The dews of comfort

It has taken a very long time – and it’s been a tedious and painful haul, for everyone involved – but I am now almost completely over my horrible abscess. Lancing the enormous thing left a gaping hole at least two inches in diameter, through which my chest wall was clearly visible. Kemo Sabe winced as she ensured it was completely clean every day, checking for any signs of another infection taking hold. Since returning from my weekend at the vet’s weeks ago I’ve been wearing a veterinary t-shirt, which is tight and buttons right over my haunches, to keep the 20170301_103809dressing over the wound in place, but I’m glad to say that as of yesterday those two layers have now disappeared because the hole has miraculously mended and, moreover, my own furry suit is growing apace over the top.  All that is left is the distinctive doughnut, which provides comfort as well as protection, and I am hopeful that we’ll soon be doing away with that, too. The capacity of the spaniel body to heal itself is truly astonishing; in three weeks, not only has the skin regrown and knitted over the muscle but the lovely pigmentation of my blue roan ancestors is clearly back as well.

20170317_190519Last week I resumed the beach trundle with the others in the morning – such a pleasure to feel part of things again – though I’ve been keeping close to Kemo Sabe lest I pull anything and cause further bother. I’ve also began a love affair with the bed in the spare room, a goose down resource I must confess I have previously overlooked but which I am having troubling appropriating, despite its offering a superbly comforting nest. Disappointing to admit, I often find the door closed now, so I turn instead to the merino wool bed brought back from Crufts especially for me. This was a consolation prize: the abscess prevented my attending Crufts this year, so Nico kept me company back home.  Though I am still fighting infirmity a little, I am deeply struck by the love and care my family has provided throughout all this. I have seen and felt all sorts but couldn’t adequately communicate anything useful about it, when my temperature was so very high that all I could do was lie and lean upon the Lord, and the throbbing of the swelling across my elbow and chest was utterly unbearable. I have been there and back and, I think everyone agrees, it has in some ways changed me. But nothing of this is wasted, as that extraordinary seer, Thomas Hardy, explores in his poem, ‘A Wasted Illness’:

Through vaults of pain,

Enribbed and wrought with groins of ghastliness,

I passed, and garish spectres moved my brain

  To dire distress.

 

  And hammerings,

And quakes, and shoots, and stifling hotness, blent

With webby waxing things and waning things

  As on I went.

 

  “Where lies the end

To this foul way?” I asked with weakening breath.

Thereon ahead I saw a door extend –

  The door to death.

 

  It loomed more clear:

“At last!” I cried. “The all-delivering door!”

And then, I knew not how, it grew less near

  Than theretofore.

 

  And back slid I

Along the galleries by which I came,

And tediously the day returned, and sky,

  And life—the same.

 

  And all was well:

Old circumstance resumed its former show,

And on my head the dews of comfort fell

  As ere my woe.

 

  I roam anew,

Scarce conscious of my late distress . . . And yet

Those backward steps through pain I cannot view

  Without regret.

 

  For that dire train

Of waxing shapes and waning, passed before,

And those grim aisles, must be traversed again

  To reach that door.

And they say, ‘If only we could talk . . . ‘

20170212_120857Last Saturday, at the usual time at which everyone  – including us – was getting ready to go to bed, I was bundled into the car and taken off to the vet, fourteen miles away. I had been unwell since the Tuesday, when Kemo Sabe noticed my changed demeanour and wrongly deduced that I had pulled a muscle once again when madly retrieving my beloved ball while Tiggy and Freddie were here. By the end of the week I did indeed seem a lot better after a few painkillers, and enjoyed the resumption of afternoon bounding over the heath behind the dunes but, by Saturday morning, it was clear I really wasn’t up to the beach trundle and we all had to be rescued half way: things had taken a definite turn for the worse and, this time, it was obviously my left arm which was immobilising and making me wretched.

Because there are no flies on Kemo Sabe and she understands everything I say, my distress became ever clearer to her. I felt enormously hot and bothered and everything throbbed around my chest and elbow, where a terrible swelling began to develop. It was this which finally decided my fate and the late-night rendezvous with the caring young vet at our practice, who’d left home to meet us and do her best for me. It would have been so easy for her to conclude that this was another episode of orthopedic trauma but from the start she was convinced otherwise and thus it proved to be: I had an abscess above my right leg and was kept in at the surgery on bed and breakfast rates until Monday afternoon.

Intravenous antibiotics and painkiller brought my temperature down but it wasn’t until Tuesday that the ghastly thing could be lanced and since that time I’ve been wearing an attractive, tightly-fitting doggy t-shirt, which poppers-shut at my rear end. It is Metropolitan Police blue and both snugly holds the dressing in place and stops me worriting at the wound, which is gaping but, the vet said yesterday at my most recent check-up, clean and looking good.

My exuberance is in direct proportion to my inability to withstand pain. Kemo Sabe knows this and registers my mood thoughtfully. She knows I over-react to both good things and bad and this makes it hard to know what’s what. The boys said it was very quiet – unnaturally so – while I was confined to the vet’s; normal service has now been resumed on the noise front (painkillers certainly slow you down!) and I am down to just one kind of antibiotic which stops in another day or so, I think. Even with all she has to do, Kemo Sabe has made time to take me separately for circular local walks and I am grateful to see the world once again. I can’t wait until everything is healed, which will take several weeks; then I hope to celebrate my wholeness with joyful shouting to the heavens in thanks for those who love and care for us, no matter what. And, you may well ask, what caused this dreadful thing?  We do not know for certain but I almost caught a rat a couple of weeks ago and the vet said that that could well have been the start of this series of unfortunate events in a spaniel’s life.