Saturday, July 16, 2011

Andy's Recovery

Before Andy’s return, I bought a cage for Andy to stay in while he recovered from surgery. The vet said Andy had to stay as calm and still as possible for several weeks. The vet forbid Andy from climbing on furniture again. So, I put the cage in the living room, the only room with enough space for it. It was about 4 or 5 feet wide and over 3ft tall. It was roomy enough affording comfort but not too roomy allowing him to move too much. We put blankets on the ground in case he had any accidents. At first, he did have accidents frequently. As he was weaned off some medications, his incontinence ceased but he did have occasional bowel problems that persisted until he died.

Since Andy became injured, he did not like to be alone. I slept in the living room with him. The couch wasn’t too bad and I could get a normal sleep. Andy loved the company. He would glance up at me once in a while and fall back asleep.

During the day, my mom stayed in the living room. Normally, she spent a lot of time in the den, but for her Baby Boy, she adjusted her habits for Andy’s sake.

I worried at first about having the cage in the living room because Andy was scared of the living room. When he was healthy, he would not go in there. He had a spooked look on his face whenever we tried to lure him in. I also worried how he would react to the cage. Fortunately, neither the venue nor the cage would be an issue. Andy balked at first when he reached the cage’s gate but after I prodded him to get in, he went in.

We had a bowl of food and water for him. We would give him tooties from time to time. I had to walk him several times a day because of his incontinence. In the first week, I still had to use quite a bit of force to support his back end. After time, I found I needed less and less energy to support him. After 6 weeks, he wouldn’t need any support.

Andy had someone with him 24 hours a day. He was never short of attention or companionship.

Unfortunately for me and my mom, just as things were looking up for Andy, my dad’s health got worse. From the time Andy’s back problems resurfaced to the end of his recovery, my dad had at least 2 strokes. He spent weeks in the hospital and rehab. Oddly, my dad was in worse shape at the end of rehab than he was at the start. He couldn’t focus and concentrate. At times, he was disoriented and confused. Towards the end of his rehab, it became clear he could not do his home dialysis alone. Normally, people on peritoneal dialysis have a two week training program at the dialysis center to prepare them for operating the dialysis equipment. I only had one hour to get this thing down pat. I went to the dialysis center where a nurse trained me on a model my dad used. Each step seemed easy and logical, but when they are added up, it could be confusing and overwhelming. I needed the training because my dad made many mistakes when he tried to set up the equipment upon his return.

Although my dad was getting worse, Andy’s recovery would be a bright light and source of happiness in a year that was otherwise difficult and challenging. The operation extended Andy’s life 2 years.

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