untitled, Velimir Khlebnikov (1908)
Moulson had cancer. Today it was cut away, leaving him a tidy row of stitches, an asymmetric lip line and (currently) amusingly dramatic whining. While we’re waiting for official word, he’s probably cancer-free which is great.
…Yet it will come back, harder to detect and more expensive to treat. Cancer-free but lymphoma-inclined is our reality.
Mo would, no doubt, tell you all about rotten day at the vet with one big eyebrow-flair then flopping onto his side (cone rattling for emphasis). Which is probably all that needs to be said. I have more complex thoughts. I sat in the vet’s lobby for hours this morning until an attending vet told me Mo was under observation until 1 p.m.—they’d call sometime after that with a post-surgery update. All things they should have explained during our three prior visits but instead I’m the asshole silently taking up space in their wretched lobby.
So I walked home, did random things I cannot recall, then walked back once they confirmed that Mo survived.
As I errantly sat in the lobby, I saw a energetic young dog with four broken paws in casts. I didn’t have the heart to ask why. I saw a cat’s first steps on three legs instead of four. I saw two simple checkups and relieved owners. I saw a sobbing woman run in with her dog in her arms, “Sunny” foaming at the mouth and seizing. They were whisked into the clinic. An admin mopped a tiny part of the floor where Sunny left some foam, swearing loud enough for all of us in the lobby to hear. I hope Sunny’s mom didn’t hear.
If you see small heartbreaks daily, you harden yourself to its regularity—I do understand that. Yet as a fellow human stuck in that lobby, like the (paid) admins: today sucked. Moulson and I being referrals, the emergency clinic admins did little more than speak for their scheduling software. The doctors overcompensated by spouting medical terminology, pointing at a printout only they could see on their clipboard. Our attending vet finally laughed at my lame jokes, realizing three visits in that I cover my anger and fear (more of the former) with dark humor. However, I’m still googling medical terms from his discharge papers.
Recently I drug Moulson by plane to Utah, to see his grandhumans. It was a tough choice and was very stressful (fodder for a different post) but he loved every minute in Utah and my parents loved seeing him. Yet to fly back to New York we had to get a fresh health certificate, so I took Moulson to the local vet. That vet treated Mo like an honored out-of-town guest visiting from The Big City rather than a one-time, $80-to-sign-a-form client. The doctor kindly asked after my parents and their recently passed dog Tracker, he inquired about Moulson’s adoption and entire medical history (even looking at the folder I brought), he did a general checkup and even emailed notes to both our New York vets.
Mo didn’t want to leave that office due to the kind people, treats and nice smells. (I liked the faux fireplaces in each exam room, myself.)
What a contrast within two weeks, 99% of it being empathy.
Moulson’s next touch of The Cancer will probably take him. It’ll be too quick, too expensive and he’s too old now. But we won’t be going back there, either way. And we’re certainly not sending one of those pitiable “thank you for trying” handwritten cards festooning their exam rooms. They did their jobs, not one shred more.
Update: Our regular vet called today to check in on Moulson and to reiterate that we should come in anytime if I have concerns about his healing. I like them. They try and succeed.
BTW, I cross-posted this to a new TinyLetter account, in Mo’s name. Not entirely sure why. Subscribe if you like, to his posts or mine? Guaranteed at least one email. Perhaps ever.