Archive for the ‘In Sickness and in Health’ Category

Orion is as right as rain again and begs for attention, food, playtime, walkies and more attention, food, playtime and walkies. He is slowly gaining weight through several small meals per day. If it wasn’t for the shaved patches and the scar on his stomach one would never know he nearly died from the bloat less than two weeks ago. We’re all happy bunnies.


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SO looking forward to getting husband back from his army manoeuvre! I’ve missed him.
She miss her lovely husband, that means she is in love.
Her eyes are shining brightly, like the sun and moon above.
When her husband is coming home again, I know the place Ine will be.
In the bedroom, saying: “Darling. Do the army manoeuvre with me”!
In this case the command (in German) “sprung, vorwärts, decken” gets a new meaning…

I’ve missed Thomas for more than one reason. It’s not been all that easy being a nurse, even to “just a dog”. I’ve pretty much nursed him around the clock and I freely admit that even though my bosses allowed me to work from home I haven’t got nearly as much done as I planned. In fact, I got a lot more done in the few hours I was in today than I did the rest of the week — work wise, that is. The rest of the time at home has gone into nursing Orion, feeding Orion, cleaning up after Orion (pee!!), walking Orion, re-training Orion to not pee inside — and trying to keep Mischa from getting too jealous over all the Orion fuss. And at times it would just have been so much easier having Thomas take over some of the Orion fuss so I could get some sleep…

That said: Orion is recovering really well. Today he even played a little. The bounce is back in his step, he begs food like crazy and he follows me everywhere. His stomach looks as if it’s been stitched up by Frankenstein himself so it’s just as well that dogs don’t worry too much about beauty other than the inner kind:

Skinny Orion with big scar. He is not at all bothered by it and I'm allowed to touch it, wash it, apply ointment -- whatever. A friend suggested the vet had put in a zip. Could be. I haven't checked yet.

Thomas is back from his army manoeuvre and he’s signed up for another two manoeuvres. Please don’t ask me any questions about the Austrian army system — I have really no idea how it works. I only know that they have the draft (minimum 8 months) and that it is possible to keep in the “game” voluntarily. Somehow. So this week, with Orion back from animal hospital I have been an “army widow” with a sick child dog and a jealous child dog and a full time job that’s suffered because of the former three. Hopefully, there will be not sick dog-children next time there is a manoeuvre.

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Don’t really think I’ve had a carefree day in my life as I’m a natural worrier, but compared with this, summer was a doddle. I am so tired. Soooooo tired. Did I mention that I’m tired? I’m tired.

Orion has ALMOST stopped peeing all over the place. Today he has in general lasted at least to the bottom of the stairs. It only means that I have to carry a bucket and broom down two flights of stairs instead of none, but it’s still an improvement: it’s further away from the flat. He is also very pleased to be spoiled rotten with lots of little meals coming his way all day and steamed chicken with rice for dinner. Now THAT he likes.

He is less taken with me shoving my hand down his throat to feed him antibiotics and “injecting” liquid pain killers (syringe with said liquid into mouth — SQUIRT!) and then the stomach protecting liquid in the same way. But when he gets a slice of the aforementioned brown cheese he’s just fine with it all.

And then he pees. AAARRRGGHHHHH!

I am so tired. Of cleaning, of waking up to drag him out, of tempting him to eat, of … of… I was just not made out to be a nurse.

All I can say is that at least he seems to be getting better. He doesn’t run yet, but the bounce is back in his step, the stairs up to the flat are no longer a problem and the swelling is gone from the operation wound. And he’s as annoying as hell. Yup, he’s better.

Orion and Mischa this morning. Orion is back to wanting to pee on everything Mischa sniffs, sometimes peeing on Mischa in the process.

Orion now, sleeping peacefully. And I will have to wake him up to take him out in the hope that he will not pee all over the place while I'm asleep.

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Less than 24 hours and I am exhausted.

Orion seemed pleased to be home, at least as long as Thomas was around, then he looked a little lost. And — he peed a lot. Each time he started to relax he also wet himself. And he was still a little drowsy and not happy about making it down two floors of stairs and staggering around in the wet outside and… you know, he was being a patient and making the most of it.

Mischa and I slept in the hall outside the bathroom with Orion in the bathroom on his “waterproof” mattress with a soft towel on top. That way he could see us whenever he lifted his head and I could keep an eye on him. I did my best, but he still wet himself in his sleep. Then when I took him out he stopped on the top of the communal stairs and had a long and hearty pee as if he was saying “No way am I throwing myself off those stairs without having emptied my bladder first!” By now, this has turned into a ritual and I have a bucket ready to pop under him whenever we go out, which we do every hour. I’m fed up cleaning stairs and they’re pretty clean now.

