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My first donation!

About two hours ago I decided to start sending out my Go Send Me funds request now, even without my Rover.com registration complete.  An hour later I got my first donation!  And from my best man friend in Asheville, Tom Kilby.  I was at Earth Fare – where I still, for another week, am on the payroll and where he works.  He bopped me on the head, as he is prone to do, with a ten dollar bill – a first for that.  He said “Hey, I’m not going to do Pay Pal and I don’t use checks – here, this is for your fund.”  Wow, what a shot in the arm!  I got my first donation even before I sent out the request!  And from this person who is so special to me.  This is really good ju-ju…or luck…or divine blessing. Tom and Amanda

My mind went crazy.  I’ve gotta create a spreadsheet to keep track of the donations.  What was the perk for a $10 donation?  I’ve gotta look that up and send it off to him right away.  Actually, I mostly need to breathe and trust.  Exactly the right amount of money is going to come in at just the right time.  If it’s not enough to pay for my liability insurance, things will work out.  If it’s more, that would be awesome.

No Rover.com yet

One of the things that has been holding me back from sending out the blog post with my “Go Send Me” funds request is that I wanted to have my Rover.com profile and registration complete – providing all of you and other potential customers a cross-section of my customer comments/testimonials.  But I can’t complete that registration until I have my insurance and bonding in place – and I can’t pay the $360 for the insurance until I get some income from this appeal. It’s the rock and a hard place thing.

This afternoon it got clear to me that the time is right to send out that beautiful letter, without the Rover registration – and hopefully in the short term score the money for the insurance, my top funding priority right now.  You can always go into Rover a few days from now to see my completed profile.  It’s exciting that I am going to let the horse out of the barn – or something like that. Amanda and Katie

In an hour Toni and I go to our vet and two hours after that my dear friend Amanda comes over to picnic in our stunning 13th floor Roof Garden.  She and I have not managed to find a time to talk since before my stroke, much less Toni’s health crises – and I may even get interested in the recent events of her life.  That sounds really, really good actually.

Minding a sick little dog

Toni’s congestive heart failure diagnosis was last Wednesday, just six days ago – not time enough to fully wrap my head around it.  Her big-time breathing crisis (one hour of oxygen, 4 1/2 hours at the emergency animal hospital) was Monday – two weeks ago.  She is not in crisis at this time – and when she gets enough rest she looks almost normal, though she is overall pretty subdued and walks a minimal amount when I take her out.Toni ESA

But she is clearly not well.  All she really wants to do is to sleep/rest on the carpeted floor or on my queen sized bed.  (She sleeps rests in one place for maybe 20 minutes, then moves a few feet away and does it again.)  Today we ran two rfelatively compact little errands: to get an estimate on my car bumper, so I can detail the cost in my pitch letter – which is published in this blog but has not been really promoted yet, and to Earth Fare for a few groceries.  This was clearly too much for her – she looked distressed and her breathing got very fast.

I have been cancelling almost all of my social engagements, including the ones where I was going to take her – maybe especially those.  She doesn’t need the extra stimulation.  What otherwise could be a positive stress – interesting things to do/see/smell – today is all just too much for her.

Reachmural

Is she going to make it?  My intuition is yes, that she will get through this crisis and get better – maybe for a good long time. But I can’t totally control my morbid fears.

Send your prayers.  Picture her well.  Picture her charging full-speed in Montford Park, which she was doing just two weeks ago.  Picture her really happy in the arms of Aunt Diana, her new best friend at Battery Park Apartments – and in the arms of Aunt Sherrie Lynn at Earth Fare,  Picture me handling it all – actually growing more peaceful and content as I actively embrace mortality, Toni’s and mine.  My friend Arayah said, the day after the heart diagnosis, “Toni is going to be with you exactly as long as she is supposed to be with you – not a day less or more.”  I’ve been thinking/saying that a lot – it’s comforting to me.

