Thoughts on Action
"Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live." ~ Nicolas de Chamfort

Sucker at the Vet = Completely Broke at the Pediatrician Some Day?

A few weeks ago, our cat Jacques developed what we’ve affectionately been calling his pimp limp. Assuming he’d just had a too-hard landing from one of his many leaps off the kitchen island, we waited a while before thoughts of early onset arthritis and joint fluid infections guilted me into a trip to the vet this past Saturday. After a ninety-six point inspection on his front quarters, no obvious injuries or abnormalities were found and it was all chalked up to the possibility of a pulled muscle. No doubt earned in his many athletic endeavors, including…

Lounging on pizza boxes:

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Guarding the goldfish…

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Eating Happy Meals:

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Et cetera. At some point in the exam, our vet located a lump on his back. Something she assured me was most likely a fatty deposit, and felt like a fatty deposit, but there was a teeny tiny outside chance it could be a tumor. She recommended just waiting and keeping an eye on it, but said I also had the option of having some liquid drawn from it to be sent to the lab. Working off my general suspicion that vets, doctors and dentists are fear-mongers who rack up insurance bills by talking you into testing or fixing problems you don’t have, I was surprised by her wait-and-see recommendation, and left the office feeling pretty confident it was nothing to worry about.

Until we hit the first traffic light and Drew said, “I’m surprised you didn’t want him tested. I would have thought this was the type of thing that would have driven you insane wondering about.”

One U-Turn later, poor Jacques (who was certain he’d narrowly escaped) was having a needle plunged in his back. 24 hours later, I’m $120 lighter for a lab test that came back negative, but I’m a thousand times more sane.

I’m also feeling like a bit of an idiot, and realizing that I’m completely irrational when it comes to being paranoid about the cats’ health. And if I’m like this with a couple of flea bags, what am I going to be like if we have kids? Scuttling them off to the pediatrician for every cough that sounds suspiciously rattly? Signing off on orthodontia treatments that resemble medieval torture devices? Ordering the $4,000 custom helmet Adam Carolla always rails about being talked into for his kid’s “mis-shapen” head?

I had, up until this point, not factored health issues into the whole “we’d be dead broke if we had kids” thing. There was no need to. The cost of diapers, daycare and socks the size of marshmallows was more than enough to send me into a tailspin. But while diapers, daycare and socks are a must, some of these health-related items are Maybes at best.

And we all know how well I do with processing the Maybes. Would I be dooming myself to a never-ending string of thoughts that I was being too cheap or lazy or defensive about something that could potentially screw up something REAL for my kid?

23 Responses to Sucker at the Vet = Completely Broke at the Pediatrician Some Day?

  • Megan says:

    I am in the same boat as you! My dog is my life, and my husband and I spend so much money on her it’s crazy. For example, she stepped on a bee in the yard and refused to put her paw down. A frantic trip to the vet later, Taffy sees the vet (who she adores) and immediately drops the injured paw and starts dancing around. Sigh.
    This is the same dog who is allergic to all outdoor grass, trees, pollens, molds, and dust mites, not to mention rice, yeast, carrots, beets, and soybeans. We are giving her allergy injections-that’s right-two per week, eventually weaning down to two per month for the REST OF HER LIFE. She’s three. Omg.
    So yeah, I get the money thing ;) That is most likely why when my husband and I get on the subject of kids, we look at Taffy, look at each other, and go “ehhh…..”

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Wow, those allergies sound brutal! I’ve had it pretty easy with the cats thus far, but maybe that’s why this recent trip hit me so hard.

  • Jennifer says:

    You do what you do for the ones you love in your care, animals or people. This is not a bad thing. However having an accident prone dog I have thought many times “how could we afford a kid?” We have pet insurance which is worth every penny. Might want to look into that.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yup, and having an accident-prone kid could be quite a financial swing. You just never know what you’re going to get! Pet insurance is a good recommendation – I never thought it was worth it when they were younger, but it might be now.

  • April says:

    Hi, Maybe Lady Liz!

