I'll tell you what. Yesterday I told you Tallulah wasn't feeling well, but I did not know I'd be BURYING HER IN MY MIND by noon.
Tallulah had been kind of shaking her head in this weird way over the weekend, and on Saturday it was subtle, probably something only I would notice. On Sunday, after Ned and I went to the worst movie of all time, the plan was that I was going to run home and spend some dog time, then go back to his house. But when I got home, Talu's head shake had become really pronounced.
"I have to stay home with this dog," I told Ned, who offered to come over for moral support, and perhaps I have not mentioned he is the nicest boy, ever. But Talu and I forged ahead on our own, and then she did the thing where she wanted me to hold her head all night.
When I came home from work yesterday morning to take her to her vet appointment? Her whole face was swollen. She didn't even LOOK like herself.
That is when I started to panic.
The head shake thing had scared me over the weekend. Does she have meningitis? I wondered, having no idea if dog meningitis was even a thing. But I worried there was something wrong with her brain, because god forbid I ever be calm and try to think positive thoughts. And THEN, when her FACE was distorted? I figured this was it. This was the end of my beautiful doggie girl.
I cried the whole way to the vet, and every time I looked at her face, all puffed and weird, I got upset again. When we got to the vet, she calmly got out of the car and walked right next to me, not pulling on her leash. There was a small schnauzer in the lobby, and Talu was perfectly fine with it.
That made me even more upset.
The tech saw us when we walked in, and said, "We're going to take her right to the back." Usually, you go to a room, talk to the vet, and THEN they take her back to another room to do god knows what to her. But this time they ushered her right into the back room.
At this point, I was in full-on panic. They hadn't even waited for the vet to talk to me. Talu hadn't tried to eat the schnauzer. Her face was so swollen she looked like a different dog.
There was no way my dog was going to make it through the day. I just knew it. I just knew the vet would come in all solemn and say, "You have a very sick dog." Oh, how I cried in that damn vet's office. I curled into a little ball and just sobbed.
I can't live without Tallulah. What, I'm gonna go home and use EDSEL as my primary dog? Seriously? Edsel's gonna have to pull all the dog weight? He'd crumble in a week.
Would I bury Talu in the yard, or have them cremate her? I decided I'd cremate her, and plant a dogwood that I'd scatter her ashes on. I would go to her tree every year on this day and remember how I lost her so soon. I had no Kleenex in my purse, so I got one of the unforgiving brown towels from the dispenser, there.
I couldn't sit still anymore, and I thought maybe if I went to the hallway and paced near the back room where they were working on my expiring dog, she could maybe smell me, and that would be a comfort. So I went to the area and paced. Pace pace paced. Would I go back to work that afternoon, or just lie on my living room floor and scream? Would I ever get over losing this dog? Would the awfulness of this ever cease?
"Are you okay, ma'am?" an 11-year-old tech walked by in Disney-themed scrubs. She's the one who answers the phone there, and she has the worst, most screechy, cloying, loud voice possible, and I always wonder why her workplace or loved ones don't tell her. Her voice is really just awful. It's like a whine and a screech and a wail, all at once, and at top volume. She makes Rosie Perez seem like she could make a hypnosis tape.
"Tape." 1982 called, wants its audio device back.
"No, I'm not okay," I said to the town cryer. "My dog is in there, and it seems bad, and I'm standing here so maybe she can smell me."
Screech touched me on the arm. "I'll go back and check on her," she said.
While I waited, I heard another ridiculously young tech on the phone. "This is Whooo-De-Whoo Animal Clinic. We need an antigen, it's the blahhh dee bleee blahhh antigen. Do y'all have it?"
An antigen? AN ANTIGEN? Was that for TALU? I don't even really know what an antigen is, but if Lu had gens and they needed to get anti, I was worried even sicker. An ANTIGEN? Did she get bitten by a copperhead? Had she eaten poison? Oh, wouldn't you all make fun of me if my DOG got POISONED, JOOONNN!
Bob Marley's Wailer came out of the back room.
"Your dog is fine," Screamora said. "She got stung by a bee. We're giving her a shot and she'll be good as new."
I have always liked that tech. That needle-across-a-record, cat-in-heat-voiced tech. I was so relieved.
Even as soon as she came from that back room, where I had doomed her to live out her last moments, Tallulah looked better than she had. And she was wagging and looking like she actually had a personality, like maybe now she'd eat the schnuazer, if there was any left. I took this picture when we got home, and I don't even know if you can see any swelling at all. I can, but I'm her mother.
"Usually dogs don't take two days to swell up like that," said my vet. "But this steroid shot should do the trick. She'll be fine."
I mean, honestly? I had already anticipated a halved dog food bill. I was already planning to walk just one cur each day, and have that much less fur on my couch. Really? She was going to be fine?
Well, okay. I mean, I figured she would be, but.
So that's the story of my dog's brush with...you know, a bee sting, and the part where I killed her in my mind. Because I'm not one to get hysterical or anything.