March Madness

madhereAlas, not about basketball.

But madness pretty much sums up this entire month. To be fair, except for the weather, it pretty much started out like a lamb…but it’s going out like a lion.

In general, things were looking up this month – we attended the wedding of a good friend, I got invited to participate in an upcoming anthology, I’m out on submission, I’m waiting for a few other things to line up the way they should – in short, life seemed pretty good.

I’m not sure where the weirdness started, so I suppose I’ll just begin with the endoscopy. It was a few weeks ago, the doc diagnosed me with a hiatal hernia, took some biopsies and off I go. (Still waiting on those results, but at this point, not a particularly high priority to find out and I’m rather done with borrowing trouble, so to speak.)

That was a Tuesday.

Wednesday: Dan busted a tie-rod on his truck while dropping Connor off at parkour. Had it towed to dealer. Got a rental car.

Thursday: Dealership says it will cost $3400 to fix. The entire engine apparently needs to be removed. Dan calls a different dealership who says no, you don’t need to do that, and they’ll do it for $1000. Dan finds the parts needed to repair it himself for $50, has the truck towed back to the house.

Friday: Dan works on the truck. Lots of back and forth as different tools are needed. (Yes, of course there’s some weird bell on the existing tie rod that only Toyota can remove with some sort of special tool. Of course.) I drop Dan off at auto parts store and take the kids to music. Dan calls, says I need to come get him. I pick him up and immediately assume he’s having a heart attack – he looks *bad* – sweating, shaking, pale and in massive pain.

I drop him off at the ER and he starts the whole process while I go back and pick up the kids and return. We spend 5 hours there and the doctors determine it’s a kidney stone. They send him home with percocet, ibuprofen and flomax. It’s about 10:30 PM by the time we get home and I drop off the prescriptions at the 24 hour CVS – which is ready by midnight. (Very busy CVS, apparently.)

Saturday/Sunday: I’m mostly hovering about the family. Walking the dog about 6 miles, making sure the kids are doing their thing, keeping them away from Dan, who feels okay some of the time, but it’s interspersed with periods of severe pain.

Monday: Dan calls to follow up with a local urologist. Earliest appointment is Thursday. We settle in for a long week. I take Maggie to doggie daycare. We discover Dan is nearly out of pain meds and I take him to the local Urgent Care to see about getting enough to last him until Thursday. We called the ER and they said if he wanted more, he’d have to come back in, so we figured the UC place might be a faster shot. We got some more meds, picked up the dog and the kids, no big whoop.

Until Maggie started puking.

A lot. Over the course of the evening and about 6 am the next morning, she brought up everything she’d eaten in the last few days, most of it undigested and full of feces, which is usually indicative of a blockage.

Tuesday: I call my local ER vet. They close in 30 minutes. Regular vet doesn’t have anyone there until 9 am. (It’s about 7:30 am.) I throw Maggie in the car and sit in rush hour to take her to a larger emergency vet facility. Now, Maggie hates vets. Hates them. I got her in the back and I was able to muzzle her, but they were forced to sedate her as she just basically went apeshit. They did x-rays and bloodwork and gave her fluids. X-rays looked mostly clear, but there were a few spots that troubled the vet and if I wanted to pay extra, they’d send it out to a radiologist to be sure, though that would take another 3 to 5 hours.

In the meantime, Dan calls me and says he’s having issues breathing. Vet says I can leave Maggie there and pick her up later, once we here what radiology says. I go get Dan and take him back to Urgent Care – I’m assuming it’s the perc that might be causing the breathing issues. UC does bloodwork and freaks out at the creatinine levels, insisting he might be going into kidney failure.  They send us back to the ER.

ER does a CT scan and more bloodwork. Kidney stone verified hanging out in the ureter, pretty close to the bladder. Maybe 3 mm.  After about 3 hours, they send us home, and tell Dan to go off the ibuprofen as that might be what’s causing the higher creatinine levels. Dan mentions the pain meds they gave him aren’t working too well anymore and the pain is getting worse overall. They shrug and say it could take weeks.

I drop him at home and after talking to the vet, agree to pick Maggie up. Radiologist didn’t see anything, so I’ll observe Maggie overnight and see how she does.  Cost: $800.

Dan’s friends come over Tuesday night with a grinder and manage to get the tie rod off the truck and replace it with the new one, though it’s not quite tight. Dan says he will buy a different wrench later and get that part done.

Wednesday: Dan has the worst night ever. Six hours of intense pain before it lets up. Pain meds do nothing. Maggie makes it through the night and doesn’t puke, but by mid-morning, she’s pacing around the yard, lying down, getting up, groaning when she stretches out and doesn’t want me near her. Dan is in rough shape and getting worse. I call his urologist and see if we can’t bump up his appointment. They tell me to take him to a different ER that they work out of. I call the vet and indicate Maggie seems to be in distress and they tell me take her back in.

