Lessons from the swollen discomfort of Sgt Beans

July 22, 2008

This blog is from my thoughts after Sgt Beans, our black labrador went through some horrifying ordeal in his doggy life. I could have entitled this blog as it is, but I would rather have the real point come across better than the illustration covering the event.

Sgt Beans developed a swelling in his testicles. It started out just his testicles turning red – and in a couple of days, got really swollen. Alarmed, I sent sms to two of the vets in the area and asked them what could have possibly caused his testicles to swell like that. They only answered “please take him here so we could inspect.”

Undeterred, I asked a veterinary student about Sgt Beans’ condition. He said something about a virus which I checked online, and then got me really scared. The virus could spread even to humans. I sent another sms to our vet and asked if it was possible for my labrador to have contracted such virus, he just simply said, “please come and I will have a look.”

Gave Beans a gentle bath and really avoided bumping his swollen parts. And once dried up, took him to the vet (which was thankfully, less than 5 minutes away).

Dr. Hernandez just got done with an eye operation on a small fuzzy dog, I can’t recall the breed right now. He motioned for us to get inside the room and we did. Beans was his friendly amiable self until Dr. Hernandez asked me to put a muzzle on Beans. I did not even know how to use it. Beans struggled and when I gave him my stern command, he didn’t resist – but I could hear the muffled, resistant groan.

And this was where we heard the first judgment.

“This is the first time I have seen a labrador growl at his master”. Dr Hernandez said. “This has never happened before…” My wife and I didnt say anything at that time but hours after the vet visit, we were able to process how that statement also affected us.

We carried Beans to the metal table. He had stopped struggling ( I thought the muzzle was too small for him…) and Dr. Hernandez inspected Beans’ testicles.

There it was. The wound that got really infected. There was a clear line of broken scrotal sac and it was red and bluish and gory looking. He gave Beans 3 injections and gave us some clear instructions. We were supposed to get him an Elizabethan collar so that he will not be able to lick his wounds especially after the medication has been applied ( 2x a day). But the collar Beans need would be a size 25 and the biggest they had at the clinic was 15.

Off we went. We were just thankful that it was not that virus that was texted to me. Got him some ointment antibiotics, betadine and a regular antibiotics.

The first night, Wifey tried to make an Elizabethan collar that would fit Bean’s neck. I’ve got to hand it to Wifey. She talked with Beans. Gave him pellets as reward until the makeshift elizabethan collar was already around his neck. Perfect.

But we could not staple it together and the cardboard material would bend every time Beans would slump his body on the floor. It wasn’t just working. It was also difficult to put the Betadine on his scrotal wounds because he would just try to get away from me. I was feeling really flustered already but I knew it had to be done.

The following day was a great day. I could see right away that the redness of the swelling has dissipated a bit and his testicles has started to shrink. Not much but it was noticeably smaller than the previous day. And it got easier to apply the Betadine on his testicles and then the antibiotic ointment.

Now he does not even get afraid of the cotton balls and the betadine liquid. The tube of antibiotic is no longer a fearful thing for him. I have actually taught him to raise one of his legs when I would say “raise leg, raise leg” – he would lift his leg a bit to give me room or would allow me to lift his leg so I can put the medication.

Starting the other day, he would just playfully lie on his back and just would allow me to put medication on his testicles. And every time I would apply medication on Beans, I would always hear myself defending Beans from the comments of Dr. Hernandez.

Here are my insights from that comment and the life application that I could glean from.

1. He was in so much pain yet he could not properly communicate it to us.

In a lot of pain, muzzle over his face, pain in his testicles and my dog was being judged for indicating he did not like what was happening to him.

People who are in pain do not necessarily know how to communicate their pain. All they know is that many times, the discomfort is too much that it saps their energies to be engaged in small banter or meaningful discussions about things that do not concern them. And perhaps, many people around them have trivialized their pain – that is why many of them would rather be quiet.

2. He has never worn a muzzle in his whole life and just putting it on a dog would be enough for them to be threaten esp in an environment that they are not used to.

Sometimes unknowingly, we put muzzles over the people who are in pain because we do not know how to draw them out. Or maybe we are already tired and worn out from listening and have entered the compassion fatigue phase. We would rather put a muzzle on them because we could not endure another moment of hearing the same pain rehearsed before our ears. We just do not want to be affected anymore – thus their pain becomes theirs to bear alone, even when we are in their company.

3. If you have swollen body parts, the last thing you would want is to have someone closely inspect it and poke it. And yes, the medications? They may be good for him, but they do sting. Sometime people just wipe you with medications without really caring if it stings or not.

I remember during one of my Masteral classes in Counseling, our professor reminded us that ” you will know the counseling theories and you will know how to apply them. I hope that even you will not be so good as to just rip a person’s mask off without even hearing it rip.”

We can get to be too clinical when addressing their pain.

Or there are times when we become too spiritual that, as we address their wounds, they feel judged as well.

In helping people deal with their most private pain, we may know what is good for them or what medications to use. Please be gentle because even the most beneficial medicines do sting early on in the treatment process.

Sgt Beans is healing well. I had just applied Betadine and then the antibiotics on him. He was steady and still as I applied the medication, waiting for me to finish. Once done, I gave the command “House” and he walked straight to his house. Sgt. Beans was not a spoiled dog as my vet had judged him to be. He was simply in a lot of pain that was very difficult for a young, and playful male labrador to deal with.

Next time you are around a person who is in pain? Remember Sgt Beans and be very gentle when you deal with their private pains.


4 Responses to “Lessons from the swollen discomfort of Sgt Beans”

  1. eugeniosadrao Says:

    Hi Rex,

    The labrador is very blessed to be on your care. The insights of relating Sgt Bean pain to human made me think that you were very considerate of me when you did not insist on me doing what I am not prepared to do —meeting old friends.

    Thanks for being a friend to me.

  2. oftherock Says:

    Eugenio, thanks for the blessing of your friendship as well.

    Take care!

  3. abinatividad Says:

    Go Beans Go! Get well soon.

  4. oftherock Says:

    Hello ABi,

    Beans is healing very well. And I checked on him today – he is back to his old Beanchi-boy-boy antics!

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