rima’s fault. Everybody is cooler than I am so I tend to ask visitors what they’re reading/doing/watching/playing. She has an iPad too††† so I didn’t even have the minor protection of noncompatibility. She got me started on Moxie, which I’m not too bad at‡, and What’s My Word? which I’m terrible at, and I discovered Word Abacus for myself which I’m reasonably good at except for the fact that it keeps frelling crashing. This is less annoying than it might be since it tends to crash at about the point that I’m thinking that I’m tired of being dragged up through the levels just because I have a reasonably good vocabulary and keep failing to fail. YAAY. I’VE JUST CRASHED. I GET TO START OVER. I am so not a games player. But the constant pop-up windows asking if I want to SHARE WITH MY FRIENDS make me nuts. NO. I’M TIRED AND STRESSED AND BRAIN DEAD AND WASTING TIME. THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO IS WASTE MY FRIENDS’ TIME TOO.
But the thing that really freaks me out is that Abacus says Hi hellgoddess! every time I open it up again. Where did it pick hellgoddess up from? I sure didn’t invite it to share that particular joke. I do use ‘hellgoddess’ when some blasted impertinent site‡‡ wants a user name other than my email address and I actually am planning on hanging around long enough that it’s not an unreasonable request. ‡‡‡ But some frelling games company? Arrrgh. The permeability of the loose information out there in internet land seriously squicks me out.
* * *
* with optional thunderbolts. Hunderbolts. Hmmm. I think I like hunderbolts. That would be what a hellgoddess hurls.
** with hunderbolts
*** We literally fell through the door at the mews as Peter was making himself a cuppa, the ginger biscuits already out on the table.
† Note to self: when very tired, don’t get dressed in the bedroom. Where the bed is.
†† As any gardener who has ever opened their private garden to the public the day after a major hailstorm will have no trouble remembering forever. You’re scheduled in the Yellow Book^, it’s not like you can say, tra la la, I’ve changed my mind. Delphiniums? What delphiniums? Roses put up with being thrashed better than most so we had some garden left. It’s still horrible.
^ http://www.ngs.org.uk/ There are plenty of other private-garden-openings for charity, but this is the big famous organization. We used to open at the old house.
††† Although her cover for hers is orange. With mine in blistering pink on the same table it was kind of War of the Kindergarten Colours. Anybody out there with a lime-green cover for their iPad? Come play with us.
‡ Also I like it when it says twaddle which is a trifle counterproductive since this costs you thirty points.
‡‡ I was trying to buy cheap fleece blankets on line tonight—during breaks from Word Abacus—because with three hellcritters I find I run out of bedding as soon as there is any extra strain on the system—a hellterror bitch in heat, say.^ This frelling site wanted my birth date ‘for added security’. What the bleep does that mean? They lost that sale. Now I need an alternative source of cheap fleece blankets for critter bedding.
^ Ref Diane in MN’s comment on the forum, you have Great Danes. I’m not expecting to need to put pants on something that weighs less than thirty pounds and presumably has appropriately teeny ooze-producing female parts. Ask me next autumn or thereabouts when she comes in season again. At the moment I couldn’t keep pants on her if I wanted to: she’d chew them off. She’s still in a collar rather than a harness because she still doesn’t sit particularly still for having same put on, and I therefore leave it on all day (it comes off after the last brief night hurtle). She can’t reach the collar. She’d chew the body band of a harness off with great dispatch. Which is another reason—aside from her present interesting condition—that I’m not pursuing my experiments in having her clipped into the seatbelt next to the hellhound box in Wolfgang.
‡‡‡ Ravelry, for example, as some of you know. Also the Rowan yarn site. This for some reason amuses me. Probably because Rowan is so earnestly fashionable. Did I tell you that my Big Wool arrived, for my heart jumper? It is very pretty. And the yarn is deliciously soft. If any of you are considering a similar purchase.
Life is an ugly pond-scum rat-assed bastard and then you die.
