Day to day events mostly cataloguing my complete lack of understanding and common sense!

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There is now a separate site with information on living in Bulgaria, including:

  • An introduction to Gostilitsa and all it has to offer
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Unfortunately I've been having an increasing number of problems with storage on this site, so I've decide to continue the diary section elsewhere. Click here for the link to the new site.  The old diary entries will remain here for anyone wishing to delve into the murky past

Tagged with "vet"
Wednesday 8th February, 2017
Category: 2017/02
Tags: Bella vet operation

Yikes! A couple of weeks ago the car went in for its radiator replacing, and whilst I waited in a cafe I began writing about my adventures of being stuck in the snow and having four guys come and push me out (it was the car that was stuck, not literally me - it would NOT take 4 guys to push me out despite all the Christmas food indulgences) and now that's already old news! So instead, I will regale you with news of Bella's operation which she had last Thursday - there, only a week behind.

As you may know, when I found her back in October she had an old leg injury which meant her foot was twisted inwards and she couldn't use it to walk on.

When I took her for neutering, the vet said he thought there was a good chance he could fix the leg by pinning it, which I planned to get done at the start of January. Of course all the perpetual snow put paid to that plan, but since time was marching on I decided to crack on with her treatment. Hence the failed attempt to drive my car up the steep track from the garage onto the road, and the need for rescue from passing villagers.

The vet works some days in Sevlievo, and that is where they have the better facilities for x-rays etc, so last Thursday we had an appointment there for 12.30.  Bella dutifully had nothing to eat the night before, and no water in the morning, but, not being 100% sure of where to go, I decided we'd go in the morning, giving me a chance to confirm where the vet office was and also get some shopping done.

I had one stab at finding the place (with the aid of the satnav) but it just looked like a housing estate with blocks of flats and no shops, so after a quick circuit back into town I finished shopping and then had a second run at finding the vet. This time, at the blocks of flats, I accosted a passing woman and as luck would have it, she'd actually taken her cat to the vet when it fell from her apartment last summer (thankfully the cat survived, albeit with only 8 lives intact) and so she jumped in the car to show me where it was.

It turned out I'd got the right area but it was behind all the flats and not obvious from the main road. Once there I took Bella in and met Momchil, the vet who works there. Dimiter (the Dryanovo vet I usually see) arrived shortly thereafter and we took Bella into the back room for the x-ray.

Now I'd assumed they would give her some sort of sedative to relax her, but no, they just tried to manhandle her onto the mat amidst my warnings that she could bite (which Dimiter already knows only too well). Of course Bella was having none of this and began snapping at them. Dimiter went off and returned with a bit of bandage which he used to tie her mouth shut, and then they tried to lay her down again. Within two seconds Bella had removed the muzzle, sunk her teeth into Momchil's hand and then weed and pooped all over the mat in fright. Poor dog!

More bandages were brought out and between the three of us we got Bella onto the cleaned mat and I held her bad leg still while Momchil x-rayed it. I noticed how the two vets both wore protective jackets because of the radiation, but didn't offer anything to me. Hope I've not had a Hulk-like overdose of radiation.

They discussed the x-ray whilst Bella and I waited in the waiting room, and then came out with their decision. Dimiter said that originally Bella's leg had been an open break (can you imagine having a broken arm with the bone sticking out and just dealing with it) but that they could operate, tidy the broken ends, and use a metal plate to twist the bones straight again. The problem would be that because of the age of the injury, Bella's tendons are now very short and rigid and the leg will be shorter than the other one, and she might never gain enough flexibility to use the paw properly. There is a physiotherapist though who will come to your house and do the necessary exercises, so I said that while ever there was a chance Bella could regain the use of her leg it was worth the try. Dimiter then gave Bella the anaesthetic and as she dozed off he began to shave her leg.

He said the op would take at least two hours, so I left her there, dashed home to unpack my shopping and put stuff in the freezer, grabbed a quick sandwich and then drove back to the vets. It was good timing because literally as I pulled onto the housing estate he phoned to say she was ready.

When I arrived he carried her into the waiting room where she lay on the floor, her leg still dripping blood. I was a bit shocked because I thought she'd have a plaster cast put on, but he'd just brought her out like that to show me what he'd done.

He showed me the photos taken during the operation of the plate inside her leg (gory) and pointed out the pin which was visible on her wrist. He then carried her back in to clip her nails and put a dressing on.  She didn't have a cast but just a tight bandage and then a plastic outer layer which supposedly had some sort of nasty taste to it to stop her trying to get at the wound.  He said it will take about 40 days for the wound and bone to heal and after that she could begin physio, though obviously I'd take her for another x-ray (God help us) first.  You could already see how the leg itself is now straighter:

Back home I managed to carry a wimpering Bella into the house and settled her on the rug where she dozed on and off for the rest of the day.  Alfie and the cats were all excited to come and visit her, though I suspect Alfie was more interested in the comfy cushions than his sick friend.

As Friday wore on I noticed that Bella's paw was looking quite swollen, so on Saturday I phoned Dimiter, and he told me to remove all the bandages. Bella was very patient as I gently snipped into the coverings and removed them a bit at a time, letting her have a quick lick at the bits which were stuck to her leg by dried blood.

As soon as it was all off she enjoyed a quick lick at the wound before I put a loose bit of clean bandage and an old sock round it for protection.

She seems happy enough at the moment, though disgraced herself by managing to get the sock and bandage off unbeknownst to me and licking the wound so much she made it look sore.  She is currently wearing the towel of shame to stop her getting at it.

To see Bella's story in all its gory details, click here.



