I heard a story on NPR last week and one sentence really struck a chord with me. It was something about how we're "photo-shopping our online lives" to appear happy and perfect. I've never meant to do that here on the blog. Especially since I know there are folks out there who have found hope and encouragement through Bella's story.
However, things have happened here at Casa de Bella over the fall and winter of which I have not yet spoken. It was not my intent to lie or mislead. I merely needed time to process everything, to deal with my crazy dog (and even crazier job) while also maintaining some balance in our lives through the holidays.
But first, let me calm your concerns up-front by saying everyone is fine. Better than fine. Good, even. Now.
That wasn't the case for quite some months and I hope to take you through the whole story. It may take a few 'episodes' to bring us up to date as there were many lessons learned and several points to cover.
I'll start with a recap that has some clues into what went wrong in it:
Bella re-injured her left shoulder while on vacation with us in September of 2012. (That would be the last actual, non-working vacation I have had, by the way. Just sayin'...)
Through the winter and spring, we saw numerous vets and made multiple attempts to identify and resolve the problem. All the while, we had our crazy dog on restricted activity.
When we finally found something that helped her shoulder (Metacam), we were immediately faced with battling the stomach upset it brought along with it.
Before this, back in the spring of 2013, our regular vet had prescribed Hill's Prescription Diet w/d (19% protein) for what he diagnosed as Colitis, a very common ailment among anxious dogs. Now that the Metacam was also turning Bella's insides upside down, the neurologist who prescribed it, told us we should be using Hill's Prescription Diet r/d (34.6%) protein to treat Colitis.
That was in July.
I don't know if you can see where this is going but we've now got my crazy dog whose shoulder is feeling loads better on a high-protein diet and regulated activity.
We started seeing signs of Bella feeling better in agility class when she began doing zoomies around the ring. We were slowly increasing her activity but, unsure of how much her shoulder could take, we were being careful, controlled. But she wanted to run and zoom and basically go nuts.
We continued to have troubles with her tummy and, per doctor's orders, were routinely stopping the Metacam until her bowel movements became normal and then starting it back up again until we saw signs of gastric distress at which point we'd stop it again. And so on. And so on.
And the hamsters spin the wheel.
Unsurprisingly, Bella lashed out at Jan again in August. It had been over a year since she had done so.
We made some changes to her meds, talked to and worked with our trainer and had plans to follow up with Dr. Dodman. But shortly before the holidays, Bella did something that threw everything we thought we knew out the window.
|Do you see what's wrong with this picture?|
At the time, I didn't.
I do now.
But in December 2013 all that changed when Bella attacked me.
I will go into all of it in time but suffice it to say, I missed every piece of information Bella was sending me. Talk about trigger-stacking: high-protein diet, restricted activity, shoulder pain, upset stomach, general anxiety from the winter weather, a dark room, loud television, a couple of glasses of wine (mine, not hers) and a painfully egregious rookie dog-handler mistake ended up with me unable to use my hands for a few days and my right arm for a week. It could have been much worse. (It's of note that it wasn't.)
I've been trying to find a way to share this with you since it happened (and there is some very good news to come out of it all) but I want to give it the time and attention it requires.
We're using some big and scary words about our little girl now. Words like: post-traumatic stress disorder, anti-convulsants, neurotransmitters, neuropathic pain and paroxysmal fear. But we're also seeing tremendous progress and a remarkably calm and happy dog.
Along with Dr. Dodman who is helping us with Bella's behavioral complexities, we've started seeing a holistic vet who is going to try to help us with her Colitis and her shoulder problems. Bella's tummy has improved almost as much as her behavior and we are incredibly hopeful at this time that we will be able to give Bella the pain- and fear-free life she deserves.
Please bear with me over the next few weeks as I try to fill in all the gaps.
My little pumpkin turned 6 years old this week. Happy birthday, Bella. You are still my favorite little Valentine.