Saturday, November 19, 2011

Good News and Dismay

The good news first: there is absolutely nothing wrong with Lanie's heart. She is, in fact, absurdly healthy.

The dismay: I'm looking for a new vet, after seven years. I'm uncomfortable with change and averse to trying new things, but I can't overlook how unhappy I am about a few things. My plan is to get Lanie's dental taken care of soon, but to start looking around for a greyhound-savvy vet. It'll be a little complicated, since we're in a semi-rural area and vets are exactly thick on the ground in the first place, but I don't mind driving a bit if I have to. There is an emergency hospital nearby for the unthinkables that might take place at odd hours.

When my Drive had his dental last spring (April or May, I can't remember), the same thing happened to him that happened with Lanie. They called in the morning to say that his EKG was a little "off" and they wanted to take an x-ray of his heart. We had just lost our Bullie, not two or three days before, so I was already a mess, and they scared me. The x-rays came back "inconclusive." The vet painted terrible, dire pictures for me and, terrified, I told them to go ahead and do the ultrasound. Of course his heart was perfect.

To recap, I brought Lanie in for her dental last week, got the "questionable" EKG results, had the "inconclusive" x-rays done... And refused to okay the ultrasound. I am not made of money, people. I may have mentioned that. If I'd thought for a moment that Lanie had any problem whatsoever, it wouldn't have been about money, but all I could think was, "Didn't I just do this?"

You know why the x-rays show a heart that is borderline enlarged? Because greyhounds have large hearts. I learned, after repeated phone calls and persistence, that the EKG results were "off" because no one told the EKG analysts they were dealing with a greyhound.

Once that fact was made clear they said, "Oh, well, that's all perfectly normal for a greyhound."

I am not a happy customer. In the end, what made the decision for me was an extra $19 on my bill. "What is this?" I asked, as I was already forking over $200 for the stupid x-rays that weren't even necessary. "I'm being charged $19 under boarding?"

"That's our policy. It's for cage use and technician time."

"She was here for four hours! Getting stupid x-rays!"

"It's just policy." (I will spare you the rant on how much I loathe it when people hide behind policies.)

"I've been coming here for seven years and I have never, ever been charged a boarding fee." (I even checked, because I keep all the vet information filed.)

"That was an oversight, I guess. It's policy."

So! If you happen to live near me and know a great greyhound-savvy vet, let me know.

Thank you so, so much for the support and thoughts and advice I asked for last week. I meant to reply much sooner but I was flattened by some weird viral thing and spent a few days in bed feeling sorry for myself. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Never Simple

Of course, Lanie's dental did not go off as planned.

The day before, I took her to the vet for a blood panel and an EKG. Her bloodwork came back perfect, but the EKG detect an abnormal beat or two over the space of 30 seconds. No big deal. The plan was to repeat the EKG with a longer duration in the morning.

The longer duration EKG was less than ideal. As seems standard with these things, the information is relayed over the phone to a company that specializes in interpreting it. They expressed concern over the results. Again, there was an abnormal beat or two; no clarification of what that actually means. They also said there were "indications" of an enlarged heart.

The vet working with me is trying to get more information from the EKG people, who insist that for a more in-depth analysis they will have to charge more. Meanwhile, an x-ray of Lanie's heart looks normal from the side and maybe, possibly "borderline" large from the top. Lungs are clear. She has no symptoms of any illness (other than the mental caseload she's always carried, obviously.)

So the vet recommends that we do an ultrasound of the heart to be extra-super-sure that Lanie does not have any enlargement issues.

If I were wealthy, this wouldn't be a problem. But I'm not. I'm really not. I checked. In fact, I checked right before I started writing this post and I'm still pretty not-wealthy. So I am left trying to decide if I want to give my dog a $300 ultrasound on a heart that might maybe be a little enlarged, so that we'll know that before she has dental surgery. Because she still needs her teeth cleaned and one of her canines probably needs to come out. That three hundred bucks is the money we have set aside for her dental.

She has no symptoms of anything. As far as anyone can tell, she's in perfect health and full of joyful, deranged energy. We're really unsure what we should do. Either way she's getting her teeth cleaned, but our choices are to get the ultrasound and put off her teeth until tax time, or get her teeth cleaned without an ultrasound and take our chances -- which we're doing anyway, given that Lanie is an elderly greyhound.

My favorite part of having this blog is reading the comments, especially when people share their own anecdotes. I don't think I've ever said that before. So I'm telling you now, I love the comments. I love the experiences, and I especially love the wisdom.

If you have any wisdom to offer here, I would love to hear it.

(Preemptively because I know some of you: Thank you deeply and sincerely but please don't construe this as a plea for financial aid. ;) )

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Only Dog

"I'll stop smacking you when you get it out of my face."
Lanie is not a fan of the camera. After all, it it not made of food and it does not squeak. All it does it flash in her eyes, eliciting a death glare that only ladies of a certain age can manage.

At age 12 and a half, her pointy little face is white and her eyes have clouded. She used to hunt frogs relentlessly, making walks in the spring and summer a constant challenge as she lunged and snapped at the hopping meat-snacks. This summer, we realized that she simply doesn't see well enough to do that any more.

It's harder to tell if her hearing has faded. I'm disposed to believe she just ignores me more, since if I think too loudly about opening the fridge she will materialize from the ether.

She is a grand, goofy old dame. She is a glorious mixture of bravado and insecurity, terrified of a slammed door but not thunder. Helium balloons are the devil to her, but she will snarl and lunge if we make the mistake of walking her by the neighborhood bull mastiff. I am her humble servant who exists to feed her, but when she is scared she shoves her head against my chest.

Since we lost my Drive, she's been the only dog in the house. Always a velcro girl, I've noticed the length of time she lets me out of her sight has decreased. She's less content lately to be within sight range and now feels the need to be within petting range whenever possible. She has absolutely become needier. I can understand. So have I.

The strangest difference is her sudden, avid interest in going for car rides. I think she just hates that I sometimes leave the house without her. She hates being alone, poor sweetie.

I'll address the issue of "When will she be getting company?" in a different post.

This evening Lanie goes to the vet for bloodwork and an EKG, so that tomorrow she can be safely anesthetized for a dental cleaning. (She won't be spending the night there.) She's in overall excellent health, especially for a senior dog, and her teeth are not the nightmare that some greyhounds' are, though she has broken a canine recently. She was probably checking to see if something was edible by biting it, like a great white shark.

I'm reminding myself of all the reasons I don't need to be worried, and I'm worrying anyway. I'll keep you updated.

And I think I'll take my dog out to lunch. She loves the drive-thru.