    I’ve been devouring your blog since discovering it this past Friday. I feel we share soooo many similar thought processes (and angst) on the maybe baby question, and I truly appreciate you (as well as your readers) sharing yours so candidly and humorously through this blog (which, btw, I found through a comment you made on a childfree blog that I’ve since pretty much abandoned; this is so much more refreshing and spot-on with my wish-wash feelings). Anyway, I thought I’d come out from the shadows to comment (and you may see me begin to post on older entries or submit an essay as I work through my own thoughts/feelings on this issue; if they’re of any help to you, all the better!).

    I, too, am a furbaby’s mama. I’ve been a lifelong cat lover, having grown up with many; and my tortie now was my first kitty since moving away from home 8 years prior. (Having a pet would have been a severe limiter in the tight rental market where I’d chosen to live during that time; the sacrifice was smart and worth it, but oh, how I got the “twinge” and went gaga whenever near someone else’s kitty!) Anyway, shortly after hubby and I relocated from the midPac to SoCal and first adopted our little Ichiban, my mom happened to be visiting from the East Coast during the third (final) round of kitties’ standard vaccinations.

    Ichiban had not taken too well to the first two rounds of vaccinations–lethargy, very sore–but I thought it was normal from what I recalled of prior kitties being a little down-and-out after meds. Well, we didn’t describe her symptoms to the vet until just prior to Round 3. Turns out, the extent of her reactions had been severe and she could have had respiratory failure and died! I was mortified that I’d waited so long to say anything! How could I have been so heartless, so cruel? I could have been a furbaby killer! Since she’d actually SURVIVED the first two rounds (lucky thing!), the vet said she’d likely pull through the third, plus there was a lot of benefit to be had now that she was so close to being fully vaccinated… but just as a help, she said to have some baby Benadryl on hand and give her some of that if (rather, when) she started to react that way again.

    Let me tell you something… As much as you know it has to be done and you do it with love, liquid baby Benadryl and oral syringes and cat claws don’t mix too well. And it is heartbreaking (but wildly hilarious, in retrospect, when they wind up fine) when said owner of claws begins tearing through the house and literally foaming at the mouth, drooling, etc., all over the floors, walls, ceilings that she’s climbing, etc. (In fact, a normal reaction; why did the vet not tell me that to begin with!?!) But OMG, I was a freaking wreck!!! All evening long and worrying into the night.

    All of which leads me to tell you my mom’s conclusion, as much on my angst as my manifested reactions: “Oh, my! If you’re like this with your cat, you will NOT be able to handle having a baby!” (Said in hilarity, but maybe a grain of truth; my mom is super-supportive of me in whatever decision I make and is fence-sitting with respect to giving me any help on this, which is frustrating in its own way, LOL! But she is right: It’s MY life, my choice to make.)

    Other than spaying, Ichiban hasn’t been back to the doctor for two years since, though just admitting that, I’m feeling guilt in publicly admitting she’s overdue for a routine checkup! But I generally subscribe to your own suspicions that there’s a racket going on with the fear-mongering and the tests; my philosophy with cats (will it apply to potential future kids, I’m not sure?) is that they kind of let you know through demonstration when something’s wrong. However, I do need to go check her back now for any lumps and clip her claws, not necessarily in that order. Please excuse me…

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Oh boy, your mom would probably say the same about me! And we have even more in common than you thought – my other cat is a tortie! So, so sassy. I’m glad you found the blog – welcome!

      • jennyjen says:

        I just wanted to April’s first bit echos my feeling exactly about your blog. (except the kitty bit…I went with a high maintenance dog instead. :)

        I am in a bit of a state about this myself…except from a slightly different angle…I am distinctly “meh” about the baby bit…my husband is getting a little broody around the edges.

        And I adore him, and the knowledge that I might be denying him, and his family future happiness and another to add the their brood…it’s driving me to angst.

        But try as I might to wrap my head, (and ultimately heart) around just going for it…I just can’t seem to get there.

        I just can’t shake off that grudging “uh…that doesn’t look fun at ALL.” feeling.

        And I know life isn’t just about fun…or the heady pursuit of pleasure in vast quantities of pink wine in pub gardens…but does it really make me that much of a sh*t for mourning the thought that those days would be over? We live a pretty humble life in London…it’s insanely expensive and I just started my own business that I love and am utterly into…so I get where you are at obsessing (like I do) about finances and bills and the sheer details involved…so many that are out of our control…like the medical issues your post is about.

