Update: One Month into IVDD recovery with our three old French Bulldog, Albus. This is our recovery story.
I touched on some of this in our IVDD recovery week one update but figured I would go more in-depth now that some of the utter mental, physical and emotional exhaustion has settled.
The night of the surgery he called and told us that Albus had a lot of internal bleeding. For a minute, in my completely exhausted brain, I thought he was going to tell us he didn’t make it. But thankfully he did. Every day after he called us with any news from the day. Thankfully, we did get some good news which helped with our morale.
While in the hospital, Albus whimpered a little when they pinched his foot. This can be a sign of deep pain which Albus had none of going into surgery. He also told us that Albus peed a little on his own and it seemed like Albus was starting to try to move his hips.
These are all good signs. We were given a very small likelihood (5-10%) of him walking again so honestly, anything at this stage is pretty encouraging to us.
We also got to visit him twice while he was in the hospital, something that I was pretty worried about to tell you the truth. 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. It did ease my worries some to see him. But it also made it very clear how different things will be moving forward.
To that end, we also went 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) which was sort of frustrating and confusing and just kind of difficult when you’re not used to it and so afraid of getting something wrong or hurting him.
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.”
If you want to follow along for more updates, you can find us over on Instagram @albusandweasley where I share a lot more. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts.