My 5-year-old poodle, Max, had just come home from cataract surgery on both eyes. The first night he mostly slept. Early the next day, he had a scheduled checkup at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners.
The post-op medication regimen began immediately the first night. There were 4 different dugs and 5 different eye drops administered several times a day, each on a slightly different schedule.
It was so complicated that I prepared an EXCEL spreadsheet to keep track of when each medication was given. I actually got the idea from another patient at Blue Pearl, as they were discussing a pet's care.
Max was doing great, a followup visit was scheduled for a week later, and the cage containment would continue for three more weeks.
For his part, Max was ready to explore his newly rediscovered world. We set up the cage so Max could see out the window, and it was amazing to watch him re-catalog all of the things he could see in the neighborhood.
The one-week checkup showed a small scratch on one cornea, so the medication regimen changed slightly, and a three week visit was set. I had to redo the spreadsheet.
At this point, Max was allowed down on the floor for a few minutes after each medication, and he began to slowly explore the house. The rediscovery process was fascinating.
First he would go to an item like a chair, identify it by smell and then step back and just look at it, apparently rebuilding his visual memory with clues from his other senses. He literally worked his way through the entire house and back yard.
Since he had been on the losing end of most of his recent wrestling matches with Harley, he was ready to rumble every time he had a few minutes of floor time.
The major concern was any lunging motion during the first few days, which could cause the cornea stitches to tear. So Theresa and I had to play referee.
The small lizards that occupy most of our back yards and the local squirrels had been choice objectives of Max's pursuits. When he realized he could now once again see them, the game was back on. Max had begun rediscovering a world that those with sight take for granted.
Modern veterinarian medicine can do for animals almost all that modern medicine can do for us. It is nothing short of miraculous. We often think there are no miracles anymore, until you experience something like Max's return to vision, or a child healed or something in your own life.
There is, however, an exploitive side to all of this. In human medicine they exploit our fears, in veterinarian medicine they exploit our love for the helpless creatures with which we have been entrusted. They get away with it because there are enough of us who will pay the bill.
The exploitation begins with those who manufacture drugs and medical equipment and continue through the system to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies. You hear a lot of talk about the cost of health care, but no one wants to take on the health care industry.
In recent days my thoughts returned to the lady in the waiting room at the first Vet specialty clinic I visited, and I wonder how it all turned out? One thing you can rest assured of, it was expensive.
A few days ago someone asked me how Max was doing. When I said, "really great", they ask, "How much did all of this cost"? I had to stop and think. It seemed sort of irrelevant.
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