This not-eating spell with the hellhounds has been grinding on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, and they’re moving into serious weight-loss and loss of condition territory. You can see there’s something wrong, especially if you know them from a good patch. Darkness is as bad as I’ve ever seen him. He had another double-ended geysering fit last night, during which he dragged me across half Hampshire; today he had what I call ‘colic’ and what it means is that his guts howl like rabid hyenas and he won’t eat.
Usually we cycle through these spells and come out again without too much damage except to my sanity. Not this time.
Okay, here’s the promised bad news: Pavlova is going the same way. Oh, she eats. But . . .
She’s been having irregularly squishy crap for several weeks. I’ve tentatively put it down to the hormone storms of first heat. But it’s worrying. And I’m a little oversensitive on the subject of critter digestion after almost seven years of the hellhounds.
Then about a week ago she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers. Noooooooo . . .
I took her to the vet. The vet said ‘colitis’—which is one of those fancy no-help non-diagnosis words, it just means inflammation of the lower gut. We knew that. He gave us some stuff—including some stronger or different or more comprehensive probiotics, in case this was a result of the antibiotics she’d been on for the skin infection on her forehead after the Malign Encounter in the Churchyard.
We went home.* Her output has been better this week, but not that much better. This has made me unhappy. Meanwhile there are the hellhounds. My stress level could fuel the energy grid of Hampshire, and possibly the entire south of England.
This morning, while she is still on what the vet gave us for ‘colitis’, she produced a gigantic mucousy thing . . . followed a few hours later with the Yellow Geysers.
The Yellow Geysers, which is exactly what the hellhounds have. Have had for almost seven years. It’s not just the runs, it’s a specific form of the runs.
I am so going to the vets again tomorrow. This changes the entire game, you know? If the totally-non-related, different-frelling-breed Pavlova is going down with the same damn thing that has haunted hellhounds and me for seven years. Whatever it is. Doesn’t it almost have to be parasites?** But WHAT parasites? Hellhounds were exhaustively tested for everything known to veterinary science—when they were first geysering. As my bank balance still remembers.
Meanwhile . . . you’ll forgive me if I don’t burble on tonight. I’m not feeling very burbly anyway, and immediate circumstances include that I got four hours of sleep last night. Er. ‘Night.’ Starting about 6:40 this morning. . . .
* * *
* I can’t starve her or she eats her bedding.^ She gets a little rice boiled to mush in chicken stock after an acute attack. This week she’s been on chicken as well as chicken stock and rice.
^ She’s in my lap+ as I write this.++ She’s trying to eat the left mid-thigh of my jeans which I appear to have spilled something INTERESTING on.+++
+ It’s okay. Hellhounds had a sofa earlier.
++ One-handed typing oh joy. What price voice recognition software that actually, you know, recognises, rather than expressing its unique creativity?
+++ No, she’s gone to sleep with her nose on the wet spot she’s been licking. Maybe it will give her tasty dreams.
** Unless I’m the vector.^ Toxic hellgoddess. Yellow Geyser Mary. I also don’t see any escape from the articulated lorry-load of GUILT when—that’s when—we finally find out what this is.
^ And in case anyone is trying to think of a tactful way of making an inquiry of a personal nature . . . I was diagnosed with IBS over thirty years ago, before anyone had frelling heard of it, including me. And Digestive Issues are dead common with people with ME. If this is a trans-species parasite I wouldn’t have a clue. I wouldn’t know normal if it bit me.
Yesterday evening when Fiona and I took my assortment of hellcritters out for final pre-prandial scrambles Darkness produced a crap that Did Not End Well. My heart sank to the centre of the earth. Twice in one week? What on, in or beyond earth is the matter?
