Christmas Eve sagas and nearly losing our dog to gastric torsion

Having spent most of the previous week up North running back and forward to the hospital visiting Mum and trying to get her transferred down here as the NHS shuts down from 21 December through to 7 January I am now way behind on the cooking and shopping.

All the cooking I was going to do to make up hampers for various members of the family has not happened - sorry guys, your hampers didn't get lost in the post, they just didn't power their way into existence. I spent the weekend running Splat Cooking's children's Christmas workshops and attempting to decorate various Christmas cakes - gave up and handed it over to the children.  Job done, excellent.

Now, Christmas Eve to me means getting the turkey and gammon, making up the cranberry stuff, making mince pies and getting things prepared for Christmas Day, oh, how could I forget - wrapping presents, losing presents, forgetting where I've hidden presents and realising the ones that didn't get delivered as I was too busy up North to actually do any proper shopping. The culmination of Christmas Eve is the crib service then the neighbours in for mince pies and mulled wine finishing up with our lovely friends Debbie and John coming for supper with their kids.

Stress level too high to go to the service, I send Pete and the kids off instead and get food ready, they come back around 4pm, take dogs out, feed dogs, clean kitchen floor ready for neighbours at 5pm.  Finally feeling Christmassy, two mugs of mulled wine definitely helps.  This is to go downhill rapidly......

Party in full swing, mulled wine going down by the gallon and at around 6pm our lovely Sidney, 2 year old black labrador, asks to go into the garden (he doesn't actually 'ask', he's a dog, he can't talk, but  he goes up to the back door and scrapes it with his paw) but he doesn't come back in, and 30 mins later he's still outside, laying on the lawn looking very unhappy, he doesn't come back in when we call him either.  Most of the guests have left so Pete goes out and lifts him up, he's drooling dreadfully, his head is hanging down and he's really unhappy.  We ring the vet.

We thought we'd gone past the days of one of us staying sober in case of an emergency with a child/toddler/baby as our youngest is 10, so we've both had too much mulled wine to drive - it's Christmas Eve for goodness sake, we're not intending driving for the next two days. We need to find some way of getting Sid to the vets, a 15 min drive away, taxi on Christmas Eve? Some hope.  So ring I Debbie, they're due over shortly, frantic message to get over here as quickly as possible, drop John and the kids, I'll cook if she drives Pete and Sid to the Vet Hospital, she's a doggy person and loves our Sid so no probs there.

I feed the rest of the tribe, at 9pm Pete calls to say that Sid has bloat and gastric torsion - if you've ever seen the film Marley and Me that's what Marley died from, this is a big killer in dogs.  Suddenly our world has turned upside down, it's Christmas Eve and our dog may die.  Pete and Debbie leave Sid at the vets for them to try and sort him out and come home, they leave at around 10pm, we get the children to bed with some sense of normality  feeling very scared that when they wake up on Christmas Day we may have to tell them that Sid has died - so awful, horrid Christmas present.

At 11pm the vet calls to say that she can't sort Sid out manually and will have to operate, she'll call us when he's out of theatre.  All I want for Christmas is for Sidney to get through this, I want my sweet little dog home.

At 2am she calls to say that he's survived surgery and that if he makes it through the next 48 hours he's got a good chance of surviving.  We don't get much sleep.  Christmas Day dawns with much excitement from the kids and Pete and I feeling so desperately upset it's really hard to keep a jolly face on, cooking the Christmas lunch was the hardest thing I've done.  Rang the surgery for an update at 5pm, Sid was doing OK, they were cross that I'd called and asked me not to call, they'd call us if there was any news.  I don't care, he's my dog, I'm paying, I want an update, I will revert to my Northern roots and punch your lights out unless you give me an update.

Boxing Day - panto, hmmm not quite as jolly as usual, wonder why?  Ring the vet, another telling off but they do say that he's taken a turn for the worse and is off his food and very lethargic - complete and total panic sets in, earlier reports were that he was doing well.

Thursday 27 Dec - I'm due to drive up to see Mum for a couple days, I have to leave by 10am in order to get up there for visiting at 3pm so at 9am we ring the vets for an update, he's in examination and they'll call back once he's been looked at.  I leave at 10am without hearing, at 11am I've just got onto the M1 when Pete calls to say that they're not happy with him, he's not doing at all well and they need to xray him to see what's happening.

I've now got the heartbreaking decision - my dog could die today, I want to be there if it happens as I want him to know that I'm there as well as Pete and the kids, I don't want my dog dying and wondering where I am and why I can't be with him.  I know this is a purely human response and emotion, I don't care, he's my dog and and I love him.  My Mum on the other hand is in good hands in hospital with no life threatening illness but who also needs my support, do I turn round and be with Sid or carry on to my Mum?  I carry on, in floods of tears doing 40 mph on the M1 in awful traffic.

Pete calls at 12 noon to say that they've changed his meds and are having to sedate him as he's wriggling too much to be able to xray him - a good sign, I stop sobbing quite so much and can see to drive now.

I arrive at James Cook Hospital at around 3.30pm, sit in the car waiting for Pete to call, I know if I go in to see Mum I am going to be useless, I'll take one look at her and dissolve in a ball of sobbing, tearful, heartbrokenness.  So I wait until Pete chases up the vet.......4pm he calls to say that Sid's fine, he's awake and licking all the nurses, I stop sobbing for the first time in 5 hours and go and see Mum.

I spend three days up North, nothing moves on, nothing happens, NHS is closed until next year.  Sid comes out of hospital and is there to greet me when I get home, my special Christmas miracle dog. Happy.