Dec 04 2014

Holiday Angels

By: Jessica Downing, DVM

Angel: from the Greek angelos, meaning “messenger”

Many religions and mythologies tell of stories where angels serve as intermediaries, protectors, and ones who guide others. The following is a story about angels.

The scent of cigarette smoke filled my nostrils as I walked into the exam room. Little Cassandra, a 9-year-old Shih Tzu, was sitting on the exam table. She raised her sad eyes up toward mine. Her chest heaved with every breathe she took.

“My angel, why are you having trouble breathing?” I asked her.
“She’s been like this all night, Doc,” replied one of the two women standing beside her.

I turned my attention toward them. An elderly woman had answered my question. Her voice was raspy. Her clothes were unkempt. Life had not been easy for her.

“I couldn’t stand to see her struggle like this all night, so I called my neighbor. She was kind enough to give us a ride here. I don’t drive.”

“Well, that certainly was nice,” I said, smiling at the neighbor. She told me that she was a registered nurse.

I began to examine Cassandra. She was weak and panting heavily. I could hear wheezing sounds as I listened to her lungs. I knew she was in trouble.

“I’m going to give Cassandra some oxygen and take a chest x-ray,” I informed the women.

Cassandra’s x-rays revealed that her lungs were severely congested. Her airways were full of inflammation. Years of cigarette smoke at home had been taking its toll on her.

I discussed Cassandra’s respiratory condition with the women. We agreed that Cassandra would spend the night in an oxygen cage and we would start medication to reduce the swelling along her airways.

Cassandra steadily improved overnight. Her panting had subsided and her gums had become a bright, healthy pink color. By morning, she was breathing comfortably.

The elderly woman was ecstatic when she came to take Cassandra home the following day. Her neighbor was smiling too.

“I don’t know how to thank you,” the older lady told me, “I made a deal with my neighbor that if my little girl lived, I’d quit smoking.”

She continued, “Not only did you save Cassy’s life; you saved mine too.”

There are moments when you become so overcome by emotion that your throat closes up. You can’t speak. If you open your mouth, you’ll start to cry. This was one of those moments for me.

I pursed by lips together and nodded in acknowledgement. It was all I could do.

The other day I saw the big tree in Rockefeller Center. Along the walkway were statues of angels blowing trumpets. What were they announcing to the millions of people who came to visit? What was their message to the masses?

I thought of the kind neighbor. In a way, she was an angel, delivering Cassandra and the elderly woman to the animal hospital for care.

I thought of Cassandra. Undoubtedly, she was an angel too. Her illness provided a loud and clear message to the elderly woman that smoking was harmful to her health, thereby saving her.

Lastly, I thought about the people that I am privileged to work with. They have devoted their lives to protecting our most precious friends.
adorable shih tzu dog
This holiday season, become an angel yourself – wings and trumpets are optional.

sgoldberg | Uncategorized

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