Monday, April 17, 2017

It's Happening Again

I'm getting sucked into that black hole I call "medical care hell" once again, only this time it is for the dogs.  Although overall I am happier with my current vet than I've been with any of the vets I've used in the past, she is starting to piss me off.

A few months ago I took Midge in to see her because of this tumor that created an open sore on Midge's back.  Next thing I knew, the vet was running a full blood panel, which costs about $600 and telling me to lower her insulin dose from 5 to 3.5 units.  I don't like changing her dose drastically, because she's so sensitive that she swings back and forth between having symptoms of too much and not enough.  If she's behaving relatively normal without urinating sticky stuff all over the floor constantly (meaning not enough insulin) and without acting spacey and having seizures (meaning too much insulin), I feel fortunate and I want to leave her dosage alone.  However, every frickin' time I take her in to see a vet, he or she wants to change her dose.  They don't seem to understand that it's rare for her to be in the perfect target range.

To make matters worse, every vet I've worked with has shamed me to varying degrees for not keeping her blood sugar level in that perfect range, which makes me hesitate about bringing her in to see the vet when she needs help.  This latest vet started out behaving professionally, but has since begun to shame me with her tone of voice, and she has this snooty tech who does the same, but I tried my best to ignore it since the dog needed medical care and I was running out of options.

Since I was fed up with always being told that I'm wrong, I dropped her insulin dose down to 3.5 units as instructed, and Midge did okay with that dose for a couple of weeks, but then obviously needed more.  Midge was waking us up throughout the night to be taken outside, and there were plenty of accidents on the floor for me to mop up.  The sore on her back was never really addressed other than that I was told to keep it clean, and was given a round of antibiotics, which gave her diarrhea and caused a whole new set of problems.  At the time, I was just happy to avoid surgery.

However, a few months passed and the sore never healed, so I took her back in, determined to keep the vet focused on the tumor.  The tech immediately took her back for some blood work and the vet came in shaming me for not having her insulin dose properly regulated.  Hey!  I just did what she said.  She told me to drop her down to 3.5 units, and now I was being blamed for not giving her enough insulin.  I knew it wasn't enough, but I was tired of being shamed.

Every time that I make adjustments without the vet's consent, I have to deal with the sighs, the eye rolling, and the sour expressions.  It's really hard for me to communicate what is going on with my dog when the vet tech and vet are making faces at each other that are clearly disrespectful of me.  It's not easy owning an animal who has a life-threatening disease, and it would be nice to find someone who actually is supportive of me, instead of always acting like I'm my dog's worst enemy.  Pet owners are important resources for information that the vet needs in order to do her job, and it's not helping anyone to dismiss a pet owner as someone who is just getting in the way of the pet's care.  I can guarantee you that no one loves a pet more than its owner, and no one knows that pet more than its owner.  For that reason, pet owners deserve respect.

I asked the vet how many units she wanted me to switch her to, and she said 5!  That's what I originally had her at previously, but was shamed for giving her too much.  I just can't win.

I reminded her that the reason why I was bringing my dog in was to address the open sore and tumor on her back.  The vet prescribed a second round of antibiotics, and said she would surgically remove it along with taking care of a couple of other surgical issues, but first we had to get her diabetes under control.  Her tech set up two appointments for me, and I was under the impression that the first appointment was to check her blood-sugar level again, and the second was for surgery.

I took Midge in for her second appointment of three, and the snooty tech checked her blood-sugar level.  I informed her that Midge was spacey, sleeping too much, and not urinating much, so we would need to lower her dosage before she started having seizures.  The vet agreed to lower her dose to 4.5 units, but said that 5 did get her in the target range.  Well, here's the deal:  At the first appointment, I had given Midge her lunch before coming in, and she not only ate her own lunch but got a hold of Scrappy's lunch too.  At the second appointment, I had not given her lunch beforehand.  Those two factors make a huge difference in the test results, and they weren't taking them into consideration.  In fact, the vet jumped to the conclusion at our first appointment that we had a bad batch of insulin, and she told me to throw it out and buy a new bottle.  I knew she was way off base with that assessment, so I didn't do it.

