The past 2.5 weeks have been pretty rough for us, which is why we have been absent in writing for a while. For a long time, writing acted as a refuge for us out here, so it has been a little confusing and frustrating to not be able to muster up the motivation to write out our feelings. So, our apologies for failing to keep you updated in quite the eventful few weeks!
Some of you know that we had some complications with Pneuma a little while back, but we have been fairly hush-hush with the details for multiple reasons. However, in the spirit of keeping everything open and raw on here about our journey, I figured it’s time to share the story!
My birthday was May 18th and my absolutely amazing parents planned a trip up to Pennsylvania to celebrate it with us. They picked the three of us up on the 17th on some incredibly random PA backroad and took us to an Air BnB about an hour away. We took the 18th and 19th off with them and it was the most perfect few days together – just what we needed to feel rejuvenated enough to get back to hiking.
So, on Saturday May 20th, they dropped us back off on the random PA road and we got back to hiking on the rocks of Pennsylvania. The weather that day turned out to be quite perfect for hiking – it couldn’t have been more than 68 degrees and it was overcast so the rocks weren’t hot on Pneuma’s paws, which is always a huge plus. The rocks were particularly difficult that day as we crossed over Knife’s Edge (a narrow rocky walkway with drop-offs on either side) and seemed to only get worse after that. Somewhere around 6 miles in, Pneuma randomly collapsed for a few seconds before jolting back up. Finding that really odd, we decided to take a 30 minute break to give her water and catch her breath, but she was acting completely normal so we kept hiking.
About 5 miles or so after that collapse, I turned around to see her mouth full of blood and dropping out onto the rocks and her front two legs. I instantly started freaking out, trying to find a cut in her mouth while crying out of fear, but couldn’t find the source of the blood which freaked me out even more. Somehow, by some magic, Logan stayed calm the whole time. He took her pack off, forced her to drink water and then carried her to the nearest road where we hoped someone would be kind enough to give us a ride.
Thankfully, there was a family in the parking lot that we had seen earlier who volunteered to drive us to an animal hospital nearby. Once we got there, realizing it was closed for the weekend, they ended up driving us over an hour to a 24 hour emergency hospital — one of the kindest acts we’ve received so far out here. You have no idea how calming it was for a complete stranger to be taking care of us in this situation, it was absolutely amazing!
Once we got there, it felt like forever until we knew any answers. They did blood work along with several other tests, but by almost 10 o’clock all that they could tell us was that her platelet count was extremely low. She wasn’t dehydrated, she tested negative for all of the tick-borne illnesses, she wasn’t running a fever…but they still wanted to hospitalize her over night to monitor her in the ICU.
We were really, really confused and flustered at this point. Neither of us were expecting to have to leave her there overnight, and whether it was our separation anxiety or the fact that it was late at night after a tough hike, we both broke down in tears. So much so that the ladies checking us out at the front desk seemed overly concerned about the two of us – which, now looking back, is quite hilarious!
So, at this point we are freaked out that we have somehow put Pneuma in extreme danger, we are stranded in a strange city with no car, our family was super far away from us and we were both hungry and tired. We got our Uber driver to take us to Chick-fil-A before she took us to the hotel and let me tell ya, that sure did comfort my soul a bit!
We barely slept that night, but thankfully got a call around 11:30am on Sunday saying that Pneuma’s platelet count was back up and she was ready to be discharged! We made our way to the vet and I asked the doctor about 1094739 questions before we left the building. We were both extremely frustrated because all that they could tell us was a list of “maybe’s” – he literally told us “we have on the paperwork that she suffered from a heat stroke, but that’s basically because we have to list a reason to discharge her from our care”.
We were unsure of whether she was actually ok or not, whether she will be able to go back out on the trail, etc. but he told us to give her 3-5 days of rest and then go from there.
Looooong story short, my amazing aunt Karol drove up from Georgia two days later to watch Pneuma off-trail so Logan and I could get to hiking again. She stayed with us for A WEEK AND A HALF (!!!!!) which allowed us to pull some decent mileage days while letting Pneuma skip the terrible rocks of Pennsylvania.
That week and a half looked really different than we had anticipated our trip looking, but the one thing we came to realize was that Pneuma means so much more to us and to our journey than we thought. We had to have several really hard conversations in those few days about what we were going to do moving forward because, one, the vet bill was a huuuuge financial setback and, two, if Pneuma was seriously sick, then we obviously couldn’t keep her on the trail. So, we decided that we would keep hiking for the time being before we could get her checked again by another vet, but if they found something wrong with her, that we’d end our trip there and go back home with her.
But, thankfully, at the next vet appointment, Pneuma’s blood work came back 100% healthy and all tick-borne illness screenings were still negative!!!!
We did a short two-day stint the day after the appointment with her before my aunt left back for Georgia and she did so extremely well. Our dog, our spirited and beautiful dog, is a trail-lover through and through.
Guys, I can’t tell you how it feels to have her back out here with us…it’s amazing!!
Though we have been in quite the mental slump recently, we’re still putting one foot in front of the other to Maine. All three of us!
For those of you who don’t know, we chose the name Pneuma because it is the Greek word for breath or spirit.
We’ve always known that it was the perfect name for her, but we’ve realized it all over again on a whole new level recently.
She is the spirit of our trip, a constant breath of fresh air.
So. Much. Love.