Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Pepper Predicament - Part 5: Pepper Comes Home

My dad and I drove separately to the vet, since he had business to attend to when we were done, so I led the way. Thankfully, the drive there is super easy. You drive straight down one street for 60+ blocks, make a right, and then just a few blocks later you're there. Et voila!

We went in and I told the receptionist we were there to see Pepper. She called back and Dad and I waited in the lobby. This was the longest we'd had to wait yet, but there seemed to be a pretty good reason. Instead of us going back to see Pepper, they brought Pepper out to us.

When Hubby and I had visited the night before, we took Pepper outside on a walk. (OK, we just wandered around the lawn, but still.) He was fairly stable, but still a little wobbly, so I was pretty excited when the vet tech walked my little man out to us on a leash!

They had us go into a room with a big leather sofa and lots of boxes of tissues (I'm guessing it doubles as the bad news room, or maybe even the euthanasia room...). My biggest surprise of the day came when I sat on the couch and my little man jumped right up after me. What?! This dog couldn't even stand long enough to eat less than 48 hours ago, and now he's jumping up on the couch like it's nothing! Is this the right dog?

We waited for the vet for awhile. She popped her head in to let us know it would be another 5 minutes, and we waited some more. My dad never sat. He just stood there, ready to take on whatever or whomever he had to. I'm so thankful he was there.

Anywhoozles, the vet finally came in and started talking to us. If I had written this sooner, I could tell you more about the conversation, but here's what I remember.

She told us that since they had started him back on the thyroid medication the night before, he had had 2 doses and already she could see a difference in him. Why hadn't we seen it before? Possibly because of the heart meds he had been on at the time. According to this vet (who we'll call Dr. L), everyone was so worried about his heart disease and murmur that we kind of let the thyroid issue take a back seat. But in her opinion, the hypothyroidism is the more pressing of the two issues and should be the focus of our medical attention.

My other surprise of the day was when Dr. L asked what I wanted to do. Did I want to keep him there or take him home. She said if it was her dog, she'd be taking him home. My first reaction was to ask if he was in any pain. If he was in pain and needed more medical attention, then that would have been a factor in my decision. But she said no (YAY!), so I told her I wanted to take him home. She told us she'd have his IV taken out and he'd be cleaned up (hospital policy that all pets get a bath before leaving).

That's when my dad stepped in. As I said, he didn't sit the whole time we were there. He asked a few questions, made a few comments, but was mostly just this presence in the room that gave vibes of "don't mess with my daughter" (or maybe that was just my imagination). At this point he asked about the money, because the figured he had heard were "shocking" for a dog toward the end of his lifetime. Dr. L went to check, and as it turned out we were still within the original estimate. I don't know if the $2700 was a misunderstanding or what, but I was incredibly relieved to see a number under $2k.

The best part of that day was walking my little man to the car, having him hop into the backseat (by himself!), and driving him home. My family had been incomplete while he was gone. Even Maxine could feel it and wasn't 100% herself. Bringing him home made everything right again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Pepper Predicament - Part 4: Hang On Pepper, Pepper Hang On

I feel like this is a good time to do a recap of the timeline:
  • Monday night: 
    • Pepper gets into the garbage for the second time within a week.
  • Tuesday:
    • That morning he was acting slow and a little weak. He had to be spoon-fed his meals.
    • That evening, he was still slow, but seemed less lethargic.
  • Wednesday: 
    • That morning he seemed to be feeling better and moving quicker. He even made it down the steps himself.
    • In the evening, he was more unsteady than before. He couldn't stand long enough to eat from his bowl, and eventually he fell down while walking (and trying to pee). 
    • Around 7 we took him to the emergency vet. He spent most of the time lying on the exam table, and didn't even make a fuss when they took his temp. He was admitted that night.
  • Thursday: 
    • Hubby called the vet in the morning, doesn't get much from them. Called back later and learns that they want to do an ultrasound, but that the other tests have basically come up empty.
    • I headed over to the vet that afternoon to spend time with Pepper. I spent an hour talking to him and petting him. The most activity I saw from him was right after they drew some blood. He lifted his head, but didn't do much else.
    • That evening, Hubby and I visit. They had just started him back on the thyroid medication. We would check in the next morning.
OK, now we're caught up.

On Friday morning, Hubby called to check in on Pepper again. He spoke with the receptionist, who asked if they could raise our "limit" to $3,000. When Hubby asked what we were up to, she told him $2700. And she said they wanted to keep him another day.

When we first dropped him off Wednesday night, we were given an estimate between $1400 and $1950. We had to pay the low end up front, and were told we'd pay any difference when we left. So when we heard we were at $2700, Hubby freaked out. Hell, I freaked out. And when I freak out, I call my mom. I had already called her on Thursday to let her know what was going on, and I had spoken with both of my parents Thursday night to tell them how he was doing and what we knew. So I knew calling her was the best option for me at that moment because she already knew everything going on, but had a more outside perspective.

Mom and I talked through everything and came up with a plan, which I relayed to Hubby. We were going to meet up at the vet (while Hubby was on lunch; I had already called in again) and if they couldn't give us a good, solid reason why Pepper needed to stay another day, then we were going to take him home. I presented this to Hubby, and he agreed. 

Just then the receptionist called him back. He let her know just how unhappy we were with the whole situation. Her response was to suggest we come in and see how well he was doing and "not do anything drastic to hurt his progress." She then mentioned that they could move him to medical boarding for only $46 per night. Um, you're just telling us this NOW?! What. The. F*ck.

So I was doing my best, trying to stay calm (which is hard because normally Hubby is the calm to MY storm) and my dad called. He wanted to check in (not sure if he had spoken with my mom or what). I told him what was going on, and he said he was in the area and asked if it would help if he came by. Good god, yes. If there's anyone who can handle this situation, it's my father. Hubby couldn't get away from work anyhow, so Dad and I ended up going over to the vet instead.

I was on a mission to bring my little man home. Hang on, Pepper! Mama's coming for you!

To be continued...