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 trauma.....it 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.