Between Yesterday and Today

I’m sitting down this morning to write a much different post than I did yesterday. In fact, I scrapped yesterday’s draft.

Yesterday, my post began with a glass half empty mindset; today, while the stressors haven’t changed, I’m feeling different. Today I have hope. 

Yesterday, at this time I’d been awake since 5am. I’d woken at my cat’s meowing and dog’s panting. The cat wanted to go out, which I couldn’t do because this apartment complex has an indoor pet policy (hence why it’s temporary). I thought Bryce needed to urinate, for which the only indication is often a heavy pant. She didn’t. When I tried to move her with a supportive hip sling, only her left leg was bearing any weight. Her right had gone lame. Today, she is tucked in her crate (similarly sized to my walk-in closet in TN and 1/2 my former kitchen in Boston) and receiving care from vets and techs at the emergency/critical care clinic. Today, I am sitting on my porch alone; Bryce’s stuffed toy hedgehog my sole companion. 

Yesterday, at 7am, Korrie and I carried Bryce downstairs in our makeshift stretcher. We settled her across on the grass

Bryson resting Friday afternoon after her discharge from the hospital.

Bryson resting Friday afternoon after her discharge from the emergency hospital.

and held up her back legs while she peed and pooped. As we carried her back across the street to our apartment, two families stopped to ask if she was okay. If we were okay. Three months ago, before her diagnosis with immune-mediated polyarthropathy (IMPA), we’d walked to the Boston MSPCA dog park. She couldn’t walk home. I carried her home, a 69lb shepherd mix, 1/3 mile along city streets. No one asked if we were okay.

Yesterday, I cried in frustration when Bryce clamped shut her jaw and refused to take medication. I coated it in cheese (her regular), butter (her favorite), peanut butter (a treat), sliced turkey (a bigger treat), and tuna (a long shot). Each time, she let me approach her, then clamped her jaw and turned her head. This was new. She usually takes her meds eagerly. If her tummy is upset and she’s wary, she lets me hand-pill her; medication slathered in butter to go down easier. Today, she’s receiving antibiotics, pain meds, and fluids through IV.

Yesterday, the emergency vet told us that he was glad that we brought Bryce back in. In her 24 hours home, her temperature had risen to 105.8 (driven by a systemic infection that presented in her front right leg). The antibiotics she refused to take were necessary to curing that infection. The fluids she struggled to drink were crucial to bringing down her fever. We know our dog and, yesterday, we knew that she (and we) needed help. Yesterday, I wept. I blamed myself. Did I take her out the clinic too early? She’d only been admitted 4 days. But her temperature had stabilized while there. Should I have been syringe watering her? But she’d been drinking when we presented her with water, then milk/water, then gatorade/water. Anything to keep her interested in fluids. Today, I realize that Korrie and I didn’t do anything to cause this spike. Her immune system is severely compromised thanks to the immunosuppressants she has to take to get her IMPA into remission. As a result, infection is a risk, and the risk of systemic infections is high.Today, I know that Bryson needs more time, more antibiotics, and a chance at building up her fighter white blood cells to kick this infection. 

Yesterday, when I received the bill for estimated services ($1500-3200 depending on outcomes) and paid the $1500 minimum, I worried that soon we’d have to make the call about Bryce’s care because of finances. Last week we paid near $3000 for her 4-day hospitalization and medications. Since April 2015, when she first presented with a limp after an injury playing soccer, my spouse and I have spent close to $10,000. Veterinary visits, diagnostic tests, and medications are expensive. No, we don’t have pet insurance. When she was younger, I was in grad school and I couldn’t afford it. When she got older, the companies wouldn’t insure us because of her “risk”. Yay. Yesterday, I sobbed to my spouse, the vet, my father, and my self. And then I signed the visa statement for the $1500 minimum – silently praying that my card wouldn’t bounce.

Last night, at the urging of friends, Korrie and I set up a YouCaring account. My spouse and I have donated to many friends and colleagues’ fundraising sites. I’ve set up online, crowdfunding sites before. I’ve asked for donations before. But, never for myself. I feel conflicted about asking; like I should be able to to this myself. I should be able to do better.

But I can’t.

My spouse and I are living on a single income that’s funded by my doctoral program (read: $30k annually). He’s unemployed and seeking work. My credit cards are maxed out with vet bills. I’m not sure how we’ll pay the next utilities bill; never mind the vet’s bills. But, our team in Boston and in Knoxville say that if Bryce can kick this infection, we have a strong chance of getting her IMPA in remission. The same drugs that successfully wiped out her immune system, leading to her increased infection risk, are the same drugs that (at a lower dose) will help moderately suppress her immune system and put her into remission. If we can get her through this, she has a chance. I can’t bring myself to euthanize her if she has a chance.

Today, I received notification of our first 4 donations: 3 through YouCaring and 1 privately through PayPal. These four donations, a combined $95, paid for one of Bryce’s IV antibiotics. We are immensely thankful. These donations have given me hope.

Asking for help is scary. It requires trust. It feels uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable sharing this truth and this need. Yet, I am asking. Please help us help Bryson heal. Any donation is appreciated AND helpful. http://youcaring.com/HelpBrysonHeal

09/28/13: Better than best-friend

Tag: Being a dog-mama

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Amanda Michelle Jones

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