Monday, May 25, 2009

I Play Nurse, Part 4

The weekend was encouraging. Though still wobbly on his feet, Ripley has seemed cheerful and comparably agile.

I try to contain his (and my) over-confidence over his recovery, but I can not entirely keep him from jumping on my bed and the couch. As much as possible, I pick him up and put him on the floor when I leave the room. At times, though, he beats me to the punch and jumps to the floor on his own. And, unlike last Monday, he doesn’t seem to be in any pain when he does this.

One sign that he’s not feeling well appears to be that he retreats to his crate, preferring to be alone, instead of (as normal for him) close to me. He does this maybe two or three times a day.

He is practically saintly about his meds. This morning he seemed to remind me to give them to him, by taking a position next to the breakfast nook where I have been giving him his pills.

He took the last of his pain pills this morning, but has about a week’s supply of muscle relaxers left.

He’s a whippet (all legs and oversized ribcage), so he’s awkward to carry up and down the stairs when he has to go outside. I worry that I may be putting unhealthy pressure on his spine when I hold him. As much as possible, I try to settle his rump and chest on my biceps so that I’m holding him up from underneath, which (I hope) keeps me from squeezing him too hard.

I wonder whether he will ever be sure-footed again. I suppose not. He’s definitely better off now than he was last Monday, but I think his running and leaping days are over, the two things that always gave him the most joy in life.

As I started writing this, I thought I detected a new symptom. While he was lying at my feet on my bed, his left rear leg began to spasm, the thigh jumping as if he were about to stand, but his facial expression and body language suggested that the movement was involuntary. But the spasm stopped when he repositioned to cuddle against my leg, so perhaps he was only lying at an awkward angle, causing the flexing.

I have so rarely seen Ripley in less than perfect health that the last seven days have been emotional for me, reminding me of the feeling I had when, in the early 1990s, I saw my dad in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and wires, after never having seen him sick, not even with a cold, for a day in my life.

I also have to remind myself daily that, according to the usual calculation, he’s about 90 in human years, so I need to gauge my expectations and hopes accordingly.

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