08 April 2018

What happened to Banksy?

Here’s a thing I do not recommend. Go let your dog out to pee and find they are unconscious, soaked in slime, and laying there like they’re dead.

Also things not recommended, alligators, waking up to find a large snake in your kitchen sink, not ever backing up the computer, avocados used as food.

Some of these things I can only imagine. Some of them I can tell you exactly the outcome. Some are just gross. And some are deadly.

I don’t know that Banksy was going to die. And spoiler alert, the happy ending of the story is that she didn’t. But what I found, the carcass of Banksy, sure looked like she was. I grabbed her out of her crate, tried to stand her up, and instead saw her collapse like a floppy, stuffed plush goat, one with button eyes and embroidery thread for a mouth, and fall into the oak leaves, rolling down the hill through where the big stinging ants make their hive.

The last time I saw her was when I loaded her into the car, in her expensive crate with the memory foam bed, parked under the shady tree, and handed her a delicious chewy. Told her to be a good girl and don’t bark during class. Sometimes the sound of the other dogs having agility class spins her up and she barks when she just can’t stand it anymore and I have to yell, “Knock it OFF, Banksy!”. But I was smart that day, remembered to bring her a chewy. And off I went to teach.

There’s two ways for bad things to happen. There’s the leadup way, maybe it’s drawn out, it’s a different kind of feeling when you have a warning. You live with the dread and the pain and the heartbreak of the future, then you live through it when the bad happens and then you live with the pain and the heartbreak again while you learn to get through the past. It has a before and a during and an after.

But there’s the other kind of something bad. When you were just having a normal day and then in one instant, it changes on a dime. Someone flips a coin in the air and a thing happens while it falls that changes everything. This was one of those.

I went up to my car, little dog oasis, parked under it’s tree. That car is a palace for dogs. Always cool in the summer, warm in the winter, little tote bags filled with treats and tuggies and chewies and dog jackets for the winter, dog fans for really hot days. We could survive for some time in that car. Water jugs and apples and a jacket and boots and hats for me wedged under the seat. Every dog has their own crate with their favorite kind of bed, and I park just so to catch a breeze for climate controlled snoozing. They’d rather sit in that car than anywhere else. We could all stay quite a while in there, drive with it’s four wheel drive off the grid, if that’s what we had to do. Maybe it smells like damp dogs on some days, I’m ok with that. You can open a window if you’re not.

That normal day, a genuine day of Spring, I walked up there to let Banksy out, to have a pee before we moved on to our hike, and she was unconscious. I was pretty sure breathing, I pulled her out and stood her up except she wasn’t in there, just a fluffy, floppy, slimy husk. I gathered her up from the hillside, where she started to roll down, from where she came to rest against a rotten log, and shoved her back in her crate. I didn’t know what was wrong but it was wrong enough I knew I was the ambulance, then and there, to get her to the hospital.

I thought she was dying the whole way there. I couldn’t figure out what the soundtrack was for rushing my dying pet to the hospital. The Cure? Led Zeppelin? Nothing really sounded right. Do ambulance drivers listen to NPR? I twisted around the dial a couple of times then just shut it off. That seemed better for willing her to stay alive while driving like a bat out of hell. Didn’t they know, slow-driving dumb asses in front of me, that my dog was trying to die? Could I tell that to a cop if I got pulled over? I tried not to think about it. Just thought instead, Don’t Die Don’t Die Don’t Die.

It worked, because we made it to the hospital and as I grabbed her into my arms to race through the car park and into the lobby, I thought I saw her eyes open. She was warm, albeit floppy, but I knew she was alive.

I knew how to enter with style and flair. “Ataxic and barely conscious four year old border collie!” I yelled, stomping in, like how they do on hospital shows.

They sent out a nurse straight away. It’s the emergency vet, people probably come in like this all the time. Nobody batted an eye. “Please save my dog! I don’t know what’s wrong, possible water intoxication! Please save her, please save my dog!” as I handed her off.

The  receptionist handed over a box of kleenex when I almost started in for a sob, filling out the forms. I didn't need it. I pushed them back. Instead I paced little squares on the checkerboard flooring. Walk the squares, walk the squares. That seemed like a reasonable thing to do.

The water intoxication was the only thing I could think of. She looked like how I pictured the dogs of my two friends who both had their dogs die from drinking too much, the water dilutes the cells of their sodium and the cells cause your brain to swell up and drown, right there inside your very own skull. I knew she had drank a lot of water earlier while doing a little agility, I knew her bowl was empty in her crate, I knew she had to have vomited water to slime her up like that. Was the only thing I could think of, since nothing else made sense of why she was ok one minute then not ok the next.

Little did I know. So many things in veterinary possibilities. Here’s a short list. Fibrocartilaginous embolus. Epileptic seizure. Ingestion of various toxic theoretical things. Stroke. Border Collie Collapse. Water intoxication. Heat disorder caused by something unknown. Maybe two of these! Maybe more! Her blood work was weird, but she was coming out of it, and within a couple hours could wobble into my arms and lay down on the floor of the hospital with me. Her eyes were glazed and dilated and she didn’t want to move, but it was a lot more Banksy than I had seen two hours before.

