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.

Stress, migraines and other sh*t!

I have had a good few days over the last week with no headaches turning into migraines until this morning. Every night though I still wake up and have to change my pillows several time to make my neck and back of my head comfortable. More often than not I end up sleeping without any pillows. Something I haven’t done since I was 18-19 when I had neck issues then. The problem is with being that flat I then quite often wake up with back pain between my shoulder blades. If I prop myself up I end up with back pain in my lower back. If I could just find the one sleeping position that allowed me to sleep through the night without any pain waking me up that would be fantastic.

I can’t really complain though after the years of insomnia I suffered from around 2008 until 2016 when I was given Melatonin. Back in the bad old days I would only sleep between 2 -4 hours a night for two nights then on the 3rd night get no sleep at all. On the 4th night I would sleep 12 hours and then feel absolutely terrible, almost like I was drunk without the fun part. I did absolutely everything I could to get to sleep, lavender sprays, lavender sachets in my pillows, not using the TV or phone in my room, all without any success. This cycle of so little sleep had a very bad effect on my mental health and my pain levels. Everything felt heightened, my pain could be off the scale frequently and my emotions were all over the place.

This 4 day sleep cycle would just repeat over and over. I would occasionally get six hours sleep which would be a treat. The most frustrating times were when I would drop off to sleep and then two hours later wake up and that would be it for the night. I existed on cigarettes and mugs of tea. Usually one of the dogs would keep me company and they would swap over so that they all did a few hours each. Even now if I get up in the night I am accompanied by Dembe. He will either sleep right beside me, like he is doing now as I write this blog post or he will sleep on the sofa opposite to the one I am on, so he can watch my every move.

Dembe the Labrador is curled up on the sofa, the MG Kids leg is in frame along with her Chromebook, which is open on her lap.

I cleared this morning’ migraine quite quickly with a dose of Sumatriptan. However due to the stormy weather ( we have a weather alert for heavy rain and thunderstorms until this evening ) the top of my head feel’s like it is in a vice and being squeezed so hard my eyes feel like they are going to pop from the sockets. For as long as I can remember I have had headaches when the weather is stormy. I feel a bit cheated though as friends over an hour away have had massive thunder storms. Mr Myasthenia Kid’s mum rang us to check we were ok as where she lives they have had torrential rain and copious amounts of lightening. We have had a few showers and currently the sun is shining. It is very humid so I haven’t bothered sorting out my hair. It will stay straight for 30 seconds and then frizz. There is no point wasting any energy on it.

This will sound completely bonkers but I am quite a private person, despite the blog and talking about all manner of things. There are things I keep private because they involve other people or because I just don’t want the sympathy vote. Sometimes I am still processing stuff in my head and just don’t have the energy to deal with the questions that writing about an issue will cause. Things are really stressful here at the moment, we never seem to get a minute to catch our breath. But we keep going like everyone else does because the world doesn’t stop just because you are having a shit time.

There are several issues going on but the one that is worrying me most at the moment is Dembe ( and this was probably the source of the migraine this morning). On and off for a few months poor Dems has had an intermittent limp. Not an obvious one, one that unless you knew what you were looking for you wouldn’t know it was happening. We had him at the vet’s last month to be checked out and the vet couldn’t observe it in him, isn’t that always the way. He was put on some medication a it was hoped that perhaps it was a soft tissue injury that needed some rest and some anti inflammatory medication would help. Within a few days he was doing so much better and no more limping. As a precaution we cut his walks with the dog walkers right down to the bare minimum, ensured he didn’t do anything too physical. Sadly on last Thursday the limp came back, I still had pain medication so I gave that to him. The limp settled and then on Monday was back again.

I rang the vets on Monday evening and got Dembe booked in for an appointment the following day. Mr Myasthenia Kid took him to the appointment as they only allow one of you into the building at the moment due to Covid. This time the vet could see the limp and she gave Dembe a full check over. Since this limp started there has been no swelling, no heat coming off any of the joints in his leg and for the majority of the time his limp is very subtle. You actually have to watch his head as he is walking towards you, every few paces his head bobs down, that’s how subtle it is. It is so intermittent that we and his dog walkers have been unable to catch it on video. So the next step is x-rays of both his front legs. The vet has checked his back legs and his hips are sound. Hip Dysplasia is a massive issue within the Labrador breed and we ensured both his mum and dad had low hip and elbow scores. We also stuck to the rules about not allowing stairs until he was old enough and also we stuck to the exercise rule of 5 minutes exercise per month old. However sadly Labrador’s are also prone to elbow Dysplasia and no matter all the precautions you take with your pups sometimes shit happens and this could be one of those times. I am not too concerned as he is insured, so they will pick up the tab. It is the fact that he maybe in pain, that he has to go to the vets and stay there when he has only ever been left for 30 minutes with someone else in his life since he was 8 weeks old ( other than his dog walks).

Those of you who have followed my blogs will know about our first dog Travis who passed away shortly before his 3rd birthday. As a teenager we also lost a family dog when she went into be spayed as she was allergic to the anaesthetic a situation that was just tragic. For some reason with Dembe I have always wrapped him in cotton wool and my fear about him having to be sedated for the x-rays really has me on edge. Plus the fact that he is coming up for his third birthday has me freaked out. I know he isn’t sick like Travis was but I am just paranoid about it. If you want to read more about the dogs we have had please use these links http://themyastheniakid.com/2014/10/30/the-dogs-in-my-life-part-one/ and http://themyastheniakid.com/2015/08/06/the-dogs-in-my-life-part-two/ . I need to write part three to cover Willow, Frankie and Mollies passing within 55 weeks of each other but even though it is several years on it is still just too raw.

I was much more chilled with the other dogs, than I am with Dembe. I have gone back to being like a brand new dog owner and going to the vet about everything! I did feel when we brought Dembe home I had completely lost my confidence and I was always terrified I was going to hurt him ( accidentally obviously).

So until the X-rays come back from the orthopedic specialist we will be none the wiser as to whether he has Elbow Dysplasia or a soft tissue injury or anything in between. If it is Elbow Dysplasia depending on how bad the joint is the treatment could be conservative, treating it when it flares up, reducing his weight a little etc or it could mean an elbow replacement. The thought of which terrifies me as the recovery period is 12 weeks of crate rest which he will go bonkers, quickly followed by myself and probably Jay. So for the moment all professional dog walks have been cancelled. He is allowed 25 minutes off the lead a day and then small lead walks as he point blank refuses to go to the toilet in the garden. He has had his pain medication increased and hopefully that is helping him. The vet constantly reassured my husband that she felt whatever the issue was it has been caught early so the damage shouldn’t be too great.

Dembe is fine in himself, loving, affectionate, eating and drinking fine. He keeps wanting to zoomies in the house so I am having to think up games we can play that doesn’t involve too much food and too much movement! He is pretty chilled most of the time and is quite happy to snooze. I just thank our lucky stars that he is no longer a puppy as he would be manic with the need to burn off energy.

So the migraine this morning was not unexpected as that seems to be my default setting when stressed and at least they have reduced in number since my whinge post.