Bush Medicine

A home remedy for an out-island incident
Living in the out-islands never has its dull moments. In a panicking moment today, I feared the worst for my sweet little Barley. Barley was a rescue dog from New York and is far from street savvy like the Potcakes (the enduring name for the local mutts) are. Over Christmas she was hit by a car and is now permanently blind in her left eye. I'll admit, she's a bit spoiled and I'm maybe a tad overprotective of her. However she has had her fair share of near-death experiences that warrant a motherly third eye always checking for her (especially since she's down to one herself).

As has been our routine, we took a stroll down the lane to the nearby beach access. Barley goes bananas when she gets her toes into some sand. Running in circles around me and then throwing her body down into the sand and madly clawing in circles as pink speckles make their way deep into her fur, only to fall out much later in the evening on my tile floor. This day was no different, and as a friend approached on the beach, Barley went running towards her with salutations. I chatted for a bit until I realized Barley was staggering around us in circles and clumsily knocked into my friend's leg. She proceed to waywardly hobble sideways until she fell to the ground, seeing she was on the ground, she giddily began rolling in unadulterated bliss. She attempted to stand again, but once again fell over. Being somewhat a connoisseur of alcoholic beverages, I clued in instantly that she appeared to be intoxicated. Feeling my heart start to race, I reached down to her on the ground to lift her. She looked at me like an inebriated person who had fallen down and had no interest in my assistance in standing up again. She was quiet content viewing the world from the safety of the solid sand, as I'm sure the world whirred around her. I scooped her in my arms and hurriedly walked her up to the road. When I set her down on the pavement she seemed to regain her balance, but I was already on the phone to my vet. My vet in Nassau was with a patient and would call me back. I have still yet to hear back from the vet about my emergency.

I brought her back to the apartment where she seemed to make her way to in a straight line. The power had again been off and on all morning, but luckily it was on again when we returned. I switched on the AC and sat with her as she panted like a mad woman.

Banana Spider high up in a tree
Images ran through my head of anaphylactic swelling, spider bites or the newly invasive Cane Toads that have enough poison in their mucus to kill a small animal. Just yesterday I was leaving the house when I saw a massive spider web stretched across the road. I looked up in the trees and saw the largest spider I've ever seen in the wild. Turns out, after a quick Google search, it is called a Banana Spider and is known as one of the most venomous and lethal spiders in the world. Great. So I have that wandering around the neighborhood. Evidently you have about 2 hours after it bites you before you go into shock and die. I've also heard stories of baby puffer fish washing up on the shore and dogs gulping them down in all their deliciousness, only to suffer from tetrodotoxin toxicity.

I went through an Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician course last year. You'd think I could remember how to save a life, or keep someone alive after my intensive training. The problem is, if you don't have the right tools you are pretty helpless. And I certainly didn't have immediate access to a Epi Pen or even means to induce vomiting. Plus, if you aren't certain what the problem is, it tends to be difficult to administer the correct medical treatment.

Thankfully Barley's conditions improved and she was miraculously back to her old self within another half an hour. My best guess is that she was probably dehydrated and had exerted herself past her energy level. She has been finicky about drinking the tap water, as it's processed from the sea and has a high salinity taste to it. So instead she drinks the foot bath water outside the door, since it's mostly rainwater.

One of the problems of the out-islands is that help is usually far away. And when dogs eat things that don't agree with them, sometimes there's not much you can do. Our vet visits the island once every two weeks. The ferry runs once a day but is taking the next month off for servicing. If you run into a problem, you either have to fork over ridiculous amounts of money for medivac, or cross your fingers and pray.