saxophones started blowing me down

“I hate to say this, but Ghost Shark is no Sharknado.” I sipped my beer and looked across the couch at Anne. Seamus slept between us, unimpressed by the ghostly antics of the titular shark.

“The on-screen Tweets are just trying too hard, and they’re getting in the way of the movie,” she said.

“Yeah, stop trying to make Fetch happen, SyFy. It’s not going to happen,” I said. Just then the Ghost Shark flew out of a puddle, cutting a hapless victim in half.

“OH!” Anne exclaimed, startling our dog, Riley, who jumped up and looked around nervously.

“It’s just the Ghost Shark, Piles,” I said to our old and nervous dog, “don’t stress about it.”

Riley laid down by my feet, between the couch and our ottoman, panting heavily. She has a bad knee and osteoarthritis in three of her legs, so she’s constantly in a lot of pain. We do our best to mitigate it with some medications, but in the last couple of months, she’s gotten much worse, and is slowly becoming less of a sweet dog and more of a cranky dog who really isn’t into the energetic puppy we have around the house. She was really not into that puppy walking up to her and licking her face a whole bunch. Generally, this behaviour is considered submissive, but Marlowe can do it so much it becomes obnoxious and irritating. I usually catch it and stop her before it makes Riley angry, but being distracted by the Ghost Shark, I didn’t notice that Riley was annoyed until she snapped at Marlowe, and Marlowe lunged back at her … and a full-on dogfight started beneath my feet.

I jumped up and tried to pull them apart, as Seamus jumped off the couch and, as pack leader, tried to pin Riley. Anne flew off the couch and grabbed one of the dogs, too. The next few seconds are a blur to me, but somehow we got Marlowe away, and while I was pulling Riley away from Seamus, she freaked out and bit my left wrist, hard. I remember screaming, pulling her jaw open and getting her off of me, just in time for Seamus to grab her again and try to pin her down again. I remember thinking, very clearly, that there was nothing aggressive in Seamus’ behaviour, that he was very calmly trying to subdue her. I realized that I was bleeding all over the place.

Less than a minute after the whole thing started, we had all the dogs separated. We checked them for injuries, and, finding none, addressed mine. I had four big punctures on my left wrist, and a couple scrapes across the top of my hand. We used some Hibicleanse to wash them out, dressed the wounds, and Anne gave me a Vicodin for the pain we both knew was coming as soon as the adrenaline wore off.

“When was your last tetanus shot?” Anne asked.

“I think it was 2007, so … six years ago.”

“You have to go get one,” she said.

“Why? I need one every ten years.”

“No, they changed it to every five years.”

“What the fuck? Goddamn tetanus industrial complex is bullshit, man,” I said. “Okay, I’ll go tomorrow.”

We tried to get back to Ghost Shark, but I’d pretty much lost interest in doing anything that wasn’t elevating and icing my rapidly-swelling wrist. About two hours later, I took another Vicodin and got into bed.

I woke up at 1:35am, my entire left arm from elbow to fingertips throbbing with the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life, including sitting through most of Ghost Shark. I tried to move around and get it into a position that didn’t hurt that much, but I just couldn’t do it. I began to cry, and pace around the room. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was going into shock. I got intensely cold, and I woke up Anne. “I need help,” I sobbed, “this hurts so much I don’t know what to do.”

I sat on the edge of our bed and wailed like a little kid. I can’t remember the last time I cried so hard for so long, but I remember thinking, through the pain and panic, that maybe my body would interpret my wailing and suffering as a call to dump endorphins or something to minimize the pain. It did not do that.

“I’m taking you to the ER,” she said, “to get you painkillers and to make sure nothing is broken or severed.”

“Oh– oh– oh-kay,” I cried.

She got dressed and got me dressed, and she drove me to the hospital. Luckily, nobody was there and I was in a bed very quickly. I have no idea how much time went by, but I had an IV in my arm pretty soon, and the nurse was putting some painkillers into my body. After five minutes that felt like an hour, it started to work, and the pain began to recede behind a heavy feeling of rising and falling at the same time. “I feel like a balloon filled with lead,” I said to Anne.

