I knew when I got the stomach flu a few weeks ago that somehow I was destined to catch something else and ruin our Christmas with some form of effluent. What caught me by surprise was that everyone would be sick, including the dog and that I would spend Christmas morning on the Curve, as in Curving Avenue. For those that don’t live here, that’s pretty much as deep in the hood as you can get.
Things started to go wrong when I left all my cooking for Eva’s family only birthday get together until the morning of the event which started at 11am. A stressed out derelict mom and a stay-at-work dad can’t invent time so I was still cooking for about two hours after everyone arrived. Never fear, Eva still got her paleo chocolate cake with buttercream frosting and we managed to skype her grandparents in England but not until they were halfway into bed. It all got done and I was happy at least that I had not tried to throw her a real birthday party like we do in June for her “Unbirthday,” but the next day things started to go wrong.
On Monday it was back to work with a lunchtime escape courtesy of Chef Judah and Chef Serge at the Lido. When I returned home, my little Piggy was there waiting for me, as Reza drops him off every Monday afternoon when she takes Piccolo for his walk and we have several hours of quality time together. I knew something was wrong when I walked in and stepped in two puddles of pee. It wasn’t like him not to greet me at the door or to pee on the floor. Piggy has better manners than most of us.
When I picked him up he moaned a bit and I realized that he felt really light like he had lost weight in the few days since I had last seen him. Reza came to pick him up at about seven o’clock.
“Reza, I don’t think he is very well.”
“Yes, he wasn’t well yesterday either.”
“Do you think he could have gotten into some trash or eaten something bad?”
“Yes, the B….CH next door feeds him and when I tell her off she swears at me but I told her that I know plenty of French too.”
“Okay that’s probably what it is then. I will take him to the vet tomorrow, if we call them now and it’s not an emergency then they will say to bring him tomorrow.”
“Okay.” Reza said through tears, “I just don’t want to loose him.”
“Don’t worry we won’t loose him because he ate a bad hot dog.”
Clearly Reza knew more than I did.
A few hours later she called.
“I am sorry but I ignored what you said and I am taking Piggy to the after hours vet. I am already on my way.”
She called me on the way home and said that he had been given fluids for dehydration, and treated for gastroenteritis and that a blood test would come back tomorrow.
The following morning as I was trying to convince Eva to wear underwear and we were going through our regular repartee,
“Mummy turtles don’t wear underwear,” When the phone rang and it was the after hours vet.
“I am afraid it’s very bad news.”
Very bad news, what could that be he was fine a couple days ago!
“He has severe diabetes and liver involvement.”
“Okay what does that mean?”
“You will need to do what is best for the dog and end his suffering.”
“I can’t do that today.”
“I know its not a good time of year.”
“If that’s the answer I have to take him to my vet for a second opinion.”
“I will need your credit card for the charges.”
“I will read you the number, the stripe is burnt out anyway.”
I spent the entire day wearing sunglasses in December trying to work, wrap gifts and not drown the house plants with my tears. I was going to have to put my dog down at Christmas, the dog I had to rehome last Christmas. It was not something I could quite get my head around. He was only eleven, miniature dachshunds should live to at least sixteen. I wasn’t mentally prepared for this. How would I tell Reza?
I picked up Piggy from Reza’s house and took him to the vet for our three o’clock appointment. My vet said immediately that Piggy would NOT have to be put down.
I was in shock.
“What do you mean, he doesn’t have to be put down, you mean we can wait until the new year?”
“No, you should just have to treat the diabetes.”
She looked over the blood work and confirmed.
“He does not have liver involvement, his liver enzymes are the same as they were a few years ago, slightly elevated but it doesn’t have to do with his diabetes.”
“Will he feel better with insulin?”
“Yes he has a complication from diabetes, ketosis which is making him sick not organ failure; we should be able to get him stabilized.”
I was so relieved. I wasn’t sure how much was because I didn’t have to put him down or because I didn’t have to break that horrible news to Reza.
I stressed myself out so much the next day I woke up with a terrible cold and cough, the horrible tickly throat cough that lasts for weeks, goes into your chest, and makes you cough till you can’t breathe and you throw up. You are never sure when it will strike and if you have one in public people start to crowd around you thinking you are having a panic attack or a seizure.
I cancelled all of our Christmas Eve plans and then got the bad news that Piggy would be in hospital until Christmas morning, so I went ahead and cancelled the Christmas breakfast I was supposed to be hosting at the house, anything to get out of cooking.
