Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Low point

The last few days, yesterday in particular, have been one of the low points in my life. I hope by writing about it here I can relieve some of the heaviness on my heart.

Let me begin by saying that I've been sick. My cough got worse and worse over the weekend and then I started running a fever, so I finally gave in and saw the doctor at Urgent Care on Monday afternoon. I had (and still have) a bad case of bronchitis, and the doctor said I shouldn't have waited so long to get some help. He started me on a strong antibiotic with strict instructions to see my primary doctor later this week for a re-check. My oxygen levels were a little lower than normal, not dangerously so, but enough to give him some cause for concern. I felt really, really terrible.

In the middle of all this, we found out that our home warranty wasn't going to cover the latest repair to our air conditioning. It was going to be a huge expense to repair it (in the neighborhood of $1000) which we would be nuts to do for a 36 year old unit. So on Monday we also called a man that was highly recommended to us, and had a whole new HVAC installed. That cost us several thousand dollars, but at least it's done now.

So then while the guy was installing the new unit (and I was at the doctor) Gregg happened to be outside watching the dogs running around and barking at the workmen. Suddenly Ginger fell over, and when she got up, she was walking funny. Gregg's initial thought was that she had stepped into one of the holes they're forever digging in the back yard and had hurt her foot. But no, it was so much worse than that.

For the rest of the night, Ginger couldn't walk straight. She kept losing her balance, tilting her head to one side, and her eyes were darting around in a peculiar way, as if she couldn't see straight. In the middle of the night she vomited a couple of times. We were so scared. Gregg slept on the couch in the den beside her and watched her all night. I didn't get a bit of sleep, myself, between being scared for her and sick. I was up, showered, and waiting with her at the vet's office when they opened at 8am.

Our regular vet, Dr. Causey, is wonderful. I love and trust him and he takes wonderful care of our dogs. But Tuesdays are his day off, and a new young female vet was working instead. They took Ginger inside, and by the time I got the car parked, they were already bringing her back up front. The young (looking) girl holding Ginger's leash said, "We took her temperature and it's normal. This must be neurological, either a brain tumor or a stroke. Can you take her to the specialty animal hospital in Columbia? They do neurology and oncology there and that's the best place for her." I said, "Can I at least see a vet here first?" And she said, "I am a vet. I'm Dr. Harper." Well, my bad. I didn't know. So I said that sure, we could take Ginger to Columbia or wherever we needed to go. My heart was breaking and tears were streaming down my face. Dr. Harper said, "We'll call ahead and let them know you're coming" as she handed me directions. And just like that, she walked off. The office manager wasn't even looking my way, so I got her attention and said, "You'll make sure Ginger's records go out ahead of us? And you'll let them know we're coming?" and she said, "Yes, we will" and went back to her typing.

Guess what? They didn't call ahead.

So anyway  I raced home, calling Gregg on the way and telling him that we had to take Ginger to Columbia Veterinary Emergency Trauma Surgery which is about a 90 minute drive from here. I pulled into our driveway in full crisis mode to pick him up, Ginger drooling and panting in the backseat. George barked and whined at the gate as we pulled off and I felt so bad leaving him behind. He's utterly devoted to Ginger and he knew something was very, very wrong.

That drive was one of the worst experiences of my life. We were both convinced Ginger was going to die. This is the dog that showed up as a puppy on our back porch the year after we were married, and adopted us. The dog that was by Gregg's side every minute of every day for the 6 months he was out of work undergoing cancer surgery and chemotherapy. The dog that's as beloved as any human member of our family could ever possibly be. We both cried the whole way there. I'm not exaggerating when I say that that drive was a traumatic experience. At some point I remember thinking how glad I was that we had never had children, because life is just a long series of heartbreaks, one after another, and I wouldn't want to inflict that on another human being. I was in a bad, bad place.

But the story has a happy ending. Something I had Googled the night before turned out to be what was wrong with Ginger: Peripheral Vestibular Disease. Apparently it can sometimes be caused by an inner ear infection, which wasn't the case here, or it can just happen for unknown reasons. But the key thing is that it usually resolves itself completely over a period of a few days as long as all the dog's bloodwork comes back normal. And Ginger's bloodwork showed her to be remarkably healthy for a 12 year old dog. The only thing that hasn't come back yet are her thyroid panels, but everything else was superb and the vet said she expects Ginger to do very well. They told us to give her an over the counter human medicine for motion sickness once a day for 5 days and to have our primary vet do a follow up at the end of the week.

CVET was an amazing animal hospital. It's state of the art, offers all kinds of specialty animal medicine, and is open 24/7/365. I'm really happy to have it as a resource for future reference. The staff was incredible. But it was expensive....$725 altogether for blood tests and some fluids to rehydrate her. We could have had all that for half the cost at home, not to mention the truly awful car ride.....for a diagnosis I had found the night before with a 10 second Google search.

All because it was Dr. Causey's day off and the
new vet in the practice couldn't be bothered to give us more than 5 minutes of her time. I plan to have a good long talk with Dr. C. when I take Ginger for her follow up appointment later this week.