He is still very weak but my main concern is to make sure he is not in pain. He gets 15-20 drops of this pain killer which is also supposed to ease nausea but as it’s fairly bitter I have to inject it with a syringe into his mouth. He knows what is coming, grits his teeth and backs away but I always win and spray the stuff into his throat. He can do nothing but swallow and look surprised. As he is not eating very much right now it’s not easy finding a treat to make it all better but like all dogs he loves Norwegian “brunost” (see John Cleese, one of his favourite things too) so each time I have force fed him his medication I give him a slice of brunost. Apart from that I have only managed to get him to eat a small tub of Greek yoghurt. But he seems quite relaxed and I suppose sleep and calm will help him heal as well.

Better than peanut butter

Mischa is deeply jealous. He keeps elbowing his way between me and Orion whenever I fiddle with him (cleaning wounds, stroking him, trying to get him to eat) and gets mightily offended when I make him lie down next to us instead. He gets lots of cuddles too but I think it’s the brunost he wants. And the Greek yoghurt. And anything else Orion gets that he doesn’t get.

In some ways I live in the ideal flat for nursing a sick dog. The bathroom was built as a handicap bathroom so it is in essence just a tiled box with a sink and a large shower, and several solid handles one can hold on to. There is enough space to have Orion’s mattress there next to the shower, his bowl with a little food and a bowl of water, and if he has any accidents (see above) it is easy to clean up. Including him. He’s already had a couple of rinses in the shower, something he takes completely in his stride stagger and even seems to enjoy in some way once we get to the towel part where he cuddles into my arms. Because it involved the use of the shower with lots of water coming out, Mischa did not interfere at this point. Mischa puts up with having the occasional shampoo but if it’s not directed at him he is not going to get involved.

As I write this Orion is gently snoring. He has been without his plastic collar since yesterday and been very good at not licking his wounds. He tries to avoid any medication but I’m a regular expert at shoving my hand down his throat by now so there is no escaping. I’ll make that dog feel better whether he wants to or not. He keeps wanting to use Mischa’s dog bed and is puzzled that he is not allowed to. But it is far more difficult to clean that the mattress with the hospital sheet so NO WAY am I letting him lie there. My hands are already raw from all the cleaning and enough is enough! Do you hear me, Orion?! GET WELL! I MEAN IT!

Wonderfully useful bathroom for sick dog

Hate to break the idyll but here he is sleeping in his own pee

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Orion is home. We went to the animal clinic in pouring rain and tried to rush him into the car which of course failed miserably because the enormous plastic collar bashed into everything on the way out of the building and into the car. Then it got in the way of him lying down. We still squeezed him and his collar in and drove through the rain back to my flat where he staggered half way up the stairs before the stopped and peed. Poor puppy, not able to hold it anymore. Since then, Thomas and I have had this Skype chat (Thomas was “let out” by the army to help me pick Orion up and then had to rush back on duty):

[09/19/11] Tom: Let me know how Orion is. I am on duty until 1am.

[09/19/11] Ine: We’ve had our first accident and first success:

He settled down quite well, even slept a little. Then he tried to lift his head and wet himself


We had a short walk – to the big tree on the square. He peed lots and pooped — NORMAL POOP!

Then I discovered that Louise once gave me some blue hospital sheet of the plastic backed kind, so I’ve wrapped the mattress that didn’t get soaked in pee in that and put a new baby sheet on top so now he’s dry, cleaned, peed and pooped and fed and half asleep.

I think perhaps I deserve something to eat now.

I shall go get more of the “Sensitivity” dog food they used at the clinic tomorrow — I think they have it at Fressnapf. And Mischa will like the walk. I’ve dragged him past a closed Fressnapf twice and he was NOT HAPPY. Orion can stay at home and rest while we do that. First a walk to the tree, then a longer walk for Mischa to Fressnapf. 🙂

Orion is collar free now as long as I can keep an eye on him and so far he has only licked his paws.

