I was typing away at the computer when Ace finally decided to get up this morning.
That’s the general routine. He sleeps in while I, an early riser, work. Around 9, or 10, or sometimes not until 11, he finally stretches and gets off the futon.
This morning, though, he found that hard to do. Once on the floor, one of his front paws didn’t seem to work. He seemed to have no control over it. When he got off the carpet and onto the wooden floor, it was even worse.
I let him outside and he walked spastically. Maybe his leg is just asleep, I told myself, even as a sick feeling started rising in my stomach.
I noticed that in addition to his right front leg not seeming to cooperate with him, the right rear leg wasn’t either. He managed to go a few steps and pee, then kept veering to one side, falling down and struggling to get up on his way back.
I called his local vet, and though they were booked solid they said to bring him in. On the way to the car he got worse. He leaned his left side on me as he walked, and his right paw dragged, his claws scraping rhythmically on the concrete.
Even with his ramp, it was hard to get him in, but he managed, thankfully, because I’m not sure I can lift 130 pounds now, or for that matter, if I ever could.
At the vet he stumbled and fell some more as we worked our way to the door. He didn’t seem to be in any pain – unlike when he had what was diagnosed as a herniated disc a few months ago. He seemed to have completely recovered from that.
He managed to get up the three stairs into the vet’s office. When I checked in, he didn’t jump up and put his front paws on the counter like he always does. He did perk up when, as we were walking into the exam room, a puppy was walking out. He stopped to sniff and say hello, his tail wagging wildly.
Inside the exam room, as we waited, he was drooling more than he has ever drooled, and sliding all over the floor as he tried to sit and then lay down.
They checked his legs, his ears, his heart, his eyes. I was wondering if he had a stroke, but he seemed responsive, just totally lacking coordination on one side. They asked if he’d eaten anything unusual; I assured them he hadn’t. They asked if he’d had any ticks recently. No, I answered. They took some blood for testing, and recommended a neurologist, but upon calling to make us an appointment they learned the only one in town was out of town – until Aug. 10.
They suggested one in Charlotte, 100 miles away.
We agreed to wait until the blood work up was done, in case Ace made another miracle recovery, as he did from his herniated disc.
“This doesn’t look to be the sort of thing where he’ll just wake up from a nice nap and he’ll be over it, does it?” I asked.
“It could be,” the vet said. “You never know.”
I managed to get Ace back in the car, but just barely as he kept sliding off the side of the ramp, his legs seeming to be working even less well by then.
In the car, I gave him some water, and wondered if we should just head straight to Charlotte, before getting him in and out of the car got to the point where it would require a forklift.
As I pondered, he puked.
Up until then, he hadn’t seemed to be in any discomfort, just stressed out by his limbs not functioning and the veterinarian’s probing.
I ran back inside and found the vet. “Now he’s started throwing up,” I said.
It was yellow, with hunks of what appeared to be chicken – even though I thought the canned food I’d added to his dry food the night before was beef.
The vet came out to the car to look at him again, told me to turn the air conditioning on, and had a technician bring out an IV bag to replenish his fluids with an subcutaneous drip.
During the drip, he got up from his laying down position, and sat, seeming to be put more weight on the malfunctioning front paw than he had been.
By the time we were home, he had little trouble getting up, and little trouble walking down the ramp. His right front paw, though, still seemed to flutter about wildly as he stepped.
In the house, I noticed a large swelling on his back, near where the needle had been — something like a camel hump, but smaller. When the vet called to tell me Ace’s bloodwork was all normal, I asked about the hump. He told me that was routine after a subcutaneous drip.
That’s where things stand now, and I have felt sick all morning, and frightened.
I’m frightened by what may be wrong with him, and frightened that I won’t have enough money, or credit, to pay for what the specialists advise. That is an awful feeling.
The camel is taking a nap now. I am going to join him.
The plan for now is that, when we wake up, it will all be better.