The Italian ‘fare salti mortali’ (literally: making mortal jumps, or somersaults) means ‘moving heaven and earth’.
We did just that, and some, so we could go to the hospital on Friday morning for Clive to have his catheter checked with a view to possible chemotherapy.
Then this morning the hospital phoned and cancelled – no reason and no new appointment.
I honestly don’t know how many more mortal jumps are in me.
We took Joules to Terni today for his next check-up after the chemotherapy. All was well in that department, but another problem surfaced.
He’s been scratching himself to death and has a huge crusty sore on each elbow. 2 other vets have variously suggested psychological or dietary problems, but the Terni vet discovered that he has sarcoptic mange (‘rogna’ in Italian).
This is a disease caused by microscopic mites (Italian: ‘acari’) which burrow into the skin and cause an allergic reaction. They had to take 5 skin scrapings from Joules before they discovered them, but this was not an indication of a mild infestation – apparently the less they are seen, the more embedded they are.
It’s possible that Joules’ chemotherapy lowered his resistance and made him more susceptible.
Taylor had been scratching, too, and to a lesser extent Kepler, so we’d taken them along as well. The vet assumed they had the same disease, seeing as it’s contagious, and so he treated all 3 of them and gave me detailed instructions on how to continue.
Now we have to think what we’re going to do about the dogs’ bedding.
We took Joules to Terni today for his first follow-up.
The ultrasound showed that his organs and lymph nodes were fine – no signs of cancer.
However it also revealed a slight problem with his kidneys which wasn’t there at the time of the last ultrasound. It might have been caused by an infection when his white blood cell count was low due to the chemotherapy.
I was given some ‘pearls’ (gelatin capsules) of Omega 3 with vitamin E to give him – 3 a day for the foreseeable future. I won’t be able to resist jokes about swine and wisdom.
We returned home to a real mess. Kepler had somehow managed to get a book off the bookshelf and had shredded most of it with great thoroughness all over the floor. (It was a dictionary, giving new meaning to the phrase ‘swallowing a dictionary’.)
He was extremely hyperactive for about an hour, then just collapsed on his blanket under my desk and went fast asleep.
Joules of course was delighted to be back, and so are we delighted that his future looks as rosy as anyone’s can be.
We drove to Terni today to find out, once again, that Joules’ white blood cell count is too low for him to have chemotherapy.
That’s the 4th wasted journey. But he has had treatment in between and we’re now half way through the sessions: 4 down, 4 to go.
I never would have believed the whole thing would be so onerous, but I haven’t doubted for one second that we made the right decision.
Apart from anything else, Joules has been in rude health and high spirits throughout. And who could resist the little face in the photo?
We’ve just made a third fruitless journey from Valtopina to Terni (two and a half hours round trip) hoping and expecting our dog Joules to be given his fourth chemotherapy injection. It would have meant he was half way through the cancer treatment and I could believe it might someday end.
But no, his white blood cell count was so low that the line on the graph scarcely lifted its head off the x-axis. Back to the drawing board.
The drawing board involves giving him a twice-daily dose of three-quarters of an antibiotic pill. I ask you. Dividing it in half is fine; the pill was designed for that. But splitting it again … A knife makes no headway at all because there’s a smooth coating on the pill; pliers crush one of the quarters. The best solution so far is pincers.
But the worst of it is that there are 2 pieces to give the dog. Inserting 2 pieces into a moving target (the dog’s open mouth) risks one of the pieces dropping to the edge of the tongue from where it can be spat out. The best thing is to do it in 2 goes – but that means he’s forewarned and forearmed for the second go!
Italy has been our home for more than 12 years now, and the house in the photo for most of that time. This blog documents the joys and problems of our existence day by day.
We have our difficulties. My husband, Clive, is permanently disabled. In addition, he recently spent 9 months in French hospitals recovering first from a coma and then from an operation to remove a massive bowel tumour. He’s just finished a course of chemotherapy at home, and is learning to walk again.
Some of our difficulties derive from where we live, but I still love living here. Clive is more circumspect. By reading about our daily life, perhaps you will be able to tell whose view is the more accurate. Does the pleasure outweigh the pain? Or will my writing betray a less rose-tinted reality?
You can also see the books we’ve written and published by clicking on the image below: