Ever had a day where you wanted to move to a secluded beach and forget about veterinary medicine? That’s when it’s most important to celebrate your successes.
On the next pages, you’ll find a few client letters from my practice, Veterinary Specialty Care. Dig up your own and remember why what you do matters. Click next to read more.
Photos courtesy of Donna Recupido
Letter 1: Moments of bliss
We have such long story full of blessings and disappointments it’s difficult to know where to begin. On Sunday, May 28, 2012, we were very grateful for our local veterinarian. He and his two compassionate technicians performed an emergency splenectomy followed by a blood transfusion on our beautiful 9-year-old Australian shepherd, Bliss.
He saved her life that evening and we thought we were home free until he called us a week later with the pathology results: hemangiosarcoma. We had never heard of it and were heartbroken. Our plan was just to enjoy her, but he suggested we come to VSC for a consult. We met Dr. Michelle Wall, who gave us hope—not necessarily for a cure but at least for some time. Bliss also had the MDR1 gene mutation, which made her very sensitive to vaccines and several medications but we decided to proceed.
She did great the first few months but by the fourth treatment her body was having a difficult time recovering. In October 2012, a secondary malignant tumor was found on her thyroid, and Dr. Ludwig performed surgery to remove it. She was so reassuring that she could remove it all with no further treatment needed. Bliss recovered fully and we continued. In December 2012 we were convinced it was something with the cancer and drove down to VSC Emergency at 2 a.m. It turned out to be a severe urinary tract infection. Even after hours, we received wonderful compassionate care. In May 2013, again we just knew it was the cancer and rushed back to VSC. Dr. Brofman discovered an Iliopsoas strain, which we took as good news. But looking back it may have been all related.
In July 2013, when we were almost complete with the chemotherapy protocol and had hope that maybe just maybe Bliss would be in the 5 percent that beat it, another mass was found on her liver and it was bleeding. We had to make a difficult choice and followed the advice of Dr. Taylor and Dr. Bianucci to go with surgery. Bliss sailed through surgery but ended up staying at VSC six days. Dr. Bianucci gave us his cell phone number and called us every day to reassure us. After three days, we visited every day and she again recovered to her happy self. After about five great weeks, Bliss was full of infection with aspirated pneumonia, pancreatitis and either abscess from the last surgery or cancer reoccurrence on her liver. We were crushed. She was hospitalized two days and responded well but a few weeks later she suffered more infection, and it seemed one thing after the other.
With the support of Dr. Wall during her last weekend we brought Bliss in on Monday, Oct. 14, and decided it was best for her to let her go. Dr. Wall and her technician were so wonderful. They made the worst possible situation as bearable as possible. We were all four crying, and three weeks later I’m still crying. I should remember names because after more than 30 visits to VSC and 3 surgeries, there are so many wonderful and caring compassionate people who helped us through it all. Jess, became a friend always greeting us with a smile and Jeff made us feel like we were always in the best of hands. But really everyone we encountered in the last 17 months were fantastic. We are forever grateful and hope we won’t need to come back for professional reasons but know if we do we will be greeted as old friends.
After all that Bliss went through she never lost her love of life. She had such a strong will to live and an amazing love for family ... so devoted. A forever puppy. I could not have named a dog more appropriately. She truly was Blissful and her paw prints will be forever in our hearts.
Ginny (and Jim) Ward
Letter 2: Our boy Friday
I have a 13-year-old dachshund named Friday. Dr. Lori Ludwig saved Friday's life not once, but twice. In 2009, my precious Friday had to have back surgery. I was terrified and afraid I was going to lose my best friend. Veterinary Specialty Care was amazing. As I waited in the lobby while his surgery was being performed, the wonderful employees kept me informed and made me feel more comfortable with procedure. After the surgery, he started to have a seizure. Dr. Ludwig gave him a Valium to calm him down. I was asked to come back to see him to get him to calm down until the medicine kicked in. It broke my heart to see him on IVs and all stapled up, but I was in tears of joy that he was going to be alright. I went back every other hour throughout the night to check on him. Again, the employees were amazing. The first two weeks back at home were rough, but we did together.
In November 2012, Friday got sick and had a blockage. I chose Dr. Ludwig to perform the operation on Friday again since she made miracles happen the first time. Dr. Ludwig removed an 8-inch tumor out of his small intestines along with a few bladder stones. Again, I sat in the lobby waiting during surgery, which I might say felt like a lifetime. Dr. Ludwig came out after the surgery and updated me thoroughly with everything she did during the exploratory surgery. Although I wasn't suppose to see Friday right after surgery, Dr. Ludwig, again, let me go check on him. Good news is his tumor was not cancer. The tumor was sent off to the pathology, but we still have no clue what exactly it was.
Friday just celebrated his 13th birthday on July 25. He is slowing down and now has two small masses in his liver. He is not in pain and thinks he is still Wonder Dog. It's all about the quality of life, and I am beyond blessed to have him for this long. I feel like I am already on borrowed time, but we make the best out of it each day that we still have together. Words cannot explain how grateful I am for Veterinary Specialty Care.
We send Halloween and Christmas cards every year. Here are Friday's Halloween pictures for this year.
Suzanne R. Staton