The following is an overview of Miles’ month of recovery after being seriously injured on July 30th, 2013. You can catch up on the backstory here. This August was a big month for us. Miles had survived a near-death experience, and the intensive aftercare (read more about it here) alone lasted nearly 3 weeks. At the bottom of the post, I have included my thoughts on many aspects of recovery.
Relief & Open Wounds
A Second Summer Travel Attempt
Up until the last minute, I wasn’t sure if we’d go with my parents on a little road trip we’d planned a few months before Miles was injured. I ended up deciding a change of scenery during this stage of his recovery might be a good thing. His wounds were just beginning to close, and because he still couldn’t really play outdoors, I figured the exercise of walking around a different city would be good for us. You know how they say bad things come in threes? Well, I am not superstitious, but the trip wasn’t great for my parents. My dad, who has a stomach of steel, endured a nasty stomach ordeal, and, to top things off, my mom badly broke her arm. The morning after our arrival, everyone but me was injured or sick!
Notes on Recovery
This is how I see it —
First, the body and mind put all energy into survival. When the coast is clear, all energy begins to go toward physical healing. Once the physical healing process is well underway, there then becomes space for the stress to hit, and the body goes through a whole new set of stress-induced side effects.
I think humans often misjudge the emotional impact of trauma on other animals (for so long humans did not believe other animals even experienced pain!), because other creatures show pain and stress much differently than we do. Sometimes an animal will be in great pain and will be highly stressed, but will act relatively normally, to human eyes. Acting as normally as possible when they are injured is critical to their survival. Weakness attracts predators, competitors, and scavengers. Most other animals don’t even begin to really show how stressed they are until they are well into the later stages of recovery (or worse yet, critical illness). Humans are probably the only species that sometimes can have the luxury of showing how we really feel. That is right — showing pain and/or stress is a luxury in the greater world of animals. A very, very great luxury.
Having worked with all sorts of animals, I am familiar with the way in which many other species hide pain and stress — and how serious the impact of stress can be for any of us animals. Therefore, I knew Miles’ recovery would not be over when his wounds closed.