The doctor didn’t really know though, nothing quite seemed to fit all her things, so they kept her with them in the hospital, in the ICU. By the time I left, I could tell she knew who I was and she was able to walk a lot better, just shaky and slow. So this seemed fantastic! I went home to sleep, and the vet tech kept me updated very late at night. Told me how sweet she was, what a love, and that she was moving better, even rolled over to get her belly scritched.

When I talked to her doctor just around dawn, she had good news. The latest blood panel was much better, and Banksy was walking almost normal. Almost normal except for one leg that still wasn’t good. Dragging her toe and slipping when she walked and doing the flippy foot answer to the proprioception test.

Proprioception, the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself. And a deficit. Deficits are the opposites of surpluses. The day before, Banksy had a surplus of all the things. She was the fastest, smartest, cutest and most cunning. Just like that, a deficit, in her movement and her place in space. But that was tremendously better than how she looked the day before. She was released back to me that day to stay under house arrest, with the diagnosis of not sure what’s wrong but let’s hope it goes away soon.

So many vets. So many guesses. The next week was nothing but playing medical detective, not a hobby I like and beyond irritating to any innocent victim who inquired about her health. Phone calls and emails and texts and more veterinary articles about neurology and syndromes and conditions than I ever wanted to read. A lot of hoping that in a day or two, maybe in a week, we’ll see that deficit go and she’ll be back to normal. Back to a surplus. Let’s just hope it’s that. Otherwise to the MRI, otherwise things like maybe surgery. Maybe with this or that she can lead a normal life, as long as she is careful. Of course no agility, maybe not too much running. A lot of things you really don’t want to hear about, not in your amazing four year old team mate.

I am grateful she’s alive. And that she’s not in any pain. A week later, she seems completely normal. Ready to RUN! Screw the flippy foot, who cares if it drags a little bit? Except we have to care, it could be something none of us want to think about. All through this, Banksy’s been the model patient, a favorite with the nurses and the vets. Lots of needles, lots of poking, prodding, stretching, lots of looking in eyes and ears and throats and everywhere. Banksy knows we’re trying to help, she’s been far braver than I. I cancelled all her agility coming up, she was getting ready to run in the Southern California Regional, heading to a local trial the weekend before to work on her start lines, on our team work, sorting things out to try to win ourselves Grand Prix and Steeplechase byes for Cynosports. We had some fun teams lined up, lots to do, an exciting month ahead. I've cancelled with the idea, that's the magic potion to get her back to how she used to be. I'll trade competition for good karma, hoping there's no covert tariffs being attached. Now I'm counting out dollars for the MRIs, to see if her brain stem and brain and spine looks ok, no lesions, nothing necrotic, nothing with words you don’t ever want to hear attached to anything with your dog’s name in it.

There's still a chance it will just go away. Neurology things are weird. Flippy feet don’t necessarily predict doom and gloom. Some dogs live just fine with a deficit. Maybe was a one time deal, nothing to worry about, putting her in a crate with a chewy, in the car under a shady tree, could go just fine, just like it used to be. I’m just trying to stay in the moment and not put the cart in front of the horse, be patient, keep calm and carry on, stay in the present and be hopeful of the future. But in case you’re wondering, that’s what happened to Banksy.


Terry A said...

Oh, God. I can't imagine how tough this is for you. Thanks for the spoiler early on, heart in mouth reading. When you have a chance, please out something out about fundraising info. Sending all the best vibes and love and Border Collie magic her way.

Kelly and Pruli said...

I WAS wondering where you went and now I'm sending you TONS of positive energy from Maine! I'm so sorry to read this Laura! Please let us all know when you know what it is/was, ok?

Hugs from Kelly and Pruli

debbie in socal said...

Very scary, to say the least. Hoping for all the best, positive energy to you all, and that this was just a hiccup.

Twisted Stitcher Quilting said...

Your description of the two was for bad things to happen hits very close to home for me. I feel your fear and pain and worry for Banksy. I am sending all of my love for your guys, and wishing for a great outcome. I am thankful that Banksy is happy and doing okay at the moment.

Jenn said...

Sending *mojo* and *FORTITUDE* for both of you.

Elf said...

Oh my god, Laura, I cried all the way through this. I can only vaguely imagine what you were going through. I am so very, very glad that she's still with you. I hope that someone comes up with an answer. I hope that the answer involves everything becoming completely normal and healthy again. Oh, Laura....

Anonymous said...

Reading about your pain and fright and anxiety had me sympathetically wincing, thank you for the spoiler, not sure I could have made it. Strange, unexplainable things happen every day and I am sending my very best wishes for a strange, inexplicable complete recovery.

Unknown said...

Praying everyday. Keep us updated.

team small dog said...

Thanks everyone for all your kind words and thoughts!

Unknown said...

So glad she survived the ordeal. Best wishes for a full recovery.

MaryVW said...

Aww geezus Laura. just when we think we've seen it all? nope. not even close. so flipping scary. so flipping sorry. and all my thoughts are going into the best possible outcome for Banksy. the silver lining - thanks for putting Mac's sprained toe into perspective - and i thought i had problems. nope - not even close - so thanks I needed that.