The state of the pup. So, it is just over three months since Nico had his stroke. I never did confirm on here what happened to him but yes. My six year old dog had a freak stroke. The tiniest fragment of bone chipped off his spine and caused a blood clot. The vet has no idea what caused that to happen. It could have been when a chair fell and he started or it could have been when he rolled over a certain way or walked down a step outside. He could have stretched his body and something went ping. No idea. The odds of the chip ever causing anything of note at all were tiny yet they did. In the end, it does not really matter what caused his stroke if it is not something I can alter in his life to prevent a second one.
What matters is him getting better.
It was around 11am the following morning when I got the phone call from the animal hospital. It had been excruciating waiting to hear and I was encouraged to phone in but I assumed that the staff would be busy tending to patients and if I needed to know something right away I’d be contacted. Plus, I feared being left in limbo of ‘he’s had a good night/ bad night but we are waiting on X Vet to make their rounds’. I mean, I assume vets make rounds? Walk around the room of cages? I have no idea how an animal hospital works and I didn’t look it up at the time for fear of making myself even more upset. Anyway, I eventually got the call and was told that Nico had a good night.
That was a relief. Especially given mum and I had left with mum talking of where we would bury Nico if the worst happened and me trying not to explode in the passenger seat of the car that now felt huge and empty without my son on my lap.
I had been told the previous night that if Nico remained stable over the next few hours any operation he needed would be on a flexible time scale and emergency treatments may go on in front of him. I was perfectly fine with that. Vets don’t send animals to the hospital lightly and if someone had to jump my son in the queue it was for a good reason. As a result of this I was surprised to hear that Nico had already had his MRI. This confirmed his spine was intact (apart from that little nuisance fragment) and he did not require surgery. This removed the biggest dangers from his path to recovery. Infection risks are high on little dogs who need spinal surgery. Also, back surgery is dangerous no matter who or what you are performing them on. Nico could walk in with a leg that sort of worked and one not working and come out paralysed completely. It was a huge relief to know that wasn’t going to be needed. It was also a huge financial relief. The quote I was originally given was for over four thousand pounds and my parents had to give half of that up front for Nico to be seen at all. ( My part time ass didn’t have that sort of ccard credit) To know I ‘only’ had to pay that half was a good feeling. The letter in the mail eight weeks later reducing the bill by another five hundred was amazing too. Screw pre-existing health conditions that prevent Nico being insured. He just has eczema and doesn’t even need treatment for it anymore dammed it all.
But yes, it confirmed Nico had a stroke and he needed time, painkillers and therapy. There were mentions of hydro therapy at the hospital or vet based therapy appointments but frankly Nico progressed quickly and did not require anything beyond the work sheets we still do daily. My bank account was happy at that.
It also came with the news that Nico was not to use his leg for over a week and should use a sling. A long towel would do or I could purchase one online. What a saga that became. When Nico first came home, the evening after that 11am phone call, he was groggy. He’d been put under for the MRI cause dogs don’t tend to do well with the whole ‘lie still while we roll you into this weird machine making weird noises and odd lights’. He cried the whole way home which was a very different car ride from the 40 minutes he lay quiet and sad in my lap on the way home. As I petted, hugged, fed and cajoled him I tried to tell himself this was progress.
He, being bud, felt he was A-okay thank you very much. He wanted to RUN outside NOW thank you. No. We need a towel and you can’t use your back legs. I thought this might encourage him to walk slowly around the garden and pee accordingly. No, he figures he can run anyway and my asthmatic, bad back arse can just keep up.
That was fun.
It also killed my back so I ordered a sling. Only to find that bud is an awkward size. He’s bigger than most small dogs as he is a beast of a lhasa apso. He’s not fat. He’s just tall. And long. But not long enough to fit the next size sling so to get all frank here, his shoulders didn’t fit the small sling and his penis didn’t reach the slot on the bigger one. Hilarity ensued. I am sure neighbours loved hearing me squawk at my parents ‘can you see his tinkle?!’. He peed on the sling lots. He also peed on me a few times. He wet the bed several times because he didn’t know how to say he needed the toilet without going to the door and he wasn’t capable of doing that so he’d just panic and pee where he was which was often on my bed where he was away from the other pups in the house.
It was advised it was best for them all for them to see Nico but not interact with him until Nico could…well fight them if they fell out basically. He was not well enough to go into the bath so he needed cleaned with wet cloths which hurt his still aching body and made him lash out. But I couldn’t leave him covered in his own pee either. It was not a fun time but I was just glad he was home and was going to survive and had a high chance of full recovery.
And he did start to recover. Slowly the baby gate at my room came down and the other dogs were allowed to interact with him. He didn’t need to sleep in a crate. His hated sling was cast aside and he could toilet outside on a lead. Fur grew over the bald patch where he had been injected with painkillers and anaesthesia. He stopped favouring that paw which had been in pain from the drips. He came to jump onto the couch again. He came to jump onto the bed again, though he prefers to sit at the side and bark until maw here reaches over and pulls him up.
But he’s not right.
He still favours his back leg. A signal doesn’t quite pass through right to tell him to place his paw flat. When he wakes up or his tired he can’t quite work out how to move it at all. It is doubtful now that he will regain full use of his leg. I accept that but my parents have found it harder. The thing is, Nico is happy. He knows his limits. I suspect he also knows he doesn’t need to put in effort if he doesn’t want to, hence the bed shenanigans.
The thing is; I was sure I had lost him. Or if I had the luck to keep him I would be googling the internet for some sort of puppy wheelchair like I have seen many dogs adapt to. For others pity him I am just so thankful he has recovered to the point that he has. His personality is the same. He’s still by bud. I am still scared to let his groomer give him a haircut and I don’t know if I want to be there or not but other than that we are back to some sort of normal. Just, fluffier than normal. And I’ve paid the first instalment back to the ‘bank of mummy and daddy’, something I could not be more grateful for.