Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bern and blood

Bern has a reflex about blood: she faints.

Today we took the Puli to the vet for shots and blood work. It is a two person job! Bern was fine, holding his head, muzzled, so he wouldn't bite the vet or the assistant, who was also holding him. He got an exam, two shots, then the young, blonde vet was going to take his blood. Notice I said "going to take...".  There was no blood at all yet, but I glanced at Bern and knew she was only a few moments from fainting. She sat down and put her head between her legs were I took her place, holding Bela's head. She kept her head between her legs until it was all over. She looked shaky as I took the dog outside while she paid. We walked all the way around the building and I saw her at the counter to pay. Then I saw her sit down and put her head between her legs. Then she went back to the counter and retreated quickly to the chair. The vet's assistant brought her water. I kept walking the dog. It must have been an hour or so after we got home, her riding with her head between her legs, before she was back to something that passed for 'normal'. (Who wants to be 'normal' anyway? But it's better than about to faint, I grant you that.

Once when I was Rector of St. Paul's in New Haven, Mimi fell against a huge island in the middle of our kitchen in the Rectory and started bleeding like a stuck pig from her forehead. (I've never seen anyone 'stick a pig', but it means, I think, lots and lots of blood.) Josh somehow dialed the phone and called the church. The parish office was next to my office and Marcie, the secretary ran in saying, "Josh is hysterical on the phone!"

I took his call. "Mimi is dying! Mimi is dying!" he was shouting.

I ran next door to the Rectory and he was still on the phone yelling, "Mimi is dying!"

Bern was on the kitchen floor holding Mimi's head.

"Put your hand here on the towel," Bern said calmly. When I did, Bern fainted dead away.

"Mommy is dying!" Josh started yelling, still holding the phone. "Mommy is dying!" he said over and again.

Somehow we got Mimi to the ER where it took four stitches to close the wound near her temple that was bleeding like crazy. Since she had hit her head the doctor didn't want to sedate her so he put her in what looked like nothing else but a straight jacket and closed the wound with only a local.

I've waited all these years (Mimi was 3 and Josh was 6--now they are 36 and 39) for this trauma to emerge in some psychological problem for Mimi--being tied up and stitched at 3--but it never has. She is one of the most well-balanced and sane people I know.

But Bern has a thing with blood. She held Mimi's wound until I could...but just the mention of blood with Bela and she had her head between her legs.

She apologized later today about being so sensitive. But it's one of the things I love about her--a frailty I adore. She is so strong in so many ways that this little glitch seems sweet and oh-so-human.

And since I could be awash in blood and fine, it balances our relationship out....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.