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Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton

Lefty Lazarus

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.
When my son Ben and I carried Lefty, trembling and feverish, anorexic and unable to stand without help, from the grounds of our estate, it crossed my mind that Lefty might not ever return again to Pugs' Escape at the Maplery. Ben later confessed that he also wondered if Lefty was dying. For 12 years, this wonderful little pug chap had been a constant and comical member of our family, his life as a dog paralleling Ben's odyssey from the 4th grade to the cusp of college graduation; Jack's trek from kindergarten to the start of college; and my own pilgrimage from monkey-grilling Oddventure writer to bankruptcy-fearing worrywart.

As noted previously in Vicissitudes, we first took Lefty to a local vet who ran a variety of tests but concluded that she did not have the expertise and apparatus to know for certain what the main cause of his suffering was. A quick test of Lyme Disease was positive, but she feared that a more life-threatening problem was a possible bezoar of guinea pig litter. The X-ray of Lefty's stomach showed his stomach was so engorged with stuff that this normally small oblong organ had been shifted over to the right and was swollen to the size of a softball. Moreover, his liver was inflamed and his gall bladder was riddled with stippling, whatever that means.

{Bezoar, by the way, is a term I'd never heard until this whole ordeal began. To save you a trip to Wikipedia, here's what it means:

A bezoar is a mass found trapped in the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastrointestinal_system"]gastrointestinal system[/ame] (usually the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stomach"]stomach[/ame]), though it can occur in other locations.

It comes from a Persian word meaning "protection from poison," and therapeutic bezoars were once prescribed to absorb poisons in the gut before they could dispatch the poisoned. The term "caveat emptor" actually comes from a famous 1603 lawsuit in which a man sued another for providing him with a fraudulent bezoar. But enough on this subject.}

Lefty's bezoar was by no means therapeutic. The local vet referred us to an emergency veterinary hospital about 45 minutes away. Not only did this have more sophisticated scanning apparatus but there was a staff surgeon on hand in the event opening up Lefty's stomach to remove the contents proved necessary to save his life.

By the time we got there, Lefty was suffering greatly. His eyes were cloudy and smeared with mucous. His body was hot and he could not stop panting. His back legs were trembling nonstop as if he were shivering to keep himself from freezing to death. His breathing at times seemed ragged. I could not help but remember the death rattle sound of my father's last hours of breath.

An incredibly nice vet, Dr. Lisa Sepesy, met with us and went over a treatment plan. If you are a fan of Law & Order, Dr. Sepesy looks a little like that affable middle aged blonde woman who plays the medical examiner.

She explained that she wanted to run more tests--she suspected Lefty might have thyroid insufficiency and a urinary infection along with his other problems. She said they needed to keep Lefty hospitalized overnight. Ben and I both gave him a kiss and surrendered our buddy to the ministrations of veterinary science.

Lefty's bivouac at the hospital would eventually last for two days. But as early as the first night, Dr. Sepesy phoned us to say he was improving.

She had put him on intravenous fluids and started him on an antibiotic for his Lyme Disease. She also gave him anti-inflammatory medicine--doggie NSAIDs--for his joint pain. By the first night, Dr. Sepesy said, he was feeling better enough to actually eat a little. And though he had not yet evacuated his bowels, the occasional wafting of flatulence suggested that his system was not 100 percent blocked.

Dr. Sepesy called again the next morning with more good news. X-rays now showed the bezoar had begun to break up, obviating the need for surgery. She wanted to keep him one more night to further hydrate and medicate him and see if peristalsis might further progress his internal burden towards liberation.

It did!

On the morning of the second day, she called to tell us Lefty was doing much better, still limping a bit but eating and showing signs of liveliness. He could come home!

She arranged for us to pick him up at 2 p.m.

Ben and I drove back to get Lefty, glad that he was doing so much better, both of us incredibly anxious to see him. The vet had cautioned us he was by no means 100 percent, and that he would need to be on medicines for the next couple weeks, and furthermore he could not "overdo it" with exercise. Keep him inside resting most of the time, with occasional quick sorties outside to relieve himself.

