White Dog and the White Dog Army heard Steve stirring this morning; they all gathered around him. He had medicated himself and slept fitfully through the night, but they all knew the first test was how painlessly he would turn over, swing his legs off of the bed, and rise. "Slowly, and pause between each action," I told him.
I slid my hand beneath the blanket and knew by the knotted mass of his back muscles to expect the yipe that accompanied his rolling over. The WDA surged in distress. "Come on guys, you need to let him get out of bed and have a clear path. He is going to move VERY slowly and hang on to things...kind of like momma sometimes does but with more pain.
Poor Steve was a mess after just walking to the door of the bedroom. I suggested if he was still not ready for a doctor's visit he should at least ramp up his pain management by switching from holistic to tylenol and to try resting on the heating pad.
"I have to put Puff in oxygen, first," he replied. "And make dog breakfasts." Puff did need her therapy but I knew the cost as Steve first had to carry her out to potty and then place her in the O2 Kennel which required him bending to the ground and extending his arms fully to position her. "At least dog breakfasts can wait," I said. "No they can't, tonight is a late night so they eat dinner early which means they need to eat breakfast now to keep the meal spacing sensible."
I took a deep breath, as did White Dog. Stormer, Sachi and Zsofia were not so subtle as they pressed closer to cling their plea "You are planning to teach?" I tried not to sound astounded. "There are no teacher desks, you will be on your feet for hours." "I'll be careful," he promised. WD and I exchanged frustrated looks and I started to put together a pre-work plan that would hopefully give Steve time to treat and rest his back before he put it to a stress test.
"Then let's do this," I told him and the WDA wagged their approval. "Take some more tylenol right now. Put Puff in oxygen and make but do not serve breakfasts. Take of pounding hot shower. Then come and lie on the heating pad for 30 minutes. Then you can, if you feel ready, get up for an hour or so to do what you can...and then back to the heating pad and bed for half an hour. Retake the pain meds every 4 hours and for dogs sake, take some with you tonight."
With the help of the WDA, all VERY good timekeepers and nurses, Steve stuck pretty close to the routine I had outlined. It seemed to manage the pain...just about the time he was starting to feel debilitated, it was time to lie back on the heat. The White Dogs rested when he did and oversaw his activities when he ws up...making sure that he remembered to move slowly and carefully. When he winced or sucked in air from a mismovement, every pup cringed. At White Dog's insistence we did experiment and discovered that his pain was better soothed by the heating pad than by the ice pack.
NO ONE was happy as Steve put on work clothes and when he cried out twisting to put on socks the Army prepared to block the door to prevent his leaving. We wait now, thunderstorm making the pack even more nervous for 11pm when he calls us to say he is in the car heading home.
The WDA already plans to have the heating pad warming, a tall glass of water waiting, and the pain meds bottle within easy reach. We ask the Universe to keep him from aggravating the inflammed and angry back and to bring about a recovery quickly.
"He is so stubborn," White Dog sighed. "He should go to the doctor."
"Sweet Girl, he is like an Army of White Dogs I know, especially the leader. None of you ever asks to go to the vet. If it hurts enough he WILL give in and go but he won't go before really avoiding it."