Or…The Adventure of Chewie Hutchison and The CONE of SHAME!
On Thursday morning, I awoke to some terrible pain in my guts. I called in to work and took the day off. At first, I was worried that I was taking a sick day needlessly and it was just a little intestinal fit. I needn’t have worried. As it turns out, I spent the entire day either sleeping or on the toilet. I will spare you further details, but it affects the rest of the story.
We hadn’t known whether Chewie would be ready at the end of Thursday or sometime Friday, which made Melinda nervous because of the serious dump of snow we were supposed to get. (Driving back the other day from dropping Chewie off was bad enough. The drifting snow obscured the highway many times.) Melinda left for an 11:00 appointment, and I went back to sleep.
Soon, the U of M Emergency Vet called to say that Chewie was doing well and could go home that afternoon. If we could be there by 3, that would be ideal, since Chewie’s doctor would be in rounds at 4. (It’s about an hour and a half of driving to get there.) I tell her that’s great, and go back to bed, confident that Melinda will wake me at noon and we can have lunch and then go. Hopefully, the rest will have done the trick and I’ll be fit to travel.
I wake up at 1:30. Melinda didn’t wake me up. I panic and tell her we need to leave right away. She starts to pack some snacks and sodas since there’s no time for lunch. I use the bathroom, get dressed, run to the bathroom again…and as Melinda gets her coat on, I realize I have to use the bathroom again. She says, “Why don’t I just go?”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. It’s okay. You’re sick.” I’m a jumble of emotions, because I wanted to be there to pick up Chewie and hated to miss that moment. I also know that if the storm starts Melinda will detest driving in that weather. I also know that I have 10 seconds to decide before the diarrhea starts, so I’d better run. I wave and Melinda grabs the cooler and is out the door.
One bathroom break later, I’m back in my pajamas and hitting the hay at 2PM. I wake up at 6:30 to find the lights on in the hallway and Melinda’s back. Chewie is resting in the living room and doesn’t even acknowledge my being there. He spends the next few hours wandering the house trying to find a better place to nap, not realizing that the discomfort is his and not the bed’s.
His entire belly is shaved, and all of his legs have shaved patches where needles were inserted for fluid IVs and pain meds. We need to keep him from licking the wounds; we can monitor him during the day, but if we don’t put The Cone of Shame on him during the night, he could be licking his wounds for hours.
It’s actually called an e-collar (Elizabethan collar, which is itself a joke name). Putting it on him really requires three hands and the dog’s total cooperation. Fortunately, Chewie doesn’t have any energy to resist. We put it on him three times, because Melinda’s a pushover and keeps taking it off him. Do you know how frustrating it is to pull the inside sliding plastic around, hoping to get it tight enough that the Velcro finally lines up and you can seal it…and fifteen minutes later he’s walking around without it because your wife said, “Awww”? Well, neither does Melinda.
Ideally, we could put the collar on him and put him in his kennel for the night. Unfortunately, he cannot easily move in the kennel with it on. We put the e-collar on him one last time, confine him to our bedroom so that he can’t get in trouble and go to bed.
A few moments later I hear the plastic collar scraping against my side of the bed. I reach out, feel my way down the inside of the cone and rub his woolly pompadour and his muzzle. It’s the first affectionate thing Chewie’s done since he got home. I take off my CPAP mask, pick up Chewie and lift him onto the bed, since he really can’t make the jump in his weakened state (and with the collar throwing him off). He clambers up onto Melinda’s belly, lays the cone down on her chest and falls asleep with both of us petting him.
On Friday, we awake to find a massive dump of snow arrived in the middle of the night. Chewie would ordinarily love to romp and play in it, but he slowly trudges out to do his business. His legs are so wobbly and at times shivering. We have to watch him when he comes in to make sure he’s licking his paws to dry off and not lick his wounds.
Melinda has a good idea. We wrap him in his Thundershirt(tm), which is usually to comfort a dog during storms or other periods of anxiety, but this has the added bonus of covering his belly wound. Chewie has spent the rest of Friday recovering (what you and I call sleeping).
I know all of these pictures look the same, but it’s really the extent of his home experience since his return.
UPDATE: Re-reading this post 3 weeks later, I thought I should add a note. I later realized Chewie wasn’t being affectionate. He was walking over to me to get my attention because he thought I’d forgotten to take that awful collar off.