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Ellie’s Grey Eye

            For a few days in a row, Ellie’s left eye was a little bit red and she occasionally seemed reluctant to open it, but she’d had similar symptoms before and they usually cleared up on their own, so I wasn’t worried. The vet had given us an ointment way back when, but when we ran out we didn’t bother to get it refilled. When I saw the redness in Ellie’s eye I had it in the back of my mind to call the vet and ask if she should come in, or if we could just refill the old prescription, but it didn’t feel like an emergency.

“Really?”

            And then, at around ten thirty one night, Ellie looked up at me (to tell me that it was time to go out for the final walk of the day) and her left eye, almost all of it, was grey. It looked like a particularly opaque cataract, except that her eye had been clear just a little while before. I started to panic. My baby was going blind! She had multi-system organ failure that was showing up first in her eye! The emergency vet clinic would cost thousands of dollars I did not have, but how could I not rush her out to the car right away!

            I was freaking out.

“EEEEEK!”

            Mom went to the computer to google the symptoms while I watched Ellie dance around on her toes to let me know that she really, really, really wanted to go outside. There were a bunch of possibilities, like a sudden cataract or irritation, Mom said, so let’s wash her eye with warm salt water and see of that helps. We took the girls out for their walk, because they were now barking up a storm, but I was still freaking out. When we got back inside I made the salt water mixture and held Ellie in the bathroom sink and poured the water over her eye, over and over again, to her great frustration. I was hoping the greyness would just disappear with the water, but no such luck. At least the salt water didn’t seem to be hurting her (though she was very annoyed at getting wet and required serious treats as a reward).

            I went to sleep that night worried that I was condemning my baby to death, or at least blindness, by not rushing her to the emergency vet, but Mom said we would go to Ellie’s own doctor the next day and he would know what to do. I was not convinced. I had nightmares about stray dogs coming to my house for help with serious medical problems and I couldn’t help them. The guilt was endless and I woke up feeling like the most awful, selfish, hopeless, incapable person to ever live. And then Ellie came running into my room with a smile on her face and almost no greyness left in her eye.

            Oh Lord.

            We made the appointment with the vet anyway, and did everything we could do to distract Cricket while shuttling Ellie out of the apartment. Ellie cried in the car, but she always does that. She sits in the back seat and makes very high pitched conversation with us, to make sure we don’t forget she’s back there (when her sister is in the car with her, Cricket will climb behind my neck, in the passenger seat, to deal with her anxiety and leave Ellie in the back on her own anyway).

“Hey! Don’t forget about me!”

            By the time we’d reached the vet’s office, and the vet tech came out to get Ellie, I actually had to point out which eye was bothering her, because it was hard to see even the redness now. And then we had to sit in the car and wait. I hate this. Going to the vet is always anxiety producing (for me almost as much as for my dogs), but at least I can be there with them to give them comfort and ask questions and remind the doctor of whatever I think he needs to know. With Covid, I just have to sit in the car and wait while they steal my baby away from me.

            Eventually, the doctor came out and told me that Ellie had had a thorn in her eye (!) and he’d removed it, but there was an ulceration at the wound site and she would need eye drops twice a day, and she’d have to come back in a week to have her eye examined again to make sure it was healing. The vet has something of a hang dog face to begin with, but he looked even sadder this time, clearly upset for what my baby girl had been through; which sort of helped, but also sort of made me worry more.

            Then the vet tech brought Ellie back out to the car and, other than the yellow stain on the hair around her eye from the examination, Ellie looked fine. She was eager to get onto her own feet and get the hell out of there, and she had a lot to say about her adventure on the drive home.

            As soon as we got home, Ellie and Cricket had a tête à tête about the vet visit (mostly Ellie reassuring Cricket that she really didn’t miss anything good), and Cricket seemed to be reassured. They both got a treat for their different traumas and then bedded down for their afternoon naps.

            My first attempt at giving Ellie her eye drops that night was not especially successful (she kept closing her eye so that the drop just rolled down her face, but I eventually figured out how to tilt her head back far enough to get the drop into her actual eye). Once she got the hang of the eye drop routine, though, she got so excited about the treat-to-come that she started to dance around before I could get the drop into her. By the end of the week I just accepted that I would never be good at this, and if it took three drops before one got into her actual eye, so be it.

