Dembe

I don’t write about Dembe all that often on this blog, mainly because he has his own blog. However this last week has been a roller coaster of emotions. I always try to share as much as possible with my readers ( and thank you for reading!) whilst holding back a little so I have some privacy. Dembe is a huge part of my life and is my baby boy. So you can imagine the emotional turmoil I was in when he had to go to the vets all day. It has had a knock on impact with my health, leaving me exhausted, several migraines and generally feeling well below my usual level of shittiness.

 On Wednesday last week ( 29th September ) Dembe had to go to the vets for the day to have some X-rays taken of his front legs. Dembe has had an intermittent limp for a few months this year and conservative measures of rest and pain relief were just not working. He was also showing signs of being stiff when he got up after being laid down for a while. All things we should not be seeing in a dog that isn’t even three yet.


Dembe had to have both legs x-rayed, 3 different positions for each one and to do this he would need to have a general anaesthetic. We really didn’t want him to have to under go a G.A but we had done all we could and we needed to know what was going on with him and that he wasn’t in pain.


Mr Myasthenia Kid dropped him off at the vets at 08.30am and so began the longest day of our lives. We were told that we should hear something by 2pm and that if we hadn’t we should give them a ring. Jay caved at 13.50 as he needed to know Dembe was ok. We found out that he was fine and that he had been out for a little walk and  had been to the toilet. We were told the vet should ring us back in an hours or so.
The vet rang back around 90 minutes later and if it was actually possible those 90 minutes seemed longer than the whole of the rest of the day. Sadly she told us that Dembe has bilateral ( both legs ) Elbow Dysplasia, – you can find out more about ED here. The vet told us that his left leg is more badly affected than his right. However both legs are only showing very subtle changes on the x-rays. The  x-rays will be sent to an orthopaedic specialist who will provide us with their expert opinion.  The good news was that there were no bone fragments floating around the joint, so he wouldn’t need any immediate surgery. As the condition was discovered early treatment will be conservative management, getting his weight down, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. He will adore hydrotherapy as he is a water baby, as any self respecting Labrador is!


I have never been so glad to see my baby boy in all my life. He really wasn’t with it when I saw him walking down the car park. Everyone kept telling us what a lovely boy he is and they thought it was so sweet that he had come down with his blue dinosaur. The vet nurse talked us through after care and said he would probably be out of sorts for 24-48 hours. She also told us that there was a risk of him having diarrhoea as that was a side effect of one of the medications he had been given. They had also given Dembe’s nails a trim. She said that he doesn’t like his legs or feet being touched, I said no doing his nails is a two person job! 


When we got home I said to Jay do you think he wants to go around the block but Dembe made it clear that he didn’t want to by going straight into the house and jumping on the sofa with his carrot.


 Our little space cadet was really out of it.


Dembe had a really awful time after the general anaesthetic. He cried solidly for 24-36 hours, only stopping when he slept, briefly! Or when he was eating or out for a walk. He had awful diarrhoea as a side effect of the medication he had been given. As he won’t go to the toilet in the garden this meant Dembe had to be taken around the block frequently. Poor Jay was out at 9pm, 10.30pm, 1.30am, 2.30am and 5am on top of the frequent trips around the block during the day.


The crying went on through most of Thursday, just a little whimper constantly. It was clear looking at him that he still wasn’t fully out of the G.A. His eyes were like saucers. I was very relieved when his natural treat box arrived and he was very interested in it. The chewing broke up the crying.


 He had a huge hairy cows ear to chomp on and that cheered him up.
He was so sad and pitiful it was heartbreaking that we couldn’t comfort him. The first time he was really happy and started looking more like himself was when he had a present delivered from his Auntie Beverley. She had sent our beautiful boy a Turtle toy. He wagged his tail like mad and was so happy he paraded it around the bedroom!


That was the first time we saw a glimmer of the Dembe we know and love since he had come home from the vets. He was still having diarrhoea on Thursday during the day so I had to ring the vets and get him some stuff to soothe his belly. The vets advised us that it might take 24-48 hours to resolve.
Dembe was a lot better Friday still a bit whingey but we had longer spells between cries and he spent an awful lot of time sleeping.


As you can see from the photos his eyes are totally different and he is fully present.
By Saturday he was completely back to normal!


Yesterday (5th October) our vet rang us to give us the details of the report the Ortho Specialist had written. The specialist concurred with our vet, that Dembe does have bilateral Elbow Dysplasia. We were given 3 options 1) CT scan to provide  more detailed images and then from what they show form a plan, this would involve another general anaesthetic, 2) Open up both elbow joints – arthroscopy have a look inside with a camera and see what is going on, obviously this involves another general anaesthetic, 3) manage conservatively with hydrotherapy & Physiotherapy using pain relief when needed. Mr Myasthenia Kid and I had already discussed this at length before we saw how Dembe recovered from anaesthesia and had decided on avoiding surgery if both vets concurred that the joint is showing subtle changes, which they did.


The vet talked me through the things that we can do at home, so any slippery floors need to be covered up as much as possible with rugs. Well all our downstairs rooms are laminate flooring, I had already ordered some runners to cover large sections of the floor to stop him slipping. Upstairs the bathroom and Mr Myasthenia Kids bedroom are also laminate flooring, so I will need to get a small rug for the doorway in Jays room. The bathroom already has bath mats down. So we were ahead of the vet with actions we could take, as we were with the next few suggestions.


The vet told us to start him on joint supplements, we started him on Golden Paste last week. I made up a batch for him and he is really enjoying it. I have also got coming some green lipped muscle extract and some salmon oil. Both highly rated as supplements for dogs with joint problems. I just hope I can get him to take them! He is such a fussy animal.


