Friday, March 25, 2016

As the Week Ends

After spending most of February and March fighting off the flu and allergies despite getting a flu shot and taking allergy pills, I got way behind on my appointments.  With four horses, three dogs, and myself to care for, there are almost an unmanageable number of "recommended" vaccinations, tests, and treatments when it comes to preventative care.

I think my biggest issue with this sudden explosion of activity around preventative care is that we go in healthy and come out sick.  Every time.  Even if the procedure isn't anything that should makes us sick, just being around people in medical waiting rooms is like sitting in a petri dish swimming with viruses and bacteria.  Also, I'm allergic to cats, so whenever I take my dogs in, I inhale plenty of cat dander along the way.  Yet, if we don't get all this crap taken care of, especially in the case of our pets, we are accused of being neglectful.

This week I actually had several days in a row where I felt well enough to get caught up on some of the appointments I missed.  The receptionist at the new vet's office was awesome.  She communicated clearly, was personable, and had me off the phone with my appointment in 30 seconds.  She was a breath of fresh air.

Then there was the dentist's office.  I had to cancel my first appointment because I had the flu, and they rescheduled me for one week later, but I still had the flu, so I just cancelled and said I'll call when I know for sure I am over it.  This is how the conversation went when I attempted to set up a new appointment:

"I'm sorry, you are not in our system."

I spelled out my last name for her.

"Nope.  Not in our system."

I told her to look under the most common misspelling of my last name.

"Not there."

I spelled out my last name using military terminology like "T as in Tango."

"Ohhhhh!  I thought you said 'F', not 'S'."

Alright.  I do have a slight speech impediment and maybe the phone line was bad.  I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

"Nope.  You are definitely not in our system."

"Well, I'd better be.  I've been seeing your dentist for four years now."

"I don't know what to say."

I wondered if they intentionally deleted my records from their system because I cancelled two appointments when I had the flu.  At this point, I considered saying, "Well, I guess I'll just have to take my business elsewhere."

However, I didn't want to do that, because I really, really, really like my dental hygienist after dealing with a lifetime of bad ones who butcher and nag me.  She feels like a close friend.

Just then the girl got a bright idea and said, "Hang on.  I'll ask someone else."

She must have been new, because whoever she asked knew me, and found me filed under my first name.

I thought the ordeal was over until I had to choose a time.  I told her who I wanted the appointment with, which day of the week, and said that I wanted an afternoon appointment.

She must have stopped listening after I said the hygienist's name and day, because she offered me a 7:30 AM appointment.

I repeated, "I'd like an afternoon appointment. 7:30 is my busiest time of the day."

"Oh, how about 9:30?"

"That's still the morning.  I need afternoon, like mid-afternoon."


I sighed heavily.  This girl obviously did not know the meaning of the word "afternoon".  I know that our state has one of the worst educational systems in the country, but this was ridiculous.  Kids are usually taught how to tell time in the first grade.  I said, "Do you have anything after 2:00 PM?"

At this point, I was expecting her to pick a 2:00 PM appointment despite me saying "after", but she got it right.  She gave me a 2:30 PM appointment.  The entire ordeal took up way too much of my time.

When I took Stewie in for his vaccinations, the doctor was confused by his medical records, because sometimes he was given a shot of Benadryl with his vaccinations and sometimes not.  She needed to know if he was allergic to the DHPP vaccine.  I said I didn't remember him having any reactions, so she just gave him the shot.

A few hours later, Stewie wasn't doing well.  I took him outside on his leash and he couldn't walk.  At first I thought he was lagging behind because he feared I was taking him to the vet again, but when I tried to pick him up and carry him outside, he yelped like he was in pain.  The injection site was swollen and there was collection of fluid in his armpit below the injection site.  His eyelids were red and he had a fever.  I gave him some Benadryl, he slept through the night, and he's back to his normal self this morning.  It's scary how vaccinations can make someone so sick.  I don't remember any of my dogs having a bad reaction to one.  I do remember Bombay having the chills and shaking uncontrollably the night after some vaccinations.  I had to pile two horse blankets over him to get the shaking to stop.  Once he broke a sweat, he was fine.

Somehow in all of my vet hopping, the dates the dogs are due for vaccinations got all spread out throughout the year, so I can't consolidate the appointments.  It's definitely easier just dealing with one dog, but too many appointments takes away from other things.  At least this new vet is fast.  She gave him a quick wellness check, gave him his shots, and said she'd be back with my write-up.  I asked if I should go to the waiting room to free up the examining room for the next patient, and she said to go where I am most comfortable.

I looked in the waiting area and saw no other animals, so I went in there.  Then an older lady came in with Stewie's "twin".  We talked a little bit, and then the vet tech came out with my "write-up", which totally confused me.  They tacked on all this extra stuff I didn't ask for and the bill was just under $400.  I said, "I don't want any of that.  I just wanted the vaccinations."

I looked over at the lady in the waiting room, and she had one of those accusatory expressions and I could see her mouth opening like she was about to say something rude like, "Don't you love your dog?  You definitely should get a fecal matter test and a heart worm test if you love your dog."  I shot her a look that said, "Don't you dare," and she closed her mouth.

Had I known that they were going to talk to me about additional preventative care, I would have stayed in the private room.  Every time that a vet has talked to me about my dog's health in a waiting room, other customers can't seem to keep their opinions to themselves, and it never turns out well.  I once had a vet consult with me about Midge's diabetes in a waiting room, and I couldn't hear anything she was saying because I was looking around at all these nosy people listening in and feeling horrified over the vet's lack of confidentiality and professionalism.  Needless to say, I never went back there.

