Thursday, December 24, 2009

Here's a Christmas gift (begrudgingly given)

At 3am, the phone rang. A woman described her female dog's behavior: panting excessively, rigid, unable to stand, and frantic. The dog had bitten her tongue and was bleeding because she was shaking so hard. She'd given to birth to puppies 2 weeks previously. My technician explained eclampsia (low blood calcium - which is not exactly the same as eclampsia in human women, and thus, is rather confusing). At any rate, he explained that the mother dog was suffering from low blood calcium in all likelihood and should be seen. He carefully explained the cost of being seen at our clinic - $88 for the initial exam by me, followed by additional costs for diagnostics and treatment. The woman called twice, asking for other ways to treat the dog (which there are none, treatment needs to be IV calcium).

Sure enough, at 5am, they show up. They have "$20." At least, that's what they tell me at first.

I was mad. The dog was severely hyperthermic (temperature 105), laterally recumbent, with such tremoring that she couldn't even lift her head. She needed an IV catheter, IV calcium, and fluids to bring down her body temperature immediately. The owners, of course, had NO financial recourse. They didn't qualify for Care Credit (both were on disability - don't EVEN get me started there, both looked to be perfectly healthy and mobile), they didn't have a single relative that would loan them money, supposedly had no credit cards. In short, they couldn't procure even the $88 required to see me.

I was seething. I have an extremely hard time believing that they couldn't come up with EIGHTY EIGHT DOLLARS SOMEWHERE. ANYWHERE.

In the end, I treated the dog anyway. Eclampsia is extremely easy to treat in dogs. IV calcium over 20-30 minutes, some fluids for the hyperthermia, and they're usually right-as-rain. She recovered just fine, and I sent her out the door.

Her owners signed a payment agreement for the $234 they owe us. They swore they would pay us. And - mysteriously - when they got to the counter, it turned out they only had $10. How strange.

I'm not holding my breath. I'm just counting it as a Christmas good deed, even if I wasn't happy about doing it. They'll screw us, and I know it. It pisses me off, because these people - on disability - expect everything to be given to them for free. I gave in and did it, of course. Mainly because the condition is SO very easy to fix. I just couldn't put the dog down 2 days before Christmas for a problem I could fix easily in 30 minutes.

Yeah, I'm a sucker.


Nicki said...

I hate when people show up without money. Seriously do they go the grocery store ane expect to just pay later? And in the end it's the pet that suffers. Ugh. I get even more mad when people without money breed their dog and then can't pay for the basic care, much less the complications. But don't even get me started on "breeders." It was a nice thing you did. We all give in from time to time.

Elizabeth said...

I know so many people out there like that and for me it is so hard to even imagine.
But you did a great thing for the dog! Merry Xmas

Tammy said...

You definitely did your good deed for this holiday season. I hope they come through with payment, but sounds doubtful! I'm glad the dog is OK at the very least. Too bad her owners aren't more responsible!