Wednesday 27 November 2019

Life Adjustments

As this is a rather dead time of year in terms of flowers, I found these -a bunch of anemones in the summer. Roll on longer days....

Despite the recent upheavals, I’ve nearly finished rewriting the first three chapters of my novel and can send them off at the end of the week for further comments. I’ve found this really difficult to do, though once I got into the swing of it, it was better. Like anything I suppose. I'm not overly confident about what I've written, but I'm aiming to send it off to my mentor who I hope will be able to point me in the right direction.

I’m aiming to finish the rough draft by Friday morning when, crossing fingers and toes and barring any further disasters, I am hoping to go away for four whole days to a caravan park near Bude. I know, a couple of weeks in Greece or Spain would have been preferable, but that didn’t happen this year, so Bude it is.

And frankly, I am just desperate for a break. The weather forecast isn’t brilliant, at least for the first two days, and keeping two dogs clean and dry in a caravan could be a challenge, but it will be good to get away and explore a bit. I’ve looked up the nearest vet in case Moll is poorly and am packing Scrabble, books and cards plus we will take wine and grub and DVDs and aim to just go and relax.

When I first started working for myself, I got very stressed and run down and a friend said, "Just because you're working for yourself doesn't mean you don't need holidays. You should aim to get away every three months."

Wise advice which I didn't heed this year - though admittedly that wasn't entirely my fault, being let down twice. But next year I am going to plan holidays better. I’ve got my writing trip in Spain in February which I am looking forward to - though that will be a lot of hard work. And hope for another French trip, and also some trips with my Moll. If the weather improves later on in the year I will take the van and go camping with some friends down the road who also have a little campervan. So that’s a rough plan. I live in distrust of making Big Plans as life has a habit of turning them inside out and back to front. So loose plans are best, I find.

My dear upstairs neighbour is - again fingers crossed - going in to have his hip operated on tomorrow. It’s already been postponed once which caused a lot of stress and grief, so I really hope it all goes ahead tomorrow. We’ve been trying to organise him being taken there and picked up - I was going to do the latter but I will be in Bude. So far we’ve got the drop off organised and are working on the pick up and aim to make his recovery as smooth as possible, bless him.

And lastly - courtesy of a very kind friend, Moll is now in receipt of not just one but two ramps which should mean she doesn’t have to jump into the van, or up the steps. She’s taken to the van one like a duck to water (somewhat apt in this weather), though the steps one is a bit slippery so may need some adjustments.

But life’s all about adjustments, isn’t it?

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Troubles come in Threes....

Picture taken on Dodman Point - as I love the reflection on a day very like today.

Over the past month I have had more than my usual share of Big Stuff to deal with. And you know what they say about trouble coming in threes? I have been thinking - nervously - uh oh - what’s the third one?

And here it is - Moll has been diagnosed with arthritis. Sorry for all of you who aren't dog lovers, but it's just a bit Canine-centric at the moment.

Recently she’s been having trouble jumping up onto the bed or sofa, and looking at me with her head on one side as if to say, Help, Mum! Arthritis is very common in older dogs, I know, but it is degenerative and I hate to think of the poor little thing in pain, so she is now on anti-inflammatories as well as supplements which contain green lipped mussels, glucosamine, Manganese as well as vitamins C and E. So I'm trying to hit it from both the medical and alternative route.

So my kitchen once again looks like a chemist, with pills for her heart, pills for her joints and medicine for her aches and pains, bless her. She is so very dear to me and I just want to provide the best possible life for her as she gets older.

Massage is good for all dogs, and I was looking at various techniques on YouTube yesterday, some of which made me laugh for the first time in a while. The comments were even funnier. Madam likes a massage when she’s standing up but don’t try it when she’s lying down.... And you thought human beings were complex?

I was also sent a link to a brilliant website all about managing Canine Arthritis which advised making changes around the house to make things easier for her. This includes steps up onto the bed - well, in the garage I found a large rubber step that looked as if it was used for decorating. So that’s now by the bed and by dint of tempting her with treats, she’s getting the hang of using that instead of just jumping up onto the bed. Trouble is, when it’s dark, I keep bashing my shins on it….

Next is a ramp into the van. Some of you who don’t know Moll may wonder why I don’t just pick her up. To say she doesn’t like being picked up is an understatement. Her swearing is quite impressive, and having worked in an Antipodean newsroom, I am no stranger to a wide vocabulary of swearing. So I found a large piece of wood, again in the garage, that Joe sawed down for me so I have yet to try that in getting her into the van. This could be a lot trickier to persuade her to use.

Also I now realise that her bed in the van is too high so I’ll have to ask someone to saw the legs down for me.

And lastly there is the problem of the flight of steps leading up to my front door. They are granite and quite steep. If anyone has any ideas on how to get round this one - or anything else that would make her life easier, I would be SO grateful.

November is not my favourite time of the month - well, and with this weather, who does like it? But this one does seem particularly grey and lacking in cheer. The other day I was telling my Belgian friend about the film Shirley Valentine, of which she hadn’t heard.

I am now sitting here with my SAD lamp on wishing I was on a Greek island. Actually, any holiday would do, but being warm would be a bonus. With Moll and a sexy hunk on either side of me. We can but hope.

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.