Happy Valentine’s Day: My Valentine is Frankie today


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I owe you some entries but Jon and I went from one roller coaster to another, so let me catch you up. This was our last night in Aruba:

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We had finally and completely relaxed. The sunset was extraordinary and we felt very blessed.

The next day, we arrived at the airport and after checking in at 2 PM (flight was at 4) we headed for customs and security. I think we waited in a total of 4+ lines, two custom lines (Aruba and the US) and two security checks (Aruba and US). We even ended up in baggage claim somewhere, where the line was added to by people who had just arrived. It was like the kind of dream you have right before a trip– the dream where you’re trying to run away from something but like a cartoon character you’re being held by some invisible hand, grabbing you by the collar.

At first, we tried to relax: people were telling us that this happened all the time on Aruba, airlines would usually fetch passengers from the line if the plane was about to leave and many planes would just leave later. Well, we saw all sorts of people getting picked up: Spirit Air, United, etc. but no Jet Blue.

It was 2:30, 3 PM, 3:30 and 4PM when we reached the actual terminal but then we were funneled into US security and customs. We were getting antsy.

And I’m going to say something here (little segue) because I just saw that press conference of Trudeau and Trump where Trump sounded mean spirited (“very, very bad people” that need to be deported) and I’m just amazed because this kind of language does not represent the generosity and goodwill of the American people whom I saw in line with us. When people heard we had a 4 PM flight, all Americans stepped aside to let us proceed in the line. Other nationalities were getting very upset, but all the Americans we saw in line were joking with each other and diverting stress by changing it into humor and goodwill and optimism. That, in a nutshell, is who we are as a country, although Jon and I had a harder time cracking jokes.

We arrived at the gate area at 4:20 and ran towards the gate. There was a different plane there… so we had to ran back to find the one screen in the terminal to check if we had the wrong gate. Truth was: our plane had left and we missed it by a mere 15 minutes. Luckily, they put us on the next flight…

Checking into our hotel in NY around midnight, I had about 3 hours of sleep as I awoke from messages that were coming in from my dog sitter (Teddy was with my father-in-law and Frankie was with a dogvacay sitter). Frankie had gone into diabetic shock and was in the ICU. At around 5 AM Eastern I was talking to the vet who told me that Frankie was doing poorly and that we should expect an extended stay which could run up to $10,000+ in charges (and I thought tuition bills were bad).

I was then connected to the billing person who insisted I pay the deposit of $2,500. We got cut off, so she called me back and seemed to blame me that I had disconnected myself by saying: “You need to stay on the line and pay or we stop caring for your dog.” Nice bedside manner.

Lots of questions of course. Frankie had received a clean bill of health just before I dropped him off at the sitter so how could he have spiraled down, knocking on death’s door in a time span of a little over a week? The good news is: there are no pre-existing conditions here. No diabetes, no Addison’s but his gastrointestinal system had good, big whack from something he may have ingested and his pancreas is still trying to deal with it all, and normalize.

Because we had wifi on JetBlue I could at least communicate with a good friend, who called the clinic for me. They sent me his records and and an email from the vet came in, asking me to authorize a DNR if need be. We approved it.

The flight was endless– I felt paralyzed, tried to listen to some music (Al Jarreau), then heard that Al Jarreau had died and I was ready to bawl.

When I landed, I called the clinic; the vet came on the phone “Are you Frankie’s mommy?” with me thinking, don’t be sweet or I’m going to really lose it, and the gist was: “Why don’t you come down so we can talk and you can make some decisions.” I felt this was code for Frankie is near death, so I prepared myself mentally.

When we walked in, the vet said he was actually doing better, with a more normal blood pressure even though he had been completely unresponsive in the morning. When we got to his cage, I gently petted his head and Jon pulled at one eye lid. He saw us, perked right up and dragged himself towards us and started groaning. He was ready to come home, he seemed to say to us.

What can I say? We rescued Frankie from being euthanized at a San Francisco shelter. He had been badly abused (had been living in a closet) and was abandoned by the family who left him at the shelter. Since then, he has become my very shadow. Follows me everywhere (and in the beginning, even at night when I went to the bathroom). When I’m gone, my kids tell me he keeps watch on the couch, looking out the window, waiting for me to come home. He’s a little rascal, a real character and a fighter, which will now serve him well.

We’ve already paid $8,000 in vet bills, and this week I have to skip work (so I won’t get paid as I’m a contractor), so I feel the money is just being thrown out the window by buckets at a time. I had put some money aside to get some new windows for our house, but that’s the Frankie Fund now.

But let’s keep some perspective here: when these emergencies happen in America and you have no health care, the bill may be ten times that and more. It’s bankrupting and has bankrupted Americans everywhere. Obamacare tried to prevent that, and yes, no system is ever perfect but the Republicans will soon change it in a pay as-you-go kind of healthcare which is really no subsidized healthcare at all. Americans deserve better because remember: they are generous and kind, as they showed us at Aruba Airport. That’s the spirit of the country and it won’t be vanquished. I’m looking forward again to a kinder and gentler America.

And I want Frankie to come home…

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