When It Rains It Pours

This was a bad day.  One of the worst bad days I’ve had in a long, long time.  My shoulders are knotted, my neck is stiff, I’ve got a killer headache.  I’m too tired to relax with an adult beverage and too wound up to go to bed.  The events of my day are swirling around my head, so I figured I’d jot them down so maybe they’ll go away. 

It’s interesting how there is no rhyme or reason to the allocation of bad luck and happenings in life.  I’m surrounded by all these nice people and clients and am astounded on a regular basis with the staggering amount of awful crap that happens to them all at once. 

First thing in the morning:  Super sweet client #1 is wearing her glasses.  She used to have these awful, hideous 80’s glasses, but she finally got some new cool ones.  The presence of her glasses, I have learned over the years, is indicative that her allergies are up and she can’t wear her contacts.  She and I usually suffer from allergies concurrently so I proceeded to commiserate with her about the astronomical pollen levels.  She said, yeah, her allergies are up, but her mom passed away Friday, and she’s been struggling with that mostly.  She had the appointment to get her dogs in for dentals and shots, so here she was.  And, of course (because I’m soon to find out, this is how my day is going to go) I find that one of her seemingly perfectly healthy dogs has an abnormally low platelet count (caused by tick disease, lab error, or autoimmune disease…labwork is pending).   Like she doesn’t have enough on her plate. 

Then super cool Client #2 comes in with another seemingly perfectly healthy dog for a dental and annual.  4 year old Collie.  I notice her gums look pale.  Client says yeah, you know, I’ve noticed that, but wasn’t sure if it was something I should worry about.  I run some bloodwork and she’s super anemic and also has a low platelet count.  (possibly another tick disease, or autoimmune…I’m leaning toward autoimmune on this one because I have some  preliminary lab work back).  She (client) didn’t have any inkling the dog was sick, now I’m telling her she could die without treatment.  Bombshell outta the blue. Oh, and her other little dog (the old one) has terminal liver cancer and is slowly deteriorating and her super old cat has a horrible heart and a large squamous cell carcinoma in his mouth.  I think she’s been keeping those to pets alive and happy out of sheer will.  Her love for these pets is abundant and exuberant….but we’ve been having “the talk” lately. Especially about the little old dog, he’s starting to slow down…and now the YOUNG one is sick…I mean COME ON!!!!   Why does all this crap happen to her? she asks…I have no idea, she’s a wonderful, sweet, funny, nice person. 

Client #3:  Brand new client, really nice lady.  Sheltie comes in yesterday with horrible teeth, diarrhea,  not eating and a heart murmur.  God knows, I don’t want to give the dog a bad disease on the first meeting and, aside from bad teeth and foul breath, doesn’t look too bad on his physical.  So I”m hoping he’s not eating because of his rotten teeth.  But nooooo.  Labwork comes back, he’s in kidney failure.  OK, we can work with that. He comes in for hospitalization today and I do a routine blood pressure check (bad kidneys cause high blood pressure) and he’s super hypertensive.  This complicates treating the kidneys (treat the blood pressure, make the kidneys worse and vice versa).  Getting a little frustrated, dog still looks ok.  2pm, dog seizures.  Very bad sign.  Call owner, previously semi-ok prognosis not so good  now.  Dog looks like crap.  Owner comes in, I consult with internal medicine, they say maybe we should ultrasound kidneys, if this is a recent development (the kidney failure) he still might recover.  Discuss euthanasia, dog sits up and looks better (he still has sparkle in his eyes). Ship him off to internal med, and find out dog has chronic, chronic kidney disease.  His kidneys are totally shot.  It’s pretty much hopeless.  Oh and did I mention the owners parents are sick and her other dog died last December.  Good God!!!  This poor lady can’t catch a break.  She’s spending quality time with the dog while he still feels sorta ok.  Will euthanize when not ok.

Client #4:  Fat cat.  Very consciencous attentive owners.  I warned them he was getting too fat a year ago, so they put him on a diet.  The did EVERY THING right.  Cat still got diabetes.  OK, so we caught it early, he’ll go into remission.  So far he’s not.  Hopefully he’ll eventually go into remission.

Client #5:  16+ year old cat.  Probably had some kind of stroke.  Can’t walk, stand etc.  Still eating.  I recommended euthanasia because that’s the most popular choice in this situation (the other option was referral to a neurologist).  This client wasn’t ready to let go yet, so she elected hospice care, she’s that caring  (there are better words, I just can’t think of them). She’s that willing to nurse her pet.  She’s giving the kitty ice cubes and syring feeding her and keeping her clean.  The cat isn’t suffering, it’s needs are being met.  The cat is never alone and is surrounded by love.  It’s not a bad way to go, for people who have the ability to bear the burden of seeing their pet disabled and the ability to meet their needs. 

Client #6:  Formerly happy, happy, happy, goofy yellow lab. Who belongs to this little couple who got dragged all over the place by him.  Developed lymphoma last Summer.  Did chemo, did great, but is now out of remission.  He can’t get up anymore, won’t eat.  It’s time to say goodbye.  His owners aren’t ready, but he’s in pain and suffering.  He tried so hard to put on a happy face, even through his pain.  Bye Oscar, you always put a smile on my face and I’ll always remember you dragging your little owners around and your joyous goofy grin.

OK, so 6 clients made for such a crappy day.  I feel like I was doling out bad news and having difficult discussions left and right (Literally, I’ve lost my voice from all the talking).  The down side of being at this practice so long, and getting to know these clients so well is that I can’t help but take on some portion of their myriad burdens.  I want to soften the blows I give them regarding their pets health because so many of them are struggling with other things.  Yet, I can’t because they need to know the facts. 

I dunno, I’m not even sure what I’m trying to accomplish here.  I hope that all of you who are struggling can find some peace and some quiet and get some sleep.  I hope you find some sunshine and some joy and see your ways out of the clouds one way or another.

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One thought on “When It Rains It Pours

  1. Thank you for this post! As a pet owner, I have certainly had days/weeks/years like this when everything seems to go wrong at once. Somehow you find the strength to survive, and then occasionally some wonderful things happen and give you the strength to deal with the next blows.
    But – although I know that my vets do truly care about me and my pets, and grieve with me when one of them dies, I am ashamed to admit I never thought about how some days or weeks THEY get multiple hits of bad news too.

    I hope you’re feeling better today!

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