            We never figured out how Ellie had gotten a thorn in her eye, but given her propensity for rolling around on the floor, bed, and ground whenever and wherever she can, it’s not a big mystery. Days after her visit to the vet she managed to get what I hope was just poop on her back (we have dead mice out there in the yard, and who knows what else I don’t what to know about), and she had to have a full bath to wash it all off, and of course treats to make it better, which meant that along with the twice daily eye drop treats she and her sister had pretty much hit the jackpot.

            We went back to the vet after a week of eye drops and he stained her eye again and there was no sign of the ulceration. I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be, because of how healthy and wide open and brown her eye looked, but we had to check and make sure.

            So now we’re back to the usual problems – with Cricket intimidating Ellie away from Grandma, and off the couch, and away from the leftovers meant for both of them. Not that any of that went away while Ellie was suffering; Cricket doesn’t believe in having mercy on an injured opponent. She takes any advantage she can get.

“Who me?”

            G’mar Chatima Tova! To another year of silliness and treats and good health for everyone!

P.S. Ellie begs for treats even while she’s sleeping

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

97 responses »

  1. I’m so glad it all worked out, Rachel. But what a worry!

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  2. Yeshiva Girl has been an impressive read so far, I hope you appreciate my narration of it 😁. So glad things worked out for Ellie. Poor pup.

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  3. So glad all is well, and life is good again.
    Treats rock for any and every occasion.

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  4. Shana Tovah, Rachel! The quick and complete recovery for Ellie’s eye bodes well for a good year, right?

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  5. I’m happy to hear that her eye is all better! A thorn in there – wow. That must have really been miserable.

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  6. Woof!! Glad she is better!

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  7. Oh I’m so glad that Ellie’s eyes is back to its normal healthy self. I completely felt your dilemma and anxiety as you faced a canine crisis after vet hours. I’ve often wished I had a degree or at least several semesters worth of veterinarian science in my back pocket to pull out in moments such as this. Giving a dog eye drops is no walk in the park. I’ve been that round with Adi. You have certainly earned the “eye drop” badge to add to your “Canine Good Mommy” vest. Give Ellie an extra yummy treat from Adi and I.

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  8. Yikes! So glad Ellie is OK! Happy new year 💕

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  9. I’m glad all is well with her and it wasn’t anything awfully serious. Ellie is lucky to have you as her human and your mom too.

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  10. It’s a nightmare when we can’t get to the vet right away and something is wrong. My ER Vet is really far away. I hate having to stay in the car when my baby is so attached like yours. it’s traumatic plus I like to see what’s going on! I’m so glad she is ok. I really felt the anxiety.

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  11. I am glad your doggie is ok 🐶 It really hurts us when a beloved pet is ill. I had to give my 14 yr old tom cat an enema 2 months ago wearing elbow length snake handler gloves and a goalie mask 😾 that was an evolutionary experience but Washe is ok now

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  12. I’m so glad it worked out well. My parents have a Shih tzu that she had to take to the vet for her eye. She had managed also to get something in her eye only it had reached a point where she needed more medication than eye drops plus the cone of shame. They had several weeks of vet visits before it was deemed healed. A couple weeks later her other eye showed signs and mom took her immediately. Now mom keeps eye drops handy so that at the very first sign of trouble she can get ahead of the game.

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  13. Glad Ellie is getting better. Always tough when a loved one gets sick. Have a great weekend Rachel. Allan

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  14. So glad Ellie’s eye is okay. Stay Ellie-gant! 😻🌈

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  15. I love that your girls have a little tete-a-tete after their vet visit. With my kitties, whoever sees the vet comes home to the other two hissing at her and running away. Crazy time. So glad Ellie is all better. Such a relief!

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  16. Happy New Year. We often worry more about our fur babies than ourselves. Glad everything is OK.

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  17. I’m very relieved that Ellie’s story had a happy ending! I once had a dog that got grass in its eye. It took many visits to the vet before the problem was diagnosed and treated properly.

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  18. Why oh why do these emergencies happen when the normal vet is closed? So glad there was such a satisfactory outcome.

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  19. If I didn’t know those two were dogs……….Glad it turned out okay.