Sunday 4th December, 2016
Category: 2016/12
Tags: weather Bella vet Christmas

That gleeful moment when you finish the handmade Christmas cards for this year and the letters to go in some of them! Giving Christmas cards isn't such a big thing amongst Bulgarians, so the shops tend to have an extremely limited selection which are the same year in year out, so I prefer to channel the remnants of teacher lurking deep inside and reach for the coloured card and glitter.  The stress of the approaching festive season has also been alleviated by a lovely invite for Christmas day, so I can now sit back and enjoy the coming events.

The British Ambassador is hosting a Christmas carols and mince pies do in Veliko Tarnovo on the 12th of December which has always been lovely in previous years as it's set in the Christmas market area with all the little Swiss cabin type stalls and twinkly lights. Then on the 15th a big group of us are going for lunch complete with some secret Santa gift giving.

I think in the last blog entry I mentioned the dense fog we'd had. Well that turned to snow this week, though only a sprinkling which melted after a couple of days. Whilst I was on my way down to walk the dogs by the stadium I was treated to an enormous skein of ducks or geese flying along and managed to film the last few moments. I'm no bird expert so I've no idea if they are just arriving or merely moving to another watering hole in the area, but they looked pretty impressive.

Click for video

Speaking of the stadium; here are some updates on the clean-up process.  All the shrubs which were growing up in the old seating area have been cleared:

And the remaining shrubs around the edge have been cut back. There are marker poles dotted around the border of what I guess was the running track, maybe to make the size of it visible at a glance:

Naturally work stopped with the bad weather, but to me it all looks ready for someone to come and inspect and decide what work needs doing to actually turn it back into a useable sports venue (unless that stage has already happened).

Bella was back at the vet on Friday to begin her vaccinations. Luckily the vet had forgiven her for biting him (he had quite a nasty scab on his thumb still) and had no qualms about injecting her.  Because she will be put up for adoption and possibly even rehomed abroad, she was also micro-chipped and given her EU passport. She has to go back on the 29th December for her rabies shots, and then in January I can start the process of getting her leg x-rayed and hopefully fixed.

Whilst I was at the vets I spoke to Emma who is doing amazing work in Dryanovo and the surrounding villages with catching stray dogs for neutering, tagging and treating. Many have already found new homes through her but unfortunately there is a small core of resistance to her work by local people. Whether it's politically motivated or what I don't know, but some are even going as far now as to try and get the vet closed down! How bad is that - and he's the only one in Dryanovo as far as I know. The excuse they are using is that the space he uses for operating isn't up to scratch, so Emma is now organising some refurbishment of the facilities to meet regulations. There is an appeal for materials such as a new sink, paint, cabinets etc, or, I guess, the funds to cover the purchase of these, and people are already willing to chip in and do the work, so hopefully any threats of closure will soon be a thing of the past.

Saturday 26th November, 2016
Category: 2016/11
Tags: dogs vet weather walks TV

The weather has become Novembery this week with cold nights and damp foggy days, a time for lighting the fire first thing in the morning, keeping a good stack of logs outside the door and swapping t-shirts for thermals and long socks. For a few days anyway.  The beauty of Bulgaria is that after maybe a week of greyness the sun will once more burst through, and it will feel like summer again with intense blue skies and bright rays warming your face.

My garden clearly thinks it's still summer judging by the number of flowers determined to keep blooming, including a delphinium that suddenly flowered again.

I took the dogs for a walk this morning across the fields and saw this rather spooky looking tree:

Gostilitsa or Sleepy Hollow?

Bella was taken to the vet last Friday to be spayed. She's still pretty nervous of people she doesn't know, and growled a bit when she saw the vet (or maybe Alfie had warned her that trips in the car are never for anything good). Whilst we were waiting for the anaesthetic to start kicking in the vet mentioned that her leg could probably be fixed by re-breaking it and pinning it, though it would need to be done at his Sevlievo practice where he has better facilities. What might that cost? I asked. It's quite expensive, he replied, as I braced myself for a bill of thousands of leva, about 200 leva. I'm still wondering if he actually meant 2000, but if he can really do it for a couple of hundred then that would be amazing.

Of course after Friday he might not want anything to do with Bella ever again. When I returned to collect her she'd already pretty much come round fully and was standing on the floor. The vet said he'd carry her back to the car before we settled the bill, and I led the way opening doors for him. Just as we got to the car Bella decided she'd had enough of this stranger who was holding her and suddenly took a massive snap at his hand, sinking her teeth in pretty deep. Not surprisingly he dropped her on the floor and went in to see to his hand which was pouring blood. I bundled Bella into the car and went in to try and appease a very annoyed vet who was trying to stem the flow of blood with dozens of swabs. After offering to take him to hospital I paid up and sidled away in embarrassment.

This is Bella back home. By the next day she seemed fully recovered (maybe the taste of blood perked her up) and was keen to get back out in the garden and of course to make up for the lack of food the day before.

Today I popped into the vet with a box of fancy biscuits and a card by way of apology. He wasn't there but the assistant knew all about the injury. Apparently he's struggled to do injections all week because of the pain in his thumb. Hopefully he'll forgive Bella - we'll find out this week when I take her down for her vaccinations. Might need to borrow a muzzle!

The burgeoning dog walking group had another outing last week, quite a long walk this time - about 12km - from Gostilitsa to Burya along the ridge and back via the lake path. It was a nice sunny day though nippy towards the end as the sun began to set. The best bit for the dogs seems to be the huge puddles:

I don't mind if the weather stays a bit murky for a while because it gives me an excuse to play with my lovely new TV box which came this week. It's one of those things pre-loaded with thousands of films, box-sets, music etc., as well as giving access to live TV channels. I'm completely in love with it! Now I can watch whatever I want on the TV screen without needing to have the laptop on. Bring on the telly addiction.

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