Monday this week, I called the veterinarian’s office and discussed with them bringing in two cats for neutering – one male and one female. I told them Saturday morning, since I am off work for a week and can stay home to give them their meds and be sure they are healing properly. I called this office because the e-mail I sent to the other vet I sometimes use was never answered. They told me an appointment for Saturday morning was not necessary (just come in), and how much it would cost, and that the meds were included in the cost, about 200 dollars for both. OK.
At 6:30 on Saturday morning, I checked with my neighbor who was outside already about a ride to the city – she was taking her dog to her vet for boarding, and could drop me and three cats in crates, too. This was a HUGE favor for a car-less person. Many taxis here in Panama won’t pick you up if you have an animal carrier, and neither will the city bus. So, we arrive, unload the crates, and I discover once inside the store that the store’s veterinarian clinic is CLOSED FOR REMODELING. Not just that the vet is sick that day and can’t come in – oh, no. Closed for remodeling. And my ride is driving off…….SNIT.
So, I go to the street and start flagging taxis. These two cats have been without food since last night to prepare for their surgery this morning, and I only have this week to be home to care for them as they recover. This has to happen NOW. The first taxi says no when I confess ‘tres gatos in cajas’ (three cats in boxes). The second taxi is more ratty-looking, and he says yes. Since I don’t know where to go, I tell him veterinarian’s office – and off we go. He takes me to Spay Panama clinic, and they have a line of about 50 people already (before 8 am), but the lady there kindly tells my driver another vet office, and off we go…again. The third office has the lady at the front desk selling the Science Diet, but no doctor is in. She comes out and tells my driver another office nearby. I go in to vet number 4 and praise God, I get a yes. It is going to cost more than twice what my original vet was going to charge, but this one is open, and this has to happen TODAY.
I return to the taxi and pay the guy 30 bucks for being so super in my emergency, which delights him so much that he gives me his phone number and says for me to call when they are done and he will take me home. I fill out papers, and leave two cats for neutering surgery, and one for a visit about itchy skin rash (Caruso, above). Then I go next door to the grocery store, and carefully and thoroughly peruse every single shelf, shopping to kill time (a dangerous proposition for me, let me tell you). Plus, the store has a nice, little, inexpensive cafe, and I also dawdle over a leisurely lunch of $3.00 chicken, rice and lentils, plus a doughnut and a slice of cake, with two large cups of some interesting sweet/tart fruit juice.
Then, having nowhere else to go, I tote the loot back over to the vet’s office and settle down to wait in their air conditioning. This is Panama, and I am not a total fool. It is only 12:00. I doze fitfully in the chair until 4:00, when the vet comes out and tells me they are fine, gives me the ‘recipe,’ as she calls it, of medicine instructions for all three. The meds are another sixty bucks, on top of the 370 for the two surgeries and the consultation about the skin fungus (as it turns out).
I call Jorge, the taxi driver, and when he arrives 15 minutes later, we negotiate a fee to return home, we load up my groceries and the kitties, and off we go, accompanied by a chorus of stressed-out kitty meows. It’s been a long day, mom, and they discuss this with me (and Jorge) all the way home.
Part way there, I see a strange, moving lump on the side of the road, and realize it is a three-toed sloth crossing the road – when I exclaim “It’s a sloth!!” Jorge stops the taxi and backs up – I hop out and direct traffic around the sloth until another car stops, and a man with a cloth band hooks it around the sloth and hauls him/her to the other side of the road to safety, and we are all off again. Excitement over. It’s nice that everyone was protective of the sloth. I had never been that close to one before.
We get home, and I pay and tip Jorge and tote everybody and the groceries into the house. It is well after 5 pm, and everybody needs feeding, including me. Then, it is time to medicate everybody. As I do this, I notice that Cielo, the male cat that was neutered, has his tummy shaved as if he were getting the female spay incision – way up his belly and his sides – far more than necessary for the more simple, less invasive male procedure. I guess the vet got busy shaving before they read the directions on the bottom of Cielo and figured out this one was the BOY, and it was the other one that was the girl!
As I type this, Dulce, the girl, is snoozing at my feet, after antibiotics, vitamins and pain meds, and a nice comfort session in my lap, getting stroked and petted like she likes it. Cielo hates the lampshade collar that prevents him from licking his sore spots with his sandpaper tongue, and he keeps bumping into me and everything else. But everybody is cared for, and it is DONE!! Now, to get well!!