I’ve not told you about the events of six years ago, and I’m not going into it all now. It was a difficult year, that will do, and in September, my mother was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, a stent was fitted (that is, a little tube was inserted via her throat under general anaesthetic to keep her bile duct open) and she was sent home with a ‘few weeks to six months’ assessment of her possible life span.
So, nearly six months later she was doing fine. She had become well enough to drive again and was enjoying life. But suddenly, she had become unwell. On Friday, the doctor had visited and then took me aside, told me that the stent had failed and that she had only a week or two left to live. Since she was in some discomfort, he said that he’d arrange for a Macmillan nurse to bring a morphine drip the next day, and in the meantime he left me with a prescription for morphine to give her by mouth.
Later, Kenny called to walk the dogs. Tilly decided not to go. I told Kenny the news.
He was gone, walking on the marshes, for some time and I was a bit concerned, but he returned just before 5.30 with both dogs, Khan on three legs. “He’d had his little run and was just trotting along by my side, but then he suddenly yelped and he couldn’t put his foot to the ground. We waited for some time, but it’s no better.” I looked at Khan’s left foreleg. “He’s broken it,” I said. Kenny thought it was only sprained, but I rang the vet and they said I could go in straight away. Kenny came too.
It was indeed broken. He must just have dropped his foot into a hole, maybe a rabbit hole, maybe one made by a cow’s hoof in the soft ground, and the tibia and fibula had snapped. The vet looked serious. “It’s a bad break. We can set it, but it won’t be an easy job and it’s touch and go whether we’ll save his leg. I don’t suppose he’s insured? There’s a specialist orthopaedic vet in Fakenham, but they’d cost thousands.” I told him that Khan was insured and he looked relieved. He rang straight away and came back to say that if I could get Khan over there by 10 o’clock the next morning, they could attend to him in the afternoon. For his part, they would bandage his leg to keep it in place, sedate him and keep him overnight, and I could pick him up at 8.30 the next morning. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to get from my house to Fakenham.
I had to go back and tell my mum what had happened. She was in bed, quite sensible but not at all well, and wondering where Khan was. I broke the news.
That night, she had little rest and I had none. She tried the morphine syrup, but she hated sweet things and said it would make her sick. I didn’t stay all night – her bedroom chairs were pretty but uncomfortable and somehow it didn’t occur to me to go into her own drawing room, but went home in between times. I wrote up the events of the night – I went through every quarter of an hour, even if I was with her for 10 minutes of that. I don’t know why I came away, especially as, every time I went through, she was trying to get out of bed. She wasn’t in pain but in discomfort and was restless. She was a bit more settled by the morning and the Sage said he’d sit with her. But he had to go out later, so I asked him to ring our friend Jeni, who also cleaned for my mother, and ask her to sit with her later in the morning. I got dressed and went off to the vet.
Khan’s leg was bandaged but he was not in pain. I lifted him into the car (it would be harder now to lift several stones of gangly dog) but greyhounds don’t sit and he wouldn’t lie down. I’d have to drive very carefully, not to jar him or to risk him falling into the seat well.
We arrived before 10 and were checked in. We had to wait for some time (I needn’t have hurried) but were eventually seen. I signed various consent forms – I explained that my mother was too ill and I was her representative – and left poor Khan, trusting as ever, to be dealt with.
Sorry, darlings, more episodes to come. Too much for one post.