Monday, February 2, 2015

Tippy ate the Visine and this is why I'm a wreck

Tippy, resting while SB looks up her chances of survival.

That darn dog. Just when I thought that the horrible weekend was over, I was given one more ordeal to overcome before Monday morning.

It began with a tough week, or maybe the more accurate description is that a tough week ended with a hellish weekend. All sorts of unavoidable problems reared their 'urgent response' heads throughout the week so that by Friday night I was DONE in a big way. My eyes, after being focused on drafting tiny lines for ten hours per day, were ringed in red and so irritated that I couldn't put my contacts back in for the entire weekend. I bought a small bottle of eye drops, which greatly reduced the redness after several days of application. By Sunday night I had finished catching up with preparations for work on Monday and was ready to relax after dinner with the furbabies and SB when I reached into my pocket for the Visine but it wasn't there.

That's when I noticed that Tippytoes was not chewing on her bone, but on my bottle of eye drops.

Panic ensued.

Earlier in the day, foreshadowing the events to come, SB and I had looked up Visine poisoning on Snopes to check out if the stories we heard about waitresses using eye drops to cause gastrointestinal distress to rude customers had any bearing. We thought not and Snopes agreed, but went on to list the actual side effects of tetrahydrozoline ingestion, which were far worse than diarrhea. According to the National Institutes of Health, side effects of ingesting tetrahydrozoline include breathing difficulty, fast or slow heartbeat, blood pressure changes, low body temperature, blurred vision, headache, coma, seizures, and nausea. And death.

I quickly took the bottle away from Tippy and SB immediately phoned the SPCA hotline. The man on the other end didn't seem too worried but he also didn't seem to know what tetrahydrozoline was and we ended up telling him what we knew. While it wasn't reassuring that he wasn't informed, the phone call ended up being positive for us because we worked through the facts of the case while trying to tell him about our problem. I estimated that the bottle had been 60% full when Tippy found it and it was now 40% full. While there was a wet circle on her dog bed, we could not be sure that it was the spilled eye drops so we assumed to worst, that she had ingested 20% of the bottle. The bottle was originally 15ml of 0.05% tetrahydrozoline. This meant that she may have ingested up to 3ml of the bottle. A quick online search yielded few concurring responses. Several vets stated that there were not a lot of studies that could conclusively present how a dog was affected by tetrahydrozoline while another vet stated that if a dog consumed 2ml or more, it should be taken in for observation.

Finally, the National Institutes of Health had the (best) answer, though not the most comforting. Acute intoxication of tetrahydrozoline could impact the GI, cardiopulmonary, and nervous systems. And with that, SB began getting ready to take her to the emergency pet hospital while I would stay home with Elsie. I tried to distract myself from my rising worry but feeding Tippy a dish of milk and telling myself that milk was the miracle cure for pets. Poor Elsie didn't understand why she wasn't being invited to drink milk. The SB and Tippy were off while Elsie and I stayed home and fretted, me because I was scared that Tippy was ill, and Elsie because she and Tippy are rarely separated. While they were at the shelter a couple took Tippy home for the weekend with the intent to adopt her but the separation was too traumatizing for Elsie so they didn't complete the adoption of one dog. I am grateful that we took the two of them because by the time that we arrived, the shelter had decided that they would agree to separate the dogs if it meant that at least one would be adopted, and my heart hurts thinking of Elsie being left behind. She is a funny weirdo and very lovable though you wouldn't have known that upon meeting her because she does not make a great first impression.

Meanwhile at the hospital, Tippy was admitted and a cuff placed on her to monitor her heart rate. If her heart rate was abnormal, she would be placed on an IV that would hopefully mitigate hypotension. Luckily, Tippy's two readings were normal. After an hour we had the option of leaving her in the hospital or taking her home. SB opted to take her home and observe her in a comfortable environment since she was registering normal signs of anxiety that many dogs (and humans) show when in a clinic. They returned home to Elsie and my delight, and for the first time ever, Tippy was tucked into bed between SB and me.

In hindsight, it may have been better to stay at the emergency hospital. It would have reduced the stress of responsibility that caused me to jerk awake repeatedly in the four hours of sleep that I had left. I kept waking in distress, covered in sweat with my heart thumping in my chest. I continuously woke poor Tip to check her vitals and then woke SB to confirm. At some point I jerked awake to find her lying still with her eyes open and thought that she was dead. She wasn't, but it took me shaking her until she moved to convince myself because I couldn't feel her pulse or even her usual puffs of air on my arm...probably because my own racing pulse and tremors prevented me from noticing her signs of life.

Finally, our four hour time critical window passed and we were able to relax with the knowledge that our Tippytoes was probably safe. I collapsed into less than an hour of sleep before my alarm sounded and it was time to get ready for work.When I left, SB and Tippy were in the living room, Tippy catching up on her rest and SB still Googling about dogs and tetrahydrozoline ingestion. As I type this tale out during my lunch break, I can feel my red eyes burning under my contacts. I'm probably going to sleep like the dead tonight.

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