I was going to find a quote to start off this post.  Something that could convey succinctly the attitude and reaction to a situation I’m about to explain; something to which I could maybe refer myself during some difficult moments which are sure to be on their way to meet us; but I decided not to, and not just because Thomas has revealed to me that one of his upcoming posts is going to be all about avoiding recycled language.  This is something we are going to go through, and it might as well be in our own words.

So here it is:  Sometimes things don’t go the way you expect them to.  Sometimes things just suck.  And when these sometimes happen, you can either let yourself be defeated and turn away, or you can face it and deal with it, and do your best to adapt to the situation.

Right or wrong, Thomas and I are the latter sort of people.  Looking at the paragraph above, that might seem like the right answer all the time, but it can shoot you in the foot – like I’m not sure if we know when to back down from a challenge, but I hope we do, and it’s possible we’ll find out.  I have to keep saying that – it’s possible.

Last week Piper was diagnosed with Congenital Idiopathic Megaesophagus.  What the Wikipedia page will tell you is that this is a condition in which she was born with an enlarged esophagus and is therefore unable to properly pass food from her throat to her stomach.  Instead the food gets regurgitated.  There isn’t a definite cause for this type of Megaesophagus, and there is no cure.

The absolute best-case scenario that we can hope for at this point is that the condition will “reverse” itself over the next few months.  This means careful monitoring of her digestive processes and hours of physical therapy a day on our part.  If it doesn’t reverse, the monitoring and therapy will be constants in our lives.

There are other complications to consider.  Dogs with Megaesophagus frequently contract Aspiration Pneumonia because of their regurgitation.  It’s not so much a matter of whether she will get it, but when she will get it.  There are antibiotics and respiration aids to deal with that eventuality.  Esophagitis is another problem.  First and foremost among our current concerns is simply getting enough nourishment into her to keep her weight up.  Simply put, there are a lot of obstacles to keeping Piper healthy and happy, and it’s possible we won’t always be able to overcome them.

At the moment, she eats four times a day, standing up, with her front paws braced on my or Thomas’s knees while we sit in a chair holding her food bowl.  This makes her vertical and allows gravity to do the work her esophagus can’t.  When she’s finished eating, she has to be held upright for 20 minutes to make sure the food clears her esophagus.  If it doesn’t, it comes back up and she risks choking or breathing it in.  The same thing goes for drinking.
Shortly, she’ll start eating harnessed to a chair to keep her vertical, and when she’s closer to her full size, we plan to build her a Bailey chair.

By now I know what some of you are thinking, because enough people have said it to us already:  Why are you doing this? Why are you putting yourselves through this?  She’s only a dog.

Okay.  You’re not wrong.  As Thomas has pointed out, if Piper were a toaster, we would take her back to the store, because she’s defective; but because she’s a dog, the, “She’s only a toaster” argument is severely problematic to us.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, she’s a living, breathing being, and in all ways that a person derives joy from having a dog, she is anything but defective.  She is perfect.  She is happy, bouncy, funny, and devilishly smart.  Most importantly, she is ours. We picked her, we brought her home, and we made a commitment to her – it really is a for-better-or-worse sort of deal.  And while right now it might seem a little for-worse, we will keep hoping for better, dealing with it, and doing our best.   It’s all we can do – anything else would be a contradiction to a fundamental part of who we are.  We have to try, and that’s all there is to it.

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  1. By gabriel on July 30, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    rejoice@beatings.enthusiasms” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñïñ çà èíôó!!…

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