Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Preparing for the Fireworks

I didn't get much of a reprieve from being busy before all hell broke loose again.  I think I just need to give up on all expectations of getting some quiet time to do what I choose.  First, there was the wind storm that destroyed everything on our property that wasn't anchored down, and even some things that were anchored down.  Then, the house started falling apart and simple things like changing a light bulb turned into major projects.

In the meantime, the lady who said she wouldn't be needing my services anymore apparently changed her mind and started calling me with more work for me to do, and I literally didn't have a spare moment to return her calls, but sacrificed other responsibilities in order to do so.  Then I spent some time cleaning up the neighbor's property damage from the storm.  Then I received notice that we've got some unexpected house guests coming to stay with us over the holiday, and I don't think I have cleaned house in over a month.  I was planning on getting the heck out of Dodge with my dogs to avoid the bi-annual freak out over fireworks, but now I can't leave because we have company coming.  It's going to be interesting trying to entertain guests while the dogs are tearing up the house and trying to commit suicide.

The morning paper had an article about some 4th of July festivities around town, and right below it was a list of tips for people to keep their pets safe during the fireworks.  We are instructed to catch any loose animals if it is safe, and if not, call the police.  Oh yeah, and by the way, Animal Control is closed for the holiday.  Sometimes this community makes me laugh.  They support activities that terrorize animals, and then they don't even keep the only office open that was formed to support the welfare of animals.

However, a few hours later I was running errands and saw that the city police do have a paddy wagon for animals, so I guess they can pick them up and take them to the shelter, but the general public can't go to the shelter to see if their animals are there until after the holiday.  I doubt that helps my neighborhood though, since it is just outside the city and can only use country services.  My vet got on a roll ranting about how stupid it is for our community to legalize fireworks with it being so dry in the desert, and with it wreaking havoc in so many households that contain pets.  I agree 100%.  I'm more concerned about safety, but this area is known for its big displays of patriotism.

Midge only has a few anxiety pills left and they are getting close to their expiration, so I wanted to stock up on some fresh stuff.  I knew that if I took her to her old vet, he'd hold her hostage for a day or two to run tests around her diabetes, which stresses her out and just causes more health and anxiety complications, and then I'd have a $2,000 to $5,000 vet bill on my hands when all I wanted was a new prescription for her anxiety pills, so I decided it was time to keep shopping for a new vet.  Each time one of the dogs is due for something or needs a new prescription or is sick, I try a different vet.  So far, they have all been the same regarding the up-sell and peer pressure they put on me to get extra, optional vaccinations, dental procedures, and whatnot done.  As a rule, I never drive my husband's Cadillac to a vet's office, because they see me coming from a mile away and try to bleed me dry.

So far I've found that I cannot rely on Internet reviews and recommendations.  I really don't want to have to see a vet that is a long drive to reach because Midge has medical emergencies.  We wouldn't drive our human loved ones an hour to an emergency room when there's one right down the street.  Also, even if the drive is only half an hour in the summer, that means it will be over an hour in the winter with all the accidents and snowbirds on the road.

I decided to go to a vet that is close and at one point in time had a bad reputation.  Guess what?  I was perfectly happy with this vet's office.  The receptionist was mature, experienced, intelligent, and I could actually carry on a conversation with her without being interrupted or cut off.  She never put me on hold or made me talk to a machine.  She was knowledgeable about her office's ways of screening new patients who have diabetes.  When I walked in the door, even though she had never met me in person, she acknowledged me and my dog by names and had one page of paperwork ready for me to fill out.  I got called back into the examining room as soon as I turned in the paperwork.

The receptionists at my old vet's office drove me nuts because anytime I had a simple question, they'd tell me they had to ask the doctor and would call me back.  I knew it wasn't their fault.  The doctor was a control freak and would not let his staff make any decisions or speak in depth to his clients.  He was so paranoid about being sued that it felt like I was dealing with a bunch of people who had gag orders in place.

The vet tech at the new clinic was very knowledgeable and listened to everything I said.  She then went into the back and I could hear her repeating what I said verbatim to the vet without putting her own spin on it and without sounding insulting toward me.  I can hear right through the closed door in medical offices, so I'm always astounded when a vet tech or nurse leaves me to go brief the doctor on our conversation and next thing I know the two of them are getting all snarky or laughing about my situation.  I think next time something like that happens, I'll just yell out, "I can hear you!"

I have had bad experiences with a lot of vet techs.  Veterinarians have invested their entire lives into their career, so they tend to be respectful and professional toward clients (at least to their faces), but vet techs can be rude and openly judgmental, because it's not their business that's at stake.  I think a lot of them get burned out and start taking their frustrations out on the pet owners.  The only thing this vet tech did that annoyed me was that she called Midge "the Corgi with the really long toenails."

That was her way of pointing out that she needed another nail trim, which I am aware of, but I've been quite busy lately.  They grow fast.  It feels like I just trimmed them a few weeks ago.  I liked my vet of 15 years, because anytime someone in his office was bugged because my dogs toenails were too long, they'd just clip them really fast themselves for free.  They understood that not everyone has a second person to hold the dog still while they trim the nails and not everyone has the time or money to be taking her dog to a salon.  Here, I find that people have this attitude that you are neglecting your pet if the nails extend beyond the quick.

