If you haven’t had to deal with emergency pet care since March 2020 — before COVID-19, consider yourself very lucky.
We thought we dodged the bullet. However, when we had an accident with our dog Ily in mid-June, it not only changed all of our lives, but also how our experiences with vet care were going to be in the immediate future.
Our Shiba Inu, Ily, 15, broke through our invisible fence while we were out of state, in fact, the last night before we got home. After our frantic animal sitter called us, the neighborhood, friends and family quickly came together to set up Operation Find Ily.
While we frantically packed our bags and coordinated search efforts, called, texted, etc., friends scoured the area around our house. Nothing.
Around 2 a.m., we got a call from a very shaky Kelly with her son Ryan, who had found her!
She immediately asked what we needed to do, and we had no idea. He didn’t appear to be cut, injured, etc., but Kelly suspected that she had been hit by a car because of the way she was holding her right back leg.
The first thing that came to my mind was to take her to MedVet. MedVet is a 24/7 emergency pet store that we knew from taking a sick rabbit there about a year ago. So Kelly offered to pack Ily, and with her son as a driver, they headed over to Hilliard.
Once there, the general malaise of pandemic pet care began.
“They won’t let us in with her,” Kelly explained to me. “They told me I can wait in the car or leave, but they didn’t know how long that would last, so we’ll go home and try to get some sleep.”
It is now 3:30 am, Kelly had dropped our dog, who is now alone after being hit, in a strange place, and we weren’t even there. She was confused, we were certainly confused, and all we could do was wait by the phone: no waiting room, no updates, nothing.
We got a call around 5am telling us that Ily had had some preliminary x-rays and they also suspected she had been hit, but still no visitors or face-to-face conversations. No internal bleeding, but certainly injuries.
It wasn’t until after 8 a.m. that the emergency vet called back as we got ready to hit the road. We hoped it was the surgeon; however, as it is Saturday morning, the staff was smaller. The pre-programmed surgeries were given priority if the injuries weren’t life threatening, if things weren’t moving fast enough for us (that’s my baby!). resting, and a few more hours wouldn’t make a difference, it was like an eternity.
We have never had such a situation. Our daughter, my first child, was far from us. All I wanted was to see her, or at least see her medical team to be reassured and speak in person. So we told the staff we were on the way home and asked if we could see her as soon as we got back to town, but they couldn’t make any promises.
We arrived in Franklin County around 2 a.m. Sunday morning and immediately called MedVet. They told us to go upstairs and that we could see our puppy. So we parked in the parking lot, and there were also four or five cars waiting in the parking lot. One had a large black labradoodle that was pacing behind his back. Another held a small animal in a blanket in his lap. The other couple I saw didn’t seem to be holding anything, but it was also dark and I tried not to look at it.
We were finally able to visit Ily. We were able to ask and answer questions, but our visiting time was limited. We put on our masks. We didn’t want to take advantage of the others who needed time with their puppies, so we got in the car and drove home.
Early Sunday morning, Ily was transported to a higher-level surgical facility with a strict no-visit policy due to COVID-19 risks.
Then again, we played the game of waiting for phone calls or email updates, but calls that we were expecting at 9:00 am or 10:00 am didn’t arrive until 5:00 or 6:00 pm. stressful days. Even though we called they told us they were beyond capacity for emergencies, surgeries, and even non-emergency patients like those with long term illnesses and illnesses like carcinoma.
By the time we finally spoke to the surgeons and made our difficult but informed decision to amputate Ily’s hind leg, we felt good about our decision. But, as luck would have it, they put us in the phone queue again and had to wait for a callback that never seemed to come.
Knowing that she is 15 years old, there were risks, we asked if we could see her before the operation, but we could not.
After a surgery scheduled for 8:00 a.m. and waiting for a call maybe 10 a.m. (they informed us it was a 1 hour surgery) we finally called around 1 a.m. and got the green light that everything had gone wonderfully well, but again we could not visit.
We assumed Ily would be sedated for rest and recovery the rest of Monday. Even though we were worried, we didn’t lose sleep knowing that she was being watched and in the best hands possible.
On Tuesday we were ready to pick up our puppy and were fifteen minutes ahead of our allotted pickup time, which for anyone who knows me is an Olympic feat in itself. So when we got to the parking lot, we parked in Lot B as instructed by the surgeon, called from the car and waited.
What seemed like an eternity passed before we got the choppy phone call that they were ready for us. We were directed to a pickup area, marked Emergency, now used as an open-air patient exit center. The surgery team was not there to talk. We had excellent nurses, but none of them knew her exact case. We loaded the car up and drove home, one leg shy and with owners completely clueless and terrified.
On the unscheduled follow-up, an “extra” appointment, I received a stack of papers, which I think I read enough times to memorize. I made a medical chart. I stocked up on simple cheeses to hide the pills.
Checks consisted of emailing photos, having them reviewed, and receiving an email or call. We’ve done a lot of guessing, a lot of Google research, and a lot of phone calls to friends in the industry for informal help. I don’t blame MedVet, but it was stressful to feel like we were alone, that we couldn’t just show up or get quick responses.
About eight days later, we started to notice a questionable-looking healing, and the circle started again. So, again, we called, sent photos, and waited for a response.
I got a reminder, now I was scheduling dates because they wanted to see her. So we drove in, got to the parking lot, called, waited, handed Ily over to the staff, then back to the parking lot. An hour later they told us they were sending cultures and sent us home with a cream.
Four days later, we got a call saying we needed another antibiotic, and because supplies were scarce, we had to return to the surgical center to get his meds. It was a lot of racing, a lot of calls and no more waiting. I cannot stress enough that it was all intimidating for all of us. We were (and are) so concerned about Ily, but the infection, the wound care, the worries about his rehabilitation, it was all done by phone and email. No “elevate” date we had in the past that seemed so mundane and simple.
Last night I heard from a friend whose lab received a bag of trail mix full of raisins and was taking her puppy to the emergency room. I immediately called her and told her what to expect, so at least she was ready. She chose to sit in the car, and she said the wait, for the phone to ring, was the worst. No nurse to ask the window how he was doing, get an update, wait on the phone. It’s hard and scary.
Update: We’re a month away from Ily’s accident and surgery, and while parts of these days seem like forever, most of them are still pretty rough. The lifestyle of this new puppy motivates us more than any newborn. For example, to make sure she eats, I prepare her food more carefully than mine, and my step count increased because I was chasing her around the house and the yard to make sure she did not overwork.
Hope you never have to have an emergency with your pet, but if you do, expect the wait, anticipate the questions, expect the unexpected. And of course, take a phone charger, gear, or something to occupy your mind, because you’ll probably be spending a lot of time on it.
|Date posted:||12.28.2021 12:41|
|Site:||COLOMB, Ohio, United States|
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