I spent the night there, getting painkillers and antibiotics and x-rays. Nothing was broken, and none of my tendons or nerves were damaged. The doctor told me that I couldn’t move my fingers because of the swelling. “Wrists are so small, there isn’t a lot of room for swelling to happen. It will go down over the next few days,” he assured me.

They put a brace on my wrist to help take the pressure off of it, gave me a prescription for painkillers and antibiotics, and instructions to clean my wounds. We drove home as the sun was starting to lighten the Eastern sky.

I slept all day, waking only once to take antibiotics and painkillers. It was almost 6pm when I got out of bed on Friday, and my wrist had swollen up to about the size of my forearm. Which is pretty big you guys, because I work out.

I spent the next three days trying to type with just my right hand and left thumb, moving through the hours in a painkiller-dulled haze, just waiting for the whole thing to be over. Meanwhile, Anne took Riley to the vet to find out if we can get her some kind of doggie anti-anxiety medication, because we can’t go on with her being the way she’s been for the last several months. It turns out that there is, in fact, some sort of doggie Xanax that she can take. She’ll start it tomorrow and we’ll hope for the best.

Over the weekend, I had some forced downtime, because I couldn’t really think all that clearly or use my hands to type. I ended up watching more TV in three days than I have in months, including some shows that I’d wanted to watch, but never did. I wanted to like GIRLS, but I couldn’t make it past the second episode. I can’t believe I waited this long to watch TRUE BLOOD. ADVENTURE TIME is hilarious, but that could just be the drugs talking. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP is probably the best documentary I’ve ever seen about the street art movement, and is about so much more than just Banksy. I took GAME CHANGE with a grain of salt, but still enjoyed it.

By Sunday morning, I was completely off the painkillers and could take the brace off my wrist. I’m able to write this today because I finally have use of my hand back and instead of massive muscle pain I just have some stiffness in my forearm from the immobility. I get to wear four awesome Batman bandaids which should really be called Batmandaids.

I’ll be on antibiotics for another week or so, and I need to be careful to keep my wounds clean while they heal. All things considered, it could have been much, much worse, so I’m grateful that it is what it is instead of what it could have been.

51 thoughts on “saxophones started blowing me down”

  1. Sorry to read this, I know how much it can hurt!

    A couple of suggestions for you. First, until Riley is feeling better, I would highly recommend you start a simple “crate and rotate” schedule and keep the dogs separate as much as possible. It will help the old girl feel better to not be annoyed by Marlowe.

    I’d also suggest you see about supplementing Riley with Green Lipped Mussel Powder. I have many friends with older dogs with joint and mobility issues. They swear by the stuff and have had dogs that were in pain show a marked improvement over the course of a week.

    Hope you’re back to normal again soon!

    1. > I would highly recommend you start a simple “crate and rotate” schedule and keep the dogs separate as much as possible.

      Yeah, we’ve been doing this since Thursday. I also tried giving Riley Benedryl (1mg per pound of her weight) last night, and it really seemed to help, so we’re hopeful.

  2. Wow, that is one epic tale of daring do. (Get it? Doggie-do? Sorry…) That said, it’s not as thrilling as separating a knit of angered canines but I have also been sick all weekend, so I definitely know what you mean about being forced to get caught up on TV. Glad to hear all is healing as it should and that you’re back to delight and harangue the internet, as is your right and privilege.

  3. Ah man that sucks. I was bitten by a Norwegian Elk hound on the back of my thigh and spent 3 days walking round like Long John Silver on valium (this is not an opening credit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Hope you feel better soon!

  4. Adventure Time really is that funny. Here’s hoping better living through chemistry helps poor Riley. I am somewhat familiar with pain like hers, and it does make one cranky. Hope you feel better soon and until then keep up with your pain meds and watch more Adventure Time. And Bravest Warriors. Butter lettuce!

    1. I will second Adventure Time actually being that good, although it has some remarkably dark episodes at times. The one thing I like the most about it is their commitment to continuity.

  5. Hopefully, things go well for both you and Riley.

    I agree with MeiLinMiranda, Adventure Time really is that funny (no drugs necessary). Plus, you’ll notice, as the series progresses, that a very deep and complex back story is evolving along with it. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but rest assured it goes far deeper than any kids’ show has probably ever gone since the days when we lived for Saturday Mornings. Keep up with it – the episodes are short, which allows for sandwiching in some AT Time during busy days.