As we drove back to pick him up, Ben and I both wondered if Lefty's brush with pain and mortality would leave him changed. Would Lefty, in other words, still be Lefty? Or a sobered shell of his former blustery self?

As is, I suspect, the case with many dog owners, we had embellished Lefty's Christian name over the years with various additions and refinements.

We had added, for instance, a last name: Lumpkins, i.e., Lefty Lumpkins. And for those occasions that required more pomp and circumstance--for example, during the annual televised Westminster Dog Show--we gave him a title, Sir Lefty Lumpkins. For our Hispanic friends, he became simply Senor Lumpkins.

Besides wondering if Lefty would still be Lefty, we also wondered if he would still be Sir Lefty and/or Senor Lumpkins.

I used my camera phone to document our moment of reunion. Here is video of Lefty emerging from his recovery room. He is doped up, a bit wobbly, and discombobulated by his changed environment. But both Ben and I could tell immediately: Lefty was still Lefty!

[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkhkIkvsYNc"]‪Lefty Lazarus!‬‏ - YouTube[/nomedia]





Ben holds a revitalized Lefty as Dr. Sepesy tells us which medicines to give Lefty and on what time schedule. Ben, who is wearing a BallouSkies charity wrist band on his arm-- http://www.ballouskies.com/ --later says that Lefty's I.V. bandage reminds him of the elbow brace that Allen Iverson wore when playing for the Sixers.




Like Allen, Lefty wears his therapeutic bandage on the front right limb.

I realize this vlog entry has gone on at some length here, and it hasn't mentioned swimming yet. So let me just mention that.

Swimming.

Now back to Senor Lefty Lumpkins. In the interest of keeping this account as complete as I can make it, here is Dr. Sepesy's summary of Lefty's travails and instructions for his ongoing treatment at home. I will also appendage the various tests and other expenses associated with his care:





(Please note the highlighted sentence above. Most pet owners believe their pets are the best, but here we have a woman of science, with an extensive background in animal analysis, officially proclaiming that Lefty is a sweet dog.)





(Note: in addition to the $2286.08 paid so far to the veterinary hospital, the original local vet charged $241.)

When we arrived back home, a real estate agent had arranged to show our house to a prospective renter (we're trying to rent our ancestral home, Pugs' Escape at the Maplery, in order to pay our usurious health insurance premiums), so I carried Lefty up to a platform we built in the woods. Biscuit, our other pug, joined us, wagging her tail somewhat nonchalantly at Lefty's return. Within several minutes, both pugs were using their compact four-wheel-drive style bodies to snorfle around the surrounding hillside. Lefty then circled several times and...evacuated his bowels! He looked so happy and relieved!

Ben started to laugh. "Well," he said, "that was a $2500 ****."

Actually, $2527.08.

And worth every penny we don't have.

At this point, Jack and his rocker musician friends also joined us on the platform and suggested throwing a Concert for Lefty to help pay the bills.

The real estate agent never showed. We carried Lefty down the stairs, I fixed his dinner with its extravaganza of medicinal condiment additives, and we tried to coax him to go to sleep. Debbie had bought him a Beanie Baby to carry around in his mouth and throttle, a cute little koala bear. Lefty curled up next to the koala and sort of rested for a little while, then he started begging for Milkbone treats. I gave him one or two or maybe five.

The next morning, I went down to kitchen, prepared to clean up whatever combination of revolting byproducts had left Lefty's various orifices overnight. To my delight, there were no accidents of any sort upon our kitchen floor. Lefty stood at full attention, trembling with excitement and total alertness, his signature voracious appetite having returned in full force.

Back in his puppyhood, Lefty got so excited at the prospect of being fed that he emitted these loud humorous yawns, as if anticipation of eating was tapping all the energy he could muster: a narcoleptic's catalepsy. Debbie found his yawns so adorable that she began to reward them.

