I think it was a sort of visceral reaction. I was shaking — imperceptibly to most, I’m sure, but I could feel it. My muscles tensed, exhaustion set in but fear kept me alert.
Really, it wasn’t a big deal. But to me, on that night, that week — it was.
The pup was having some sort of allergic reaction. First it was just itching, then hives on her chest, more on her legs. Next thing I knew her jowls were swelling big time.
Hives I can handle, but any sort of swelling near her throat and I get seriously concerned.
There was about an hour of back-and-forth with my mom (a vet tech) and her boss (the vet), several benadryl forced down Ginger’s throat, and then a lot of waiting and watching.
Watching for signs of distress, difficulty breathing. Because that’s the danger. Itchy hives we can deal with, swollen airways not so much.
I looked up the closest 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic — the first time I’ve ever had to do that. I had the number on hand just in case, and I memorized the directions. Difficulty breathing is nothing to mess around with.
My job was to monitor her until the next dosage, around 1am. Husband and I made an exception and invited her onto our bed for the night, so I could watch her closely.
We went through a bit more turmoil that evening, more forcing of pills, some vomiting, etc., and sometime around 2am I finally fell into a restless sleep. But I kept waking and hearing heavy breathing, always checking to make sure that was Husband and not the pup.
The whole thing felt eerily familiar. We had a similarly sleepless night one year ago. A series of them. Weeks of them. When we lost my dear brother-in-law.
I was tense, shaking, filled with dread. The same feelings.
As I watched the pup sleep, I prayed that this would not be like that night. That this would have a happy ending and not become a nightmarish new reality.
By morning the swelling had reduced. A few more pills and I felt safe heading off to work.
We escaped tragedy this time around, but I sometimes wonder if that visceral reaction will ever fade. Will I always feel that gravity, that twisting in the pit of my stomach when faced with such circumstances?
I’m inclined to think yes. I can never un-know or un-experience what we went through one year ago. And it will follow me for the rest of my life. The question is, how will I handle it?