A blaring alarm jolted me out of bed Monday morning. I squeezed our morning dog-care routine into as little time as possible, before putting on many layers to brave the extreme cold. Alas, I ended up cancelling Lilly’s neurology exam. Here is our frustrating tale.
Rare and Precious Neurology Exams
A little background … if you are new to our journey, I’ll explain that it’s difficult to get real, face-to-face neurology appointments that are scheduled and done at a specific time. Such appointments often have to be booked 6-8 weeks in advance.
The alternative and more common scenario is a “drop-off” appointment, where you can leave your dog or wait in the lobby until the neuro team can squeeze your dog into their crazy-busy days. The dog gets to see the doctor. You do not.
During the urgent phases of Lilly’s vaccine-induced brain inflammation, when she required exams as often as weekly, these wait-and-see appointments were the best we could get. Sometimes we waited in the lobby 30 minutes. Once we waited more than 5 hours. It’s a gamble. You just never know. It depends on many things, including how many emergency cases come in that day.
Since the veterinary hospital is an hour’s drive (each way), dropping Lilly off makes little sense to me. Plus, it’s more expensive because I’d have to pay for a cage for the day.
That’s why these REAL exam appointments are so valuable, and why I’m disappointed and frustrated that we could NOT make it to Lilly’s scheduled exam Monday morning. It would have been her first exam in 2 months. (We only see the neurology technicians for Lilly’s “chemo” injections.)
Like many other spots in the country, winter set in with a vengeance here in Colorado with many, many days of dangerously cold weather. Our outdoor thermometer bottoms out at -10 degrees F.
Monday morning, I believe it was colder than that.
We’d already dealt with frozen water pipes in the house over the weekend, so to wake up to car troubles Monday morning felt like too much.
Oh, my car started OK. I cleaned it off. I secured Lilly’s crate. I loaded up her traveling supplies — toys, baby wipes, diapers, etc. And, I left my car running to “warm up” for 20-25 minutes.
Alas, after I loaded Lilly up and prepared to face the snowy / icy drive, I realized that:
- No warm air was blowing out of the heater.
- The car’s engine heat indicator was topped out. In. The. Red
I’m happy to tell you that I know enough about cars to know that’s NOT GOOD. So, I ran back inside and alerted Tom. He nixed the idea of us girls going anywhere. The engine would be ruined, if it wasn’t already.
Apparently, these symptoms mean something froze in the engine and may have cracked it deep down inside … since liquids expand when they freeze.
There is a chance the engine is completely ruined. We won’t really know until the weather warms up, and we can see whether or not anything is leaking. It’s supposed to be quite cold for another couple of days, so I may not know what’s what until later in the week.
Since there hasn’t been much real snow yet, we haven’t brought my old 4Runner up to the house for the winter. It’s my back-up / bad-weather car. But, had it been at the house, it too might have frozen up, which has happened in the past … though, usually it’s a gas line that gets blocked, which isn’t as serious, if you just wait it out.
I don’t drive Tom’s truck because it’s too big for me, so that also was not an option. Plus, it too had been out in the ridiculous cold, and we didn’t want to risk killing both cars.
Because Tom has always used our garage as a workspace, we do NOT park our cars in there to keep them warm. Typically, Colorado is NOT the kind of place where you need an engine heater in the winter.
When I called to give our apologies for having to cancel our appointment a mere hour in advance, I learned that there are NO real appointments available until early March.
I asked for the neurologist to let us know if Lilly could wait that long to be seen or not. Lilly is pretty stable right now.
I got a call later in the day Monday, saying that indeed if Lilly is doing alright, then it’s OK to wait for our NEW March 1 appointment. It’s a real appointment, so let’s all hope she remains in this sort of “remission” so that we don’t need any emergency or drop-off appointments before then.
We’ll simply continue with her chemo / cytarabine injections … one set of four the last weekend of January and another set in mid-February … until we see the neurologist again.
Tom believes this car trouble protected me from something potentially worse as I drove the long way to the veterinary hospital in bad weather — with snowy / icy roads.
I’m just glad that I knew enough to know something was wrong. Imagine if I’d driven off, blown up the engine, and gotten stranded — possibly out of cell phone range in the canyon — in dangerous, sub-zero weather with my puppy girl in the car.
The problem with dealing with so much for so long is that some days I just don’t cope well with setbacks. It’s as if my coping well has run completely dry.
That’s how I felt Monday morning. Coped out. Frustrated. I fought the urge ALL DAY to go back to bed. It wasn’t my most inspired or productive day, but I can’t be the hero all the time. Some days, I’m just the girl who is tired of life being ridiculous.