Friday, February 08, 2008

The Muffin Saga, Part IX, & a Thank You

Muffin was standing on the futon beside me, licking the perspiration from my face, each time I surfaced into consciousness. I was terribly thirsty. Somehow, with Muffin beside me, I rose from the bed and climbed the steps from my mother’s basement to the kitchen where I drank water—lots of water. Then I staggered down the stairs, climbed back onto the futon, replaced the CPAP mask, and again fell asleep. The process was repeated I don’t know how many times over two and a half days. Each time I returned to consciousness, Muffin was beside me.

It had begun the day after New Year 1998. Since I’d returned to Louisville I had assumed from my Uncle John the responsibility for the care of my 89-year-old Aunt Lill. She had been in and out of nursing homes during the years I had been living in Missouri and Indiana. Uncle John, her youngest and only surviving brother, had arranged for 24/7 care takers in her home from an ever changing group he found through newspaper ads.

I would visit Aunt Lill a couple of times a week, doing her grocery shopping, arranging visits to her doctors, doing her banking, and being with her at times when her caretaker took time off. My relatives, including my mother, also visited her.

There had always conflict between Aunt Lill and the caretakers. Finally I decided that a job description needed to be developed for the caretaker to define duties and expectations on the part of both my aunt and her employee. So on January 2nd I informed her current caretaker that we would negotiate a job description after I returned from making a trip to the grocery. When I returned to Aunt Lill’s house, I found the woman had packed her car with her belonging and was sitting in it in the driveway. As I got out of my car, she yelled, “Your uncle said I’d be paid under the table. I’m not staying.” She drove away.

I was in a conundrum! I had no caretaker for Aunt Lill. So I began calling agencies listed in the Yellow Pages until I found one who said they could supply a caretaker immediately. The owner, who was also the intake worker, came to my aunt’s house and we signed a contract. I was told that the caretaker would arrive in a few hours. She didn’t.

Through whatever mess up the agency had, over the next three days no caretaker arrived, although I was promised time and time again that one was on the way. Meanwhile, I couldn’t leave my aunt alone, nor could I provide her with adequate care. For example, she would not allow me, whose diaper she had changed fifty or so years before, to change her diaper.

I could find no relatives to help with her care. And, without the CPAP, I wasn’t able to sleep. By the third day I was ill—seriously ill. My mother reluctantly agreed to exchange places with me. When I returned to my apartment in Mom’s basement, Muffin greeted me with obvious joy. Exhausted, I collapsed on the futon.

I have no idea how long I slept, but when I awoke I was shaking and covered in perspiration. Muffin was beside me, licking the perspiration from my face. Muffin stayed at my side. She was always there when I awoke, nursing me with all of the doggy skills she possessed. But my mind wasn’t working. I knew I was ill, but I didn’t know what to do about it. With Muffin at my side, I managed to make it up the stairs, drink water, take Tylenol, and use the bathroom. Muffin never left me.

At some point I located a thermometer in my mother’s medicine cabinet. My temperature was 104 (F). I was getting sicker each day.

By the third day I knew I had to do something. So I staggered to my car and somehow (the medical folks were amazed) drove the four or five miles to a 24-hour emergency medical center. At the center I sat in the waiting room for about an hour and a half before being seen. Of course, I was unconscious during most of the wait.

Within minutes of entering the examining room, I was hooked up to oxygen and an ambulance was called to transport me to hospital. I had an acute case of double pneumonia and was hospitalized for eight days, a remarkably long period I am told.

Meanwhile the care providers finally located someone to stay with Aunt Lill and my mother returned home. Muffin, however, was beside her doggy self. She refused to climb the stairs from my mom’s basement, she refused to go outside, she refused to eat. What she did do was whimper and howl continually. Evidently Muffin, my caretaker, was concerned about me. My mother finally telephoned my wife, who came to her house and calmed and fed Muffin.

When I returned from hospital Muffin greeted me as I imagine the Father greeted his Prodigal Son. And I greeted her as I imagine the Man Who Was Robbed greeted the Good Samaritan.

The Muffin Saga will continue. There are still quite a few Muffin stories to share.

The Muffin Saga

The Muffin Saga, Part I

The Muffin Saga, Part II

The Muffin Saga, Part III

The Muffin Saga, Part IV

The MUffin Saga, Part V

The Muffin Saga, Part VI

The Muffin Saga, Part VII

The Muffin Saga, Part VIII

My thanks to Bradley at The Egel Nest for presenting me with this lovely award:


  1. Muffin and you shared the ups and downs of life for many years, Mr. Nick. She was a faithful companion! I have enjoyed reading the Muffin Saga and look forward to more.

    Have a wonderful weekend.



  2. Muffin, is a hero, as are you....

    A touching story ((((Saintly)))


  3. ps.... thats a gorgious and well deserved award, just dont let Alex get hold of that bird :) or it will just be feathers...


