We thought it was another of Oly‘s ‘dog coughs’. She’s had one before, and it’s a whole lot more retching sounding than coughing in my book, but the last time we got some pills, they made Oly seem like she was high, Adam and I laughed at her when she stood looking at the wall for 15 minutes swaying softly, and that was that.
Suddenly it was back, but I knew the drill. Vet, pills, bill.
Except, it didn’t go away.
In fact, there was a lot of vomit instead. Sorry. How’s your breakfast sitting this morning?
Suddenly we were back in the vet, and this time Oly was going to go under to see if there was something lodged in her throat.
I love Oly, and I want her to be healthy, so even though I was wringing my hands at the possibility of a 300 dollar bill for sedation and films, I said, “Fix her,” and they went to work.
Except there was no stick, or toy, or jerky stuck in her throat. Instead there was what appeared to be a piece of cloth in her stomach obstructing her intestines, thereby causing all the retching. And cleaning of the retching.
Then the vet hit me with my ‘options.’ Keep her at our vet overnight, and perform abdominal surgery the following morning to remove the cloth toy. Two more days after that to recover, and a bill somewhere in the region of 900-1700 dollars.
Cue me falling over dead.
OR we could take her to a specialist 30 minutes away and they could try to pull the toy out of her stomach via her throat endoscopically.
BUT, if the obstruction was hard and unable to come out with the scope, they would need to perform the surgery as well, leaving our total bill somewhere in the ballpark of THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS.
Three, comma, zero, zero, zero.
Cue me falling over dead, rotting, coming back to life, going back in time, and stealing all of Oly’s toys from her and burning them in a bonfire.
People, I sobbed. There is something so very cruel about veterinary care when you don’t have pet insurance. You essentially weigh the importance of your pet against the money in your bank. I had to sit down and take a long hard look at my financial situation and realize that if the worst thing happened I could very well max out my credit card, empty my emergency savings account and still be standing there unable to pay her full bill. That moment of really evaluating my financial situation stopped my heart. Of course I was going to do everything in my power to help this dog, fix this dog, but holy WOW if the idea of that final bill didn’t leave me dry heaving on the floor of my office as I contemplated my next move.
Luckily for Adam and I our vet suggested we take the risk, avoid the surgery and head to the specialist. Where we spent the next 6 hours waiting to see what in the world was causing all this financial and physical anguish.
In the end, after a grand total of around 1,300 dollars (kill me now) we found out that the item causing Oly all this pain was none other than around 5 casings from a summer sausage.
Can you imagine our faces when the doctor walked into the waiting room with a paper towel, opened it and revealed none other than SAUSAGE CASINGS?
I wanted to be like, “Hah! Funny! Where’s the towel? Or chew toy? Or pair of underwear for crying out loud? Show me something BIG, and EVIL, and STOMACH CLOGGING!”
1,300 dollar summer sausage.
SAUSAGE CASINGS YOU GUYS!
I wanted so badly to sit down with Oly and have a little conversation along the lines of, “Oly, remember at the beach house when you and Macy were fighting over the trash can? Growling over who would go for those casings we’d mistakenly thrown away right in front of you, and you lunged and ate them all in one big heroic swoop? REMEMBER THAT? Because you should have let Macy eat them. Seriously.”
Sadly, dogs don’t have the same comprehension we do.
Very, very, very sadly.
All in all, this has been a most traumatizing, and eye opening experience. Oly is still not 100%. Her throat is a mess from having tubes down it for two hours, she was put under twice on two separate occasions and is still shaky on her feet, she can’t eat anything for another 12 hours, she’s on a strict diet, meds, the whole works. And, we’re still not 100% sure that the whole cause of all her misery was the stupid sausage casings. If she doesn’t resume normal non vomiting protocol in the next week, back to the vet we go!
What I’ve learned more than anything throughout this whole experience is that the decision we made a year ago, where we sat down and decided we were paying in more to pet insurance than we were getting out, therefore convincing us to start a savings account for Oly and cancel pet insurance, was the WORST IDEA WE EVER HAD IN OUR WHOLE LIVES.
2011 will hereby be known as the year of renewed pet insurance (Hi TruPanion, where have you been all my life?) for our little adventurous eater, and the year where I try really really really hard to get myself out of this mountain of debt.
Be warned dog owners.
Sausage, is surprisingly expensive.