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Grief, anger and vet-choice

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  • Catherine Browning
    Hi all, This will probably be long but I need to vent. There is just the one question at the end though, so feel free to skip ahead of the anger and the hurt.
    Message 1 of 6 , May 31, 2008
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      Hi all,

      This will probably be long but I need to vent. There is just the one
      question at the end though, so feel free to skip ahead of the anger
      and the hurt.

      I know that one of the stages of grief is anger, but it seems like
      every time I lose a baby to HCM, it's the stage that stays with me.

      When Topsy passed in 2001, I was angry. She had saddle thrombosis
      and I knew it was her time, and I was prepared to euthanase. But she
      had the indecency to become critical on the first sunny Sunday
      afternoon in Spring. All the vets were shut, there were no emergency
      vets within 1 hour back then. We finally found someone who was
      prepared to come out. He made us sign something beforehand so that
      we wouldn't sue (though we never would), but then tried to euthenase
      her with a sandwich in one hand, and repeated injection attempts with
      the other. Of course, he couldn't do it right with just the one
      hand, so it took several attempts. He didn't give her a sedative
      first, and as she died, she was fighting the muscle paralyzer he gave
      her. She died looking me in the eyes as she fought for her last
      breath ... her last breath not by heart disease, but by being
      euthanased to death.

      So I was wary of vets, when Buttons threw her clot in 2005. I
      thought I found a kind, considerate vet, who was really fighting for
      her, when we took her to an Emergency clinic 45 mins away. The
      emergency clinic was 24/7, and also had the only registered cat
      doctor in the state. And she was a great doctor. But of course she
      can't work 24/7 herself, and it was a different doctor who rang to
      say Buttons had passed. It was probably her time too, though she'd
      been going 100% up until the second before she threw her clot. When
      we got the bill and treatment statement, it included a charge by
      another vet at the clinic for "euthanasia". We hadn't been told she
      was going to be euthanased, and hadn't authorised it. The original
      vet waived the charge, said it was a mistake, that she hadn't been
      euthanased, but I'm forever left wondering if the mistake was a
      miscommunication between staff about treatment protocols, rather than
      a billing error.

      And now Patch. The night-vet was the best I've ever encountered so
      far. She stroked his head softly, rather than the night-nurse, who
      only stroked him once, and did so with those hard strokes that make
      their upper eyelids pull backwards over their heads. But the night-
      vet used soft strokes, spoke TO him, not just ABOUT him, and seemed
      to genuinely care. He arrived with soft hind limbs, as the clot was
      new, and she gave physio and kept the limbs mostly flexible. Even if
      she didn't truly care, she faked it well, and that's part of the job.

      But we had to take him to a different vet clinic in the daytime, and
      the feeling was different from the get-go. I had the feeling that
      they saw me as neurotic, weren't interested in what I had to say. I
      wanted to explain to them just how petrified he was of dogs - one had
      broken into our backyard from a neighbour's and bailed him up a few
      years back. And how much he dislikes other cats - they also come
      into our backyard, and he chases them out - his siblings let him
      defend them. I told them about the foods he likes, because what they
      may see as anorexia, may just be his natural food preferences.

      But when we went to the day vet to collect Patch to transfer him back
      to the night vet, it was straight out of a horror movie. As I
      waited, 2 rottweilers dragged a young woman into the clinic. They
      were bouncing and jumping and pulling on their leads, and growling
      and barking those loud, deep throated barks that carry for miles.
      Then a spaniel came in, and the sight of a foreign dog drove the
      rotts into a frenzy, drooling and snarling. The owner could barely
      hold onto the leads, which were at full extension. The spaniel
      likewise went nuts.

      And it was into THAT environment that they brought Patch out. Not in
      his box, with the cloth over the top. They held him with their arms
      at full extension, holding him under his arms, facing away from him,
      his back legs rock hard from lack of physio and just dangling from
      his body with no support. Like he was a soiled pair of
      underpants. "Here's your cat" they said. Not his name. In fact,
      when I entered, one said to another that I was here to pick up my
      puppy. How much attention did he NOT receive, that they didn't even
      know he was a cat?

