I called Dr. Norwood's office around 1:00 PM and asked whether I could make an appointment for Carmella to have her worming shot and check on the Zithromax. It was one of the older black twin receptionists who answered the phone.
"Carmella made it through the weekend!" I reported into the receiver.
"That's great!" came the response on the other end.
I made the appointment and then they connected me to the vet tech who told me the Zithromax had come in. He avoided my question about Dr. Johnson's answer, then transferred me back to the receptionist again. This time if was Felicia, the younger white woman with brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. She sounded particularly bouncy today, uncharacteristically so, but I figured that maybe something good had just happened in her life on this particular day.
Later when I arrived at the vet's office omething seemed different. Felicia, the receptionist who had never been very warm before suddenly greeted me with a big smile, and for some reason the whole office seemed to be behaving like a restaurant on the day of their inspection by the Health Department. For a moment I wondered if I was imagining it or if it was real.
A tall, black drug rep dressed in a dark grey suit was making conversation with the receptionists behind the counter about a drug for arthritis. I found myself wondering whether that was the company that manufactured Baytril or some other rival medication. He looked over to where I sat with Carmella resting on my lap and smiled briefly, then turned and went back to his sales pitch to the receptionists.
When I was called back Carmella almost ran to jump on another dog down the hall before turning left into the room. The vet tech pulled the leash in that direction and closed the door behind us.
I said, "Look at how lively she is! She's really come back to life!" His mouth did not move to smile and it seemed almost as though he were willing it not to. Then I knew something was definitely up. I wondered why everybody was not jumping up and down with amazement; only this canned version of happiness. It began to make me question my sanity. Was I the only one seeing how good Carmella looked, or was this indicative of something else?
I felt as though I was scrambling to figure out what to say next. Carmella pulled on the leash some more, scratched at the carpet and promptly peed. I apologized and said that she must be nervous or something. The vet tech, said, "Oh, that's alright, don't worry about it".
Then he made some comment about that even though Carmella looks much better they still had to follow protocol because "it never goes away". I asked him what he meant by that. She'd been in there for several weeks every few days and they'd never mentioned it before. I asked if he meant the protocol she was on for her treatment, and he said, "No, we have to wear special suits so other dogs won't get infected". It looked to me as if he wore the same uniform he always had, basically what amounted to royal blue scrubs. He was not wearing a mask or anything of that nature and the shirt was short-sleeved. It didn't appear as though it were made of special impermiable or waterproof material. I wondered if he were joking, but he didn't seem to be when I looked at his expression. Then I wondered if the office got freaked out about the neuro symptoms which had developed over the weekend. They must not have known that now it could only be transmitted via the tear ducts, so unless a dog licked her eye or her eye touched his outfit which touched another dog's eye or mouth it was pretty unlikely.
"She should be cured once she gets the other part for the neuro symptoms", I responded, to which he said, "I'll have Dr. Norwood come in and talk to you about that." Still he was not jumping up and down with joy and not smiling, so I figured it must be bad news.
Dr. Norwood came in shortly, the vet tech by his side, leaned on the table with his chart and said, "Well Dr. Johnson got back to me today and it's looking almost for sure that he's not gonna do it."
I felt cold air hit my face as though a draft had suddenly come into the tiny closed exam room. Carmella seemed to bounce nervously around like a ping-pong ball picking up on the vibes.
The vet tech didn't leave the room, but instead stood by the door with arms crossed like a sentinel. I looked over and smiled as if to say, OK, I'd humor him on this dramatic scene, but really, all this wasn't necessary. Something was getting really wierd in there. I'd seen human doctors do this every once in awhile when they wanted a wittness because they were afraid they'd get sued. I wondered why Dr. Norwood would even think that I would be considering such a thing. He had done the treatment for the body and as far as I could tell it was a success. Whatever Dr. Johnson did or failed to do had nothing to do with him or the treatment he'd given Carmella. I wondered what the hell that man said to him that had him and the whole staff on edge.
Dr. Norwood went on to say that Dr. Johnson was offended by some of Daveyo's anti-vet comments in his written instructions, and that he was too at first, but that he wasn't now, but that that could have contributed to why Dr. Johnson did not want to treat Carmella although he didn't think it was the primary reason. I said that yes, he could come on kind of strong at times but I think it was because of what happened to his own dogs before they got the treatment they needed, and that he was a researcher; not a vet, and from my experience alot of them are like that. I said you just have to seperate that from the science and take the demeanor with a grain of salt. I told him if I'd let that stop me I would be dead myself, as the man who saved my life wasn't what one would think of as a benevolent person, "in fact to be honest the guy was a stone jerk", but if I wanted to survive I resolved to ignore that and look at the protocol on it's own merits. We can't always choose the messenger, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The important thing here was to help Carmella and if the treatment works it works, and no interpersonal issues could change scientific facts.
"It seemed to be mostly the lack of journal articles about it that's holding him back", he went on. "Also, he said that it's really never done, putting anything into the Central Nervous System. He said the dog would almost surely go into shock. We were running fluids on her when we treated the rest of her body and she didn't even flinch, but putting stuff directly into the spinal canal like that could be much more likely to cause shock." I wondered why that would be unmanageable for someone with his expertise, as he would have at least as many anti-shock precautions at his disposal in an expensive specialty clinic.
"Just look at how much better she is", I said. "Is he going to let her die of neuro symptoms after all this? Just letting her go would be a waste of a perfectly good dog when it's not necessary. There's something he can do, he's got the skills and he's just choosing not to do it. I wondered if he thought a slow, agonizing death from eventual paralysis and/or seizures was better than the slight chance of death on the table. My son was looking into having brain surgery last summer for a benign brain tumor that caused debilitating seizures but they did not refuse to do it because there was some risk involved. They figured the benefit was worth the risk because it was interfereing with his ability to support himself. By the same token, Carmella has really nothing to lose by undergoing this procedure because the only alternative is a sure death, and judging by how she'd come through everything else with flying colors, there is reason to believe she would survive this too and even recover completely. If they'd give a person that chance, why not a dog?
One of the other people in a forum I post in about this treatment was not so lucky. Her dog died the other night in the Phillipines, and it was really because the vets involved refused to follow the instructions. Because her current vet was in a remote area and there were no neuro vets accessible her vet had to attempt the procedure on her own having never done a spinal tap in her life. She pushed the needle too far and hit the chord. Had there been a neuro vet available to offer his services her dog would probably be alive and recovering now.
This reminds me of before abortion was legalized and women had to obtain it on the black market, often not under the best conditions or by qualified practitioners.
Experienced neuro vets really need to start making themselves available so that this doesn't happen to any more dogs.
I went home from Carmella's appointment feeling dazed. None of the other names on the list I called today had panned out, but the only thing I came up with was a possible vet at a place called Loving Touch, and the possibility that Auburn or UT veterinary school might have someone willing and able to do the rest of Carmella's treatment. I'm hoping I don't have to go out of town to find somebody qualified. There must be someone in all of Atlanta.
Tomorrow back to the drawing board.