Paws Updates And Other Goings Ons – SW France
Things are moving along slowly, but surely here on the East side of the Great Pond, so it’s about time I give y’all another update.
Despite all outwardly appearances, and the fact that we have been stationary (not much of the “wheeling” in wheelingit going on at the moment), we’ve accomplished quite a bit in the last month or so. We managed to wade ourselves through French bureaucracy and are now official French residents, we are in post-recovery for all our various medical procedures, we celebrated a BIG birthday, and we even started looking at RVs (wheeee)! Not everything can fit into one blog post tho’ so we’ll start with the practical updates.
We’re Legal French Residents
One of the things we’ve been working diligently on since we arrived is getting everyone (human and paws) properly registered and approved in France.
For those who’ve never been through such a thing, you should know that it’s a process that requires une grande quantité of persistence & patience. There’s a hefty amount of paperwork and bureaucracy required at every step of the “localization” procedure, and the French official websites don’t exactly make it easy to figure it all out. But that’s just the way it is. C’est comme ça, and if you decide to settle in France you simply have to be prepared for it.
For those interested, I’ll cover all the juicy technical stuff we had to go through for our various certificates & cards in future posts, but for now I’m just happy to announce that the most pressing bits (getting the pets registered, getting Paul his Carte De Sejour) are DONE!
So we’re legal to hang out, work and play as we please in Europe, at least for the next year.
Paws & Humans Are Healing
We’ve also been working hard on the health side of things, and we think that we’ve finally put the majority of the stress & worry of the past few months behind us. We’re in post-treatment phase for two of our beloved paws (Polly and Rand) and one very significant human (my dad), and although we don’t have the full results of everything yet, we hope and believe (paws and fingers crossed) that we’ve managed to kick past the worst of it.
Polly 12-Weeks Post TPLO -> One Step Back, Many Steps Forward
Polly is now ~12 weeks past her TPLO surgery and I’m happy to report that she is doing WONDERFULLY! Her progression went very similarly to her last TPLO surgery in 2016, albeit with a few subtle differences.
Week 3 Through 6: Steady Improvement
From week 3 to 6, she used the leg more and more each day with pretty much zero issues. We continued to follow the rehab instructions from the TPLO Home Rehab Booklet from Top Dog, slowly increasing her daily walks, and introducing curb use, figure-of-eights and other exercises as time went by.
She was restrained the whole time (NO off-leash walking, NO jumping, NO running, NO stairs), but progressively allowed to become more active. Everyday she showed improvement and gained more confidence in the leg. We were thrilled.
Week 7: A Set-Back 🙁
Then right at the beginning of week 7, she had a set-back. Without much warning at all, she suddenly started limping again and lifting up the leg when she walked. Nooooooo!
Although we were mentally prepared that this might happen (set-backs almost always happen in recovery from a major surgery), it still threw us through a bit of an emotional loop. She had been progressing SO well that it was scary to see her go backwards, and of course made us question whether we’d done something wrong (Did we walk her too much? Is the leg not healing properly? Did she jump up somewhere while we weren’t looking?…)
In our heart of hearts however, we knew we’d been SUPER diligent and following the rehab instructions to a tee. So we simply did what you’re supposed to do in these situations. Take a few steps back in the rehab process by cutting back on the walks, increasing rest time, and then slowly starting up again. Oh, and try not to melt into a sobbing puddle of anxiety and panic of course….
Week 8: Check-Up & Back On Track
At week 8 she went for first post surgery check-up with the French surgeon.
Given her recent set-back we were understandably nervous, but after X-rays and a thorough examination, Dr. Guenego gave us the news we’d been hoping for. Her leg looked great and had healed exactly the way it should. Not only that, we’d done such an outstanding job of the recovery process (he could tell by the prefect way the bone had fused with no scarring or excess growth) that we didn’t even need to come back for the 12-week checkup. We could simply come back and see him in 6 months time, if we wanted to.
“keep doing what you’re doing, you’re good to go”, was the basic message. YEAHHH!!!!
Apparently the “all go” from the doc was what Polly was waiting for as well, because the day after the visit her little set-back limp was gone and she went back to using the leg fully again. Darn, fikkin’ dog….
