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Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I finally caught my breath!
I have a story for you! Last week, I was very sick. I'm better now, but I was very fortunate that I had a lot of support getting me through what would be the toughest battle I've yet to face—pneumonia. Week before last, three of us got sick...pukey sick. Mom was overwhelmed, but she handled it as usual thinking maybe it was because of the temporary bag of food she gave us until she could get our regular food. We obviously didn't care because we ate it and loved it...but there's talk that switching food causes tummy upsets. Mom knew this, but she hoped that the food would tie us over until she got the more expensive stuff. Mom is beating herself up, so I won't continue down this path.

It was Thursday night and I was on mom's chest like every night. She was sipping her wine, and I usually try to catch a drop left on her lips, but I wasn't interested this time, which alarmed her. She noticed I wanted to get off the couch—not normal—I didn't feel good which was obvious when she put me on the floor. I lost all the day's food without even priming the pump. Mom had cleaned up after Cali and Miles earlier that day, but they seemed to improve as the day went on. What was even more alarming was that I had to go outside and spew out the other end. Was it the new bag of food? What bug did I ingest this time? What mean virus or bacteria was invading my little system? Friday my diarrhea continued, and I wasn't fed that day. Mom was hoping that this too, shall pass...literally. Over the weekend mom gave me chicken and broth baby food, and I was improving—so she thought. I played some, ate, begged, but was not completely up to par she thought, especially when she noticed I was shivering a little Sunday night, in August. At bedtime mom noticed I was breathing heavily, and that night she didn't sleep because my breath was unusually rapid. Monday morning the only promising thing was my poop was hard, so mom put it in a baggy for the vet in case there was a worm in me. Meanwhile upstairs while mom was stirring, I was standing in the hall shivering after I had puked bile, my breath very heavy. Mom quietly panicked—she's good at that. She called the vet, wrapped me in a blanket, and dad drove us to the doctor's office. It was a long ride. It took mom back to the time they took Zoey, her 12-year-old chocolate lab to the same place, during a heavy snowstorm, the day before Thanksgiving. She was breathing heavily too, but she had heart failure. They were taking her there never to bring her back home.

Whatever mom and dad were going through in their lives, those things took a back seat. We were seen immediately that Monday morning. The doctor examined me and wanted to keep me for xrays and further observation. Mom was so scared leaving me without knowing anything. Their usual banter was replaced with a serious tone. I shivered. The doctor called later and said xrays showed fluid in my lungs—pneumonia—probably due to inhaled vomit (mom hates that word). She asked if I was comfortable and if I would be ok. The doctor wasn't his usual joking self, he was worried, but hopeful. He wanted to beat this thing, he said. To confirm, he wanted to send my xrays to a radiologist to make sure his diagnosis was in fact pneumonia, since he doesn't see many pneumonia cases in his practice. He managed to give mom a feeling of hope. Later that day, he called and said that he wanted me to come home because I didn't want to be there. I wanted my mommy. I was hungry, but wanted food that only she could give. I just wanted to breathe heavily at home where there was the comfort of familiar surroundings, and certainly she could shove those pills down my throat.

When mom picked me up later that afternoon, the doctor sent us home with instructions. When I got home, everything stood still. Miles and Cali left me alone, Cookie wasn't around much. Once home, she carried me to the couch to see dad, but unfortunately, I couldn't hold my poop. I guess I was so relieved to be home, I let it all go. She gave me to dad as he sat on the couch and held me for hours as mom continued with her work that she had to complete. My heavy breathing distressed her, and she didn't have the patience to hold me like he did. She was scared and didn't want me to feel her anxiety. That night we all slept in the living room, next to the kitchen, close to the outside door, it was convenient. I slept with mom some and then with dad, then sometimes on my own on a plush dog bed. I could get around, slowly. My heavy breathing permeated mom and dad's thoughts and dreams. If I changed my breath, they would jump up and check on me. It was like the "60 Minutes" stopwatch constantly resonating through the house. My breathing was that fast. The next day I wanted to follow mom everywhere as usual, but I couldn't. I stayed still on mom's favorite chair, in dad's arms, or on mom's lap when she wasn't moving around constantly.

Tuesday, Mom fed me my antibiotic cocktail of Baytril and Clavamox with a prednisone pill for swelling. The doctor called on his day off. He didn't sleep either. Mom held back the tears when she talked to him. Mom and dad were waiting for the 48-hour breakthrough. I guess they were waiting for my breath to return to normal, but they kept reminding each other that it would be a slow recovery. Most importantly, I had my appetite. I was spoonfed cheese bits, baby food, and Nutri Stat as my breathing made eating from a bowl inconvenient. The doctor told mom to feed me anything I wanted just as long as I ate.

On Wednesday, I was back at the doctor's office for a check up. He prescribed something that would open up the airways in my lungs. Thursday night everyone, including me, slept through the whole night and by Friday my breathing was much slower. During this stressful week, mom got all her work done, made several trips to the printer, and even had her mammogram done at the hospital because she complained of breast pain. Can you imagine? She was there for two hours as they took additional films and an ultrasound. She found out that day she was clear. Later that day she would find out about my xrays from the radiologist confirming pneumonia. The doctor later said he had been worried, but his positive "we'll beat this thing" attitude throughout the week helped mom a great deal.

The one who suffered most, I think, was Miles, my poor brother. He wanted to play with me so badly all week, but I couldn't play with him. I had no energy. His pent-up energy was beginning to require a drug all its own. Mom gave him extra playtime, but he needed to be chased through the house by me. Each day I showed improvement. One of my little habits would shine through each day, and mom would see it as a major milestone. By the weekend, I was running around, being mouthy, playing lightly with my brother, and enhaling Cali's long floppy ears.

Mom took me to see the vet for a checkup. He said my lungs sounded good, but he told mom I cannot puke anymore! Fine with her!!

Thank you Dr. Friedland.

Talk soon, Betty

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is a site dedicated to the memory of a special chocolate lab whose nickname was "chocolate peanut"...and now we (2 frenchies and 2 shorthairs) carry on her spirit of grabbing life by the paws...check in on us often as we have a lot to say

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