09.06.2003 (Saturday), 11:45 PM

Albert's Long Ride Home

< there are no words for here...I'm not feeling clever tonight, sorry >

(I started this entry by stating the I was so FUCKING MAD that I could barely see but then I rewrote it. Why? Because emotions right now are on a very slippery slope. No one emotion can convey anything right now...)

You must know by now that life is simply not fair. No matter how we try and explain it away, rationalize it, treat it like it were just an ordinary day, life is sometimes not what you want it to be. We had an uneventful plane ride home yesterday. We got back too late to pick up both Albert and Gypsy from the boarding kennel and had planned on picking them up today. And that's where we pick up the story...

About 8:30 this morning, the phone rang. It was the kennel and they said that something happened to Albert's eye. It had a dent in it and it was "bleeding". Dumbstruck, we rushed out to pick Albert (and Gypsy) up, hoping all the while that it was a minor scrape and could be treated with the myriad of antibiotics he has for just such occurrences. Boston Terriers had naturally bulgy eyes. They tend to get poked occasionally. Albert has had a hard time in recent years with cataracts: he had one removed successfully and his other eye had developed into a nearly full one. We chose not to put him through another operation for that.

When we got to the kennel, we were shocked at the condition of his eye. It makes me sick to my stomach to even describe it here so I won't. As soon as I saw it, I was on the phone to his eye doctor. She was off to the airport on a trip for the weekend and referred us to one of her colleagues. We hastily made arrangements to bring him in. The kennel said that they had checked him the night before and his eye was fine. Since he gets eye drops twice a day in both eyes, I had no reason to doubt them. We rushed over to the eye clinic.

The doctor quickly told us the worst news possible: his eye had collapsed from some form of trauma. What that trauma is we'll never, ever know. If there was EVER a moment where I wished dog's could talk, it was that one. The doctor told us that the best option was to remove the eye completely. There was a remote chance that he could have a corneal graft but he would never see in that eye again because of the cataract and this damage. In other words, we'd be patching something already damaged beyond repair.

Jan and I really didn't have a lot discuss as we both knew what the option was. It didn't make it any less painful. Tears flowed like rain, I felt like someone kicked me in the stomach, I was scared and felt very, very low. Jan was in the same state too... The doctor came back and we told her what we had decided and that would be to remove his eye. They made the arrangements and paperwork. We left Albert in their very capable hands and drove home in deafening silence.

On the way home, I went through all of the emotions possible: rage, sadness, depression, denial, self-blame....I'm sure there were more...I contemplated litigation, amputation, mutilation, frustration...it all didn't make any goddamn sense at all. How did it happen? Why didn't anyone see it? It wasn't supposed to happen this way...

About 2:15 this afternoon, we found out that Albert had made it through the surgery and that we could pick him up to bring home. That's all I wanted: for my little boy to be home. He'll be all right and will have to relearn how to navigate through the house. He looks like a tough-guy now with his eye lid sewn shut--like something out of a pirate movie. The simple fact that Jan and I can joke about this is a good sign I think. Right now, he's lounging on the living room carpet. He's still kind of stoned from the pain meds but he's eating and is starting to show signs of his old self. It'll be a few weeks...

I'm not going to sleep well tonight. I am resigned to it. Life's not fair but we have to move on. I have my boy and he's safe here by my side. I will help him be comfortable for the rest of his days. He has no concept of fair and unfair, applied to life or otherwise. I wish it could be that way for me sometimes but it simply isn't and never will be. The numbness I feel right now will be replaced by all of the emotions tenfold over the next few days. It's not fair but we have to move on.

Jan and I would like to thank Albert's eye doctor, Dr. Tina Burling, who took my frantic paging while trying to get on a plane and who called the doctor performing the surgery from the airport and from the plane. Many, many thanks also to Dr. Deborah Friedman (plus all of the animal technicians and staff) of Animal Eye Care in Fremont for being very compassionate and helpful through this whole ordeal. Dr. Friedman made sure Albert had every comfort before, during, and after the surgery.

Posted by wjc