It Never Rains But It Pours

This year has been nothing short of horrible.  No sooner than we’d heard my sister was going to live and recover as much as someone with half her innards missing can, we faced yet another crisis.

Last Wednesday began like any other day.  I got up and immediately went to let Dixie outside.  I blearily drudged my way through my morning routine, but when I poured her food in her dish, she didn’t come back inside (she usually comes running).  I went to the back door and called for her, but she didn’t come.

I figured she’d wandered around to the front of the house and was about to go to the front door, when I heard my husband say, “What the hell is that??” while he opened the door.  Dixie came running into the house and collapsed, shivering, in the front hall.  I knelt down and the minute I touched her she gave a loud yelp and bolted to her kennel.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied, “I heard her yelping and when I opened the door, well, you saw.”

It took me forever to calm poor Dixie down enough to let me examine her, and even then I had to practically climb into the kennel with her.  All I could see was a shallow, but bloody, cut on the back of her left leg, but I knew what had happened – she’d wandered into the street.  It was still dark out, and she’s a solid black dog; she was hit by a car.

My husband had to go to work (of course), but I immediately called the vet and told them what I thought happened.  They couldn’t see her right away and suggested a nearby animal hospital, so I bundled her up in a blanket and carried her to the car as quickly (and gently) as I could.

They were able to see her as soon as we got there and x-rayed her and did some sort of other scan to check for internal injuries.  She was very, very lucky – she only suffered the cut on her leg, some other scrapes and bruising, and a very small fracture of her tailbone.  They gave us some pain medication, a stool softener (the fractured tailbone is making any elimination painful) and we were on our way home just a little over an hour later.

I was out of my mind with worry about her for the first few days – she refused to leave her kennel at all the first day, except when she came out to pee and poop on the floor (which I willingly – gladly, even – cleaned up).  The next couple of days weren’t much better, although she started to come out to eat and drink, instead of waiting for me to bring her food and water dish to the kennel.  She still wouldn’t leave it otherwise, though, and cried incessantly unless one of us sat next to her, petting her and speaking softly.

I had visions of her becoming a timid, frightful dog and the thought made me cry – I love my sweet, wild girl who, when she wagged her tail, managed to wag her whole body and tired out much larger dogs with her play and running at our nearly daily visits to the dog park.  I knew she’d heal physically, but I was worried she’d never recover from the psychological trauma.

By Saturday, though, she started coming out of the kennel for brief periods, acting more like her old self, and finally went outside to do her doggy business.  By yesterday she was MUCH improved, going outside with my husband while he continued the job of cleaning out the garden beds, and even went to go visit the neighbors behind us, who adore her.  We ended the day with a nice, leisurely walk around the block.

She still isn’t jumping on the sofa – it hurts too much, getting up and down – so we’ve made her a bed in the sunny patch by the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck out back.  And while there’s no full-body wag (yet), she’s wagging her tail again, if somewhat gingerly, and feeling well enough to beg for bacon and dog treats whenever I’m in the kitchen.

I’m confident that she is going to recover fully from this awful accident, which is such a relief.  Now our challenge is how we’re going to handle the next few weeks – per the vet, she’s not supposed to run until the fracture is fully healed, which will take six to eight weeks.  That means no running, and no visits to the dog park, and if there’s anything my girl Dixie likes to do, it’s run and go to the dog park.

I’ll keep you updated.

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We May Be Okay Here

Well, I have good news when I did not expect to.

I found out that after nearly losing my sister on the operating table a week ago today, the doctors did NOT close the surgical incision – they put her on life support, sedated her heavily, restrained her and sent her to the ICU.  They forced fluids in her to keep her blood pressure up and waited.  Thursday morning, they felt she had stabilized enough that they could risk another attempt at removing the blockage.  They did so successfully, along with nearly half of her intestines and a portion of her colon, all of which had been damaged beyond repair due to lack of blood.

