A Typical Day In My Life…

The day began like any other day– just before dawn, the cat clawing at any exposed part of my body (which this morning happened to be my face) so I would haul my half-asleep ass out of bed, carry him down the stairs, and let him out the front door.  He doesn’t deign to use his cat door.  That’s for suckers.  Ichi-ban is no sucker.  He lives up to his name – Number One.

I knew it would be hot today so Jake and I were out early, heading to our summer park near the wetlands along the river.  This time of year, between the ticks and the foxtails, the wilderness parks we usually hike are simply verboten.  Nothing like a big vet bill to ruin your month.

We stick to the trail – our path meanders along 5-6 miles of river bank and I keep Jake on leash in order to avoid ticks.  This park has two open grassy areas where I can let him off leash and throw his ball for him.  If we happen to run into one of his friends– and we’ve been running into many of his friends lately after they’ve had costly vet visits to remove foxtails from noses and ears– the dogs can romp in the open areas.

So what made today different from all other days?  Jake and I reached the far southern end of the park where the trail loops close to the river and then back around to the parking lot.  Low and behold, we spotted, or rather he spotted, three of his friends romping in the water about twenty feet below the edge of the bank where we stood.

The dogs’ owners greeted me and called to Jake.  I had to ponder my options.  If I let him off leash, even though there was a trail down to the water, I risked ticks.  And ya’ll know if there’s one thing I hate to death, it’s ticks.

But his friends looked like they were having a bunch of fun and he wanted to play with them.  So, I gritted my teeth, let him off leash and followed him down the bank to where the other two women were standing.  Jake, of course, immediately vanished along the shore while the other three dogs climbed back up to us.

Suddenly, one of the women began screaming.  I couldn’t understand her, the words were so garbled.  Then the other woman began shrieking.  All I knew at that moment was that this didn’t bode well and I’d better find Jake.  Hearing the commotion, like a good German shepherd he came running back to us.  I leashed him so I could attend to whatever the hell was going on.

One of the dogs had swallowed a fish hook.  Not only a fish hook, but a fish hook attached to about 2 feet of nylon fishing line with another barbed hook on the other end.  The dog was gagging and trying to swallow the whole thing.

It was like this:

Dog’s owner:  “Shriek!”

Second woman:  “What do we do?  What do we do? Oh god, what do we do?”

Dog’s owner:  “Shriek!”

Me:  “Where’s the hook?  Is it in her lip?”

Dog’s owner:  “Shriek!  I don’t know!”

Second woman:  “Sob!  What do we do?”

Me, dropping Jake’s leash and grabbing her dog by the neck:  “Let me look.”

Dog’s owner:  “Shriek!”

Dog:  Gagging, still trying to swallow the fishing line.

Second woman’s dog:  Gone.

Second woman:  “Shriek!  My dog!”

Dog’s owner:  “Shriek!”  Leashing her other dog.

Me, dragging the dog up to the trail by the scruff of her neck with one hand, my other hand in her mouth to keep her from swallowing the fishing line, Jake following.  “Where’s your car?”

Dog’s owner:  “Shriek!”

Me:  “Where’s?  Your?  Car?”

Dog’s owner:  “Shriek!”

Me:  “Get your car and drive it over here.  Go through the softball field access, over there.  Lady, get your car!”

Dog’s owner runs off shrieking.

Second woman:  “Where’s my dog?  What if she swallowed a fish hook?”

Me:  “She didn’t.  Calm down.  Find the other two dogs and hold them.  I have to keep her from swallowing the rest of this.  What’s this dog’s name?”

Second woman:  “Sob!  Maya!  I think it’s Maya.”

Me:  “Maya, sit.”

I open her mouth and stick my hand inside to feel around.  I can’t find the hook end, but I follow the fishing line as far as I can down her throat.  Can’t reach the hook.

Second woman, grabs the end of the fishing line, pulls.

Me:  “Quit!  You’ll make it worse.  We don’t want to rip up her esophagus.”

Second woman:  “Shriek!  The hook’s caught in my thumb.”

Me:  “Shit.  Don’t pull!”

Dog:  Still trying to swallow the fishing line.

Second woman:  “Shriek!  It’s digging deeper into my thumb.”

Me:  “Put your hand right next to her head.  Don’t pull.”

Goddamn it!  Why don’t I have a fucking pocket knife?  From now on I’m bringing a fucking pocket knife.

I press the fishing line against the dog’s molar and let her bite down.  The line snaps.  Thank god.  I hold the dog still with one hand and then remove the barbed fishing hook from the woman’s thumb with the other.

Me:  “You’ll need a tetanus shot.”

Second woman:  “Wail!  Shriek!  Where’s my dog?”