Anyway, I really appreciated the vet, because she came in answering the questions I gave to the vet tech.  She didn't pretend like she didn't know what was going on and needed to waste my time by making me repeat everything back to her.  She addressed the diabetes and anxiety issues first, and then did the exam and brought up the dental work that every vet has to mention, but she didn't put any pressure on me to have it done right away.  She recommended specific chews to help keep the teeth clean, letting me know which brands work and which don't.  She didn't even bring up the heartworm medication, which really made me happy.  My other vet made me sign oodles of paperwork releasing him from liability should my dog die from heartworms.  That drove me nuts.  And he didn't have me sign it once, but he forced me to listen to the spiel and sign the legal release every time I walked in the door.  Even after I told them to put a note in my file that I don't ever want to be hassled about the heartworm medication again, they still kept bringing it up.  I liked this place because they didn't have posters all over the walls showing you images of all the horrible things that can happen to your pet if you don't have all this preventative work done.

This new place was very personable.  I didn't feel like I was on an assembly line.  In fact, while I was checking out, someone carried in some dog food and I realized that I forgot to discuss whether we had her on the best brand for her diabetes.  The vet tech thought it was an odd dog food to be recommended for a diabetic.  Anyway, the receptionist went back and interrupted the vet's lunch break to ask her if I should keep her on the same food, and she said to stick with it because she only wanted to make gradual changes.  Right now we are moving her off the $150 brand name insulin to a $25 generic insulin to save me some money, and we need to see if anything changes in her behavior or health.  Then we can look at the dog food and possibly get her something with more protein.  Then once we know she's stable, we can look at moving her to a pet-specific insulin instead of a human insulin with new syringes.

The Humulin N we've been using used to be $75 a bottle, then it went up to $80 a bottle and stayed there for a while.  Last month the price jumped to $120, and this month it is up to $150 a bottle -- double what I originally paid three years ago.  This new vet specializes in diabetes management, and informed me that vets used to have to put dogs and cats on human insulin, because that was all that was available, but now we have pet-specific insulin that is better for them to use.  I have to go to a pharmacy that is further away to get the generic insulin, but with the vet being closer, it makes up for the difference.

My old vet used to tell me that if my dog had a seizure, I had to bring her into the office immediately.  This vet told me how to manage seizures myself.  I'm pretty sure my old vet was all about keeping me helpless and ignorant so that he could keep collecting money from me for his services.  The new vet actually cares about the dog and wants her to be treated immediately.

I also liked that this vet's office was willing to train me to test her glucose levels myself so that I don't always have to bring her in and pay all the vet's fees to have them do that.  I actually bought a pet glucose meter a while back, and my old vet wouldn't let me use it because he didn't have confidence in me, and he wanted to get paid for doing something I could have done myself with a little help in the beginning.  All in all, I felt like I was on a team working together to keep my dog healthy with this new veterinarian's staff.  I didn't feel like I was at the mercy of the doctor's whims.  I was given choices, which is always nice.

Unfortunately, the vet I saw was not the regular vet, so I don't know if things will go as well next time I need to go in.  I liked that they respected my time and didn't force me to set up a series of appointments or keep Midge overnight for observation.  They just did one quick test while I was there, and I was able to bring her home with me.  Also, one of the things people complained about on the Internet was that this vet was too expensive.  I took into consideration that the vet was in a poor neighborhood and figured that she was too pricey for the locals.  Sure enough, my bill was very reasonable compared to what I've been paying elsewhere.  I had been using a vet in an exclusive upper class neighborhood previously, and I was definitely paying for the company I kept.  I don't mind walking my dog past homeless people and mentally ill people if it will save me hundreds or thousands of dollars, get better care for my pets, and put a smile on the faces of the downtrodden who haunt the streets.


Kris Hurford said...

Always nice when you find a vet you feel you can work WITH. Glad it went well!

Jen said...

Sounds like you found a keeper :o) This might sound weird, but coconut oil is very helpful for preventing/controlling seizures (my daughter's dog has epilepsy). Believe it or not, it's also a great digestive aid in horses (Shadow's colic issues are down to almost nil since I've added it into their diets).

Mrs Shoes said...

I'm glad you found a Vet & office who are motivated by the calling, rather than the billing.

Cheryl Ann said...

Glad you found a vet and an office you like! We once had a German shepherd, years ago, who HATED every vet we took him to. We always had to muzzle Maverick. Finally, one old guy at Petsmart told him, 'You...KNOCK IT OFF!" when he growled and gave him a cookie when he behaved! I miss Maverick. We got him when our son was in high school and had to put him down 8 years later when his hips gave out. We've had two other shepherds since he was with us, but I really do miss him! That dog could read my mind!

achieve1dream said...

Yay!!!!!!!!! A good vet!!! I hope this one is a keeper! Hopefully your never ending quest is over hehe.