I can really empathise with Annabel’s story about her six hour hospital visit with her elderly mother. Got a little story or two of my own to tell you…
THE OAP STORY
My stepfather collapsed in a shop the other day. Mother said he was white as a sheet and sweating profusely. The store staff were amazing and helped get him into my mother’s car, whereupon she drove straight to the doctor. Why not call an ambulance? I’m not sure why except to say that she was near the surgery and they have a particularly kind and empathetic GP who they both think the world of.
So mother rushed (well as fast as an 84 year old with a bad back can rush) into the surgery and, with tears streaming down her cheeks, said to the receptionist “My husband has collapsed and is in the car. I think he may be dying. Please get a doctor”. The young receptionist looked up calmly and said “The earliest appointment I can offer you is tomorrow afternoon.” I promise you, this is absolutely true. Understandably, my mother then started getting very agitated and so the receptionist put a call out on the tannoy and, thankfully, Mum’s favourite doctor came rushing out and went to check on my stepfather.
An ambulance was called and mother was told not to go to hospital as his life was not in danger and he might be there for hours. Once inside the ambulance, stepfather promptly vomited everywhere, covering not only his own clothes but those of the two ambulance drivers. Mother goes home to wait, worrying herself sick. After four hours, the doorbell rings. Standing there dejectedly, was my 84 year old stepfather wearing nothing but a flimsy hospital gown (flapping open at the back) and holding two carrier bags (full of aforementioned vomit covered clothes). Apparently the hospital staff thought it was acceptable (and more cost effective) to send him home in a taxi. Since when did it become OK to treat a sick octogenarian like that?
THE DOG STORY
My little Jack Russell hasn’t been well lately. He has had trouble breathing through his cute little nose and has been making all kinds of wheezing and snorting noises. Like all dogs, he sleeps with his mouth closed and this has meant that every time he drops off, he wakes almost immediately, gasping for air. Anyhow, our vet suggested I took my sleep-deprived dog to a vet in Hampshire because they were the nearest surgery which had the specialist equipment needed to look up Jack’s nose. It is a 133 mile round journey from where I live. Even with the with car windows open wide to combat the 29.5 degrees temperature, it wasn’t the ideal environment for my pre/post-operative doggie (or post-youthful me either come to that!).
Shan’t bore you with the details but the vet recommended various procedures. When I asked the vet if they were all absolutely necessary she replied “It’s up to you which ones he can have”. Me? Sorry, but who is the medically qualified person here? Certainly not yours truly. So, on the strong possibility that I am fond of my pet, she can afford to say things like that, knowing I will have to trust her. The estimate was £2500. To look up his nose. My pet insurance limit is – strangely enough – £2500. Amazing coincidence that. As one of the possible outcomes was that my little dog had aggressive cancerous tumours in his nasal passages and would have to be put down, I was extremely upset as I said goodbye to him when the vet took him off. So with very red eyes, I went to leave only to be called over by the receptionist who said I needed to pay £500 deposit.
Does it really all come down to money? How much you can afford = how well looked after your pet will be? Makes you wonder who is worse – the vets who ramp up your bill with what look like unnecessary extras knowing that the insurance companies will cough up, or the insurance companies for not keeping a closer eye on what’s being claimed because it’s simpler to hoik up the pet owners’ premiums.
Oh, and a final touch to my dog story. He’s slightly better due to medication, hasn’t got a tumour (whew) but does have very narrow air holes at the top of his nose which are probably congenital. “I can stretch the two holes so he can breathe more easily” the vet explained when I picked Jack up. I was too amazed to ask her why she hadn’t done it anyway while he was under the general anaesthetic. It would have been the practical and compassionate thing to do. Mind you, this way she can charge me another few thousand.