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Re: [FH] Grief, anger and vet-choice

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  • 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 1 of 6 , Jun 1, 2008
      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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