Monthly archives "July 2015"

Sick as a Dog

Sick as a DogI realised something the other day.  As you know, my pooch has been very poorly for over six weeks now. Because of the illness he hasn’t been able to eat properly, he’s lost weight and his energy has dropped dramatically.

Here’s the realisation – through all of that trauma and difficulty he has remained the same silly, funny, sweet and ever hopeful little furball he always was, albeit he has been a little less greedy and a little more quiet sometimes.

I’ve noted below some of the ways he has been sick, that might help me and you, next time we’re a little (or a lot) under the weather:

  • He never whinges about his ailments (not even in doggy whimpers) – he just gets on with it,
  • He doesn’t worry about how bad it could get – he lives in the moment.  If he’s being ill, he’ll be ill.  Once that’s done, he goes back to his blanket and his toys and his routine,
  • He takes all the rest he needs.  This is an important one.  There have been days where he has struggled more than others.  On those days, he will just sleep more and play less.  He will slow down completely on our walks, to make sure I know he’s not really up for it, and as soon as I’ve figured it out (as a human it takes me longer!) and turned to go home, he practically races home so he can flop on his blanket and recover,
  • He doesn’t let it mess up his day.  He might have been ill in the morning, but if he’s feeling better in the evening, he’ll be there, in my face, with his favourite toy (Monkey) dangling from his mouth, ready to play.  If he’s feeling really good, he’ll pull me towards the park when we’re out on our walk, so I know he wants to stay out and play.  And if he’s feeling really good he’ll attempt to have a good old roll around in the grass.

Over the weekend we had three good days where the medication was kicking in, he wasn’t ill and there was lots of playing.  We’re having a couple of bad ones at the moment – but it’s in the mornings, and guess what?  In the evenings we still have a cuddle and he still wants to play with Monkey and investigate all movements in the kitchen.

So next time you’re ill, whether it’s a cold or something more serious, see if you can be sick as a dog.  It might just help you recover that little bit faster.

Leptins and Ghrelins

Leptins and GhrelinsThis week has been all about Leptins and Ghrelins for me. Leptins and Ghrelins you say? I can see you nodding intelligently as you head for Google.  Let me explain.

As you’re probably aware, my boy has been poorly for over a month.Which means I’ve been getting less and less sleep over the last month.  In addition, it’s been getting progressively more stressful at work this week, as we head into half-yearly reporting.  We hit out first reporting deadline on Friday and it was a long, long day.

So by Friday night, I was so tired that I crashed completely at about 11pm and fell asleep on my sofa, remote in hand, pooch in lap.  Although I kept waking up every couple of hours, it was only at around 6am on Saturday morning that I finally mustered enough energy to make it upstairs and get into bed for a few more hours.

I also saw the effects of the accumulated lack of sleep this week.  I have developed an insatiable and extremely unhealthy appetite.  No matter what I eat, when I eat or how much I eat, it doesn’t seem to be enough.  It’s not satisfying.  And it comes down to those pesky Leptins and Ghrelins I mentioned earlier.

So what are they?  Well, I talk about in much more detail in Chapter 8 of the book, but briefly they’re both types of hormones that influence our appetite.  And sleep, or lack of it, can affect the production of these hormones.  So lack of sleep can have a direct effect on how much you want to eat.

This week I’ve actually been able to (completely unintentionally) prove it for you (so you don’t have to bother testing it out yourself, lovely reader) – it’s all true.  Sadly, I can confirm that lack of sleep turns you into a greedy little food monster, who constantly needs to be appeased with anything and everything you can get your hands on.  It’s scary how easily it can happen, and I definitely don’t recommend it.

So my plan this week is to work on getting into a healthy sleep routine, and enjoy seeing the results of this extra sleep, not only in the reduction of those pesky dark circles under my eyes, but also by measuring how many times I do or don’t hit up the snack machine!  Hopefully I’ll be getting some shut-eye, saving some pennies, and reducing the lbs all at the same time.

(PS – it looks like the Pooch has turned a corner, and is finally responding to the new medication – hooray!)

New Neighbours

NEW NEIGHBOURSI have new neighbours.  To be more specific, I have new work neighbours. In the little corner of the west wing of the first floor of the huge office where I and two thousand other people work, there is a cluster of four desks and a neighbouring cluster of two desks.  I am in the four desk cluster, with one sometimes loud but always lovely full-timer and one very quiet part-timer.  There has been one occasionally chatty cat-lover in the three-cluster, so between us we’re a fairly quiet bunch. I like working in peace and quiet so this has suited me perfectly. 

