• Living the Dream – 20. Nightmare

    London

    Mine is the easy nightmare. I had got to the airport, and killed time in departures. As the aircraft took off, I was waiting for a message indicating whether Nero had survived emergency surgery.
    We had adopted Nero at 12 weeks old, and shared our lives with him for 11 years.
    I lost signal before a message came.
    That felt a long, long flight.

    Cyprus

    On landing, I learned that he had survived, but was on the critical list, kept in a medical coma.
    Once home, Margaret relived her terrifying day. It was surreal. Hers was the real nightmare, one that she still relives regularly. Our dog lay dying in a country that suddenly felt entirely alien. Snatched from Margaret’s arms by a huge, snarling dog, at least part Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The attack was prolonged and ferocious. It had bitten and shaken Nero multiple times.
    The vet had operated to rescue his ruptured intestine. He told us to expect the worst. Day by day, Nero improved. The operation had been a success, and a powerful cocktail of antibiotics kept infection at bay. I spoke about it on 1857.

    Operation 2

    Then, things got worse. The antibiotics were, in fact, masking the progress of a voracious infection that was eating Nero up. There are photos, but ones that I cannot bring myself to post here.
    A second emergency operation was undertaken. Large chunks of infected flesh were cut away. Antibiotics were changed – it was decided that a simple protocol would be used – preventing any masking. Again, our boy was on the critical list. Again, each morning, he would stagger to his feet and wag his tail at the sound of our voices. The team at the vets marvelled at his strength and spirit.
    Nevertheless, the infection was unstoppable. Nero was being consumed bit by bit.

    The End

    On the tenth day after the attack, the team rolled the dice one last time. More flesh was going to be removed and an attempt made to graft muscle and flesh tissue around the dog. Nobody could give up while Nero fought on.
    However – the grafts proved impossible. It was clear to the vet that Nero could not survive. So, the decision was made not to wake him from this third operation and he slipped away an hour later.

    We had been crying for ten days, and we’re still crying now. Crying with grief. Crying with fury. A ten day nightmare.

    “#Livingthedream” had become one of the worst times of our lives.

     

  • Living the Dream – 19. Shattered

    It’s shattered. I finished the last post with the following reference to leaving Margaret alone just after our container arrived:

    “Predictably – the day after its arrival, I’m back to London for a brief business trip. Mags will face the mountain of boxes alone, at least for a couple of days. Unfortunate timing? Or excellent planning? Again. I’ll let you know next week.”

    I flew to London Thursday afternoon for a Friday conference. I was giving the last presentation. It went well. There followed an awards dinner, complete with cheerleaders and a stand-up comic. All great fun.

    On Saturday morning, I awoke early and through some sort of instinct checked my phone.

    “#livingthedream” shattered there and then.

    Mags was in the village square, screaming and sobbing, our beloved miniature schnauzer, Nero, bleeding at her feet.

    A dog, habitually chained up, had somehow been freed. It saw Mags and Nero and charged them. Instinctively, Mags scooped Nero up and tried to shield him from the attack. The aggressor snatched Nero from her arms and savaged him.

    Mags’ screams of terror had roused the village and the dog was pulled off. I called at this point. Mags called some local friends who whipped Nero to the vet and my wife home.

    I was due to leave from Heathrow at lunchtime and arrive home in the evening. Mags and I talked on the phone, exchanged messages. Physically, she was relatively unhurt, but I could hear the trauma in every word, sob and tear. Never have I felt so useless and so remote.

    The 12 hours between the voice mail (which you can listen to here – although it’s a very hard listen) and finally getting home are the longest that I have endured.

    So – to answer the question that I posed at the end of the last post – “unfortunate timing?”

    Definitely.

    Timing that will haunt me forever.