By Alyce Wilson
December 28, 2006 - Heck of a Day
in reindeer antlers,
I thought Sunday was going to be a nice, relaxing vacation day where I might get some reading in, do some writing. But it was not to be.
started when I woke up with a backache from sleeping on the soft mattress
in Dad's guest room. He was getting up to get ready for church anyway,
so I thought I might as well get up and join him for breakfast.
I'd just made myself a cup of instant coffee and was pushing open the door to the dining room when I noticed a brownish red substance that looked like it had been sprayed and splattered all over the table, floor and walls.
It didn't take me long to figure out the substance was blood. The room looked like a crime scene.
Dad looked at Harold, the 15-year-old kitty, and saw no obvious wounds. At first, he was ready to assume everything was OK, but I insisted we had to get the cat treatment because we didn't know what the problem was. He could have been coughing up blood. Dad agreed to take him to the emergency vet as soon as he got back from church.
While Dad was at church, The Gryphon and I drove to the local grocery store and Wal-Mart to pick up some things. Since I hadn't brought any old clothes with me in which I could clean up a room full of blood, I got a pair of exercise pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt at Wal-Mart.
We also bought several cleaning products, such as Chlorox disinfectant wipes and sponges. Then we went next door to the grocery store to see if they had any Simple Green, a multipurpose cleaner. They didn't.
Since we were hungry, we ordered sandwiches at the deli and sat down at nearby tables to eat them. We knew it would be a while before we could eat in the dining room.
Then it was back to Dad's, where I took a bucket of hot water and started cleaning the tables and wall.
Dad got back earlier than we expected, so I put the cleaning on pause and ran with him to the vet. I helped him put Harold in the cat carrier, and Dad drove us, in his backup car, a Ford Escort that sits under a tree and is the frequent target of birds.
At church, Dad had spoken to Mom about it, and she suggested the problem could be Harold's ear, which has been given him trouble. She thought maybe he broke open a wound and shook his head, spraying blood.
First, we drove to the wrong place, because Dad hadn't had a pet emergency in a long time. But fortunately, somebody came out of the veterinary hospital, which is also a residence, and directed us down the road to the new center.
We weren't the only people with an emergency; another family was waiting to pick up their cat. When we walked up to the counter, Dad raised up the pet carrier and said, "I've got a sick cat." The woman behind the counter looked expectant as she waited for more details, so I told her what had happened.
Now Harold isn't always the friendliest kitty to anybody but Dad, but you would never know it from the way he acted with the veterinary assistant. He was docile and very compliant. I was surprised when they weighed him to discover he weighs only a little more than my kitty, Luke.
When the veterinarian came in, she examined him and looked in his ear. She had good news and bad news for us. The good news was that he had a treatable infection, for which she prescribed some antibiotics and some topical cream.
The bad news was that he also had a growth in his ear which could be cancerous. She told Dad he had to follow up later with his veterinarian and let them assess whether it was worth performing surgery to remove it, given his age and his existing heart murmur.
The vet also gave him a soft collar which would prevent him from scratching at his ear and opening up the wound again. Harold seemed much calmer afterwards. For one thing, he didn't yowl as much as he was the last few times I visited.
Now that we had returned, I went back in the kitchen to resume my work. It took longer than you might imagine, because some of the blood had dried and was hard to get up. I felt it was important to do a thorough job, since people eat in there. I'm not entirely sure how long it took me, but I know that Dad and The Gryphon watched two half-hour episodes of Whose Line is It Anyway? and part of an Eddie Izzard special by the time I'd finished.
I finally got a chance to get my shower, get cleaned up and refreshed. Then we talked about dinner. We decided to drive to the grocery store and pick up some ready made stuff from the deli, because we wanted something simple, and The Gryphon wasn't up to going out.
We found a roast chicken, got a large salad from the salad bar and also picked up a container of pasta salad.
