Every time I am reminded of how "no good deed goes unpunished", I swear never to do a good deed again. Yet, last week, I did exactly what I swore I would not - TWICE.
At around 2am Thursday night, a woman came in with her small breed pregnant dog. She'd had 1 puppy, and then just stopped. Over 6 hours ago. She was pushing intermittently, but her contractions were not that strong or prolonged. Nothing was happening.
The owner's finances were limited. We started with an abdominal xray and an ultrasound. I counted 4 puppies but could only find 2 heartbeats. More concerning than that (ultrasound isn't great for finding all hearts in multiparous bitches) was the fact that one fetus was directly in front of the birth canal, bent into a u-shape. I suspected that the puppy was dead and obstructing the uterus.
I recommended a c-section. The owner had extremely limited money. She confided in me that she'd been diagnosed with ovarian cancer 2 years ago and was now in remission. She'd undergone chemotherapy, costing $12,000/treatment (for a total of 10!), and her insurance wouldn't cover it. "As a result," she whispered to me, with tears running down her face, "I had to declare bankruptcy." She said this with deep shame, explaining that she'd always taken pride in her credit score and her responsibility with money.
She asked for no favors, saying that she would get her dog to the vet first thing in the morning for a cheaper c-section. I couldn't let the dog wait, otherwise surely, both other puppies would die.
So, I did a discount c-section. In the end, the bill was $600 (the actual bill was $1200). The puppy in front of the cervix was indeed very dead and obstructing the uterus. The other 2 puppies were alive and well. Mom was grateful, patient while waiting in the lobby for the surgery to be over, and voiced her gratitude by giving me a hug.
I have got to get that SUCKER on my forehead scrubbed off!
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