Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to torture your veterinarian

Have you ever done this? 
Dear friends: My vet can’t figure out what’s wrong with my dog (cat, horse, rabbit…). Here’s a picture. Can you give me any ideas of what’s wrong with him?
That is the shortened version, but it is exactly what I did, desperate to find a cure for my horse, Honey. My armchair vets, Monday morning quarterbacks, and home-grown experts came back with some great ideas. Unfortunately we had eliminated all of those possibilities, and we had to euthanize Honey last Tuesday.

I realize now that we must torture our poor vets. Mine patiently sat me down and gave me long explanations for every condition he had eliminated as a possibility. He went through all of the options for further testing and what it might show us, patiently repeating things he’d already told me when I wasn’t ready to listen. He (and an expert–a real one– he consulted) narrowed it down to three things: a tumor/mass in her chest, an internal abscess, or valley fever. Her chest cavity was full of fluid.

Her prognosis was lousy. She wasn’t eating or drinking, and the steroids he’d given her were the only thing keeping her upright. Reluctantly I made the decision, but fought it tooth and nail to the very end.

There was no alternative; I just wasn’t ready to lose her. We’d only had a few months together. I’d only ridden her a few times. I wanted to go for more walks with her, rides on her, let more wonderful kids ride her. Honey, we hardly knew ye.

Ari sniffed her halter for a long time
I think letting her go was the hardest decision I’d ever made for a pet. And my vet was endlessly supportive and patient with me. I apologized for asking all my friends what could be wrong with her, and he said, “Well, you’re not the first who’s ever done it.” These were desperate times.

But I made the right decision in the end. My other horses yelled and screamed for her for several hours. That was hard to listen to.

I think my vet is better than any doctor I’ve ever been to for my own health issues.

Rest easy, my Honey.
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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

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