Sunday, May 24, 2009

hospital hospitality

I have no clever opening. This is simply an update on the condition of my soul mate: Professor Jiggs.

Saturday was supposed to be the day I would finally get rid of Jiggs's Oregon haircut (as Felipe so colorfully calls it) and get him a nice sleek Mexico coast cut. That meant going to Manzanillo for the reasons I have discussed in this blog. There was just no getting the job done in Melaque.

New Beginnings in Manzanillo was good enough to find a veterinarian and a groomer for this short-notice cut. And her assistance was timely.

About two days ago, Jiggs seemed to be getting more and more distant from me. Last night, I discovered a bad infection on the inside of his upper lip. Something was obviously going very wrong.

The veterinarian initially told us that he would prefer if I left Jiggs for a couple of days to ensure that his coat was dry before he went out into the humidity. He said he would look at Jiggs's other issues.

But one thing he made clear was that the cortisone injections should stop because they were playing havoc with his system.

That gave me pause. Jiggs's veterinarians in Salem knew the risks of cortisone, but his lab tests showed that his system was easily dealing with the effects.

I was going to do a bit of shopping in Manzanillo before heading north to Melaque. Just as I was ready to stop at the first store, I received a call from the veterinarian's office that they wanted to talk with me.

New Beginnings in Manzanillo happily volunteered to join me -- and I am glad she did.

The veterinarian was very concerned about the lip infection. But he was even more concerned about a hard lump he found on Jiggs's abdomen. Jiggs has had fatty tumors for years. A hard tumor was a big change.

The veterinarian asked for permission to x-ray the area -- after the groomer was done.

It reminded me that I have worked out this scenario in my mind before. Jiggs is old. Most operations are painful and will only allow a few months of life.

That bargain seemed to be designed to please me by keeping Jiggs alive while paying him with pain. Justice is not that deal's name.

Even so, I approved the x-ray.

He also informed me that Jiggs had a dangerously high fever. His plan was to groom Jiggs, reduce the fever, and then have the x-ray taken.

That means Jiggs will be staying in Manzanillo until, at least, Monday. I need to return on Tuesday morning to pick up my FM3. I will then meet with the veterinarian -- unless I talk with him then.

All of that makes me sound as if I am taking this like a Spartan.

I am not. Even knowing that Jiggs had a very short time to live down here did not prepare me for the reality.

I have been carrying on like an Italian widow. To the point that I am a road hazard. I went through one red light and nearly went through a second in Manzanillo – simply because I was distracted.

A few days before Darrel left and when Jiggs was starting to decline, I started having what I would call a “heavy chest.” I had not had that type of anxiety for a long time. After Darrel left, it increased. At the same time, Jiggs took his nose dive, and the feelings almost turned into physical pain.

Today, it hurt so much, I thought I was suffering heart attack symptoms: difficulty in breathing, pain in my left arm, pain in my neck. But it passed.

I had not eaten anything for the past 24 hours. Nor was I really interested in eating.

But all this is not about me. It is about Jiggs.

I need to do what is best for him.

For the rest of the weekend, I will try to put the issue out of my mind. He is in professional hands, who will give him good care.


peachland said...

I know that heavy chest Steve,I wish peace for Jiggs and yourself
take care

Steve Cotton said...

Thanks, Peachland. I truly appreciate your good wishes.

diane said...

That feeling is dread and it is so very heavy.

Larry in Mazatlan said...

I discovered the hard way that NOB vets tend to focus special testing on one or two specific organs. They don't do the "whole dog." Our vet here starts each visit with talking to the dog while he gently moves his hands over the animal and looks for tell-tale things like eyes, ears, joints and coat. He has been correct 100% of the time, both in picking up something and also in saying "don't worry." Like the people doctors here, vets take the time to know the patient and communicate. Sounds like you've found a good one.


Calypso said...

Sorry about this current episode in what has been a tough road for some time. It is no fun getting old health wise - even for man's best friend.

Jiggs is a very lucky fellow to have you along side in his life.

