On February 9th Hank was acting funny. Zack had surgery on Jan 30th and we had all been stuck in the house 100% of the time since that happened. Hank and I usually go at least one place everyday. Even if it's just to run on base and have lunch with Zack. So, I assumed that Hank was acting funny because he was bored... because I definitely was. So I decided to take him to go for a ride on his favorite street at around 9pm the night before.
I was on the phone with my mom when we walked out to the car, and Hank was so excited to be leaving that I couldn't even get the door to the car all the way open when he tried to jump in the drivers side. As he jumped in he just missed his back feet making the seat and smacked his feet against the side of the car, but pulled them in and didn't even need to make a second go at getting in.
I asked him if he was ok.
He didn't answer.
I got off the phone with my mom and off we went. We drove for about half an hour with the windows down in the dark. He smelled everything. He acted normal.
We got home and he hopped out of the car and walked in the house. Tail wagging.
That night he couldn't sleep. He was next to the bed and he kept waking me up because he was breathing super hard. I didn't think he was in pain, just restless or excited. Eventually I found his tempurpedic pillow and gave it to him, he passed out.
The next morning I noticed he was having a hard time standing up to go potty in the morning. I gave him a rimadyl and just thought that his hip dysplasia was bothering him.
When he came in he hopped up on to the couch and walked in a circle for 5 solid minutes trying to get comfortable enough to lay down. I kept telling Zack something was wrong. It was a Sunday morning and I made a mental note to take him to the vet on Monday to get some new meds for his hips. Clearly he was uncomfortable.
Eventually he gave up on the couch and wanted to be let outside again. I opened the door and watched him walk into the yard. He seemed like he was drunk. He couldn't keep his feet underneath him.
Suddenly, he just fell over in the yard. My heart dropped and I ran outside screaming like he had been shot. Zack freaked when he realized something serious was going on. He crutched out of the bedroom for the first time in 10 days to see how he could help.
After a few seconds in the yard Hank got up on his own and came inside. I pulled the tempurpedic mattress cover off of our bed and brought it in the living room so he could lay down on it without getting on the bed. He walked in circles for 15 minutes while I made him a turkey burger, turkey bacon, green beans, and a HUGE helping of coconut oil. Usually the coconut oil helps his hips within a few hours and at that point I was still convinced that was the issue.
He ate it all standing up on the mattress pad.
Finally he went in to the dining room on the tile and laid down. Zack assumed he was better and he went back to bed. I sat on the couch and started googling the best treatment for him.
Every once in a while I would notice him craning his head around the corner to look at Zack. I thought he was tired and checking on everyone. I'm an idiot.
Eventually Zack noticed he had Hank's attention and started talking to him. Telling him what a good boy he is and calling him a fat dork (his super sweet pet-name for Hank).
This is when I really started to lose my shit.
He wasn't wagging his tail.
So I told Zack.
Zack got up and we both went in and sat with Hank and in our most seriously high-pitched, Jenna Marble-esque voice, tried to get him to wag his tail... which he usually does without any type of provocation...
Now I'm trying my hardest to keep it together. I'm leaving messages for the vet on his emergency line. That's messages.
I am losing my shit.
Hank is getting scared because I can't get a grip. He's restless and freaking out and drags his back legs, knuckled under, into the living room. At this point, Zack starts to lose it too.
My first thought was that some prehistoric weirdo animal that Georgia grows had bitten him. A snake or something. When he fell in the living room and it was clear his back half was now completely paralyzed within 3 hours of waking up that morning, I was pretty sure he was dying.
We sat sobbing on the floor with him while I told Zack that this was probably it.
When the vet called us back he said that he was about 4 hours from his office and he would meet us there when he could. He said that he thought Hank would be fine for four hours and that if he was bitten by something he wouldn't make the one hour drive we had to the vet anyway. Just to sit with him and keep him called until we heard from him.
I needed Hank to stay calm, so we sat with him and fed him at least 20 expensive bully treats. He was so scared and he was trying so hard to stand up. When I think about it now my heart breaks all over again. It was the most heart breaking thing I had ever seen. He locked his eyes on me and was begging me to make him stand up. He just couldn't. It was awful.
He was breathing incredibly hard at this point, and multiple times he would stop breathing for a second. I gave him a benadryl to help him relax and sat with his head in my lap begging him telepathically to just "go" if he was going to go. To not make it to the vet and be scared and make me make a decision to end his suffering. To just fall asleep in my arms, where he belonged, and not wake up. I begged him.
Makes me sick.
We sat with him saying goodbye for the next 4 hours. I called my parents sobbing. It was dramatic and awful.
