I’ve been on the recovery list for a while. Back in early April, I needed surgery to my left second toe and my right foot. I had broken my toe a couple of times over the years and it had curled over, making wearing shoes uncomfortable. I also had an arthritic spur on the top of my right foot making shoes uncomfortable there as well. The surgery was quick and easy and I was home again that night with orders from the surgeon to keep my feet elevated until she saw me in ten days time to take out the stitches. The left toe had a rod inserted into it during surgery with a little white bead sticking out of the end of my toe, just waiting to be knocked on something, so I took my keeping my feet up orders very seriously. This rod had to stay in for six weeks.
I made a long-term nest for myself on the lounge where I had all life’s essentials to hand – my knitting, needlework project, books, laptop and the television remote. I wasn’t forbidden from putting my feet on the floor so other essentials such as cups of tea were on a get it myself basis. I was all set to recuperate in comfort.
Nefertiti was the first to discover my semi-prone form and she was all in favour of it. She settled herself on my stomach, composed a new purr just for the occasion and closed her eyes to enjoy me lying down for long periods of time. Despite Nefertiti wanting to keep this a secret, word soon got out amongst the other cats. Tristan and Ambrosia soon began to crowd Nefertiti out and the jockeying for space on Mum soon began in earnest.
I’ve mentioned before that with the cats it’s the closest to my face who wins, which usually means last one on is the winner. With my legs lying out straight (albeit on an unusual incline) and my torso semi-flat, there was considerably more space for the taking, but only the very top of my chest was the desired area for all three cats. When I came out to the lounge room first thing in the morning the battles would commence for the prime piece of property. Ambrosia was usually first up and she contented herself with the top of my legs, until Nefertiti arrived and chose my stomach. Tristan, being 20 years old now and a cat of peace, would wander in soon after that and just look for a peaceful, war free zone. Unfortunately, Ambrosia and Nefertiti fought the Battle for Closest to the Face every morning. I would do what I could to shield Tristan with one hand and remove both brawling cats one handed.
Once the two combatants were exiled to the floor, looking very disgruntled and totally innocent Tristan could settle down. Nefertiti and Ambrosia would sneak back, duly chastened for the time being and I would get on with my sewing, knitting or reading. Thankfully, Graeme came in to give me the much needed cup of teas and lunch at appropriated times.
The problem arose when trips to the bathroom were necessary – and believe me, I put them off as long as possible. I would begin my exit by putting Nefertiti on the floor. She was the cat who invariably won the War of the Closest to the Face, so the first one I could reach. Before Nefertiti was able to jump back up again I had to get Ambrosia off my legs, which was nowhere near as straight forward as you’d think. Ambrosia instantly took on the consistency of that slime children play with. If I picked up her middle, she’d sort of ooze out of my hand, if I tried using both hands she’d go limp and roll away from the hands. It took a while to manage to corral the entire cat and by this time, Nerfertiti was up on my chest again, preparing to forgive and forget and settle back to her snooze. Eventually, both girls were on the floor and I would gently move my legs away from Tristan who always ended up in a little Tristan sized zone between my legs and the back of the lounge. Both Nefertiti and Ambrosia sat on the floor giving me their most hurt look. I’d head bathroom way apologising and I went.
Once back on the lounge the whole process began again, with the exception that Tristan usually stayed in his little Tristan Zone of Peace. Words would be said on my part and ignored on Nefertiti’s and Ambrosia’s part, and eventually we’d reach the stage where everyone involved could live with the arrangement until I had to get up the next time.
In case you are worrying about Venus, she had no interest in joining the other three cats on top of me. Venus took one look at the scuffling and nasty words being exchanged (the cats’ not mine) and preferred to spend her days with her dog, much to Cleo’s embarrassment. Venus spent her days catching mice and presenting them as love tokens to Cleo, who did not favour the taste of mice. Once I was up and around on my feet again, I would watch Cleo roll her eyes at yet another small, dead offering from that strange cat. If she noticed my presence, Cleo would look at me, clearly appealing that I do something about this, as it was mortifying to be fed mice by a cat. Marlowe solved the problem each time by ducking in and snatching the mouse, because he had no such prejudices against the taste of mouse. When Venus came in at night, she’d settle herself on Tristan’s bed on one of the lounge chairs and snooze the night away.
