Roo felt much better today. She ran around, went for a long walk, and chased frogs and mouses, dug a few holes, met some other dogs and let them know who’s boss. The doxycycline seems to be working.
When we got back and she was hosed off, cleaned up, blow dried, brushed, had her wounds dressed and bandaged, her toenails dremeled and ate her dinner, she was ready for a long nap. I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up the chemotherapy drug, cyclophosphamide, that she has to take tomorrow. She was supposed to get it on Tuesday, but didn’t because she wasn’t feeling well. The dose was delayed three days so she could get back on her paws, even though this drug wouldn’t make her feel bad.
Roo was too tired to get back in the car and I was about to go without her when she had second thoughts and roused herself to come along. It was a good thing, because we ran into trouble.
The pharmacy didn’t have the drug in stock. The very kind pharmacist started calling other pharmacies to see if he could locate some, but no one had the drug in stock. We began to coordinate a list of pharmacies so we wouldn’t waste time calling the same ones, and between us we called at least 20 pharmacies as far as 60 miles away. Nothing. The drug was simply out of stock.
It was just six o’clock when I called the vet clinic, but they were shutting down and didn’t have the drug, either. I called the emergency clinic 30 miles south, but they also had nothing. The only possible lead was a Walmart pharmacy that said they might, just might, be able to get it by late tomorrow afternoon, but no guarantees, and I’d have to drop off the actual prescription, which would then mean that I wouldn’t have it to take to another pharmacy if I found one with the drug in stock.
This fruitless round of calls went on for about 45 minutes. It was a good thing Roo came along. She had been sleeping in the car – she was knocked out from her mouse safari, after all – but she hadn’t been expecting to wait so long and she gave me a mixed look of impatience and relief when I got back to her.
Every time she waits in the car I say, “Have you been waiting all by yourself?” when I get back. You know how dogs think some things are funny, and that always makes her wag her tail. I gave her a piece of jerky and a Milk Bone, the last two things on Earth she needs now that she’s packing the weight back on to zeppelin-like proportions. “You might as well go back to sleep, Chig,” I warned her. “We might have to do some real driving.” A dog with as much experience of the road as Roo has understands that. She grunted and put her head back on the console, resigned to it.
I opened Google Maps on the phone, zoomed the map out and entered pharmacy. I had a list the pharmacist had written of all the places he had called and the only thing to try now was to work a progressively larger radius. If we could find the drug at all, it was going to be a long drive. I was getting nervous. There was no way to contact the vet and the idea of waiting until the morning, when Roo was supposed to get her chemo, to figure out what to do was nervewracking. There’s a reason the chemo is given on a schedule, and this one was already off by three days.
Just as I was dialing the first pharmacy, I glanced up when a woman exiting the pharmacy crossed in front of the car.
I bet if there had been video of me at that moment, it would show me literally dropping my jaw. I had been expecting to see one of the opioid addicts who seem to be in so many pharmacy parking lots these days, and often in that one, but this woman woman was, of all the people in all the gin joints of all the world, Roo’s vet, Dr. Mason.
“Oh, my God,” I said, “You have no idea how glad I am to see you.”
I doubt she felt the same way. Running into patients outside of work must get pretty annoying. And running into me in particular might have been especially annoying, but there we were.
I explained the problem, told her about the calls, the shortage, the 45 minutes the pharmacist and I had spent calling all those pharmacies, that I was about to dial another one, but that it wasn’t looking good.
She had a solution. Another drug, which she described as the big brother of the cyclophosphamide, a better drug with fewer side effects, and that I could pick up at the clinic in the morning. I asked her why, if the drug was better, it wasn’t the drug of first choice, and she explained that she kept it for second rounds of chemo after the remissions, as the inevitably do with lymphoma dogs, end. But that it would be fine for now.
Brunswick is a fairly large town. What were the odds?
So, we’re all set. On track for tomorrow, another day.