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Flowers for Algernon November 3, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, random stuff.
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Have you ever read a story that just stuck with you through the years?

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I’ve had a few like that – stories I’ve forgotten, other than a scene or two, until years later, when I come across the same story and I remember “that’s what it was!”

Or a story like Flowers for Algernon – I think I read that in sixth grade (I was in the advance reading group) – and I never forgot it.  The name alone – Algernon – was enough to be unforgettable, and by the time I understood the title, well, it was just not something I’d easily forget, that’s all.

Do you remember it?  Charlie was a mentally retarded challenged handicapped young man, and he became a candidate for, basically, intelligence-enhancing treatment.  It had worked well for the lab rat – Algernon – why not try it where it will do some good, right?

Suddenly, Charlie started growing smarter.  And smarter – until he was as smart as, or smarter than, the doctors who’d performed his trials.

And eventually Algernon, the rat, started deteriorating.  He not only lost the benefit of this treatment, but he became erratic – even violent – and then he died.

Charlie knew what was in store with him.

I can’t help thinking of this story – a lot – lately.

You’ll recall that our Puppy-Baby had been involved in a drug study for treatment of his hip dysplasia and that we’ve been pleased beyond anything we ever expected.

Our puppster was running and jumping and frolicking – pain-free!  It was, quite honestly, the closest thing to a “miracle drug” we’ve ever seen.

Then the study ended, and we had to turn in the remainder of the drug.

Fortunately, the test was not for a new drug, but a new delivery system –  the drug itself has been in existence, not just for dogs, but for people too.  So the vet ultimately prescribed the drug in the same form people use it – little, tiny tablets.  Little, tiny, affordable tablets!

However, there’s been a bit of a problem lately.

About the time he went off the trial and onto the regular meds, Jarly started getting sick.

At first it was the occasional dog-vomit, but it didn’t take long before we realized something was going on.  Since one of the more common side effects with this medication is nausea, we took him off the arthritis meds, but it continued.

We’d just opened a new bag of kibble – maybe – just possibly – there was something wrong with it.  So we switched dog food.

It settled down – for a couple of days.  Then it started again.

We switched him to a bland diet – boiled ground beef and grain (rice, then barley) and he stopped barfing, but he was hungry.  All the time.  And a little cranky.

Actually, very cranky.

We were on an abbreviated morning walk the other morning – abbreviated because, without the Magic Drugs, our poor puppy is still Mr. Limpers.

So we were walking, there in the pre-dawn hour, and he grabbed something from the ground.

Not just anything, mind you.

He had found a dead squirrel.

He, who had spent the past several days barfing all over my living room, wanted to chew on a dead squirrel.

Um, no.

Drop it.

DROP IT.

Gimme that freaking squirrel darnit you’re not going to eat to it and puke it up for me to clean it up now LEAVE IT.

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And eventually, he did.

With a snap of his jaws – on my arm.

My sweet Puppy Baby  BIT ME.

Yes, he was sorry, but still.  I spent yet another several hours in the emergency room – this time to end up with the IV antibiotics and 6 stitches in my arm.

A trip the vet – this is so out of character for him, and now I’m really worried.

And still the barfing continues.  We’ve stopped the drugs for the time being, just in case that’s the culprit – that, and how much good is it doing if he’s barfing it up anyway?

The vet is convinced this is some kind of reflux thing – and has prescribed a couple of antacids.  So far – no joy.  And by no joy, I mean still barfy. And limpy.

I’m just hoping he doesn’t go the way of Algernon, that’s all.  I want my sweet, frolicky puppy back.

In fact, I’m kind of worried sick.

 

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The Incredible Mr. Limpers July 28, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Home.
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Remember that Don Knotts movie?  Is he even still alive?  (Answer:  No.)

Anyway, this has nothing to do with Don Knotts.

It’s our poor Mr. Limpers.

Long-time readers of this blog are aware of the Big Lug‘s struggles with hip dysplasia.  And you’ll of course remember the great strides he’s taken over the past year – he’s literally gone from walking barely a block to regularly walking a couple of miles in the mornings, then coming home and chasing a tennis ball around for a while.

By spring, we were down to every-other-week swimming – and he’s been great with it.  Nary a trace of a limp – just a happy, frolicking puppy.  So, as things got busier this summer, and since Jarly was going so well, we took a bit of a hiatus from swim class.

Nothing permanent, mind you, and he’s not going swim-less.  It was just one more thing that needed to be attended to, in a season of too much work and not enough, well, not work.

Then it got hot.  I mean really hot – our morning walks were even disgusting.  It’s just not right when it’s 70 degrees – and humid! – at 4 in the morning.  We’d come back with both of our tongues hanging down to our knees!  (I exaggerate, but only barely.)

And afternoon walks – in the blazing sun – were all but out of the question.  Not for a big black dog.

Even the beach – what little corner of the beach we could squeeze him into between the mobs of people and kids and dogs and drunk unemployed people – was HOT.

PhotobucketBy last week, our happy, hearty puppy has started limping occasionally.

Then he was limping more.

I’ve done some research, and, essentially, nothing’s changed since last year.

Basically, from what I can find, hip dysplasia seems to be very similar to (deteriorates into?) osteoarthritis.  The deterioration of the soft tissue, which causes the further deterioration and malformation of the bone – yeah.

And a recent Johns Hopkins study may (or may not) show a connection between high humidity and osteoarthritis pain (the results were kind of conflicting), while another University of Michigan study suggests a link between arthritis pain and low barometric pressure and high humidity – like right before one of our northeast summer thunderstorms.

Ultimately, outside of major surgery, there’s not a lot we can do for him other than what we’ve been doing all along- keep him comfortable, keep his weight down, and keep him exercised.  And that makes a world of difference.  Heck, it’s already made a difference – we’ve seen that!

I’m not going to dope him up unless I absolutely have to – the prescription pain killers are narcotics and, well, the last thing we need is Jarly with a monkey on his back!  However (and we’ve cleared this with the vet), we’re not above a couple of aspirin  tablets covered in peanut butter when the situation warrants it.

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His weight is fine, though with the abbreviated walks, we’ve had to be a little more careful about that.

With the more comfortable temperatures the past few days, we’ve been gradually walking him a little farther, being careful, of course, not to overdo it.

And he’s going back to swim class this week.

He’s going to be so happy to hear that!