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February 14, 2014: Hurry Up and Wait Plus Postscript

There are some disadvantages to moving efficiently and fast – one of these is that if you move quickly, you’ll spend more time waiting for something to happen. For example, get someplace early and you’ll have to wait for someone who is running late.

Then again, there are those times in which no matter how fast or slow you move, you will hit the wait wall. The classic example is airports. Airport terminals are a literal liminal space in which you’re caught between the worlds

of coming and going. Once on the plane, you’re moving again. Yippie Skippy. You can keep yourself occupied in an airport by reading, eating, drinking, knitting, cleaning out your wallet, talking on your hand held device, or chatting companionably with others. You can’t relax because you know that you’ll soon be on the move again.

Other places where one experiences hurry up and wait – lines (for the post office, stores, and movie theatres) and waiting rooms (for doctors, dentists, and physical therapists). I have often, while standing in these lines, thought that it would be good to have line Sherpa, people who hold your place while you go and do other things.

Sometimes one hurries up and waits outside of designated boundaries. Like when you’re waiting for a person or animal who is in surgery. It doesn’t matter where you are – it is still a liminal space.

Right now both Pete and I are waiting on Rainbow, who is in surgery. We’re home, it’s still winter. The temperatures are low – it’s bitter cold inside. But it’s quiet. The wind has ceased to blow, and the radio is off. I’m trying to keep busy, by writing and doing administrativa. Pete’s working on his chainsaw book.

This morning I took Rainbow to the North Star Animal Clinic. This turned out to be a tough thing for me to do. Her chart indicated that she’s to have a lumpectomy, and after, have the mass biopsied. All we now know is that the growth has been growing. It was discovered a month ago, by the veterinary technician. She found it when we took her in to have her cough diagnosed. There it was, a lump on the outside of her anus. We might not have discovered it because otherwise, Rainbow has been fine. She’s been eating, sleeping, pooping, running around on the trail. The past few days she’s been moving a bit more slowly. But most certainly, she’s not been in pain.

I had to wait in line at the animal hospital for some time. I had decided not to bring Rainbow inside – she doesn’t like veterinary clinics, and I respect that. So of course, my asking to take her in the side door was a complication for the obviously overworked receptionist. But as I stood in line, I noted that all the dogs there (and there were a good number present) were special to their owners. But what I wanted to say was that Rainbow is even more special than most. We’ve had her longer than any of our other animals, and she’s accompanied us on many adventures, including two long horse treks. She’s always been a dog with a mind of her own, and I, who tend to micro-manage animals’ lives, have over time learned to respect this.

In thinking of her, small and inconsequential incidents come to mind. Like the time we brought Stubbi, our chicken home, and put her cage up on the wall in the front area. We thought that the cage was well out of Rainbow’s reach, but quite clearly, she could easily jump four feet in the air. And there was the time that she treed a cat and I could not catch her. Round and round the tree we went, with her barking and keeping free of my grasp. She was in her younger years a lunatic – so at night I took to doing what I called Fireside Chats. As she laid crashed out, I would tell what she might do better, next time.

This past year of Rainbow’s life has been her absolute best. I didn’t used to take her for long walks, but this changed when we got her a walking harness. This has made it easier to walk her because she no longer is inclined to pull. And when she’s out, she appears to be ten years younger than she actually is. (She’s now 13 years old). We haven’t gotten much snow, but I did ski jour a few times with her. She is the perfect ski jouring companion – I ask her to wait, and she does. I ask her to pull, and she does.

And yesterday – when we were out with the horses – Rainbow positioned herself behind Hrimmi and followed her, and when Hrimmi stopped, she stopped. And she ignored Ryder who in a very noisy way, repeatedly tried to get her to play. (When it got to be too much, I put Ryder on the long line.)

So now I wait. I expect that we’ll hear how Rainbow’s doing around 2 p.m., so either Pete or I are going to remain in the house until this time. I feel like crawling into bed. But rather, I’ll somehow summon up the energy and get the other animals out. A walk will do them and me good.

I suspect that right now, there are others also in the hurry up and wait liminal space. In all instances, outcomes are uncertain. Some will survive lengthy and complicated surgeries, and some will die while undergoing simple procedures. This is because all surgery is risky. I have in the past few days heard many stories, stories that I wish people had kept to themselves.

If, say, it’s Rainbow’s time, it’s her time. Maybe it’s better that she dies today, quickly, rather than later, slowly. A dog that’s more special than most does not deserve to be in pain for any time at all. I’m obviously thinking here of the very worst case scenario. Hurry up and wait. All I can do until we get the call is keep myself busy. And I’m good at that.

A Postscript

This afternoon, Pete went to the veterinarian’s office and picked up Rainbow. I’d kept myself busy after writing the above dispatch by first walking the dogs, and then walking Raudi and Tinni. Really, all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed, but I somehow overcame the inertia of my spirit and got moving. Being outside did me a world of good. There’s something about being outside on a wind-whipped day, with healthy animals, that does one good.

Pete soon returned home with Rainbow as I was cleaning the horse pen. I went to the top of the driveway, and saw her head encircled by one of those seeming ridiculous Elizabethan dog collars. She looked alert. However, she was extremely uncoordinated and groggy. Pete carried her up into the house and set her on the living room dog bed. She soon got up and staggered around. I did not look at her butt.

The news from Dr. Henry could not have been better She told Pete that she didn’t think the lump was cancerous – it came off cleanly. We decided not to send it in for a biopsy—rather, she put in a jar of formalin. If Rainbow’s lump grows back, she’ll send it in and have it diagnosed.

Needless to say, Pete and I are both pleased with this very good turn of events. We don’t know for sure that the lump was benign, but right now, all is okay. In a few days, Rainbow will again be going for romps in the woods with me and her two canine friends. If anything, this near scare has made me love this dog even more than previously. And previously, my love for her was already off the charts.

Next: 46. 2/14/14: Uncoordinates