Friday, September 17, 2010

Nick's Recovery

Nicki has been recovering nicely. In fact she's driving me nuts!
I knew it would be hard to keep a young dog quiet...but do you have any idea how much harder it is when there are TWO of them? And these two are famous for not listening to a thing I say when they are together. It's a full time job stopping them from throwing themselves into the air and landing on each other.
Nick has learned how to take the Elizabethan collar least while in her pen. I woke one morning to find it sitting in the pen and her curled up sleeping next to it. I thought for sure those stitches would be a mess. But no, they looked fine...not even red skin around them. I think she got tired of trying to maneuver turns in the pen with the collar getting in her way all the time so she just found a way to get it off.

Bell has had a few tries at untying Nick's collar while the two of them are loose too. Three times she's gone after the ties and once she almost succeeded too. The other two times I caught her and all she had done was get the ties really wet. I love how Nick would just stand there and let her do it. It's like they worked out how to get it off and all they needed was a little time to complete the plan. I'm not kidding when I said it's so much harder when there are two of them.

The stitches come out on Monday. That's going to be an uncomfortable visit. I haven't seen Dr. Willis since the surgery took place. I did receive a phone message from her office earlier this week asking me to call in and leave a message for Dr. Willis letting her know how Nick was doing. I didn't call them. I'm not able to pretend this is all fine and there was no problem so I just let it go. I'm still irritated and upset about how this whole fiasco went down. But I am wondering if Dr. Willis is ever going to apologise about this and take the blame for it. She hasn't yet. We'll see how this appointment goes down.

Here are a couple of pictures of these two looking totally innocent. But don't you believe it! :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nicki's Unnecessary Surgery

Two weeks ago Nicki started vomiting after dinner. It continued into the next day and I began to really worry. It's not uncommon for a dog to lose an occasional dinner but to continue into the next day is not normal.
I called my vet but his office was closing. They referred me to a vet hospital in South Windsor. I had formed a less than desirable opinion of them years ago and decided to see a different vet hospital in West Hartford instead.

After 41/2 hrs at the hospital; blood work and x-rays it was determined that Nicki had a large stone in her bladder. It was too large to pass with medication and I was told if it blocked her bladder and she was unable to pee it could burst her bladder and kill her. They wanted to keep her and do the surgery. I said no. I wanted my own vet to do the surgery. I took her home.The vomiting had stopped and she seemed pretty normal although she was very gassy and her stomach was making gurgling noises.

I called my vet the next day to explain the problem and found out that my vet was going to be on vacation. He called me back to discuss the situation and again I was referred to the vet hospital in South Windsor. Somewhere along the way these two hospitals had become affiliated. He offered to set up the appointment to meet the vet and have the surgery done. I agreed and went to a night appointment the following evening.
I liked Dr Willis. She is young and smart...and seemed to be well informed on current veterinary advancements. I felt she was a good choice and thought I may even see her afterward for some consultation on food allergies I think Nick and Bell both have.
She said she'd like to take her own x-ray that night to verify the problem and that there would be no charge for it. Unfortunately there was something wrong with their x-ray machine so that couldn't be done. She promised me the machine would be fixed by Friday (when the surgery was scheduled) and that it was her proceedure to take a before and after shot for this type of operation. This ensures there are no more smaller stones or granduals left in the bladder to cause more trouble down the road. I left with a good feeling about her.

Friday came and my stomach was tied in knots. Nick is one of my babies and a very happy go lucky dog. I knew she'd be in pain coming home and I felt guilty about that. She didn't have a clue what was coming and hasn't formed any fear of going to the vets office. She just bounds through the door expecting everyone to love her on sight and that's pretty much what usually happens too. She's hard not to love.
I had discussed feeding Nick with the vet as well and we had agreed that because I don't feed my dogs traditional dog food, I should bring food for them to give her. I brought the food with me that day too.

Friday afternoon I got the expected call from the vet to tell me Nick was doing well and recovering quietly after surgery. She then dropped the bomb on me and I have to admit it took awhile for it to sink in with me. She said she had gotten the copy of the x-ray from the W. Htfd hospital and when she got inside Nick she found nothing. There was nothing there! Then she started asking me if I had seen anything large or unusual come out in her stools. She was guessing that it may have been something in the bowels all along and never was a bladder stone to begin with. What she didn't admit to immediately was that she had neglected to take her own x-ray before starting the surgery...something she had promised me and explained it as part of her normal procedure. The more I thought about it during the day the angrier I got.The first hospital had been completely wrong and she had screwed up even more! Why had she not taken that first x-ray? She took the x-ray after the surgery..just not the one before the surgery. She blew it! She had performed an unnecessary surgery on my poor dog because she didn't take that all important x-ray!

