I’m about to start a series of blogs that I’ve been afraid to write, as they’ll be controversial, to a lesser or greater degree. I’ve been putting their writing off, in fact, but it’s time now. I decided, though, to ease myself into them slightly by writing about something not quite controversial, but simply sticky–mucus.
I’m going to write something so disgusting here that it will, I hope, prepare you for all the controversial blogs which will follow it, so that they don’t shock you. This is a true story, mind you, and it was a little tough to take, and I need to blog it because it’s one of those things you feel the need to talk about, to ‘get off your chest’.
Actually, though, it was Grace’s chest it got off of, the mucus.
I started this blog by telling you about Grace, my thirteen-or-older Collie/Terrier mix adopted from the Brooklyn, NY Animal Care and Control on December 1st, 2010. I’ve told you that, along with severe hip arthritis which has now been nicely controlled with supplements and meds, she has something called megaesophagus, which is harder to manage. I’m supposed to be feeding her so that her head is higher than her chest (and this I do, no problem), and then holding her upside down and gently whacking her upper back, about twenty minutes after she eats, to help free whatever is trapped in the pouch in her esophagus.
Now this is not easy to do. I’ve already gotten tendonitis in my left hand because of carrying her everywhere (she walks a few steps, several times throughout the day, but mostly I carry her, or push her in a shopping cart). The form of tendonitis I have has a nickname, ‘new mother’s thumb’, and I’ve had to learn a new way to carry Grace, to give my thumb and wrist a chance to heal. They’re proving hard to rehabilitate (and thumbs and wrists are crucial, at the note factory).
Anyway, sometimes Grace does end up upside down, because she’s a floppy dead weight, and often she’s top heavy and tips…what’s that expression?–ass over teakettle (is that right? it doesn’t seem to make sense…)
But when that happens, I’m holding on as hard as I can, with no spare hands to whack her on the back. Lately, though, she’s been fussy, and I feel she must be
(I interrupt this blog entry because Simo has just come and given me an intense look. He wants a nice massage. Have I ever told you that he raises his back and rump like a cat, when he is petted? OK, done. He’s just gone away, happy.)
more than usually uncomfortable, so I’ve been making a special effort to clear her chest, holding her upside more, and trying to whack her back. I have no idea if it helped or if it’s just a coincidence, but starting last night, she’s been spitting up a little after meals. At first I was concerned, but then I realized that, in her case, it might be a good thing–she might be trying to empty that pouch. And this morning, her body made a special effort, and the really disgusting thing occurred.
This isn’t the very first time it has happened, but this time was the most dramatic. Prepare to be grossed out. I had taken her out after breakfast and her drink, to do her business and then rest in the grass for a few minutes, for a change of scenery. She began fussing almost immediately, though, so I went out and found that her nose was running. This sometimes happens, even though she is, and will be, on antibiotics for the rest of her life (Most Valued DVM and I don’t like this, but she just can’t manage without them–I tried). It’s easy for that trapped matter in the pouch of her esophagus to become infected.
So I went and got a tissue, wadding it up into a cone shape (because I knew what to expect), and wiped her nose. Immediately a cord of light green, very sticky mucus, about the width and thickness of a fettucine noodle, attached itself to the tissue cone, and I began winding it up, a technique I’d learned the second time it had happened.
So disgusting, I know.
I wound and wound, like winding yarn onto a bobbin, until the whole tissue cone was covered, and the mucus, which had been all in one piece, stopped coming out. Right towards the end, there was a funny little gurgling noise, and Grace swallowed, making me think that that almost-endless mucus had gone right down into her throat.
This happened once more today, and after the second time, I believe Grace began to be more comfortable. Tonight she is finally, with the help of a little valerian, sleeping more peacefully than she has in more than a week. Maybe this will just happen, periodically. I don’t mind, because I have to admit that there is something truly satisfying about removing a harmful (or, at least, discomfort-making) substance from your dog, by hand. It makes one feel helpful, and competent. I know it’s not everyone who can wind a mucus cone like I can.
Well, I feel that, for me, this did break the ice for what’s to come. Although what I plan to write in the coming days may earn me more enemies than this entry will, none of it will be anywhere near as disgusting.
Gesundheit, until next time. 😉