While we were waiting to check out, I got a call from my sister's husband. I had called earlier in the day because there was some confusion over whether my mother could administer Harold's second dosage of medicine tomorrow evening. Dad was planning on staying overnight at my sister's, where we were celebrating the holiday, but Mom was coming home to tend to her many animals.
At first Mom wasn't sure if she could promise to give Harold his medicine, so I'd left messages for my sister and her husband, hoping they would let us bring Harold and put him in his own room somewhere. This was no longer necessary, since Mom had agreed to look in on Harold.
My sister's husband wasn't calling about that, though. He was calling because he'd never received details about what type of chicken The Gryphon needed for the dish he was contributing on Christmas day. Since he hadn't yet picked it up, and I was in the grocery store, he asked if I could do it. I told him it wasn't quite that easy, since we'd have to transport the chicken for an hour to the party the next day. But he thought the grocery stores in Bellefonte might be closed before he could get to them, so I agreed to get it.
I later apologized for my brusque tone, explaining it had been a heck of a day.
Then I called The Gryphon and asked for details about what type of chicken to get. He wanted a variety pack, but there was nothing like that there, so I got a package of breasts and a package of thighs.
While I had him on the phone, I said, "I swear, if one more messed up thing happens today, I'm going to go postal." I really was beginning to feel as if I was in some sort of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation sequel.
We picked up a bag of ice for safely transporting the chicken the next day and then went to Wal-Mart to look for a cooler. Unfortunately, it was the wrong time of year to find little picnic coolers; they only had very large ones, in the camping section. Dad suggested we pick up a plastic storage container, which I agreed would work, since we had the ice already. We picked up one with a red and green lid that had been on sale in the Christmas section.
Then it was back to Dad's place where we could relax for a little while and eat. The dining room was no longer a biohazard, so we ate at the table. We didn't get much time to relax, though, because we only had an hour or so until the Christmas Eve service at my parents' church.
My brother called during dinner and asked if we wanted to do a teleconference with him. Dad thought it was a good idea, so he went downstairs to get it set up. Amusingly, I was almost ready, applying the last of my makeup, when Andy called to ask where Dad was.
I went downstairs with the phone and figured it out: Dad had a typo in his sign-in. As soon as we got it entered properly, we were connected with my brother and his family. No doubt, that was the best part of the day so far, especially seeing my little niece moving around for the first time; I've only seen still pictures of her. She's a cute little brunette with an adorable round face.
My nephew, typical 2-year-old, had trouble keeping still but did say "Hello" several times into the camera for us. We couldn't stay on long, though, because we had to get to the Christmas Eve church services.
Since The Gryphon was still feeling sick, he couldn't make it to the services. My mom and dad sat in the choir, which meant that for the first time since I can remember, I was the only family member sitting in the congregation. I sat next to the Pastor's youngest son. The service was nice, though, mostly consisting of Bible readings and singing carols.
Mom and Dad's duet went very well, and I was pleasantly surprised at Dad's sonorous tenor voice. He'd always said he wasn't much of a singer, so I was pleased to discover he's got a nice voice.
After the service, I said hi to some old friends who were in attendance and then helped Mom and the Pastor pick up the Pastor's son from the airport. Mom had promised to help her so that she wouldn't have to go alone.
The Pastor's son was flying from Denver into a small airport in Williamsport. Fortunately, his flight hadn't been canceled despite the many problems at DIA brought by the recent snowstorms.
We managed to find the airport despite one wrong turn, and we didn't have long to wait until the plane came in. Several other people were gathered, waiting for the incoming flight from Philadelphia. Amusingly, one family greeted their loved one, all wearing Santa hats.
So after a long day, at about 10 p.m. or so, I was back at Dad's on the couch with a book. My relaxation wouldn't last for long. Since we knew we had to get up early the next day, we were all in bed by about 12:30.
It had been
a heck of a day for us humans, but I'm sure it was just as unpleasant
for Harold. Fortunately, the worst of it was over for him, despite his
disorientation at having to wear the soft collar. Dad tells me that he
spent the whole night in his room, cuddling up to him for comfort.
2006 by Alyce Wilson