Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Delicate Flower, The Emergency Vet, and Patience

Two nights ago, I experienced enough stress in one evening to last me for... well, forever.  (That may be a little overdramatic, but the night is still fresh enough in my mind for that to seem true.)

Now earlier I mentioned I have a dog.  I told you he is ridiculous and funny and smelly and has a penchant for home un-improvement.  I failed to mention he is also a delicate flower-- a walking, slobbering, itching genetic disaster.  He is equal parts adorable and allergic.  He is allergic to all the same things I am and they are all things that you cannot avoid, like dust mites, grass, weeds, and mold.  (The similarities in our allergies are so great that I have come to the conclusion that he and I are distant blood relatives.)  When not medicated and left to his own devices, my dog would literally claw his fur and sometimes skin right off his body.  He spends countless hours finding the perfect place to rub his back-- on the carpet, against the tv stand, on the low window sill-- so he can scratch the itch he can't reach.  It makes me laugh and feel sorry for him at the same time.

My delicate flower is also put together in such a way that he cannot hope to scratch his own backside.  He can't reach anything from the bottom of his ribcage to his tail.  This is great for us in the puppy love department!  I never have to wonder where his mouth has been right before he licks my face.  But because he can't reach his butt, this is the body part Buddy presents to you when he wants to be petted.  He comes racing toward you, looking so happy to see you, only to run right past and then stop so that you're looking at only his corkscrewed tail!  The look on his face as he glances over his shoulder says only one thing-- PLEASE!!!!  And you know just how itchy he is back there when you scratch him because he just melts into a puddle on the floor and makes a purring sound.

After trying an arsenal of meds to stop the itching, my vet and I have finally resorted to allergy shots for Buddy, which I administer at home.  For the first 31 days of allergy shots, Buddy got an injection every other day and everything was fine.  (For those that are unfamiliar with allergy shots, the idea is to inject into your body the very thing you are allergic in hope of building a resistance to it.  You gradually build up the amount you inject over time in hope of delaying your reaction to the substance for longer and longer periods of time.)  After the shot on the 31st day, we were scheduled to wait 10 days before giving the next shot.  On day 41, I gave Buddy his next shot and nothing happened-- at first.

Now let me digress for a moment and talk about shots in relation to my kids.  My kids are terrified of needles and shots.  For the first 3 weeks of giving shots to the dog, my kids couldn't even watch.  They would running screaming from the room, in a total panic that somehow that needle may accidentally end up in them.  My Birdie loves to point out that shots are just a way for grown ups to stab children with little hollow tubes and get away with it.  You can imagine what going to the flu shot clinic is like with my gang.  I usually feel the need to take some sort of apology gift (like hard liquor) to the nurse that's lucky enough to draw our number.  It is guaranteed that she/he and I both are going to get called all sorts of lovely names and be accused of a number of inhumane acts in the two minutes it take to inoculate my children.

After the first three weeks of the dog's shots, the girls were able to at least be in the same room while the shot was administered.  Princess even got brave enough to touch the syringe a couple of times but she jerked her hand away like she had just touched a hot poker.  Small steps.

Back to the drama... About an hour after I gave the dog his shot, it was dinner time for the whole family.  We filled Buddy's food bowl, gave it a shake, and nothing happened.  Normally the sound of kibble rattling around in his bowl is all it takes to get Buddy to come running to the kitchen full-tilt.  Actually, this sound is about the only thing that ever gets buddy moving faster than a mosey.  My first thought was "great, someone let him into the bathroom and he's eating trash again."  I decide to get the kids settled into their dinner before I go to clean up the inevitably messy bathroom.  Once the kids are eating, I head into the living room toward the bathroom when I find my dog lying in the floor panting and looking miserable.  Oh crap!  And I find puddles of vomit-- please say it ain't so.

At first, I didn't associate finding my dog like this with his shots.  Often times Buddy's home renovation projects lead to him accidentally ingesting something that makes him puke.  Never has it led to disinterest in food, however.  He wouldn't move.  He seemed wobbly.  He refused my offer of people food.  OH GOD HE IS GOING TO DIE!  I felt fear coursing through my veins and I wanted to cry.  I called my vet immediately, trying to sound reasonable and calm and not like the drama queen I felt like.  I spent ten minutes describing my furry friends condition to the vet tech.  As I am about to hang up and take him to the vet, Buddy let go of a burp that would put the most seasoned frat boy to shame, followed by an equally disgusting fart.  He immediately jumped up off the floor and ran to his food bowl and ate!  What the?!!  The vet tech and I concluded it was just serious gas and let it go.  Crisis averted.  Yeah right.

Around seven o'clock I noticed that Buddy's face was getting really red.  This isn't all that uncommon for Allergy Boy and usually a dose of Benadryl fixes him right up.  I was in the process of getting the girls ready for bed, so I made a mental note to medicate him once everyone else was squared away for the night.  Twenty minutes later, I return to the living room to find that Buddy's face has started to swell.  He is starting to look like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade version of himself-- a few strings hang below his belly and the look would have been complete.  Panic set in again and I was still exhausted from Round One just an hour earlier.  Upon seeing the swollen face of my dog, my brain went into overdrive with so many thoughts at once.

1.  This is definitely an allergic reaction!  If his face is swelling now, what else is going to swell?!
2.  It is 15 minutes until the girls' bedtime-- on a school night!  I don't have time to take this stinking dog anywhere!  I am setting my girls up for disaster at school if I take them somewhere now!  Heaven knows when we'll get back!
3.  If this dog dies because I gave him a shot, my kids will never EVER agree to getting a shot again.! (Not that they agree to shots now.)  I will forever be the person that KILLED THE DOG WITH A SHOT!

And on that note, we get into the car and head for the emergency vet-- 10 minutes past my girls' bedtime on a school night.  I made a mental note at this point to send chocolate to the girls' teachers tomorrow-- they were going to deserve it.

The entire twenty minute drive to the vet, my mind sailed a million miles a minute through all the horrible things that were going to result from this late night excursion.  Princess is not going to get her beauty rest and will probably do something to warrant suspension from school tomorrow.  Birdie is going to be ultra sensitive without enough sleep.  The dog is going to die if I don't get there in time and then I will have a whole different set of problems.  The girls are going to be whining and crying and anxious when we get there and will turn the vet's waiting room into a three-ring circus.  Where on God's green earth is my husband when I need him?!  Oh yeah-- he's out of the country for work. AAAAAAAHHH!

But when we arrived, something miraculous happened.  My angels remained calm and patient and sat quietly in the waiting room.  They did not whine or fight or meltdown.  I was able to speak with the vet without interruption or drama from them.  They acted so mature and maintained their composure so well.  I was taken totally by surprise!  In the midst of my worry for my Buddy's well being, I was overwhelmed with pride in my children.  At crunch time, when I most needed them to come through for me in the behavior department, they did!  Woo hoo!  I started to tear up a little with the pride I was feeling and the vet reassured my that the dog would be fine.  Oh yeah-- the dog, that's why we are here.  Maybe some of the tears were for him too-- the straw that broke the camel's back.

We got back home just after 10pm-- two and a half hours after bedtime-- with a rapidly deflating dog that is now literally worth his weight in gold, two very tired children, and one emotionally exhausted mama.  Whew.  The hardest part was over and relief flooded through me.  All that was left for me to do was to cross my fingers for the girls's teachers and find that chocolate I was going to owe them, but that could wait til morning.

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