Making my doggie fat

When Toni came to me a year and a half ago, she was skin and bones.  She was a famously picky eater and she tipped the scale at 4.7 ounces.  (I know, staggering numbers, right?)  Then six months later, after some successful experimentation with her food, she came up to 5.2 and looked great – that seemed like her fighting weight.  Then the last few months her belly has gotten pretty big and I have been lambasting myself for feeding her wrong, not giving her enough exercise – something.  At her vet visit last week, she had picked up another three ounces – a lot for her – and I felt even more guilty.  “I’m wrecking my dog – I’m making her unhealthy and less attractive.”  Even her sitter teased me for letting her get so big: “You better make sure she doesn’t put on more weight.”Toni.jpg

The vet on Monday squashed all that.  “She doesn’t have any fat on her.  Everywhere I feel she is solid. Her belly is distended. There has to be a cause – maybe it is the prednisone.  But it’s a medical issue, not a feeding issue.”  (What’s causing my distended belly?  If I ate as lean a diet as Toni does, I might not have it.”

Amazing how we can torment ourselves for something out of our control – and how easily that bubble can be burst.

Everyone wants a piece of my Toni. She is so tiny and so amazingly cute that they want to say hi, want to pet her, want to hold her, want a picture of them with her.  She is so docile that sometimes she has a hard time saying “No”.  (Sometimes she will back clearly away or, if picked up, will get so squirmy that all but the most determined/insensitive person will get the message and put her down or give her to me.)

Sherry Lynn at cash register.jpg

Sometimes it falls to me to take care of her boundaries, to keep her from being overextended or overstimulated.  Yesterday I said to a neighbor who was reaching for her in Diana’s arms, “Let her be – she’s content where she is. She’s overheated.  She’s had a busy afternoon. Let’s not be passing her around.”

Sometimes it’s really more a matter of protecting my boundaries.  Walking downtown (where we live) her cuteness can make it impossible to make any headway. One day I said to a woman, kind of nice but very clear, “No you may  not visit with my dog – I need to be somewhere.”

I do believe that Toni is a sacred trust I have been given and part of my work is to share her.  But I also have to pay attention to her boundaries.  Maybe this will help me to learn these lessons where I myself am concerned.

The Care Credit Card

The presence of the Care Credit Card on the desk of the Reach Animal Hospital was next to miraculous.  My new neighbor/friend Diana had just been telling me about how great it is, and she on the spot the other day pulled out of her phone the number for the Care Card and – given the heavy vet bills I am facing with Toni – encouraged me to get signed up soon.  Three days later I had still not signed up, but it turned out that nothing was lost by my procrastination.

As I was signing in at the REACH clinic Monday afternoon, a staff person  raved about the company. They do have an interest in getting paid. (“Way better than those two other insurance companies on the counter. Our customers who have used this have found it very helpful.”) She loaned me a tablet computer to go online and sign up while Toni was in the oxygen room, where we couldn’t go. (I tried to sign up from my phone, but hit a stubborn error message.)  If this sounds interesting to you sign up before you get into a situation like that.

“Poor little spud must be terrified going through this stuff without me there!”  Well, if at any point there she was terrified, she don’t show any signs of it when she came out.  She was just interested in exploring the facility.  Medically and physically she is very fragile, but in some ways this dainty little thing has a ferocious spirit.  You won’t keep her down.

I have no credit – not bad credit, just no credit.  I haven’t had a credit card or paid for anything over time for maybe 20 years. The people at the On Track credit counseling agency, who ran my score but didn’t find any, said that no credit is almost as bad as bad credit when you are trying to get a loan, finance a house, etc.  So I was really kind of astonished when, just moments after I pushed the “Submit” button, a message came up saying I had been approved for a $2000 line of credit! Care credit card

I used $400 at the REACH clinic on Monday, I have an appointment with my vet today.(Hopefully Toni will not need more tests – maybe I’ll get out of there under $100!  One can dream.)  The vet on Monday wanted me to see an ophthalmologist – soon – for the scratch on Toni’s cornea.  At their emergency clinic, that appointment was going to cost $120 right out of the chute (“for a specialist”) – before any tests or treatments.  Before this spate of Toni health issues has calmed down I may be up to that $2k limit.