Tristan enjoying his bed before my foot surgery.
The puppies’ roles in my rehabilitation came after I was back on my feet. Both puppies behaved as if I’d been out of their lives for years rather than only seeing them occasionally for just ten days. Cleo thankfully has matured into gentle old age. She contented herself with standing beside me and placing her head under my hand in case pats were available – they always were. After the pats were administered, Cleo would either follow me around the yard “helping” with whatever I was doing, or retreat to her sunny spot and go back to sleep. Cleo has become a low maintenance dog if we forget about her very expensive operation a few months ago (I’ll write about that in the future).
Marlowe would bound about me, showing how happy he was to see me and invite me to a game of tug of war or chasing, neither of which I was prepared to join in with my poor toe. One a couple of occasion Marlowe’s bouncing energy brought him too close to my foot encased in a surgical sandal and the inevitable would happen and I’d have a 75kg Saint Bernard land on the tender toe. Marlowe and I would exchange a few words about being more careful, I’d eventually get over the pain and life would go on.
Hedwig, the arbiter of shoe fashion, objected very strongly to the surgical sandal. It wasn’t surprising; she hates my garden clogs and has left beak marks in them from time to time. The huge, black plastic sandal was just too much! Hedwig wanted it out of her aviary and wanted it out now! Feeding Hedwig and Hermes required me to do a little shuffle dance to keep the irate fashionista off my sandal and away from my toe. I’m not sure the white bead didn’t offend Hedwig’s sensibilities as well, but I was careful to keep it well away from her beak. Hermes really wasn’t bothered about the sandal, but doesn’t take Hedwig’s tantrums well. He would sit on one of the perches and offer her verbal encouragement until I’d refilled their feed containers and left. Hedwig would then return to Hermes, clearly telling him she’d dealt with my latest fashion disaster.
Hermes and Hedwig
The chooks and ferrets didn’t notice the change in my footwear. Graeme fed the chooks and collected the eggs until I was on my feet again, and the ferrets and I communed much as we always had. Charis and Freya don’t care what I wear as long as I distribute treats and cuddles on a regular basis.
On Monday evening, my toe was giving me a lot of trouble. It had been slightly painful all day (and it wasn’t one of the days Marlowe stepped on it). When I had finished all my menagerie feeding chores I opened up the sandal and removed the surgical stocking to find my foot was swollen, the toe an angry red and the redness was covering about half my foot. When Graeme came in from the paddocks, he took me to our local country hospital. The doctor on call prescribed IV antibiotics and she’d call my surgeon in the morning, but there were no spare beds at the hospital so I had to come back every eight hours for my next IV. This meant leaving home at 3.30am for one of the injections.
On Tuesday the surgeon was in surgery all day so uncontactable. I was told to keep coming back for my eight hourly IVs. Throughout my numerous visits the little hospital he staff were wonderful and were soon treating me like one of their friends. Finally late Tuesday an appointment was made for me to see the surgeon and everything is now well on the way to healing. Wednesday afternoon was my last IV and I’m now taking oral antibiotics so no more hospital visits in the early morning.
I think the trips to the hospital stopped just in time. Poor Marlowe had felt that it was his responsibility to wave goodbye to us each time we left for the hospital, and to be at the gate to welcome us back home again when we arrived, even the 3.00am departures and subsequent 5.00am returns. Cleo was happy to assist Marlowe in the goodbyes and welcome homes at decent hours of the day but she put her paw down at getting up in the middle of the night to join Marlowe’s farewell and welcome committee. It's a good thing the 1.00pm IV was the last one. Marlowe waved goodbye from the gate as we left, but when we returned home at 3.00 he was snoozing in the sun. He opened his eyes, gave a short wag of his tail, and told us to welcome ourselves home, he was over it. He did muster the energy to follow me to the back door, but quickly returned to his sunny spot in the garden.
I have been ordered to keep my foot elevated until the swelling goes down, which, according to the surgeon, could be a few weeks. Here we go again.
The Farewell/Welcome Home Committee