As someone with some experience in dealing with emergency situations there is still nothing that prepares you when you’re the one with the emergency. Earlier this week my dog Freya started acting strange, she wasn’t feeling well. I watched her as closely as I could and in the beginning it seemed that she might be dealing with a virus or something relatively minor, annoying but minor. As the days progressed she started showing more signs, lethargic, not eating, drinking a lot of water, but we’d take a walk and she’d seem to perk up a bit. Then she’d go back to sleep and during those periods she started becoming incontinent like everything else it started small a quick clean up, a brief walk to let her get rid any remaining waste and back to lounging, sleeping, drinking, but eating relatively little. Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning are my busiest time between the two jobs I work a schedule where I’m on 8 hours, off 11 hours, on 8 hours, off 4 hours, then on for 8 hours ending Friday morning at 7 a.m. in between I have to travel between work and home eat, take care of Freya and her needs, sleep and go to work. Definitely not ideal but sometimes in life you have to do what you have to do. It was during this period from Wednesday to Friday that things for her got worse. It became apparent that it was time for a vet visit on Thursday during my 4 hour break between jobs.
I got home around 6:15 pm and her hind quarters were matted in what I thought was dried urine (turns out is was most likely puss from an infection she was fighting off.) but she was standing up when I came in so I cleaned her up and took her for a walk. She was walking slow but steady and was eliminating properly when she went so I thought this must be the worse of it but as a precaution I started calling around to vets to see if anyone was open and willing to see her on short notice or schedule an appointment early Friday morning to bring her in. I also contacted a co-worker about covering my over-night shift by swapping it with her Saturday over night shift (currently Saturdays are my only day off.) I didn’t receive a reply so I made Freya as comfortable as possible and headed off for 8 grueling hours wondering how she was doing, wishing I was there just to comfort and watch over her. When my shift was over I hopped in the car and raced back home knowing she’d have to go out and that I’d had to get her in to be seen by a vet.
It was then when I got home and walked into the studio that I was hit by a strong sickly oder, and a silence that struck me with dread as I put down my gear and went to her crate. As I approached I could hear her labored breathing, like an asthmatic in an attack I knelt and opened her crate, she was lying there on her stomach with her head up looking at me as I coaxed her up and helped her out of the crate, took her to the bathroom to clean and assess her. Her lower half soaking wet I cleaned her while she stood up albeit shaking as I cleaned her. I grabbed her leash and led her slowly out of the our studio to the elevator. as we made our way to the elevator she evacuated urine on the floor of the hallway. I had the presence of mind to bring a roll of paper towels with me so a few quick wipes and it was cleaned up and we were on our way again. the elevator took forever to make the 3 floor trek to where we were, but soon we were at ground level working our way through the tangle of people coming and going on their way to and from work. I would have carried her, but she’s afraid of being carried even by me so I figured it was better to save that stress until we got to the car knowing I’d have to lift her up to the seat. I got her to the car put on her car harness. Normally she would be very excited about this. Car rides usually equaled adventures for her, visits to family and friends and like. Today though she stood patiently as I slipped on and secured the harness. There was a part of me that hoped she would have started jumping about, her lack of reaction only heighten my sense of urgency. I placed her carefully into the car secured her into the seat afraid that a fast stop might send her rolling on to the floor of the car.
