"Oh, no," I thought, horrified. "They didn't call because our kitten died! Oh no, oh no, oh no!"
It was 4:18 a.m. when I awoke in a panic, grabbed my cell phone from the nightstand and quietly left the bedroom. The emergency weekend vet clinic was supposed to call by midnight with an update about our tuxedo cat, Jack. We had left him in its care because he was crying, not eating and hadn't peed in nearly a day.
Our 16-year old dog, Kit, met me by the bedroom door to let me know she needed to go out, and that I shouldn't worry about Jack.
"But you don't even like him," I said.
"That's beside the point," she responded, looking impatiently at the back door. "Open, Sesame!" she shouted.
I opened the door for Kit and watched her navigate the steps to the backyard. On a table near the door, I noticed the house phone blinking with a missed call... from the clinic.
Thank goodness! The clinic's message said a catheter helped Jack pee (ouch) and that he was sleeping soundly in his kennel. The doctor would discuss her prognosis with us when we picked Jack up at 7 a.m. (also ouch).
It had been a challenging week on the farm. Jack's was the third vet visit in the past week. Kit had developed some new allergies that left her lethargic, congested and with a considerably diminished appetite. Then Hazel--the athletic, outdoor dog that she is--had partially torn a cruciate ligament. The injury left her in obvious distress and unable to walk.
We also found out this week that our farm's property taxes had nearly doubled and that our house refinancing had reached an impasse. I suppose that's what we get for paying our mortgage on time each month.
"Well," I remarked to Kimberly, "there's nowhere to go but up."
"Unfortunately," she said, "we're still headed down. The guy giving us an estimate on the window repair found evidence of termites. The bug guys will come by the house tomorrow."
"Oh," I responded, a bit disheartened. "Maybe after that then."
All these unexpected "investments" meant that our dreams of planting fruit trees, finishing our chicken coop and saving money might have to wait until next year. I consoled myself with the thought that our series of mild misfortunes might help decrease the likelihood of any major disasters (knock on wood, of course).
Thankfully, things improved. A steroid shot eliminated Kit's sneezing and wheezing and restored her appetite. And after a short stint on pain pills, Hazel was walking, albeit carefully. I had a long talk with her about the fragility of her leg. If she tore the ligament completely, she'd need surgery and be house bound for eight weeks.
Hazel joined our family several years ago because she continually escaped from her city yard and was to be put down if animal control caught her roaming again. Being confined never suited her, and I hoped the threat of eight weeks inside would compel her to take care of her leg. I'm confident my talk with Hazel was effective: Now she warms up before jogging, and she's stopped chasing the UPS truck altogether.
After five hours of drilling and spraying, the exterminators assured us the termites' days were numbered and their feasting on our house would soon end. We found another option for refinancing the house and have our fingers crossed. (I don't know if crossing fingers helps, but it makes us feel better.)
Unfortunately, there was no way to fix the increased property taxes, but Kimberly and I worried about it less as we drove to pick up Jack. The doctor brought out Jack in his carrier. Jack was woozy with medication, but seemed to be feeling better. His head and neck were wrapped in a blue, cone-shaped collar and Vet Wrap covered several inches of his tail and front left leg. A generous coil of tubing was secured to his tail and disappeared behind him. An intravenous port protruded from the vet wrap on his leg.
"How are you feeling, little man?" I asked, opening his carrier and stroking his head.
"Dad," Jack purred, looking at me with droopy eyes. "I got a new trick to show you. Ready? Ta-da."
"You didn't do anything," I said. "You didn't even move."
"Funny," Jack purred. "That's what the beagle said." He barely finished his sentence before he fell asleep.
The doctor explained that an increase in the pH of Jack's urine encouraged the formation of calcium oxalate crystals and a bacterial infection, which kept Jack from relieving himself.