Daphne Ledward, Garden Planner, Gardener, Author and Broadcaster

Muffin's Blog

Mr Muffin finds his compassionate side    by Mr Muffin

May 2010

We five have our own individual loo arrangements, sorted out between us years ago.   Mr Paddy is very self-conscious when it comes to bodily functions, so he always goes behind the garage, where there’s no chance of being seen. Sally usually goes just outside the garage side door, just where John or Daff can step right in it if they’re not looking where they’re going.  Discit goes on what the grown-ups call the lawn.  This isn’t a lawn now, it’s a fancy area of limestone chippings, but it used to be a lawn until Sally arrived and did bitch spots all over it. John grumbles about Discit’s choice of toilet, as he says it’s difficult to clean up, and he should know as he a specialist in such matters.  Bluebell goes just inside the gate, so it can be seen by all – residents and visitors alike.  And me – well, I go anywhere that takes my fancy, which is often right in the middle of some choice plant.  That annoys Daff, but it can’t be helped.

Why am I telling you all this?   Well, there’s a definite reason, as you will soon see.

A few weeks before Easter, I heard Daff telling John that she didn’t like the colour of Bluebell’s poo.   I have to admit, I never have done, but that’s another matter.  Apparently, she thought it was too dark.  John wanted to know why she thought it was Bluebell’s and Daff said it was always in her special spot so it must be hers.

Daff can be quite neurotic about ailments, both ours and the grown-ups.  Any slight difference in usual habits and she’s got whoever it is down for some serious illness.  This keeps the local GP busy and ensures our vets will be more than comfortable in their old age.

She’s particularly got a thing about cancer.  I suppose that’s reasonable, as she’s had it and so has John, and just before I joined our merry throng, Carl, their first greyhound, died suddenly of a tumour which had gone right through the duodenum (whatever that is) wall;  he slowly bled to death in a few hours because no-one knew anything about it.  Grim, or what?  The only symptom was that he did black poo.

It must have left a lasting impression on John and Daff, because I’ve always felt that they tend to study such things more than is good for them.  Anyway, it couldn’t have been that bad, because John couldn’t see what was wrong with it, but he’s colour blind, so he probably wouldn’t.  Daff said she thought it must be her imagination, but then came the time when there was no mistaking it – Bluebell was doing, if not black, then very dark poo.  Even I could see that things were different from everyone else.

So Daff rang the vet.  Discit went with Bluebell for her appointment, because she’s such a wuss that she has to have one of us with her, otherwise she won’t go through the door, and it’s usually Discit because she’s a hypochondriac and just loves going to the vet, especially when she has her monthly thyroid test.  Makes her feel important (which she isn’t – just a very small black girl) or something.

Maxine, the vet, thought Bluebell had an ulcer because she’s always so tense – just the disposition to get an ulcer, apparently.   She took some blood and John presented her with a sample to send away for testing.  She gave her some pills and some stuff that Daff said smelled like Gaviscon, and we waited for the test results.

I never really thought there was much wrong with her, because she always makes so much fuss about the tiniest little thing.  She had admittedly been a bit quieter and more bearable than usual, but we put that down to the Zylkene tablets she’d been prescribed when she had a nervous breakdown after having her dew claws removed last autumn, and it was really nice to have her nearly normal.   We thought perhaps she was growing up at last.  Well, she’s only six months younger than me, and everyone says what a thoroughly decent chap I’ve grown into.

But when the results came back, it turned out she was anaemic and there was digested blood in her poo, just like Daff thought.  It could still have been an ulcer, but the grown-ups really needed to know, so Maxine referred her to a specialist hospital called Dick White Referrals near Newmarket for immediate further investigation.

Dad and Daff took her there the day before Good Friday.  Of course, the saintly Discit had to go with her for support.  They left Bluebell there because the scans were to take all day, and arrangements were made to collect her that evening.  The grown-ups couldn’t stop talking about this incredible hospital at a place – Six Mile Bottom – with an exceedingly silly name, and Daff said the next time she had cancer she would book herself in there, as it was much nicer than a human hospital.

At five o’clock, just as John and Daff were getting organised to collect her, her Consultant rang and said that the ultrasound scan had shown a tumour in her intestine.   It had bled a lot, and was likely to get worse, so she had an operation the same evening.

Well, it just about ruined Easter for us cos the grown-ups were worried and it was all so quiet without her.  Things just weren’t the same without somebody shouting at her, or her screaming every time she wanted something.  I used to think it would be really nice without her as she came into our lives like a tornado and she really pushed my nose out of joint, but she’s part of us all now and it was lonely without her.  Auntie Pat and Uncle Fred and Cousin Leah came for the holiday in their motor home, but there was a black cloud over us; even Leah noticed it and she’s only a GSD.

The hospital wanted to keep her till the middle of the following week.  They thought she was lovely (well, they didn't have to live with her) and rang Daff twice a day with a progress report.

On Easter Sunday we knew she was getting better, because you could hear her screams all the way from Newmarket.  They might have been over the phone, but Bluebell doesn’t really need a phone.  Obviously she wasn’t getting her own way any more.

The following morning, there was a call to say the staff thought she was ready for discharge.  I said to Mr Paddy that four days of Bluebell was apparently enough for anyone.

I don’t know what I expected when she arrived home – an emaciated, subdued shadow of her former self, maybe?  As it was, she was fat, sleek (apart from a silly haircut) and screaming for her supper.  She was full of her own self- importance and not at all pleased that there was to be no off-lead exercise for a fortnight.  Her poo was apparently the right colour once more - normality had returned to Muffin Towers with a bang.

The bad news was that the lump was malignant.  The good news is that it is likely it won’t return, but she will need regular scans for the next year or so.  This will make her even more self-important and insufferable, no doubt, but until Easter I hadn’t realised how fond I really was of her, and I wouldn’t want her to go the way of Carl.

She’s a real pill-popper now.  She gets an iron tablet every morning, but these run out soon, and Daff’s big worry is what she can find to push down her throat then – Bluebell’s biggest triumph is that it’s not just Discit who has daily medication, and we’re all braced for the screams when she discovers her sister’s once more in the lead in the medication stakes.  But Daff’s promised I can go with her when she has her next scan, just to see the posh hospital, so it’s an ill wind really.

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