Now, whenever Lefty believes food is imminent, he emits these wild yawning sounds that have nothing to do with sleepiness.

This morning, Lefty was yawning up a storm! He seemed more full of vim than he had been in years.

There was only one disconcerting sign: Biscuit was nowhere to be found. Unlike Lefty, who has never figured out how to open the kitchen door, Biscuit has mastered this trick and goes to sleep in the living room if we forget to prop a chair against the door. I searched the house for her but could find no signs. Then I looked in the garage and around the immediate outside vicinity. Again, no Biscuit.

Yikes! How awful the prospect to bring Lefty back from Death's doormat only to have his healthy bride disappear forever!

I made Lefty's breakfast of beef Alpo, pills, and elixirs, put Biscuit's breakfast in her bowl where he couldn't steal it, and hoped she would eventually show up. While doing some work in my office, I noticed Ben wasn't in his bed, which is very strange given that it was 8 a.m., and he usually doesn't get up much before 1 or 2 in the afternoon. That's when I realized where Biscuit might be.



Ben and his two friends, Will and Nick, decided to camp out on the platform the first night of Lefty's return. Knowing that Lefty was doctor-ordered to take it easy, but still wanting some dog companionship, they had carried Biscuit's dog basket up with them, where she spent the night. Though I told Lefty to stay at the bottom on the hill, he climbed up most of the way -- I carried him the last six steps --and began snorfling around the boys and his pug bride. I left them all to continue sleeping up there. A half hour later, Biscuit and Lefty both showed up at the kitchen door. I gave Biscuit her breakfast and gave Lefty some treats and tried to get him to rest.



Lefty proudly displays his koala bear and front leg bandage, the latter which somehow worked itself off overnight.

Epilogue: Lefty has continued to improve ever since he got home. This short video (please excuse the poor focus) gives a sense of his return to his former self. Perhaps it is the effect of his drugs, but since this was taken yesterday, he has become, in anything, more robust than I have seen him in years.

Jack, my younger son, said when Lefty was in his most extreme extremis, "He's a resilient pug. He'll be okay."

Jack was right, and I suspect this resilience applies to more than just pugs. We are all, in our fashion, resilient if mortal creatures. None of us can escape our fates forever, but until that day comes, perhaps the lesson of Lefty is that we won't give up the ghost easily, no matter how much we may sometimes feel inclined to do so.

Welcome back, Lefty! Welcome back everyone who has sidled up to the brink! Let us all resolve to live our lives as best we can without needless worry!

Just stay away from the temptation of guinea pig poop in whatever form this might take.

[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct28vaVKbcs"]‪Lefty the next morning! Lefty's back!‬‏ - YouTube[/nomedia]

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Comments

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  1. Chicken of the Sea's Avatar
    Hooray for Lefty!!!!!!
  2. kuztoo's Avatar
    you sir are a good man... For $2500.00 (if I were the owner) he would be replaced by 5 new dogs.... my wife is always concerned that the same would happen to her if she got sick!
  3. Water Rat's Avatar
    best $2,500 you ever spent.
  4. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken of the Sea
    Hooray for Lefty!!!!!!
    Hip hip!
  5. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kuztoo
    you sir are a good man... For $2500.00 (if I were the owner) he would be replaced by 5 new dogs.... my wife is always concerned that the same would happen to her if she got sick!
    I was going to say that five new dogs would cost more than this because they would eat five times as much as Lefty, but I am not sure this is true.
  6. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Water Rat
    best $2,500 you ever spent.
    $2527.08.

