The Price of Love

I feel my phone begin to vibrate as I’m on the other line with my mother last night. I glance at the screen to see that my best friend is calling. I thought it somewhat odd as we usually send a text before we call one another, but didn’t think much of it. I finished talking to my mom and called her back about 10-20 minutes later. To my surprise, she was actually calling me because she was on the way to the vet to meet her husband who had just taken one of their cats there. They were both in a panic and she just wanted to hear a comforting voice.

Although I was touched that she would reach out to me in this state, I couldn’t help but get angry at what she told me. Their cat was experiencing a urinary blockage, which is a rather common issue for cats. I believe a couple of my family cats have had the same problem in the past. The shocking part was the estimate they were given for the cost of treatment: $3,500. I knew it would be a lot, but holy mother of God. I immediately started doing research.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes to discover that this price was at the very highest end of the scale for treatment cost for a urinary blockage. I collected all the information I could, advised my friend about what specific questions to ask the vet, and sent her the links to the websites I had referenced. In the event the vet didn’t give them any alternatives, I also told her she should call around to try to get estimates from other vets before agreeing to anything.

I was happy that I was able to help my friend during this difficult time, but after we hung up, I was left reeling with disgust for the healthcare system in this country for not only humans, but our fur children as well. With this grim reality heavy on my mind, I am even more concerned with what I think I’ve discovered today about my own four legged baby. For the last few months, she has had very bizarre, yet extreme symptoms that seem to come and go without cause. One day she’ll be fine, then the next she’ll be nearly crippled. Then a day or two later, she’ll be okay again. I hesitated to take her to the vet thus far because I feared they’d only run all kinds of expensive tests with no guarantee of a diagnosis or effective treatment.

However, the decision to make an appointment has all but been decided for me today. By complete chance, one of the children I met at work was saying that her dog has Lyme Disease. I don’t know why I hadn’t considered it before, but my heart sank as I looked up the symptoms. My dog has been displaying nearly every single one. It has been the only thing I’ve read that actually fits her strange difficulties the last few months.

A bit more research has suggested the cost may be upwards of $1000 for treatment, even if it is still a mild case and hasn’t already damaged her heart or kidneys. I am ready and willing to pay whatever it takes to ensure that my sweet baby girl is happy and healthy again. And the sad part is, the vets know that. I am hopeful because so far my vet has always been very understanding and reasonable. I believe they even have payment plan options available. However, it sickens me to know that so many people take advantage of our love and desperation to help our pets. Our intern told me today that her mother was once charged $250 just to be given their dog’s body back in a garbage bag.

I think often our guilt at not wanting to pay what we are asked or our panic to have our pet healed leads people not to question or challenge the price tag. However, you should never have to feel guilty about standing up for yourself or resisting someone else’s efforts to take advantage of you. There is nothing wrong with asking more questions, doing your own research, or even getting quotes from other vets. In fact, I highly encourage you to do this. I’d also just like to offer any help I can to others who have found themselves in these heart wrenching situations. My vet actually has the cards at their front desk, but just in case yours does not, there is a program/website called Good Rx. I had known about this for human medications, but didn’t realize they had a pet version as well. Good Rx is a way to ensure that you are getting the absolute best price for any medication.

I know that’s not much help. I wish I could offer more. I sincerely hope that this information can be of use to anyone reading this. I am grateful to be fortunate enough to be able to afford my dog’s treatment, but I shudder to think of the pain of not having the money to help her. I would, as I’m sure many other people have, go to great lengths to get her the care she needs, no matter the impact or financial devastation I may have to experience as a result. It is truly one of the ugliest aspects of human nature that these vets and doctors display, to take advantage of someone’s love, someone’s health, just to make a bigger profit. I offer my deepest sympathy to anyone who has been the victim of this cruel exploitation, and for those that haven’t, I pray you never do.

Pros and cons of becoming a vet - PetProfessional

Sitting In the Sun

I can only hope to some day find the same satisfaction of a cat lying in sunbeams as they pour through the window. Even my dog, sweet little oddball that she is, loves basking in that warm glow. They always look so peaceful. You can almost see them savoring each delicious moment as they doze on the edge of consciousness. Perfectly peaceful. Precious angels. If only they could tell me their secret to serenity.

The closest I ever came to this simple bliss was one summer evening at the peak of an acid trip. I forget what my companion was doing at the time. They must have been absorbed in something inside that didn’t interest me. I had decided to go outside just as evening was giving way into another luscious, humid summer night. Summer nights are my favorite. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps they remind me of being a kid, watching fireworks on the 4th or catching lightning bugs with my sister and grandma. Or maybe it’s my teen years, sneaking out to meet friends, having midnight swims, trying my first cigarette as the rain drizzled down lazily, drinking by a fire in a friend’s backyard. There was always a certain excitement saturating summer nights, a sense of danger and adventure. Hedonism and recklessness and youth.

