Insults Are Free!

, , , , , , | Healthy | May 8, 2019

I am a relatively new veterinarian. Often, we will get a case come in as ADR — Ain’t Doing Right — which is to say they are acting a bit off, but not always obvious what is wrong. I have an ADR older golden retriever come in with Mom and Son. They give the history: the dog has been losing weight, not eating well, lethargic, and having dark stools for a few weeks. This dog also has a history of ear problems. The last time we saw the dog was over two years ago. They have limited funds, so I try to work on a step-by-step diagnostic to try to get the most information before determining if more diagnostics are needed.

Starting with the physical exam: the dog is severely muscle wasted, lethargic — as they said — and dehydrated, and he has a new heart murmur. After discussing with Mom, we decide to start with bloodwork. It comes up with some very mild liver changes, but nothing too noteworthy. We are at the upper point of their budget, so I discuss my next recommendation of chest x-rays and what we would do depending on what we found, quoting them the costs for everything before anything is performed. They agree to the x-rays, and unfortunately, the x-rays show possible heart enlargement, but again nothing too exciting. So, they agree to try a heart medication, subcutaneous fluids, and an anti-emetic and see how the dog responds. It’s worth noting there were additional tests I would have liked to do, but I didn’t want to stretch their budget too much further.

A few days later, the dog isn’t improving on the heart meds, so I recommend an abdominal ultrasound — at a different vet — to better evaluate the gastrointestinal tract and surrounding organs. Unfortunately, the ultrasound looks like liver cancer, which I am very surprised by given how mild the blood work was.

I receive a request to contact the Father when I return to work the day after the ultrasound. I give him a call back, assuming he wants to discuss further treatment and prognosis. Boy, was I wrong.

Turns out he just wants to spend ten minutes telling me I am a crook, only in it for the money, and don’t care about animals. He continues to tell me that I took advantage of his wife and his upset son, and had them spend more money than they were willing. He rails that the dog was coming in for an ear infection, and I had them do a bunch of unnecessary tests. Any time I try to interject, either to explain my findings and recommendations as he wasn’t there, or to confirm what he thinks happened at the appointment, he simply talks over me, stating he doesn’t care what justifications I have and that “[he] is onto [my] game.” It continues until I am crying against the wall and finally have permission from the practice owner to hang up on him.

The fun part: he calls right back to have my receptionist tell me I am an a**hole. I still have to talk to his (much nicer) wife to answer her questions, and I almost can’t bring myself to do it. As of now, I refuse to discuss anything further with the Father.

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