June 24, 2016

WE GOT HER BACK. ONE OUT OF TWO AIN’T BAD.

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Having spent two days in “hospital” having intravenous fluids to flush her kidneys, Lulu is much, much better.

The shaved area on her back (she has a matching one on the other side) is where they performed the ultrasound scan.  This showed that her kidneys looked perfectly normal so there is no obvious explanation for why they are failing.

She is more like our old Lulu, the one we now realise we lost several months ago, which is probably when she started to feel ill.  When we collected her from the vet’s she was bouncy, wriggly, full of beans, although skin and bone because she has eaten hardly anything for over a week now.

She was discharged with kidney pills, antibiotics and a load of special food that should not put any stress on her kidneys, dried kibble and canned meat.  When we got her home she managed to eat and keep down a small amount, which is looking very promising.

The idea is that now she feels better and the flushing of her kidneys has eliminated the toxins they can no longer remove, she should stabilise as long as she stays on the special food.  If her kidneys are so badly damaged that they can’t cope she will go downhill and get to the point where she was last week.  If she remains stable, we could keep her for months or even years.  Now that we know how lively she should be, we should be able to spot the deterioration quickly.  The sad thing is, if it happens again, there will be nothing that can be done about it.  So we’re keeping our fingers well and truly crossed.

So we got our Lulu back when two days ago we thought she was a gonner.  As for the result of the referendum – words fail me.  Goodness knows what will happen now.

June 23, 2016

WAITING, IN LIMBO

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Today is a difficult day for us.  We are in limbo, waiting, to hear the outcome of two things that mean a lot to us.

This picture of Lulu was taken seven weeks ago, in the bluebell woods near our UK home.  At the time we had noticed that she was often a little less perky than usual, sleeping more during the day, but she enjoyed her walks and her food.

Just before we came back to the UK on 14th June we realised that she was becoming much more subdued, spending most of the day sleeping and often being reluctant to get off her bed and go out for a walk.  This we put down to possibly her age and also the weather.  We have had awful weather in our part of France and Lulu has often been known to refuse to go out or get out of the car in the rain.  She hates getting her feet wet.  We hate her getting muddy so it was a fair arrangement.

On arriving home we decided that there was something very wrong.  She was eating hardly anything and keeping very little of it down, meaning she was losing weight rapidly.  She was also in pain, shrieking horribly when she first got up off her bed, then being rooted to the spot, looking terrified and trembling violently.  A visit to the vet resulted in a diagnosis of infected anal glands.  These were dealt with by the vet and she came home with antibiotic tablets.  She got rapidly worse, eating nothing and vomiting for no reason.  She became very thin very quickly and the pain episodes increased. 

And yet, often by the afternoon she would be almost normal, trotting along in her walks and doing all the things she likes to do.  We took her back to the vet who agreed to do a blood test and, luckily, she exhibited her most dramatic symptoms in the surgery, shrieking and shaking and looking terrified.  Otherwise we had the distinct impression the vet thought we were making it up.  Although you couldn’t make up the obvious loss of weight, she was so skinny it was heartbreaking.

Yesterday the result of the blood test was made known and her kidneys are failing.  The vet told us of the possible outcome, that nothing could be done to repair her kidneys, but, depending on what they found after doing an ultrasound scan, they might be able to make her feel less ill and more like herself by “flushing them out”.  Then there would be long term medication, a special diet and regular blood tests resulting in the “flushing” treatment when she became ill.

We’re not sure we want that for Lulu, or for ourselves.

She has spent the night last night “in hospital” at the vet’s, on a drip which would flush the kidneys.  It’s the first time ever that she has spent a night on her own, not with us or friends who love her.  This morning she is having her scan and after that we will decide what to do.

We went to vote in the referendum early, so that we could be back and be sure to be in if the vet phoned.  There were plenty of voters around, all gleefully accepting the free pens being handed out by the older woman (probably my age) wearing the red “vote leave” t-shirt.  We declined.  Where were all the “vote remain” supporters and who is financing all these t-shirts, posters and pens?  Living in what is usually described as a “staunch labour area” it makes no sense that so many people seem to want to leave when the labour party advise against it.  I can’t help wondering what the hell we are playing at – this is the stupidest game I have ever known.

So we wait, on two counts.  One has me in tears every five minutes and one has me in numb disbelief.  You can guess which one is which.

Lulu is a lovely dog, beautiful, well behaved and utterly delightful.  We are so glad to have had her for nearly eight years and it seems so unfair that we might lose her in her prime.  We really would love to keep her for another two, three or even four years.  But we are not about to embark upon an uncertain future which requires frequent visits to the vet for blood tests and treatments that can’t guarantee that she will feel well and not be in pain.

I sincerely hope that we will not wake up in the morning to find our world has been turned upside down on two counts.  This has been a difficult post to write, we are in pieces, just waiting.

June 12, 2016

A SINGLE WEEK OF SUMMER

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You would have to be living in a cave to not know that we have had some terrible weather in this part of France.

When the above notice went up a few years ago, I wondered whether anyone would be wise to buy a building plot so near to the river.  Now we know.

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The lake on Lulu’s favourite walk overfilled and the paths around it became an extension of the lake itself.  Not Lulu’s favourite thing at all as she doesn’t like getting her feet wet.

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All around us, buildings became flooded, rivers became raging torrents and wildlife became displaced.  It has been awful. 

For us, we haven’t had major problems to deal with, just huge puddles, a soggy cat and disgruntled dog. 

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I feel for the people who were on holiday that week.  “Spring bank week”, or the last week in May, is the first chance that many UK people have to take a break from work.  The Spring bank holiday is half term for the school children and many people head for France for a holiday.  As if the awful weather and the flooding were not enough, people also had fuel shortages to worry about, as well as the blockading of some ports and threats of air traffic control strikes leading to cancelled flights adding to the anxiety.

I have to say that when we were working we often had poor weather to deal with during Spring bank week, even in France.  But with fuel shortages and the rest to spoil our enjoyment if we were not already here we probably would have gone somewhere else.

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Then suddenly, as if someone had turned a switch, everything changed.  This last week has been a completely different story.  Warm sunshine arrived, day after day.  The floods receded and in many places you would never know there had been a problem.

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Lulu’s favourite walk became a pleasant place to be once more and we had blue skies every day.  Such a change from the dismal grey that we have had virtually all year.

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Apart from a few puddles, our walks around Le Grand-Pressigny were a joy, just like any year before.  The roses were especially happy to see the sun and the air has been filled with glorious scent.

But, it seems it was not to last.  One week of summer, that’s all we have had.  This weekend rain, grey skies and blustery winds have returned and the next week looks very unsettled.  All very unsatisfactory.  With the year nearly half over and one month of summer gone, goodness knows when we will get any real summer.  It’s very unsettling.