  4. Man, you've had your share of 'rain' haven't you. I do believe there's a best seller in this Muffin Saga.

  5. Nick,
    I hope your health has improved of late.
    I haven't had the opportunity recently to read the Muffin Saga, so forgive me, but I will have to get to it at another time.
    I don't know if you've seen the little YouTube video I have on my blog right now, but even if you have, it's worth watching again.
    You've missed a few poems and things -- one serious one that I particularly like called, "Snow Upon Snow". Stop in when you can.

  6. Muffin amazes me more with each part I read.

  7. Whew ! I finally got caught up ! I've been off line for the past week and I've misse so much ! Muffin was such a wonderful friend and comfort, wasn't she? Whenever, I can sneak away for an afternoon nap, all five of my dogs feel the need to pile into bed with me. My oldest male, Peter has a funny little sixth sense of KNOWING If I am in any sort of pain. Wherever my pain might be, stomach, ear, leg, etc, he will gently lay his head on the exact spot and become my warm, furry heating pad !! My family has often joked that if anything should happen to me, and if they had to call for help, they would have to request that they send animal control along with the EMTs, because the dogs wouldn't allow anyone to take me away from them !!!
    I am constantly amazed at the depth of love and loyalty that God has put into the hearts of dogs.
    Take care,

  8. Muffin was definitely a very good friend.

  9. Hi Nick ~~ Enjoyed the latest Muffin saga. Glad you got over that serious illness and your aunt finally got caretakers. How is your Mother these days? I hope she is well.
    I think you may have missed the award I passed on to you last post. It is You make the world a better place, so Please pop by and copy it.The weather here has been much kinder~ a few days of mid 20sC about mid 70 F. The tornadoes must be a constant worry in the U.S.
    Thankfully we don't have them here.
    Take care, my friend, Refards,Merle

  10. I'm catching up on all the muffin stories!! as a dog lover myself (as you well know), these are especially touching to me-just how much our pets can heal and help us.

    btw, I totally dig your comment about lent.

  11. dogs are amazingly loyal. i love hearing your muffin stories!

  12. Muffin seems as wonderful a friend as Alex is. I wonder if you have been lucky with animal friends or if your animal friends respond to your love with their love.

  13. i think i luv muffin as much as i luv alex

  14. Pets are so faithful, aren't they, Nick? Little Muffin was obviously so worried about you, but I think she passed on her willpower enough to you to get yourself to hospital.

    Amazing story, and I'm so happy it turned out well...there could have been tragic circumstances for both you and your aunt.

  15. He was a wonderful dog!

    But how sad old age can be.

  16. You would think that a passed-out perspiring short-of-breath patient would be bumped to the front of the line! I'm glad you recovered. The blogosphere just wouldn't be the same without you.

    I'm reminded of a Will Roger's quote: "If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."

  17. MS. RENIE: You have well described my relationship with Muffin. My memories of her bring smiles to me.

    MARMITE TOASTY: Yes, I agree, Muffin was heroic is many ways and at many times, some of which I’ve yet to share.

    RIMSHOT: Rather than ‘rain’ in my life, I like to think of those times as ‘downs’ to be followed by ‘ups.’ I’m happy that Muffin was around to help me though some of them and Alex is now around to ne with me through more of them.

    CAROL: Muffin was quite lovable, not to mention, as my sons said, a “babe magnet.”

  18. POETKAT: I did get by last night and read (I think) all of your posts that I missed. Quite good poetry there!

    ABBY: Yes, Muffin was quite amazing.

    ENOLA: There were many times during the fourteen or so years we were together that I was thankful for Muffin.

    AUBURN HAIRED ARTIST: I’m glad you’re back in contact. Yes, Muffin was just like that: she knew I was hurting sometimes before I realized that I was hurting.

  19. AZSONOFAGUN: Yes, she was.

    MERLE: Yes, I missed the award you gave me. So I have since gone back and picked it up. Thank you, Merle.

    DANDELION SEEDS: I hope you enjoy the Muffin Saga; she was quite a dog. The comment I left about Lent is the way I have always seen, practiced, and taught the season. Thank you for bringing in to my mind. I’m considering a future blog post based on it.

    MAXXO: Thank you. You know, retrieving those memories of Muffin has been quite therapeutic for me.

  20. CHINA GIRL: I have no idea what I’ve been blessed with such wonderful animal friends. They go all the way back to Boo-Boo, the dog my family had when I was a toddler.

    JODY: Yes, both are lovable animals.

    PUSS-IN-BOOTS: I believe you are right. Had Muffin not be with me, I don’t think I would have survived.

    LIZ: True. Muffin was wonderful. There are still times that I miss her.

    THOMAS: I know. It must be the way hospitals work. Not only did I have to wait so long, but when I signed in I had to prove that I could pay for the medical services.

  21. I've been enjoying this series so much. What a sweet being Muffin was.

  22. I, too, am enjoying this series about Muffin so very much.

    But I have to say, these stories sure do tug at my heartstrings!!

    Be well, Nick!


  23. The Muffin stories make me want a dog!

  24. Yea, I had me a Muffin Saga in reserve that I did not even know about. What a wonderful companion Muffin was. It is amazing the capacity an animal has to fend for us and brighten our spirits.