This week we had two more contractors moving in – they filled in the remaining spaces on the three desk cluster.  Which has led to a little indulgence in one of life’s pleasures for me – people watching.  Well – actually, it’s more ‘people-listening’.  The way our desks are all positioned, the full-timer and I have our backs to the three desk cluster.

So here is what I’ve observed in the last three days.

New Neighbour Number One (NNN1) is very quietly spoken, has an even quieter footfall and is the manager of this tiny unit.  She’s very apologetic sounding, but seems to know exactly what she’s doing.  A lovely lady, but not much help when I’m looking for inspiration for characters for the new book.

Now New Neighbour Number Two is a completely different (and frankly much more exciting prospect).  The collection of attributes are unusual and interesting.  She favours a very ‘Goth’ style of dress, wearing head to toe black draperies.  Her long dirty blonde hair is normally piled into some kind of beehive style.  She has a really interesting sound – it’s a cross between a very relaxed, bordering on slightly drunk, drawl and the slightly high-pitched whine of a five-year old about to head into a full on tantrum. 

The resemblance to a stubborn child doesn’t end there – and I have to admit, it’s ever so slightly disconcerting to see and hear a mid to late forties (I hope!) professional adult exhibit the attributes of a recalcitrant and sulky child.  Today for example, she was advised that a process she thought she’d completed was actually missing a key component and therefore she needed to action it.  We were given a twenty-minute diatribe on the pickiness of those pesky authoritarians who require an authorising signature on paperwork, the huge inconvenience this would cause to her personally, the ineptitude of the staff pointing out her error and so on, and on, and on, and on.

On top of this indignity she got into a random conversation with her indulgent and meek mama of a manager about benefit scroungers. Mama Manager gently commented that not all benefit claimants are indeed scroungers and may have fallen on hard times.  Well!  WELL!  “Of course they are.  OF COURSE THEY’RE SCROUNGERS!” our woman-child practically spat out.  “I have a friend that used to work at the council and she told me all about it, about how they all play the system.  They’re all scroungers.  Let me tell you what real hardship is.”  And then we were treated to a half-hour potted history demonstrating the dire straits she and her family are in.

“I mean, I’ve bought no clothes – NONE – in years.  It’s been years, I’m telling you Mama Manager.  Well, except these shoes I suppose.  I mean, I’ve bought a few bits.  But it doesn’t count.” she reasoned before treating us to yet more of her potted difficult, dramatic history.

You get the gist.

I was initially a bit dismayed at this intrusion into and disturbance of our once peaceful little corner, but it hit me as I was pulling out my notes for the new book.  I can see it for the blessing it really is – what fabulous character inspiration, on tap, whenever I want it!

Let’s see if you spot her in the new book…

Pooch vs. Pipette

Pooch vs PipetteIt’s been a funny few days – and by that I don’t mean odd or weird.  I mean laugh out loud funny.  And I’ve found that laughter in the oddest place of all – in my dog’s new medication routine.

He is also fourteen years old today.  So as a way of sharing his birthday with you, I’m going to share our adventures over the last couple of days – this is just a flavour of what life with my dog is like…

As you know, he’s been put on an intensive medication and diet regime for the next thirty days to treat a very serious inflammatory disease.  We have to follow this routine morning and evening, and it goes something like this – we start with a tablet, then thirty minutes later a pipette of doggy Gaviscon then thirty minutes later some raw meat and rice, then thirty minutes later another tablet.

The first time we tried it, it all went ok, and I was mostly just relieved that he was eating again, as he’d completely gone off his food for a day or so.  Since then, there’s been an unexpected development.

A little battle has developed.  The dog has become sworn enemies with the pipette.  He doesn’t like have something a bit icky smelling (and probably icky tasting) being squirted down his throat. And it only took him two days to take against the pipette.  So I tried leaving the liquid in his food bowl, hoping he’d just lick it up.  Nope, no such luck.  I tried holding him with one hand and squirting with the other.  Not a good move – the result was a lot of mess and liquid everywhere except where it should be, and a slightly smug looking pooch.  So far, the score is Pipette 3 – Pooch 2.

Yesterday evening and this morning the Pipette and I became a little more devious.  I loaded it up, then hid it behind me, snuck up on him and whilst stroking his head with one hand and murmuring ‘Good boy’, snuck the other into position and squirted – success!  But at a cost.  Never have I seen him give me such a baleful disappointed stare.  “Not cool Mum, not cool.” his big brown eyes insinuated.

