Saturday, December 12, 2009

Naughty and Nice

You may have noticed that there was no new post yesterday. No? Well, there wasn't. Thanks for caring.

This is because yesterday was Andy Goes to the Vet Day. This was not a planned holiday; it was a spontaneous celebration. It began when Patrick decided to take Teddy for a walk in the morning, as Teddy has been a little bit peevish lately and we think it's due to the arrival of the new puppy. Before Lillie came Teddy was the puppy. We even called him The Puppy, despite his being two years old now. But now Lillie is The Puppy and Teddy is just Teddy. Although he tends to be a loner, I think we underestimated how much he would be put out by this change in status.

We found out just how upset he is when, after coming in from his walk, he decided to release what was left of his pent-up frustration by giving Andy a good, hard bite. He and Andy have always had a contentious relationship, but generally it's been confined to a lot of growling and posturing on Andy's part. Teddy knows exactly how to push Andy's buttons, and he does so at every opportunity. Andy, who is prone to fits, responds with lots of snarling and spitting.

I don't know exactly what transpired yesterday, as I was down here working. I heard a lot of barking and paws scrabbling on the floor, then a minute or two later Patrick come down holding Andy and asked, "Does this look bad?"

It did. And so off to the vet went Andy. Having had eight dogs we're used to these kinds of visits. After being here less than a week Andy required a trip to the vet for a throat infection. Sam was here an even shorter amount of time before tearing open his paw while digging under the fence and requiring stitches. And Roger and Spike were at the vet so often in their last days that we basically lived there.

As I had to work it fell to Patrick to take Andy to the vet, and I'm sure he would much rather not have had to do it. Andy is a handful under the best of circumstances. At the vet he's a monster. He's not a large dog, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in ferocity. When he was neutered it took three vet techs to get the collar on him afterward. His last vet put a sticker on his folder that said CAUTION.

As I waited for Patrick to call with the verdict I prayed that the vet would say, "Oh, it's just a nip. We'll bandage it up and he'll be good to go." But I knew I was fooling myself. I have never once taken a dog to the vet and come out without handing over several hundred dollars.

Sure enough, when Patrick called it was with the news that Andy would be spending the day at the vet getting stitched up, for which we would wind up with a bill "somewhere between $575 and $800."

The exact total ended up being $662.07. What cost so much? See for yourself. Here's the itemized bill:

Now I don't mind paying for my dogs' health care. I've spent more on them than I have on anything besides our house. I'm still paying off Roger's cancer treatments, and he's been gone four years.

But I can't help but have a few questions about this bill. O/R setup and cleanup for $20.41? Surgical site preparation (which I assume means shaving his neck and irrigating the wound) is $24.44? Sterile surgical instruments $26.16? What does that mean, exactly? It's not like we got to keep them. And would it have been cheaper if we'd used rusty old surgical instruments? Then we have surgical disposables at $20.41 and medical waste disposal for $6.61. Well, that last one is a bargain so I won't complain. But what are these surgical disposables, and why are they $20.41?

You may recall that Patrick was in the hospital a few months ago. His final bill was just under $7,000, which when you think about it makes sense since Patrick is about 10 times bigger than Andy is and so could reasonably be expected to have a bill ten times the size of his. And his bill was just as perplexing, with charges for all kinds of things we still can't figure out.

All of which begs the question: How can anyone in their right mind be against universal healthcare? Seriously, $7000 for two days in the hospital? And that was only the part insurance wouldn't cover. The actual total was something like $40,000. Is it any wonder medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country?

Anyway, I didn't mean to start ranting about that. The point is that Andy is more or less fine. He's currently hiding under the bed, coming out only to eat and go pee. Teddy clearly feels terrible about what he did, as he moped around all day yesterday and looks as if someone took away his best friend.

Which sort of is what happened. Despite their animosity I think Teddy and Andy really do like each other. Or if not like, at least need. Kind of like Batman and The Joker, or Superman and Lex Luthor. Without the other, neither is terribly interesting. Well, that's not true. They're both pretty interesting. But you know what I mean. They're like peanut butter and chocolate--both great on their own but miraculous when brought together.

As for the bill, we're now referring to it as our Christmas list. With money tight for everyone, we were already planning on a trimmed-down Christmas as far as gifts are concerned. Now it appears we've gotten each other sedatives and medical waste. But that's okay. It's better than socks.


Demi Lu said...

It's unbelievable the heights of the medical expenses in usa!

I can understand what you say you do not get along very well but you need is. I have 3 dogs and I are 2 of them that their relationship is as you say, batman and joker

I like your blog!


Bear Me Out said...

The Veterinarians of America thank you for participating in their Economic Stimulus Program.

ckaiserca said...

Oh wow, that is so double plus ungood! Sorry that this happened.

Deep Dish said...

I feel your pain, Michael, one of our cats was diagnosed recently with cancer and is now receiving weekly chemo treatments. He's doing very well, but the expense--YIKES! But we love our kitty so it's worth it.