  6. Wow! I was so looking forward to saxophones, but this was probably a more exciting read.

    Kudos for saving one of the dogs a hospital trip, at least. You did an Alpha’s duty.

  7. I have an 11yo border collie female who has had anxiety issues her whole life. We’ve been through several different anti-anxiety medications, and it looks like for now we’ve settled on seligiline which provides anti-anxiety benefits as well as some benefits against dementia onset. We also have xanax on hand for trigger scenarios, like fireworks on the Fourth of July, although xanax isn’t a long-term medication for dogs due to tolerance development over time. Additionally, I’m able to get the seligiline from an online pet compounding pharmacy for less than a third of the cost of getting it from our local people pharmacy, so that might also be helpful for you.

    My dogs get glucosamine/chondroitin with each meal after they turn 7, and even the 11yo is pretty sprightly and just retired from competitive dog sports earlier this year. That might help Riley as well. You can also look into continuous low doses of rimadyl and/or tramadol, with more on hand as needed for events (long walk, particularly exuberant play, etc.) that might leave her in more pain than usual. We had a large scrip of both for our 9yo border collie boy as he was in the end stages of cancer, and it really made a lot of difference in keeping his days comfortable until the end.

    Best of luck. :)

  8. I don’t want to sound too “fan boy agree with everything Wil says”, but you were spot on throughout. Ghost Shark is certainly no Sharknado, not even a Sharktopus. The tweets did really detract from it. Adventure Time really is that funny (thanks to my kids for getting me in to that one), and I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I liked True Blood – now it’s a go to show for my wife and me.

    As soon as you got to the point in the story where you were bit, my first thought (due to a past similar experience) was, “Oh no! That’s going to get infected!” Those dog bite puncture wounds are no fun, though I think I felt worse from a cat one. And, no, I have no idea why I manage to get animals to bite me, but I think it’s because I’m tasty. Yeay, that’s it.

  9. Zuma is 14 now and becoming intolerant of other animals and small children. We really want to get another dog, but have held off because we love him so much and just really don’t want to upset him. I think this story reinforces that idea a bit.
    Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you’re okay.
    C

  10. I feel you, Wil, I really do. That cranky old dog phase is really a bitch, pun intended. When my German Shepherd got up into his double digits, he also had osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia (a common genetic defect in the GSD breed). He got to a point where, if he was lying on the sofa or a bed, you had to be really careful about approaching him or he would lash out. I once made the mistake of ignoring that whole “let sleeping dogs lie” adage and leaned over him to give him a goodnight hug, and he woke up disoriented and lunged at me. I got a pretty good tooth graze on the left breast and then pretty deep puncture on the right wrist because I instinctively brought my hand up to protect myself. Pretty lucky I didn’t get my face torn off, but he came to himself pretty quickly and was instantly solicitous and remorseful. I chose not to get a tetanus shot or stitches, I just kept it really, really, really clean and used neosporin and bound it really tight to help it close back up. It healed really well with a barely noticeable scar. In retrospect, that was a really stupid thing to do–it needed stitches and I should have gotten a tetanus shot–but I chose not to go to the ER because our state laws require that you file a police report in the instance of a dog bite, even if it’s your own dog and they have been vaccinated, and I was fearful that due to his size and breed, he would be declared vicious and put down. Again, not the best decision medically, but as I am sure you know, dogs are family and sometimes we go to unwise lengths to protect them. I hope yours heals up as well as mine did, and I hope the doggie xanax helps Riley feel more herself. If it happens again, maybe you should let Seamus handle it; sounds like he maintains a pretty clear head in a crisis. :-)

  11. I’m sorry this happened to you, Wil. My remedy for fighting dogs is a spray bottle filled with water. Works pretty well and keeps the body parts safe. As a former police dog trainer I’ve had my share of bites and can sympathize. Not fun. Glad you are on the mend.

    Also, thanks for the reminder about older dogs and younger dogs. I’ve got a pair of my own and as Zoey gets older I’d better give her plenty of time away from the Pipster.

