Eleven-thirty at night and I am just switching on the computer to see what, if anything, has happened in my comment section and to check for emails, prior to getting ready for bed. The house is fairly quiet, I can hear Beloved in the hall downstairs, talking to Benno. I expect they are getting ready to come upstairs.
Then a thumping, thudding noise, as if a heavy sack is being dragged on the stairs, bouncing on each step; a yelp of distress and a final bump.
"Are you there? Can you come? Quickly!" A plaintive call, with a hint of suppressed fear in it, reaches me in my study at the other end of the house upstairs. I rush to the top of the stairs and the wheezing, whistling, choking noises are appalling; it sounds as if Benno is suffocating, each breath harder to force into his lungs than the last. Beloved is crouched on the bottom step, above Benno, who is in a heap on the floor, trembling and struggling for breath, utterly panic-stricken. In trying to climb the stairs his arthritic hind legs have lost purchase and he tumbled down, on his belly, scrabbling madly for support but unable to stop himself, landing seven steps down, back at the bottom. Mummy Friko instantly springs into action, or rather slips to the floor next to Benno, cradling his head, holding it up, stretching his legs out from under him and murmuring a flood of reassuring, calming, idiot, endearments into his muzzle, stroking and laying on hands. The laying-on-of-hands is not a joke, I've done it many a time when he has been wracked with stomach cramps, it worked, at least until I could send someone for Buscopan tablets.
Eventually, Benno calmed down, his breathing, which has been pretty laboured for several weeks now, evened out and he managed to get back into the living room under his own steam. No more stair climbing for Benno. For the past three days I have slept on a hard, narrow sofa, downstairs, with him on the rug in front of me.
The vet's tests have been inconclusive. Benno has an enlarged heart chamber and some fuzziness on the lung, neither of which is supposed to be immediately life-threatening. He does not have laryngeal paralysis, so the extreme shortness of breath any time he moves is a puzzle. He eats well again, the diarrhoea has stopped, but now he hardly pees, when before he could pee for England, for minutes at a time. His heart and lung tablets don't seem to be doing a great deal yet.
I don't know what to do. I am exhausted, looking after him every minute of the day is wearing me out. I can't settle to anything, all appointments are cancelled. Instead of cheering myself up by reading some light book I chose Anne Enright's Man Booker Prize Winner "The Gathering", a dark tale full of miserable people living miserable lives; I don't really like "Irish" books, there's too much furtive and unpleasant sex in them, the sleazy, fiddling with kids sort, and the unhealthy, breeding-like-rabbits, marital sort, joyless, passionless. Apart from that, I am keeping busy in a joyless way myself, doing laundry and other mind-numbing tasks around the house. I simply don't know what to do. Benno has another vet appointment on Monday - vets are like dentists, both are surely filthy rich, I am glad I get my own treatments off the NHS, otherwise we'd be on bread and water. One thing is for sure: Benno is unlikely to get much better; at 12 years and 5 old months he has done well for a labrador. (I even got his age wrong the last time I mentioned him here, made him one year younger; I daresay the wish was the mother of that statement.)
I am also fed up being on this treadmill of misery; at least my own news is good: the urine tests were normal. I knew they would be, I haven't got time to be ill myself. The damp patches have been examined and found to be reparable - at a cost, naturally - so I will soon be able to be really rude about builders.
Could somebody out there please make me laugh? I am so grateful for the wonderful, supportive comments that my misery post called forth, soon I will come and reply and visit again; in the meantime forgive me for being a bad blogger. (I am fighting the urge to feel guilty as hard as I can) Thank you all for being such lovely friends, what would I do without you to open up my heart to. Soon it'll be decision time, but for now I have no idea what to do for the best.