The Dreaded Phone Call(s) I Never Knew I'd Have to Make

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Our day started out as a fairly normal one - trampolines, raking leaves, and general silliness.

Just before noon, things changed.

They changed big.

They changed in a way I never could have imagined, even in my wildest dreams.

Jay: Oh My Gosh Mommy, I have an announcement to make!! This is a big day. Justin Timberlake has just grown a wee wee!!!

After a couple of targeted and narrowing questions, I realized that she was talking about her hamster (he undergoes frequent name changes), and something was definitely wrong

A few hours of distractions and general avoidance later, we got back home from errands and discovered it  was still out. I told the girls that it wasn't like puberty; I explained to them that it was more like Browning's lipstick (which usually has the respect to go back into hiding after being called out)...then they understood, along with me, that something weird was going on with the little guy.

I was thinking we were in the middle of a bad Cialis side effect kind of situation, but then we Googled. I'm not saying this was the best thing we could have done and I'm not saying I'm proud of this, but after a few dicey Boolean searches, we landed on a bit of a gem:

Judging by the fact that it only took Google .31 seconds to return page one of 3,490,000 options for me, I felt much better knowing we weren't alone in our quest to solve Justin Timberlake's issue.

The second link led us to a third link on how to take care of rat's privates. At that point, I was hundreds of miles outside of my comfort zone.

Fluffy hamster named Justin Timberlake : tolerable :: Rat with a captial R : absolutely intolerable

Cee started to nervously giggle.

Jay started to cry.

So I did what any reasonably sympathetic parent would do - we moved Justin Timberlake from the happy land of CareFresh Confetti, toilet paper tunnels, and hamster treadmills to the land of ICU with a white washcloth, food, and water (because according to one of the websites, all the confetti can be really bad news for it).

And then I called our vet. Except until they answered, I had no idea what I was actually going to say (big mistake).

XYZ Animal Clinic, how can I help you?

Uhhhhh, can I speak to a vet tech, please (I decided a receptionist probably wouldn't take me seriously)?

I am a vet tech - how can I help you? 

Okay, I swear this is not a prank phone call (nervous chuckle), but we have a three year old dwarf hamster who.... (you get the idea...)

{ridiculously long pause}

We only deal with cats and dogs. We don't really specialize in rodents. 


But I know someone who does!! Just give XYZ Pet and Bird Hospital a call and they'll take good care of you!

Obviously this meant:
a) Strike one
b) Jay was still crying
c) Cee was still nervously giggling
d) It only took Google .07 seconds to return my querry for a phone number
e) I would have a second chance at humiliating myself on the phone
f) All of the above

If you guessed F, you are awesome. And correct.

We called and went through the same routine, except this time "vet tech one" took me seriously and quickly expedited my call to "level 2 vet tech/hamster support specialist" who was willing to listen patiently to me as I awkwardly stumbled my way through the second explanation of Justin Timberlake's dire straits.

She was much more empathetic and very seriously explained to me several of my options (which included cleaning the area with warm soap and water using a q-tip, icing the area down, and applying olive oil as I tried to return the body part to its intended location) - all without missing a beat. It's like she talks to people about hamster junk all day long.

At this point, I was stifling nervous giggles and pushing away tears of horror.

But she was all business, and she scheduled me for an appointment tomorrow at 8:40 am. Just before we hung up, she asked me for the hamster's name.

Justin Timberlake, I told her solemnly (after deciding to spare her from his various aliases).

Okay, well we'll see you and Justin Timberlake tomorrow at 8:40. And the visit will be $68.43. We take cash, checks, and credit. 

And just for a nanosecond, I felt a tiny little bit like Jessica Biel.

I smiled.

After I hung up, I realized that anybody who quotes medical prices to the cent is automatically questionable. And spending more money on a hamster than the cost of owning him for nearly three years was absolutely out of the question.

Then I looked up and saw this...

What do you even do with this?

I'll tell you 3.5 things you don't do: you don't wash it with soap and water; you don't ice it; and you don't put a cooking necessity on it and try to push it back in.

The one thing I decided I could do was give her a huge hug and a kiss and tell her that everything will surely be okay, and we have to have a little bit of hope.

She said, "I hope he doesn't RIP."

I said, "Do you know what RIP means?"

"Yes - Rest in Peace. Like die."


"I mean I don't want him to die. But I do want him to get lots of good rest and have peace and get that nasty thing tucked back into his tummy. Rest. In Peace. It works in other ways, too, mom."

Fair enough, little one. Fair enough.

So, Justin Timberlake, here's to hoping you get some rest...


Update, March 12 (9:51 am):  It's a Christmas miracle. Operation Self Retraction is a success. 

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