      The dogs ALL went apesh!t, and I screamed at the nurse holding
      Patch. Get him out of here. Get him out of here now! We went into a
      consultation room and DEMANDED his box. My mum got him out of the
      clinic while I waited to talk to a vet. Eventually she came, but she
      didn't know much about his case, even though "in theory" for over an
      hour she had been his vet. As I tried to get information out of her,
      one of the rottweilers, who had been taken out the back, burst into
      the room through the open rear door, and jumped up on the table where
      Patch had lain only minutes before. He was LOOKING for him.

      I know, it may sound like a grief stricken mind over-exaggerating
      things, but I swear it is not, and I am just so angry, and so
      scared. I know that probably nothing would have changed the outcome,
      but his last hours on earth should have been better.

      I have 2 more cats with this horrible disease. One (Claude, Patch's
      brother) has fallen into a deep depression. The other (Tuppenny,
      Patch's sister) didn't want to know me at first, because the last
      time she was near Patch, he was on my lap in the car crying in pain
      and about to be taken to the vet, and she was on the outside of the
      car door. But she seems to recognise my sorrow and to possibly have
      forgiven me.

      My babies NEED a regular vet, but how can I trust any of them? The
      only one I trusted, the night-vet, kindly explained to me that she's
      knowledgeable about emergencies, but that she wouldn't be the best
      vet for maintenance and regular check-ups, and indeed she doesn't do
      that kind of work. I disagreed with her, saying that a kind,
      committed vet, who perhaps may not have a huge amount of knowledge in
      a particular area but who knows how to find things out is a million
      times better than a cold-hearted vet who thinks they know everything
      and who no longer cares about his/her patients.

      So, for those who do have regular vets who are kind, and whom they
      trust ... how did you find them? Did you have to visit a lot of vets
      to find one who cares? Did you go without your babies to evaluate
      them, for equipment, knowledge, caring? Basically, how can you find
      a GOOD veterinarian for your fur-children?

      Catherine, Kitty, Claude and Tuppenny
      Topsy-Angel, Buttons-Angel and Patch-Angel
    • Carole
      Catherine, I think so many of us can appreciate how you are feeling and what you are going through. When I moved to northern NY my regular vet outside of NYC
      Message 2 of 6 , May 31, 2008
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        Catherine,

        I think so many of us can appreciate how you are feeling and what you
        are going through. When I moved to northern NY my regular vet outside
        of NYC was concerned that I might not initially find a vet that I
        would like. I switched vets several times before settling on a feline
        specialist who happens to reside in VT. My 3 cats now all take a
        ferry ride for their care but that may not work when I finally have an
        emergency.

        I think it would be good if you posted your location as there just
        might be another group member who is in your area and who has a good vet.

        Carole
      • Kristi
        I know how you feel. It s awful to see someone treat your precious sick baby like that. You want them to be cuddled and handled with the utmost care, not
        Message 3 of 6 , May 31, 2008
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          I know how you feel. It's awful to see someone treat your precious
          sick baby like that. You want them to be cuddled and handled with
          the utmost care, not tossed around like some rag doll. You have
          every right to be angry and hurt. I've made some scenes lately
          because I didn't like the way they were treating my cat and I've seen
          that same look in their eye - "Crazy cat lady" and "Geez lady, it's
          only a cat".

