The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

The Chronicles of Boots

About forty-five years ago I was dropped off in Fairmont, West Virginia by another Nittany Lion on his way to someplace I don’t remember. I was en route to visit my friend working her first teaching job in Elkins.

Never get into a car with a stranger. But I did. That young man driving me through some uninhabited areas from State College to Fairmont was someone I found on the bulletin board. I didn’t know him except he was another student. Or was he? He could have been anyone. He might have been a psychopathic serial killer. But here I still am.

Today Boots was with me in the passenger’s seat. We drove there for an appointment at a friend-recommended veterinary hospital. The removal of a growth in her ear during the spay surgery in January didn’t eliminate her chronic ear infection. It’s back. That vet who did the surgery recommended us to a specialty hospital in Pittsburgh. When the woman scheduled the appointment, she gave me the rough estimates of costs. She was preparing me for sticker shock. I made the appointment but knew I wouldn’t be keeping it. I have a financial cut-off point that makes it tough to think it’s about money. Yet, it is often about money.

We arrived at the relatively new-looking building across from the Aquarium Lounge in Fairmont. Interesting. Perhaps this was the animal kingdom. The office was welcoming as we entered, though there was nothing really special about it. Except it was bright and well-lit. The young woman following me held a pigeon in her arms. My bird dog didn’t notice. That woman’s boss handed her the bird when she came into work and said, “Take it to the vet.” They took it from her and promised that if they couldn’t do something, a bird rescue in town would. It felt like we just might be at the right place.

Surgery is scheduled for next Wednesday. Hopefully, the least invasive procedure will be what is done, but it depends what the vet sees when Boots is sedated. The ear was too sensitive to get a good look without her being under. If the more serious surgery is necessary, it will leave her deaf in that ear. But the trade-off is to end her pain and need for medications that reduce but never cure. I made her decision. I’m not sure what she would want. I hope she would agree with my choice.

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