As the sun’s warmth still lingered in the soft air, I went out to use my newly set-up trampoline. I’m certain I would have appeared insane if anyone had been around to witness the sight. A young woman in her mid twenties, alone, at night, laughing her head off while jumping on a trampoline. I have no idea how long I was on that thing, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt like a kid again, with all the innocence and sheer joy I once knew.

When I finally got tired of that, I got down and sat breathless on my back porch under the stars. I think back to that moment a lot. Ever since I learned about yoga philosophy, I can’t help but think about it when I trip. It’s always funny to me how simple and true it all feels when I’m in that altered state. I see it all so clearly. It feels like I’ll be able to keep that insight and inner peace with me when I wake up the next morning, but of course I never can.

This evening as I sat there alone, I felt more alive and safe than I ever have before or since. I breathed in the thick air of that summer night slowly and deeply. Enjoying every subtlety of this slight movement as the air passed through my nostrils and expanded my abdomen. Feeling this oxygen infusing me with precious life. In that moment I knew everything I needed to know. There was no grasping or worrying or fear. I was truly at peace with myself and the universe. I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be. I knew that I was one with everything around me. That this whole universe was a part of me and I a part of it. I felt the lines of the self blurring into eternity. Anything that I could ever need or want was already a part of me. It was all so beautiful. I could have sat there, utterly content, forever. Everything is as it should be. Never had these words felt so poignant and true.

If nothing else this experience stands as an example of the power of perspective. Nothing has changed since then except my state of mind. Things that felt so simple then have reassumed their complex and elusive nature. That peace that felt ever-present now escapes me. Even the memory can’t compare to the perfect state I was in that night. My brief moment in the sun has now passed. Yet still, the residue of that moment lingers within me.

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Valentine’s Day

I have had a strange history with Valentine’s Day. For most of my life I was indifferent to it. I did enjoy creating those boxes in class and receiving cards and cookies. Thankfully when I was young, everyone was required to make a card for everyone else. I’m still horrified at the idea that there was a time when unpopular little kids were left empty handed with only the feeling of utter rejection and isolation on this “day of love.”

As I got older, I grew to detest it. I still don’t know if it was just the corniness and commercialism or if it was an attempt to distance myself from the fact that I never had anyone to share my love with. Whatever the reason that began this feeling though, it continued even into the years when I did have a boyfriend. I remember the first year we were together and he bought me a giant bouquet of flowers and had it sent to my classroom. I was humiliated. Red from ear to ear. I had to carry that embarrassing thing around with me the rest of the day. Of course, as far as he ever knew, I loved it.

By our next Valentine’s Day he knew me much better. Instead of a showy display, he got me a box of gourmet vegan chocolates, paid his mother to leave so we’d have the house to ourselves for the night, and presented me with five hits of acid and some ketamine. (I had recently gotten my wisdom teeth removed and raved about how much I enjoyed the laughing gas. He said ketamine was the closest street drug he could find as far as effects go.) To this day, I count that Valentine’s Day among one of the best days of my life.

It is hard to believe that was six or seven years ago now. So much has changed and yet, nothing has. In the years since then, I’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day as my cat’s birthday. (The acid that night inspired me to adopt her. I even named her Lucy.) And I guess that’s just one of the tricky parts about life. The good and the bad are so many thread inextricably woven into the same cloth. To trace along one, you inevitably stumble across the other as well. These precious memories of mine are, for the most part, too painful to recall. What a cruel joke of memory that the past can be soured by the present.

Maybe it is just an art I need to practice more, accepting and honoring those twinges of pain that impinge upon my happy nostalgia. There is beauty and growth that blooms from pain. When you look at a flower garden, you don’t often focus on the filth and rot and decay that has fertilized the soil. The longer I live, the more I come to understand that life is all about focus. It is a blessing to realize this and the fact that attention is a muscle that I can train with practice.

As for today, I will wrap myself in gratitude. Things are not perfect. They have not gone exactly as I would have liked. But so much unexpected beauty and love has come to me regardless. Lucy has truly brought me all the love and joy that a first child should. We know one another, love one another, and have grown with one another. She has been by my side through some of the darkest times in my life. She has been my strength and my purpose when I had nothing else to get me out of bed in the morning.

Today I choose to focus on that marvelous, miraculous bond we share. Today is a day of love. I have all of the love I could ever want or need from Lucy and her sister Sybil. We are a family that transcends species and language through unconditional love. And that is truly something to celebrate.