Friday, July 24, 2015

Give it to me Straight, Doc!

The vet eventually called me back into the back room, and I picked up the comatose dog from Hellion’s arms and walked back for the second round of talks. 

“Well, that took a bit because the x-ray tech and I had different views on the images. Do you understand what that means?”


“It’s like…”

“It means that you are looking at an x-ray scan of his cardiovascular and pulmonary systems and one of you is interpreting the data one way, and one the other. The question is what’s the interpretation you disagree on?”

The vet looks at me. I’m getting REALLY tired of the vet but trying to hold it together. 

“Well, we think there may be fluid on the lungs, but it is unclear. His heart is very large and it is pushing against the bottom of his trachea.”


“Well, this means…have you ever tried to breathe through a straw?”

I take a deep breath.

“Look, I may look a little frazzled, but I’m a well educated woman with a Master’s in education, a lifetime in research, and a little more knowledge of anatomy than you probably deal with on a daily basis. I understand that if his heart has grown in proportion to the rest of his body that it will put intense pressure on his trachea making it difficult if not impossible to breath. Essentially this is heart disease. Normally this can be diagnosed in dogs by massaging the trachea, but though my dog is clearly suffering from heart disease he is asymptomatic. What I need to know now is how much time I’ve got and what the treatment is to keep him comfortable. “

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to…”

“I know, but my dog is dying and I’m a little upset about it. I don’t need to be condescended to on top of that. Just give it to me straight, like you would to another doctor. I promise you I will ask questions if I don’t understand.”

The prognosis was pulmonary edema and congestive heart failures. The prognosis is, with medication, 8 months minimum, possible two years maximum. The vet and I got along much better after he just started talking to me. We ran a body chemical panel next to make sure the dogs internal organs would hold up to the medication and after that there was a prescription, a request to return in a few days for a follow up and I was sent on my merry way. 

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