When the vet called to say that if we left now for his office we would get there at the same time as him I had an overwhelming feeling of dread. How was I going to get this 100 pound, drugged, paralyzed, scared, dog in the car by myself? Zack couldn't help because he couldn't walk. Our friends that have babysit Hank for us were out of town, and I didn't want him to be scared if a stranger came to help. So, I decided that I was just going to figure it out.
I took apart the travel kennel Hank used when he was a baby and drug half of it into the living room where he was laying. Still sobbing I tried to get behind him and pick him up under his arms and put him in the top of the crate. As I reached underneath him and pulled him up, I realized I was stepping on his tail. Like... full-on... he made no noise. He didn't even know. My heart was crushed. I hurt him and he didn't even know and I couldn't tell which part of that was the saddest.
I eventually got him into the half crate and drug it out to the car, Zack crutching behind me. I stood next to the car, which seemed like it was 1000 feet from the ground, next to my paralyzed best friend, next to my broken and helpless husband, and cried and cried in the driveway.
I was a mess. This was not my proudest moment. Going back I would force myself to pull my shit together and be strong for my boy. There were moments in there when I was strong for him. Not enough. But there were moments.
I finally took a deep breath, wiped my face off, and lifted Hank's 100 pounds of basically dead weight in the car. He cried when I put him in, so I knew he had some feeling, but I also knew that I hurt him again and my head was starting to hurt from sobbing like a 5 year old.
Off we went. One hour to the vet, let's go.
Except we have no gas.
The car said 13 mile to empty. We had around 120 miles round trip.
So I sped to the gas station. I had recently lost my debit card and went inside to write a check. I go to this gas station 3 or 4 times a week. I am there all the time. The ladies who work there know me and they've seen Hank a billion times. However, when I tried to write a check for gas they told me they couldn't accept it because it was an out of state check... so here I am in the gas station trying not to cry and begging this 17 year old moron to let me write her a check for over so that I can get gas and she can keep the extra. Please. PLEASE. PLEASE!
So I went back to the car, ready to steal gas. All my cards were suspended due to the lost wallet. Zack's wallet was temporarily missing post surgery and I was ready to take criminal action, when Zack saved the day and called a friend of ours who met us with a gas can.
Finally. We were on our way. My head was racing thinking that would be the last time Hank was ever in my car. Thinking I was about to be with my boy for the last time. Thinking I was going to accidentally kill all 3 of us if I didn't pay better attention to the road.
When we got to the vet he immediately came outside with a muzzle for Hank. Right, this guy needs a muzzle. Usually I would have protested but everything was happening quickly and I didn't even care. He put it on him and lifted him out of the car and into the building.
They took him back for x-rays and I assumed they would come back and tell me it was time to let him go... but they didn't.
Dr Mike came back in and I can't remember how everything went because my head was throbbing but I do remember the relief when he said there was no break. It wasn't disc disease. Just spinal swelling, and while we had a long road ahead of us he thought there was a 60/40 chance he would recover enough to walk. Afterall, he was only 6 and super healthy and strong otherwise.
He would have to stay at the vet for at least a week.
I don't even remember driving home.
I was exhausted and I passed out the moment we got in the house.
The next week I visited Hank 10 times. I brought the vet and his staff treats.
I didn't sleep.
It was awful.
Then finally, I got to bring him home.
Here he is in the car when we got home =]
When he got home he had deep pain sensation. I could squeeze his nail bed as hard as I could and he would move his back feet a little bit.
That's all we had.
Anyway-- that's the long and boring of it. He has what's called IVDD which is basically spinal swelling. Most dogs recover. They regain sensation from the back to the front, which means full use of his tail will come first. Then he will be able to stand on purpose. Then regain full control of his bladder and bowels. Then He will walk.
It's exhausting to take care of him. It is all I have done since he got hurt. I spend most of my life washing pissy shitty blankets and towels and making sure he has new fresh warm ones to lay on.
I am never upset about it, and here's why... I knew it was coming and this morning he finally showed me that without a doubt, hes going to be okay. Even if he only ever walks in his wheelchair (that the kind people of my life funded--thank you thank you thank you) this morning, my sweet boy, WAGGED HIS TAIL! It was 7:37am, he was bitching, and I could smell poop. I walked into the dining room and he was happy to see me and HIS TAIL WAGGED!
Full on, on purpose, waggage.
It has made my day and inspired me to write the longest post ever.
That's what happened. It sucked, but it's getting better! We have tail waggage! Woohoo!!!!
I'll try to keep you all updated on Hank's progress here and quit posting on my facebook quite so much...