Today, I was reminded of the fragile nature of life and how one action can make a difference. A woman came into the clinic to have her dog checked, because the dog had been urinating more frequently and had blood in her urine. While the assistant was getting a history, the client’s phone rang. Although, we normally frown upon people talking on their phone during their appointment, the woman answered her phone.
Her nephew had just the left her house and was involved in a serious car accident involving a school bus. The woman was crying and shaking. I could hear every word from the other side of the clinic. She started making calls, alerting family members to the event and attempting to coordinate getting everyone where they needed to be.
As the staff members began arranging for the dog to stay for the day, I stepped into the room. The woman’s phone rang again. The nephew was being transferred to a local hospital. As she hung up yet again, I took a step towards her and wrapped her in a hug.
She clung to me.
She shook and cried harder.
Her hug back tightened.
Then she whispered, “Thank you.”
After a few moments, she let go, stating she had to call Grandma. She was shaking so hard she couldn’t hold her phone still enough to get to her contacts list. I held her phone with one arm over her shoulder until the call was made.
She struggled to get the words out to meet at the hospital, she would be there soon. I knew she was in no shape to drive right then. I apologized that I needed to get some information about her dog. I got her to focus on the dog for long enough that her breathing started to steady and she could answer some simple questions. We discussed what the plan would be for the day, and that I would call her as soon as I had any information. I had her take a few breaths and she signed the paperwork for her dog. She was calm enough to drive.
Throughout the day, I made contact with her to update her on her dog’s status, always asking about her nephew first. Although the dog was my patient, my heart broke for this woman and her family. I knew I was needed in more ways than just my role as a veterinarian. As we went through the tests, we found that her dog did not just have a urinary tract infection. She had never been spayed and was recently in heat. The blood in her urine was caused by a pyometra, a uterine infection that, if not treated, could be fatal. The pup needed an emergency surgery to remove her infected uterus.
The family did not have a lot of money, only a couple hundred dollars available, but they made some calls and found friends that would help. She called back and told us to go forward with surgery.
Surgery was a success, and I was able to call to share the good news. I was greeted with news that the nephew would also be alright.
After leaving his aunt’s house, his car went under a bus. He was pinned in the only portion of the car that was not crushed. The woman’s daughter was supposed to be with him that day as they were supposed to carpool. The bus needed to be lifted by a crane to remove the car from beneath it. The daughter would have been dead. The nephew survived with few injuries amazingly; damage to his hands, cuts and bruises to his body.
When she picked up the dog at the end of the day, she wrapped me in a giant hug, and then she showed me pictures of the car. No one should have been alive with the extent of the damage. Her hands were steady, but her voice still shook. She gave me another hug and whispered, “You were my angel today. Thank you for being there. Thank you for saving my baby’s life. You are a blessing from God.”
I fought tears that swam in my eyes. I am so thankful that I was present today; that I was willing to do more than “just my job.” I was able to be God’s hands and feet on earth. I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to help someone. What I did wasn’t much, but it was everything to this woman and her dog.
Please, take the time to do something small (or large) to help someone. Listen when they are in pain. Be there when they need a shoulder to cry on or a hug to lean into. Please keep this family in your prayers.