I expected an argument from the vet tech, because that's what I've gotten everywhere else I've gone, but she said cheerfully, "Okay.  That's fine."  She crossed those items off my bill, rang up what we did, and the bill was just slightly over $100.  That's more like it.  Here's the thing.  The vet did a wellness check and said that my dog was in good health.  She couldn't find any problems with him.  So, why test for other illnesses if he's not showing signs of being ill?  It's just a waste of money and time.  I've read articles about how all these annual "recommended tests and procedures" are the vet's bread and butter more than anything else.  Much of it is unnecessary.  One could even argue that the vaccinations I got for Stewie were unnecessary and potentially harmful.

The weather has been really pleasant the past few days because we've had cool winds and breezes.  I groomed all the horses, and they were grateful.  Gabbrielle is a self-grooming horse.  She rubs her body all over the horse wire fencing and does a good job of getting all of her winter coat off by herself.  Lostine, being the oldest, is the fuzziest.  She's so fatigued all the time that she doesn't do much beyond stand in a stall all day with her eyes closed.  I feel for her in her ancient condition.  I've been lunging her occasionally so she can get some exercise, but still haven't been taking anyone for walks in the desert because of the bees.

I've got a couple more appointments, and then I'm going to have to focus on weeding so that the snakes won't have places to hide once they come out.


fernvalley01 said...

busy times! I live over an hour from my specialist and dentist, and still when I remind them of that they offer me an 8-9:30 am appt. Sure I want to drive an hour into rush hour traffic ...NOT

Cheryl Ann said...

I had a similiar conversation with the IDIOT in charge of scheduling mammograms. I said, "After 3:45, please". He offered me 3:30. I said, "NO, I cannot drive and get there by 3:30." He offered 7:30 a.m.! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I'm on the freeway at 7:30 a.m. and school starts at 8:00. I FINALLY got a 3:45 appointment. OYE! LISTEN, PEOPLE!!!

Cheryl Ann said...

And, his accent was so heavy (French) that I could barely understand him and I had to constantly ask him to repeat what he said. OYE VEI!

Crystal said...

I hate making appointments too they just waste so much time and I can never get 2 on the same day. But at least when i do make an appointment and go to town I get to visit with friends and eat out so I guess that makes up for a waste of a day? Monday going to the vet with a horse and my husband wants me to take him to the doctor so he can sit in the lab all afternoon hope hes done by the time I'm ready to go home.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Crystal and fernvalley - I'm glad I don't have the added issue of such a long drive to most places. I'm sure living out in the country, you have to try to consolidate as much as possible into one trip to save time and gas.

Cheryl Ann - Thick accents are a problem for me too. If I can't understand what the person on the phone is saying, I can't get my needs met. My son kept trying to close his old bank account, and every time he got someone with a thick accent, only to find out later that his account was never closed and he was racking up fees. He'd call again, get another thick accent, and the communication breakdowns just continued. If I ran a business, I'd make sure that if I hired bi or multi-lingual people to answer phones, the accent won't get in the way of communication.

Linda said...

I do a lot of scheduling at our clinic, and I usually pinpoint a good time for the client quite quickly. She must not have been tuning in to you. I can understand your frustration. I agree with you about all the extra tests being unnecessary if your pet isn't showing signs of some illness. I generally avoid going to the vet if not absolutely necessary. All of our vets know this about us because we've had several arguments. One young vet (who's no longer with our clinic) tried to bully me into spaying my Irish Wolfhound at 4 months old. Irish Wolfhounds are notorious for bone cancer, and some of the studies I'd read highly suggested no spaying until after 2 years old. She argued and argued and my husband had to intervene between the two of us. The average lifespan of an IW is 6.5 years, and my parents raised one to be almost 11. The breeder I purchased from had hers live up into their 12's--my IW's grandparents--using some of those common sense approaches. My general feeling is the less tinkering, the better.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Linda - I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way. I really dislike being bullied or guilted into doing preventative medicine. That's pretty amazing that your family and breeder were able to get such a long lifespan out of those dogs.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Gah! The dental appointment saga has continued to drag on for weeks. First, I got an email reminding me of the appointment two weeks in advance. Than I got a text message asking me to verify that I will be at my 2:30 appointment. I verified it. Then I got a phone call asking me to call the office to verify that I will be at my 2:30 appointment. I was thinking, "Why do I have to do this twice? Isn't my time valuable?"

An hour later, they called again and didn't leave a message. An hour after that, they called and said they had to reschedule my appointment. I called them back, and the lady just answered with,"Hello?"

I had to ask if it was the dentist's office. "Oh, uh, yeah."

I told her my name and situation, and she asked for my name. I repeated it, and she asked for my name again. I repeated it a third time and spelled it out for her. She repeated it back to me, but it was the wrong name! I wanted to scream. What do I have to do to get someone to listen to me when I speak?

Then she wanted to change my appointment, because they didn't allow me enough time to get things done. I was like, "Then why was I given this time slot in the first place?"

I was so frustrated that I hung up without doing what I originally set out to do, which was to ask them to opt me out of these excessive number of reminders. Now I'm going to have to deal with reminders, verifications, and re-verifications through email, text and phone for the new appointment.