Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Happy freakin' birthday to me!

Yesterday was my birthday...number 55. I thought the double-nickel deserved a little extra treatment so I took the day off and planned some special "me-time". I never get to do that since this is such a bazootie time at work. The appointments were scheduled, the weather forecast was ideal. All systems were go for a great day.

My first appointment was with a cup of gourmet coffee in my special "It's Good to be the Queen" cup. It was just me, my coffee, my knitting and the Today show. mmm-MMM-mmm --good stuff!

My plan was to take myself out to breakfast at my favorite diner: Bayou Kitchen. A plate of "gator eggs" with a side of andouille sausage and some cornbread was just what I needed to kick off the rest of the day. Unfortunately, the Bayou Kitchen operates on a rather whimsical schedule, known only to them and possibly determined by the hangover level of the chef. The Saints game on Monday night must have been a rough one for him. No Bayou Kitchen-- damn! So, it was off to my second choice, Bintliff's. But I did get a Cajun Benedict from their menu so I felt a little vindicated. It really was delicious!

Next it was off to my haircut with my favorite hairdresser, Nancy, my neighbor across the street. Not only does she do a fantabulous job cutting my hair, but we neatly solve the world's problems, as well as those of our immediate neighbors in our hour together.

Of course, at that point, the camera battery crapped out on me again. It was just as well, my next stop was a marvelous, relaxing full body massage. I really don't think pictures of THAT appointment would be either tasteful or appropriate. My friend Ellen did a great job of unknotting the tension kinks in my shoulders, back and legs. What a wonderful way to throw off the everyday stresses. Little did I realize how soon all of that good work would be undone.

The rest of the afternoon was uneventful...lunch, an afternoon of napping and knitting, and anticipating a marvelous dinner out with Brendan at Portland's premier restaurant, Fore Street.

We had 6:30 reservations so we decided to take Isla up to Baxter Woods for her usual evening fun run as soon as he came home from work at 4:30. She did her usual amount of pulling and dragging, excited to be going to her favorite place. Once up there and unleased she was off like a race horse, sprinting through the woods, criss-crossing the path we were walking until suddenly she emerged from the bushes with a noticable limp. As we checked her front left paw my stomach flipped. Blood was gushing from the area near her large pad. As we looked closer, we noticed a gash so large that it had nearly severed the pad from her foot completely. Brendan ran home to get the car and I sat with her, trying to calm her, until he arrived. Those twenty minutes seemed like an eternity.

We made the decision to race her up to our vet's office, praying that it was one of their late nights to be open. It was now 5:30. The bleeding was profuse and she was obviously in a lot of pain. Our wonderful vet took her in right away, assessed the cut and determined that she needed surgery. Brendan called the restaurant, explained the situation and they told us to relax and get there as soon as we could... they would hold the reservation. That was huge, considering that a reservation there is no mean feat. I suggested that we reschedule but Brendan wanted to wait to see if we could still salvage a birthday dinner that was actually on my birthday. He's such a sweetie. We were both frantic about Isla's condition but he still wanted my day to be special.

They did surgery immediately, putting in over 20 sutures. The vet said it was a very bad cut and that there actually was tendon showing. Only time will tell if it heals completely because she warned us that injuries of this sort often re-occur. She also said that another vet from a nearby Emergency Animal Clinic happened to be there and mentioned that she had a case of a dog who nearly died because he had been running (also in Baxter Woods) and had severed his femoral artery. They came to the conclusion that the culprit in both cases was most likely broken glass.

The woods seem to have become a drinking hangout for a certain element who then get their kicks by leaving the broken bottles around. So many people are up there with their dogs running loose, I would hate to have another family experience the anguish we did last night -- or even worse. Isla absolutely adores going there and the freedom she has to just run at full tilt. Unfortunately, she probably won't be able to do that again. We will have to limit her running to the small field or the one behind Baxter School. It makes me angry to think that someone's selfish act of carelessness is going to cost her that freedom.