Me:  “Right there.  Did you hear me?  You need to call your doctor and get a tetanus shot.  No!  Let it bleed.”  Fuck.  “Do you know which vet she uses?”

Second woman:  “What?  Sob!”

Me:  “Her vet.  Which vet does she use?”

She throws out a name.  Jake lies at my feet, still as a stone, understanding the gravity of the situation.   Holding onto Maya with one hand, I pull out my cell phone and look up the number, call the vet.

Me:  “What’s her name?”

Second woman:  “What?”

Me:  “Her name?  The woman’s name?”

Second woman:  “I can’t remember.  Sob!”

Me:  “Okay fine.”  I give the receptionist the story and tell her to expect the dog in about 15 minutes.

At last the car arrives and we load the two dogs into the back.  Off she goes.  At least I called the correct vet.  The second woman is still screaming and crying.

Me:  “It’s fine.  The vet will take care of it.  It would have been worse if she’d swallowed both hooks.”

Second woman:  “But what if my dog…?”

Me:  “Your dog is fine.  See?  She’s fine.  She’s right here.  She’s fine.”

Second woman:  Sniffling.

Me:  “Let’s go.  Let’s get out of here.”

We’re walking now.

Second woman:  “How did you do that?”

Me:  “Do what?  Stick my hand down her throat?”

Second woman:  “No, stay calm.”

Me:  Shrug.

Second woman:  Sniffling.  “Seriously.  We were both panic-stricken and you were calm.  How did you do that?”

Me:  “I don’t know.”

Whatever the reason, I guess it’s why I make a good nurse.  I only freak out if something involves my kids or extreme heights with sheer drops.  Which is all kind of weird since I once suffered from panic disorder.

Here’s my one serious freak out story, aside from the throat-swelling airway obstruction incident of last year-

My daughter, the softball player, always played catcher or third base until one year when our first baseman was afraid to play first base, so she was moved to catcher and my daughter played first.

Here we were, big game against cross-town rival, playing against girls my daughter had played with or against almost her entire life, and the biggest baddest girl steps up to the plate.  She’s like… 6 feet tall, 180 pounds while my daughter over at first base is 5 feet 5 inches and a buck twelve on a good day.  And this girl slams a line drive right at my daughter’s head.  The ball ricochets off her head and flies another 40 feet into right field where the right fielder catches it for an out.

Now you tell me how it feels to be sitting in the stands and see that, watch my daughter crumple to the ground.  Dead silence on the field.  I couldn’t think, couldn’t move to save my life.  I pressed my face to my knees, closed my eyes and covered my ears because I could not bear to hear the words I just knew were coming.  I prayed God would strike me dead right then and there.

I knew my husband had run out on the field.  All the other moms surrounded me so I wouldn’t have to see anything.  And then out of the blue, a voice said, “She’s okay.  She’s up.  She’s staying in the game.”

“What?”  I’m dazed.

“She’s fine.  She’s all right.  It grazed her.  She has a little bald patch on her hairline and you can see the imprint of the seam in her skin, but she’s fine.”

I looked up.  My daughter smiled and waved at me.  It was a 3-9 out and we won the game.  I asked her later what happened, why she collapsed to the ground.

She said, “Well, I’ve always heard that when you get hit in the head with a line drive, you die, so I figured this is it, this is the end of me.  I fell to the ground and waited to die.  But I didn’t die.”

It was a one in a million miracle.  And that, ladies and gents, is the kind of occurrence that makes me panic.  Swallowing a fish hook?  The vet can get that out.

From now on, pocket knife.  And Jake was so stunned by the day’s events I think he now wants to walk on a leash.  It’s much safer.


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28 Responses to A Typical Day In My Life…

  1. Delilah Hunt says:

    Oh man. That’s horrible what happened to the dog, but sheesh, couldn’t the woman try and pull herself together. Lord. And oh my God, how scary was that about your daughter. I always hear these horror stories about kids being seriously injured on the field. It’s scary. I know if my kids start to play sports I’m going to bite my nails so much. Glad everything turned out okay.

  2. Fran Lee says:

    This is a normal day for you, dear? Screaming shrieking mayhem and helping some poor dog that its owner couldn’t help if she fell over a guardian angel. Bless you, little one. And bless that guardian angel the lady almost fell over, because she followed you home and played first base with your daughter.

  3. Penelope says:

    Oh dear Lord, what a great post!

    1. Glad there was a happy ending for the doggie story.

    2. Glad there was a happy ending for your daughter’s story!!!! My hubs (as you know) is a doc….and does trauma, too. He is known at the hospital for being cool, calm, collected and super fantastic in an emergency situation. But God forbid one of our kids gets hurt or sick, he is out of his freakin’ mind.