The thing is, this has all happened over the weekend, when I’ve had time to deal with it.  Tomorrow morning and a pre-work routine to add into the mix will make things…erm..interesting.  Luckily, if I do get a little bit stressed by it all, I came across an article which also made me laugh out loud, given our current situation.

It advised, rightly, that petting a dog is scientifically proven to reduce stress, in you and the dog. Ha!  I wonder if that still applies when your dog things you’re deceiving him so you can squirt horrible pipettes full of icky pink gunk at him?

It’s entirely possible that if it all goes awry tomorrow morning, you’ll find me hysterically trying to hug my suspicious and wary pooch, both of us covered in doggy Gaviscon, with the scoreboard reading Pipette 0 – Pooch 0.

It’s been an amazing fourteen years, full of lots of crazy adventures, learning, love and lots and lots and lots of laughter – and I’m looking forward to many more years of regaling anyone who’ll listen to tales of me and my dog.

Boxing Dogs

Boxing DogsIf you’ve been following the adventures (or misadventures at the moment) of my fur-baby through the blog, you’ll know he’s been really poorly. We got to the stage this week where he had been ill at least once or twice a day (often in the middle of the night just as he was getting some much-needed rest) for over a week, and even though he had been prescribed tablets to help with the sickness they were merely blurring the rough edges of the symptoms.


I also took the decision a couple of weeks ago to change his Vet.  He’d been with the same practice since he came home with me at seven weeks old, but recently I’d trusted their judgements and decisions less and less – it was a gut feeling and I finally went with it.  We needed a restart. We moved to another Vet, who is a little further away and a little more expensive but who I feel much more comfortable with.  Because it was a new Vet they started from scratch, redid some blood tests, re-assessed the long-term medication he was on and basically came at the whole issue with fresh eyes. And one of the blood tests confirmed my gut feeling over the last two years – there was a long-term medication prescribed which wasn’t warranted and could actually be causing some of the symptoms.  Apart from feeling guilty that I hadn’t challenged the original diagnosis I was just relieved and felt a little vindicated in following my gut instincts to move.


If you follow the blog you might also, if you’re particularly eagle-eyed, have noticed that this mid-week blog post is a day late. For good reason – yesterday evening (normally blog post time) the pooch and I were meeting with the new Vet to go over the results of all the exploratory procedures.  I was a little bit wobbly going in as we’d been referred to the head Vet for this particular appointment.  I won’t do what she did and go through every procedure and the results linked – I’ll just tell you – it’s treatable, manageable and he should be back to his old self within the next month or two.


It would be impossible to express how relieved I feel. Watching him go through all the traumas of being ill without understanding what’s going on, and not being able to do anything to help ease his pain has been awful.  The lack of sleep and anxiety over the potential results hasn’t helped.


That’s all done with though – I won’t have time for much worrying in the next month. The head Vet was very kind and but very firm.  To get the pooch back to fighting fitness we will be stripping away anything and everything that could possibly cause a problem.  He will be having big doses of medication to fight the inflammation, and he’ll be on a raw meat and rice diet.  We are literally doing the doggy equivalent of a thirty-day detox.  It will mean waking up early (bleurgh!) to administer the various tablets at the right intervals.  It will mean Herculean strength of will not to give in to his huge beautiful brown puppy dog eyes when he wants some of my food or a treat – that’s all off the menu.  And it means that I, a lifelong vegetarian, will be preparing two meals a day of red raw meat – eek!


It got me thinking though.  He’s been messed up, mixed up and churned up for almost six weeks.  And to get him back on track the first thing we did was Stop.  We stopped all the old medication and old food and old habits.  And now we’ve Stopped, we’re Starting.  Starting over, starting again.  We’re building back from basics towards his good health.


I’m an occasional boxing fan, and I noticed that some boxers have a similar process.  They’ve lost more than one important fight.  They can’t see a way through.  Everyone starts to write them off, to label them as ‘Has-Beens’.  Do they give up?  Nope.  They Stop.  They regroup.  They build themselves back up, they start with smaller fights and work back slowly but surely towards the larger ones.  Eventually you see them back up there, fighting the big fights, tougher, stronger and more successful than ever.


It’s something we could all apply to our own situations too. If there’s an area that you feel is messed up, that you can’t see your way through no matter what you throw at it, maybe it’s time to Stop.  We don’t even need to wait for things to go awry.  Maybe we just draw a line in the sand, strip everything back, focus on what our goal is, assess where we are with it, then go back to basics to build back up towards it. What do you think- shall we be Boxing Dogs where it matters?