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