Friday, October 14, 2011

Squirrelly Day

I suddenly realized it had taken me until about 3 PM to remember I'd killed that squirrel. Normally it's something that sticks with me for a while. I did remember it clearly: the acorn in its mouth, its running out in front of my car, my knowing it was timing it just wrong for it to survive the trip, the thump-thump as I rolled over it, the tail twitching as it lay behind me on the road. But that was the kind of day it had been so far.

At the time I was responding to Jessica's worried phone call. Fred had gotten caught under my dad's lift chair as he was putting it down after returning from the bathroom. Jessica was still in the bathroom and hadn't seen him there, and of course my dad can't. She reported that he made quite a cry of pain, and after being freed, limped and whined with each step. She clearly felt guilty about it, even though I reassured her that he'd just missed being caught under Steve's lift chair a couple months earlier and this really had nothing to do with her. We could hope he learned it was not a good place for a nap. Since her call caught me just as I was leaving the hospital from my allergy shots, I called work and informed them I would be even later, and why, called the vet for an emergency drop-off, and was heading home to pick him up.

It's not like Jessica could leave, even if she knew how to find my vet, across the state line in St. Croix Falls. She had her hands plenty full with my dad that morning, and they were to get even fuller. By the time I got home, Fred had perked up, quit limping, and stopped whining. I wasn't taking any chances. Not only is he not "my" dog, but Steve's, but his early history includes a broken pelvis and leg. I wanted to be sure he wasn't just faking "fine".

I actually lifted him in and out of my hatch for the drive over. Turns out he now weighs a hefty 53 lbs. You have to know that while he thoroughly sniffed the bushes outside the clinic door, he never raised his leg, an indication, I suspected, of some residual damage from the chair. Of course the second he stepped off the scale, he peed all over the floor!

Good thing they're used to that. Of course, they don't tell you if that means they add $5 to the bill.

They took him to keep for the day, at least, for observation, examination, and likely X-rays.

I logged in to work and headed for the cities. I'd have to be back to pick him up before they closed at 5:30. (Make a mental note: tell dispatch you need to be there by 5:00 or you'll never make it.) That's when I got the next phone call from Jessica.

Now my dad had felt fine when I left. He'd drunk a full cup of coffee, something becoming more rare as he tends to forget it's even there on his table unless he's reminded, and occasionally even then. But it was processing through - to a point. For the third time in under two weeks, his catheter got blocked and the bladder was filling uncomfortably. Very uncomfortably. I could hear him clearly in the background of the call. Jessica let me know that the part I had missed was him swearing at her due to thinking she was a nurse and was just standing by in his hospital room refusing to treat him.

Yeah, I get that.

Jess knows to call Randy when these clogs happen, and she comes out with supplies to back-flush the line, usually clearing the clog. Plan B involves replacing the catheter. Plan C involves the ER.

Randy wasn't answering. It turns out she was taking a day off. So Jess's plan B was to call the county and get the other nurse, Nancy. (Her plan C is the same as above, using 9-1-1 and the paramedics for transport. If Paul is in charge, he can transport his grandfather himself.)

Nancy finally arrived, tended to his needs, and then proceeded to berate everybody for what she perceived as his poor standard of care. The most obvious indication of that is what she diagnosed as a thrush infection (translation: rash) through his entire groin area. Yeah, we know about that. It's been an issue for weeks, about since he started his heavy-duty antibiotics for his latest respiratory problems. There was a ten-day course of treatment, and then a repeat. The thrush is a side effect. We've been working together to try napping with bare behind, soothing creams, Nystatin powder, you-name-it. Nancy called his doctor and got an order for Nystatin cream, to be applied twice a day.

All this process and keeping me informed took about three phone calls scattered through the morning, mainly while driving. Of course. Just because I have a busy workload doesn't mean I can't have a busy home life at the same time, long distance.

I then called Paul to pick it up on his way home from work. I was going to have to be home early - we'd known that but for other reasons and this day was turning out that it was even earlier than we thought - and we'd planned that it was a good night for him to run his errands and shopping after work while I watch Daddy.

Another call came from the vet. Fred was examined, and seemed fine enough that they decided he didn't need X-rays. I could pick him up today, and they were sending home a chewable painkiller just in case he was masking symptoms, as animals are wont to do. Two day's worth. And by the way, they trimmed his toenails. As a courtesy. They were too long and one was broken. Yeah, it was probably the one that dug a furrow across my wrist tattoo a couple days earlier. Even the scab is concave. Good dog. Really good job. That tattoo has been losing detail lately anyway.

Getting Steve the ongoing Fred updates took a few calls too. First problem was that he was sleeping and not answering his phone for a couple hours. When it's important, I tend to let it ring a few cycles to determine that he's not just away from it for a few minutes. Finally I left a message to call me, I had bad news. Of course, he called without checking messages first, so that was fun. Eventually, about six calls later, he was brought up to speed that Fred was OK.

So it was sometime after three that I relaxed enough to think about other things than whichever crisis was happening or details I had to organize, and finally remember that squirrel. And by then, I pretty much didn't care.

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