In Which My Cello is a Metaphor For My Life

So clever readers of this will note that I don’t seem to have much going on besides bitching about some stuff and whining about my dog. The excuse this time (it’s not an excuse!) is Ardala’s various and sundry calamities. A rough timeline – the week before Halloween, Ardala stops eating, allowing pettings and being nice. She manifests pain, and paces, whimpering literally all night. A visit to the vet results in “Yep, that’s arthritis! And probably pancreatitis.” and a suggestion to put her on a sensitive-tummy pancreatitis diet forever. After several days of her refusing to eat anything but chicken (and us not allowed to feed her anything tasty) and no improvement to the pacing and whimpering – now with the added benefit of peeing in the house – I call the vet for further guidance. Talk to another vet who mentions that urinalysis came back clean, no pancreatitis is present so we should feed her whatever she wanted and that her arthritis is actually Spondylosis, a painful form specific to the vertebrae. He prescribes a mild narcotic. A few days of mild improvement on the pain/sleeping front and we bring her back because she’s still peeing in the house and still keeping us up. Pilling is a further adventure, as Ardala’s overbite makes it tough to drop it down her throat and she has become increasingly picky about her food. Another vet visit gets us an upped dosage of the narcotic, plus some other drug for musculoskeletal pain, despite the fact that the only pain she manifested during her extensive poking and prodding was, according to that vet, possibly kidney pain. (total money spent on diagnostics at this vet – about $500, plus about $120 in meds)

Yeah. So there was some freaking out. A few days later, things had improved inasmuch as I was now getting about three hours of sleep at a time, before being woken up to take her out to pee at 3am. There was still more pee in the house. After another half week or so, we surrendered and went to a vet recommended by a friend of TR.

The upshot? Well, yeah, that’s Spondylosis all right. The nerve damage that has been done to her left hind leg is irreversible – she will always drag that foot a bit… But the narcotic prescribed often has a side-effect of anxiety, and in fact there is an incredibly common drug that works in concert with the NSAID Ardala takes. The new vet took us off the muscle relaxant and the narcotic, gave us the new common drug and a prescription – just in case! – for a mild sedative should Ardala’s pacing and whimpering be behavioral rather than medical. She then suggested a urine culture, which might pick up bacteria that the Urinalysis missed. Two days later we received a call – Ardala had a massive UTI, and her culture had grown more than 100k e. coli bacteria per whatever-it-is. That was very high. The first night I gave Ardala the super-strong antibiotic she let me sleep through the night. There have been no more accidents. She is now on her second course of antibiotic just to be sure. Finally, she is sleeping all night, pottying outside, friendly, happy, and just plain back to Ardala.  (new tests and vet – about $630 spent on diagnostics, plus another $170 on meds.)

She is so well in fact that she is back to greeting us upon our homecoming with enthusiastic Zoomies, which involve making a loop around the house at Maximum Ardala Warp (which isn’t especially fast, but we don’t tell her that) like her ass is on fire. So she did that last night, and right in the middle of her celebratory zoomie, she let out a yelp and her whole back end collapsed. She then attempted to finish by putting all her weight on her gimpy, nerve-damaged leg. It was really pathetic. So. Back to the vet. (did I mention that regular hours at this vet are 8-8, 7 days a week? and that they’re open for emergencies 24/7?). A different vet at the clinic saw her and consulted with an orthopedic surgeon who was there. They are fairly certain that she did not rupture her right hind leg ACL, due to the lack of laxity in the leg. They feel that keeping up with her NSAID and keeping her away from stairs or too much running around should help her rest it enough to get back to normal.

In between all this time, we’ve had to work, plan a party, go to the theatre, get a new dining set, go to a professional conference, and actually feed and care for ourselves. It’s harder than it looks. I have never been more certain of my desire not to have children. So today, when we just spent another $60 for the vet to say essentially “keep on keepin on”, we get home and Ardala’s sneezing. Like honking, sneezing, messy, snotty, accompanied by face rubbing and the occasional backwards sneeze. This is not normal for a dog, and indicates most likely that there’s a foreign body in the nose just waiting to burrow into the lungs. It’s like she’s trying to f-ing kill us – or at least bankrupt us. I just started getting back into the cooking and cleaning routine (OK, cooking – cleaning’s always a challenge, but since cooking often can’t be done without it, a challenge that must be accepted) and now she’s honking away like an asthmatic goose. I suppose I would be tempting the fates to ask “What next”? Scurvy? Canine Rickets? Tennis Elbow? I don’t know what she wants.

Luckily a vacuum and rough swiffer of the place seems to have helped. I haven’t heard any sneezing since her evening walk. We might have been better at keeping up with things like dust abatement and floor care if she hadn’t been so freaking enfeebled the last month and a half.

So when I was excited to get back that bit of cello time that I had lost back in the long ago, when I was being kept up all night by a dog in lots of pain who really, really had to go due to a raging undiagnosed UTI, and I went to grab my cello from its convenient wall hanger (decorative and functional!) I noticed something funny about the A-string. The whole A-peg had just popped out of the scroll, A-string intact and still kind of looped up where it had originally been wound around the peg. I don’t know how this happened. I can’t imagine a scenario in which that peg could work itself out of the scroll and leave the string NOT snapped, but also completely unaffected by gravity. I just don’t know. And that’s my life in a nutshell right now. I mean, that peg’s out; I’m going to be living on ramen for the next couple of months, paying my half of the vet bills, busy baking for the holidays (it’s actually kind of relaxing), cleaning for company, trying to remember to keep myself groomed, but all in all, I’m unbroken and still standing. I’ll take it.

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