It’s fine when I have to have surgery. I’m okay with being cut open, sawed, implanted, jabbed, etc. But, having to take my animals for surgery is horrible.
Mickey is having ear surgery tomorrow.
The price of having large, magnificent ears is that such ears are delicate. Stuff gets in there. They bang into walls. Flap in stiff breezes. Get chewed on by other dogs in play. And, apparently, are prone to ear hematomas.
A month back, Mickey woke up one day and his proud left ear was at half-mast. I inspected and found a big BUMP in the ear. It had happened suddenly so I didn’t immediately think CANCER. I Googled and found it was a hematoma. Basically a big, aggravated bruise.
We went in to the vet to have it drained and bandaged . The vet warned that these things tend to recur unless one does surgery to quilt the broken blood vessels back together.
Now, sure enough, the hematoma is back, the size of a plum, and Mickey’s glorious proud ear is all shriveled up and hanging. He keeps shaking his head and looking at me with huge, mournful eyes that say DO SOMETHING.
So I scheduled the ear surgery. And talked to a friend whose basset hound had had this same surgery. It is not a huge big deal. But, of course, it IS a huge big deal.
The last time I had to have surgery, I wrote out instructions on who should take my few valuables (Mickey, my Joe Andoe paintings, a first edition Weegee book, future proceeds from my own books) and handed these instructions over to two close friends in case I died.
One CAN always die. Usually, I try to remember this EVERY day so as to savor the day as much as possible.
Dogs as a species have survived and made their way from being on the fringes of our lives to sleeping in our beds by reading us (and learning to manipulate us). Mickey excels at reading me.
He knows something is up and I’ve even talked to him about it aloud, lightly touching his swollen-with-blood left ear as I do so.
But I can’t tell him to write out a will . Can’t explain the risk-to-benefit ratio of surgery. Dogs are not stupid, and this one is REALLY not stupid, but neither are they PEOPLE. They understand smells and emotions in a way we can’t dream of, but they’re not that good at assessing risk.
The thing I hate about it most is not being able to explain it to the dog. And anticipating the look on his face when I drop him at the vet and the tech takes him in the back.
I would stay with him the whole time but vets never permit this. With good reason. My own anxiety would just make it worse and, pretty soon, Mickey and I would both be hyperventilating and whimpering.
Chances are very good everything will go seamlessly and then we’ll have to begin the business of keeping Mickeys’ head bandaged and keeping his Elizabethan collar on for a WEEK. It’ll be such a nuisance for all involved parties that the anxiety and FEAR OF DEATH will quickly recede.