Saturday, 13 September 2014

Sometimes Things Don’t Go So Well . . . .

but then again, they do get better eventually. Not only all good things, all bad things come to an end. It’s been that kind of a week. Up and down.

George rang to say that  Millie’s biopsy lab results had come in. Would I like to come and discuss them with her. (George is a girl vet, real name Georgina; I don’t think she can remember far enough back to when she was last called that.) Well, she said. why do things the easy way when complicated is an option. Talk about unusual, she said; personally, I’ve never come across another dog with the same symptoms.

This sample shows an extensive area of ulceration and superficial necrosis. There is a heavy cellular infiltrate dominated by granulocytes with a substantial number of eosinophils. There is haemorrhage. Lymphocytes, plasma cells and macrophages are also present. . . . .
...locally severe ulcerative dermatitis . . . . eosinophilic folliculitis and furunculosis of the face is present. . . .”

Enough already, this is Millie we are talking about, Millie, who is a sweet and gentle creature with a rare ability to stick her nose into all sorts of dungheaps and a well developed talent for scavenging, who loves everybody, animal and human and would never willingly forego the pleasure of demonstrating this love. The short diagnosis: Eosinophilic Dermatitis. No certain trigger, except possibly an allergy to arthropod bites or stings. Among even more uncertain other triggers. 

The only treatment for the condition is steroids. Although steroids hinder the healing process, the holes on Millie’s face are closing up; unfortunately, along the way she decided stitches didn’t suit her; she unpicked them,  and now she has a small scar on her nose which is permanent. 

All that before her second birthday in our house! (She’s nine-and-a-half now and going strong). In spite of her recent trials she happily comes for walks, although on our ramble to the blackthorn hedges on the Shropshire Way to pick sloes for Beloved’s wine making she appears to find her tongue a heavy burden to carry.

Paul and I made some beautiful compost this week. He is shaping up to be a worthy successor to Gardener in that respect. I wish I could help lighten his mood, but he is a true clinical depressive and we just have to be patient and wait for his medication to kick in. I really should know that the dead-eyed monster cannot be influenced but, in spite of knowing, I still find myself chatting brightly and encouragingly. Idiot woman. There’s a large dollop of selfishness in my thinking: although I am deeply sorry for Paul, I am also desperately worried that I might have to find yet another gardener which would send me into another black hole, being one of the causally afflicted.

Even on a dull day as here in this picture, our part of the world is an earthly paradise.
It’s rotten luck that sometimes the golden fields of paradise are obscured by gloomy skies.


  1. An earthly paradise indeed.
    Poor Millie. And Paul. And the dead-eyed monster is a perfect descriptor. Thank you.

  2. Believe me, "chatting brightly and encouragingly" is not idiocy. I retired as a gardener 5 year ago --after 40 years-- and the people for whom I am most grateful chatted brightly, encouragingly. You are not an "idiot woman" but a compassionate human being. Don't stop!

  3. A perfect photo to finish this particular post. After all, the misty gray air makes for perfect photography lighting, doesn't it? There's an obvious metaphor there.

    I'm so glad that Millie goes on with only a scar on her nose to show for her affliction. A dog who gets to wander over hill and dale is a happy dog. That's what Molly tells me.

  4. Poor, dear Millie - and you. Taking care of dogs and gardeners and all . . . Lovely, lovely - even on a dull day (which is nothing at all like the dull days hereabout).

  5. Friko
    Thanks for dropping by. Your positive words are always a pleasure to read. Sorry to hear you've had an up and downy week. Some weeks are just like that and it's sad when the pen is not feeling well. Talk about compost..... Just this afternoon, I dumped 3 wheelbarrows of black-gold compost on a new garden bed. That time of year. A beautiful photo of the hay bales. Autumn has so much beauty.