They then said to bring her back in three weeks.  I raised an eyebrow and said, "But she has an appointment next week for the surgery, doesn't she?"

They said next week's appointment was a "follow-up for another full blood panel" (another $600 within two weeks, which would be a total of most people's paychecks) and that they didn't not schedule surgery for her at all.  In fact, the vet was now saying that Midge may be too old to have surgery.  Huh?  She's the same age this week as she was last week when the vet agreed to give her surgery.

Normally, I'm very anti-surgery, however, considering that this open wound will not heal because the tumor is breaking through the skin, she's at high risk of getting an infection.  I want that skin closed, and it won't close until the tumor is surgically removed.  Right now, she gets blood and pus all over the furniture and carpet.

Now I'm feeling angry because I've taken my dog in for a total of three appointments so far and that open wound still has not been treated, because the doctor is being all OCD about her diabetes, and instead of helping, she's just causing her diabetes to be less stable by changing her dosage back and forth.  This is so frustrating because all these appointments and weekly blood tests are adding up quick and depleting our bank account without any benefit to us or our dog.  I almost wish I never brought her in.

When the vet sensed that I was about to bail all together, she had them cancel next week's appointment and just set up the one in three weeks.  She said, "If her diabetes is stable then, we'll reconsider surgery."

Well, it's not going to be stable, because she's so sensitive.  All it takes is for her to get a few extra kibble or a few less, and she's out of range.  Also, if the insulin dose is just slightly above what her body needs, her body will store it until it gets to toxic levels, which causes the vet to swing her dose drastically in the other direction when all she needs is for it to be bumped down half a unit.

My other struggle is that Midge has been a handful lately about letting me clip her toenails, so I had been taking her to the salon to get it done.  However, the owner of this salon is uncomfortable working with dogs who have tumors.  They had one customer who gave them a bad review online for cutting open his dog's tumor while grooming him, and salon owner shamed the dog owner for not taking the dog to the vet to have the tumor removed.  She made him out to be a neglectful dog owner and said it was his fault, and then said that when he has the tumor removed, he will be welcome back as their customer.

I did take Midge in to the dog salon with the open wound on her back once, and I could tell by the groomer's facial expressions and body language that she was totally disgusted and hesitant about even touching her, none-the-less trimming her toenails.  I mistakenly thought they'd be okay with just doing the toenails if it didn't include a grooming.  I knew I couldn't bring her back until that tumor was removed, and now I can't get the vet to remove the tumor, which means that I can't her toenails trimmed.  I may just make the vet tech do it.  The only problem is that the vet charges twice as much to trim nails as the dog salon.

Then there's Scrappy who has a tumor actually on his toe, so he would be in pain if someone tried to trim them.  He'd probably have to be put under or get a local anesthetic to get his nails trimmed, and the vet won't do surgery on him either because of his age.  In his case, I'm thinking he's going to pass away before his nails get too long, but Midge's situation is really putting me between a rock and hard place.  I can't keep giving up all of this time and money without making any progress on closing that wound.  If she were showing signs of being in the last few weeks of her life like Scrappy is, then I wouldn't worry so much, but I think Midge has another few years ahead of her if that open sore doesn't get infected.

I've seen every vet in my vicinity over the past five years and if they aren't primarily business people who want to drain your bank account any way they can, then they are caring individuals who are misguided and end up wasting all of your money through a series of misdiagnoses and by demanding that an unreasonable amount of work be done "for the sake of the pet".  I've received a lot of recommendations, but the reality is that if you are taking your pet in for regular maintenance like vaccinations and wellness checks, of course you are going to have a good experience and be treated with respect.  I've learned that veterinarians show their true colors when dealing with a pet who has a serious health condition.

