It’s been a crazy few days with Jim and I returning home from dinner Monday night to find a mostly empty bottle of Advil on the floor, puke everywhere and a pathetic looking beagle. 57 Advil liqui-gel caps were missing.
We ended up at the Animal Hospital Center around 11:0opm. It was bustling with activity. I don’t remember noting it at the time, but in retrospective, I can see people crying all around us.
We felt pretty strongly that Fred had not eaten any Advil, but couldn’t know for sure. Hank was clearly affected, throwing up three times on the way to the hospital, listless and lethargic.
Both dogs were forced to throw up and were treated with fluids to continuously flush their kidneys, medications to protect their GI systems and some kind of charcoal treatment to absorb the toxins. We left both Fred and Hank at the hospital, hoping for the best, fearful of the worst.
Jim had obligations on Tuesday which meant he couldn’t be there in the am, but I was back at the animal hospital at 10:00am. We were both thankful that both dogs had survived the night.
Dr. Eatroff wanted to perform charcoal hemoperfusionon both dogs in an effort to flush the high dosage of toxins out. As you can imagine, dialysis (which is what this is), comes with a high price
tag. But we were talking about Fred and Hank, so we gave the go ahead. This is not a procedure the hospital performs regularly. In fact, they had only done it four times before.
Our vet, had performed it just twice. As a result, they stock just one charcoal filter. We were going to have to choose which dog would get the procedure. Hank was the obvious choice.
It would take 3 – 4 hours and I stayed at the hospital to be there in case anything happened and to be able to provide Jim with timely updates.
It ended up taking two hours to prep him and get the catheter into his jugular and seven hours of actual dialysis. It was a long time to sit in the waiting room, watching person after person deal with his or her own pain as I tried to manage my own worry.
I nervously chatted with my fellow-waiters including Thomas Lee Jones, previously a writer for Forbes magazine, currently a blogger. Thomas was there with his third pug, Jane Marple. They were there for a follow-up visit and Jane was doing well. Read about Thomas and his wonderful pugs here.
I got updates about every two hours. Hank continued to get grades of “fine.” Fred
switched up to a “very good” around 6:30pm. At 8:00pm a woman sat alone, crying a few rows behind me.
It had quieted down in the waiting area with just me, a mother and daughter and the woman I would come to know as Maria. The three of us shifted uncomfortably in our seats. Would I want to be comforted by some stranger? No. But she wasn’t me. I struggled. She sobbed.
The mother finally said something to woman and her story came spilling out. Her grown daughter’s dog, Baby, had found a sewing needle. It had gotten imbedded in her cheek/gum. Baby had had surgery to remove the needle, but the infection continued. Baby needed a second surgery. It was $2300. They could not afford it. She cried. And she cried. And she cried.
The hospital recommended that they take Baby home (with a big dose of pain killers) and take her to the ASPCA Hospital first thing in the morning, to see if they could do the surgery more cheaply.
At 9:00am this morning, I met Maria at the ASPCA to take a few quick pictures of Baby.
We hoped that the ASPCA could provide financial support, so that Baby could have the surgery.
I had to leave to go back to Fred and Hank before they came out from seeing the doctor, but kept in touch with Maria throughout the day.
Baby could have the surgery. At $1,068, they found a way to make it work.
As of tonight, Fred and Hank are doing well. Fred should be able to come home tomorrow
and as soon as Hank’s platelets come up (low from blood thinners for the dialysis), he can come home too.
I just spoke with Maria, Baby is out of surgery, but has been crying from the pain. The infection turned out to be so bad that they have to bring her back every day for 5 days for the vet to change the dressing. The cost, $200 per dressing change.
Though the years, as we went through eye infections, ear infections, three knee surgeries and countless other health issues with our beagles, we have talked about how hard it would be if we were ever at a point where our dogs needed something that we could not afford to provide. That theoretical discussion is very different from watching a family going through that pain.
As Jim and I close the book on this awful week with a happy ending to our personal story, I can’t help but wonder what new good may come out of a curious beagle swallowing 57 Advils.