Well, that was quite possibly the worst afternoon of my life.
We brought Oslo in to see the Specialist just after 12:00pm as an emergency patient. They took him to the back to get him situated. Unfortunately the Specialist himself at this point was unavailable (he was in the middle of another surgery) so we spoke with another Critical Care doctor. She confirmed what our normal vet had suspected– Hansen’s Type 1 Inter-Vertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).
At this point, he was almost paralyzed in both rear legs. The vet reported that she could illicit a pain response in his left leg…. but could not illicit that same response in his right (or wait.. maybe I am confusing the legs… Sorry, it’s been a long day). Regardless of the fact that he seems to maintain SOME feeling in the one leg, he still cannot stand, nor does he have any bladder/bowel control. Basically, he’d lost almost all feeling & control below mid-back. It was heart breaking.
Basically, the first step would be to do a Cat Scan or an MRI of his spine to find out exactly WHERE the problem was caused. The next step would be to do surgery to fix the problem. This injury responds well to surgery that is done ASAP– preferably while the dog still maintains some mobility in their rear legs (like Oslo). The longer you wait, the more grim the prognosis/recovery becomes.
As if seeing our beloved Piggy in so much pain wasn’t heart breaking enough. The real heart break came when we saw the estimate. $7000. Roughly. Oh, and no they don’t take payment plans. And the best part? We had pet insurance up until 2 months ago when the company inexplicably raised our monthly premium from $50 a month, to $150 a month– “just because”. We cancelled the coverage immediately. How awesomely ironic.
So here we are. Insurance less. With a beloved pet in the Hospital with a $7000 bill attached to it.
I would be lying if I said that the big ‘E word’ didn’t come to our minds. This is a lot of money folks, and like any surgery, this one has risks. What if we beg, borrow & steal all the money we need for this- and something happens? He doesn’t recovery properly, or perhaps he has complications, or perhaps he goes through ALL of this and then it happens again a year from now?
Well… These are the times when I wish I had a crystal ball.
I know that there some who think that it’s illogical and ‘irresponsible’ to spend this sort of money “on a dog”.. But Listen. Last year I had to put to sleep my 13 year old Jack Russell Terrier. He had heart disease and was heavily medicated for the last 1.5 yrs of his life. The last 6 months of his life were excruciating– medications, 10 bathroom breaks a day, carrying him everywhere, keeping him as calm as possible, vet visits after vet visits. But you know what? The day that I held his sweet face in my hands, as the Vet pushed the plunger & I watched him sleep away from me.. I found peace in the knowledge that while I couldn’t save him, we had still done absolutely EVERYTHING that was within our power. In that bitterly painful moment, it was the once shred of solace that I was able to find.
We waited until we spoke with the Specialist HIMSELF before making a decision. He was very patient, kind & upfront. At the end of the conversation, we opted for Oslo to have the surgery. We did it because we believe that he is a tough nut, and that he will come through this. We did it because we believe that WE can help him through this. And we did it because the day that that sweet pig crosses the rainbow bridge (may it be a long time from now!), I want to be able to find solace in the fact that we really, truly did everything that was within our power.
And now to figure out how we will EVER pay this vet bill…..