Her breathing comes in ragged gasps. Too shallow and quick, too struggling each one a violent shuddering of the thorax. I hold her close, one hand pressed to her side to still her. The other holds the stethoscope against her side. Her left lung sounds like a squeaky toy, or two balloons being rubbed together. Beneath the wheeze, the thick sounds of fluid. It rises to her nose and sprays with each breath. Thin and clear mucous. She is weak, lethargic and anorexic. I listen, and cannot hear her heart for the protesting of each breath. Replacing the stethoscope to my bag, I use my fingers to locate a femoral pulse. I am relieved to find it strong and constant. But the pneumonia is taking its toll. Her brown eyes are desperate, looking at me frantic with hope. Fix it. A cough racks her body and she closes her eyes. Looking takes too much energy better used for breathing.
That was yesterday. When her desperation for breath was only matched by ours for money for the vet. For antibiotics. For anything to help.
Today, her lungs are less filled. Head hung over the couch she drained for hours last night. Ran a fever. Coughed. Fought harder for breath. Finally slept, or lost consciousness in the gunmetal morning. She woke breathing easier, tail up and eyes full of her usual precocious curiosity. Still, she blows snot. She wheezes a little. I can hear her heart today though, strong and constant. She is on the upswing.
Yesterday again. We scrounged and found antibiotics. A human sized dose for just a couple of days. Too much for a dog who weighs less than a sack of her own food. I broke a capsule and weighed 500mg of Amoxicillin on the reloading scale. Then I weighed out a fifth of that. Twenty times over.
I had already pulled the high flow oxygen regulator from my bag, and given her oxygen. Holding her, with the canula just below her nose. Blow by, they call it. Canulating a dog doesn’t work, usually. Just put so much in front of their nose they have to breath it. We took turns doing that for awhile.
Checking her pulse, using the stethoscope to listen to lungs and heart. Listen to her fight. Dosing antibiotics. Holding her, pushing oxygen. Simply loving her, and watching her. Its paying off.
I’m proud of us. Worried for her, but not scared anymore, and proud of us. This is capability. The fundamental ability to care for your loved ones, two and four legged, when they need it the most.
I wonder, with so many others out of work and suffering poverty, how many can actually do that. How many are capable, much less prepared, of providing for their families that well?
I’m proud to be one of those few, although that pride feels strange. I cannot imagine being any other way. I grew up like this, around people like this – A functional element of the lifestyle. Yet, how alone am I, are we? We few who can actually do this.
Is the society at large so crippled by consumer culture that we’ve sacrificed that much?