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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Unsurprisingly, Lisa's been sick to her stomach since she found out she was pregnant. And not just with nerves. She's also been lethargic to the point of coma, and has even gone off crisps. But as it happens, she's not the only member of the family who's been feeling poorly just lately. Amelie's had a cough this week, which kept her awake most of Wednesday night, and meant that two minutes after getting home from nursery on Thursday, she looked like this...

That's nothing, however, compared to how Chloe's been feeling this week. Brighton's most famous cat stopped eating on Monday, started hiding away on Tuesday, and when she still couldn't be tempted by her favourite food on Wednesday, we phoned the vet and booked her in for Thursday afternoon. So having checked on the health of our baby at the hospital, I headed straight home, picked up Chloe, and drove her to the vet.

Having checked her over, the nice lady vet asked me to leave her there so that they could do some blood tests, and when I returned after work, she told me that Chloe has kidney failure and an infection. Despite being the cat equivalent of Methuselah, the vet felt that Chloe's like a feline Joan Collins and well preserved for her age, so although she's in her twilight years, treatment was probably worth it. The vet wanted her to stay in for twenty-four hours and be treated intravenously.

Chloe's not insured, and with a new baby on the way, cost is a major issue for us at the moment, so I told the vet that before agreeing to go ahead, I needed to know roughly what the cost would be. She said "about a hundred pounds". So I gulped, and agreed. Particularly as the vet was supremely confident that the treatment would be effective, return Chloe to her normal self in a day or two, and give her perhaps another year or so of life.

I was expecting to pick her up after work yesterday, but one of the veterinary nurses phoned me at lunchtime on Friday and said that although Chloe was responding well to treatment, they thought it would do her good to stay another night and have a blood test this morning. As the nurse put it, "You've already paid for the intravenous drip, so we might as well keep her on it, just to make sure she's completely fine". I casually agreed, and called my next patient.

I phoned the practice again this morning and was told that Chloe was still having tests, but I was contacted an hour later by a different vet, with a very different attitude. Having been cheerfully told by everyone up until that point that things were great, this vet sounded ominously pessimistic. Chloe hadn't responded to the intravenous drugs anywhere near as well as I'd been led to believe, and her blood tests still weren't within normal levels. But he said they'd send her home with some tablets and see how she goes. He then said that she may go downhill in the next few days, and reach the end of the road.

I got to the vet's fifteen minutes later, introduced myself to the receptionist, and was handed a bill for £398.67. I spent the next forty-five minutes 'discussing' it with a nurse. Apparently there had been a "miscommunication". The original vet (who conveniently wasn't there) should never have told me it would be a hundred pounds. The first blood tests alone were over ninety. The quick one this morning was seventy-two. Apparently by the time I'd agreed to let Chloe stay in on Thursday night, I'd already accrued a bill of almost £200. And that was despite me telling the vet that we don't have a lot of money and can't afford much more than a hundred. If I'd known it would be four hundred, I'd have told them on Thursday not to go ahead.

And I told them that this morning. About five times. But apparently "there's nothing we can do". The nurse apologised on behalf of the vet for giving me misleading information, and then said "I don't mean to be rude, but I think we're all so used to the NHS that you forget how much treatment like this costs". Quite honestly, I could have punched her. I'm well aware how much veterinary treatment costs, which is why I asked them for a price up front. They just chose to ignore it.

The nurse did agree to check the vet's notes to see if she'd mentioned the cost of £100, but needless to say, she hadn't. So it was my word against theirs. And I lost. To the tune of £400. Next month's credit card bill's going to be interesting.

I wouldn't mind so much if my £400 had delivered me a healthy cat, but having been told on Thursday that I could have Chloe back to full health within 24 hours for £100, I'm now four hundred down, and sitting here with a sad, weak cat who will barely eat, and may need to be put down within a few days. Frankly they're lucky I'm not currently rampaging across Brighton like Michael Douglas in 'Falling Down'.

But still, anger is a great incentive to productivity. I've written this blog post in about twenty minutes flat. If I could do this every day, NaNoWriMo would be a breeze.


Dave East said...

So sorry Phil.  I still cry when I remember the death of my dog.  And not because of the cost.

Phil's Mum said...

Congratulations on a controlled blog post.  I would be either screaming or crying.  In fact, I am!

Jp Cheshire said...

Phil / Lisa & Amelie
Firstly, congratulations!

!t sems that you are all going through lifes 'bitter sweet' at the moment. It never makes any sense today, however in the fullness of time I am sure everything will even its self out.