“Can you please fit us in today? There is something seriously wrong with his face.”
That’s me pleading with the staff at my preferred vet’s office. They were kind and fit us in on surgery day. I had to leave Freckles there, though, until they found a break between surgeries. And I felt horrible that I couldn’t just stay with him.
Let me back up: 2 days before Christmas, Freckles slipped in our kitchen and hit his head on the freezer drawer’s pull-out bar. It seemed like nothing unusual. He does slip sometimes because one of his hind legs doesn’t carry his full weight. He normally just gets up and on with his life.
This particular time, after a few minutes, I looked at him, and I could tell right away that there was something wrong with his eye. It was uniformly brown, including the normally white part of the eye. In addition, there was something on top of his cornea. It scared me, but there was nothing I could do at the moment.
It turned out that there was a tear to his cornea—more like a little triangle that was missing. In addition, the eye itself would become infected. I was putting eye drops in every hour for 3 days. Then we moved to an ophthalmic ointment. Not fun because you actually have to make sure it lands somewhere on the eyeball and the dog really hates that procedure.
Nonetheless, we were doing as we had been told, and I was hoping that at some point that eye would start to look better when, after our morning walk, I looked at Freckles one day and everything felt off. It looked to me like he had had a stroke. The whole left side of his face seemed to be sliding off. And, of course, it was a Friday—with a weekend coming up. That’s when I made that pleading phone call.
About 4 hours later, I got the devastating news that Freckles had a facial paralysis. I picked him up and just sat with him for two days and rubbed his face. I was hoping that the stimulation from my hands would reactivate that nerve. By Sunday, he really did look much better. He wasn’t so off-kilter anymore, and I was cautiously optimistic that the nerve had started working again.
Today, 5 days later, I feel that we have come to a plateau. Yes, the face is better than on that awful Friday, but I know the left ear doesn’t move, and I’m pretty sure Freckles can’t hear in that ear either. He is able to move the eyelid (although he still blinks only with one eye). The ulcer that has started to grow on his cornea because there are no tears in that eye still hasn’t gone away, despite all the salve I’m putting in all the time.
And still, Freckles is his usual happy self. I can tell that sometimes it itches or feels otherwise uncomfortable because he either tries to paw the area or he tries to rub it on me, but otherwise, he’s happy to go for walks, play with his toys, eat (and slobber all over us). Our good, old dog is a real role model to us. I can only hope that we will accept our own challenges in old age as gracefully as he does.