With so many things to address, I'm not gonna piece-meal. So here’s what’s up with everything relevant at the moment.
Nicholas Nickleby is not an easy read. I know that I’ve defended Charles Dickens in the past from those who claimed that he was entirely too verbose to earn their respect and although I’m not done defending him (or being a fan of his, in general) I must say that I REALLY get their point now. Great Expectations is shockingly short in comparison to many of his other tales, so we’ll leave that out of the comparison. But David Copperfield was a long read by anyone’s gauge and I found it much easier to get through for some reason. I’m not sure why, but this book has made me achingly aware of how long it is, how the majority of the sentences contained within its pages are a paragraph long and contain more commas than I think should legally be allowed in a single sentence, how unnecessary some of the details are and how damned long it’s taking me to get through. I’ve been reading everyday and I’m still close to 200 pages off from the end.
But this challenge is about reading a classic, not sticking to the rather arbitrary rule of doing it in the shortest month of the year. And I console myself that if it had been January I’d still have 3 days left to finish this thing. So I’m gonna keep reading as much as I can during my free time with the aim of completing it by Saturday and assuming I finish it by then I’m gonna count it as a win, even though it’ll technically be March. Stay tuned for the review.
So we got the biopsy results on Tuesday. As I said before, we were pretty confident they were going to be negative; our thinking being that if he actually had this there would have been some other symptoms to verify that. So when I got a voicemail from the surgeon saying “everything looks good” I naturally interpreted that to mean “His liver is healthy” and “he doesn’t have microvascular dysplasia" (henceforth referred to as MD) and whatnot. Dave and I had a brief sigh of relief over lunch during which we discussed what timeline we should pursue in terms of taking him off the special diet and planned to happily return to life as it was before the seizures.
Imagine our surprise when we called the doctor to discuss things in more detail and heard that he does, in fact, have MD. There was a brief moment of “what, now?” during which we had to throw out our list of questions and come up with a bunch of news ones, primary of which was “Wait a second- he does?!?” While reassuring us that MD is an extremely common (among small dogs) and easily manageable condition which should in no way negatively impact the health of our little guy, he failed to clearly explain to us how results showing that he definitely has a certain disease equate to “good”.
It wasn’t until our regular vet (who is way more attentive and on top of things than any doctor that’s ever treated me, a human) explained it to us in layman’s terms that we felt better. She stated that yes, it is extremely common and that most dogs never show any signs of it and you’d never even know they had it and only a few need special medication or diet or have negative health problems because of it. If not for the seizures, she said, we never would have even identified it. And although the diet is the plan du jour it is by no means guaranteed to be required- we might still try to take him off of it at some point in the future and see how he does; cause chances are decent that he won’t even need it. And while they’ll have to be aware when treating him with medications that’ll be processed in the liver in the future, that’s really the only special precautions we should need to take.
She also said that while we had been operating under the belief that the ultrasound we did when this all went down had been definitive in ruling out a shunt, this biopsy was done largely for the same reason so “good” meant “he doesn’t have a shunt”- which we thought we already knew. Oy. At any rate, while deflated, Dave and I are hopeful that once our poor little guy gets his stitches taken out and we can finally remove the cone (which he hates more than anything in existence) he’ll be back to normal and since this is all done he shouldn’t need surgery again- ever. We’ve told him that everybody gets one and he’s blown his so now he’ll just have to shut up and be healthy. (Being a dog, we’re concerned he didn’t quite understand what we were saying. But we’ll keep trying.)
Friday was a rough day for me. With Buddy in surgery for most of the morning/early afternoon I was glued to my phone, anxiously awaiting updates from the vet. While I refused to believe in even the possibility of Buddy not coming through it just fine, I was still pretty anxious to see that he did. I had a brief but momentous sigh of relief upon hearing that he was ok which was shattered by the phone call home to tell my parents of this.
“Don’t freak out,” my dad said, “but mommy’s in the hospital.”
Don’t freak out? Sure, no problem. It’s not like I’ve been on edge all day anyway.
Now, my mom had told me that she thought she might have a slight case of food poisoning when I’d spoken to her on Wednesday but I really didn’t think much of it because she’d told me that she was feeling better and thought it was done. It wasn’t food poisoning and it wasn’t done.
We never technically found out what the hell it was- tests they did in the hospital came back negative for E. coli, salmonella and all the other big names in serious gastro-intestinal illness. But IV fluids and liquid diet were useless in slowing down the vomiting and diarrhea. She was admitted to the hospital Thursday night and wasn’t discharged until Tuesday. TUESDAY. That’s 8 full days of illness, 5 of which were spent in the hospital.
My aunt is a nurse practitioner and one of the smartest people I know. Every crisis, every serious medical illness and every new diagnosis she’s on the phone with us talking about it, letting us know what cases of it she’s treated and how people dealt with it, e-mailing us information and helpful web sites and explaining what the doctor told us in clear terms that we can understand. She is a saint. And she called me to let me know her hypothesis: that this was one of 3 “super bugs” that were going around wreaking havoc on people’s digestive systems. While some people get sick for a day or two with little impact on their ability to function, some people, like my mother, get really sick. A perfect example of this is the fact that my father came down with similar symptoms on Sunday but was already starting to feel better by Monday night. And because it’s a virus there’s not really all that much you can do other than wait for it to run its course.
When I first heard all this I was fully prepared to leave Dave in charge of Buddy and drive up to New York to see her. My mother told me- in no uncertain terms- that Buddy needed me more than she did. Thank God, because it seems quite possible that I could’ve gotten whatever she and my dad (and now my brother) had.
At any rate, this all served as a pretty big scare that ultimately amounted to a reminder of how dangerous these things we regularly get exposed to can be. I wish there was some other lesson that came out if- like how to avoid contracting it. But I suppose all you can really do is know that there’s the possibility of these things, and to not hesitate to seek out medical attention if you’re really sick.So that’s been the week. Crazy stressful, not the best for finishing a book, and overall something I’ll be very happy has passed once it’s done.