I have an older shih tzu named Elphie. She's between 7-9 years old. I just adopted her in February of this year, and she's been rehomed a few times before she came to me so her actual age has been lost. (OT: I can't even fathom why anyone would want to give this fluff up, she is an amazing dog) I knew she was an older lady when I got her, so I was prepared for stuff to start "breaking" sooner rather than later. We've been to the vet several times since I've had her. She had her teeth cleaned in March (this is relevant) and at the time they were pretty bad but now they're gorgeous and I do brush them!
So yesterday morning I'm working, and a coworker brings Elphie to me and asks if I've felt this bump on her neck. I thought he was referring to one of her several moles but when I felt it, there was a HUGE lump under the skin, right where the lymph nodes in her neck are. I spent a couple of years working as a vet tech, and I know what this could mean. I immediately run out the door and take Elphie to my vet. It's also important to note that I've used this same vet literally my whole life. We took our family pets to him, and the only time I ever used anyone else as an adult was when I worked for a different vet. I'm a loyal type of customer but I can't say no to free or at-cost vet care!
I show up to the clinic at about 9 a.m. The doctor doesn't come in until 9:30ish, but I wanted to wait for him because I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate at work until I had SOME clue as to what might be wrong. He comes in, sees me promptly and gives me my options. Work has been slow and all my bills are due at the first of the month so my bank account was a little sad and I had to make a choice. I do have savings but I don't like to touch that unless it is 100% an unavoidable life and death emergency. My options were to: A) Run a basic blood panel to check for infection or otherwise. or B) Start a round of antibiotics to treat for infection and get bloodwork done in a week if I didn't notice any improvement. Obviously I chose B, because if I did the bloodwork and we confirmed infection then I wouldn't have been able to get the antibiotics anyway. During the conversation it's been said that yes, I'm very very concerned and upset about the possibilities but that money IS an issue right now. And for anyone completely unfamiliar with these situations, considering the symptoms and her age, cancer is a very real and likely possibility. I'm sure it goes without saying I was flipping out. I'm one of 'those people' and my pets are my kids. So the plan was to bring her back in a week for bloodwork if the antibiotics didn't affect it.
We get that all squared off and as I leave the clinic I call my mom and tell her what's going on. She offers to pay for the bloodwork so that I can have peace of mind. I go back into the clinic and let them know that mom will send a check. They pull blood, the doctor tells me that he will call me with the results either that afternoon or this morning.
The day goes on and I don't hear anything. I'm mildly annoyed at that, because I know for a fact that it takes about 20 minutes to actually run the bloodwork. Now to be clear, I didn't expect an answer in 20 minutes. I did expect an answer by the end of the day. Still, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and I just told myself that it was just me worrying.
I don't expect to hear from him before 10 this morning, because I know he doesn't come in until 9:30 and there are probably things do do. By 11:30 I'm annoyed again so I go ahead and call. I told the receptionist that I was supposed to hear back either yesterday or this morning but that I hadn't heard anything yet, and asked if he had gotten a chance to look at the results yet. She said that he was "about to start making his calls soon" and that she'd let him know that I had called.
An hour later I was absolutely livid. I called my mom- who is a champ at dealing with these situations- to ask the best way to handle the situation. She suggested that if I hadn't heard anything by 2:30 to call again. Seems easy enough, but honestly if I have to call again at 2:30 I'm pretty much going to be so pissed off that I'm never going back to that clinic again. (for additional reasons I will explain below) Well as you've probably guessed, I didn't get a call by 2:30. I didn't even bother calling them. I called a friend of mine who still works for the vet I used to work for and asked her if I could bring her a copy of the bloodwork and have her or Doc look at it. (I know that legally she can't diagnose but she's worked there for ten years and is going through vet school, so she could honestly tell me wtf was going on) She told me to just text her a picture of the paper and she'd let me know asap. I left work at 3:30 and headed to my vet's office to get the printout. As irate as I was, yelling at anyone isn't going to help or change anything so my plan is to just matter-of-factly ask for the paperwork, and since technically the procedure wasn't paid for at that point I decided to go ahead and pay for the tests myself as it was payday anyway.
When I arrived at the clinic this afternoon I told the girl at the counter that I wanted to go ahead and pay the balance for Elphie's bloodwork and asked if I could get a copy of the results. At one point, my vet came out of one of the exam rooms and saw me. He looked surprised to see me but he said hi and I returned the greeting. After I paid the balance, the tech came back to the lobby and told me that the doctor was on the phone. (Are you fucking kidding me with this right now?!) I had to fight to tell them that I didn't really give a damn, that I just wanted the results and I'd find someone else to read them for me. A few minutes later, the tech came back again with the results and explained to me that there was nothing alarming about the results, just a local infection probably in her mouth (but her teeth were just cleaned? And I do brush her teeth fairly regularly). I was so overwhelmed with relief at that point I was no longer outright pissed, but I was upset that after ALL THAT he couldn't come up there and tell me the results himself?
Over the course of all of this I kept trying to look at it from different angles.
1) He could have been super busy. I get that. I know how hard veterinarians work. Considering the possibilities, though, I really feel like time should have been made to let me know everything was okay. He KNEW I was scared and upset, and it wouldn't have taken much time at all to just give me a phone call (or have one of his employees do it) and tell me that I didn't have to worry. Instead I was literally up ALL NIGHT crying and stressing, and had to work all day *just barely* able to keep my composure.
2) I thought maybe the machines are different now. When I worked at a clinic it was back in 2008 and even then our machine was older. But when I talked to my friend she assured me that in no way should it take more than 20 minutes to run that test. Again, I don't expect them to drop everything and only deal with my problems. I know I'm not the only person with a sick dog. But a full business day should have been more than enough time.
3) Maybe they thought that since I was originally not going to get the bloodwork done that I wasn't concerned about the results. But I was, I stated that I was. I even came back a second time because I WAS concerned.
Lastly, this is not the only instance where I've been forgotten about. Actually EVERY time I am told that they will call, I end up having to chase them down later. I work during regular business hours so usually if someone needs shots or if they've got the crud I drop them off in the morning and they always tell me they'll call when the furkid is ready. What always ends up happening is I wait and wait and wait until I finally call ~20 minutes before they're closing to ask if I can come get my pet. It's annoying, but I've never been angry about it before because it's never been this important. If this was the only time I've ever had this experience I wouldn't be so ready to find a new vet. But it happens ALL the time, and if I can't rely on him to be punctual when it is really fucking important then I feel like I need to find someone who can.
tl;dr: I spent the last 36 hours thinking that my dog has cancer because my vet couldn't be bothered to call me with the results of her bloodwork.