    But who's counting?
  7. That Guy's Avatar
    I clicked on this blog entry because of all the recent comments made about it. So at that moment I thought that this blog entry was written by the forumite known as Lefty. What I got instead is better.
  8. kuztoo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    I was going to say that five new dogs would cost more than this because they would eat five times as much as Lefty, but I am not sure this is true.
    Maybe now that we have "Obama Care" Lefty wont be subject to the Kuz's death panel and can get good health care on the backs of the corporate rich who fly in jets.
  9. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kuztoo
    Maybe now that we have "Obama Care" Lefty wont be subject to the Kuz's death panel and can get good health care on the backs of the corporate rich who fly in jets.
    If you were born to hang, you'll never drown.

    And if you were born to crash in your corporate, tax-exempt jet, then, well, maybe there is justice in the universe afterall!
  10. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by That Guy
    I clicked on this blog entry because of all the recent comments made about it. So at that moment I thought that this blog entry was written by the forumite known as Lefty. What I got instead is better.
    Thanks very much, That Guy!

    If you ever find yourself on a long commute, or trapped inside your cabin during a brutal February, or forced into bedrest because of some sort of illness and disorder, and you similarly find yourself in need of mildly entertaining but not overly stimulating reading material, of the sort that can keep you awake but not elevate your blood pressure in any sort of dangerous direction, might I humbly submit that several years of episodic blog entries patiently await your casual perusal!
  11. That Guy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    If you ever find yourself on a long commute, or trapped inside your cabin during a brutal February, or forced into bedrest because of some sort of illness and disorder, and you similarly find yourself in need of mildly entertaining but not overly stimulating reading material, of the sort that can keep you awake but not elevate your blood pressure in any sort of dangerous direction, might I humbly submit that several years of episodic blog entries patiently await your casual perusal!
    I'll try to keep 10% of that in mind. As to which 10%, well, it's too early to say.
  12. kuztoo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    If you were born to hang, you'll never drown.

    And if you were born to crash in your corporate, tax-exempt jet, then, well, maybe there is justice in the universe afterall!
    Of the three ways you've described To go, I'd sooner go in the Thornton corporate jet.
  13. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kuztoo
    Of the three ways you've described To go, I'd sooner go in the Thornton corporate jet.
    Alas, I preminisce the death of the magnificent John K in midst of a in derelicto flagrante episode gone horribly awry.

    However, should you choose to fly the Thornton corporate jet, I can assure you that death is virtually guaranteed! We refuse to tolerate any nettlesome gubmit inspectors on our backs, and as a consequence, our plane is 100 percent unable to maintain airborne status for longer than it takes to crash. Can't recall the exact physics equation for this, but it has something to do with meters per second squared.
  14. swimshark's Avatar
    I'm so glad Lefty is doing better.
  15. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by swimshark
    I'm so glad Lefty is doing better.
    I hope you are doing better, too, dear Alison!
  16. Bobinator's Avatar
    Emma and I are thrilled that Lefty is doing so well!!!!! The Dr. is 100% correct, Lefty is a sweet dog!
  17. Bobinator's Avatar
    How does Ben, Will, and Nick sleep without falling off the deck? It looks fairly high up there. Maybe they don't toss and roll around like me when they sleep.
  18. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobinator
    Emma and I are thrilled that Lefty is doing so well!!!!! The Dr. is 100% correct, Lefty is a sweet dog!
    Thanks, Bob!

    It is amazing how well Lefty is doing now. I don't want to jinx it, but one of my son's friends said the other night something I had been thinking myself: he seems even healthier and younger than he had before the illness first felled him.
  19. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobinator
    How does Ben, Will, and Nick sleep without falling off the deck? It looks fairly high up there. Maybe they don't toss and roll around like me when they sleep.
    I am not sure, but judging from the empty beer cans, perhaps they are too stuporous to roll anywhere?

    By the way, MAJOR CONGRATULATIONS on your nuptials!

    Will you change your name?

    Mrs. Bobinator as opposed to Miss Bobinator?
  20. bzaks1424's Avatar
    Ben started to laugh. "Well," he said, "that was a $2500 ****."
    Actually, $2527.08.
    And worth every penny we don't have.
    Best line in any blog ever.
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