I drop Dan off at the new ER and then take Maggie back to the vet. It does not go well. She’s not keen on letting me muzzle her again and the minute the vet steps in the room, she starts growling.

In the end, it takes 3 vets, a rabies pole and a blanket to inject her with the sedative. It’s the worst thing ever to have to watch, but by that point, she was so upset, even I couldn’t have managed to calm her down.

Vets did more x-rays – there was food in her stomach they could see now from that morning (she’s on a raw diet, which includes some bones, but I hadn’t fed her any that morning. She probably dug one up from the backyard, but seeing as her stomach was completely empty the day before, no one thought that had anything to do with her previous issue.)  Vets said it might be best to keep her overnight and do more x-rays the next day to see how things were moving along. They also did an ultrasound of her pancreas. Cost. $1900.

In the meantime, Dan was admitted to the hospital proper, so I picked up the kids and drove back there to see him. The pain meds were not working and he was in a lot of distress, with a bp of over 160. The urologist would be in to see him the next morning.

Thursday: Dan texts me in the morning and says he basically wants to die. Apparently the pain was so bad, the guy in the next room actually called the nurse because Dan was in agony. Even double back-to-back shots of dilaudid were not helping. Eventually the doc did show up and said Dan could either wait to have it pass, or they could go up there and get it. Dan asked to have it removed and he went into surgery about 1:30 in the afternoon. The stone they removed turned out to be a lot larger than they originally thought and they ended up putting in a stent to keep the ureter from swelling shut.

Vet calls me and says some stuff in Maggie’s stomach is moving, but some is not and they will do another set later that afternoon. By that point, Dan is out of surgery and recovering. Vet calls back and indicates the larger bits of food aren’t really moving out of Maggie’s stomach. I can bring her home again and see how she does or we can do an exploratory surgery and see if they can find anything that wouldn’t show up on an x-ray.

At this point, I don’t know what to do. I haven’t slept in 48 hours and to be honest, after watching Maggie go through such a terrible ordeal the day before, I don’t know if I can bear it to subject her to that again, especially given that she’s already sedated and IV’d and ready to go. In the end, I tell them to do the surgery. Vet says it is warranted in this case and that they will also do some biopsies, given that she has a history of gastric distress. (Hence me moving her to a raw diet in December. Within two days, everything cleared up – not sure if she’s got food allergies or something else, but whatever.)

I go visit Dan in the hospital as he’s being kept another night until his kidney functions return to normal. His friends stop by with Ben & Jerry’s. I eat myself sick.

Vet calls around 11 pm. They found nothing in Maggie’s intestinal tract. Cost: $2250

Friday:  I pick up Dan around 10 am and then go to get Maggie. Vet says normally they’d keep her another day, but given that she’s had to be sedated the last two days entirely due to her apeshit tendencies, they’d rather send her home asap. They used internal stitches so that she wouldn’t have to be brought back to have anything removed.

After picking her up, it’s pretty clear she doesn’t trust me and spends the next 15 hours 2015-03-22 15.18.21ghosting from room to room. She can’t lie down due to pain, but refuses all  pain medication from me. I’ve never had issues pilling her before, but I can’t really blame her for not wanting me to touch her mouth at this point. (They had her basket-muzzled on top of everything else.) However, I did try multiple times, both whole and crushed pills using honey, yogurt, ice cream, canned salmon, wet cat food, wet dog food, hotdogs, cheese, chicken and peanut butter. You name it, she knew which pieces had the pills and she completely avoided it all. After attempting to force her a few times, she started growling and I decided it wasn’t worth pushing the issue.

So I just stayed up with her all night until she forgave me enough to check me out on the sofa around 5 am. (She is back to normal in that respect now – howls when I leave, etc.)

Dan spent most of the weekend sleeping. Maggie eventually did start eating soft foods (I’m avoiding anything bone-related for a few weeks.) She’s wearing an inflatable ecollar, as she has a tendency to destroy the larger plastic ones in minutes and still refuses all medication. Doesn’t seem to be slowing her down any.

I’m supposed to keep her quiet for 14 days – this is somewhat laughable, given I normally have to take her on 5 to 6 mile walks on a daily basis if she’s not at daycare. Today I did about 3 in 1.5 mile increments. At this point, the best I can do is keep her from running and jumping too much and I have to watch her to make sure she’s not licking her incision. (The collar only helps so much…)

In any case, it’s pretty much been the worst month ever (in a really long time), I’m pretty much broke and I don’t have a lot to show for it.

But next month has to be better, right?

(On an incidental side-note, if you’re ever looking for an app to help dispense medications for you or someone else, I highly recommend the Pill Reminder app by – very helpful in making sure Dan got everything he needed at the right times…)

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