Thursday, June 10, 2010

Abby & The Afterhours Clinic

(A photo of the afterhours clinic courtesy of Google's Streetview)

That’s enough of cat stories for now. Let’s jump back to 1996. These vet stories reminded me of Abby’s first trip to the emergency after hours veterinarian clinic. The event took place in June so Abby was about 4 months old and starting to get big to the point where she could no longer sit in our laps. I saw the accident that resulted in her trip to the afterhour’s clinic. It was still daylight out so it was before 9pm, but I was home so it was most likely after 6. I was jumping on the trampoline while Abby was exploring the backyard, making her way to the steps on the patio. She went up the stairs and walked to the edge of the landing. A cart, which had wheels on it, interested her. She was eyeing the item and began sniffing it. I knew she was curious by nature, so I kept doing my thing and didn’t think much of what she was doing. However what Abby did next seemingly took place in slow motion. She placed a front paw on the cart which began to roll out from under her. She had placed enough weight on the cart that she lost her balance and fell. The drop was only a foot and a half, tops, but it was enough to smart her. Abby began to cry, and she kept crying until one of us went over and consoled her.

My mom was the first one over to her and she looked over at me and yelled ‘Are you just going to stand there, or are you going to help this dog? God damn it you’re a cruel son of a bitch!’ (My mom isn’t too good at crisis management.) I petted Abby. We looked in the phone book for an afterhour’s clinic, and we found a place off of Glenwood Avenue. Ironically, the clinic is on a road called ‘Vick Avenue’! For those unaware who Michael Vick is, he is the star NFL player whose career was interrupted because he spent about a year in prison for charges of animal cruelty. We placed Abby in the car, and my mom drove us to the clinic in her white Mazda.
The clinic is a one story building that looks like it was a house converted for business use. There is not a receptionist at the desk, so the front door is kept locked and clients have to ring a bell to gain entrance into the building. When we arrived in the lobby, a couple of people were there ahead of us. I don’t know if they had a dog or cat. The older person was a man in his mid to late 50’s and the female was probably his daughter and in her 20’s. They didn’t say much to us while we all waited for our pets to be treated.

A vet tech led us into an examination room, handed us a clipboard and asked us to fill out some paperwork. For those who don’t know, the prices charged at an afterhour’s clinic aren’t cheap. It costs $100 just to walk in the door. The average price I’ve experienced at this clinic which I’ve had to use 4 or 5 times is ~$400. These guys want their money, and on the day services are provided. If the estimated costs are high, they want an upfront deposit before any treatment will be done.

We told the vet what Abby did and how she was limping after the accident. We were not sure if she broke a bone and wanted to make sure it was simply a sprain and not a break. I believe the vet took Abby back to the X-ray machine. I do know my mom and I were sent back to the lobby to wait while Abby was taken to the back for more tests.
The two people who were in the lobby when we arrived were still there. The lobby had a small 13” TV which had poor reception. I vaguely recall a Bulls game was on. They were in the Championships and went on to win the title that year. It was better than nothing. Meanwhile, more clients were arriving at the clinic. They would ring the bell, but before anyone could respond, the young lady would stand, walk over to the door and let the clients in. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but this thin, gaunt looking girl had some type of neuromuscular degenerative disorder. She needed braces for support when she stood or walked. For some reason, I felt guilty sitting on my fat ass while she popped up and went to the door. I tried to beat her to the punch but it seemed like every time my mind wandered off, someone would show up at the door and the young lady would make her way over to the entrance. As politically incorrect as this will sound, it was painful to watch and I felt sorry for her.

On top of all this was some weird vibe and dynamic the father and daughter had with each other. Whenever she spoke to him in her raspy forced voice, the father would respond curtly to her. The guy never raised his voice or spoke in a threatening way, but he was mean as hell to her nonetheless. I’ve wondered to this day the reasons for the seeming dysfunction in their relationship. It was disconcerting, weird and riveting all at the same time. Obviously, I think about what was going on with those two even to this day.

Abby was finally returned to us. She had a slight sprain, but from the way she was crying after the accident, you would have thought she was dying or something. I loved Abby a whole bunch, but she was a big crybaby when it came to pain. At the time she was crying or whimpering in pain, it upset me but at the same time endeared me to her.

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