  12. I’m so sorry – that must have been scary as hell. That feeling of panic and weeping must have sucked – thank goodness for Anne being so level-headed and getting you to the ER. My neighbor’s dog Samson is on doggy Xanax and it’s helped him a lot. My Riley (cat) sends good wishes as well.

    Adventure Time is fantastic – cannot get enough. And True Blood filled a hole in my life that I didn’t know existed.

    I’ll continue to keep a good thought for all of you.

  13. Bites are the worst, and bites on or near your hands are disproportionately painful.

    Zuke’s Hip Action treats have made a huge difference for my 18 year old, extremely arthritic cat. With them she has a pretty normal life (albeit with ramps to get up and down from the furniture), without them she can’t get out of her heated bed, even to eat or eliminate.

  14. I’m not gonna lie, this is definitely one reason I love my snakes. When they bite me, it’s like mildly aggressive velcro. No punctures, just some abrasions – and those are more because I instinctively yank my hand back instead of just holding still like you should (so you can gently press behind the jaw and “unlock” the bite, The More You Know™).

    Adventure Time is amazeballs (the Wiki is vital for playing “I Know That Voice™”… Ice King = Spongebob? OMG), and I loved S2 of True Blood. I grokked Maryann’s Maenad talk in a way that made my BF nervous. ;)

    Heal well!

  15. I saw Anne post about this on twitter a few days ago. I’m glad there is nothing serious and wish you a speedy recovery. I hope you find a solution to keep the dogs happy. Also, you said “titular shark”. Heh, heh.

  16. Yikes Wil what an ordeal! I have a chihuahua (2) and a Shepard mix (4) and a terrier/shepard/sheltie mix (13). The chihuahua likes to lunge at my Shepard’s throat to prove he is worthy or some shit like that. I just think he has a inferiority complex and wants to tell Samson (the Shepard) who is boss. I have been lucky and just grab Nacho (yes the chihuahua is named Nacho) by the scruff and separate them and block Samson with my hip, which has been most effective. Then I have to do what Deborah suggested to you above. I have been lucky and have only had minor scratches and scrapes.
    I am glad you are feeling better. Get well and take care.
    I wish I had talked to you at Chicago Comic Con on Sunday August 11th. Hopefully next year ;)

  17. You are a great pet family member. Not many would have the patience to deal with a grumpy arthritic puppy. Riley is so lucky she has such a good family. Semus is such a good pack leader!! And I have heard great things about puppy Xanax (my friends dog is on it) so hopefully Riley will respond.

    I’m happy your wrist is feeling better. Chicks dig scars. Anne is a lucky lady. :)

  18. Glad you’re doing better and hope you get back to 100% soon. Also wanted to say thank you for emphasizing that it was an accident and not anything to do with the breed. I know many folks love to generalize and blame the animals for acting on their instincts and it is fantastic to see somebody with a respected voice in the world who understands and stands up for them. (Keep them doggy posts comin…they are my favorites among your tweets.)

    And am I mistaken, or did this whole incident get put in motion by a SHARK JUMPING out of a puddle? Hurr, hurr.

  19. My in laws have a dog with arthritis as well, and they put her on glucosamine and started hydrotherapy and said it has helped 100%.
    On a total side note, my three week old son loves the sound of your voice. We watch tabletop a lot when I’m trying to get him soothed.

  20. Isn’t it amazing how, what seems like such a little wound, can cause so much pain? Glad to hear the swelling is down now and you can get back to life as normal.

  21. awww. hope you’re better. My doggie once bit me on my lips out of fear, which then lead to a tetanus shot and my lips swelling up like i just have a bootched botox job.

  22. Hi Wil,
    It sucks to be injured and it really sucks when there is some pet disfunction because when your pets are part of your family (like you guys) it is a family issue and can be really stressfull. Hope this gets better for your whole family.
    If you have any more down time or just want to be blown away by a documentary I have to mention this one. It is on NETFLIX and all I can say is if you put it on and sit and watch it will blow you away. I was so shocked and my mind almost melted watching what people could do with paper. It was uplifting about humanity and creativity and the human spirit. I so highly recomend the documentary “Between the Folds” If you watch it and you and Anne are amazed let me know. If it is an epic fail you can never trust my recommendations again;-) All my best wishes for recovery and for the family.