Of course I'm beyond grateful that she's probably going to be ok. When we got home with her yesterday we were both exhausted. We've been sick ourselves, and we had missed a whole night's sleep, and then with all the stress and was a horrible, horrible day. But at least our girl is still with us and expected to recover.

And then, right after we got home yesterday, there was this....

Oh, my heart. ❤

Georgie had his Ginger back.


  1. YAYZ for ginger!

    and YAYZ for a new air conditioner!

    now, missy, I want you to speak with the real vet AND I want you to get over your bronchitis quickly. I have chronic bronchitis myself and I know if I go past 2 days without seeing an MD I am asking for trouble.

    george is what's right with the world.

  2. I wish I could write like ann marie in philly

    Oh My Goodness. GINGER be strong and get better.
    First I am so happy to know Ginger and George are good and all is right with the world.

    Something happened like this with my Kirby and I let the assistant know what I thought of her and the office I had been going to for 15 years and what I thought of their shoddy care of my dying dog. they all knew her. The Vet I had know for over 15 years called back but I was beyond consolable. I read him the riot act.
    You need to talk to your doctor. This is so wrong.

    As for your bronchitis, headaches, I also get the why did you wait.... I wish you and Gregg only the best to feel better soon. Just love those sweet dogs tonight and try to calm down.

    parsnp, iwinston and agatha we all send big hugs xx

  3. Oh my goodness, I can just imagine your feelings. Our dogs are so precious and they rely on us for everything. I'm so pleased for you that she seems OK. I prescribe lots of hugs and raw meat (for the dog). xx

  4. Oh Jennifer, I am so sorry that you had to go through all of this but what a relief it was that Ginger will be better. Take care of yourself as you need to get better. You don’t need any more stress in your life.

  5. So pleased there was a happy ending. Hope you all get better soon.

  6. Sending hugs.....what an awful time you are having, and so worrying about Ginger. I have tears for you just reading this! Look after yourself so that you can help Ginger....and.....don't wait so long before seeing a doc next time you are so poorly!

  7. Pets take us on a roller coaster. My last dog had these symptoms at 14 and I was advised to put him to sleep but it was my daughters' birthday and I couldn't do that to them so I got some treatment and waited.
    He recovered to live seven more loved months.

    It's been a big week. Take a deep breath and a stiff drink. Luckily everything is better than how it started

  8. I was gripped by your account Jennifer - even though I am very aware that it was fact and not fiction. It's good that you have captured the traumatic day with this blogpost because in future you will be able to look back upon it from a less troubled time when life is hunky dory once again. Give Ginger a head rub from me.

  9. Oh, lordy...I am beyond pissed off at that heartless vet. She must have graduated at the bottom of her class and yes, give Dr. Causey a full report.

    But in the end all that matters is that sweet Ginger is well, and all is right in the world of George. I hope Marco wasn't too perturbed. Like Kylie said, have a good night's sleep and a stiff drink. Not in that order.

  10. Now. May everything be smooth. May Ginger recover and you and Gregg as well. Try to rest and let your body heal. And your mind as well. What a terrible experience. I am so sorry you've had to go through this.

  11. Oh those sweet dogs in that last photo, Georgie has his Ginger back, thank goodness. You have had a terribly stressful week and I hope you and Ginger heal quickly. That new vet sure blew it and caused you needless stress and expense, but the main thing is Ginger is healing! Yay.

  12. So glad Ginger is ok but what a traumatic time. Hope you are better soon too.

  13. Oh my gosh. I am so glad this had a happy ending. My heart was in my throat! I hope those antibiotics kick in and you feel better soon. And I hope Dr Harper’s bedside manner improves!

  14. They didn't call ahead? Morons. Ask them why they failed so badly? Good Customer Service is part of their job! Especially at the rates they charge. Hope you're feeling better.

  15. Well, that new vet has a lot of learning left to do! I hope Dr. Causey sets her very straight.
    I am so sorry for all your suffering. I had a cat who suffered the same or very similar. At least my vet knew what it was and what caused it. This cat walked funny the rest of his life; he lost his "inner ear balance". I hope Ginger lives long an well.

  16. Oh my, poor you - all of you! What an unlucky combination of circumstances; if only your usual vet would not have had his day off that day!
    But, as the saying goes, all's well that ends well, and I very, very much hope for that to be the case.
    (And yes, the doctor was right in telling you that you should not have waited so long to see someone about your cough!) (Having said that, I am the same - a lot has to happen before I go to the doctor's, and I don't even have a regular GP.)

  17. Oh, Jennifer. What a time you've had. I want to say dirty, nasty things about Dr. Harper but I'll try to keep them to myself. Is your bronchitis improving? The day that the late great Faulkner died, the receptionist at the vet's office said, Have a nice day, in a cheery voice even though I'd just paid the bill for having him euthanized. I wanted to strangle her.


  18. Sounds like a nightmare. I'm so glad it turned out better than was expected. I can only imagine that long ride to the Vet Hospital.

  19. I am glad to read here you are surrounded by Love when you needs it.