The terms of payment on the card are both very convenient and also very treacherous.  You get six months interest-free, but on the first day after six months you come due for 26% interest going back to day 1. So there’s plenty of incentive to get it paid off. You can also use it for your own medical/dental/vision bills.  Just remember that six months number.

Care Credit Card
866-893-7864
carecredit.com
“How to earn your $30 statement credit:
1) open a new account
2) use your credit card (you just need the account number they give you when you are approved) to pay for a transaction of $200 or more
3) register at carecredit.com/promotions with promo code VET30
Offer ends 8/31/18.”

On Monday, five days after Toni’s diagnosis of congestive heart failure, she had a massive breathing crisis that scared the crap out of her and me – and may have been connected with her heart condition, or her collapsing trachea, or something else (the vet speculated maybe kidney problems). After 4 1/2 hours at the emergency animal hospital and many tests, they just had no clear statement about what had caused it.

Toni had had a fine, calm, happy morning. We were driving down the road around 2 p.m., her seeming very content – settled in on her princess pillow on the passenger seat, connected to the seat belt by a little clasp that keeps her from going anywhere or becoming a projectile with a sudden stop.  She’s usually fine with that arrangement – she just settles in and gets comfortable.

Suddenly she got super restless – started thrashing around, then panting really hard.  Then her breathing developed a harsh whistling sound.  She clearly was in very bad shape.  I pulled over and called our animal hospital, Haw Creek Animal Hospital in East Asheville.  Our regular vet, Heather Sinclair – the best, after two dogs in her care I’m devoted to her – was not in the office, so the desk person consulted with the vet on duty.

She came back on the line and gave two reasons for us to go elsewhere: their radiology was down and it sounded to the vet like she needed an oxygen tent – which is only available at the REACH emergency animal hospital, famous for high rates and excellent care.  I immediately turned the car around and went back in that direction.  For the moment I was not concerned about the expense – though there was no way I could pay a big bill today.  I was really scared about her and just wanted her to get good help.

Driving there with her not able to breathe, so soon after the heart diagnosis, I was terrified that I was going to lose her.  I thought “She is not going to come out of this clinic alive.” I fought these thoughts, but they were very strong.

In view of the nature of her crisis, one of the techs took her back to the oxygen room while I was checking in.  Everybody in the office was lovely – efficient, warm, compassionate.  As I was checking in, I saw on the counter a little stack of applications for the Care Credit Card, which my great new friend Diana had just been telling me about.  “It has helped me so much about my vet bills – it’s been a lifesaver.”  More about that card in my next post.

After an hour in the oxygen tent, Toni’s breathing had normalized and they brought her out to be with us while they analyzed her tests.  She seemed amazingly untraumatized and happily roamed up and down the halls of the very big clinic.  I had brought her in without a leash – I wasn’t thinking – but they had a little stash of simple leashes.  I little by little let go of my panic – I was the one who was more traumatized – and came back to myself, even playing and teasing with the staff.

When finally they gave us their last read-out, we didn’t get the lovely, sweet young woman vet who had consulted with us two hours earlier.  They had changed shifts and we got a 35ish man who was a little gruff and not empathetic, but seemed very knowledgeable and efficient.  But he contradicted almost everything the Haw Creek vet had said last Monday (again, not Heather – she was on a much needed vacation):

  1. swollen heart – “Her heart did not look enlarged.”
  2. fluid on the lungs – “Today there is no fluid on her lungs”.
  3. Glaucoma in the right eye – “Our test for the pressure of her eye was negative.  We did find a scratch on the cornea, which needs attention right away.  I’d like you to see our ophthalmologist or some other one as soon as possible

By that point, my friend Laura – my inveterate doctor’s office buddy, who had rushed over to be with us at the beginning of the appointment – had had to leave and, even with writing notes furiously, I missed or didn’t understand some stuff.  My head was swimming.  I bet this last vet, cold fish that he was, did not package the information into reasonable doses for easy consumption.

These health crises really bond us to our little ones – human and animal.  I think that’s part of their life purpose.