I pulled out of the space and moved to an open space near the exit and grabbed my cellphone I had programmed the number on the previous night for the vet that was closest and had early hours. Someone answered and in my calm professional “police voice” I said; “Hello, I have a very sick 7-year-old female dog and need someone to look at her as soon as possible. Is there a vet available if I bring her in now, I’m just down the street” the person at the other end replied; “The Doctor won’t be in until 9 and there’s an appointment scheduled then but he could see her at 9:30.” “She’s very sick I need someone who could look at her as soon as possible.” I replied, with that the person on the phone after trifling on a bit about how I’d have to wait until at least 9 for the vet, recommended a hospital in Elmhurst where their doctors were already in. I put the car in gear and exited the lot dialing the number I had been given and started heading towards Elmhurst. Roosevelt road between Hillside and Elmhurst becomes a short expressway 1 traffic light between Wolf road in Hillside and the town of Villa Park maintaining highway speeds through the southern edge of Elmhurst. As I turned on to Roosevelt someone answered at the animal hospital, She sound young, very young. “I have a very sick dog, that needs medical attention as soon as possible” I said. “What’s wrong” the young woman asked. “Breathing difficulties, incontinence, distended abdomen, lethargic, minor tremors while standing” I replied I also added “I’m westbound on Roosevelt heading towards Route 83 whats the best way to you from here?” “Yes, definitely bring in her, I don’t know where that is from here..” she said; “We’re just off Frontage road on Riverside, if that helps.” “Thanks, I’ll find it be there in a couple of minutes” with that I hung up. I punched the gas and we at route 83 in a few minutes. Northbound 83 runs into Elmhurst so I figured good place to find a spot to pull over and attempt to locate this animal hospital. I also knew that Frontage road in Elmhurst would be skirting along an expressway like Route 83 or perhaps I88 which also runs through Elmhurst I reached the 1st light north of 83 and Roosevelt. I saw a sign directing drivers to it so I swung the car from the center lane on to it (fortunately, there was no one in the right lane!) the next intersection was Riverside and there was the Animal Hospital. I thought to myself; “Geezus this close to Roosevelt and 83 and the receptionist doesn’t know this…” but I swung into lot and parked as close to the doors as possible. I eased Freya out of the car and we walked slowly towards the building. I kept talking to her, telling her was being good and she would be getting help soon. I think it helped both of us, she likes when I talk to her and understands what being good means. The hospital is a new building well-lit by a large assortment of windows, it was very clean and the front desk was staffed by 3 to 4 young ladies talking to the various people also there with their pets. It only took a few minutes of waiting before Freya and I got our chance. I explained what was going to one of the women, she led us over to the scale and went to get vet. The vet came out and took a quick assessment of her and said they’d take her in back and examine her right away for me to have a seat. I opted for a smoke. Stepping back out into the warm sunny day the I finally had a moment to feel. To this point I had been maintaining my well-practiced professional emotional distance to what was going on in order to insure that no time was wasted with what, I did what I had to do, but now was a moment that I could assess myself, allow my fears and concerns regarding the condition of my best buddy, stalwart companion, and favorite goof-ball to manifest themselves. I don’t know how many cigarettes I smoked through clenched teeth, when the Doctor. came outside and said; “When you’re finished, I’ve finished my assessment.” “I’m done” with that I quickly crushed out the smoke and followed her back in.
We entered a small examination room, Freya was not there. The doctor typed a things into the computer station in the room and Freya’s x-rays appeared on the screen; “These are from Freya,” she said. “What are the swirl patterns, they appear to be fluid build-up? Are these her lungs?” My questions caught her off guard for second as if she wasn’t expecting me to see anything in the ghostly x-ray images. “No, that’s actually her uterus, it’s infected, in fact it’s filled with puss, she has a condition called Pyometra. We need to operate right away, remove the uterus, if we don’t the condition is fatal.”
“OK, do it” I said with no hesitation, she’s been my buddy though some dark times in my life and I’m not abandoning her now. The vet had some additional questions; “What are your feelings about humane euthanasia?” “No, unless there is absolutely no chance, even then I want to be contacted before.” “If, there are issues after the procedure I’ll deal with them then.” was my response. “OK, I’ll have them start prepping her, I’ll be right back.” with that she left the room. She came back a few minutes later with a piece of paper. We do need to discuss payment we have two projections on the low-end $1,100.00 on the high $2,100.00. The long and short of it. The quality of the surgery was going to depend on how much I could afford to pay. I explained to the vet that I didn’t get paid for a week but could get $1000.00 out of the bank and be back in about an hour. After a brief discussion regarding financing and other options. We decided to try to keep expenses down and I went to get the thousand. They waited to start until I got back. We had gotten there by 8, the surgery started at 10:30. I went home, I wasn’t going to be able to see her until the Saturday but the vet promised to call and let me know how the surgery went.