No soon as I'd settled myself back at home in Aberdeen, than I was bundled into the car first thing Tuesday morning and told we were going on some sort of a 'special' visit to Glasgow.
I should have realised it was not going to be a good sort of 'special' when Gail refused to give me any breakfast.
After hours of driving, and some not very polite language from behind the steering wheel as we negotiated the complex tangle of city centre motorways, Gail pulled up on this rather unpromising looking street.
We then went for a short walk around the neighbourhood and for a moment I got quite excited when I spotted the famous Ibrox stadium, thinking perhaps we were headed for an 'Old Firm' football game, and wishing I knew the lyrics to 'The Sash'.
But then we turned around and I was directed up the steps of a fine sandstone terraced building.
And the reason for the 'special' trip became clear.
I confess, having seen the other patients in the waiting room, to being somewhat relieved when I was quickly ushered in to the office of dermatology specialist Peter Forsythe.
Gosh Mr Forsythe asked a lot of questions about my paws. He tried to examine the pads, although I was not too keen on that idea. He observed that I have very compact, dainty feet, well formed but with deeper clefts between the pads than is common, and this combined with the abundant wiry fur between the pads means that mud and dirt gets impacted (despite daily paw washes) and this is likely the root cause of my interdigital cysts.
He said it wasn't worthwhile testing for allergies as I didn't have any other symptoms of 'atopic dermatitis'.
He said a lot more stuff too, which I can't quite remember.
Then Gail abandoned me (again!) and things went a bit blurry for a couple of hours. On waking up, my paws felt oddly clean and bare, the fur between the pads having been trimmed away.
And so ended my 'special' day in Glasgow.
PS from Gail: Bertie's frequently recurring problem with inter-digital cysts prompted the regular vet in Aberdeen to refer Bertie to a dermatology specialist. I had expected the specialist to test Bertie for allergies, but he explained carefully why he thought that the problem lay elsewhere, saying that an allergic condition would affect more that just Bertie's feet, and in fact the rest of his skin is in great condition. So the current theory is that dirt combined with hair gets impacted in the deeper than normal clefts between Bertie's paw pads and 'foreign bodies' enter his feet causing an inflammation reaction which manifests itself as swellings (the so-called interdigital cysts) on the upper side of his paw. Until now, I had been concentrating on washing the upper side of Bertie's paws but the new instruction is to try to clean the undersides thoroughly too, still using the antimicrobial solution 'Hibiscrub' (containing chlorhexidine) as before. I am not confident that Bertie will cooperate with a routine of rigorous washing between his pads. We shall see… The situation will be reviewed again in a couple of months. I'm pleased to report that, at least for the moment, Bertie is walking fine and his paws are not swollen.
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