Bullygirl had a medical crisis this week. Monday morning she had terrible muscle spasms which caused her to scream in agony. Her regular vet gave her injections of painkillers and Valium, neither of which provided relief. As Bullygirl writhed in pain, Dr. G and I agreed that it was necessary for her to see a specialist, ASAP.
The closest and most recommended neurologist with an MRI machine was two hours away. Following a highly stressful car ride, we arrived and were happy to discover large dog beds and water bowls in the waiting room. The staff audibly marveled at the cuteness of my little girl. I breathed a short sigh of relief, knowing I had come to the right place.
Following a physical examination, it was recommended that further testing be performed to find out what was causing the pain. Because there were other dogs waiting for the MRI machine, it would be a couple hours before Bullygirl’s turn. The techs took her in the back to let her rest and they turned me loose on the town. I sent some text messages, made a phone call to Ex-Boyfriend to update him on the situation and then went to find lunch.
I slid into a booth at a well-known chain restaurant and paused for the first time that day. My baby was in crisis, I was easily facing a five-figure financial obligation and I was alone. My hands were shaking and my breath was shallow. And yet… I noticed with curiosity that a cool current of calm was flowing beneath my fragile surface. I sat still and continued to observe (my Buddhist therapist will be so proud of me!)…
The ego-self that lives in my mind was actively engaged in a role as The Wounded Victim. It babbled continuously: “Ex-BF should be here … We were his family! …How dare he cast us aside and replace us so easily? ….He said he loved us! …He hasn’t even offered to help… Friends and co-workers are more concerned than he is, and she was his dog! …. This is an emergency! And he hardly cares at all…”
I was listening to that loop and staring at my coffee cup when it hit me. The senseless chatter in my mind stopped abruptly as I was confronted with the firm declaration,
“He isn’t here because you don’t need him.”
I took a deep breath and sunk into that calmness under the surface. There I observed no pity party, only the recognition of what was true at the moment: Bullygirl is in good hands. If I don’t have the money, I can get the money. I’m her mommy and she needs me. I’ve got this.
I relaxed a little, ate a good lunch and returned to the vet’s office. Bullygirl’s MRI showed a severely herniated disk in her neck and the staff was dedicated enough to operate immediately (which meant they worked way past their scheduled quitting time). I camped out in the waiting room until 8pm when they wheeled her out of the OR and I could see her. As I drove home, exhausted, the radio gushed countless love songs in honor of Valentine’s Eve. Each one of them reminded me of the devotion and loyalty between me and my dog. As I pondered the difference between “love” and “affection,” I felt better than I had all day.
Bullygirl is home now. She has a long road to recovery and we’ll need to make some permanent (and difficult) changes to our routines. It’s going to be tough on both of us, yet I’m feeling quite capable at the moment. …Oh, and it turns out I’m not alone. Bullygirl and I were aided by a fabulously qualified and compassionate medical staff. My friends and family have been hugely supportive- even offering to accompany me to the specialist’s facility. My co-workers took up a collection to put towards the bill. I am humbled and grateful beyond measure.
This event, terrible as it was, forced me to see what was important and to realize my own strength. I think I’m done being a wounded woman. Right now my little girl needs her mommy, and I’m standing at attention.