    1. PS... The eyes are going too....Ha Pet not pen. I suppose the pen could also not be feeling well and that might indicate writing problems. :)

  6. Somehow dogs act as though life is always exciting even when in pain. Poor Millie.

  7. I have scars, Millie. It's okay. Hang in there. I hope you feel better soon.


  8. Scars add character. That's what I tell myself. If having the scar leaves you free to trot off to your favourite places with your favourite people then what the heck. I would imagine that Paul would let you know if he minded your cheerful chatter, so keep it up, you may be doing him a power of good. Grey skies here too but only outside.

  9. What's a little scar? I have plenty. Glad you have found a good replacement for Gardner. Will he eventually be called Gardener or will he forever be Paul?

  10. It's so beautiful there. And I do so hope that it all turns out well for you and your gardener. Millie is still going strong, that's something isn't it? And as Ellen said, what's a little scar? :-)

  11. Paul sounds interesting. He must be on new medication if it has to kick in.

    I think all Labs have scars...always sticking their noses in something.

  12. pests even in paradise as I well know. Wishing dear Millie and Yourself a pleasant run of weather inside, out and on the skin.

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    =^..^= . <3 . >< } } (°>

  13. Millie and Paul having hard times, and of course you are affected. The photo of the field shows you live near beauty which can lift your spirits.

  14. Oh, Friko, I'm sorry I haven't been paying enough attention to things going on outside my immediate environs, and then I come back to sociability only to find Millie has something dreadful requiring steroids.
    I had to take steroids some years ago because of hundreds of bleeding ulcers, which eventually healed, but not until after the steroids had caused osteoporosis, cataracts on both eyes, and a hump on the back of my neck, to name but a few.
    I'm sure George the Lady Vet will watch out for any such developments in your dear Millie. In the meantime, please know I think of you often.
    Luv, K

  15. Hi Friko - beautiful descriptive words, or should I say mistily obscuring the darkness that might set in .. I sincerely hope Paul will feel being with you and gardening helps him; just glad Millie is coping with her 'long-winded diagnosis' and long may she do so .. even with lolloping tongue on her walks ... the lane and the sloes look glorious ...

    I shall be winging near your neck of the woods in three weeks or so .. and sincerely hope the weather holds so I can see the glorious countryside of the Malvern hills and Derbyshire dales - which come first ... stunning photo .. cheers Hilary

  16. I like that last photo very much, but I like your header photo better.
    I hope Paul keeps well enough to continue as gardener.

  17. Poor Millie! I hope the wounds heal up quickly and she won't keep being troubled by them so much.
    Poor Paul, too. His problem can certainly not be dealt with so easily. I am glad he can work for you and with you, and does such a good job.
    The countryside around you truly is very beautiful, but of course that alone is no guarantee for living happily ever after, is it.
    No idea what sloe wine tastes like, I don't think I've ever sampled anything with sloes in it.

  18. Dear olde Millie will be fine and she is lucky to have you in her life and she sounds full of life and love like my Jack. I think you are being kind and compassionate with Paul and regardless of his health, you are making him feel better for you are pouring all your kindness in his direction. How sweet is that. Beauty Photo of your hills and Hay Bales, even in the wet sky. Never heard of Sloe Wine or sloe - perhaps you could fill us in on that. Have a wonderful day :)

  19. sommige dingen gaan veelste snel en voor de andere moeten we weer heel veel geduld hebben,

  20. Yes indeed, Friko, you do live in an earthly paradise. Love that photo with the rolled hay bales. Glad to know that Millie is going to be o.k. It's always frightening when a doctor, vet or otherwise, tells us that we need to "discuss the biopsy."

  21. Hello,

    Life continually sets challenges and hurdles that are to be met and, as you say, overcome them one does in one way or another. It is good to know that Millie is on the mend. How your heart must have sunk into your boots when the vet wished to 'have a word'!

    And Paul seems to be doing a fine job so we do hope that you will continue to hold on to him. It is so good to have someone that one can work with in the garden, who is sympathetic and who gets to know one's little ways. Long may this continue!

