We went into this week with a simple master plan. It was foolproof, except for all the ways we could see it going wrong.
We would drop the bus off at the mechanic and head north a bit to explore an area that we liked but hadn’t gotten to spend enough time. The bus would be fixed in 4days and we would then return to the shop, grab the vehicle and still have a few days to leisurely drive to the guatamala border before our vehicle permit expires. We talked in depth about the cost of the repair, the cost of our lodging, and even began researching the paperwork needed and consulate visits should we not make it in time.
Then, less than a week later we are sitting in a room staring at our dog’s every breath and could care less if the someone wants to confiscate our vehicle. Karma contracted a high fever 4days ago and has been really ill since. It is more clear to us than ever that she (our child and traveling companion) is more important than any plan or expense or deadline. Over the last few days we each wished we could take the fever from her and put it in ourselves. Anything to see her healthy. It’s borderline ridiculous how much we love this dog.
We aren’t the type of parents to overreact and run to the doctor for every problem. Far from it. But after two days of not eating and high fever it was clear she needed a bit of help beating it. We took her to the vet who immediately gave her a shot to reduce the fever, one to elevate her immune system and a round of antibiotics. For a few hours she was our old karma again…eating, tail wagging willing to get up simply to follow us to the other side of the room.
But within 12 hours the fever is back and her body is limp. She has no interest in food or water, barely lifts her head when call and we have to pry her off the floor and prod her to walk the 3blocks to the vet. The vet gives the same drugs but sends us home with more to redose at 12hrs instead of 24. The fever is back quicker than yesterday and we don’t have the period where karma seems herself. We spend our day watching and waiting and doing research online. I’m not sure how much of our fear is based upon being in a remote location where we know nobody and are struggling to communicate with our vet, and how much is exactly the same as we’d be doing back home under similar circumstances. I guess we never will.
Regardless, by night we are simply scared. We give her the medication but see no change. She hasn’t eaten in two days and barely taken water. We each realize on our own (but are afraid to tell each other) that we are spending a lot of time considering worse case scenarios… With morning her fever is rising even above the dangerous level it was before. We are covering her with cold towels in an attempt to bring her temperature down but its still rising.
We get to the vet our typical 15minutes early waiting on the steps for her to arrive. She immediately takes blood for testing and puts karma on an IV to try and return some fluids and nutrients to her system. Karma responds well and we see a tail wag for the first time in all too long. Our happiness is mitigated by the look on the vet’s face which is still sombre. The only words we’ve heard her say in english in 3days of visits is a sobering “i’m worried about you karma”.
She returns at one point with the bloodwork and a local friend who can help translate the results for us. Rules out tick-bourne illnesses (the focus of our morning facebook chat seeking answers), and shows elevated white blood cells consistent with infection. All things we knew. But the vet is convinced karma has a chronic problem and throws around words like tumor and cancer and other unthinkable things as our pulses rise and hearts drop.
While she finished the IV treatment, I scour the town asking opinions from the locals of the best vet in the region and finally start to collect some common answers. By the afternoon we are in our second vet’s office and he is looking at us like we are completely crazy. Possibly the fact that we barely breathe in between sentences as we list everything we know from the last 3 days.
He slowly and calmly checks karma from head to tail and believes she has a sore throat (think strep throat for dogs). Really? He recommends reducing all the other meds and simply treating the inflammation of the throat. We realize halfway through our conversation that this well educated man is telling us exactly what we want to hear; but instead of being happy we are arguing with him that there has to be a larger problem.
We take a step back, recenter our thoughts and emotions and walk out feeling confident both in his appraisal and karma’s current condition for the first time in days. We note that our own breathing is returning to normal with hers. A huge weight has been lifted of our shoulders and we are painfully aware that most of the grief over the last few days may be simply from an overraction on the part of a young vet- which fed into our own fears of something being wrong with our dog in a difficult place.
Last night as we sat with some of the same locals that helped us find vet#2, i realized just how frantic i must have looked yesterday. Practically running down the street asking strangers what we should do or where we should take our dog to make her well. The human brain and emotions are such funny things. We allow ourselves to waste such energy on fears and feeling we have no control over. Even when we are told things will be okay our instinct is to fight back. And even after a problem is over (which i hope ours/karma’s is) we still have to deal with all the negative energy and feeling that we built up along the way.
The gentleman to my left turns out to have been a counselor for 20yrs and gives us a metaphor to help.
‘Imagine that you are stuck in a crowed elevator with so many people you cant turn around, yet the person behind you keeps poking you in the back. Again and again this person pokes you and by the time you get a few floors from the bottom you are furious. As you reach the bottom floor and people file out of the elevator and you quickly turn around to the person behind you only to see that she is blind and has been poking you with a white stick. What happens to all the anger and other feelings that built up during your ride? Where did they go?’ Im not sure how we ended up sitting with a former counselor, but the truth is that it may have been a bit needed after the last few days.
On the up side we are feeling positive and optimistic now, and as long as Karma continues to improve it’s all good. Our plans to leave mexico immediately are out the window and leaving in time for our permit is all but impossible and we don’t care. Our dog seems to be getting better and we will stay here as long as it takes. We are eternally gratefully for the outpouring of ideas, emotion and good energy sent our way by everyone that knows and loves karma- and we’ve already begun a search for the perfect coconut to give her once she’s ready to play with it.