My Dog Has Diabetes - A Lesson in Conquering Fear
THE DAY I SHOT MY DOG
I know what you're thinking, how could anyone shoot their beloved pet, or any of this planet's beautiful creatures for that matter? Well of course I could never on my darkest of days ever even dream of doing such a thing. I am an animal lover to the nth degree, I have been a vegetarian since I was nine years old, I have an intense fear of needles. Oh wait, we haven't gotten there yet, let me back up.
Lets Start at the Beginning
Having just arrived back from a visit to my local vets office, this is what I feel he has just told me. "Janna, your dog Bane not only has the heart problems we have been treating him for the past year and a half, but has now against all odds developed diabetes as well. But here's the best part, you now get to throw aside your lifelong fear of needles and inject that sucker twice a day for the rest of your, err, I mean his life. Here, its easy - just take the needle and fill it to this line, lift the skin and... Janna? Janna are you okay, you look a little flushed?" Cue blackout. Okay, perhaps it didn't go exactly like that, but darn close.
You want to know why I have a fear of needles? We'll I'm going to tell you anyway. Its not like my fear of swimming pools, which developed after watching the movie Jaws far too young and then going swimming right after. Don't ask me how I thought the sharks were going to get into the swimming pool. Perhaps they were sharks from the future, capable of transporting themselves into any body of water within the space/time continuum. Its not like my fear of using metal silverware, because I think it has a suspicious taste. Or my fear of heights, because hey, its scary up there. I understand that these are silly fears brought on by an all too active imagination that have somehow stayed with me into adulthood. My fear of needles is all thanks to my loving microbiologist mother, who when I was a child thought it was oh so much fun to look at the veins in my arms and tell me how nice and plump they looked. Sounds more like a vampire now that I think about it, perhaps I should have developed a fear of them. Anyway, what she was referring to was how easy it would be to draw my blood. Awesome, just what every kid wants, plump and juicy veins. Barf. Why on earth you would mess with a child like this is beyond me, but it without a doubt FREAKED ME OUT.
My whole life I have tried my best to avoid even the sight of a needle. Someone drawing blood on TV? You'll find me closing my eyes and burying my arms in the nearest blanket, in my mind it's as if the phlebotomist is coming through the television to get me next. I get nauseous and my body aches at just the sight of them, to sum it up I hate and fear them with the fire of a thousand suns. But, I love my dog, and love trumps fear any day in my book.
Butler Bane Maximillion
Butler Bane Maximilian is my loving long-haired chihuahua who I've had since he was just a pup. I now know thanks to my favorite vet in the world, Dr. Hughes, that my poor chihuahua Bane has developed diabetes. Which despite the seriousness of the diagnosis is actually good news. Bane has been losing weight rather quickly, what I thought was a sure sign of kidney failure - if that had been the case I knew I had very little time left with my beloved pet. But diabetes is treatable. With a needle. Yay.
Most dogs develop diabetes when they are 7-9 years old, but you see, Bane is and has always been an overachiever. Think you need all of your small intestine? HA! Bane laughs in the face of your small intestine, he is missing two feet of his thanks to a strategically placed macadamia nut. You think boy dogs don't want to "do it" after being neutered? HA! Bane thinks those other dogs are a bunch of sissies, his sex drive just keeps going and going long after his little guys have left the building. You think dogs develop diabetes between the ages of 7-9? HA! Bane just turned 14 last month and scoffs at nature and its silly averages, he developed diabetes 5 YEARS after the tail end of that little fortune cookie. Take that nature.
Fear is the mind killer.
Okay, now that we have established that 1.) I have an intense fear of needles, and 2.) that using a needle is the only way to prevent a slow and painful death for my little love muffin the time has come for me to just suck it up and do it. I wish it were that easy.
Poor Bane, his sweet innocent face looking up at me with no idea the ordeal he is about to endure. Sadly, not only is Bane an overachiever but he is also the biggest wussy dog I have every come across. I had no idea that animals could scream until the first day he was approached by my pet ferret. All it took was a happy bouncing ferret coming to say hello and Bane was reduced to screaming little girl running for his life. Hilarious to see, but not so good for my confidence that he can suck it up and take a shot like a man.
I believe that animals can sense when we are upset or nervous, angry or happy - so I've no doubt that my first attempt at injecting Bane was made worse by the overwhelming feeling I had to run out of the room crying and hide under my blanky. Here's a step by step guide of how not to inject your dog with insulin, it also happens to be exactly what happened with my first attempt:
Fill up needle to required dosage.
Put Bane on lap.
Pull up skin in tent-like shape.
Get needle in.
Bane wiggles and yelps, needle comes out.
Wiggle and Yelp.
Wiggle and Yelp.
Bring Bane to Husband to hold.
Wiggle and Yelp.
Wiggle and Yelp.
Husband gets firmer grip.
Wiggle and Yelp.
Shot is in. I think.
Have complete nervous breakdown.
Just do it
Not a good first time, but hey, are first times ever really good? After this disastrous first attempt I begin to research how I can make this process less horrifying. To my dismay, I find very little on the Internet about dealing with difficulty giving dogs insulin shots. Finding this extremely discouraging, I then turned to sites dedicated to concerned parents having trouble injecting their children with insulin. After all, dogs are really just our furry children right? Having now developed a new plan of action here is my strategy.
1.) Suck it up! - Of course I had already thought I had been sucking it up by accepting that I had to give the shots, but this is obviously not enough. I have to truly accept that this is now my life, that I must be strong and confident. My weakness makes Bane weak, and that just makes it the experience harder for everyone and that is especially unfair to Bane.
2.) Accept that shots are a good thing - Not only do I have to remember that these shots are saving Bane's life, but I have to convince Bane that shot time is party time. Like "Hey, that's weird that my owner just poked me, but look at that delicious lean puperoni she is holding. Mmmmm medicine time = puperoni time, sweet!"
2.) Create a routine - By creating a routine and doing things the same every-time I can begin to get Bane and myself to not think twice about the shots. This is what happens twice a day, everyday at 7am and 7pm after meals. Feed, shot, puperoni, praise. This is the way it will be from now on.
That is what it took. 90 days of my husband putting Bane in a headlock twice a day to give him his shots before:
1.) I now handle a needle like a pro
2.) Bane takes it like a champ.
Throughout the first 90 days of our new arrangement, from time to time, I would attempt to give the shots to Bane by myself which always resulted in failure. Around the 90 day mark I tried again. I sat on the floor and placed Bane between my legs facing out, with his beloved puperoni on the floor in front of him where he could see it. I lifted his skin a little lower than normal, about shoulder area and popped that sucker in there with no problem. He got his treat and his praise and life went on. At first I thought it was a glass of wine, my liquid courage if you will, that had made the difference. But the very next morning, I let my husband sleep in and gave him his shot the same way I had the night before. He knew it was coming, because his back did this cute little twitchy thing that happens every time now, but he had accepted that this was what happened in his life, why fight it?
I too have accepted this as a part of my life. Is my needle phobia cured? Not exactly. I have now just disassociated the kind of needles that put stuff into our bodies from the ones that take stuff out. I am actually getting all queasy just thinking about getting my blood drawn, where's my blankey! I know it may seem a little strange, but this is what we as humans do, we adapt to our life and our environment. I have adapted my fear and Bane has adapted his tolerance to pokey things. And now we live happily ever after. The end.
Bane went to the big dog park in the sky on his own terms, barking and running laps around the house. He was an awesome dog and I miss him greatly.