When we got home I whacked some Ars Alb into him immediately—the classic food-poisoning and Montezuma’s revenge remedy—which is my first line of defense with the hellhounds’ digestion, on the presumption that when it goes wrong it’s probably because the hellhound in question found a sandwich-end in a hedgerow when I wasn’t looking. The thing is that I am pretty well always looking, especially the last couple of months when everything is pretty dire hellhound-wise, and since last Thursday night I can barely blink for watching Darkness. Which raises the appalling spectre of the possibility that whatever is wrong with their digestion, at least Darkness’, who is the worse, is coming loose from being a specific reaction to a specific allergen, ie the sandwich-end. This does not bear thinking about.
He seemed all right the rest of the evening. He ate dinner* if with less than overwhelming enthusiasm, but we haven’t seen enthusiasm toward food in anyone except the hellterror in months. He crashed out in the dog bed as if he hadn’t a care in the world.** Usually when he’s bad there are signs: you know your own dog. But he sure caught me out last Thursday.
So last night when I let them out in the mews courtyard again I didn’t merely go out with them—which I always do, I was just really, really unlucky last Thursday—I went out with their leads. Not really expecting trouble. He can’t have found a sandwich-end without my noticing. He can’t. I was not expecting trouble enough that I wasn’t wearing my coat.***
Darkness set off briskly for the archway.
Oh, no. Nooooo.
He stopped long enough for me to get his lead on, and Chaos’. All hurtles are fine with Chaos.
We were out about half an hour. And golly we were moving. We probably almost got to Turpitude again. It was not pretty. But I kept thinking I am SO GRATEFUL he wasn’t gone HALF AN HOUR last Thursday. I’d probably have exploded or something. I don’t know if he heard me screaming, or didn’t like being out on his own, or what. But he came back. Last night he had Chaos and me with him so he could, I don’t know . . . ‘relax’ seems singularly inapropos in the circumstances. But I’m the one finally turned around—I was freezing to death† and he couldn’t have anything left to lose. . . .
I was also whapping myself up longside the head, or I would have been if I hadn’t had my hands full of leads. Ars Alb works pretty well—but one of the basic rules of homeopathy is that you stop dosing when there is improvement. How are you supposed to know if there’s improvement? He hadn’t been restless or visibly unhappy or any of that. I should have kept giving him Ars Alb all evening—BUT HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?
Instead I gave him Ars Alb all night. I’m a little short of sleep . . . again. Last night however I decided I was tired of lying wide awake in the dark worrying, and I wasn’t really in the mood for fiction†† so I’ve been tearing through my homeopathy books looking for ideas. You can’t cure something like a violent allergy, I don’t think, but you can strengthen the system . . . if you can find a good enough match for the system in question. People are hard enough††† to find the exact remedy or remedies for, and they, at least, will answer questions‡. A dog . . .
Darkness has been fine today. Jolly, even. I’m a wreck.‡‡ I took him along to the vets‡‡‡ this afternoon: I want informed input, and maybe a few big guns. Homeopathy is a precision instrument: sometimes if you can’t see what you’re doing what you want is a sledgehammer. The vet looked back through the records and pointed out that Darkness had tested positive for campylobacter six or so years ago when both of them were streaming almost nonstop and we didn’t know why. Campylobacter is something that doesn’t go away, and may flare up for no reason—with reference to my terror that whatever is wrong is widening its range. He also said, and while he said it with great plausibility, well, he would, wouldn’t he, that these awful bouts may look worse than they are—one of my bottom line fears, especially strong at 4 am with an eyestrain headache and surrounded by homeopathy books, is that hellhounds are going to be seven in August, and that’s getting on for late middle age in a dog. How much abuse can Darkness’ gut take? The vet said, you can’t know without a biopsy, but his guess is—the additional damage is less than I think. Although since I’m sitting there with the kind of all-over bad hair day that comes of very little sleep and lots of worrying ‘less than I think’ may not be all that reassuring.
Still. So we’re going to re-test for campy, and I have a big gun to try: Buscopan. This is based on my sense that it’s not the runs per se that trouble Darkness, and which the Ars Alb will usually deal with, but the unpleasant kaleidoscope of effects I call ‘colic’, and which may make a bad stretch a great deal worse, especially because of the speed an ailing hellhound goes downhill. If I knew this, I’d forgotten, but the vet said that sighthounds are like this: they are pulled down really quickly, their coats get stary and they look like death’s door.
