Saturday, May 12, 2012

An EFM Work Solution and Taking Pets Abroad

That's a pretty long title, touching on two weighty issues, but I've been meaning to give an update on my husband's work situation. Plus, I'd like to offer a sobering reminder about bringing pets into the FS life.

First, after applying for nearly a dozen embassy jobs and interviewing for about five  without success ("We really liked you! You gave such a good interview! It's just that the other man/woman already had the same job in Japan/Bolivia/Tajikistan..."), Tim decided to take an intensive one-month course to earn his CELTA certificate to teach English to adults. Fortunately, the course was offered here in Bogota, as the majority of his classmates traveled from all over the world to attend. He also has a professional background in education so we figured that unless we be assigned to Canada, England, New Zealand or Stockholm, he'd be able to find plenty of students. His decision made sense.

He completed the course at the end of February and in a short span of time, signed on with a company that sends English teachers out to businesses for their employees. He now teaches PT for execs at Nestle and walks 15 minutes to work each morning. Plus, through the Community Liaison Office (CLO) and advertising on the Embassy newsletter, he was able to find Embassy-community students who need after-school tutoring or SAT-preparation classes. It means a very broken-up schedule of mornings, lunches and evenings - but it keeps him busy and he is especially enjoying  meeting the Colombians and learning more about life here.  Now that we're headed back to FSI, he'll try to get as much training as is allowed (for EFMs, it's on a space-available basis), especially in language training.

Okay - now the aforementioned sobering reminder:

This past week was one of great highs and lows. First, learning about my A-100 invitation and having passed my Spanish test. But then on Wednesday night we noticed that Dodger, one of the Tabbies, was acting very strangely. He was exceedingly restless, running around the apartment in an abnormal manner, and going to the litter box again and again. It was when I noticed that he was able to produce only a pea-sized drop of blood-tinged urine that I realized we had a serious problem. Of course, it was 10 pm...

First thing in the morning, I called my vet and my boss (in that order) and brought Dodger in to the vet's office at 8:15 am. At 8:30 the vet determines that his blockage isn't too bad, and that with an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory, plus a day of observation, he should be fine. Seconds after administering the antibiotic/steroid mix via injection, and before my terrified eyes, he goes into anaphylactic shock and begins to vomit and convulse. I thought I was witnessing his.. well, I can't even bring myself to type that word. My vet, recognizing the severity of the situation, scoops his now-limp body up in a blanket and tells me we're taking him immediately to the emergency vet nearby. We jump in my truck, and with her holding Dodger and me trying not to crash in the morning traffic, we drive less than 10 minutes to the emergency vet. En route, she phones the other vets to describe our situation so they'll be prepared to receive him. We pull up, she jumps out and I go try to park. By the time I return, he is in kitty ICU being attended by the emergency vets. Within 90 minutes, I am allowed to see him and he's in a glass incubator-type cage with an IV of steroids and fluids, receiving oxygen in a warmed environment. He looks like my Dodger again. He stayed there all day, and by 5 pm he was stable enough to go home. He is now 90% better, and we're monitoring the urinary blockage problem and his status in general.

So here is why I bring this up:

As a FS pet owner, or I should note - as the mother of a fur family - because that is the depth of feeling I have for our cats, I have to accept that there is a chance that we will be assigned to a place that is not pet-friendly. We could be assigned to an island nation with lengthy quarantines; we could be posted to a country where there is barely health care for humans, much less animals; we could be posted to a country where it will cost thousands of dollars to get each kitty to post via cargo; and we could go to a country suffering civil unrest where we may be evacuated with two hours notice and no-pets-allowed on the evacuation flight.

These are all realities that haunt me regularly.

We were exceedingly fortunate to have been in Bogota when this event happened.
I had a car to drive my ailing cat to his vet. She had all the necessary supplies to treat him. When the situation dramatically changed, there was an EMERGENCY vet only ten minutes away with competent, well-trained staff and people who believe that animals are worthy of saving. If any one of these pieces of the puzzle were missing - I shudder to even think about it.

How do I handle these two realities: the worry for my cats' health and the knowledge that many posts will not offer the necessities I've listed above.

Basically, by putting my fingers in my ears and going "blah-blah-blah... won't happen to us!!" and denying it. I have to admit that. Naturally, our bid list was submitted with the cats in mind first-off. But there's never going to be a guarantee that we won't get our last-pick, as someone has to go to that post, and what if we ALL have beloved pets?

I really don't have a good answer. It is a reality of FS life and all I can do is hope for good luck, have my "Emergency Cat First Aid" book on the shelf and their kitty go-bags ready for evacuation (pillow cases if needed). I wanted to chew on this subject a bit as I'm sure a good number of you out there find yourself in the same position.

Switching over to becoming an FSO means I've signed up for two more "directed assignments" wherein we'll have to throw the dice and see what comes up. We have not only the cats to think about, but also my husband's work and general life-enjoyment to consider. We got very lucky in Bogota. Let's see what happens in July...

1 comment: