Well we’ve purchased our second round of plane tickets to Vietnam. With only $150 lost in cancellation fees last time (which we’re adding to Ethel’s growing tab, she’ll have to find some gainful employment soon) the delay to this grand adventure Andrew and I have been planning since September is being capped at one month. On the recommendation by Ethel’s new neurologist, we’re taking a new “wean Ethel off the ‘roids” approach.
- Old plan: wean her off the ‘roids entirely before leaving the country, a process which, at best, would take 5-6 weeks. Benefit: traveling while her immune system is compromised isn’t the best, so waiting until it isn’t is preferable. Risk: weaning her off the steroids in such a short period of time (5-6 weeks is the absolute quickest, most vets recommend 2-3 months) heightens the likelihood that she’ll relapse, and that the meningitis will flair back up.
- New plan: wean her off the ‘roids much more slowly. Found a French vet clinic in Hanoi that can take over the process once we get there. Slight reduction in steroids, wait 3-4 weeks, then another slight reduction…and so forth. Benefit: This gives her system the chance to readjust, and decreases the likelihood of relapse. Risk: Ethel will be traveling internationally while on an immuno-suppressant, meaning that she’s a bit compromised and could catch something.
The flight will be stressful, but the slight steroid reduction is already making a huge difference in her personality. She’s more cuddly, less thirsty, and the intensity and anxiety are waning. All good things. With a new vet ready to take over, and with the improvements in her mood/temperament, this seemed like the best option. Tough dog-parents decision…but one we feel is the best for all of us. As much as my dad has been a gracious host, staying in NY for three months isn’t an option.
Beyond the continuing Ethel saga, this pre-Vietnam mini adventure in NY is going quite well. I guess this is what happens when you have free time…it fills up quickly. “Paying rent” in classy meals, I’m cooking a lot, which makes me happy (and does the same, I suspect, for Andrew and Dad). I miss the Willy St Coop, but there’s a local specialty grocery store with great produce, an incredible cheese/olive selection, and an adorable old Italian man in one of the 4 prepared food stations who Andrew banters with in Italian while he hands us samples of everything. It’s not bad.
I’m probably in NY with family once a year for about five days, so this extended time is pretty unusually and also pretty great. We’re seeing the extended Bain family, hopping on the train for days and evenings in the city (saw one Amanda Bartlett for drinks and dinner in the lower east side…it was wonderful) taking Ethel for beach walks, happy hour-ing with family in town, looking for apartments in Hanoi, and generally enjoying ourselves.
Andrew, who is sitting next to me setting up his own wordpress account, will also be blogging. As he’s never been to this place that we’re moving, I highly recommend following him as well (andrewcrichton.wordpress.com).
So the countdown begins again! At around 9:30pm we’ll leave my dad’s apartment for the last time, heading for JFK. The normal 2-hrs of “check in” time for international flights needs to be padded a bit, since the baggage we’ll be checking includes a small bundle of fur with a big attitude. Our carefully prepared paperwork will be accepted (fingers and toes crossed) and Ethel in her giant travel crate will head off towards the temperature and pressure controlled compartment where pets get to spend their travel time. Our Korean Air flight leaves just after midnight, and we arrive in Seoul around 5am on Sunday (~16 hrs of travel time). We then grab Ethel from the Incheon Intl Airport quarantine office (where they make sure she doesn’t look sickly, and check her paperwork again) and wait for our next flight. At 1:45pm we arrive in Hanoi, deal with customs, get Ethel again, convert a pile of money, and take a cab to our new apartment. And then mostly likely, promptly fall exhausted into bed with our mildly-traumatized-but-happy-we’re-back dog.