Roll on not needing to find out if Buscopan works.
Oh, and the hellterror is slightly constipated. . . .
* * *
* I’ve said before that if I starved them every time their guts went a little ropy—the classic advice about dealing with diarrhoea—they’d’ve starved to death years ago.
** And lay on his back with his legs in the air, to Fiona’s considerable hilarity.
*** It was about forty degrees—four Celsius. You would want your coat.
† Adrenaline does help keep you warm. Warmish.
†† Although I can feel a Georgette Heyer/Diana Wynne Jones fit coming on. No, not Peter Dickinson—his underlying view of humanity is way too bleak.
††† I’m sure I’ve said this before: I believe homeopathy does have all the answers. The big steaming problem is the delivery system—the homeopath. The set up as it now is, it seems to me, expects the homeopath to be superhumanly intelligent, preternaturally intuitive, prodigiously well-read in the relevant literature, and divinely observant. Not too many homeopaths live up to this standard. There are excellent homeopaths out there—but there ought to be more and there ought to be better. I think we’re missing a crucial step/stage/link/trick in the study and practise of homeopathy. I just don’t know what it is.
‡ Or if they don’t, that’s a clue. Homeopathy is about the entirety of a person, and not answering questions totally counts.
‡‡ I went to abbey practise tonight. Speaking of things that aren’t pretty. But at least I went.
‡‡‡ The conventional vets. There’s a homeopathic vet in this area I haven’t tried, and am beginning the long grim phone-tag process of trying to get hold of an independent consultant who is at different clinics in different towns on different days of the week and doesn’t have a secretary-type person keeping the bits plugged together.
So yesterday evening hellhounds spent crashed out as usual in the mews dog bed. The system is that I then scrabble everything back into my knapsack and canvas briefcase-shaped object, let hellhounds out for a pee in the mews courtyard—they’ll have their final hurtle from the cottage—schlep knapsack, canvas object, and anything else that may have silted up over the course of the day into Wolfgang’s front seat; encourage hellhounds to leap into the hellhound box in the back, having first removed Pav’s abominable falling-apart plastic carrying crate; encourage hellhounds to get all eight feet into the box so I can get the crate back in, replace crate, fetch hellterror, encourage her to relieve herself, bribe her into nasty plastic crate with small handful of kibble, pick up anything hellterror may have produced, lock up, drive to cottage. Reverse process. . . . **
We have one of our organic-grocery deliveries on Thursdays. I let hellhounds out, had a fast look around for cats or rabbits or any other untoward distractions, and went back indoors to load my week’s fresh fruit into a carrier. This took . . . maybe a minute.
When I went back out to put the fruit bag in the front seat with the rest of the stuff . . . there was only one hellhound waiting for me.
I looked around. It took me a good five seconds to panic. I trotted down toward the archway and called Darkness’ name. Nothing. I trotted—rather faster—back to Wolfgang and Chaos, still standing there looking rather bewildered.*** I put Chaos on lead, picked up Darkness’, and pelted down the driveway toward the main road.
Last few times Darkness has been double-ended geyseringly ill, he has lit out for strange parts as soon as I put him out—but hitherto I’ve already been keeping an eye on him, and have managed to get a lead on him and go along when he sets off. I’ve always had WARNING. With one—appallingly notable—exception, he’s always been able to give me warning, ie to get him outdoors NOW. Last night . . . he had eaten only two thirds of an already minimal dinner but, so? He hasn’t been eating enough to keep a chipmunk alive for weeks†. There was nothing about last night to make me take notice.
Till he disappeared.
I’ve never lost a hellhound before: I’m paranoid, and I know how fast they are—and generally speaking their recall is pretty good, and I’m careful not to strain it. I hadn’t allowed for Darkness having a geysering fit come on without giving me any SIGN.