So Orion is glad to be home and trying to stay awake for some reason. Don’t know why. He is having a rare moment of not hyperventilating and his eyes are closing all by themselves so he might as well just give in and sleep. Oh, and the “NORMAL POOP” comment should make sense to any parent, or dog owner with a dog with a nervous stomach. And Fressnapf is a pet supply shop and Mischa’s favourite place in all of Vienna because there, when he does his small-dog-impression balancing on his butt with his front paws in the air he gets TREATS. So when we go there he insists on staying near the staff putting on his show and getting treats while I do the shopping. I have the feeling he has totally outsmarted me.

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Mischa and I just came back from visiting Orion at the pet clinic. I’m almost scared to show these pictures because he is so skinny. He has been losing weight because of the diarrhoea and this has in no way helped the situation. Oh, and if you want to know more about the condition I found this website which I thought was pretty good: Bloat: The mother of all emergencies

Orion has never been as skinny as this. But at least he is still smiling. The thing on his back right paw is where the drip is attached.

This is where the vet first "perforated" him to get some of the gas out of his stomach which was ballooning at the time.

The battle scar. It's pretty gruesome, I know -- nearly a foot long.

You know what? He still wants to play! He was exhausted when he stopped barking, though, and nearly collapsed onto his side.

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He lives!

The vet called immediately after the operation and told us Orion had made it. The operation was successful and he was in the process of waking up. I’ve no idea what time that was: we were lying fully dressed on our bed waiting for the call, ready for the worst — hoping for the best. And this time, the best is what we got!

He will apparently have to stay there for a few days to recover. After that I will pick him up and ask for a day or two off work or ask if I can work from home to keep an eye on him, keep him from scratching or licking the operation wound and generally be his doting nurse.

Just a dog? Only to people who a) have kids and b) have never had a dog as a pet. BOTH conditions apply. And only to people who have not experienced losing a dog to the same dreadful condition as this one. There is nothing quite as awful as seeing an animal in such extreme pain and not being able to help, not even to end the pain once and for all.

I can hardly wait to cuddle him again.

Orion, 13 August 2011

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Emergency operation

Orion and Mischa have both had diarrhoea for a week — ever since we went to a “Weinfest” and who knows what they ate/were fed by well-meaning party goers. Well, they seemed to be getting better and I promise not to go into a lengthy description of poop and consistencies and smells and such. Then Orion started spray pooping again (sorry!!) today. He was still totally STARVING and gobbled down his dinner. Then he went to bed. Then he paced a little. Then he joined me in the living room but not close, as he normally does, but at a distance, panting and lying like a sphinx, very still, in the middle of the floor. And I though oh no, he’s going to poop again. So I took him out. He tried to poop, but only produced about a drop. Then he started staggering, tried to vomit, tried to poop and vomit, and then he tried to dig a hole under a tree.

At that point I noticed his distended stomach. HUGE WARNING BELLS rang out in my head and I rang Thomas who was home by then and shouted hysterically GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW WE HAVE TO GET ORION ON THE OPERATING TABLE RIGHT NOW OR HAVE HIM PUT DOWN BEFORE THIS GETS WORSE which clearly made a lot of sense to Thomas who had no idea what was up.

I’ll cut this short. Orion’s stomach had turned and filled with gas. Exactly the same thing that happened to Anja, my childhood dog, and which killed her. And I knew it the moment I saw his stomach. That is how the trauma of Anja dying that way has influenced me: I remember every detail of the illness, how fast it was, and the prognosis.

We managed to get him to an animal hospital where he was x-rayed and we could immediately see the bloated and twisted stomach. The amazing thing is that he was so quiet and though he nearly fell off the x-ray table when twisting from the pain he seemed to know that we were trying to help him. The vet put two syringes into his bowel to drain some of the gas and within a minute his breathing eased and he calmed down considerably.

Right now, he is on the operating table. The vet said 2-3 hours and then she would call us to let us know how it went. Perhaps earlier if there are complications, she said, but THERE WILL NOT BE ANY COMPLICATIONS, OK? OK?!? Good. Glad we agree.

Mischa serving as Orion's pillow, September 2011

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… and since then, stuff has happened. I shall not bore you with all of it but thought I should at least mention that on the 13 August, Thomas and I married in a lovely ceremony at Forum am Kamp, Langenlois, accompanied by close family and friends. Here are some pics:

Yes, I'm wearing a Dirndl. This one is German and I bought it from (wait for it!) alpenwahnsinn.de

My sister was both my maid-of-honour and in charge of the music.

Mischa was there too. As was Orion. But Mischa was the one who just had to waddle up to mummy and beg attention.

The whole setup. It was just lovely having so many of our friends there. Best man is signing the protocol.

