That moment when Stephen took Nicholas off the leash at Strawberry Island, the world around - the trees and the hiking trail, the tall, waving grasses - all turned to ocean. The slip and slide of an undertow. I wanted to be a pragmatic parent and be OK with letting him run free, but when the leash came unhooked and his little dog feet touched the trail, I felt like he'd just bolt and be gone.
The first of many times over the next couple days. [Not all on Mary's purse.] Late that night we sat bleary at Dove Lewis, the animal hospital, moving from one side of a plastic padded bench to the other as the orderlies cleaned up after Nicholas. The doctor felt his stomach and lymph nodes. The doctor took him for tests. The doctor told us salmon poisoning is fatal but he only has a couple of the symptoms associated so we're not too concerned about that. We got very concerned about that. We were there until about twenty til two and then took Nicholas home with some medications. The three of us in bed, Nicholas curled under the covers with his head warm against my leg, the tick of his eye against my skin. I lay and wondered if what I was feeling was REM sleep or a waking dog closing and opening his eyes. I closed mine and tried to sleep. Stephen started to snore.
The next day, on about four hours sleep, I sat at my desk at work, trying to get my brain to run right. Everything felt a little floaty, a little prickly, a little scary and emotional. Stephen called with updates from home, Nicholas not taking food, Nicholas not wanting to go out for walks. I shifted and crossed my legs, and the hug of one leg around the other felt like an embrace. For a moment, my sleep-lack-addled mind turned the feeling of that leg hug into a dog hug and I worried, what if I never hugged him again.
Wednesday after more trips to Dove Lewis (including an overnighter) and more tests, they finally discovered that there was something lodged in his intestine. I went home from work early, and Nicholas was taken in for surgery. Now Friday, he's doing well (though really not liking having to sleep in the E. collar (or, as the surgeon called it, "party hat") - but he's content to be home.
The surgeon told us they'd removed from Nicholas what seemed to be a shoelace. A strip of brown felt, she said. Back at home, we located the offender, and sure enough. So much worry and discomfort for such a small thing.