I think I may have to draw the line soon and just decide between demanding the medical care I asked for or not doing anything at all, because the course we are on at the moment is fruitless.  I understand the Midge's diabetes needs to be stable in order for her to have surgery, but I'm not willing to keep bringing her in for these expensive blood panels until she is repeatedly within the target range.  By the time that happens, I'll be out of money and won't be able to pay for the surgery anyway.

Oh yeah, the other big disappointment is that the prescription dog food that the vet put Scrappy on is a complete rip off.  It cost me $70 for a couple of week's worth of canned dog food, and when you open the can, it's mostly water.  With our old dog food, which was about $20 for a couple of week's worth of food, I could feed two dogs two meals with one can, and if I ran out, all I had to do was drive down the street and pick up some at the market.  With the prescription dog food, I can only feed one meal to Scrappy, and the cans are actually bigger!  I also have to get vet approval every time I order some online, which takes a few days.  I get so frustrated when I'm forced to get caught up in this racket of pet prescriptions.


Camryn said...

One reason (I'm surprised vet didn't mention actually) that her sore spot isn't healing is diabetics (2 legged & 4) are notoriously slow at healing. Her knowing this could be her reason for hesitating on surgery as well? $600.00 for a full blood panel? Of course living in Ohio our cost of living is lower but, Theo has blood work done twice a year to make sure the Pheno for epilepsy isn't doing damage. I can take a look to compare but, it's maybe a little over $100.00. Also while it's been a while since I worked as a Vet Assistant, while we did do routine blood work, a lot of the time we'd use a strip test directly in a urine sample. I realize that times have changed in the past 10ish years, perhaps you could google and see if that's a possible way to keep tabs?
Shoot a series of 6 laser treatments for Ivys back was just over $100.00!
My big baddie is I buy heart worm meds but, totally forget to give them! Last visit a few weeks ago it was mentioned. I explained how I'd so often forget making the meds infective anyway (I do test). Rather than questioning me, Tech & Vet looked at each other than both said, "well, she's great about everything else" then laughed. Im so sorry you've had so many issues with Vet care. I would without doubt do Scrappys nails at the Vet, they'll be able to do it with knowledge how to with his tumor.

TeresaA said...

oh my. I could not tolerate it if my vet did not listen to me. The eye rolling would be a deal breaker to me.

I'm worried about Midge and her sore- it's hard for people with diabetes to heal and I'm thinking that's what's going on with her too.

I hope that you can get it figured out soon.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

The vet and I did discuss the problem with diabetics healing. I just didn't want to draw out my blog post any longer with more details. Her problem extends beyond that. The tumor is large enough to prevent the skin from growing over it. It's also a very sinister looking tumor with white tissue on it. It almost looks like bone, but there shouldn't be bone growing in that location. This is definitely not a fatty tumor.

I do have both a blood test kit and a urine test kit. I haven't seen a vet bill as low a $100 in probably 20 years, unless it is just to have a tech do an Alpha Trak test. We've easily spent over $20,000 on Midge's vet care during her lifetime. You can see why I'm so stressed about it.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I feel for you. I couldn't tolerate snotty vet techs or vets that wouldn't work with me or gave me an eye roll. I'd be out of there and find someone else. Sounds like the vet isn't all that interested in operating, maybe she isn't capable of it. Maybe you could call around and see if there isn't another vet in another town who has good reviews on diabetic care for dogs. I think they're overcharging you by a lot for a blood panel. I live in the Northeast and prices aren't cheap here by any means but that seems excessive. Good luck.

Linda said...

You've got a lot on your plate. We have had our share of vet expenses lately, too, and more to come, but nothing like what you have. It's hard to find good vets. Period.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

There are only a couple of vets in my town and I've been to both of them. I've also been to several vets that were in various surrounding cities. Believe me, I've done my research. They all suck, and they are all ridiculously expensive. This lady actually charges less for her services than the last four vets I've tried... and she specializes in diabetic care.