Wednesday, 13 November 2019

I am writing this from a snuffly keyboard at Frobisher. Moll is, I am glad to say, fully recovered though I am terrified in case the fever should descend again. (I was petrified last weekend, kept checking her breathing.) If it does, it means more tests which are very stressful for us both and, of course, incredibly expensive. And I would dread the outcome. Still, there's little to be gained in worrying about that, and Moll certainly isn't. She is bouncy again and that is wonderful to see so I hope to enjoy much more of that for as long as we can.

I also wondered why Pip fell in love with her, so suddenly, when he saw her, 14 years ago. An artist friend, enquiring about Moll last week, gave me a clue. "You're just the same," she said. "You've both got sort of the same hair, the same temperament, you're both sensitive, highly strung, very loyal and bright. The way you react to things is the same - you even have the same metabolism." (We both shake when hungry.)

I had to laugh when she said that - and thought, well now I know why Pip fell for her. He was getting another version of me but with four legs. Quadruple trouble...

And I will end this Tribute to Moll with a big thank you to the incredibly kind friends who have made the past week or so a bit easier. To the free osteopath session I received last week "because you're having such a rough time". To the wonderfully generous money towards my (considerable) vet bills. That in itself was amazing - but the friend who insisted I have the money has a very very poorly dog herself.

I don't know what I've done to deserve such generosity, but all I can say is a huge thank you. And to all my friends, near and far, you know where I am. Call me when you need me. And actually, don't wait till you need me. Call me anyway.

And as a PS - I'm on Radio Cornwall at 4.10pm this afternoon talking about my latest book, Walks in the Footsteps of Rosamunde Pilcher. Tune in for a giggle!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The Fighter

Nine years ago, almost to the day, I had to call an ambulance (against Pip's wishes) because he had been ill and in bed (unheard of) and despite countless home visits from GPs, he had become even more ill and I was terrified.

Last Sunday, at 2.30 am I woke to Moll panting and shaking uncontrollably. She sometimes does this if she's heard fireworks or seen a kite or something that frightens her, but that wasn't likely in the middle of the night, so I was worried. Rang the out of hours vet who suggested giving her some Metacam and that seemed to do the trick. Eventually we settled down again, but I didn't sleep and when we finally got up, she had lost all her energy, was shaking and panting again.

To cut a very long story short, I had to take her to the out of hours vet (over an hour's round trip in horrendous rain and wind, flooded lanes and fallen trees) where they did blood tests, gave her antibiotic shot. The second time - dear Viv drove me as I was exhausted - Moll's fever had risen again so she had an opiate painkiller which made her hallucinate. She was up and down all night, couldn't settle poor thing. She is normally a very secure dog - she doesn't cling to me but just enjoys our company together. Now she couldn't let me out of her sight, was pleading me with those cataract fogged eyes - "What's going on? Please stop it!" It was heartbreaking, and I felt so powerless - to say nothing of terrified.

Back to my own vet on Monday - twice. The first trip, her temperature was down and she seemed better, but they had no idea what was causing this fever. "It could be cancer or it could be endocarditis," said my vet. Endocarditis was what took Pip into hospital nine years ago. I had a horrifying feeling that history was repeating itself and I was about to pitch back into that nightmare.

Moll flagged as soon as we got home from the vet in the morning. Her temperature soared Monday evening. Back to vets. Advised try and keep her calm and quiet. If necessary take her to out of hours vet maybe midnight if she wasn't better but this would stress her out even more (to say nothing of what it was doing to me). Dear Viv offered to drive me. At midnight! I found out that the only time Moll relaxed was if I was in bed, so we went to bed early, she just about managed to jump onto the duvet - after five attempts - and finally she went to sleep.

The vet wanted to run tests to see what was going on but the specialist couldn't be contacted on Tuesday. Still, we had to go back for another temperature test. Like most dogs, Moll is terrified of vets and having a thermometer stuck up her bum every time we visited hasn't helped. Doesn't help her temperature either, but they take that into account.

I was also asked to get a wee sample (to eliminate a possible urine infection) which meant stalking her with a yellow mini funnel stuck into the top of a plastic tube. The idea is that you shove it under their bum while they're having a wee, then it trickles into the tube. I looked like a Victorian butterfly hunter, hovering behind her with this yellow monstrosity and Moll was extremely suspicious. She kept looking round as if to say, "What the hell are you doing NOW? Is that another needle or WHAT?"

Finally, last night at the vet, her temperature was nearly normal. Her breathing is still too fast but she had two short walks and is eating again. Yes, for those of of us who know Moll well, she went off her food. This has NEVER happened. But she's back eating now and although she's not out of the woods yet, she is getting there. I hope. The wee sample was clear so they're not going to run tests as it's too stressful all round. When the vet said her temperature was lowered I was so relieved I wanted to buy everyone dinner, a holiday, a drink - anything. Despite the fact that this episode has cost me dear.

And having been dreading Bonfire Night and all the fireworks, which would make Moll's temperature rocket again, it was reasonably quiet. Phew. (Which just goes to show that the things we worry about rarely happen. It's the unknown that knocks us for six.)

The best thing to come out of this horrendous episode is that I realised what incredible friends I have. Four of my closest friends came round and texted all the time to see how she was, how I was managing. I cried a lot. My stomach has been in knots so it's been a struggle to eat. My right shoulder (my stress indicator) is around my right ear, despite lots of yoga exercises. I check her constantly, to see how her breathing is. Is she shaking? How does she look? The fear still circulates in my blood stream, lies in a rancid pool in my belly, but it's receding.

So for now, she seems to be on the mend. Fingers crossed. And it is wonderful beyond measure to have my girl back. I really thought I was losing her.