By the time I got there the next morning to take Nick home I was well rehearsed in what I was going to say. I found out when I got there that she wasn't even there that day. Coward! I thought to myself. The receptionist had no idea what had taken place (or so she said) so she didn't know what to say to me when I told her. This surgery was supposed to have cost me $1500.00 roughly. They were now trying to charge me $400.00 for what was done. I explained very calmly to the woman exactly what had taken place (in front of a great deal of other people who were trying to look nonchalant while they listened very intently to what I was saying) and that I was not going to pay $400.00 for an unnecessary surgery. She offered to call the vet and ask her about the situation while I sat down across the waiting room to wait for the answer. I couldn't hear the whole conversation but I heard bits and pieces of it. One thing I'm sure I heard was the word 'malpractice'.
I didn't waste any time using that word also when she called me back up to the desk. I told her that under the circumstances I was willing to pay $200.00 for the anesthesia and the drugs that Nicki was coming home with however I don't feel obligated to pay anything for this unnecessary surgery to begin with. She said that $200.00 wouldn't even cover the cost of the medications. To which I replied that if the vet had taken the x-ray she was supposed to take no medications would have been used and no surgery would have taken place. And besides that I'm fully aware that there is more than a 100% mark up on all drugs they use so I'm quite sure they are not losing any money anyway. And my last remark to her was she should be glad I'm willing to pay anything at all instead of calling a lawyer and filing a malpractice claim!
That seemed to do the trick very nicely. The poor woman looked like she would have willingly melted into the floor rather than deal with me. And she quietly said that seems more than fair given the circumstances here. I paid my tab and stepped to the other hallway to wait for Nicki to be brought out to me.

I have to say Nicki still looked fairly good when they brought her out even if she did have that ridicules collar around her neck. They also brought out the food container to me and I noticed right away that it had not been touched. They either fed her something else or never fed her at all. I was irritated at that but decided to say no more and just get the hell out of there as fast as possible. I fed Nicki when we got her small amounts at a time to see what the reaction would be. She is now roaming the house bumping into everything with her collar and stumbling aside at each encounter. She can't seem to get used to the fact that she needs extra room to take a corner now. When her pain medication wears off she's a mess. She stands with her head hanging and refuses to even try to lay down. It's so sad! She barely fits in her pen with the collar on and I dare not leave it off. I'm quite sure she'd be at those stitches immediately if left to her own decisions. The pain meds seem to take forever to kick in too because in the morning she will lay down but keeps crying (a sound I've never heard from her before) every few minutes for at least a half hour.

Bell is trying to play with her and I have to keep a constant watch on them. I want to leave Nicki loose as much as possible because of the tight squeeze the collar creates when in her pen. So I'm letting them wander free all day but it's a continual battle to keep Bell from untying Nicki's collar (yes, she's tried to untie it 3 times now); jumping on her; pawing at her side or chucking toys at her that get stuck in the cone of her collar. I can take Bell for a walk but Nicki is on restricted exercise for now. The whole situation is messed up and still makes me very angry when I think it could all have been avoided if Dr Willis had just taken that damn x-ray in the first place!

One of the reasons I decided to put the bill for this on my Visa card is because I can dispute the charge when it comes on my bill. All that is required is that I state all the facts; supply documentation and tell them why I feel that the charge is unfair and that I'd like it off my bill. I have a copy of the estimate for the surgery and the actual bill indicating that I paid $200.00 basically for the release of my dog. I also am contemplating what if anything I should do about the W. Htfd vet hospital that gave the wrong diagnosis in the first place. I've got the invoice from them as well and they were paid $563.97 for their errors. Between the two of these 'hospitals' I've taken a hell of a hit to the bank account and none of it is fair to me or Nicki! Is there no one out there that is competent anymore?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bell's Leg

The other day I took the girls to run a tennis court at one of the High Schools in town. It cools off around dusk so that's when we went...there is never anyone around. They had a blast running until they were exhausted. When we got home both dogs were limping slightly. I thought...that's odd...both of them doing it at the same time.

I gave them both a children's aspirin and they crashed on the floor while we watched a movie. Before bed they were better but still had some limping going on. I gave them each another children's aspirin and they went to bed. The next day Nicki was fine but Bell was still a little stiff walking. I figured they had just out done themselves while running. Plus they are running on a hard surface and they've had this happen before.

It wasn't until a day later that KC noticed a cut on Bell's leg....and it was a big one! She had a gash that was somewhat splayed open..almost looked like it needed stitches...and a scrape mark trailing under that. It looked like Nicki must have caught her just right on the leg with her toe nail. There certainly was nothing at the tennis courts that could have caused this and I always walk the courts looking for garbage before letting them run loose. Although the cut was large and open it wasn't bleeding. I'm betting Bell had licked it clean herself when it happened.
I put some organic herbal healing salve on it with a bandage...knowing full well that bandage wasn't going to stay on long. Bell is sneakier than I give her credit for however and after walking like her leg was broken for 10 mins (I was laughing at her the whole time) she settled down and completely ignored it. Problem solved.

That night I stupidly left the bandage on her leg when she went to bed. I actually figured she was going to be the one dog in a million that isn't going to mess around with her bandage! Well, come morning that bandage was gone...completely gone...not a trace of it or the tape I used was there. She had decided to eat the entire thing during the night! What was I thinking! Or course she would do something to it during the night. She's a dog!
I had to keep an eye out for the exit of that bandage material for the next day and I wasn't disappointed. It showed up eventually. Bell and I never discussed it again.

Since then I've been putting gobs of the herbal salve on her cut and she licks it off at night...never in front of me...but she's doing it. None the less the cut is healing well anyway. It only has one spot that is still open looking now but I think she may still end up with a scar. It looks like the hair may not grow there anymore. Only time will tell.
I think it's time to clip both their nails again, don't you?