Chaos and I were wandering around helplessly only a few minutes. Probably less than five. Well, maybe five. I was by this time crying and screaming. It was after midnight, it was dark, at least there was no one else around—no other dog walkers, no juggernauts on the roads—and that stretch of the main road is mostly parkland on either side, so my screaming was probably not heard by anyone but owls. I had just turned to go back to the mews courtyard. This is one of the basic emergency drills of a sighthound owner—your runaway will come back to where he last saw you to find you again. So long as you keep your nerve and stay there. Chaos and I had turned to creep back to the mews courtyard . . . when a bit of darkness detached itself from the rest, slunk through the gate ahead of us, and turned around to throw up at my feet. At least that meant he stood still long enough for me to get his lead on.
Adrenaline spike? If any of you saw a strange bright burning light in the sky last night emanating from a southern-Englandish direction, that would have been me, having an adrenaline spike.
Today has not been a very lively, awake day. The hellterror’s more dramatic difficulties seem to have lessened, although she’s not entirely enjoying coming on heat. She’s still showing no signs of flirting, but she’s licking those Weird Swollen Parts a lot in a kind of LIE DOWN AND LEAVE ME ALONE manner, and while she still wants her tummy rubbed I keep stopping to check that all those tiny but stiff little nubbles are only her nipples, and there are no ticks involved. Hellhounds are . . . hellhounds, although there has been no further geysering.
I’m about to have to attempt to feed hellcritters for the third time today. Whimper. Score so far: Chaos, one third lunch, one third dinner. Darkness, no lunch whatsoever, all of dinner. Pavlova, I’M FINE, CAN’T YOU SEE I’M FINE. I’M ALSO STARVING TO DEATH. YOU CALL THIS A MEAL?
* * *
* We have in fact had a try with the clip-your-dog-harness-with-dog-in-it to the seatbelt apparatus. It works fine. Except for the part about the hellterror setting to with a will to chew the seatbelt apart. Those hellterror jaws, crikey. I’m surprised miners and engineers and things bother with rock drilling tools. Put a bowl of dog food on one side of the mountain and a hungry bull terrier^ on the other and . . . stand back. Gnar gnar gnar gnar crunch crunch crunch crunch.
^ Bull terriers are of course always hungry. It’s part of the breed standard: little beady eyes, prick ears, roman nose, hungry.
** Yes. I hate my commute. It’s always been way too complicated^ but a manic hellterror and a hellhound who is still hoping he’s going to wake up one morning and she’ll be gone complicate matters. The sheer logistics are a big fat pain—in both arms, shoulders and back, chiefly. It would HELP A LOT if hellhounds could jump in from the other side, but that means making the extra height over the side of the box, and Darkness doesn’t always want to leap to seat level.^^
^ It’s a daily version of—you know how that last t shirt/woolly jumper you threw in your suitcase on a whim and that last book you threw in your carry-on before you got on the plane are the only things that prevent your journey from being an utter misery? Yes. Now imagine making those same final forty-six decisions every day.
^^ And thank you, Judith and Diane in MN and anyone else I’ve missed, for those links to Dog Travelling Strategies. I’m looking very thoughtfully indeed at the folding stair.
*** Although ‘bewildered’ is one of his standard expressions.
† Although I believe all those small rodenty creatures have very high metabolisms.
It’s been another fabulously gorgeous SHIRTSLEEVE day and . . .
. . . I’m not in a very good mood. In the first place . . . yurk, where do I start ‘in the first place’? Okay, top contenders for ‘in the first place’:
1. Speaking of fabulously gorgeous shirtsleeve weather WE’RE GOING TO HAVE FROST AGAIN OVER THE WEEKEND. And I have several brand-new trays of snapdragons and diascias sitting around waiting hopefully to be planted. As well as a few dahlia tubers that have been planted in pots* and will therefore join the frelling kitchen queue this weekend . . . Not to mention the petunias, begonias, geraniums, hippeastrums, sweet peas etc that have been out there a while already, when they aren’t cluttering up the Winter Table and the kitchen floor. And if I don’t get my glads in soon they won’t bloom till . . . after the first frosts this autumn.
