This facility, much like its human counterpart, is a giant, demoralizing, cash hole laced with guilt that sucks your aspirations and dreams down into a gaping, florescent abyss. And like the people ER, their waiting room is also a sad, cave of despair littered with wrinkled, outdated magazines with crusty bits on some of the middle pages.
The decision to bring her there wasn't an easy one, as it's understandably common to overact whenever you see your pet in any kind of pain. But once she started vomiting and spraying diarrhea all over the house and bed, there wasn't much of a choice. Upon arriving, we were immediately informed by a feckless, obese, lump slouched at the front desk behind a gas station-thick, glass partition, that there would be a base $120 fee to just see a doctor even before any treatment was performed. That he explained, while chewing his last bite of takeout spaghetti and wiping sauce from his pierced chin, was to be paid immediately in full. Just then, a technician preparing to take our cat to a backroom, asked hastily for our consent to put her on an IV drip and take a blood test. I asked her how much that would cost. She said about $100. I said no. I'd been there less than thirty seconds and already two people had tried snatching C-notes from my pocket like barefoot Hanoi street market children.
After completing the necessary clipboard forms, and sitting through a pair of redundant information gathering sessions with two separate assistants, we finally were called in to see the doc. It was midnight. Three hours had passed and we were exasperated. Maybe was stable now, resting in an oxygen tank for some reason. The vet said that there are a variety of explanations for why cats get constipated, (more than 30 she indicated), and that further tests were needed to pinpoint the problem. Now visibly perspiring in the frigid consultation room, I asked her what she recommended.
Cha-ching! It was off to the races. Cartoon dollar signs spilled from her mouth as she rattled off the advised procedures: full blood panel, a set of abdominal X-rays, subcutaneous fluid injections to prevent dehydration, anti-nausea shots and pain management medication. $100 boom. $75 bam. $250 booyakasha. Suddenly in seconds, the visit was hovering above $500 and this was just to diagnose the problem. When the cause of her backed up colon was discovered, treatment options ranged from hundred dollar enemas and over-the-counter laxatives, to full-on surgery which could soar into the thousands. We explained that finances were a concern, but that obviously we wanted to do what was necessary for our cat. The words coming out of her mouth said that she "completely understood and genuinely empathized with our situation." But they contradicted her smarmy, condescending nods which clearly stated "you're a bad person for not earning enough money to take care of your pet."
During the ride home I studied the glossy pet insurance pamphlet I was given, pathetically trying to comprehend the myriad of coverage tiers, deductible options and plan liability limits neatly laid out among pictures of adorable, smiling, golden retrievers and baskets full of micro kittens. Owning a pet is unquestionably a major responsibility, both financially and emotionally. There will no doubt be difficult situations challenging you along the way. Many of them will demand substantial patience, tough decision making, and often significant amounts of money.
Thankfully, this was not one of those times. A $2 can of organic pumpkin puree at Whole Foods was all Maybe needed to fill her litter box chock full o' feces. Not only was she spared the invasive procedures and unnecessary radiation and chemical exposure, but I was able to keep my 'caffeinated shaving cream' business idea fund intact. Chalk up another one for holistic medicine.