And I Alone Escaped to Tell Thee

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This has not been a week I shall look back on and recall fondly. Normally, I try to put a humorous face and spin on everything, but the last ten days have been anything but humorous. I’m posting this to assure everyone I am still alive and kicking, but I have been absolutely and completely overwhelmed by life or a reasonable facsimile thereof. To quote Cathy of the comic pages, “I can handle one day at a time, but recently, several days ganged up on me.”

To start matters off, my beloved Eastern Painted Turtle, Comet, died last Thursday. She was going on nine years old and I had raised her from a hatchling. One of Budge’s students brought her to school with a bit of egg still attached to her. She contracted some type of fungus which led to some other ailment and by the time I realized she needed a veterinarian, it was too late. Now I’ll carry the picture of her floating, eyes closed and skin cold as death with me like so much of the other baggage I’ve been lugging around for years. Maybe people will laugh at me for being so attached to a reptile, but raise anything and spend nine years caring for it then come tell me if I’m being silly.

Matters only worsened Monday morning. I got back from taking Budge to school and went into the backyard to let Beau and Jack out of the outbuilding. Beau had been acting very poorly for two days straight and the Sunday night before, he wouldn’t come out of the pouring rain, so in desperation, I locked him and his kennelmate, Jack, in the building for safety. When Beau came out the next morning, he staggered over to his favorite spot on the grass and lay down heavily. Rain was falling like a tall cow peeing on a flat rock so I went to get him up and over to his doghouse. When I patted him on the shoulder, he lifted his head and dropped it right back into the soaking grass. He couldn’t stand up anymore. Icy fear-daggers lanced into my heart as I realized that which I had greatly feared had come upon me. After 16 loyal and loving years, the Old Man — my best buddy in the world — was sick unto death.

I went into autopilot mode. I’d been preparing myself mentally and emotionally for this moment for six months. He’d been going down and I knew in my head it was only a matter of time. All that preparation didn’t account for squat when the time came, but I managed to scoop him up and lay him in the passenger seat of the Element. I barely remember the drive to Cedar Lake Animal Hospital. Dr. Melanie had just arrived and she and Misty, who was always Beau’s favorite technician, examined him and found his fever was off the chart. Melanie looked at me and sadly shook her head. I signed the euthanasia papers. At this point, I’d like to say I sat bravely by his side as he walked to the Rainbow Bridge, but, as much as I wanted to, I simply couldn’t summon the courage. I kissed him on that precious muzzle, now hoary and grey, and left him with the two people who had taken such good care of him for so long. At least I know he was with loved ones when he passed. I picked his ashes up Wednesday and placed them next to Thomas and Loki on my pet shelf.

I picked him up after visiting with my much loved psychologist who has played a big part in helping me keep my marbles all in the bag. She is tremendous and she’s the first therapist I have actually told the truth about stuff to. Mostly, I’ve been ordered by someone or another to see a therapist, so I developed the habit of just lying to them so they’d think I was fine and leave me the hell alone. Dr. Scott is different though. She’s been a huge help.

Now she’s leaving Greenville for Hilton Head.

Anyone out there have any idea how impossible it is to switch therapists after four years of work? No? It’s bloody, freaking hard. I don’t know at this stage if I’m even going to bother. It hardly seems worth it . . . but wait!! There’s more!!

What can possibly top the death of my oldest and dearest fuzzy baby? The birth of my niece, Chloe Aurora Lowe. We had all been delirious with excitement waiting on her for nine months, but when I got to Mama’s house to take Mama grocery shopping on Friday, the look on her face was anything but excitement. She said the baby had been born at five o’clock that morning.

The umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around her throat and she wasn’t breathing.

Nurses immediately snatched her up and took her straight to NICU where she was revived and started breathing on her own, but those of us who are honest with ourselves, like me, know the damage has been done. Her precious little brain was starved of oxygen for at least five minutes by the most optimistic estimate and anyone with any rudimentary knowledge of biology knows what that means.

Unfortunately, her mental development may be a moot point. As I write this, her kidneys have refused to act to void any waste. Her body is poisoning itself and if something doesn’t give, she will not survive the night. To make matters worse, if that was indeed possible, she desperately needs a PIC line established in her, but none of her blood vessels have been able to withstand the pressure of the IV. Finally, about two hours ago, Mama called and said they had performed a “cut down” and surgically inserted a supply tube directly into her little subclavian artery. What happens next is firmly in God’s hands. Danielle, her mother, is being discharged tomorrow and we’ve all pretty much decided that leaving the hospital without her baby might be more than she can take, emotionally. As for precious Baby Chloe, none of us have been allowed to hold her and only Mama, Rob, Travis, and Danielle have even been allowed to touch her. Of all the tortures devised by man, devil, or demon, being made to watch your newborn child scream at the top of her lungs with pain, hunger, and fear and not being able to pick her up to comfort her must be the worst of all.

So, I feel a kinship with old Job on that day when every time he turned around, another sole surviving servant was arriving to bring news of yet another earth shattering tragedy. I only wish I could close this book and the troubles would cease.

But I can’t.

Remember my family and me when you say your prayers tonight, please. It’s all up to Someone with better medical skills than any doctor at this point.

Love y’all and I’m sorry this post isn’t funnier.

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6 responses »

  1. I just want to thank everyone for their kind comments — posted and unposted — during this intolerable mess. I think we, as humans, can bear anything provided we do not have to bear it alone. I would like to give everyone an update on Chloe. As of lunchtime today, her kidneys have gradually increased function until they are at a normal rate. Danielle was allowed to hold and breastfeed her for the first time today so at least physically things seem to be on the mend. As for her mental acumen, we won’t know much until the results of her CAT scan, Cranial MRI, and overnight brainwave tests are tallied and explained by a doctor. The nurses and technicians know as much as the doctors about this or that being wrong, but they aren’t allowed to say, so we have to wait for a doctor. One would think that doctors would be bursting out the seams of a hospital, but in fact, they are quite rare birds and a ten minute conversation with one is rarer still.

    Again, I appreciate you all and I’ll let you know more as I know more.

  2. You have my prayers for you and ll your loves. In spite of what others say I believe God frequently gives us more than we can bear. Grace is what we are given when knowledge and faith fail us. Hang on hope is coming.

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