Monthly Archives: December 2012

Merry Christmas, Buzzard

I’ve been sitting on this post for more than a week. There are a few reasons why, but one of the more stupid ones is that I didn’t want to write a post which included “Merry Christmas” in the title too soon. For me, “too soon” in this case would usually include all dates prior to about December 23rd. And before you go there, I’ve got the best Christmas decoration in the world sitting on my work-day desk to prove that, while a block head I may be, I’m certainly no Scrooge. Plus, this post is entirely early if 12/23 is my preferred start date.

Another reason for the delay was that I wasn’t sure if this post should be something north of 50% venting in tone.  I’m sure I will vent, but probably less so than had I written it seven days ago.

A few additional things to note before the story:

– Buzzard, whose real name is Honeybee, is my dog.

– Thanksgiving seems to always bring a less than desired twist my way. Fender-benders, break-ins, and the like seem to always hunt me down during the final days of November – several times happening directly on the holiday.

So, to recap, “Merry Christmas” < 12/23 = Bad; Buzzard = Honeybee = family dog; Thanksgiving = thanking, eating, and usually a call to the police.

This year, I thought I’d made it through November without experiencing personal calamity, and I almost did. But, as you may know, almost does not count for much where calamity avoidance is concerned.

November 30th was a standard-issue Friday. Not much I can remember about most of it now. But then there was that first phone call from my wife… “Something’s wrong with Honeybee.”

Sparing both reader and my own eyes from intake of the gory details, there was a problem that warranted a look by the vet. Second call from wife, “Dr. says it’s probably a “Pyometra” which will require emergency surgery. She’s estimating the cost to be about two grand.”

I’m not sure what my wife was wondering after she said that and heard nothing in response – it’s part of the beauty and frustration of speaking over the phone. I didn’t do much wondering myself… a 3 second cost-benefit analysis and the ensuing “How am I gonna say this without sounding like a heartless ass?” are what crossed my mind. When I finally said something it probably didn’t clear that hurdle. I think the words were something similar to, “Not happening”.

My wife, knowing me as she does, then handed the phone to the vet. Well played, dear.

The Dr. explained the severity of the situation using enough medical jargon to allow me to retreat back to my cost-benefit analysis / heartless ass debate. She was really no help at all.

Wife back on the phone, kids scream-cry-laugh-fighting in the background of the 10 x 10 exam room, dog apparently on verge of death, veterinarian waiting for decision, I reached the only conclusion which seemed logical at the moment. “I’ll call you back.”

Bad move, I know. Eventually, I’m not really sure how long, I called her back.

“OK, tell them to do the x-ray only and I’ll be there in 30 min.”

Better move. I’m slow, but catching on.

When I arrived at the clinic, my family was sitting in the waiting area, the dog seemed her normal self. That wasn’t helping my disbelief of the diagnosis, but 30 minutes later, with the x-ray confirmation she needed, I obliged the Doctor’s second attempt at explaining why this was so severe and so expensive. She had the tech come in to give me the full estimate for blood work and emergency surgery. It had grown by 75%.

Holding the cost estimate and authorization form in hand, she asked in these words exactly, “So, do you want to do it?”

“No.” was my one word reply and we can both be thankful I kept it to that. I’m sure she thought I was an idiot. Maybe I was/am but the only thing I was capable of at that moment was inaction.

My wife and kids were now home, waiting for my call. “She confirmed it. Surgery. It’ll cost $3,500.”

Her turn to be silent. Except she wasn’t. No need to detail her exact response here, but when the call ended, I had my answer and just one thing left to say.

“Merry Christmas, Buzzard. You get to live.”

Buzz doesn’t get why she has to wear the cone of shame for the next few weeks, or why we’re forcing pills down her throat every evening. Buzz doesn’t realize that The Nematode grilled me like a federal investigator when I came home that night without her dog. Eventually I think I convinced her that they were fixing Buzz, but she didn’t let me off easy. Buzz doesn’t understand what it cost to save her life that night, nor does she know how incredibly lucky she is that my wife was her advocate, but I have in mind that she’s thankful nonetheless.