It’s been a year and less than two months since a pandemic was called, and the world changed.
But now we got a new pres, and he took charge of this pandemic. He’s got vaccines going into arms.
I got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine the 20th of April. It felt celebratory. From the staff to security guards, congratulating folks as they left the place. My appt site was out at Bayview, a short cab drive from here.
I had no side-effects, other than a sore arm for a few days. I still wear a mask, keep distance, and stay home. But I do feel a sense of relief, cuz, theoretically, I’m safer now. But, IDK. The experts don’t know for sure, cuz it’s a learn as you go thing. How long will the vaccine last? I don’t think they know.
Poetry readings moved to Zoom. I was happy to hear they went online; I missed the readings. The coolest thing is you can live anywhere. Someone from New York shows, someone from Kansas shows. Folks from up and down California show. We all meet for a poetry reading w/o leaving home. Live readings are better, though. In a live reading, there’s an energy. Energy between people, among people. That’s missing in a Zoom reading. But it’s better than nothing.
At the last reading, I read a poem I wrote for my dog, Isabel. Shit. I could barely get through it. I struggled to not cry. “I’m sorry,” I said, “I’m very emotional about my dog.” I would stop, shut my eyes, take a deep (shaky) breath, tried to keep my mug from contorting and tears from falling. Geezus, I must have been a pathetic sight to see and hear. Afterward, Sash (fake name) turns on their mic, and says, “Estela, you don’t have to apologize for caring about your dog.” Maybe they felt embarrassed for me. IDK. Their tone felt a bit judgy. To me. The intonation. But I’m a very sensitive person. And how did I answer? I nodded and said, “I’m sorry,” and turned off my mic and camera to cry in private.
It’s the pandemic. Pandemic fatigue. It’s come to make me feel like jelly.
Isabel had three teeth pulled last October. The vet couldn’t pull a fourth rotten tooth, cuz Isabel’s heart-rate dropped dangerously low. It was a close call. It seemed to unnerve the vet, and of course it unnerved me. She cleaned the tooth, and left it at that. It would fall out she said. IDK if it has. I haven’t seen any tooth lying around anywhere, and I can’t look in her mouth, cuz Isabel says, “Stay the hell away from my mouth!” So, I do.
I had taken her in cuz she yelped when I picked her up. I didn’t know what hurt. Her vet didn’t find anything wrong with her, the lab results looked good. But she had four rotten teeth. They had to come out. Now, she has a lump in her toe. Her little back paw. This lump must have been growing, and her foot was tender, so she yelped. But nothing was detected in the lab work, and nothing was obvious. It was early March, I took Isabel out back to do her business, and I noticed she had a fat paw. I made an appt. for her.
Her vet was out ill, and I agreed to have another vet look at her. I’d never met this one. I told her Isabel was a fearful dog, and can be aggressive. She asked if Isabel would be more comfortable if we spoke Spanish.
Cuz Isabel is a Chihuahua-mix? Cuz I have brown skin?
“I’d be more comfortable,” she says. She’s from Brazil.
It’s assumed I speak Spanish. Fluently. I’m a Texan. But I grew up in a small town near Sacramento. “I only have few fragments left, a few words and phrases,” I told her. “English is easier for me.”
“Oh,” she says, disappointed, “I just thought…OK,” and we proceeded in English.
Some folks I’ve met get upset that I don’t speak Spanish. It isn’t so much that I don’t speak it, it’s that I don’t understand a lot of it. I’ve lost what I once knew from childhood and Spanish courses I took for my language requirement in college. I didn’t intentionally lose it, it just worked out that way. I’ve had a couple or three people take a subtle dig, give a look. Micro-aggressions. IDC. I try not to cross paths w them, if I can help it.
The vet took Isabel to the back room, and in a few minutes came running back to the room where I waited. (They say it’s easier to handle a dog w/o the owner being present, so they take the dog into different room for the thorough examination, in case you don’t know.) She says, “I take it you look closely at this dog.” And I go, “What?” I didn’t like her tone or the implication, but I remained cool.
“SHE HAS A TUMOR!” she says, excitedly, a little hysterical, really, as if something were my goddamn fault. She proceeds to give me the third degree: when did I notice it, how long has she had it, when did I call? Then she stops, and says, more to herself, “But she’s been seen.” And I said, “Yeah. She’s been seen plenty of times.” She told me she would take a sample and send it to the lab, and rushed back to complete her exam. It isn’t the questions that annoyed me, it was how she asked. Her tone loaded with suspicion and blame.
She called three days later and said the lab concluded it’s an idiosyncratic growth, not a tumor. Could be arthritis, or could be an old injury, causing some kind of build-up in her bone. And here I’d been thinking my dog would lose her leg or her life. I broke into tears of gratitude and relief to hear it was not life-threatening. She will lose her toe, though. And that made me cry too. To have her little toe amputated. To pick her up from the vet with her toe chopped off. I couldn’t stand to think about it. This vet says, “MY GOD! THIS ISN’T A DEATH SENTENCE FOR YOUR DOG!”
I thanked her for the info, told her I would gather myself and clear my head so I could absorb all this. She asked if I wanted an anti-inflammatory for Isabel. I told not at this time. I’m not a vet. I don’t know what meds Isabel needs. Why she asking me? Then she said I could take Isabel to see her for the follow-ups, since she is the one who diagnosed this. But it was up to me which vet I took her to.
Would she have reacted differently if I had communicated with her in Spanish? IDK. I kind of think so, but that don’t make it so.
I took Isabel in to see her regular vet for the follow-up. I told her I don’t want Isabel to have her toe removed. She told me what I already knew, that if it hurts her and makes her miserable, it’s gotta go. “It isn’t ethical to let a dog be in pain,” she said, calmly. “I know,” I said. “I came to that conclusion. I don’t want her to go through that, but if it’s in her best interest, then I have to let that happen.” When Isabel has her teeth cleaned again, prob end of the year, she’ll also lose her toe. Her vet said, tongue-in-cheek, “She doesn’t need that toe.” I took that to mean, she’ll be fine without it. I know she will. Of course I know that. I’ve seen plenty of three-legged dogs happily walking with their humans. I’ve seen handicapped dogs. And this is just one little toe. But this is my beloved Isabel. The dog no one wanted, tossed out to fend for herself. My unbalanced little critter, whose made so much progress. Slowly, but definitely. It’s a thrill to see her improve.
Her vet didn’t charge me for the follow-up. She didn’t have to do that. But she did, and I’m grateful. She’s been a great vet for Isabel. She said Isabel shouldn’t be on an anti-inflammatory at this time. I’m glad I declined when the back-up vet asked if I wanted a prescription for her. My intuition was right.
Pandemic Part 2 this year. They don’t know how long the vaccine will be effective. There’s been a few issues. I’m still hearing contradictions about the origins of the virus. There are still unknowns. I feel ambivalent about the vaccine. I still wear a mask. I walked up 24th Street the day of my 2nd dose, taking Isabel with me. I carry her in a sling. She loves it. I went to get a lotto ticket. (Someone in San Francisco hit it, but it wasn’t me, damnit.) So many businesses are gone. It’s sad to see that. This virus has kicked ass. We’ve got climate issues. And there’s some political insanity going on as well. I worry about it. I think often of the poem Dinosauria, We, by Charles Bukowski. (Maybe I’ve mentioned this before. This does rather spin in my head.) It’s a crazy new world. But mostly I feel all right. Curious. A little bit hopeful.