I’ve always been a believer in the Power of Positivity. This past week enhanced that belief a million-fold.
On Tuesday my 13 year old “Lab” mix, C.J., woke me up at 2AM to go outside. It was too dark for me to see what he was doing, but with his Noxgear Lighthound vest I could see that he was back in the trees where he would normally go to poop. I saw him stop for a few seconds, then went zooming from one side of the grove to the other. He’d pause again, then go back and forth again. This went on for a good 5 minutes or so. When he finally came back to the house, he was panting and went straight to the water bowl. I tried to go back to sleep.
When I woke up at about 4AM, I found a small pile of diarrhea on the rug next to the back door. Poor C.J. was having some stomach upset. He ate readily around 6AM and didn’t have any other bouts of the Big D.
I took him to work with me that day, as I typically do on Tuesdays anyway, and he seemed to be his normal self. Then one of the girls came to me to let me know he had explosive watery diarrhea. I was trying to figure out what it could be that was going on with him. I had a lightbulb moment while talking to a coworker about life-fails. She was telling me about how she spilled piping hot coffee on her over the weekend, and that sparked a memory of a jar of bone broth exploding all over my kitchen that Sunday. Before I could get it all cleaned up, C.J. was over there licking up what he could on the floor. It had to be dietary indiscretion or, worse (and I hoped not), pancreatitis. After talking with the veterinarian we decided to go conservative and treated for dietary indiscretion. That meant small and frequent meals of a bland diet.
By Wednesday morning, C.J. was still having watery diarrhea. He had a few accidents in the house. He was still with appetite and acting normal, with the exception of letting us know he had to go out frequently. He ate breakfast that morning, then vomited it up shortly thereafter. Back to work he went with me for monitoring and so that I could let him go outside to eliminate frequently. He seemed okay, but by midday he had vomited one more time. This time it was just phlegm. We gave him an antiemetic injection at that point and continued to treat for dietary indiscretion.
Thursday morning I woke up to the sound of C.J. pacing around the house. When I walked into the dining room there were about 6 or 7 piles of watery, bloody diarrhea on the floor. C.J. was also acting very puny, lethargic and was breathing rapidly with a rapid heart rate. I thought to myself, crap, it IS pancreatitis. I took him to the vet clinic before I went to teach my class at the YMCA that morning and let my coworkers know what was going on.
When I arrived at work that day the bloodwork had already been run on C.J. It was unremarkable. His pancreatic enzymes were normal, his liver values were normal, there was nothing really to indicate pancreatitis, or anything else for that matter. C.J. was definitely not feeling well and was dehydrated and still breathing fast as if he was severely uncomfortable. We placed an IV catheter and started him on IV fluids. Even though his bloodwork was normal, we proceeded to treat him supportively, as we would for pancreatitis or a viral infection like Parvovirus.
By lunch time C.J. had worsened. He would barely lift his head to acknowledge me when I went to check on him. I ended up spending most of my lunch hour in the kennel with him, loving on him and telling him he had to get better. That’s when the worst thoughts started going through my head. My heart started to sink and I couldn’t help but to start crying. I had this feeling that this was going to be the end. I was NOT ready for that! I had my cell phone with me while I was hanging out with C.J. in the kennel and took a picture of the two of us. I posted it on IG & FB to let friends and family know what was going on, and to plea for positive vibes to be sent his way.
The people I work with are amazing. They discussed amongst each other what to do. We could x-ray him and make sure there’s not something going on like a tumor hidden somewhere, an enlarged/shrunken/abnormal organ, etc. They offered to help me get him ready for transport to a Veterinary Specialty facility that had a boarded internist, they would take care of Esme and Freddie Mercury until I returned, and would make sure my shift was covered at the animal hospital. I decided to start with x-rays. I was hoping to find something to validate my suspicions and to help us come up with a treatment plan for C.J. We x-rayed his chest and his abdomen. For a 13 year old large breed dog, that boy had some absolutely beautiful x-rays! With the exception of some evidence of arthritis in his caudal spine, he was in pretty stellar shape. Still no answer as to why C.J. was in the predicament he was. I opted to continue to treat him supportively, at least over 24 hours to see if he’d improve. If he didn’t, then I would either take him to the internist or make some other more final decisions.
Because it’s what I do and I am well-trained in animal nursing care, I was able to bring C.J. home with me to convalesce.
It’s not the first time I’ve had to “hospitalize” one of my pets at home on IV fluids and medications. The first one was Chompers when he got into bread dough and I had to treat him for alcohol toxicity. Yes, he got drunk! Then there was Lazarus when he had his poop problems that set him into a downward spiral. So far, my recovery rate was at 100%. I really didn’t want to ruin my perfect record.
I set up my at home ICU, which is just a dog crate set up to be as comfortable as possible. I borrowed an IV infusion pump from work to keep C.J.’s fluids in check. I managed his IV catheter, monitored him constantly, administered all of his prescribed medications IV or orally, and spent the night with him. He was confined to his Intensive Care Unit while I made myself as comfortable as I could on his dog bed just outside the facility. It was a really long night … for me. Every noise that came from him or his kennel alerted me. If he sighed, I was wide awake, ready to reassess his respiratory and heart rates. If he moved I was wide awake making sure he didn’t need to go out.
Friday morning C.J. seemed a little happier. He acted like he might be interested in food. I offered him some canned bland diet. He turned his nose from it. I snatched a sliver of turkey cold cut from Chris’ sandwich that he had prepared for lunch. C.J. ate it without gusto. I then offered him a venison jerky treat. He ate it. I started to wonder if he was having an aversion to the canned bland diet since that’s what he ate the last time just prior to his first bout of vomiting. I decided to head to the grocery store to get some chicken breast and white rice. I boiled the rice and the chicken breast (separately). Once they were cooked and somewhat chilled, I shredded the chicken breast and offered C.J. a tiny bit of the chicken. He ate it! I mixed the rest of the chicken with the rice. After an hour or so I offered C.J. a couple of tablespoons of the chicken and rice mixture. He ate about half of it. About an hour later I offered him another 2 tablespoons. This time he ate all of it. An hour later the same was offered, he ate most of it. I continued to offer him a few tablespoons throughout the evening.
I had to work Saturday morning so I brought C.J. with me. He was definitely improved by Saturday morning. He was more alert and active, but not quite himself yet. He ate a little bit of the chicken and rice for me in the morning. Not as much as I would’ve liked, but he ate some. He had not vomited since Wednesday, and I haven’t seen a bowel movement since Wednesday either. I was anxiously awaiting a poop from C.J.
Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon C.J. pooped! It wasn’t formed, but it wasn’t watery like it had been. I call that “progress.”
This morning C.J. was ready eat like usual. I am not ready to go all-out regular diet yet, so he had a mix of bland diet & his regular food this morning. He ate all of it. My heart is put back together. I followed him out to the trees to see him poop. He pooped and it was still soft, but formed! Not liquid! He is definitely on the mend!
I can’t help but believe that all of the positive vibes, prayers and well wishes that friends, family and acquaintances sent had something to do with C.J.’s recovery. We still don’t know what exactly was going on, but we do know that he is better and that is all that matters. Thank you to everyone who was looking out for him. It is appreciated more than you may ever realize.