On Christmas day, I picked up Reza and we headed up the country to the vets, but not before she loaded my car with Cassava Pies and said we would have to make a delivery after we picked Piggy up. I was easy with that, at least the family knew better than to make me responsible for anything other than roast potatoes for Christmas dinner.
Our vet gave Reza and I a full run down in how to give Piggy insulin shots and how to feed him and how much to feed him, and a full run down on possible complications. It was intimidating but I knew we could do it, and we had a four day weekend to get up to speed.
I was happy we were picking up Piggy and not a body bag on Christmas morning, it would not be the kind of package you expect to be handed on Christmas. Everything was looking up as Reza and I headed off west in the hazy sunshine of Christmas morning 2014. Spending it at the vets with Reza and the Pig was certainly not as bad as the Christmas morning I spent in the Maternity ward with a famished newborn. I kind of felt like an odd couple version of Thelma and Louise with a diabetic dog sitting on my lap as we headed toward town in my beat up 1997 Mazda, alone on the road when most people were feasting and opening gifts. We felt like we had escaped a much worse fate, and we each had a new lease on life as one of Piggy’s two mothers.
My exuberance was short lived.
“Reza, where is our next stop. Where are we taking all that Cassava pie.”
“We need to drop some by Stormy’s house.”
“Where does Stormy live?”
I was silent for a moment.
“We are going to deliver Cassava pies on Curving Avenue on Christmas Morning?”
“Yes.” She said.
“Jesus Christ! “
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”
“Reza, you sound like my mother.”
I thought about my options, I could admit I was scared to drive into the depth of the hood and instead opt to drop her on a street corner with more Cassava pie than she could carry and make her walk dragging a diabetic dog. Ummm no.
“You know, the Curve?” She asked
“Yes I know Curving Avenue,” I figured I was already in too deep with a back seat full of Cassava pie. Truth was the only time I had ever driven down Curving Avenue was as a news reporter eons ago, escorted by police to cover a fatal stabbing. It had just gotten more dangerous since then. In fact, gang violence was known to erupt around the holidays. I was instantly worried about Thelma and Louise, and the body bag. I wondered if someone would stick us up for Cassava Pie. I would never put that past a hungry Bermudian.
As we turned right past the sign that reads “Curving Avenue,” I sunk deep into my seat, eyes darting around, and whispered to Reza,
“Just tell me where?”
She seemed oblivious to my nervousness as she rolled down her window, and began what was an animated Robin Leech type tour of the hood.
“On the left you have Hoarders Manor, with a collection of fine furniture falling apart in the front yard, stolen or appropriated at least thirty years ago and built up in an alfresco tower to offset the front of the house, making it almost impossible to enter.”
“Above and to the right we are passing a much adorned piece of public art on a concrete edifice with the famous tagline, Money Over Bitches, inked in blood and located here with prominence to represent the artist’s emotional and physical landscape.”
As we wound silently around Curving avenue, I wondered if my Santa hat counted as a hoodie and started to worry about the case of insulin and hypodermic needles in the trunk. I considered what Thelma and Louise would do if we got stopped by an actual gangster. Reza would probably start speaking French, pull out the concealed pistol she found at the dump while I would try and offer the gangster money on my credit card to spare us and I am sure Piggy, diabetic and pint size would put on quite a fight against any pit-bull. All of that I was hoping to avoid.
“Are we there yet?”
“It is right up here by the Cake Shop.”
I braked as a motorbike came from the other direction.
“That’s Stormy’s daughter, beep your horn.”
“I am not beeping my horn on Curving Avenue.”
So Reza rolled the window down and started hollering,
“Cassava Pie delivery, Cassava Pie.”
Stormy’s daughter came over with a confused look on her face, and Reza handed her
a tray of Cassava through the window.
“I know better than to get out of the car.” Reza said to me, as we continued on our Cassava Christmas delivery route through the hood.
Happily Thelma and Louise eventually made it back to the relative safety of St. David’s and the East End massive. I kissed Reza and Piggy Merry Christmas and returned home to Eva, Daddy and Piccolo with my own tray of Cassava Pie. It was refreshing to have done something different for a change on Christmas morning and to have survived without champagne or sausages, and to have Piggy for another year of Monday visits and Saturday outings is more than enough of a Christmas gift for both of us, Thelma and Louise that is.