If you follow us, I’m sure you are aware that our Princess Fiona is sick with some sort of a mystery illness. We’ve gone to our regular vet, a specialty vet and even a teaching hospital. We are headed back to the teaching hospital this Thursday for an MRI with spinal tap. I certainly learned a lot from our previous visit so I thought I’d share with all of you. In all the years, I’ve owned animals, I’ve never been to a teaching hospital. I had read their FAQs but I still feel like I wasn’t adequately prepared for the experience. Here are my tips to make your trip(and my next one)much smoother.
- If you and your vet are even “thinking” your pet might need to go to a teaching hospital, do it. Don’t waste your time and money on having other tests done at your vet or even a specialty hospital. I was concerned about the stress on her if we went to Purdue so I took her to the specialty hospital and had a total cardiac work up done by a vet that is in the process of being certified in cardiology. Purdue wouldn’t accept the cardiac ultrasound since she wasn’t certified and they said that everyone apparently measures just a little differently. So basically the $900 that I spent at the specialty hospital was a waste as they only used the chest X-rays. They were also able to use blood work from my regular vet but wanted to repeat the abdominal ultrasound that she had done, again because she wasn’t certified. I declined that as we really needed to spend money as wisely as possible. I’m still kicking myself over this although I thought I was doing the right thing at that time.
- If you are there to get a diagnosis, it’s most likely an all day process. Their FAQs said to expect that but I guess I didn’t really think it would take that long. Our appointment was at 9 AM and they took her to the back and away from me about 10 AM. Although I talked to the vets and saw them, I didn’t see Fiona again until after 4 PM. I know she was very stressed as she had tried to bite them and she’s not a biter.
- To put your pet at ease, take their favorite blanket to keep them company. I meant to take her pink bag she rides in but forgot it and didn’t want to turn around. I think if she’d had it, she wouldn’t have been nearly as stressed.
- Take snacks and drinks for yourself. Depending on how long it will take, you can probably leave the hospital. They told me it would take several hours so I decided I would go look for the lakes that I had seen listed on a sign. I drove for quite some time and never found them. I ended up stopping at a cute shop and sat there reading my book but didn’t realize that I didn’t have cell reception so I missed a call from the hospital. This time I’ll pack a cooler and just got outside and enjoy the weather within cell phone range.
- Make sure you electronic devices are fully charged. If you’re going to be there most of the day, you want to be able to use your phone or read from your Kindle. Sometimes your battery gets drained quickly in those conditions so make sure you have at least a car charger with you.
- Take a pad of paper and pen with you. If you have questions ahead of time, take the list with you. If you didn’t have any before, chances are that you’ll think of them while you’re there so write them down. The vets have been great to deal with but it’s much quicker to get an answer while you’re there than to have to call back. Don’t forget questions about their care at home, test results and follow up visits.
- Leave yourself plenty of time to get there and check in. I had directions that seemed pretty simple but I still got lost. If you can take someone with you to navigate, even better. Plus it’s great to have someone to talk to and they can help you with your list of questions/concerns for the vet.
- Make sure you know what the payment policy is and get an estimate before you go. This is not your hometown vet so you won’t be allowed to run a tab. They were really great about informing about other testing that they wanted to do and what the cost would be. Take some extra money for yourself especially if you forget snacks. Don’t hesitate to tell them what your spending limit is so you can make the most of the money that you have. They can help prioritize and get the most bang for your buck. If you think you will need more money, you can apply for Care Credit ahead of time so you’ll have an idea what your limit is with them. Some teaching hospitals will let you apply while you’re there but it’s better to know ahead of time what your financial limitations are. The really cool thing about Care Credit is that you can use it for your own medical bills.
- Most of all , remember to breathe and ask questions. The veterinarians are there for you and your pet so make the most of their knowledge and skills. They want to find out what’s wrong with your pet and make them better but they can’t do it without your input. I actually printed up a time line of her illness and gave it to them so they could glance at that to start with. It helped me remember dates and tests as well. Make sure you know your financial limits and discuss it with your family ahead of time so that your emotions don’t take over. It helps to know exactly what you will and won’t do for your pet before being asked to make that decision.
Hopefully these tips will help you if your pet needs care beyond what your regular vet can offer. I’m hopeful that our next visit with go more smoothly and that we’ll finally have some answers for our sweet girl. Thanks for reading and as always, thanks for opting to adopt.