          I have been lucky with my regular vet. 3 vets saw Sally when she was
          a kitten and no one noticed or mentioned she had a rather loud
          murmur. The 4th vet, Dr. Neimeic, noticed it right away and was
          Sally's champion during the next few years he was at that clinic. He
          found her a great IM specialist to do her yearly upltrasounds and
          when her meds got too expensive ($60 per month), he helped me find
          other sources for them. Unfortunately, he left the group to open his
          own dental clinic so I was left with the vet who started the
          practice. He is a good vet, don't get me wrong, but doesn't have
          much in the way of bedside manner. Every time I took Sally in to see
          him, it was like he was seeing her for the first time. I was about
          ready to find another place to take her when I lucked on to Dr.
          Hansche. I had taken my pug puppy to see him when she became covered
          in hives and I immediately was taken by his attitude and approach to
          her. I decided to take my baby girl to him and he totally passed the
          test. He is gentle and slow moving with her and treats her like I
          do. During the second episode of CHF, I took her there first. He
          knew I was coming and met me at the front counter and took her
          immediately back to the oxygen cage. Later when I picked her up, he
          brought her to me wrapped like a baby in a blanket, speakng softly to
          her and kissing her before I took her back.

          This vet clinic isn't handy for me. Without traffic, it takes me
          about 30-35 minutes to get there. They are a low cost
          spay/neuter/vaccination clinic so they are ALWAYS packed, but I will
          go there as long as Dr. Hansche is there. Before we started seeing
          him, I had overheard other patients and some of the vet techs talking
          about what a great guy he is. Sally likes him (as much as she can
          like any vet) and he is good with her. When he first feared she had
          GI lymphoma, he urged me to take her to see Dr. Richter, an IM
          specialist. He has turned out to be a WONDEFUL find and I feel like
          he will do whatever he can to help her.

          Talk to friends. Ask for referrals. But most importantly, go with
          your gut instinct. You'll know in the first few minutes if a vet
          will work or not.

          I'm so sorry you've had to go through all of this. Taking care of a
          sick cat is hard enough without having to worry about the quality of
          the vet and the care they're receiving. We wish you the best of luck
          and hope that you find someone who will take good care of your babies.

          Kristi & Sally
        • Suzianne Painter-Thorne
          Catherine, I am so sorry for all of your horrible experiences with vets. And I completely understand why you would be worried about ever finding a competent
          Message 4 of 6 , May 31, 2008
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            Catherine, I am so sorry for all of your horrible experiences with vets.
            And I completely understand why you would be worried about ever finding a
            competent caring one, but they are out there. When I've searched for vets,
            I've usually relied on word of mouth from people I know with animals,
            particularly people who seemed to care for them well.

            I recently moved from California to Georgia and I tried four different vets
            before settling on one that I am comfortable with. I would take one of my
            critters in for a check-up as a trial run.

            I would also suggest asking the night-vet you felt comfortable with if she
            had any recommendations. I found my current vet by asking a vet a friend had
            highly recommended, but who happened to be 120 miles away!

            Best of luck,

            Sue

            On 5/31/08 1:23 PM, "Catherine Browning" <Catherine.Browning@...>
            wrote:

            So, for those who do have regular vets who are kind, and whom they
            trust ... how did you find them? Did you have to visit a lot of vets
            to find one who cares? Did you go without your babies to evaluate
            them, for equipment, knowledge, caring? Basically, how can you find
            a GOOD veterinarian for your fur-children?
          • amanda
            Hi Catherine, I feel so sad to read about your terrible experiences with vets. I took my cat who had parvo virus to a strange vet, and was reccomended anorther
            Message 5 of 6 , Jun 1, 2008
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              Hi Catherine, I feel so sad to read about your terrible experiences with vets. I took my cat who had parvo virus to a strange vet, and was reccomended anorther vet by a friend, I`m so grateful, because the present vets are kind and do as I ask them when I had special requests, please keep searching and ask other people in your area who they go to and why. Good luck, and again I`m so sorry to hear about Patch. hugs Amanda and Silver chan.