2. Hellhounds are eating about one meal in three. Sort of. It’s hard to tell because I’ve cut back to about half rations . . . and they’re still playing a sort of hopscotch game the rules of which are opaque to me, where one of them may eat one meal/day while the other one doesn’t eat at all, or one of them will eat one third of this meal and two thirds of the next while the other one finishes the first meal and has two and a half mouthfuls of the next. Their ribs look more like toast racks every day. And as I have just been telling Darkness, who ate none of his lunch and has deigned to eat about two-thirds of his (half-size) supper, if I weren’t worrying about their making themselves ill, I’d just frelling let them starve themselves into a citation from the RSPCA. Fine. Let the RSPCA try and get the little ratbags to eat. How am I supposed to know:
(a) When they’re just being total little scum-sucking ticks and
(b) When they’re going to go over the line into making themselves ill?
I want to know BEFORE we reach (b), okay? Meanwhile the recycled kibble levels are getting extreme and eventually you have to throw it out. £££££££. Not amused. Not amused at all.
3. The hellterror has the runs. No, she has the fountains.
3b. The hellterror is also coming into her first heat. JOY. I don’t know if these two items of interest are in any way connected. I have known bitches who suffer bowel irregularities while they’re on heat but this is a little . . . ultimate. Hellhounds are not, fortunately, the slightest bit interested in local hormonal mayhem—at least not so far, but she’s not in full, you should forgive the term, torrent yet either—and maybe the first puppy heat causes maximum internal uproar and minimum exterior captivatingness? Dunno. But if she’s planning on having excretory melodrama every heat, she’s not going to keep her ovaries long enough to have a litter. Stay tuned.
The good news, such as it is, is that none of this is bothering her in the slightest. She’s the same manic little furball as usual.
4. The ME is biting me. Hard. Still. All this sunny shirtsleeve weather in the garden has been lovely, and the whole sudden change of season thing stuns normal healthy people too, and it may take them a few days to find their summer rhythm**. And the plants don’t care if you’re moving kind of slowly.*** But. . . .
4b. I’ve officially quit the Muddles . . . again. Damn. But I haven’t got the stamina for those two and a half hour rehearsals and I feel a little less than enthusiastic about exposing my never-a-strong-point lungs to that air in that church when I’m coming off flu; furthermore there isn’t time for me to learn the music, now, before the next concert. I don’t know what I’m going to do about singing; I am NOT giving up my voice lessons, but it feels dumb and silly not to be doing something with what I’m (theoretically) learning, and at my level of ability that’s some kind of undemanding group. And undemanding-group choices in this area are limited.
4c. Having cut back significantly on the amount of time I spend on the blog† . . . I probably haven’t cut back enough. I don’t like the feel of this go of the ME: I don’t like the glint in its steely little eyes. I think that look it’s giving me is telling me that the Muddles is only the beginning. I think I am going to have to do more hacking and hewing. This is sure to hit bell ringing . . . especially because of all the driving to this and that tower, and driving is always my most obvious weak point. At least the blog I can do on the sofa/kitchen table/bed.
Maybe I can knit more.
Maybe I can READ more.
But . . . sigh.††
* * *
* Large pots. Dahlia tubers tend to be large.
** Especially if it keeps going away and dropping everyone back in their fleeces and flannels again.
*** Yoo-hoo! Over here! Don’t forget us! We’re hungry/thirsty/an impenetrable jungle too!
† And GREAT GROVELLING REPEATED THANKS to all you guest-post providers who help with this.
†† And I am NEVER going to try to write an outline on Microsoft Word again. ARRRRRRRRGH. I can hardly wait to see what WordPress does to my attempts to outflank bloody Word’s idea of how to write an outline. . . .