It’s been two weeks since the end of NaNoWriMo and it’s been even longer since I’ve written a blog post. So I’m stretching my recently neglected writing muscles with a true (and possibly uninteresting) story.
The time had come for my little Fred to get neutered. I was pretty nervous, because when the time had come for my little Strawberry to get spayed, she died, which sucked. So when I started talking to my (wonderful) vet about getting Fred fixed I was pretty nervous. She was super great, though, encouraging me to stay calm so that Fred would stay calm and reminding me that she is a different vet, that neutering is a completely different procedure than spaying, etc. So we made the appointment for the Thursday before my birthday. I was feeling calm and ready to get it all over with.
Of course, Fred couldn’t eat for a set number of hours before the procedure. And of course, he decided that his day of fasting would be the first time he would try kitten food. I got home from school and Lemon’s Frozen food bowl, which is usually on a side table in the corner between the two couches where Fred cannot reach without trying really hard, was on the floor. So I had to call and confess my negligence and Fred’s persistence and the surgery was rescheduled for the following Saturday, which was my birthday.
After a successful fast, Fred and I headed to the vet on the Saturday morning of 26th anniversary of my birth. My friend Carli and her three darling daughters drove us to the vet where I said goodbye to an understandably reluctant Fred (the vet assistant just picked him up and carried him back to the now infamous room). Then I went with them back to their house because I figured I would be less prone to worry if I weren’t alone.
While Fred underwent his first, and fingers crossed only, surgery, I was on Carli’s couch under the ceiling fan reading Winter, the fourth installment (well, fifth installment, as I do recommend reading Fairest, which is labeled book 3.5). The book definitely kept my mind off my puppy. When we went to pick him up he was in his crate, still very much feeling the affects of the anesthesia but otherwise looking good. It was a busy morning at the vet’s office and we had to wait around a bit for the vet to get to us for Fred’s post-op care instructions. During that waiting time, a man on a motorcycle sold a teacup chihuahua named Palmoita (Spanish for popcorn) to Carli. We finally got Fred home and I sat next to him on the floor and finished reading Winter while he finished being drugged.
It didn’t take long for Fred to be up and walking around again, which confirmed that Strawberry’s post-op self was very not okay. But how was I to know? Dominican doctors, in my admittedly very limited experience, don’t tell you much. I once got a root canal and didn’t even know! This time around, with Fred, I knew to ask a lot of questions. But there was one important question I forgot to ask – “Can I have a cone?” He spent the afternoon and evening licking his stitches and by the time I got home from my birthday baseball game (which the Estrellas won – hooray!) one of his stitches was open and I was panicking. Luckily, I have amazing friends.
My friend Jenn has a vet who makes house calls and emergency calls and she has his WhatsApp number. So Sunday morning Jenn left church early to take a panicky (but really not as panicky as I could have been – certainly not as panicky as the night before) me and an oblivious Fred to her vet. He gave Fred his second set of stitches, a cone, and orders to take it easy.
I had taken my mattress off the box spring and frame and laid it on the floor so Fred could still sleep with me without jumping up on the bed without straining his stitches. During this time (the time of the second stitches) I left him in my bedroom during the day while I was at work. He had space to move around but nothing to jump up on. Well, sneaky little determined guy that Fred is, he managed to lick his stitches (and his super inflamed testicles – sorry for that information) even with the cone on. And even though I was doing my best to “keep him calm” and keep his mouth away from his stitches, the whole area looked pretty gross by Wednesday.
Oh, and on Monday I left school early for the first time in a year and a half to come home and puke. So all afternoon and evening on Monday I was back and forth from the bathroom all day, sleeping on and off and trying to keep Fred’s face away from his crotch. These were my first days as a 26 year old. (I mentioned them here.) So, like I said by Wednesday everything looked really gross so I asked my friend Wendy to take us to the vet after school. Fortunately whatever sickness I had was one of those crazy 24 hour things and I was feeling much better by Wednesday. Also fortunately that was the week of Thanksgiving so I was looking at four days of no school.
Our precious vet was not excited to see Fred’s infected stitches and inflamed balls (again, sorry about that), but she reassured me that I did the right thing in taking him to another vet (the one I could get a hold of on a Sunday) and getting him new stitches. She also gave me her cell phone number, which I hope I never have to use but am super grateful to have. She stitched him up again (this is the third set, for those who are keeping track) and said I would either have to bring him back twice a day for the next few days or leave him at the clinic. I jumped all over that. “Yes, yes, can he stay here? Please!” I had done a crap job of keeping him calm and three sets of stitches were as many as I wanted to have put in my puppy. Plus I don’t have a car and I had called on my generous friends enough for one week.
So my beautiful vet shoved my stubborn puppy in a crate, took him out a few times a day to eat, pee, poop, and get cream rubbed on his stitches and fluid sucked out of his balls, and only charged me $7 a night. That allowed me to have a fun, relaxing Thanksgiving with friends (and second Thanksgiving the day after which included leftovers and more games!) and it allowed Fred the time he needed to get a jump start on healing. When I picked him up on Saturday it was with strict instructions – in the crate! So from Saturday to Tuesday Fred was in his crate all the dang time, poor thing. I took him out every two hours (except for when I was at school, obviously) and carried him downstairs and into the parking lot to pee. I also took him out each night in order for a friend of mine to hold him up by the armpits so I could rub that cream on his stitches. He loved it. (Not.)
By Wednesday Fred was OVER the crate. He refused to get in it. It was tricky enough with the cone – I would have to kind of squeeze the cone closed so it would fit through the opening – but when he started bucking like a wild bronco I knew our time with the crate had come to an end. Thankfully everything in his downstairs area was looking great, so I upgraded him to the kitchen. I took everything off my desk/dining room table and laid it on its side, spanning the three-ish foot space between my fridge and counter, and trapping Fred in my very tiny kitchen. That lasted until Thursday.
When I got home from school Thursday Fred was casually strolling around the entire apartment. Somehow, cone and all, he had scaled my dining room table. The stitches, praise the Lord, were still fine. Nothing was swollen or infected or open, so after one more night in the kitchen Fred was left free to roam on Friday. On Saturday I borrowed a friend’s car and took him to the vet one last time to get his stitches out. It was super easy and pain free and I was amazed and how he had healed. I know that’s what our bodies do, they heal, but it’s still crazy to see it in action. Where a week prior there had been an open wound, there was now only a scar. Crazy stuff.
So it has now been just over a week since Fred got his stitches out and I am so glad that experience is behind us. I will say that with the support of friends and the encouragement and patience of a skilled and caring vet (and her assistant, who is great) the whole thing was a lot easier than it could’ve been – even with all of the stitches. When I took Fred to the clinic to get his third set of stitches I started crying, as I do, and the vet reassured me – “He’s not going to die. You did nothing wrong. This happens all the time. Everything’s going to be fine.” Which was, of course, exactly what I needed to hear, and she was, of course, totally right.