Brenda said...

Sorry to hear this news. I hope the best for Jiggs and also for you, of course. Take care and eat something or you will be sick.

Nancy said...


You are taking care of him, now you need to take care of yourself. Eat, take your vitamins, and be aware of the effect stress can have on you.

You are doing and you'll continue to do the right thing for Jiggs. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

So sad to hear. Hope he gets better and that the current symptoms are more a reaction to the lip infection and the heat rather than anything more serious.

Fond regards,

Kim G
Boston, M

barrasally said...

In March, when I had to put my 15 year old dog to sleep, my friend sent me a card that said, "The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling that was the best conversation you've ever had." Old dogs are the sweetest. We live with them, love them, and miss them dearly when the time comes. Sending good thoughts to you and Jiggs.

CancunCanuck said...

Steve, I am thinking of you and Jiggs, I hope both of you are feeling better and back in each other's company soon.

Anonymous said...

Steve-thinking of you and Prof Jiggs today. I hope the many kind thoughts from your blogging friends will help to lighten your load over the next few days. May you and Jiggs have more time to grow old together.

New Beginnings said...

Steve - I just phoned the vet. Jiggs is doing better today. His fever is gone and his temperature is back to normal. He is going for x-rays tomorrow morning. I will stop by in the afternoon to see him and give you an update.

zannie said...


You need to eat. If not for yourself, then for Jiggs, who needs you to be in the best shape you can be right now so you are able to make the best decisions for him. I know that kind of anxiety that takes away all appetite, but you do need to eat anyway. Force yourself. If you can't stomach a sandwich, eat a piece of bread, or a tortilla. If you can't eat a tortilla, drink a glass of orange juice. Anything to get some calories in you. Once you've gotten something in your body, the sick feeling will subside somewhat and you will be able to eat something more substantial. And when you've gotten back on food, you will be much more able to focus on what needs to be done, for you and for Jiggs. How awful would it be if Jiggs had to spend his last days without you because you got in a car accident and couldn't get to his side?

Eat, minimize your caffeine use, and when it gets bad, close your eyes and concentrate on taking slow, regular breaths. You will get through this.

glorv1 said...

Hi Steve, I just read that Jiggs fever is gone and he is back to normal. I think you should try to get back to normal too. You have to, Jiggs will more than likely be coming home on Monday. If I learned anything from having Chorizo for 14 years is that she needed me to be with her till the end. When you bring him home he will be so happy. He probably misses you a lot right now. I wish you the best and I know Jiggs will regain his strengh to come home to you. All I can say is that a dogs love counts for everything. I will pray for Jiggs and you. Take care of yourself Steve, you need to be healthy and of sound mind.

Jackie said...

It's tough to see an old friend's health decline. I had my Molly for 16 1/2 years when her end came. I called my daughter and told her to come over to say goodbye to Molly.

I saw the early comment from New Begginings that Jiggs is doing better today. Hopefully this is just another episode that you both will overcome.

Mic said...

Good Morning Steve,

When my husband is uninterested or unable to eat, I get him to at least drink either Ensure or Boost (prefers Boost). Maybe you can find one of these down there. Even one of those diet shakes (I prefer Atkins Chocolate) would put something in your stomach with good vitamins & minerals - but is small and easy to gulp down quickly without preparation effort.

Again, thanks for the Jiggs picture. He is very much a beautiful old gent with so much character & wisdom in his face. We are holding him in our hearts - as you are.

Now, you must be as brave and considerate of yourself as he wants/expects you to be. You will find His spirit will never be too far from your side when you take your walks or enjoy the sunsets....and it won't be acceptable for you not to take care of "his Best Friend".

1st Mate said...

Steve - You have done the best you could possibly do for Jiggs, and now it's time to do the same for yourself. You might have some time left with the ol' boy after all.

Steve Cotton said...

Diane -- And so encompassing, if we allow it to be. But there is always hope.