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  20. Dogs are such a worry sometimes, aren’t they? Eddie has an episode with a bad paw over the summer which is hopefully sorted now. I wonder if the background noise of Covid leaves us less tolerant/able to cope with other stuff, that it takes much less to take us over the edge of panic compared to how we might otherwise have coped more easily.

    Mind, at least vets will treat our pets and not make us wait weeks for just a phonecall like our own GPs do. I’m not sure what healthcare is currently like over your side of the pond, but here in the UK its an appalling disgrace with most doctors surgeries (such as my own) essentially still closed.

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    • Wow! Doctors here are back to work (and complaining loudly when patients are afraid to go to the office because of Covid), but vets are still better at taking care of their patients. Ellie hates going in, but she trusts her doctor completely.

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  21. I’m glad all is well! It can be so scary. God Bless.

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  22. Uh.. I had all sorts of thoughts when I read the first bit, but I’m glad it didn’t go that way and Ellie is allright again. Having a silent thorn-magnet myself I know how worried you can get and how important it is to keep an eye on them. Glad you did and was able to get help. Give the doggos a small treat and a big hug from me ♥

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  23. I am so glad to hear that your furbabies are well! It’s so hard because they can’t tell us what’s wrong =/

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  24. Phew what a relief that Ellie’s eye could be sorted ! I love the photos!

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  25. Glad everything turned out well.

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  26. COVID has been very stressful for vet appointments. We lost one dog right at the start of COVID, then another had open heart surgery, another has been undergoing testing for Cushing disease (which we know now he doesn’t have, but no other cause has been suggested), and another who is being treated at home for an autoimmune disease that has made him lose all the hair on his back and chest and swollen up his paws. It’s a LOT, as you say, because of not being able to be with them, and getting all info by email and phone. I guess COVID really does affect us all one way or another.

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  27. The dog I had before my current pup had Glaucoma in both eyes. So your story reminded me of that. We were able to catch in one but not the other but she lived a long life with limited vision.

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  28. I completely understand the panic combined with the knowledge of what the emergency vet charges. I am relieved that she is all right. Now if you can just recover!!

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  29. So glad the eye could be treated and all is well. Sometimes our dogs go diving into bushes and we don’t notice anything odd. Hugs and treats by proxy Rachel.

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  30. G’mar Chatima Tova to you too. So glad things worked out for Ellie. When someone we love is suffering, it always induces anxiety.

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  31. I’m happy Ellie didn’t have anything more serious with her eye.

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  32. Stephen Brockelman

    I’m so very happy that your wee ones are back to normal. Reading, I was fretting along with you.

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  33. I am so glad Ellie’s story had a happy ending. She has a good mother. Wishing you a Happy New Year, Rachel! ❤ ❤ ❤

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  34. Good news that Ellie’s eye is better now. I had a horse with a corneal ulcer once and he had to have ointment in his eye about 8 times a day. That was epic! So I have sympathy with your problems of getting the drops into Ellie’s eye .

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  35. I’m so glad it was such an easy fix! I would have been out of my mind with worry. We do love our dogs, don’t we?

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  36. So glad it worked out. Because of my cataracts (one fixed, one under review), I have eye drops every day. I’m not a fan but the vet showed BH how to do it (opposite hand round muzzle & hold eye lids open with two fingers) so it is quite quick and I put up with it for the treat afterwards!!

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  37. It’s good that you kept Ellie’s appointment and she got a diagnosis and treatment!

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  38. Happy that Ellie is recovering. Go Ellie!

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  39. I’m glad Ellie is OK – I have had to give my VIZSLA eye drops – It’s quite the battle!!!!

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  40. That is a pet parent’s worst nightmare, not knowing that something is going wrong, or it seems to go away and you think it’s all right — just for it to return with a vengeance.

    Giving eyedrops to a dog is no fun. You did well.

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  41. I’m so glad that Ellie’s fine. I was anxious while reading your update, I can’t even imagine how you must’ve been feeling.

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  42. Poor Ellie. Bad Cricket. But they’re both dears, I know; and I’m so glad that Ellie is fine. A thorn in her eye! Sounds awful. I suppose in the end all they’ll remember is the treats. A happy new year to you and the puppies! And I hope Yom Kippur has been meaningful.

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