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • SMO
              Catherine -- Your story about Patch has made me so sad. I m sorry for what you went through, and what he went through. My Merlin was diagnosed with HCM two
              Message 6 of 6 , Jun 1, 2008
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                Catherine -- Your story about Patch has made me so sad. I'm sorry for what you went through, and what he went through. My Merlin was diagnosed with HCM two years ago this month. He last saw his cardiologist on March 26, and at that time she said he probably had about two weeks to live because his disease is so advanced. It's been more than two months since that prognosis was given, and he's still doing OK. But every single day I worry about finding him suffering from a saddle thrombosis, which sounds just horrible. My sympathy and empathy are with you.

                Merlin's regular vet is a "cats only" vet, his office is about 2.5 miles from my house. He's in practice by himself and we never need to worry about encountering a dog there. Before I moved to where I live now, we went to a different "cats only" vet, a woman who occasionally had a partner in the practice with her. Both of Merlin's regular vets, the previous one and the current one, have always been caring, gentle, informative, and respectful. The cardiologist vet is just one member of a large staff of vets at a 24-hour emergency & referral vet clinic about 7 miles away. I have seen dogs there, of course, but the staff there is very careful about transporting cats and other small animals in their carriers if they're going to be in common areas, and there are several signs saying that ALL animals must be leashed or in carriers at all times. I've never seen anyone do otherwise.

                I can say, however, that years ago and with previous cats, I used to go to a large vet clinic highly recommended by a friend, and I found the vets there impatient and cold. They seemed more interested in volume -- get 'em in, examine and treat, get 'em out, on to the next patient -- than care. A previous cat who I had, Amy, was very lovey and cuddly, even to vets. I remember taking her to this clinic once and the vet literally pushing her roughly away from himself when she tried to cuddle against him and rub her chin on him. That was it; we never went back there.

                If a "cats only" vet is an option, I'd recommend it. I think it's also a good idea, as someone else said, to find a vet you like and trust when it isn't an emergency, so that when it is you know that safety net is there.



                Catherine Browning <Catherine.Browning@...> wrote:
                Hi all,

                This will probably be long but I need to vent. There is just the one
                question at the end though, so feel free to skip ahead of the anger
                and the hurt.

                I know that one of the stages of grief is anger, but it seems like
                every time I lose a baby to HCM, it's the stage that stays with me.

                When Topsy passed in 2001, I was angry. She had saddle thrombosis
                and I knew it was her time, and I was prepared to euthanase. But she
                had the indecency to become critical on the first sunny Sunday
                afternoon in Spring. All the vets were shut, there were no emergency
                vets within 1 hour back then. We finally found someone who was
                prepared to come out. He made us sign something beforehand so that
                we wouldn't sue (though we never would), but then tried to euthenase
                her with a sandwich in one hand, and repeated injection attempts with
                the other. Of course, he couldn't do it right with just the one
                hand, so it took several attempts. He didn't give her a sedative
                first, and as she died, she was fighting the muscle paralyzer he gave
                her. She died looking me in the eyes as she fought for her last
                breath ... her last breath not by heart disease, but by being
                euthanased to death.

                So I was wary of vets, when Buttons threw her clot in 2005. I
                thought I found a kind, considerate vet, who was really fighting for
                her, when we took her to an Emergency clinic 45 mins away. The
                emergency clinic was 24/7, and also had the only registered cat
                doctor in the state. And she was a great doctor. But of course she
                can't work 24/7 herself, and it was a different doctor who rang to
                say Buttons had passed. It was probably her time too, though she'd
                been going 100% up until the second before she threw her clot. When
                we got the bill and treatment statement, it included a charge by
                another vet at the clinic for "euthanasia". We hadn't been told she
                was going to be euthanased, and hadn't authorised it. The original
                vet waived the charge, said it was a mistake, that she hadn't been
                euthanased, but I'm forever left wondering if the mistake was a
                miscommunication between staff about treatment protocols, rather than
                a billing error.