The nerve-wracking part of all this is it took her until this morning to regain consciousness.  We’ve all been on pins and needles, asking why it was taking so long – the only explanation the doctors could give is that everyone is different, and they had her so heavily sedated, then she went back under anesthesia for the second surgery, that it just took longer than anyone expected for the drugs to work their way out of her system.

Scary, scary shit.

When I asked if she was going to be able to function normally with so much of her gut gone, I was told the doctors said she will have to take medications and adhere to a special diet for the rest of her life, and she’ll still probably suffer from chronic diarrhea.  If, for some reason, the drugs and diet don’t work (or she doesn’t follow the diet which, knowing my headstrong sister, is more likely), she’ll be looking at a colostomy bag.

All better than being dead, if you ask me.

While my youngest sister is facing a challenging recovery, my other sister went home to find her husband in the hospital.  When he’d arrived at his dialysis appointment that morning, he was complaining of chest and back pain, and his blood pressure was on the low side, so they shipped him off to the hospital for tests.  Turns out it was pancreatitis which, while painful, is not life-threatening (at this point, anyway – it’s always hard to tell with end-stage alcoholics).

Since I didn’t have to go to Oklahoma or Texas and have been here to play hostess to the visiting clients this week attending our bi-annual business conference, my husband is in a good mood – something I’ll take any day of the week.  If history repeats itself, this will last until somewhere around mid-January, when he’ll do a complete 180 and make everyone miserable until late summer/early fall of next year.

I don’t plan to be here for that, if I can help it.  There is, of course, more family drama associated with my husband’s alcoholism that I simply cannot ignore and does nothing but make me more determined to get out by my self-imposed deadline of next March.

More on that later.

Another Tragedy

I’ve been thinking all year that I’d be heading back to Texas for another funeral, but I always thought it would be my end-stage alcoholic brother-in-law’s.  As it turns out, it will likely be for my youngest sister, who just turned 44 in August.

I got a phone call yesterday at lunchtime from my other sister, saying she’d just gotten off the phone with our brother.  My youngest sister’s significant other had taken her to the hospital; she’d left work early because she was weak and disoriented and suffering from severe abdominal pains.  When he got her there, they discovered that her blood pressure was dangerously low.  The ER staff could find no reason for this, nor could they stabilize her, so they sent her to another, larger, hospital via ambulance.

After a series of blood tests and a high-contrast CAT scan, they discovered a blockage in the part of the aorta that sends blood to her intestines.  She went into surgery immediately, but before they could do much more than assess that she had suffered damage to her intestines from the lack of blood, her vitals waned to such a point that they closed the incision before removing the blockage, and put her on life support.  It is extremely unlikely she will recover.

My brother and other sister are on their way from Dallas to Oklahoma and I’ll know more then.  I won’t join them until we know one way or another; there’s not really anything I can do, and we don’t know what she wanted done in case of her death. She might want to be interred in Dallas, next to our mother (who died 20 years ago this December of something very similar), or she may want to remain in Oklahoma, in the country.  I’ll go when I know where to go to.

My sister and I have never really been close – I am 10 years older and left home when she was just 8 – and have barely spoken in the last 12 years.  We are very different people, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love her and am not devastated by this turn of events.

After I received the initial call, but before my sister’s surgery (I didn’t discover the outcome of that until 9 p.m. last night), my husband decided to chime in and talk about how awful she’d acted when we went to Dallas in January for my sister-in-law’s funeral.  After a few minutes of this, I said quietly, “She’s still my sister.”  He apologized and shut up – until I got the next update, when he started up again until I said quietly, “She’s still my sister.”

This went on periodically until he went to bed – I slept very little last night – and began again this morning, until I quietly said, as we pulled into the parking lot of our office, “She’s still my sister.”

He has also informed me that unless she hangs on until Thursday of next week that he can’t come with me to wherever it is I’ll be going – he has work commitments he cannot possibly postpone or rearrange.  Of course.  Once again, work comes before his wife.

And he seems hurt and confused because I do not want him to “comfort” me.

I’ll post an update when I know more.