Thomas and me, Ulrich (best man) and Hanne (maid-of-honour)

My beautiful, beautiful parents! I love them so much it hurts!

Sealed with a kiss

Playing a game of what-couple-know-each-other-best against Thomas' parents. We won!

Adorned with significant Lebkuchen, courtesy of Thomas' sister and niece

Bouquet throw. Straight up, straight down, and straight into the hands of a friend's wife 🙂

The cake topper is a Christmas decoration I got from an American friend, John, many years ago

The cake was cut with a Cossack dagger/sword from 1914, lovingly honed and polished for the occasion

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My attempts at returning to my non-sensical, blethery blog is proving harder than I thought. Today, 32 more of ABB’s victims are being buried in Norway, and it is so very, very sad. Gro Harlem Brundtland — remember her? former Norwegian prime minister — cried her way through her speech during the funeral of 16 year-old Marianne Sandvik’s funeral yesterday. In this interview with two of the survivors, one of the girls says “There are so many funerals. I’ve bought a dress I will be wearing for seven funerals.” I don’t know why that comment stood out from all the rest.

The more I read about ABB, the more I cringe. He is making all sorts of demands while in custody — and quite frankly it’s an embarrassing read. He wants a Japanese court psychiatrist because “only the Japanese have a proper understanding of honour codes and would understand him”; he wants access to WikiLeaks; he wants to wear a uniform when appearing in court; he demands that the Norwegian government resign; he wants 20 minutes on Norwegian national TV in order to mobilise an “army” of 2000; he wants a new hierarchy with himself in a central role… I hereby withdraw my former statement that I could not write him off as crazy. I can. And delusional.

The funny (sic.) thing is that all of this is outlined by his defence attorney in a tone of “and now the tosser wants this, like some sort of spoilt five-year-old”. I get a strong feeling his attorney would rather see ABB erased off the surface of the planet, never to be heard of again. And I also get the feeling — call it female intuition — that he is not alone. I am fairly certain that the Norwegian legal system will find it possible to do more or less that. I am sure he will be put away for good because he will always represent a threat to society.

In the middle of trying to rediscover some sort of meaning to it all I am also attempting to get through the pile of work on my desk. I’ve been back at work for two weeks now and am finding it quite a challenge to get through the days. Straight from 7 weeks sick leave to 8-hour days is hard. I try not to get stuck in my chair all day but it is much too easy to fall into the old routines as, well, there is just so much to do that require me to be seated in front of my computer.

To compensate a little I cycle to work. On Pascal’s old bike which is way too small for him and a tad too small even for me but otherwise really good. I used Brian’s old high-riser for a while but didn’t feel particularly stable on it and with all the bat-out-of-hell cyclists and mean BMW drivers in the city, Pascal’s is a better option. I could, of course, take Nina (my little 250cc motorbike) but then my left leg wouldn’t get the workout it needs. The news there is that I am slowly getting stronger but I still can’t run. Dad rang and told me to get over myself where that is concerned and that I have to wait for at least a year before I try to run again because he had the exact same operation a zillion years ago and KNOWS WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT. Well, I am cryptically mumbling “we shall see” at regular intervals while I walk on my toes up and down the stairs at home and at work.

Today I have brought both dogs to work with me as I am alone in the office. We walked all the way here: it took us over an hour of criss-crossing town with the two of them sniffing invisible spots every few metres, and as they were on a shared lead, a miserable-looking Mischa who only wanted to read the headlines while Orion wanted to do in-depth studies of every spot and partake in the discussion. When he discovered a Papillon and begged me to let him have it, Mischa looked on with unbridled contempt and dragged him away. I think the Papillon’s owner was rather relieved.

Orion finds it slightly unsettling being here, not sure what it’s all about though breakfast on the veranda appealed to him. Mischa has settled straight back into his at-work-with-mummy routine and is sleeping happily with alternately his head and his paws under my chair. There may be doggie screams if I forget he is there.

We’re also trying to prepare a wedding these days. Thomas and I are getting married in a week (we believe in recycling, we do: my second and Thomas’ third) and the first couple of guests are rolling into town tomorrow. In all the mess we’ve also experienced last-minute cancellations both on the part of guests and catering and each day we tell each other of our latest disaster dreams. Then we hug, cuddle the dogs and watch DVDs of Babylon 5 to get over it in between going out of our way to embarrass the nearest teenager. The latter is the easy part. All the previous will take a little more practice.

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