Week 8 Through 12: On-Going Improvement
Since the check-up I’m pleased to report that things have just continued to get better and better. She’s walking & trotting completely normally now, and no longer leans to the side or favors the other leg when she stands or sits.
At the start of week 12 (in line with the Top Dog TPLO Rehab Booklet instructions), we started slowly letting her off-leash again and doing more intense hill and strengthening work. She’s looking fab and just incredibly happy to have her freedom again.
We’ve still got lots more recovery to go, but we believe the worst is most definitely over for our beloved girl!
Rand Post I-131 Treatment -> Success!
Our other big worry moment was the day that Rand went for her 1-month post I-131 blood test. She’d been doing really well since we got back from Madrid, showing no hyper (or hypo) symptoms at all, eating well and basically just acting like the cat she used to be. But of course we wouldn’t know for SURE how she was doing until her first post-treatment blood test.
She went in for the test on a Tuesday, and then I had to wait 3 agonizing days for the results from the external lab (IDEXX). When the document came in it took me a few minutes to absorb the numbers, and then a few more before they really sunk in.
Her thyroid levels were puuurrrfect, right in the beginning of the green range!! Even better, the rest of her numbers, including her kidney levels (always a concern since hyperthyroidism can often mask hidden kidney issues) were good too. So all levels were in range, there were zero indications of hypo (which means the remaining healthy thyroid has kicked back into action) and there were no other visible issues to worry about.
The results could not have been better, and for all intents and purposes she is now considered cured……..YEAHHHH!!!
She’s got several more blood tests (at 3 months, and 6 months) to go before she gets the complete all-clear, but the first test is the most critical and indicates a recovery that’s perfectly on track.
Dad Is Post Treatment Too
The last of our “pack” to get treated over the last few months was my dad. As those of you who follow the blog know, being here for his cancer treatment was one of several reasons we pulled in our Europe plans this year.
I haven’t gone into much detail about his progression in my posts partly for my own personal superstitious reasons (I don’t like to talk about these things until they’re done), and partly because it’s not my story to tell. However I can report that he completed his treatment too, and that he weathered everything like the mental and physical powerhouse that he is. Gooooo dad!
It’ll be another month or so before we know the full results, so it’s just a waiting game for now, but we’re working with the absolute best docs in the field and could not have asked for better treatment or facilities. So we are confident and hopeful. And of course dad is in great spirits and happily going about his daily business as he did before. That, above everything else, makes me a very happy gal indeed.
We Celebrated a BIG Birthday
Somewhere in-between all these going-ons, Paul got a year older and rounded out his numbers to somewhere in the half-century range.
We made a full week of the celebrations, starting with an outdoor dinner at our cozy local restaurant, followed by a ton of gifts the next morning. He got a selection of fine IPA’s (procured on-line from Saveur Bière), as well as 5 of my landscape pictures printed on canvas, something he’s been bugging me to do for around 10 years. I used Photobox and they turned out well enough that I’ll probably print more in the future.
As a final present my sister, her hubby & baby all flew down from UK, a superb surprise that we managed to hide from him until the minute they literally showed up at our door. It was a very good week!
Summer Is Coming To A Close
So here were are at the end of August (!!!) and I can hardly believe it’s been 5 months since we arrived in Europe. It seems mere days ago that we said goodbye to “the beast” and our lives in the USA, yet at the same time it seems like years ago. It’s such a bizarre feeling.
We’ve been long enough in France that we’ve experienced the change of almost two seasons, and it really has been quite the ride.
We saw the first flowers of Spring as they inched out of the ground, and watched the forests transform from barren twigs to bright, luscious green. We saw the fruit trees bloom, and then sag heavy with more fruit than we could ever hope to eat. We saw the hills burst into glorious yellow as sunflowers opened to the sky, and watched as those same fields seemingly disappeared when their heads drooped in sadness several weeks later. We sweated through the heavy heat of July and relaxed to the warm evening breezes of late August. We’ve had enough stress to want to forget several moments, and yet had moments that were so beautiful they were unforgettable (yup, I went there, I really did…).
It’s been a bit of everything as life often is.
As we look towards fall, we’re hoping to start traveling a wee bit more. We’ve got a few short local(ish) trips planned, and if the right motorhome happens to drop into our laps, it could end up being a bit more. I’m curious to see how it all turns out, aren’t you?