Just over a week ago my husband and I finally made plans to go on vacation this summer. For the first time in years, we plan to hike in the mountains of Montana.
So, last week was an eventful week. It all began on Monday morning when my husband called me from work to say the he had made an emergency eye doctor appointment. Driving to work that morning he noticed his vision was distorted. When he closed one eye, then the other, it was immediately apparent that he had lost vision in his left eye.
He came home from his doctor appointment with a severe headache, a diagnoses of a macular hole and an announcement that he will need surgery.
This is what his vision looks like now out of that eye.
Normal vision Distorted vision
Learning that he would not be able to drive home after his appointment with the surgeon was a bit unsettling….for my husband. You see, I have not driven on a freeway in over five years. I have not driven, because I could not turn my head. However, after my trip into the oncologist the Friday past and the physical therapist breaking down the scar tissue that had grown onto my skull, I could move my head quite well. I was good to go.
The night before our expedition, I had the weirdest dream, which is not uncommon on my Chemo. This dream, however, repeated itself over and over again. It was of me driving. As I shoot down the on ramp my car ends up right in front of a big blue semi truck. I guess it must have been on my mind some after all.
When I woke up, I said a prayer for God to watch over my husband and myself, got dressed and we were out the door.
The surgeon’s office was in a neighboring city and was not the easiest place to find. Eventually we were successful. We both chuckled as it was right next door to the animal emergency hospital. With multiple resources readily available, our situation was obviously well under control. The surgeon checked my husband out and scheduled his surgery for April 9.
After meeting with the surgeon, my husband explained the good news is the surgery will be outpatient. The procedure can restore between 40 and 90 percent of his vision. The initial recovery should be a couple of days, followed by several weeks or months of restrictions. Honestly, all I heard was he was going to get an eye patch! I have asked him for almost 40 years to dress up like a pirate.
As my owl-eyed, severely pupil dilated husband headed for the car, he again asked if he could drive. I showed him, that I had my own keys. At that point, he got into the passenger seat. It took me forever to adjust the driver’s seat in our car. My husband is six feet, four inches tall. On a good day, I might be five feet, three inches tall. I adjusted all the mirrors, put on my seat belt and proceeded to drive out of the parking lot.
I never even made it out of the parking lot before my husband provided advice on safe car length distances. Which he is an expert on. It has been noted that at times he uses the age-old and well-practiced rational that the distance you are behind a car can help motivate the driver of the car in front of you to increase their speed. The optimal distance required to perform this motivational maneuver is easily discerned. It is when you can read the bumper stickers on the car in front of your without using the glasses to correct your severely near-sighted eyes required by your drivers license.
After safely exiting the parking lot, it was time for the big test….entering the freeway. The entrance to this freeway is at the end of a circular blind ramp. As I accelerated to merge, I looked over my shoulder, which I had only been able to do for three days, and there he was…that big blue semi truck!
As the truck did not move over, I had to drive on the shoulder for a short way until the lane was safe to enter. Thank goodness by the time this baptism by fire occurred, my husband’s driving coaching skills had been rendered impotent by widely dilated eyes and a blinding headache.
We arrived home safely and the rest of the week was uneventful until Friday. I woke up feeling seasick that morning and spent the majority of the day taking care of myself. I was so proud of our pup Oliver. Normally, he is Mr. Energy, but he had spent the whole day just resting with me. German Shepherd’s are like that, they are great caregivers.
He was pretty excited to see my husband come home from work. It was so cute to see him standing at the gate with his tail wagging, tongue hanging out, just waiting for dad. My husband stepped into the yard and threw Oliver a stick to catch. That is where it all went so very horribly wrong.
Oliver caught the stick at a strange angle, as he came down with it, the end of the stick went into the ground. The other end of the stick impaled Oliver in his mouth and became lodged. HE NEVER EVEN YIPPED! Both, the pup and my husband were sitting together in the backyard looking positively stunned.
In the Bible it says that a child will not depart from the way it is raised and I was raised on a farm with animals. Animals on a farm get injured, sick and sometimes die. Now, when our animals needed help the old doc would come out. Most farm veterinarians are laid back, but this guy could have sat and smoked his cigar in a tornado and not batted an eye. He also firmly believed that all veterinary procedures were performance art and a spectator sport. Being a girl did not get you a pass from the old doc when there was neutering, wound draining, shot giving or dissecting to be done.
Oliver came into the house on his own. It became quickly apparent that he was going into shock. No sooner did I notice the changes in the pupils of his eyes, than Truman, our other German Shepherd, began to nudge the pup. Oliver came back.
By then, the bleeding had commenced in earnest. The first thing I looked for was whether or not the blood had bubbles in it, was pinkish and foamy or was spurting. Oliver passed that threshold, but there was just so very much blood. We could not see the injury.
If anyone has ever seen the mouth wound of a small child who has fallen, you know how how awful mouth wounds can look and much they can bleed. After the bleeding stops often there is just a small cut. We waited for a few minutes to see if the bleeding would slow, but it did not. Soon, he was passing huge blood clots.
By God’s grace and my husband’s blind eye, we knew exactly where the closest animal hospital was. Oliver went with us willingly and on his own steam. Truman, our old white German Shepherd, for the first time in his life, fought with with my husband to stay with his puppy. He was so shook up.
By the time we got to the animal hospital, it looked like we had butchered a chicken in our car. Blood everywhere. As Oliver pranced into the clinic like nothing was wrong, with blood dripping all over the floor, one tech took the dog and another one offered Doug and I scrubs, should we want to change out of our bloody clothes.
We quickly learned that Oliver wasn’t in danger from the blood loss, but would need emergency surgery. Since he was stable there were several other pets in critical condition who would be taken in first. By the time of his surgery, at about 1 a.m. Saturday morning, the bleeding had pretty much stopped on its own. The surgeon found that he had a “massive” puncture wound under his tongue. He was sent home with two weeks of restrictions, antibiotics and other medication.
When we went to pick Oliver up the next morning, Truman howled the whole time we were gone. My husband acknowledged, “There goes my new big screen TV” as he paid the bill. We got to meet the dog who had been attacked by a muskrat. Then, we took a very groggy pup home.
As we were driving back, my husband made a comment about bad luck and things going wrong. That man and I certainly have had some challenges. For so very many years he had to be the one who stayed positive and strong, it was my turn. So, I told him that except for my cancer diagnoses and all of those years I was an invalid and sick, we really haven’t had that much go wrong. Besides what’s so bad? My cancer is in remission, the semi truck missed us, your eye will be fixed, the pup didn’t skewer himself in the windpipe, jugular or artery, by God’s grace we knew where to take him because of your faulty eye, we already own three T.V.’s and we are now officially the blind leading the lame.
Boy, did I get a look, and then, slowly a lopsided grin appeared.
My husband took Oliver right into the back yard when we got home. The first thing that pup did was pick up that very same bloodied stick and sit down to wait for it to be thrown. There is something admirable about getting right back on the horse…but, too soon, Oliver, too soon!
Moral of Story: There will be many times when the only thing in life that you will be able to control is your attitude. Look for the blessings and count them instead of your troubles. And always remember that there is a fine line between bravery and foolishness.
WARNING FOR DOG OWNERS!!!! It is not uncommon for veterinarians to see dogs come in with severe injuries from playing fetch with sticks. DO NOT throw sticks for your dog! They should never be used as a toy. Oliver was lucky.