Freya had run out of time. Her colon was loaded with so much stool that fairly soon she’d start vomiting because her stomach was pushed too far out of its normal position and she couldn’t hold any volume of food inside it any longer. She’d suffer, laying on her side, groaning as her muscles contracted in a vain attempt to move some of the trapped stool out of a very tiny opening in her vagina. It was the only way any stool could leave her body. We’d hoped she’d make it to January when we were told she’d be big enough to handle a multi-hour surgery that might create a rectum, something she was born without, but desperately needed.
©2014 Robin AF Olson.
But we couldn’t wait any longer. The surgery was quickly re-scheduled once we saw her latest x-rays. Her intestines looked like over-stuffed sausages, roping and twisting through her abdomen. Not only was it dangerous, it had to be very painful for Freya.
©2014 Robin AF Olson.
I admit I’m not wired to handle stressful situations with grace and elegance. I get sick to my stomach. I can’t sleep. I run every scenario over and over through my head. I have this silly feeling that if I don’t come up with every way the situation can go then the one I didn’t think of will happen. I may feel in my heart that Freya is going to be ok, but I don’t want to jinx it. I won’t say that aloud. I will think back about what her surgeon, Dr. Pavletic, told me about all the complications that could kill her during and after surgery. The stitches might not hold then she’d die of sepsis. Once the surgery started he might find another abnormality we didn’t know about that might make doing any repair impossible. Long surgeries take a toll on a kitten’s body temperature and her organs could shut down and she might die on the operating table. I had to stop thinking that this could be the last 24-hours of Freya’s life and start focusing on the road. There wouldn’t be anything to worry about if we didn’t make it to Boston and ended up in a ditch instead. The weather was so terrible that it was a very likely possibility.
From the moment I left the driveway I spent the next 3.5 hours white-knuckle driving across flooded highways, desperate to keep the car on the road, while the wind had other ideas. I chided myself for not getting new tires, but in truth I can’t afford them and there wasn’t time to do it. I had all day to get to Boston, even if it meant I had to drive at granny-speeds to do it.
What shocked me was how foolish the other drivers were. It’s bad enough people over-drive their cars in good weather, but I got tail-gated by semi-trucks (I was in the right lane on a 3-lane highway), morons in SUVS or newer cars flew by me doing over 60 mph (because that’s the fastest I could safely travel and most of the time I had to go a lot slower). My heart racing, my blood pressure ticking upwards, I kept wondering when I’d paid the price for Freya. Four months of early morning feedings, cleanings, fussing with this kitten. Four months of tears and fear about if she’d keep going long enough to get her surgery. There was a blur of vet visits, emails to peers and beyond asking for help; so much time spent. Didn’t I already do enough? Why does this trip have to be so difficult?
I’d been careful driving so that I wasn’t near other cars if I could help it. I think that’s what saved our lives because I had to do a very quick, careful, maneuver around the fender that put me out of my lane for a few seconds. I couldn’t overdo the turn. I flashed back to “C-P-R,” (correct, pause, recover), a move I learned taking a Skip Barber Professional Driving class 15 years ago when my life was a lot more carefree and I drove a zippy yellow Mustang GT with a 250hp motor and 18” wheels. The road was so flooded if I wasn’t careful with the correction, with the crappy condition of my tires I would have spun out of control and been hit. As it was I thought I was going to hit the fender no matter what I did and I held my breath waiting for the screech of metal on metal to flay the paint off the right side of my car.
©2014 Robin AF Olson.
Thankfully I just barely missed the fender and was able to get over to my exit heading us east a few moments later. Freya had no idea what was going on, but I was so angry and upset that the sky should have dried up right then and there. The toll had been paid; the price collected out of the sprouting gray hairs on my head, but the rain and wind continued to batter us as it made me even more determined to get to Boston.
-----------------to be continued...