This last weekend was supposed to be a relaxing. And if you’ve read my other posts about plans, you know thing aren’t going to go as I thought they were.
I was going to go up to Duluth with friends on Saturday. One of the other people in my poker group lives there and it was his turn to host. We would return on Sunday. I would have some time to relax before going over to my mother-in-law’s to play pinochle. Instead I found myself confronted with a life or death question.
When I returned from Duluth, I found that Andrew had left. Lucy, our dog, hadn’t eaten her food that morning and had been eating grass when he took her out in the morning. After reading the note I discovered that Lucy had been vomiting all over the house. So, first things first, I started cleaning up. Everyone of the seventeen messes. In addition to the ones that were obviously dinner from the night before and the ones with grass from the morning there were several that were just white and frothy. Hmm, I thought as I cleaned, I better look that up on the internet when I finish.
That plan vanished when I saw Lucy sitting in the family room next to a new mess. Argh, I can’t keep up with her. I went to clean it up and found that there were three messes. And these were pink and frothy. Oh no! That’s from blood, I thought.
The internet told me that pink and frothy vomit was a symptom of congestive heart failure, which is what caused the death of the dog we had before, Ginny.
Crying along the way, I immediately took Lucy into the emergency veterinary clinic at the University of Minnesota that is close to where I live.
Once they had examined Lucy, they told me it looked like it was her gastrointestinal tract that was causing the problem. Her heart sounded strong. My relief quickly vanished when they said there could be something blocking her intestines. If that was the case, surgery would be needed to fix it. Then they told me that surgery would cost three to four thousand dollars.
As they took Lucy to x-ray to see if there was a blockage, I was left alone in the empty exam room. Alone with my thoughts.
I love Lucy, but could I justify spending that much money on a dog. At ten years old she probably has only a few years to go. Could I even afford that much?
They brought Lucy back. The x-rays had been sent to the radiologist for analysis, so it would probably be about a half hour before they had any news. From the doctor’s demeanor it felt like she already knew they would show something blocking her intestines.
I was left alone with Lucy. She laid down on the bench next to me, listlessly watching me as I pondered. Luckily there was a box of tissues in the room. I made use of them as I watched Lucy through my tears. Half an hour came and went. An hour came and went. Two hours came and went. Somewhere along the way I made the decision to pay for the surgery if it came to that. I also got in some exercise walking laps of the small exam room. If I walked slowly, I could stretch out the lap to twelve seconds.
Finally, the results came from radiology. They didn’t think the x-ray showed a blockage, although it wasn’t clear enough to know for sure. They would keep Lucy in the hospital overnight and keep her hydrated and give her pain medication. In the morning they might be able to tell if there were any changes.
It was some good news, but she wasn’t out of the woods yet. That evening I watched the news at my mother-in-law’s and it was all about the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. So much anguish and grief, so many families torn apart and all from two people who gave in to hatred and turned themselves over to evil.
That night as I laid in bed the thought struck me, how could I justify spending money on a dog when people were dying. If I could afford that money for Lucy, wouldn’t it be better to send it to an organization that is fighting to stop these senseless attacks?
That thought was still with me in morning. I was brushing my teeth and thinking about the stress-free weekend I was supposed to have. This stress has probably taken some time off my life, I thought.
Then I realized that for all the stress Lucy was causing at the moment, she’s been a faithful companion and has relieved a lot of stress just by being there. And aren’t there studies that show people with pets live longer than those without?
I suddenly felt relieved. It was ok to spend the money on Lucy. What person would not spend the money if there was a way to prolong their lives. We do it all the time, it didn’t make a difference if the money was being spent on a dog. It was the result that mattered.
I had my justification or rationalization for spending the money. I probably would have spent it in any case, but at least I could now do it without feeling guilty.
In the morning the clinic called and said there was no obstruction and that Lucy was doing better. Andrew and I went to visit Lucy in the evening.
They wanted to keep her another night to continue giving her fluids. But she was definitely better. The doctor we spoke to said that Lucy had gastroenteritis and they didn’t know the exact cause. So, an episode like this may happen again and maybe not.
I picked up Lucy the next day and she is now home taking it easy and reducing my stress just by being around. My life and death decision behind me.
In front of me lies a decision about what to do regarding the mass killings that are plaguing us. My brush with mortality over the weekend and my personal experience with losing someone has convinced me that it is time to stand up and do something.
It’s easy to lose hope in the midst of the carnage, but I am optimistic that things will get better. While some people give in to hatred and evil, most do not. There are millions of people who didn’t kill anyone this weekend. Millions of people who live lives of love and compassion. Unfortunately, some of them are no longer with us after this weekend. And for that we should all mourn.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.