Tuesday, January 21, 2014
It was the Saturday before Christmas. Wendy, Hubby's sister, who we were spending Christmas with, had had old cats in the past and she suggested we use her old vet. After a preliminary phone call away we went. Actually, it was just around the corner from Wendy's home.
The Houston vet took Gus in and said they would call us when their vet had a chance to see him. Within the hour they had called with an estimate of what it would cost us just to diagnose Gus -- not to cure him - just see him. With sinking hearts, it's never good if they have to ask just how much you ARE willing to spend on your pet, we agreed to their estimate. We also told them we were retired, we lived on a fixed income, and there WOULD be a limit to what we were willing to spend.
Within the next hour the Houston vet office called and said they needed to do an MRI and take pictures of Gus's spine because they couldn't determine the exact problem. This price was $680. Again, we agreed but with heavy hearts and empty pockets.
By 11:00 a.m. they called to consult again. The pictures of Gus showed he had only some slight muscle swelling and had probably just pulled a muscle, all his blood work was clean, and he only needed a relaxing shot and some pain meds to get him back on his feet. "Right," I muttered under my breath loud enough for everyone to hear, "Mr. Drama King wins again."
"But your dog does had a number of bladder stones and some have leaked down to the tip of his penis. Clearly he's having some problems peeing. Shall we operate?"
We were very clear that only Gus's vet in KC was doing any operating on the boy since he had coded during one of his many teeth extractions. We picked Gus up, doped to the nines and walking just fine, and got a CD with the pictures of his bladder stones for our $608 outlay -- they gave us a senior citizen's discount.
Fast forward two weeks, we are home, and Gus's vet has made arrangements for his bladder surgery. "The stones in his bladder are ones we can remove but we don't operate on his urethra, that must be done by the surgical vets in the emergency clinic. We can try to flush the loose stones back up into his bladder but we can't guarantee that this will be successful."
We asked for price quotes. "Five thousand dollars minimum for the surgical vet, $1500 for us to try with no guarantee."
Hubby and I talked but only briefly. "We just can't afford $5000 -- we need you to remove every stone you can and we'll call it a day," we told our vet. They even had appointment available the next day.
Gussie had his surgery last week and it went perfectly. The MRI from the Houston vet showed clearly where the stone were and they had not moved. The floating stones were easy to flush and, in the end, all 11 stones were removed from Gus's abdomen.
When we brought him back home after the surgery, Gus was pretty bummed out. His bladder was leaking, blood was seeping, and he felt miserable. Yet each new day showed improvement. As the swelling went down, Gus's energy level rose.
We just returned from having his stitches removed. The vets were thrilled with how pretty his scar looked, how frolicking he felt, and how happy he seemed. We picked up the new food he is required to eat -- a 20 pound bag of Urinary Special that costs five times what his regular food did -- and he won't like it one little bit. But if it keeps him bladder stone free none of us will complain (including
Gus, even it he doesn't know it yet).
To see how happy Gus is today frisking about the park taught me again that money is only useful when it can do good things. Yes, we had to pull some funds from our retirement accounts and we may find when we're ninety that we needed that money for our own bladder stones -- but that's in the future. Today we are ALL feeling healthy and it only took a couple of thousand dollars to make that happen.