Saturday, November 12, 2011


I believe it was Al Gore who said his dog gets better health care than his mother-in-law. He was right.
In my further efforts to Jessupize my life, I figured it was time to find a veterinarian close to home rather than fight Beltway traffic for three hours just to get a fifteen-minute exam even though I love Esmeralda’s veterinarian.
Decades of experience has taught me that finding vet is a bit easier than finding a primary care physician. Ironically, in Florida, I had an easy time finding a doctor, while finding a good vet was quite problematic.
When I first adopted Serena at eight weeks in West Palm Beach, Florida, I went to a vet a co-worker recommended. They were a bit vaccination happy and had me bring her in every two weeks for two months for boosters and the like. She had developed a problem and couldn’t keep her food down, and they recommended a tonsillectomy. The price alone scared me, not to mention the prospect of surgery on such a young dog. And do you bring a dog ice cream after that? How do you keep her from barking?
In Florida, a state with very tough animal abuse laws, the Humane Society has retired veterinarians who volunteer their time to conduct exams and minor surgeries, along with spaying and neutering, for around $25 (at least that is what it was in 1995). Having spent a small fortune on vaccines and exams for her stomach, I was running out of money, so I went to a Humane Society vet.
This retired veterinarian in his eighties told me that her diagnosis was the most ridiculous thing he ever heard and in fifty years of practice never once performed a tonsillectomy on a dog. She was diagnosed with irritable bowel and a sensitive stomach and put on prescription dog food, which she remained on for the rest of her life with no more problems until a guest at a party fed her something that almost killed her – but that is another story for another time.
Note: It is not cute to feed someone’s dog without asking first. And, if the host has a sign on the buffet that says “Do Not Feed Serena Any Food,” pay attention to it.
Yes, I am obsessive and anal retentive. Get over it. As I have told you before, my mother rushed my potty training, and now you are paying the price for it.
I continued to go to the veterinarian at the Humane Society, being that my new puppy was eating all my finances. When I moved to DC, I went to work for a company filled with weirdoes (apparently that is spelled with an “oes”).
My boss was a British Royal Family-obsessed hoarder, who was bitter about being single at fifty and passive aggressive as well. Her desk was surrounded by piles of newspapers, and we worked in an open office! She told me she has all the old tires from her car on her balcony. When Princess Diana died, she started spouting off about conspiracy theories and how Diana really wasn’t in that car.
Her boss was a man they had been trying to fire for two years. His office looked as if a suicide bomber loaded himself up with memos and blew himself up in there. Every time the vice president would come by to fire him, he wasn’t there. He always said he was at a funeral, when in fact he was playing tennis. On many occasions, the VP would ask me where he was, and I said he was at a “tennis funeral.” One day he came in wearing his tennis outfit and stood at my desk talking to me and farted. He said excuse me and continued with what he was saying. Oh my God! No boss ever – or co-worker of mine for that matter – farted mid-sentence before … or since.
They ended up firing him by phone. I had the pleasure of cleaning up his office, and I found memos from the Nixon years. How long had they been trying to get rid of him?
They had the worst computer equipment, and mine would crash all the time. I decided to wear my bike helmet at my desk. When asked why, I said, “If my computer crashes, I don’t want to hurt my head.” A week later, they replaced my computer.
Meanwhile, we had one editor, who as my boss bitterly said, lived a charmed life. She married the perfect man, had perfect skin, gave birth to the perfect baby, lived in the perfect house, etc.
I needed to find a vet in DC, so I decided to take Serena to the Adams Morgan Animal Clinic because it was within walking distance of my apartment. When Ms. Charmed caught wind of this, she got up from her desk (something she never did), walked over to me and proceeded to tell me how they kidnapped her perfect cat and wouldn’t let her have him for two weeks until she paid a ransom.
Did I mention that even some insane people lead charmed lives?
I would make a comment about how they hired nothing but weirdoes, but they hired me, so I better not go there.
Fortunately, I have learned over the years that there are some people who seek drama and aren’t happy until they find it. These people also seem to find themselves in situations that are totally unbelievable. Did she seriously think I would believe they had kidnapped her cat for ransom?
These are also the same people who leave negative comments online on Yelp and Epinion and other sites, while 90 percent of the comments are positive. You know what I mean. “I got a massage from Peter, and he pulled a gun on me during the session because I didn’t like the music he was playing. Don’t go to him!” Too bad Peter didn’t shoot him.
My friend Danny took his dog to Adams Morgan Animal Clinic (a big dog that is still alive at sixteen) and couldn’t say enough good things about them, even though he made fun of the one veterinarian who looked like Herman Munster.
They remained her clinic from 1997 until she died in 2009. They always had an opening for an appointment, and they took good care of her. They were especially good when I had to make the decision to put her down.
I wish my experiences with health care in this area were as good as Serena’s.
In Florida, as I mentioned, I had a very good doctor. When I had a minor bicycle accident and a few days later started emitting strawberry cream (use your imagination), my doctor immediately diagnosed it as a broken blood vessel caused by the bicycle seat. He said he saw it many times with men in the Czechoslovakian cavalry where he was a military physician. He always had open appointments, never a waiting room filled with dozens of people, and didn’t guess at a diagnosis.
When I first moved here, it was a different story entirely.
There was the doctor who had to look everything up in a book – I mean everything. Now, she probably uses Wikipedia to determine what to prescribe.
There was the doctor with ADD who would have you strip down and wait for him then forget you were there. A nurse there once told me he had a patient on all fours waiting for a prostate exam, who stayed that way for an hour. I am all for a prostate exam, but who has that kind of time?
Then there was Doctor Colombo. He really wasn’t Colombo, but Peter Falk, alav hashalom, would have been tapped to play him in a movie. Doctor Colombo would get his prescriptions mixed up. I was on the pill for two months before I realized it. I was so emotional all the time, and my periods had stopped.
There was Doctor Himmler, as I called her. She would yell at me and bark orders. Drop you pants! Up on the table! Quit whining! I always pictured her coming in wearing strap boots and a harness, carrying a whip. Would you believe I went to her for three years? Yes, you would. Moving on …
Finally, there was Doctor Three-Hour. No matter what your ailment or reason for going to him, your visit lasted exactly three hours, and they put you through complete blood work, urinalysis and whatever special they were running that day. I had an echocardiogram when I complained of an earache. I had a pelvic exam when I sprained my hand.
I think they just loved billing the insurance company. The doctor never examined you, himself. He would sit across from you at his desk and write prescriptions based on what you told him you needed. As a result, I have a fifteen-year supply of Viagra. Of course, with the state of my “social life” that could be fifteen pills.
I have finally found a good primary who unfortunately is in Rockville. But this isn’t about me.
When I adopted Esmeralda, I took her to Adams Morgan Animal Clinic even though I was living in Rockville, but the drive was killing me, so I reluctantly switched to a veterinarian in Rockville, recommended by a co-worker, Nebel Street Animal Clinic. They are fantastic. I actually called Adams Morgan Animal Clinic to apologize for switching. They understood completely.
I was reluctant to switch again, but after much research, we have once again found a good veterinarian, Cat and Dog Hospital of Columbia. I found them through a web search. They had phenomenal reviews, with one exception. You guessed it – some drama queen, claiming they killed her cat. Upon further reading, it was revealed that the cat was twenty-two years old. My guess is the cat was past its expiration date, begged for mercy and eventually committed suicide.
My advice: Read all the reviews. If the majority are positive, take the negative ones with a grain of salt. There is always one drama queen.
Obeagle Care is a success. Please don’t repeal it.
I know I mentioned some animal clinics by name – but only the great ones!
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