Sunday, July 12, 2009

Actually, Benadryl is the best medicine

**NOTE** The 4th of July holiday gave me two deadlines in one week, so for the second one I just polished up this one that I'd almost completed the night Evan was born. We'll be back to All Evan, All the Time next week.

As I carried my dog Memphis up the hill back to our house last week, feeling like Forrest Gump carrying a wounded Lieutenant Dan, I wondered if, to a casual onlooker, it might seem as though I was trying to start a new trend, like how rich people show everyone that they’re rich by carrying Chihuahuas around in their purses.

The trouble began when, midway through our walk around the neighborhood, I unhooked Memphis from her leash, which occurs in much the same way someone might unhook a cannonball from a cannon. Memphis dashed across our neighbor’s yard to greet Misty, her favorite Weimaraner, which is a kind of dog and not a type of German sausage, as a reasonable person might assume.

Misty is so much larger than my dog that when she begins chasing Memphis in circles around the yard, as she did that evening, their relationship looks identical to that of a greyhound and a mechanical bunny. Memphis darted between two trees, Misty took the long way around, and when they reunited, the dogs passed each other like two trains in the night, provided those trains were on the same track. Their collision knocked Memphis hard to the ground.

“Game over,” the dogs said to each other with their eyes. Memphis limped back to my feet and sat down as Misty apologized as clearly as if Dr. Doolittle was translating.

Thankfully, through the wonders of modern technology, all I had to do was call my wife Kara to come pick us up, using my cell phone that I’d left on the coffee table.

I hefted Memphis’ thirty-six pounds into my arms and started the long walk home, her head bobbing with each step like Cleopatra riding in her sedan.

The vet’s office was closed when we get home. In the morning, Memphis looked much improved, walking with only the slightest hint of a limp, so we decided to wait and see. When pets are hurt just a little, it’s tough to know whether your decision not to take them to the vet is driven by your sense of what’s right for the animal or by your cheapness. Or your frugality, as cheap people call it.

Even with people, it can be tough to know what to do. A few years back, we’d gotten burned seeking unnecessary medical treatment for Kara. After returning from a vacation in an old, falling-down house, a rash showed up on Kara’s back. Ordinarily, this would have been a wait-and-see medical event, but Kara was scheduled to be a bridesmaid in less than a week. In a backless dress! Well, not entirely backless. The bottom part had a back. But with the rash spreading quickly on a Saturday night, we decided we couldn’t wait for Monday morning to see somebody about it, so our only option was the emergency room. We’d already talked to a pharmacist, and her recommendation to apply Cortaid had done little to stem Kara’s burgeoning leprosy.

As we drove there, I pictured us sitting in the ER waiting room with blood-spattered people calmly holding their severed digits in their laps, waiting their turn.

“Her back’s itchy,” I would whisper to them. “Do you mind if we go first?”

As it turned out, we were the only ones in the ER that night. After waiting for an hour, Kara disappeared with the doctor for ten minutes, then came back out shaking her head.

“What did the doctor tell you?” I asked.

“To take Benadryl,” she said.

“No free samples?” I asked.

“No. We really shouldn’t have come here,” she said.

Our share of the bill came to $450. We should have bought an above-ground pool and filled it with Benadryl instead.

In any event, the past few days have found Memphis back in mid-season form, and she’s learned her lesson. She only collides with Shih-Tzus now.

You can fan Mike Todd with palm fronds at

1 comment:

  1. Okay...we readers understand how it is......your son comes home and we are the very least you could have provided a photo or two, but NOOOOO! nothing at all.

    P.S. Sending good wishes to all.