"Word to Your Mother" - Vanilla Ice
Monday was a big day for me. For the first time in over three months I was able to collect my mail from my Post Office box. Read along for a bit of context…
During the first weekend of December last year, my oldest dog Deucy decided my life wasn’t rich enough in adventure. My 13.5 year old English Setter commenced cardboard eating in the quiet hours before I came home. Having devoured 50% of a whiskey bottle box (Exhibit A) which I’ve used for literally years as a recycle paper box in my study, she proceeded to develop all of those signs we associate with gastrointestinal obstruction (vomiting in every room of the house, diarrhea, inappetance, lethargy and so on).
I tried medical management through the weekend, hospitalizing her on fluids and anti-nausea meds. Naturally I was working that weekend and my husband was out of town, adding to the drama and sleep deprivation. Monday dawned and her ultrasound looked worse than the day before so I begged the other surgeon to come cut my dog for me because I was not capable of the separation of church and state that required. My trepidation may have come from losing our other beloved old dog just three months earlier, but anyway I am a huge proponent of some other DVM making the important decisions on my own pets. I have indeed done surgery on several of my furry family members, but if there is any way I can avoid being point surgeon, I know it is better for all involved.
Dr. Magee came in on her day off and took Deucy to surgery. I scrubbed in to help it go faster and to be there to make any ‘owner’ decisions. Her cecum was chock-a-block with papier-mâché from the whiskey box and edematous but not so bad it required more than massage. We took her spleen as she had some nodules we’d been following for the last two years and why taunt the hemoabdomen demon by leaving it in? She also got a gastropexy. Pretty quick surgery and Deucy felt better by the next day.
Still wondering where my mail comes into play? Bear with me. In spite of Deucy not yet eating by Tuesday night (surgery was on Monday), I elected to take her home figuring she would feel so much better just being out of the hospital. I don’t know if you recall the first week of December 2015, but there was a bit of rain. I live about an hour north of Portland and off the freeway about 5 miles. As it happened, the steady rain of that week combined with some wind storms cumulated in a multitude of mudslides and downed trees the very night I tried to get home with my post-op dog. A rock the size of my car greeted me ½ mile from the freeway, complete with gushing waterfall cascading from the hillside directly into the narrow river road. It was dark and raining hard and it took me a bit to even figure out what I was seeing, at which point I backed the car up another 100 yards and contemplated for a bit. The size of the rock and the amount of water coming off the hill completely eliminated any chance of getting up the river anytime soon. The only other access would be to backtrack south and access the logging roads. This was not, in point of fact, an option because 1) the logging roads were gated and locked and 2) I was driving my commuter car which could not navigate said logging roads.
I managed to turn around and drove back to the freeway. Getting out of another car was a rugged 20-something man wearing his camo rain jacket and a determined look, brandishing his work shovel. Good luck with that… It was more than two weeks before we had two drivable lanes again, and it required a lot more than shovels.
Upon reaching the freeway (and cell coverage), I called my husband to let him know I wouldn’t be making it home and he may have a tough time making it to work the following day. At least he had made it home to be with our other animals… I then called my mom who lives about 30 minutes north to tell her she would be entertaining guests tonight. Naturally, I’d only filled the prescription for Clavamox before leaving Dove as I had enough Tramadol, Gabapentin and metronidaol at home. Sorry, Deucy, no pain meds for you tonight.
It was not an ideal healing scenario for Deucy (Exhibit B) although she was probably more relaxed than in the hospital. I had DoveLewis call in prescriptions to a local pharmacy and got her back on some pain management by late morning Wednesday. There was also a slide on I5 that was stopping traffic from driving north. While I could potentially have taken her back to work, I would not have been able to get home or to my mom’s again. My mom was gracious and excited to have Deucy and me marooned in her living room. I certainly didn’t lack for food, although when Thursday rolled around and I still wasn’t sure when I would get home I made a trek to Target to buy some underwear. Before you go judging, consider this was disaster conditions and my choices were limited. I’m not sure if FEMA covers fresh underwear, but they should.
As things transpired, we were unable to make it home until Thursday night and even then it was by way of the logging roads. The main (only) road between the freeway and our house had 12 separate slides and that was only the first 4 miles. The county road crews, utility crews and telephone crews had their hands full that month. And it isn’t as if the rain stopped after that particular storm. The following week we had a slide with trees and power lines down that stopped all traffic again for another 24 hours. That time, I was at home and my husband was trapped on the work-side of things.
Deucy ultimately recovered. I ended up running IV fluids to her once I made it all of the way home and she perked up.
Still wondering about the mail? Well, the torrential and relentless rains coincided with a max flood tide on the Columbia River. There was also failure of one of the key water pumps designed to keep flood waters at bay in our little downtown Kalama. Thus, Kalama flooded including our Post Office (Exhibit C). Water + mail = badness. All mail that was in the Post Office at the time of the flooding was eventually deemed a biohazard due to mold and was incinerated. Of interest, the notice they sent to postal customers informed us that all of our (flood contaminated) mail and parcels were first sent to California, THEN it was incinerated. Government decisions are supposed to be inexplicable, right? Anyway, incoming mail was rerouted to a town north of us where we got to stand in long lines between the hours of 10 and 4pm on weekdays to get our mail. Be sure to bring your photo ID as they wouldn’t give out your mail to anyone else. Sigh. Did I mention this was December with Christmas cards and packages and Amazon orders? Oh, and Deucy’s surgery happened to fall on my birthday so there were a few birthday wishes that instead contributed to global warming as ashes in some incinerator in California. Now is your chance to say you sent me gold plated chop sticks or tickets to a Justin Bieber concert and, so sad, it must have been incinerated.