Ben Hsu

Blog · Nonfiction

Of Covid and Cats


Masque snuggled up safe at home.
Okay, story time!
Late last Monday/early Tuesday (April 5th) noticed our cat (Masque) was having some problems. She spent about 30-35 minutes trying to pee and failing. When she finally managed to go what little she produced had blood in it. Now, as any person with basic knowledge knows, blood belongs in the body so we decide to head out to the nearest, open pet emergency room (Dove Lewis, up in Northwest Portland). We get there, she gets triaged and declared not an emergency case. We also get told that it’s going to be awhile before anyone can actually take a closer look at our cat. It’s currently around 1am in the morning on Tuesday.
Now, it’s important to note that due to Covid restrictions we need to stay in our car. We’re not allowed in the hospital itself (we can stop in to use the bathroom or grab some of their free snacks/drinks, but we can’t linger). We’re in our car for about 2 hours when we get a call from them.
It’s now 3am and they inform us that while Masque still isn’t at a level 1 emergency she’s running a high fever and at least one of us needs to stay on site in case she gets worse so we can be immediately consulted for emergency instructions. They’ve had problems contacting people on their phones in previous situations so they’re no longer comfortable just allowing drop offs if it’s possible that your pet will slip into a level 1 emergency. Neither of us wants to leave our cat. We’re offered a room which we decline since the parking lot looks like it’s full of people like us, many of whom have less comfortable looking cars. Also, for reference, we’ve been in their rooms, they’re mostly for visitation purposes. It’s usually a bare room with a concrete floor, some chairs, and some space for a doctor to perform an exam on your pet. We also get told again, that because she’s not a level 1 emergency, it may be awhile before anyone gets back to us. They estimate at LEAST 3 more hours, assuming no higher priority cases come in.
At 7:30 on Tuesday morning Tiffany (my partner) wakes up and goes to the bathroom. While there she asks the front desk if we have enough time to grab breakfast. She gets told “yes.” I haven’t actually slept yet. We go get take out, eat in our car, realize it’s 8:30 now and have been watching cases come in that are clearly in worse condition than our cat for the past 7+ hours. We go ahead and give front desk another call and ask if Masque is still in danger of slipping into an emergency situation.
At 9am we finally get told that since Masques’s fever hasn’t gotten any worse, we’re cleared for a drop off. We have to give them two immediate ways to contact us (both our cell phone numbers), plus an email address.
At 6pm on Tuesday we can a call to inform us that Masque is FINALLY next in line to be properly examined and diagnosed…assuming no more critical cases come in. It’s around 11:30pm that Tuesday before we finally get a call from a vet who’s finally had a chance to look at poor Masque.
I’ll cut out the rest of the next two days, but it’s mostly waiting for the labs to have the time to run her bloodwork (no problems came up), waiting for a radiologist to become available for an ultrasound/extra (swollen bladder with minor amounts of sediment). We didn’t get Masque back until early Thursday afternoon.
So why am I posting this on Facebook? Am I complaining about Dove Lewis and their callous attitude toward my cat? No, they did an amazing job of keeping her healthy and safe. They saw her as soon as they could, bearing in mind they’re an emergency hospital and HAVE to deal with critical cases first, regardless of when they come in. If you have a pet with an emergency, I highly recommend Dove Lewis.
I’m complaining about Covid (still, forever). You see, all the other emergency pet hospitals in the area have had to either cut their hours or close entirely. Which means Dove Lewis is the only hospital available for pretty much the greater Portland area. Dove Lewis itself, in order to stay open 24/7 has had to adhere to strict covid-19 guidelines, which means severely reduced staff (6ft of distance at all times means you just can’t have as many people working at one time). All the extra cases plus reduced staff means what used to be a 2 to 3 hour wait time turns into 24 hours of waiting. It means we can’t even see our cat while we’re waiting (we used to be able to do that at Dove Lewis. If you had to stay on site you could get a room and hang with your pet. The nurse would come in and check to make sure they were stable. Now we can get a room, but we can’t actually see our pet). We couldn’t even give her a blanket so she had the smell of home while in the strange space where people keep poking and prodding her. It all boils down to the pandemic.
I’m tired of this, I’ve BEEN tired of this but it’s still happening. Even with the vaccine being rolled out cases are on the rise. It’s not just about not being able to eat at your favorite restaurant, or see the new Marvel movie. It never has been. It’s about not being able to visit a sick loved one in the hospital. It’s about kids not being able to get the social interaction they need. It’s about people who get kicked out into the streets as hours get cut and businesses close.
Wear your mask, socially distance yourselves, and call out people who don’t. Masque is okay, her fever broke and they couldn’t find any trace of infection. We just have to give her anti-inflammatories for the next 5 days. I’m sure other people aren’t as lucky.


Blog · Nonfiction

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