Wednesday, July 19, 2006

animal ER

Zap and I arrived at the specialist via emergency admittance since otherwise they wouldn’t have had an appointment for us until Wednesday. She hadn’t responded to the fluids. After two days at our regular vet, her blood work was the same as when she arrived, i.e., she had sky high levels of bilirubin (the stuff that makes you jaundice). Things on the ultrasound looked abnormal but inconclusive.

I drove her 45 minutes north to more tests, to more unknowns, with a catheter in her back leg and a knot in my throat. They took Zappy back to hook her up and I waited around until the doctor had time to examine her and talk to me, though her “real” doctor would be in until the morning.

What I didn’t realize was that the specialists that were seeing us on an emergency admittance were THE emergency animal care facility for the area. I was in animal ER.

When I first took a seat in the waiting room, there was just one other woman there waiting for her dog to be released. My fellow waiter assured me unsolicited that they were “really good here.” Her dog had been hit by a car the night before. The nurse brought out a tiny little sedated thing with one of its legs wrapped, and the woman tucked her in a laundry basket and nodded nervously at the instructions on meds and hindquarter support.

Before she had the chance to leave, the room had begun to fill and the night swung into high gear.

A man rushed in carrying a beautiful white and carmel long hair dog about the size of a lab, tongue lolling. Ginger had gotten into some poison and arrived with 109 degree fever.

While Ginger headed for ICU, the receptionist hung up the phone and announced “We have a lethargic Rott coming in from Corralitos.” Next, Crinkle showed up – a terrier who had apparently rubbed a lab the wrong way and ended up with a bite out of his curly little ass. It looked painful to me, but Crinkle never made a word of complaint. The woman with the dog who was going home hugged Ginger’s dad and told him she’d put Ginger “in her prayer box.”

A black pick up stopped in front of the doors and a man attempted to lift what looked to be about 120+ pounds of Rottweiler out of the bed of the truck. Ginger’s dad offered to help. Even as sick as he was, Zeuss was imposing for the 30 seconds he stood in the lobby. That was all the time he could stand before he had to lie down again – a position his people said he’d been in for days – his massive head making a loud clunking sound as it met with the door jam.

Finally after about two hours, I spoke to a vet, got a quickie goodbye with Zap and drove home alone.

I don’t know why I’m writing all this. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to face what I now know. I could go on about the odd lighthouse theme in the waiting room, how the place you’d think would be covered in pictures of lizards cuddling with kittens was filled with paintings of craggy coastlines and red and white striped beacons. I could tell you how I really like Zappy’s “real” doctor that took care of her the next morning, or that Ginger’s fever had dropped to 103 by the time I left (though her bill was ever climbing). It was a tenser place than any medical office I’d ever been in. Emotions flowed freely and people were unafraid to reach out to one another. Animals bring us who we could be.

My Zap, my precious five-year-old little girl, has a terminal cancer.

She’s home with us now. And we’re so thrilled that she is. Maybe she’ll be here for a long time more, but things aren’t really in our favor. I want Isaac to remember her. I’ve asked her to please stay a while. Maybe if you know what a prayer box is, you could put her in it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

my babies

It was a Sunday and we’d made arrangements to visit. A woman walked in just after I did. I couldn’t see her from the room where I was, but I heard her announce quite unselfconsciously to the lab tech that she was here to see her daughter. I listened to her in the next room cooing and coddling her daughter, a cat named Spitfire, who was apparently pretty sick.

My Zap is at the kitty hospital. She’s lost weight, is really jaundiced and is on an IV to flush out her blood. We don’t know yet what else is wrong. This is awful.

They took her off the IV and brought her to us in one of the exam rooms, so I let Isaac come in and see her too. He was just happy to see his buddy, doesn’t really understand where she is. Although, when I told him we had to bring her to the doctor, he did bring her a blanket and try to take her temperature with the ear thermometer.

After about an hour with her, she ate a little. Then we had to leave.

The vet people kept saying the oddest things to me like, “She hasn’t shown any signs of distress,” and “She’s so well behaved!” Huh? Distress isn’t always the one who yowls and tries to scratch your eyes out. Well-behaved?? This is my concern? This will make me feel better?

We are so completely fucked up. This is exactly why I’ve wished for years that I would just collapse in the street when I felt the depression gripping my internal organs, shaking my rib cage like prison bars. The squeaky wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round, and the rest of us suffer in silence. Tell ourselves it couldn’t be “that bad” or someone else would surely notice.

My Zappy gets heart palpitations going to the vet on a well-check (literally). I don’t want her in there another night! She curls in on herself and stays like that. How can that kind of stress be good for recovery?

Well-behaved. I could have easily been at some back to school night somewhere = someday, some asshole teacher telling me my boy is “well-behaved” when no one has bothered to check in on what’s going on inside his precious little head, what triggers current trauma may be setting off, what he needs, whether or not he’s crying out.

In my dreams, Zap and Isaac are often interchangeable. At first, I will have to take Zap to school, then it is Isaac. Then, he is sick, but when I open the blanket it is my cat.

Later:
I’m just back from transferring Zap to a specialty clinic that is 45 minutes away. She wasn’t responding to the fluids. An ultrasound in the morning. More to come. I have to go to bed.

Friday, July 07, 2006


my swingin babe

I’m Baaaaach!

It’s that time of year again.

One of the local communities hosts a Bach Festival every summer, and it’s just around the corner. I don’t look forward to this event. In fact, I cringe just thinking about it. Don’t get me wrong; I mean I relish my fugues as much as the next person, but I just can’t tolerate the fervor surrounding the Bach Festival. And this year promises to take me even closer to what I dread, since I now work in newspaper.

Every year, the festival brings with it the most horrendous puns. There’s stuff like “Bach to the Future,” “I’ve Got Your Bach,” “It’s Bach On,” and, of course, “Bach and Roll.” Frankly, the puns are endless, simply endless. Have these journalists no shame??

As a poet, I run screaming away from clich√© and the too-cutesy play with words that is the trademark of newspaper headlines. Once again, I find myself straddling worlds. I’ll admit it: I’ve used phrases like “pull out all the stops” in my articles. But I have my limits. My editor still makes fun of me because I insist on calling my proposed headlines “titles.” Tomato. Tomahto.

I know nothing about journalism. That is to say, I feel that my approach to my stories, most of which are previews of theater productions, is one that keeps me safely out of the hands of excessively formulaic writing. And I strive for accuracy at all costs. There was that little slip regarding “cannon” (as in “1812 Overture,” boom boom stuff), and “canon” (as in from the theatrical tradition), but once the initial mortification wore off, I was fine.

As time goes on, however, I’m concerned they’ll get to me. What if some day I’m assigned to cover an annual musical festival? What if the deadline is tight and I’m just strapped for ideas, all my creativity having drained away between the time the oatmeal hit the floor and the CDs were found in the bathtub? What if I cave? Who will be there to bring me Bach?

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