Albus got to come home on Thursday April 12, four days after surgery. Every morning, we would wait for his neurologist (Dr. Berry at Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Irvine, California) to call us with any news. Thankfully, we did get some good news which helped with our morale.
While in the hospital, Albus whimpered when they pinched his foot, peed a little on his own and started trying to move his hips. These are all good signs. We were given a small likelihood of him walking again so anything at this stage is pretty encouraging.
We also got to visit him twice, something that I was pretty worried about. I just didn’t feel prepared to see my baby “broken” but lucky for me he was the same old cheeky guy, albeit a little bit more drugged up. He eased my worries.
We also had to go over care instructions and frankly, that was quite a bit to take in. Albus is on a slew of medications and we had to learn to express his bladder (file that under things I never thought I’d have to learn).
To be honest and frank, because I want to be to document this journey as real as possible, this past month has been one of struggle. I learn more and more that in tragedy, the world doesn’t stop for you. It keeps on going so your only choice is to crumble or keep going with it.
The past month has been full of lots of sleeping and hoping and wishing and the occasional (or not so occasional) break down. We have to constantly remind ourselves that it’s a journey and not a sprint. We are doing our best to stay positive and be patient.
I find myself feeling bitter sometimes and longing for what I have lost. Not only did I lose multiple plans and vacations in the near future but I lost the certainty of later on as well. The hardest part is just not knowing whether Albus can be happy.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive, to not just let the depth of despair drag you down but at the end of the day, Albus has been my biggest inspiration. The most incredible thing about dogs is their perseverance. I’m trying to take this whole experience as a life lesson rather than letting it get me down. Albus has been a good leader in that regard.
Albus’ bladder needs expressing multiple times a day and he leaks quite a bit which means that we get very sporadic sleep which of course can be very difficult. It’s really hard to express him because he has absolutely no movement in his back legs so it’s like holding up deadweight. I never thought 30 pounds could feel so heavy.
He also can’t control his bowels so we have to deal with random poops throughout the day and night which as you can imagine is quite messy and inconvenient. He has been eating well though and seems to be doing okay for the most part. He’s still cute as heck.
We started acupuncture and laser therapy about a week after he got home and that was such a relief to just feel like we were being proactive in his care and actually getting something done.
We do a lot of range of motion exercises, massages and I put a toothbrush on his feet to try to help stimulate the nerves. His feet have really begun to tremble. The trembling means the nerves are misfiring but prior to this he has had no movement whatsoever so we’re crossing our fingers that the nerves will right themselves soon.
On April 30, he curled his toes for the first time. He also started moving his back foot when doing range of motion exercises.
After a lot of research and learning what to do, he finally started sleeping throughout the night from a combination of melatonin, pain medicine and lavender essential oils. It’s been such a relief for us all to finally get some rest.
I wrote this on the one month anniversary of the day he went down.
“A month. That’s how long it’s been since we found you and you weren’t walking anymore. When I went away on vacation, you were the same, spunky bowling ball of a pup and I came home and you were not. Sometimes I feel like I have failed you because I couldn’t protect you from this. Sometimes I feel sad. But you don’t feel sad or sorry for yourself, you just take the day as it comes. So I do my best to learn from you. This month has been one of the hardest of my life but also very defining—learning the strength to push through something that tries every bit of your will has been eye opening for me. I’m gonna keep going on this road with you, wherever it takes us, however long it takes. If you don’t give up, neither will I.”