  22. "Dead eyed monster" Oh yes, my infrequent (thankfully now) companion. I do hope Paul reaps the benefit of the work he is doing, the natural uplifting force of gardening. Lovely compost m'dear.

    All health and cheer to Millie.


  23. Oh my
    such beauty in your images.
    Envious of your compost
    and need someone to build me a better
    system then
    this one
    just making a pile of cuttings :)

  24. It is an earthy paradise indeed.And good that Millie is going to be ok,

  25. Friko, that was some phone call you received from George the Vet. I know I would have been shaking, wondering what she would say next. Good to hear that Millie has such good care and that she's able to enjoy these autumn walks in a beautiful place. So many sights, sounds and smells to discover.

    I know that you are welcoming Paul's contributions to your garden, and that each of you is taking it easy with what you seek to accomplish together.

    What a vista appears in that final photograph. Wow! With so much beauty around, I would find it difficult to stay indoors.

    Best wishes to you and yours. xo

  26. Poor Millie , it all sounded most painful and I'm glad there's an effective treatment . A small scar will just add character to an already very expressive face .
    Paul is no doubt glad for your not too overwheming sympathy and the real appreciation of his work . I hope his new medication kicks in soon .

  27. Love to Millie. Wish her a speedy recovery from me too. My best wishes also to Paul - depression is horrible and no respecter of persons. I know one thing though I think gardening is one of the most therapeutic jobs you can do so I hope that the love of the job he's doing will help to pull him through.

  28. Poor sweet Millie -- I love her so much! (Or at least I know I would if we actually met.) I think my friend's cat has the same gig (I just mailed to ask her) and if so, it seems like a reasonably decent diagnosis, as long as you take care of the allergies. Still, no fun! And Paul, too -- I think he may be in a good line of work to give him time to be. Depression is rugged. But there is something healing about the earth. Hang in there!

  29. You do live in paradise and I am hoping that makes it easier to bear the trials of your best friend, Millie. Yes, I keep trying to remind myself that clinical depression cannot be cured or even assuaged by happy chatter!!

  30. Wouldn't it be nice to have a good, long uneventful stretch, with nothing but fine compost and beautiful fields with haystacks to admire?

  31. Hello to you and thank goodness Millie can be healed of her affliction. I like the photo of her, panting on the trial. Sunlight and shadow - a life is made up of each. It's knowing that the sun will emerge once again that keeps us going, I guess. Hope you are well. Your landscape is storybook perfect.

  32. Good job I am not given to jealousy, Friko. Otherwise I'd shrivel with envy for your gorgeous vista and the ample compost containers. To think I once had a wormery. Yes, a wormery. Full of life. It was father-of-son's parting present to me after we'd decided to go our different ways: "I know you always wanted one of those", he said.

    As to Millie and her stitches: It can be frustrating that you can't reason with animals. You may tell them, till you are blue in the face, that it's all for their own good. Forget it. So you are forced (by the vet) to apply stringent methods. Namely, one of those stiff plastic collars. A dog might patiently wear it. A cat dies a thousand deaths in the process and that's before they have even used up the first of their lives.

    On a practical note: Someone once told me that steroids make you put on considerable weight. If true poor Millie will crack under more strain than that of her tongue. Gute Besserung.


  33. Hope the steroids help the pup. And I"m glad you have a new gardener who is so helpful. I have been loading up my compost bins and looking forward to using what they've made next spring.

  34. Sometimes I do worry about my poor mind. I read "folliculitis and furunculosis" and the first thing that came to mind was "Funiculì Funiculà." On the other hand, it's a perfect song for humming or whistling while walking about, so there's that.

    I was especially interested to see the sloe berries. It was years after childhood that I figured out it was "sloe gin" rather than "slow gin." Now, I'm just about two minutes past having figured out "sloe-eyed." I always have assumed the expression referred to shape. Now I see that it means having very dark eyes -- probably the color of those berries.