    Dave

    1. well I am shocked. I went to NETFLIX and I cant pull it up. It is like they took it down. It is so well rated many people raved about it. Wow! I am Shocked. I found “Between the Folds” in full on youtube which is still good but the resolution is less. Not sure if it can be found anywhere else. Yep its really that cool. My family is rewatching it now actually on Youtube cause we enjoyed it so much…anyway I dont know why Netflix would take it down.

    2. Oh my god, that sounds so scary for both of you. Recently my husband got food poisoning when we were an hour away from home, and I was so freaked out mainly because there was NO WAY he could help me figure out if he needed to go to the hospital or not. I am so used to making serious decisions with him, I think that was the hardest, to see him in so much pain and not be able to ask him what we should do! I’m glad your awesome wife had it together. I did eventually pull it together, but it wasn’t easy! I’m glad you’re feeling better and it sounds like you guys are doing everything right. Take care.

  23. Someone else mentioned it, but I also wanted to tell you that glucosamine chondroitin really helped my 9 year old pups arthritis. She was hit by a car and had hip surgery as a puppy, it lead to arthritis coming early. Glad you and Riley are okay and I really hope her puppy Xanax works.

  24. Can’t stress enough the need to address cat or dog (or any animal) bites immediately. You can’t take the source of the bite into account because however beautiful they are, they aren’t in control of the bacteria and various molecules in their mouths.

    My wife was bitten by one of our cats when an attempt to give said cat a pill went awry. She said it hurt but she’d used alcohol and peroxide to clean the wound. I told her to go to the doctor in the morning (happened at night). She said whatever. Then the next day, it was hurting like hell and a friend of hers told her about someone she knew who lost a friggin’ limb FFS because they didn’t do anything about a cat bite. She went to urgent care, got antibiotics and felt like crap for a couple days before recovering.

    Always good advice to clean the wound and head to your doctor, urgent care or an ER as soon as you can (just don’t go to Hollywood Presbyterian unless you want to get unnecessary procedures done to you because they want your insurance…seriously, their own staff tell people to go to other hospitals if they can). Don’t wait a day. Just do it. I’m not a doctor but I studied molecular biology and immunology (my favorite subject in all of biology…well, just after DNA) and it’s amazing how little it takes to bring a human to his or her knees.

    Just like those cases of flesh eating bacteria…sometimes, it’s not so much that the bacteria is some sort of SyFy movie-like piranha beast that ruins you. It’s just that relatively deep cut you got on a rock in a river…now that bacteria that normally just bounces off that wonderful organ called your “skin” is inside your fleshy business with nothing to stop it from spewing toxins and multiplying off the delicious plasma and nutrients in this wonderful host that is you.

    Wil, I’m glad you got it taken care of. You might have fought it off on your own but honestly you could have also gone the other way. And I suspect all of us here reading or commenting would not want that to happen. :)

  25. To everyone who reads this wonderfully written story, I ask that you think about how differently this tale would have played out if Wil did not have health insurance and money for medication. Think about it, and think about it again the next time you are in a voting booth.

  26. I’m glad you’re coming out the other side of such a painful experience. Visceral body reactions like the one you experienced are a reminder of how much our thinking brain keeps the instinct brain at bay.

    Our awesome yoga dog (also a rescue) has terrible separation anxiety, to the point of harming himself (and a lot of our stuff) while we are away. We transitioned him onto Prozac (generic – Fluoxetine), and it has been a lifesaver. I even go to the regular pharmacy to have his prescription filled – it’s cheap and has made all the difference.

  27. Oh, my sympathies. Being bitten hurts more than any other wound of that type. I’ve had my fair share (occupational hazard – I make my shiny gold rocks as a healer for non-humans), and I don’t know why that is, but it is. (They say it’s a pressure per area thing and then the secondary infection, but whatever. Personally, I think the emotional component of “my best friend just hurt me!” is huge and our caveman panic mode kicks in and we just lose it, but it matters not. I just know they hurt!) Most of mine were the little usual nicks and never treated, but some have needed care and two have needed it badly. The most recent was about two years ago, and the only time I ever went to the ER straight from work. That was a bad day, but I healed, with the help of modern medicine and time.

