I went rushing into a small vet office on Park Rd. with the unresponsive Maggie and asked for help. The vet had gone home for the day, but the vet tech took my dog and got on the phone to see what they could do. Well, they revived her and she actually made a full recovery, except for a rather loud heart murmur, which hasn't seemed to phase her all these years.
In the 8 years since, I could not bring myself to have my dogs vaccinated. It seemed too risky. But this year, I thought, they are turning 12. I may at some point need to board them and they'll be required to be up to date on shots, so I took them in on Thursday. There is a pre-medication protocol that they do for dogs with allergies, so they did that with Maggie and they kept both dogs for several hours just to watch for any signs of adverse reaction. There weren't any, so I took them home.
Friday was okay, Maggie was still a little lethargic, but I attributed that to the high dose of Benadryl she was on. On Saturday, however, she started breathing really rapidly. I thought she might be in pain, so I gave her one of the doggie pain pills we keep on hand. It didn't help much. Her breathing got more rapid overnight, so we went to MedVet in the morning.
They rushed her right back and got her on an IV and in an oxygen tank. After taking chest x-rays, they determined that she was in congestive heart failure. Her lungs were filling with fluid, and she was in critical condition. They prepared me for the likelihood that she wouldn't make it through the day, and laid out a plan. I sat in the waiting room of MedVet, my heart breaking.
I got these little dogs right after my divorce, when I was so broken, lost and lonely. They made my home feel like a little family, and I started to grow and heal. Instead of going out and finding someone, anyone to fill the empty space in my life, I found I didn't need that anymore. I could just come home and love on the schnoodles and feel okay.
I tell them all the time, these silly little dogs, that they allowed me to become who I am by being my home.
As I sat in the waiting room, I became aware of the attack that was happening in my thoughts.
You did this. You knew better than to take them in for shots.
You did this. You didn't bring her in soon enough and now she's going to die.
You did this. You are guilty.
And the fear. When I am that scared, I can literally feel it in my veins. I call it hot blood. It was all through me. Fear of loss. Fear of death.
We can get to a place in life where we are just scared to death. We get a diagnosis. We develop a chronic illness. We find ourselves in the ER. And we allow it to turn on ourselves.
You did this. You knew you needed to exercise and you didn't.
You did this. You knew the way you were eating wasn't good for you and you did it anyway.
You did this. You are guilty.
But as I was sitting there, I remembered how horrible that voice is. That terrorizing, accusing voice.
I love this little dog and would do anything to help her. I didn't do this. Even if I made a mistake, I was not guilty. So I started to work on alternative translations to the events that were happening. I had to really work at it, since the hot blood was still pumping fear through me. But it sounded something like this:
You do your best all the time. You try so hard to show up in love in every possible way. We all fall short and that's okay. But you did not do this. You love and take care of this little dog in the best way you know how.
You believe in miracles. Maybe her heart was about to de-compensate the way it has, anyway. And the prompting you felt to go to the vet in the first place, has helped to save her. Maybe her only chance of surviving was to have the issue brought to light by the vaccines.
You have the most amazing friends and family. Look at them rally around you, holding you up. Look at your text messages. LOOK! No matter what happens, love is bigger than this fear and will get you through it. Love is bigger than death and if need be, love will get you through it. Love always has.
My miracle doggie so far has survived another crisis. To the surprise of MedVet, she has responded to treatment and made it through the night. I will know more today, but thanks to this experience, I will approach the day rooted in love, not fear. Knowing that I am held by the greatest of loves. And that can get me through anything.
If you have been under the attack of that terrorizing, accusing voice, I pray that love takes over. That love rules your thoughts. That you make a different translation. One that is deeply rooted in love, not fear. That you remember love can get you through anything. Anything.