It happens to all of us.
We’re not young – we know that – but we don’t feel old. At least not most of the time. Then, there are mornings you wake up, and, yep, you feel old.
Jebediah, who was still stealthily fighting for sofa supremacy on Wednesday, woke up yesterday morning suddenly old. Still able to go down the stairs, he discovered he could not go back up.
His right hip looked to be the culprit. He wasn’t able to bear weight on it and give the little push he needed. When he did manage the first step, he slipped off balance and fell back to the bottom. After his failed attempt, he was limping, too, babying that back right leg.
I helped him up the stairs, twice, and called the veterinary office to ask if it was okay to give him baby aspirin, was told no*, and made an appointment for later that afternoon.
(This is why I love Banfield’s wellness plan. No thinking about the cost of the visit. And the vets and techs there are all wonderful. They’ve gone above and beyond for Jeb many times.)
Watching him confusedly returning to the stairs again and again, I blocked them off with the porch chairs. I was afraid he’d get part way up and tumble back down while I was running errands.
Blockade in place, I went upstairs for my shoes. Jeb tried to follow me. Creeping under one of the chairs he got stuck, forelegs up the first stair, hindlegs trapped between the chair and step. He might be gimpy and old, but he still wants to do what he wants to do. I decided that the library books and other errands could wait, and I would stay home.
(How my life works: Moments later, the phone rang. One of the ladies from my book club had a spare ticket to the Van Gogh exhibit I’ve been wanting to see, already paid for, that she did not want to go unused. I am a fan of last minute invites, but today I had to say no because of the vet appointment. When was the last time I received an impromptu invitation like that? I can’t remember, but, honestly, I am not complaining because there was nothing I wanted to do more than verify that my dog was not in pain or about to die.)
He’s not. At his appointment, I fed him a banana while the veterinarian examined his leg, feeling for swelling and range of motion. No swelling. Range of motion only slightly less than his other leg. Hip felt fine. He didn’t wince or complain about having his leg manipulated. Actually, it seemed to help, as he was limping less significantly afterwards.
The best guess? He might have twisted it funny in his sleep or pulled a muscle when he was jumping off the sofa he’s not supposed to be on, aggravating the arthritis or arthritis-like condition he already has. He’s to rest for a week, take his meds, and if it is not better, we’ll go back for x-rays.
I know Jeb is old. He’s also been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease, which is incurable, but progresses slowly, shortening his natural life expectancy only slightly. Knowing he’s not in good health, I don’t brush off limps and bad days and bits of weirdness like I did when he was a young dog.
I love that stinky beast. He was my son’s dog, the one who lives back east. Jeb is always so sad when his boy comes home, then leaves again. Last year, consoling and petting him, I said, “It’s not fair, is it? The boy grew up, and you just grew old.”
It’s a whole different kind of letting go, and I am not quite ready for it. Not yet.
*Baby aspirin is usually, in the proper dosages, a safe pain reliever for dogs, but because of his Cushing’s, Jeb has kidney troubles, so his vet called in a prescription that would be safer for him.
Are pets a part of your family?