Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vet Care

Total = $1,937

These are receipts for Popeye's medical expenses and the cost of his cart. They don't include his chiropractic services (est $500 to date & counting), physical therapy ($100), the receipts I couldn't find, or the cost of special supplies (harnesses, slings, boots, walking aids, sewing machine & fabric to make his belly bands, etc). And that's just to-date.

They definitely don't include the cost of his surgery to remove his hind legs, which I've decided to go ahead with (more on this in future). I'm still in the process of consulting a few vets & specialists to try to figure out which one I'll use (and in the end, it may just come to whichever one is most affordable at this point), but this was one estimate I received.

Not to mention the cost of rechecks and god forbid, any complications.

I knew before taking Popeye in that caring for him would probably cost money. The idea of surgery was in the back of my mind even then, and I knew I wanted to get him an Eddie's Wheels cart. I didn't really know how much a double-amputation surgery would cost but Bandit's surgery to repair his broken femur last year ended up to be about $5,000 and Laura's surgery to correct her twisted ankle the year before was similar, so I wasn't too surprised when I got the estimate for Popeye's surgery.

What I didn't really foresee was how much other stuff was going to cost. Small things like harnesses, boots, slings, belly bands--they add up to hundreds of dollars. And there's also the unexpected medical care.

Around the time Popeye first got his cart from Eddie's Wheels, 2 things popped up simultaneously.

1) He started itching pretty badly. His neck (he'd rub it against the carpet until it was raw), his face (always trying to scratch it with his paws so some of the hair is missing), and between the pads on his front 2 paws (constant licking).

2) He also started craning his neck is a very strange angle while he pulled himself along the ground. It started just on one side, then moved to the other side, then eventually he was holding it that way all the time. It seemed like the more he used the cart, the more he'd crane his neck, which made me wonder if something about the cart was causing a strain somewhere in his neck or shoulder region.

That started about 2 months ago and we still haven't figured it out. I sent the cart back to EW to modify it to a "neutral balance" cart, which means that by moving the wheels forward, the weight of the yoke going over Popeye's shoulders would be completely eliminated. Popeye would feel no weight on his shoulders at all. (More to come on this in future days.)

During the time when EW had Popeye's cart, the vet prescribed some Metacam (anti-inflammatory) to see if it would help with the neck craning in case it was caused by some inflamed muscle or nerve. It didn't make a difference.

Then the itching got really bad, and we turned our attention to that instead. The vet prescribed antibiotics and prednisone. The prednisone completely stopped the itching, and oddly enough, it also stopped the neck craning. It makes me wonder whether the 2 are somehow related since they both also started at about the same time.

But once Popeye stopped the prednisone, both the itching and the neck craning came back, although the craning was minimal. However, now that we got the cart back and Popeye is using it, I've noticed he's craning his neck more and more again.

It's frustrating not to mention worrisome that we don't know the cause of this. I don't want to keep him on prednisone indefinitely, and that's not an option anyway since he can't take it near the time of surgery since it compromises the immune system.

The surgery is still my primary focus for now, but honestly, I'm feeling stressed about the other things too. A part of that is the quiet voice in my head that won't shut up and keeps asking, How much more money is it going to take to fix all this? The savings account I've always maintained for emergencies is dwindling.

It's times like this when I wish I was into yoga or meditation, hard-core Sting-style. Because I don't want to and really shouldn't worry about finances when it comes to the dogs. Giving them the care they need is a given, not an option. There aren't very many other things more worthy to spend my money on. And I'm still far from the brink of starvation. The other night, Tyler & I had dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant, Blue Fin's in Brentwood, which isn't particulary cheap. I think my mantra should be, "If I can still afford sushi, I must be financially sound."

And if I really think about it, getting Popeye well--and by well, I mean recovered from his surgery with no negative aftermath, and solving the allergy problem and whatever is causing that neck crane--is worth a lot of money to me. If I could strike a deal with an imaginary broker of Fate, I'd pay him every last cent in my savings account if he could make Popeye well. Starting from $0 balance isn't the worst thing that can happen. Where there's a will, there's a way. Popeye's definitely got the will, it's up to me to find the way.


Wild Dingo said...

I can't find the words to tell you how awesome you both are. I adore Popeye and would be worried sick wondering why he was itching and craning. it's so hard to know when they can't speak our language. all you can do is observe their behavior. you have enough to worry about with him than these "little" things that could possibly mean nothing (like, maybe a poor fitting cart) or something (related to his health/injury). so frustrating. times like this, you wish they could talk! sugar's story very inspirational. you're just as inspirational as popeye and sugar.