I can tell you two things now: One, that is not a title I ever thought I would write and two, I feared, yesterday, that I would have to have Jumble put down.
When I was in hospital, eleven years ago, with Seroxat-induced hepatitis, I was given Tramadol for the pain – and had the worst, and most scary, hallucinations of my life up to that point.
So, when the lovely vet I saw yesterday suggested this powerful pain-killer for my beloved pet, I was very uncertain. But, after weeks of witnessing Jumble’s obvious suffering – and having almost no sleep myself – I had to do something to help him – and the vet and I had both agreed that his time to go had not yet arrived because, despite the age-related ills, he still enjoys life and has a gentle and inquisitive soul.
Bless him, he was almost puppyish in the surgery, as ladies at the desk petted him and plied him with doggy biscuits. In fact he did something I haven’t witnessed in a long time, and feared he was no longer capable of doing: Reared up so that his front paws were on the desk, the better to catch treats I imagine. Unfortunately, Sunday’s lamb bone, combined with an overdose of bone-shaped biccies, released the Turds of War and, with nary a glance, he shat copiously upon the floor, leaving me in the role of Small Slave, scurrying around behind him with abundant plastic bag-age and face red with embarrassment!
But compared to the fact that there really is life in the old dog yet, and that he had worked his charm upon the veterinary practice, the way he always has, a poo on the parquet was neither here nor there.
Much relieved, but absolutely shattered (I slept for only three hours, if that, Sunday night), I went to Shadow of the Tor rehearsal. It was so lovely to see everyone again, but I did feel pretty subdued and a bit weepy for much of it, though I perked up towards the end: Sleep-deprivation on a large scale has this effect, I find, and, when combined with the very real worry that I might have had to have Jumble euthanised, probably explains my uncharacteristic lack of energy.
Once home, I took the first Tramadol out of its packet and slipped it into a sausage roll – knowing, as I do of old, that my dog is nobody’s fool when it comes to drugs and has an uncanny habit of eating his way round them and then leaving them, chalky and conspicuous, upon his plate.
He’s a bit partial to sausage rolls and, to my relief, wolfed the whole thing down without apparent suspicion. I then watched him, heart in mouth, semi-convinced that he would either keel over in a coma or go into the canine equivalent of a seriously bad trip on Acid!
Nothing happened initially and, torn between relief that I was not going to have to bury the remains or watch him fighting imaginary Jabberwocks all night and fear that the drug would have no effect, he and I sloped up the steep stairs to bed.
Hoisting himself up onto the purple throw, he slumped on his side. Gingerly, I got in and looked at him. Was he still breathing? Yes! Twitching from the start of psychedelic nightmare? No!
Sleep came to him speedily, wrapping warm and comforting arms around his elderly body. He looked relaxed and at peace – and he slept, like a puppy, all night. There was no panting, no wandering around, no barking, no torment of spirit. It was wonderful – for me because I slept from ten till gone eight; for Jumble because whatever it is that is giving him pain was soothed and quietened by the strong drug; and, in the wider sense, just this vast relief that the dog is with me for a little bit longer and that a pill to control at least some of his symptoms is available.
I am not stupid. I know that he is declining slowly, that he is not going to get substantially better and that our time together is likely to be measured in months rather than years – but this infusion of Tramadol, and hope, means that his final phase in a long life can be made easier and, with luck, more fun and that we can both get a decent night’s sleep.
Yes, thank Goddess for Tramadol!