We could organize a cleanup to get rid of the glass that is up there, but it won't stop people from replacing that glass with more. We could post signs asking people to please take their bottles with them or put them in the trash can but I am not naive enough to think that signs will be much of a deterrent.

It's a beautiful spot that we are so lucky to have for ourselves and our dogs. I only wish there were some way to get people to realize that we are all caretakers of that beauty and that every act of thoughtlessness has a potentially tragic outcome.

An hour later, out she walked, still a bit groggy, whimpering and holding up her paw as if to say, "look what they did to me!" But she had kisses for us and a wagging tail when she saw us. We got our post-op instructions, pain meds and antibiotics, the dreaded "elizabethan collar" to keep her from pulling off the bandaging and made followup appointments. We settled the $335 bill (yikes!) and took her home. It was so sad to see her suffering with her large cast-like bandage. She's like a pirate with a peg-leg.

This birthday was heading south really fast. But, on the vet's suggestion, we decided to go to dinner since she was still pretty out of it and would most likely
sleep for the next few hours. So, with decidedly mixed emotions, off we went.

Fore Street is a magic place. Gourmet Magazine has ranked it #16 in the country for Restaurants of distinction. It is a restaurant that is always crowded but still manages to make each patron feel special. The hostesses were genuinely concerned about Isla's condition and one of them was extremely concerned because she often walks her dog in those same woods. After a very brief wait, we were seated.

We started our dinner with a well-deserved cocktail: a bloody mary for me and Kir Royale for Brendan. As we sipped, the most delicious bread arrived. All of their bread is baked by Standard Baking, the bakery where Brendan works on Sunday mornings. For appetizers we shared two choices: mussels steamed in a rich, garlicky broth (a perfect partner for that great bread) and an amazing tomato tart served on a delicate puff pastry with goat cheese and a delicate sauce. Brendan chose a venison dish for a main course and I had some lamb that was melt-in-my-mouth tender. Fore Street uses wood-fired stoves which give all of their foods a special flavor. We also ordered a side dish of garlicky mashed potatoes which were out of this world, with bits of skin left in them for additional flavor. Brendan ordered a delicious merlot to accompany the dinner. We were unhurried and the service was attentive without being hovering. I was very satisfied after the main course but I had to sample one of their legendary desserts so I picked one of their light ones: a blueberry sorbet. I wasn't prepared for the intensity of flavor. It was like popping a handful of the freshest blueberries from the wild barrens with the slightest hint of lemon. Just amazing!

Isla was never far from our minds throughout dinner, although we had decided that it served no useful purpose to dwell on her pain. We finished up and headed home. When we got there we found her sleeping just inside the back door, waiting for us to come home, resting uncomfortably in her big plastic collar.

It was a rough night. She woke up periodically whimpering and crying out in pain. We gave her a first dose of the painkiller at 5:30AM, along with her first dosage of the antibiotic. Brendan's schedule was lighter than mine today so he called in and stayed with her throughout the day. We broke our steadfast rule about allowing her up on the bed and neither of us regrets the decision, although it means we will never be able to keep her off again.

It will be a long road to her full recovery, assuming that can actually happen. Our immediate concern is that the healing process goes well, allowing her to keep the pad, her foot and ultimately her leg. She had such a rough start to her young life; she deserves so much more than she got yesterday. Please keep her in your prayers. She means the world to us.



I am so glad you got to treat yourself before the tragedy with Isla. I hope she is doing okay and I will keep her in my thoughts. I know how much she means to you. Hope to see you soon so I can give you 55 kisses for good luck!!! Sue

Busymom51 said...

Thanks so much, Sue. It certainly was a day of highs and lows. Look forward to seeing you sometime soon...but 55 kisses? That could really get people talking about us :0

Isla is really laying low - so different from her usual over-exuberant self. She keeps extending her leg to me as if to say, "make this thing go away!" We'll find out tomorrow if the healing is going ok. Keep your fingers crossed!

gooddogz said...

Happy Birthday! I had no idea how bad the dog was. At teacher from Hall told me they ran into you. Poor everyone.
So-should we go to Baxter and take pics of all the glass and blog the crap out of it or what???