Thursday, October 7, 2010

From bad to better

Yesterday was a really awful day.

It started out well. Hot cider, to cut the morning chill, and a little computer time before I had a shower. Then, in the middle of my morning respite, I got a frantic call from my mom.

My parents are on vacation and I've been taking care of their dog, Rufus.

Rufus is about seven years old and I claim him as my own, as much as theirs. He was around before I was married and when I still called my parent's house, "home."

Yesterday morning Rufus was out doing his morning rounds and got into a bad fight with two other dog. The neighbor saw him trying to make it home and called my parents.

We quickly arranged for me to meet the neighbor at the vet's office, so they could check him out. They told me over the phone that it was really bad, but sometimes a lot of blood can make something seem worse than it really is. I was concerned of course, but I tried to keep myself together until I knew something for sure.

When they got there with Rufus he did look pretty beat up and he was holding his head in a funny way.

The vet did a quick examination and gave a pretty bad diagnosis. She suggested taking him to the nearest trauma center, about an hour away, and even then she didn't have a whole lot of hope for his recovery.

After some discussion with my parents over the phone it was decided that the vet should do some xrays to see what was really the matter. The biggest concern was that, since Rufus was showing signs of paralysis, he had a fractured spine and, even if his other injuries healed, he couldn't recover from that.

The xray showed that his spine was still fine and straight, but his windpipe had been damaged. Also there were two big tears in his muscle tissue that went down to the bone. The swelling from that was causing the paralysis, and just before his xrays he had started to have small seizures indicating that there was also swelling around his brain.

The vet never said it out lout, but I could tell that she really didn't think he was going to make it the next couple of hours even, and if it were her decision she would have gone ahead and decided to let him go. She was very kind though and let us make all the decisions on our own after giving us our options.

Taking him to the trauma center would have been very, very expensive and since the xray showed that his injuries weren't operable it wouldn't have really been worth while to take him. So we decided to give him at least 24 hours to see what would happen. They hospitalized him and gave him medications for pain and infections and treated his shock. They also cleaned him up and stitched up his superficial wounds. Then made him as comfortable as possible.

All day yesterday I felt really awful. I was so worried about Rufus and just couldn't imagine him not being there when I pulled up to the house. I was also feeling really guilty about this happening. I know there really wasn't anything that I could have done, but back when Andy and I got married we talked briefly about bringing Rufus to live with us. We decided against it because at the time my parents had two dogs (two years ago Tinker had to be put down), and we couldn't bring both of them, but we didn't want to separate them. Also, Andy and I were moving into an apartment and Rufus had so much more freedom at my parent's house. So we decided he would be better off where he was. But all day yesterday I kept thinking that if he lived with us this wouldn't have happened. It was a very long day and every time the phone rang my heart dropped.

But with a new day comes new hope, and this morning the vet called to say that he was doing better. I went to see him this afternoon and he was much more alert. Yesterday he didn't respond to anyone or anything and then today when he heard my voice he strained to try to find me. Also, the paralysis is getting better. The vet said that earlier he had been up on all fours trying to walk around.

He isn't out of danger yet. His recovery is going to be very long, and there is a concern that the damaged tissue will die instead of healing. That would be very bad and make his chance of recovery very small, but we aren't giving out hope yet.

The vet said that he had surprise everyone there at how hard he was fighting and how much he seemed to want to live. As long as he keeps fighting we'll do what we need to to help him heal.

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