    I hope you heal up as well, and with good speed. I’m so glad it wasn’t worse, as you say. The dogs clearly inhibited their bites with each other, and Riley didn’t get you nearly as bad she could have. Dogs pack some serious punch in their jaws, and the wrist is small and delicate. That’s so scary! I’m so glad you’re mostly okay.

    I’m really sorry you’re having to deal with changing dynamics in your canine pack. That’s rough. Hopefully, meds will help Riley. I’m really glad she isn’t one of the ones who gets paradoxical hyperactivity on Benedryl – like me. ;) *sending love and understanding to all involved*

  28. I’m sorry to hear about this, and I’m glad to hear you’re recovering well. But, I must say, the thing I loved about this post was this: “…my wrist had swollen up to about the size of my forearm. Which is pretty big you guys, because I work out.”
    I love that, amid all the dramatic tension and the serious blog post, you throw something like that in there and have the ability to make me laugh. Thank you, and all the best :)

  29. So scary. I’m sorry for you and for Riley. Poor dog is in pain and can’t deal with it on her own, and so causes pain for humans which is doubly hard: you have to care for the dog and for yourself. I hope you recover well and soon and Riley responds to the anti-anxiety meds. Sending my best wishes to you all – and by the way, I’m glad you had Anne there to help you.

  30. Knowing that our pets are suffering is nothing short of heartbreaking. There are definitely things we can do to help ease their pain and to comfort them, though. In addition to glucosamine and chondroitin, there is a product that I have seen help numerous dogs (in my work at a veterinary clinic), called “Sasha’s Blend” …that, and hydrotherapy may really be worth looking into.
    http://www.caninewaterwellness.com/home/benefits.html
    I hope this helps!

  31. Count me in on the advocacy for hydrotherapy. My mum’s dog is a 13-yr old lab who was getting much less mobile. At the encouragement from my SIL, who has a 14-yr old lab and who swears by hydrotherapy. My mum tried it, found it really helpful, and now she has a pool in the backyard because they live in the sticks with no animal PT nearby.

    And animals in pain is so sad. They are so stoic and really, they deserve to be happy and pain-free always. :(

  32. I’ve broken up a couple dogfights, and I can attest to how terrifying it can be.

    You might try ‘Dragon Naturally Speaking’ until you can type with both hands again! One handed keyboarding sucks.

    When I shattered my left wrist, I couldn’t type for 6 months, and not well for a year. As someone who writes a lot, it was torture worse than the pain.

    I’m glad nothing’s broken. Take care Wil!

  33. Sorry to hear that your dogs got so RUFF with you! Maybe you should just stop watching videos including sharks for a while–they might be giving your dogs ideas (heh, heh!) or maybe directly causing them to get CATTY!

  34. My parents went through something similar with their three dogs. The two younger dogs would get into it and the third, much bigger dog, would muscle his way in to stop it. Medication definitely helped, as did not letting the dogs interact without supervision. This all went down around Christmas, and they’re now weaning the more aggressive dog off of her meds, but everything has been fine for months.

    It does get better.

  35. Adventure Time is indeed hilarious. It’s not just the drugs. At least not the ones you’re taking; I’m sure the show’s writers take them in copious amounts.

    Poor, poor dog. I feel awful for her. Poor Wil too, I guess. I do hope you recover quickly.

  36. I haven’t read all of the posts so this might be repetitive: Contrary to popular belief, dogs do NOT have clean mouths. Someone with a potentially compromised system, such as someone such as yourself with Epstein-Barr, needs to seek medical attention immediately when bitten. It only takes a few hours, as you discovered, to get into a serious state after a bite wound. Cat mouths are worse. I’m a veterinarian. Whenever a client comes in and tells me that their pet bit them when being put into the pet carrier, I always advice them to call their doctor.

  37. How very scary, for everyone! Glad everyone came through it more or less in one piece.

    And thank you for confirming what I thought about Girls. I tried to watch it because people were raving, but all I could think was “No one acts like that!!”. I thought it was just me.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start watching True Blood while “working” from home today. Yes, I’m wearing bunny slippers. Why do you ask?

  38. I’m glad you’re ok and that you have a great wife who takes care of you in the middle of the night.

    I hope you post an update as to how Riley is coping with the new meds. Poor Riley. It must suck to be in such a scary headspace. :(

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