Monday, January 15, 2007

The Longest Ride

PREVIOUSLY: Confessions of a Broken Cat. Cordy, my cat had been throwing up, not because of bad Chinese take-out, but of something possibly worse. Brian and I rushed her to the Animal Emergency Hospital...

An acrid smell permeated through my reverie. The smell wafted in from the back seat, bringing me out of my thoughts.

Cat pee.

She's never peed in her carrying cage before. The pee smelled thick, sweaty, earthy, like the cologne of some swarthy lothario/plumber, you know, the kind that thinks you're into him because you're avoiding eye contact, not because your eyes are being irresistably drawn to his ass crack.

The smell added a layer a sense of urgency, of danger to the events. We've taken her to the vet before and she's never peed on the way. I wondered whether she'll survive the trip and how devastated I would be if the pee got into the upholstery.

I welcomed this feeling, it weighed down the air, underlining the gravity of the situation. Up until then I had been making light of the situation, thinking that like the X-man Wolverine, all animals had enormous mutant healing powers. They recovered much faster than humans and all without the aid of any kind of drugs like acetaminophen, penicillin, crystal meth.

Since we got in the car, Cordy had been crying in the back seat of the car almost constantly. Her silence coinciding with the smell worried me. Invisible hands squeezed my heart as I turned around to make sure she was still alive, still breathing in her cage.

In another minute, we were at the hospital. Twenty minutes, said my watch. I wondered if anybody who didn't live within a block of a hospital ever survived something worse than a possible food poisoning, like multiple stab wounds or accidental electrocution? I resolved to check my vibrator for frayed cords.

If this is how long it takes to get to a hospital, how can anything but grief meet you when you get there?

Brian barely turned off the engine when I jumped out of the car and opened the back door, gingerly pulling out the cage. My calves locked in for a sprint.

Inside, the cheery voice from the earlier phone call, now reunited with her brown hair and petite frame told us that the vet will be with us shortly; the vet was attending to another patient.

We settled down to wait on the sofa. Behind the sofa was a bulletin board filled with posters, pictures and greeting cards. Brian stood up to read them to distract himself. But a few seconds later, he stopped and sat back down. He had been reading one of the greeting cards.

"I don't want to read these," Brian said. "These are cards thanking the vet for doing her best to try to save their pets."

Just then, we heard a wail followed by sobbing. The door next to the waiting area opened and a woman, head hunched down, hurried toward the exit. A man with red-rimmed eyes followed a few steps behind, a red leash clutched in his hand.

I didn't want to be them, yet the possibility was there. We could be walking out without our pet. My mind argued with itself: this wasn't going to happen to us, but at the same time--prepare yourself.

Cheery girl took us to an examination room. The doctor, a tall confident woman in blue scrubs, hair in a tight ponytail, came in. I was relieved. She would take care of our Cordy. I was sort of afraid we would get somebody like Pauly Shore in a lab coat. What would I say then, "Uh, sorry, no offense, but could we have your version of Dr. Miranda Bailey?"

We told her of the symptoms, giving her painstaking details, yet second-guessing ourselves trying to make sure we weren't exaggerating.

"She was vomiting constantly--well not constantly--but three times in the last two hours. Was it two hours? Could've been three. No blood though, or at least none that we saw. That's good right, doctor? We don't think she's eaten in two days, but can't tell for sure, we have another cat who is a pig..."

The doctor listened patiently while she examined our cat. She said, "Cordy doesn't seem to be in immediate danger, but this could be the symptom of something else." She paused here, looking steadily at us, giving it time to sink in. "I need x-rays to know for sure."

Something else. What else could there be? This was just vomiting--bulimia--we joked earlier.

She took our Cordy away, leaving us alone in the room.

NEXT: My Commitment

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