    Jake is a good dog. :)

    Hope today is uneventful, Missy!

  4. Casey Wyatt says:

    Holy smokes! Julia, there is never a dull moment in your life. I’m glad your daughter and the dog are okay.

  5. Amber Skyze says:

    Never a dull moment in the life of Julia! I’m glad the dog will be okay.

    The daughter situation would be my freak out moment too. I’m good if it doesn’t involve my children.

  6. You’re amazing :)

  7. Jaye says:

    Adventures with Julia. Ever thought about writing a novel? ;)

    I firmly believe that God or the Universe has designated certain people as right time/right place people. My husband and son are those kind of people. Between the two of them they have helped out at more emergencies–car accidents, bizarre injuries, crimes, even stopped a sexual assault–than anyone I know outside of emergency services personnel. It’s not just amazing that they are able to keep their cool and actually do something useful, it’s that they just HAPPEN to be on scene in the first place.

    I suspect you are one of those people, Julia.

  8. Ok, wow..Poor dog….You rocked it by staying calm and trying to help..

  9. Hope the dog was okay. I panic under certain conditions: usually a Husband emergency involving cops or blood, or speaking in tongues. I am okay during the event but after I freak out. Since I have IBS you know what happens then. When I am freaking, I call my mom. Then she freaks and I become calm. I give her my freak-out and it stops. Once, she refused to believe it was me because I was so freaked out and the situation was so bizarre. I can’t do that anymore as she is 83, for obvious reasons.

  10. Katalina Leon says:

    That’s just too much adventure on a dog walk. Great job staying calm.
    XXOO Kat

  11. Yeah, a lot of non-tick-related adventure, Kat. All in all, I’d rather see a mountain lion.

  12. Oh Steph, I’m glad you could, up until recently, give your freak to your mom. I’ve always had to take on my mom’s freak…
    I’ve seen people speak in tongues. That just makes me giggle.
    I’ll post an update on the dog in a sec.

  13. I know, Savannah! Poor dog! And she was so sweet.

  14. Yes, Jaye, I am a be-er in the right place-er person like your husband and son. It’s weird. Like I said, always on my plane… I’ve helped at car accidents, bike accidents. Weird.
    My husband says I must write a tell-all! Nonfiction here I come!

  15. Stacey :P!
    I’m just calm in a crisis that does not involve my children.

  16. Amber, you know about softball so… nobody wants a line drive to the head.

  17. Hi Casey. Yeah, never a dull moment. I hope the dog will be okay. As you can imagine, the incident involving my daughter was horrifying.

  18. I know, Penny! You’re husband is so calm! Way more calm than my fire starter over here! But my husband can handle the kid stuff better than I can. Jake is a very good dog.

  19. Yes, Fran, mayhem is normal. If there is no mayhem, I worry!

  20. No, Delilah, she couldn’t pull herself together. The owner had by the time she got her car to the scene, but the other woman was a wreck.
    Even with soccer my other daughter got a ball in the face and broke her nose. It happens. Playing the corners in softball is kinda dangerous though.

  21. Dog update: I called the vet and described the incident since I didn’t have the dog owner’s name. The vet tech said they were able to see the fish hook on x-ray but had to send the dog to UC Davis veterinary hospital. It’s a great hospital and I know they’ll fix this poor dog up good as new.

  22. I freak out when it’s my kids, too.

    That poor dog. But what possessed it to eat a fish hook?

    You should send this story to a fishing magazine. Fishermen/women need to understand why it’s important to retrieve their tackle whenever possible.

  23. I don’t know how it happened, Marie, but I’m betting the hook got caught on the dog’s side and the dog tried to remove it and ending up with the hook in his mouth and the rest was history.
    I could not agree more. This has been a serious problem at this particular park.

  24. anny cook says:

    Only you, Julia. Only you. Glad everything came out okay. I am the calm one, too, until the emergency is over. THEN I’m a mess…

  25. Yes, Anny… me. I do hope the dog will be all right.

  26. Tom Stronach says:

    You see, what have I said about letting dogs of the leash…… I’m never listened to…

    The next time I get, shot, stabbed, parachute fails, in a flooding pot hole, or my canoe starts toi sink while paddling across the channel…..


    Oh! just a general aside, next time something like that happens, just slap the screaming person to get them to focus

    Way to go Jules

  27. Nina Pierce says:

    The dogs + your daughter + my hormones = a two tissue cry through that post. You definitely are meant to be in places are certain times, Julia. And I’d read the book. ;)

  28. Ah, Nina, don’t cry! Maybe I am supposed to be in certain places, but man, when things mess up for my kids, or your kids, I just lose it.