We also need to get his weight down to the skinnier side of normal as this will put less strain on his legs. So we are actively trying to get his weight down, going on how he looks rather than weighing him at the vets.


Exercise, he can no longer have professional dog walks. He can no longer walk for longer than 25 minutes at a time, during that time he can’t chase after a ball or play with other dogs both activities he loves because we can’t risk a fracture of the elbow or making his joints worse. I am so sad for him, I can’t lie I hid in the bathroom last night for a bit and just cried and cried.


Dembe has been referred for Hydrotherapy so we are awaiting the physiotherapist to get in contact with us. This will be used to strengthen the muscles around his joints and protect them in the long term.
So last week was very full on with all the stress surrounding Dembe and what they would find in the X-rays. Dembe has been very clingy since he was in the vets for the day. But he is walking much better and is no longer as stiff as he was getting up from a lying position, that makes us happier with the decision we have made regarding conservative management.

The last Bank Holiday of Summer 2021

The last bank holiday of summer has been and gone, (celebrated in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), for many it signals the end of Summer and the start of Autumn. I can’t believe it is September already, the weather is certainly letting us know it is by being markedly cooler. In some ways this year has whizzed by and in others it has crawled. It has been a strange year here at the Myasthenia Kid house, full of sadness and wishing that things could be different. It has been 8 months of constant change and things don’t look very settled for the future either. Some days it feels like you are in the eye of the storm and others that you are on the outside edge of it looking in. All I can do is be there for those that need me and hope that it is enough.

The one bit of good news is that my headaches / migraines have eased up ever so slightly over the last week ( runs around furiously touching wood). Dare I say it I have had a couple of headache free days. Which is a miracle after the last 4-6 weeks. I did end up with a bad head last Sunday evening, mainly due to the fact I was out in the sun all day with no hat on ( my own fault I forgot to bring it with me) and I was probably a bit dehydrated as I just didn’t drink enough during 5 hours that we were out. It meant I ended up going to bed very early and the following day I had issues with my blood pressure being very low. As soon as I had drunk enough I started to feel much better.

I ended up increasing the amitriptyline I take for nerve pain last week and that seems to have helped knock the headaches back a bit. I can still wake up with a sore neck and head but with a hot water bottle applied for an hour or so it does ease up considerably. I always try not to take medication unless it is absolutely necessary, which probably sounds ridiculous with the amount of medications I have on repeat prescription. I am always concerned that the Sumatriptan will stop working so I always try to head off a migraine before it is needed. Sunday night I ended up taking it along with 3 soluble aspirin and paracetamol as per the protocol I am supposed to follow. When I have a particularly vicious migraine this always helps massively. I have now started using the 3 soluble aspirin and paracetamol when I have a bad head that is not quite a migraine, that’s usually enough to clear it. I am hoping now that I have got on top of the headaches / migraines now I can slowly put an end to this debilitating flare up that came out of nowhere.

As I said earlier we all went out together as a family on Sunday, me, Mr Myasthenia Kid and Dembe. I do love it when we can escape our four walls every now and again. People don’t realise how small your world can become when you are pretty much housebound. A change in scenery always does my soul good, we travelled down to see Mr Myasthenia Kid’s mum and catch up with some family who were also dropping by. I saw one of my nephews who I hadn’t seen in such a long time over ten years. He is so tall now and what a good looking chap he has turned out to be. He was busy organising the cutting of Nanny’s lawn with the petrol Lawn mower by another of my nephews. Jay and his brother and my niece were cutting the front hedge. Whilst me and my sister in law tackled some brambles with secateurs and supervised the dogs. We got torn to shreds as we didn’t have any gloves. I didn’t even realise I was bleeding until I noticed the handle of my secateurs were wet. I ended up covered in plasters. It amazed me how much everything had grown in the few months since the last time I visited at the end of May.

It is a really lovely garden and Dembe loves running around in it. Quite often we will catch him doing Labrador zoomies by himself out there. The garden is a little sun trap and gets the sun all day long, so I am gutted I forgot my bloody hat! I have never really done any gardening before, I have popped a few plants in a pot and weeded from time to time but I have never done any real cutting stuff back or pruning out the dead wood from shrubs. I actually found it rather therapeutic and it is handy that quite a bit of it can be done sat down. I did pay for it on Monday and Tuesday but like most people who are chronically sick you don’t mind having a few rough days if you have actually done something to warrant it. It is when your health takes a nose dive and there is nothing you have done to trigger it that you get angry / frustrated.

Thanks to the bank holiday I will be completely thrown out for the rest of the week. I wont know if I am coming or going or what day of the week it is. I see Mr Myasthenia Kid has started getting the bins ready for Thursdays collection ( I am writing this on Wednesday) I will have to break it to him gently that due to the bank holiday Monday the bins wont be collected until Friday. Plus with Mr Myasthenia Kid not working a late today like he normally would that will really make my head spin and I will not have a clue what his shift pattern is until I am in front of a calendar.

The next bank holidays in the UK won’t be until Christmas (I do believe we need more between September and March) as Mr Myasthenia Kid has a generous annual leave provision he has another two weeks of holiday booked between now and the second week of November. His first week is at the end of September around our 21st Wedding anniversary, I am struggling to comprehend that we are 4 years away from our Silver Wedding Anniversary ( 25 years ). He has another week booked off for our birthday at the start of November. So it isn’t too long at all until I will have some company for a week during the day. With Covid and lock downs it has been more isolating than usual, which is why I enjoy visiting Nanny Morris and catching up with Jay’s family so much.