Short version : Bitey has an e. coli bacterial infection. I am in need of a new vet.
Here’s the rundown.
Last Wednesday night I noticed she was laying around the house a lot and not moving. Thursday when I came home from work, she wasn’t outside waiting for me. I thought she might have a UTI because she was doing a lot of investigating in her crotch, so I figured I’d get an appointment for her in the morning. I called it in and Fargo took her at 10:30.
When he got home, he noticed she was jaundiced, and very dehydrated. The vet took blood and urine samples, and asked if she had gotten into anything. When we both responded that no, there wasn’t anything odd she had gotten into, and no, we weren’t just playing dumb, she asked if there was any standing water outside.
Her first reaction after this was to suggest we take her to another facility. This should have been a clue.
There was much talk made of getting her into an urgent care facility, and getting an ultrasound done, which, beside getting everybody paid a lot of money ($1000 for the urgent care, $600 for the ultrasound), wouldn’t have done much. The only alternative was to leave her at the vet’s office, on the IV, with antibiotics. I agreed to this, to the tune of $700 (a quote which included fucking X-rays, despite none having been taken or, in fact, justified in any way for Bitey’s symptoms). She would be left on fluids and antibiotics overnight at the Vet, and if the next morning she wasn’t doing better, we’d make other plans.
I visited Bitey in the office after work, and went home very upset. She looked awful, her eyes and ears were yellow with jaundice and she was obviously very tired. We talked to the vet some more who made another attempt to get me to spend the $1600 for the urgent care plan, and I again had to deny it. I was treated as though I had walked in and spit on the dog from this moment forward.
We went home and I had to finish up some work, and mysteriously, 20 minutes before their closing time, the doctor has new information to sway me to take the dog to urgent care in southeast Portland. She tells me that the bilirubin numbers in Biteys blood are “higher than she has ever seen in a dog” and that I had better “get right down there”. I explain that I already made the decision against urgent care and will be picking Bitey up. So I get in the car and go to pick up my obviously dying dog. I am not the sort of person who can casually spend $2500 in veterinary bills. I love my dogs, but when I get news that they have exceeded the veterinarian’s experience in care, I tend to take it that they are not long for the world.
I show up at the office and the receptionist asks me which urgent care facility I will be taking Bitey to, and hands us pamphlets about leptospirosis, with no further explanation. I explain that I won’t be taking her to an urgent care facility. The doctor comes out and says “I think there was a misunderstanding on the phone, I thought you were taking her to urgent care.” I replied that what she meant to say was she hadn’t listened to me on the phone. She asked me to go into the exam room, presumably because Fargo was ruining the Feng Shui or whatever, and we have the exact same conversation, only this time, I explain that I won’t put myself into credit card debt for six months on “We don’t know but we hope more of your money will fix it”. Her only suggestion, after I state that I won’t be spending the money for an ultrasound, is euthanasia. That’s it. The extent of her abilities to diagnose this dog are these two steps: 1. “please go see another doctor” and 2. “kill it”. I explain that I’ll be taking my dog home, so she can spend her last days in comfort and familiar surroundings, and she treats me as if I had just told her I was going to take the dog home and serially sodomize it. This is when I realized that she had simply waited until the end of the day to spring this shit on me in an attempt to force my hand, and I wasn’t responding as she had wanted.
I took Bitey home, and Fargo and I sat on death watch the entire night and next morning. The vet called to “clarify things” because there was a “misunderstanding on the phone” and again urged me to take the dog to urgent care or euthanize it. She decided she would “be blunt” to which I decided to lash out and bitch slap her. She responded that she had only acted with concern for my animals. I explained that she had acted with nothing but contempt for me. She mentioned that she thought it was possible Bitey might have leptospirosis (apparently the receptionist also gave her the pamphlet the previous night) and wanted to test for it, which, despite being a bacterial infection that can come from drinking standing water outside the house which she had asked about and we had mentioned was a possibility, she hadn’t ordered the test for before. I told her she was incompetent, and that she should get that test done NOW because I wanted to know if I was at risk for infection. This would, of course, carry an additional charge.
Fargo and I spent the rest of the weekend on death watch, forcing the dog to drink water and doing as much research as we could. Bitey seemed to respond to the initial antibiotics with more awareness. Monday a coworker who once worked on a farm told me about Terramycin, a tetracycline antibiotic that is available at farm stores. Fargo went to pick some up, because we were willing to try anything. Mid day, the veterinarian’s office calls to tell us that Bitey has an e. coli infection, and they’re calling in a prescription for doxycycline (a branded tetracycline antibiotic, synthetic and by all accounts slightly more powerful than terramycin). Fargo was having problems finding a lab scale which was accurate to tenths of a gram, so I filled the script and we’re shoving them down her neck.
I’m not saying that Bitey is going to get better, because I don’t know. I don’t know how much damage was done to her renal system due to the infection, I don’t know how effective this medication is at reducing the bacterial mass. All I know is that I need a new vet, one that doesn’t look at me like a fucking debit card attached to a dog collar. It wouldn’t hurt if step two in their diagnostic toolkit wasn’t “kill the dog” either.