Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey day, Chicken nights

Hi. So remember how I ended my last post with "See you guys later, I'm going to get some sleep now!"

AHAHAHAHAHA. No. That is not what happened. Chickens did, in fact, quiet down long enough for me to snuggle into the chair in Mia's room and drift off for approximately four seconds. Then the crying started again, and then it got louder, and then it turned into crying mixed with barks, yelps and howls. By the time he had reached five and a half hours of this suffering, I couldn't take it anymore. I called the ER vet, who said we should bring him in. We didn't know whether he was in pain or just really pissed off about being in a cage and, you know, paralyzed. But regardless of the reason, healing requires rest, and he was clearly not getting that.

So for the second time in a week, we packed up the baby and the dog in the middle of the night and drove to the hospital. We arrived at around 4 a.m., and they said they'd like to admit him until the following afternoon. They wanted to monitor him, run some tests, and shoot him full of potent drugs. They told us to go home and go to bed. Of course, the moment I closed my eyes, the baby was wide awake and demanding her breakfast. Sal managed a couple hours of sleep before waking up to run the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, where Mia and I watched him cross the finish line of his first 10K.

After Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws' house, we returned to the hospital to get Chickens. They still weren't sure whether his distress was because of pain or sadness and frustration, but likely it was a great deal of both. So they replaced the pain-medication patch on his skin (which had worn off the day before) and injected him with some kind of super-painkiller. He was pretty well stoned out of his gourd. They also sent us home with a bottle of sedatives to keep him calm inside his cage.

It was a really good night. He was feeling so free of pain that he even showed a few brief flashes of his old, lovable Chickenbone personality. When we put some dry dog food in his cage, for the first time since all this began he gobbled it down. (Though the drug patch gives him the munchies when first administered - seriously.) And did I ever tell you how one of his favorite things is to get himself all wrapped up in a blanket from head to toe, like a little burrito? Well, even with his useless back legs flopping around behind him, he started nudging the blankets in his cage with his nose and teeth, and we watched incredulously as he somehow pulled one over his body. It was unbelievable. It was like seeing OUR Chickens again.

Then we all collapsed into bed and had an incredibly peaceful, uneventful night. And how I wish we could have strung two such nights together, but last night the crying began again after my 2 a.m. date with Mia. It wasn't as shrill as it was on The Very Bad Night, but it was enough to tear my heart into pieces as we laid there listening to him. (Luckily, I didn't break down crying myself because I'M TOO TIRED TO CRY! Silver linings, you guys. Silver linings.)

The crying went on for about 10 minutes before we got up to give him more pain medicine, but even that is an ordeal because his appetite is crap. He doesn't want treats, and he ESPECIALLY doesn't want treats with pills in them. Sometimes it can take more than an hour to coax him into eating something. But even after we got him to take his meds, he cried for an hour. This is an hour we spend busting our brains trying to troubleshoot the problem. Does the ticking clock above his cage in the bedroom irritate him? Is he cold? Does the fan bother him? Is he lonely? Our minds race trying to figure out how to help him. One thing we realized is that he rarely cries like this during the day, when his cage and his family are in the living room. So at 4 a.m., we got up and dragged the cage back out. We turned on the TV and hit the couches with blankets and pillows. He quieted down, and we all slept for about an hour before Mia woke up for a feeding. (I would whine more about not sleeping if I wasn't so relieved to finally be in the daytime again. Daytime is so, so much better than those endless nights.)

We just have to get to Monday. On Monday we get the staples taken out, and Chickens can stop wearing the big collar. He HATES the collar. Check out how he glares at us when we put it on him!

Scary Chickens! Anyway. Let's end this on a positive note. I'm afraid to think about this too much, because I don't want to get my hopes up, and I'm trying to brace for the worst. But when we were at the ER on Thursday morning, the vet did a little diagnostic test by propping up Chickenbone's back end so he'd stand on all fours. When they did this a week ago, his legs flopped down like a rag doll. But this time, he stood on his own for maybe 10 seconds. Which is AN ETERNITY in paralyzed-dog-land. It means he is getting a little bit of tone back in his muscles. Sal and I also wonder if his increased pain in the past few days doesn't mean he's regaining some sensation back there. Maybe we're just kidding ourselves, but sometimes for sanity's sake, we just need to indulge in a minute or two of hoping.

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