                And now Patch. The night-vet was the best I've ever encountered so
                far. She stroked his head softly, rather than the night-nurse, who
                only stroked him once, and did so with those hard strokes that make
                their upper eyelids pull backwards over their heads. But the night-
                vet used soft strokes, spoke TO him, not just ABOUT him, and seemed
                to genuinely care. He arrived with soft hind limbs, as the clot was
                new, and she gave physio and kept the limbs mostly flexible. Even if
                she didn't truly care, she faked it well, and that's part of the job.

                But we had to take him to a different vet clinic in the daytime, and
                the feeling was different from the get-go. I had the feeling that
                they saw me as neurotic, weren't interested in what I had to say. I
                wanted to explain to them just how petrified he was of dogs - one had
                broken into our backyard from a neighbour's and bailed him up a few
                years back. And how much he dislikes other cats - they also come
                into our backyard, and he chases them out - his siblings let him
                defend them. I told them about the foods he likes, because what they
                may see as anorexia, may just be his natural food preferences.

                But when we went to the day vet to collect Patch to transfer him back
                to the night vet, it was straight out of a horror movie. As I
                waited, 2 rottweilers dragged a young woman into the clinic. They
                were bouncing and jumping and pulling on their leads, and growling
                and barking those loud, deep throated barks that carry for miles.
                Then a spaniel came in, and the sight of a foreign dog drove the
                rotts into a frenzy, drooling and snarling. The owner could barely
                hold onto the leads, which were at full extension. The spaniel
                likewise went nuts.

                And it was into THAT environment that they brought Patch out. Not in
                his box, with the cloth over the top. They held him with their arms
                at full extension, holding him under his arms, facing away from him,
                his back legs rock hard from lack of physio and just dangling from
                his body with no support. Like he was a soiled pair of
                underpants. "Here's your cat" they said. Not his name. In fact,
                when I entered, one said to another that I was here to pick up my
                puppy. How much attention did he NOT receive, that they didn't even
                know he was a cat?

                The dogs ALL went apesh!t, and I screamed at the nurse holding
                Patch. Get him out of here. Get him out of here now! We went into a
                consultation room and DEMANDED his box. My mum got him out of the
                clinic while I waited to talk to a vet. Eventually she came, but she
                didn't know much about his case, even though "in theory" for over an
                hour she had been his vet. As I tried to get information out of her,
                one of the rottweilers, who had been taken out the back, burst into
                the room through the open rear door, and jumped up on the table where
                Patch had lain only minutes before. He was LOOKING for him.

                I know, it may sound like a grief stricken mind over-exaggerating
                things, but I swear it is not, and I am just so angry, and so
                scared. I know that probably nothing would have changed the outcome,
                but his last hours on earth should have been better.

                I have 2 more cats with this horrible disease. One (Claude, Patch's
                brother) has fallen into a deep depression. The other (Tuppenny,
                Patch's sister) didn't want to know me at first, because the last
                time she was near Patch, he was on my lap in the car crying in pain
                and about to be taken to the vet, and she was on the outside of the
                car door. But she seems to recognise my sorrow and to possibly have
                forgiven me.

                My babies NEED a regular vet, but how can I trust any of them? The
                only one I trusted, the night-vet, kindly explained to me that she's
                knowledgeable about emergencies, but that she wouldn't be the best
                vet for maintenance and regular check-ups, and indeed she doesn't do
                that kind of work. I disagreed with her, saying that a kind,
                committed vet, who perhaps may not have a huge amount of knowledge in
                a particular area but who knows how to find things out is a million
                times better than a cold-hearted vet who thinks they know everything
                and who no longer cares about his/her patients.

                So, for those who do have regular vets who are kind, and whom they
                trust ... how did you find them? Did you have to visit a lot of vets
                to find one who cares? Did you go without your babies to evaluate
                them, for equipment, knowledge, caring? Basically, how can you find
                a GOOD veterinarian for your fur-children?

                Catherine, Kitty, Claude and Tuppenny
                Topsy-Angel, Buttons-Angel and Patch-Angel







                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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