Sometimes Vines Are Not Just Pruned, They Are Loved, Too!

In our Gospel this Sunday we hear, 

“Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.’”

It all began Monday evening a couple years ago. We, as a family, went for a walk at Ft Washington State Park. Jameson was in his stroller and Bailey and Rory went along on their leashes. All seemed normal until we were about 2 miles into our walk when Bailey suddenly slowed down. Way down. We wrote it off in our minds to a busy day, but deep down, it was concerning. She walked slowly alongside me. Something was off. 

Later that evening, after dinner, Bailey threw up on the carpet near her bed. It had a lot of debris from the tree mulch and sticks she likes to eat. Again, we wrote it off to being tired, nothing more. 

The next day, I went to the office and did some construction meetings with the crew renovating our Sanctuary. I came home and decided to wash the Jeep myself to get some exercise and down time. The dogs played in the yard, and I washed and waxed the Jeep. All was well. As I finished up, Bailey came scampering up to me. She had emerged from the woods, like normal, but this time had a lot more weeds and vines round her neck. I pulled them off and asked her where she had been now and what did she get into?! We all came into the house and Katelyn made us a sandwich. As we sat to eat together, I noted that unusually Bailey was absent from her normal begging at table side. I found her on her bed, near the door the porch. I laid down on the floor next to her and she began to whimper and cry. I touched her neck and she let out a squeal and I knew in an instant something was drastically wrong. I yelled to Katelyn, “Honey, something is really wrong; call the Vet; we are on our way.” 

As I picked Bailey up in my arms, she looked at my eyes and began to cry harder. I got in the car and held her close as I pulled onto the roadway heading toward our Veterinarian in Philadelphia at Wissahickon Creek Veterinarian Hospital. 

Bailey was declining quickly on the journey; her breathing was labored and her face swelling up. I knew she was having some form of anaphylaxis. She was in extreme crisis. I don’t know exactly how I got there in under 7 minutes, but I do know it involved great speeds and me often on the wrong side of the road. My horn never stopped blaring and my lights never stopped flashing. My four-way emergency flashers were on, and I was praying hard for her and that a cop would see me driving this way and help so we could get there even faster! No such luck. But God was with us because people were pulling over and arms waving out their windows and traffic stopping. Once I hit Ridge Avenue I blew through every light and every stop sign and not one time did anyone object. It was if instinctively knew something was dreadfully wrong.

By the time I pulled into the vet’s parking lot, a team was waiting outside. They grabbed Bailey from my arms and rushed her inside. With COVID at the time there is no entry, I knew that form our last routine visit. That is why I had Katelyn call ahead. A Nurse, Veterinarian, and a Vet Tech all stood waiting to help. Within a few minutes the Nurse emerged and told me Bailey was ok! She responded well to the Epi Pen and her breathing was better! They would keep her for an hour or two and then I could come back to take her home. I called Katelyn, told her what I knew and made my way home. We were so grateful.

Two hours. No call. Three and a call. “Bailey is failing. We need to transfer her to Metropolitan Hospital ASAP” I was in the car in seconds. I called Brother Sean and he met me in the parking lot of the church, and we were on our way when they called back to inform us, she was failing so quickly they were transporting her themselves with a Vet and Nurse on board. We knew it was bad. We made it to Metropolitan and they were close behind. 

Bailey didn’t even look like Bailey. She could no longer walk, her breathing labored had she had blood all over her coat from the IV port that she managed to pull out. She was anxious and the transporting team said she was ‘biting and aggressive’. I knew that wasn’t her. I made my way to her, and she began to cry and lick me over and over. I kissed her and told her she was a good girl. They took her inside. Bailey was dying. 

Within an hour they called us as we waited in the parking lot. Helpless. Alone, Afraid. We prepared for the worse. Katelyn with the baby at home did, too. They managed to stabilize her, but it didn’t look good. They asked if we wanted to be ‘aggressive.’ That is code-speak for ‘this will cost literally thousands of dollars.’ The credit card came out, she was being treated. We prayed and went home.

We never stopped praying. I called on every Saint from St. Francis to my dad and even asked Tucker who we lost the year before to help us. We didn’t sleep and the updates came, and the decisions were made, and the costs mounted up and finally, at 3:00am the next day, the call came, Bailey turned the corner toward healing. She was mending! 

We picked her up a week later. She was back home within 30 minutes. Sleeping. A life saved. The Vet told us she hit the ‘perfect storm’ of mushroom poising and a snake or bee swarm toxin. My mom said we should change her name to ‘Lucky’. It was worth it. Every hour, every cent. Every worry. Bailey was home. 

On that day, we were the vine she needed, and Bailey was the lost branch. Maybe the next time we are lost and feel we are so broken or damaged that we only need pruning, we might remember that God does prune, but He also often just saves us from ourselves, too. Sometimes God just holds us until we heal. 

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