Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Two Weeks and Counting Down

Last Thurdsay I took the first step of this journey in taking Vegas to the orthopedist for a consultation. We went to Veterinary Surgical Center of Portland where Dr. Timothy Munjar practices. After our previous experience at a veterinary clinic, despite Vegas' over the top excitement of going some place, she was clearly immediately leery upon arrival when she realized where I'd taken her.
When we entered the clinic the waiting room was empty. It was large and open and I was able to let her sniff and check things out. We took care of business with the receptionist and waited a few minutes. I'd brought some treats and basically just did what it took to keep her focus. It seemed to work as she kept her focus on me and seemed fairly relaxed. Alert, but relaxed.

When we were taken into the exam room I first noticed how suited it was to larger dogs. There was just a small table/counter of sorts along the left wall as we entered. On the right under the windows were two chairs - comfortable looking chairs, not your typical or standard issue uncomfortable plastic. There was a rug on the floor in the center of the room and that was it.

I brought Vegas over to check out the window and let her explore. I continued to treat her periodically as we just hung out. It was only a brief two or three minutes and Dr. Munjar joined us. Above and beyond all, he entered the room and greeted Vegas. This is more than Dr. Bullard even attempted to do. His approach was so very different from her previous experience. There was no attempt to put her down on the ground. He just pet her and then casually moved to her affected leg and picked it up and examined it. She hardly seemed to notice and was as far from concerned as possible. He observed how she stood and checked the tibia angle based upon Dr. Bullard's comments. Then he had a technician come in and take us for x-rays. I explained my concern regarding her being taken from me and she gladly invited me to walk back with them. We played it by ear but basically they treated me like I was completely welcome to be there and help.

The x-ray table was large. I asked Vegas to get up on her own and she was able to put her front feet up. Between the techs and I we lifted the rest of her up there. She was getting a little concerned at that point and we had a bit of trouble in asking her to down or sit. She was definitely nervous at that point but we did end up accomplishing our goal. She just needed to lie on her side for them to x-ray the bad knee. We then let her up and repeated the procedure on the right, good knee. I was able to be there the entire time except to step around the corner at the moment the machine took the x-ray.

After we got her off the table I gave each of the techs a treat to give to Vegas. I wanted her to view them as "good" still. She was a little scattered and trying to figure out what to think but did take the treats.

When we went back to the exam room Dr. Munjar joined us with the x-rays. He explained what he was seeing, what was normal, and showed those differences in the left and right x-ray. There was good news in the x-rays!!! No signs of arthritis starting up yet! Such wonderful news considering we have tried the conservative approach and it's been three long months of "rest" and hoping she'd heal.

I asked Dr. Munjar a few more questions and he gave me a handout explaining more about the surgery. He showed me a model of what the TPLO surgery accomplishes and I asked for a quote.

Today I scheduled the surgery. She goes in two weeks from today. I'm nervous but glad to be moving that direction. This wasn't an easy thing to do. A week ago I would have figured it'd be at least a couple months before she could have surgery, a couple of months of fighting with my girl, disappointing her, and not being able to enjoy life with her since I'd have to continue to keep her calm. The thing is, I canceled her insurance 6 months or so ago because VPI was not handling any of our claims and I was spending, spending, spending on premiums plus vet bills and seeing no return. Add to that my last 18 months and "just surviving" income of current and, well, there was just no way I could afford it. I was going to have to get another job, continue pursuing my collar business, and hope I could pick up more freelance writing stuff.

And then an angel appeared. A wonderful benefactor messaged me on my business page on Facebook. She offered me a no interest loan. I don't know her. I'm not sure how she came to know about my business and "like" my page. But she felt compelled to offer me, a complete stranger, this wonderful gift simply to pay it forward.

It took me a lot of thought and weighing things and baring my soul to her about where I had been and what brought me to this predicament - I felt I owed that to her at least - but yesterday I accepted her offer. It's incredible. It brought me to tears. I am humbled. I am grateful. So eternally grateful.

Surgery in 14 days....

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Insult to Injury

So a couple weeks ago I took Vegas back to the vet, post-rest period, to see if he felt her ACL was any different. I was struggling with doing so following the first visit because he manhandled her. I was afraid she would have broken a tooth from the way they forced her to the ground while she struggled, was concerned about stress and bloat, plus her back injuries recurring.

So I called and scheduled and asked for the tech that had been present the first visit to call me. She did so on the day of the scheduled appointment. We chatted and I expressed my concerns. I told her I didn't want Vegas manhandled and if they needed her down, etc., I could get her there willingly. She assured me they had another plan altogether including sedation and x-rays. I felt much better, albeit knew I would be spending more money.

We arrived for our appointment and only spent a couple of minutes in the waiting room. My oldest son attended with us.The doctor almost immediately tried to take Vegas from me. He wasn't communicating what he wanted and he walked out of the room then returned with a sliplead. He put it around her neck and tried to take her from me. I spoke up and asked what he was looking to do. Turns out he wanted to see her move. Fine. I took her out in the hall and gaited her down and back a couple of times.

We returned to the exam room and he started grabbing at her again. She didn't know what was going on - neither did I - and backed away. She ended up sitting and he listened to her heart and lungs. This alone was a difficult task she was breathing so hard what with the stress of being taken from me or handled/forced. Then, before I knew what was happening, he and the tech had all but muscled me out of the way and were forcing her down onto her side. I was appalled, and in shock. I couldn't believe it was happening again. I tried to go to her head where I could comfort her and he told me not to, that she needed to "Grow up and act like a big dog and pay attention to what he was doing [to her]." Then, THEN, before my very eyes, they muscled her over to her other side via rolling her on her back on a hard, vinyl floor. No blanket. No towel. No nothing. She, of course and reasonably so, flailed and fought, and ended up on her other side.

We were out of there a few minutes later and I was appalled and shocked. I am kicking myself to this moment in time for not having walked as soon as he tried to take her from me. I am so angry and disappointed and all I can think is that I gave them the benefit of the doubt because of my phone call and because I used to work there.

Shortly after we got home I was petting Vegas and realized she had a lot of heat in her back. I started checking along her spine and discovered she was very, very touchy. So much so she whipped her head around at me in pain when I palpated her mid-back. I was so angry I saw red!

We ended up spending the next 3-4 days icing her as often as we could. She was put back on muscle relaxers and pain meds for a couple days and saw Dr. Mike of Hindsight Veterinary Care on Friday of that week (Her follow-up appointment where this had occurred was on Monday.) When she saw Dr. Mike, he said she had a lot going on but we were fortunate nothing was deep in the joint. I guess I'll attribute that to being in a good spot before the damned incident due to our vigilant care with Dr. Mike before. He worked her over from her head/neck all the way to the base of her tail and declared her good.

Then Dr. Rachel treated her to a little acupuncture on Saturday, declaring her pretty good and only needing maintenance points.

So thank goodness, alls well that ends well, but I am still upset about it, upset with myself. I wish I had done better by her. I wish I had walked out. Hindsight is always 20/20 though. I did write a letter and mail it and plan on sending one to the AVMA and OVMA if they do not address my concerns, or perhaps even if they do. The incident cost me the recheck fee, the chirpractor fee, Rachel's time, and half a day at work. Plus, it may have compromised all the work I've done to make sure Vegas is cooperative at the vet.