Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Sequence of Events.

Kristal is now 17 weeks old and asserting herself in many directions... most of which incur a reprimand of one sort or another. She is, however, occasionally demonstrating an acute memory for places (she knows all the local coffee shops) and the names of several toys and will now SIT, STAY, WAIT, DOWN and LEAVE. All of this assumes you've got her to COME in the first place, and this is the stumbling block. Oh, she will come, but in her own good time. And when she does, she flies at you and almost bowls you over.

She's very distracted by creatures beneath the surface of the lawn which she just has to dig her way to. She's also developed a taste for apples and pears that fall from the trees in various stages of decomposition. Her insides must be cast iron because she shows no ill effects from scoffing all manner of unsavoury looking debris. A close inspection of her surprisingly well-formed stools indicates that a small pebble or two (horror of horrors), various parts of my kitchen chair (wood and cane), plastic plant pots in assorted colours, plumage from a medley of birds, remnants of plastic labels... all pass through unhindered. Well, she is a Labrador. I'm hoping that once her new teeth arrive she will become more selective.

I've been buying her a really hard shin bone from the pet shop and when we go to a coffee shop she will sit happily under the table chewing on this bone until the debris from the next table catches her eye.  These bones are not cheap and inadvertently we've left several under the tables at various coffee shops around town as we gather up our medley of toys, leads, jackets, dog bowl, water bottle etc to leave. I just haven't got the nerve to go around asking if I can have my bone back, please.

                                                       Working dog at work.

Gardening is one of Kristal's favourite activities. Seeing me dig is a license for her to dig. I have to choose plants that will survive an increasingly heavy footfall. She loves it when I rake up a pile of cuttings and leaves ready for picking up... it's an invitation to dive on top of the pile and scatter them everywhere.

                             There was no mention of this in my job description!

Her leadwork is coming along well. She will STEADY when I ask her to, slowing her pace to match mine. But she's just too friendly with passersby. She thinks everyone coming towards us is coming especially to greet her. I have to work on this because as she gets bigger it will be less 'cute' for those being greeted. 28kg of Labrador hurling herself at you is not fun. But trying to persuade the general public that they really will be doing Kristal a big training favour if they just ignore her is proving to be difficult.

Last week Kristal set in motion a sequence of events that was both scary and costly.   In a rare quiet moment, when we should have been alerted to the possibility of something untoward happening, but in all honesty we were so grateful for the fact that she was occupying herself without demanding our interaction, she discovered a sliver of wallpaper projecting from the wall and proceeded to see where it would end if she pulled on it. Well, it ended with us having to re-decorate, and that ended with a visit to hospital.  Read on...

Due to Kristal's innate curiosity, we spent three whole days painting a room, having emptied it of bookshelves, books and furniture beforehand. The last thing to be completed was the ceiling, which much coerced husband spent an entire day painting. At 5pm that day we went to John Lewis to buy some new cushions. On our return home we replaced the bookshelves and books and other pieces of furniture. Happy-to-see-the-end-of-the-job husband went into his office to do something on the computer.... e-Bay I think it was. When he emerged a few minutes later he asked, 'Why is all this stuff all over the place?' I replied to the effect that I had not yet got around to replacing everything in the room we'd painted. He asked, 'What room?' Somewhat irritated I responded, 'The room we've just spent three days painting.'  He went into the newly painted room and looked around completely gob-smacked. 'What... you're saying that I painted this room?'

To cut a long story short, he'd completely lost all memory of the three days of painting and the subsequent visit to John Lewis to buy cushions. There was no physical change in him and he could recall names, places and distant events so I was not really considering that he'd had a mini-stroke, although I was looking out for the crucial F.A.S.T. signs (face, arms, speech, time). He was just confused and kept asking the same questions over and over. 'Did I paint this?' And, 'Have we eaten yet?' After we'd eaten he could not remember what we'd eaten. I questioned and questioned him to try to drag memory back. Knowing how much he hates decorating, I thought he was kidding me, and he thought I was kidding him. When we both realized that neither of us was kidding it became a bit scary. By now it was late and we were considering bed. Next morning, he could recall everything perfectly but could not remember the experience of forgetting.

A trip to the GP resulted in an appointment with a specialist. But meanwhile I'd been on the internet and come up with TRANSIENT GLOBAL AMNESIA. The description given matched somewhat-relieved husband's experience exactly. Nothing to do with strokes. Not dangerous. No medication required. May or may not happen again. Often caused by excessive exertion (sex and swimming in cold water were prime examples given), usually affects people in the 50 to 70 age range.

Subsequently the specialist confirmed this diagnosis. He had had a case the day before of a man and wife who were moving house and the furniture was all in the van. The man went back into the house and re-appeared in shock stating that they'd been burgled. He could not remember the fact that they were moving or the packing up process.

So, Kristal's wall-paper stripping sparked a series of events that took us on an emotional roller-coaster. Had we not painted the room, would this have happened? Who knows. Did having his head bent backwards painting the ceiling have any effect on blood flow? The specialist was not convinced of this. So, much to husband's disappointment, he is not let off future painting and decorating chores.

What a strange organ the brain is, and how little we know about it. Wikipedia has a good description of TRANSIENT GLOBAL AMNESIA if you are interested, and there are several case studies retrievable via Google. One of the main features is that, once normal memory has returned, the person affected has no memory of what was said or done during the few hours that this experience lasts.  That means, and the specialist confirmed this, that all cases are reported via a second person. If there is no other person present, the victim/patient may be totally unaware that anything untoward has happened. Which begs the question.... so what if a crime is committed during this period?