    So much education for such an early hour!

  35. Thank goodness that Millie only has a scar to show!! I wish your furry family member a full and speedy recovery :-)

  36. Don't despair. Gardening may be just the medicine Paul needs. For some of us, it's a drug. As for dogs...I had a dog with a dermatitis problem. He lived to age 18. We discovered he was allergic to the shampoo used by the dog salon, and I bought Selsun Blue human shampoo which cleared him up. Less expensive that the stuff the vet peddles and no side effects.

  37. Poor Millie. Poor Paul. I hope Millie's ulcers heal and that she'll be your willing companion on many a sloe picking. And I hope that Paul finds equilibrium - gardening and hard exercise can be prescriptive for depression. Lovely golden field and oh, the richness of your compost!

  38. gosh are you a good writer. engaging and compelling and authentic and clever :^)

    i am a gardener without a gardener. i envy you paul. and that photo of the fields. thanks for the reminder that the world is beautiful despite our human messes.


  39. That shot of the golden field, with big rolls of hay, is absolutely glorious. The golden fields of paradise indeed. I hope they lift your spirits in these times of trouble.

  40. A scar on her nose is just a target for a kiss.

    I hope that everyone is in healing mode before too much longer. Idiot woman? Oh, nay!

  41. When I first started reading this I thought 'oh no, not happening to Friko again' not another furry friend ill, but then reading on, it's the best of the worst I guess, nothing life threatening, just uncomfortable hopefully. I like the dung heap :-) Give that pup a cwtch from me!

  42. I hope the medicine with help your great pals, both Millie and Paul. The view you show us is really stunning – it certainly helps minor ailments and blue moods to be looking at it. We came back from Tennessee a couple of days ago and stopped, on a whim, at a mountain country fair. The view there was also one of the loveliest I have seen in a while. I took photos and will write a post on it next, but I just finished some long posts on the liberation of Paris and I need to wait for at least ten days. You can read my final post on it because I mostly talk about the US wanting to govern France after the war – after cutting it in two (which most people in the US didn’t know.)

  43. Dear Friko, like Vagabonde, I hope medicine will help both Millie and Paul. And I wonder if any thing we do is ever totally altruistic. Our motivations are always tinged I think with our wanting to feel good about doing something or saying something. We like to feel good and that makes us say something else that's helpful to someone. And so the circle just keeps going around with both of us--the one we wish good health and ourselves feeling better. Or so I think. Peace.

  44. Oh poor Millie, and poor Paul also. Sometimes, I wish we all had the temperament of these great dogs that we own. They never seem to need pills for moods.

    Your view, despite the fog, is truly idyllic. Your photo illustrates what a beautiful time of year it is in your valley.

  45. Hope Millie completes her healing, soon.
    Also hoping Paul gets some relief.

    Gorgeous photos, by the way.

  46. Glad that the dog is improving. You are right . your land looks so lovely and you are blessed to have it even though it has gardener challenges.
    Hubby sold our 200 acre farm in 2005 because he saw no future in holding onto land. We bought it in 1988. I miss it every day but it's the past.

  47. That's a gloomy day? Lord have mercy. I can't imagine what a gloriously beautiful day would look like… it would probably burn my eyes out of their sockets!
    Oh Millie, poor baby girl… that's just awful. I'm GLAD that there's an answer to what she's afflicted with, and a treatment. How awful to watch her suffer and not be able to help in the slightest! But you don't have to do that, so a sigh of relief there… and as far as Paul goes, if chatting happily is your "thing" then just keep on doing it. Being your normal self is important, I think, so that he doesn't feel like some sort of imposition or burden that you are trying to work around, you know? Even in the depths of my own depression I don't mind when other people are happy, so long as they're not happy AT ME and trying to encourage me to get happy like they are.


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