Larry -- The emphasis certainly seems to be different. I have found the same distinction with human medicine, as well. There is a Mexican tendency to dismiss the efficacy of pharmaceuticals.

Calypso -- But it is good reminder to we pet owners of what mortality is all about. God does not waste resources.

Brenda -- The danger is that I will eat too much once I get started.

Nancy -- Thanks. I hope you are correct. I went for a walk last night and stumbled several times over obstacles I know are there-- and have successfully avoided in the past.

Kim -- I hope you are correct. This dog has had more return performances than Harold Stassen.

Barrasally -- Thank you very much for your very good thoughts.

CancunCanuck -- No matter how this turns out, he will always be my soul mate.

Anonymous -- This blogging community is great. I honestly feel there is a crowd here holding me up.

New Beginnings -- Good news, indeed. Just as I was reading comments, "Tomorrow" started playing on my CD. I smiled at the irony. Then I read your comment. Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow.

Zannie -- I have done such a great job of losing weight that I am a bit reluctant to start eating again. I tend to be a "nervous" eater: I eat to be doing something. I cooked up a great Mexican egg dish, and actually managed only to eat a normal-sized portion.

Gloria -- I will do what I can to pull myself together. There is a task to be performed. Seeing on Tuesday.

Jackie -- Jiggs has been a phoenix several times in his life. Maybe this is just another.

Mic -- Great advice. I will do my best to follow it. For my friend.

Steve Cotton said...

1st Mate -- Did The Captain tell you he stopped by? We had a great time swapping sailing tales.

BoBo's Mom said...

Sounds like Jiggs is in good hands. Take care of yourself. Jiggs needs someone healthy to take care of him.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

Sending positive energy to you ...

Carole said...

We, having lost many various human family members to age-related illnesses, are convinced it's emothionally harder to lose our companion animals. Best regards to you and Jiggs.

Steve Cotton said...

BoBo's Mom -- I actually had three full meals today. And I feel fine. Thanks for the suport. As a fellow golden owner, you know what is going on in my head.

AMM -- Message received -- and fully appreciated.

Carole -- I think we are hit so hard with the dearth of pets because of their short lives. Their love is in synch witgh our; but the time is not.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I have been away from the computer all day. It sounds like Jiggs is in good hands. My vet told me that Mexican vets are more about treating the symptoms than having lab work done. So they are more used to looking over the entire animal.
Mr Dog has more ear problems here than he did nob from the humidity and the cement dust.
I hope that the lack of appetite is related to the lip problems, which makes sense, it may be uncomfortable to eat plus the infection takes away appetite.
I am sending good thought you way.

Steve Cotton said...

Thanks, Theresa. When he comes home, Jiggs should have a nice new crew cut. He hates having his picture taken. But I will try to sneak one. I am hoping the decreased heat from his big coat will balance out his hurt pride. We shall see.

Howard said...

Hi Steve:
We all know how the story ends.
It ends the same way for all of us.
What matters is what happens when the story is unfolding.

I imagine many millions of pets would absolutely love to be in Jigg's position. You have done a great job - take comfort in that.

Steve Cotton said...

Howard -- I often look around some of the dogs in the neighborhood, and realize how Jiggs is incorporated into my life. I took a walk around the laguna today. We will need to do that when you get back down. Several birds I cannot identify.

Anonymous said...

So sorry!!!!

maria luz said...

Huge, enormous loads of White Light heading to you and Jiggs from Texas.

I do not want to scold you, Senor Algodon, but you are diabetic and you must eat.Whenever my husband is stressed or very tired, he loses his appetite and literally forgets to eat. He does not even get hungry at other times, now and then. It is the diabetic's curse.

You do not want to be going into low blood sugar and passing out on Jiggs or in the car. Always carry something to eat with you. A pack of peanuts, a juice box, or couple of pieces of hard candy, just to get you through if you get that slight sinking feeling.

My Bailey Boy's heart is with you guys. And that is one big doggie heart!


Steve Cotton said...

Maria Luz -- Thanks for the reminder. I have been eating.