        I am very fortunate to have the NHS here, so that GIANT of a worry…the fear of insane hospital costs for just about anything doesn’t hang over my head like it does in America.

        For what it’s worth though…it’s not making my decision any easier.

        I too CAN see moments of utter joy in it too…they just seem hard to get to and sometimes thin on the ground. My friends are all having babies and I delight in them, I truly love it…they are amazing, and some are getting old enough to be friends in their own right, young people I really love to be around. So I get it. But I am also watching almost wholesale destruction in so many cool relationships…and that scares me.

        Sigh.

        I guess I just wanted to say, your blog is refreshing…as I first was reading childfree sites, interested in why and how people had come to that final decision, and how it affected them…but I am not quite there…I still want to nourish the hope that I might just come round to the idea…and decide to just throw caution to the wind. Embrace it even.

        This is a nice place to read thoughts that are similar to my own. :)

        • Maybe Lady
          Maybe Lady says:

          I’m glad you can relate, Jenny! I do wonder how much us living in uber-expensive cities like Los Angeles and London factors into all this, because I think that makes the lifestyle change seem even more ridiculously drastic. Well, another topic for another day!

  • Serious_about_Smoothies says:

    I was telling one of my relatives about the $400 we spent in our dog’s puppy teeth removal (I guess we did not buy her enough chew toys at the appropriate time of her development). I complained about how expensive pets are, but then, that it was waaaaay cheaper than what we would spend in a baby… so pets, better than babies, right? She immediately corrected me, arguing that babies would be in my family insurance, and they would not cost as much.

    That got me thinking about our tax returns… why can’t we claim our pets are our dependents?? I’m not as serious (yet) to sign petitions like these (http://www.change.org/petitions/we-want-to-declare-our-pets-as-our-legal-dependents), or to purchase pet insurance, but between day care, flights, grooming, boarding and toys… the dog is quite an investment. She still cheaper than therapy though. And, she does not have to go to college. We are puppy obedience school drop outs :(

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      It’s true – having kids and having pets are both expensive choices, why is only one of them a tax break?

  • Kate says:

    You could be even WORSE about kids than you are your cats.

    My BFF is crazy about her cats. Loves them to death, makes sure they get the best vet care, etc. But still, she could joke around, like when she’d take a cat to the vet for a routine vaccine – obviously the cat is acting like it’s the end of the world – my BFF would joke to the cat “oh yes, I know, I’m such an evil mommy for making you get a vaccine – I just like torturing poor little kittens for fun”. That sort of thing, right? Because we ALL know that 10 minutes after getting home, the cat will forget all about it and move on with its day.

    But when she had a baby? She freaking CRIED while he got his vaccines. Because he was crying. No duh he was crying – that’s the only form of communication skills he has right now. Just like the cat – give him 10 minutes, and he’ll forget all about the shot. But no. She was a wreck over it. And posted about it on Facebook to garner sympathy.

    It was a simple flipping vaccine! Imagine what she’ll be like when her kid gets bigger and actually hurts himself!

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yup – it’s like when kids fall down or smack their heads and they cry like the end of the world is coming…until they see something shiny 30 seconds later and forget what happened. Having the parent cry too probably just makes the whole experience worse.

  • Marie says:

    Ok I was going to run with the humor and talk about my dumb, pathetic dog and how much he has cost me relative to his mhousehold contribution, but the whole derision for a mom crying when her kid gets vaccinated thing was a major buzz kill. I’ve vaxed my kids, it’s awful. I’ve held one of them screaming violently for over an hour as she came out of anesthesia from surgery and in her disoriented state was trying to rip the IV port off her hand, and I’ve watched as my wobbly just-having-learned to walk kiddos have landed forehead to concrete, an awful sound that no one should ever hear. With one, sick with a cold as a newborn, I stayed up most of the night, watching to make sure he kept breathing, wondering if I should go to the ER until I was too exhausted to keep my eyes open. Unless the way I handle these things affects someone else directly, does it matter? (I’m not a cryer myself, but it touches a nerve when parents are mocked without being able to defend themselves.)

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      That’s a good point, but I wonder if it DOES affect someone else directly – for example, the kid. Does it scare them more when their parent is crying as well? I would tend to think so, but well, it’s well documented that I know nothing about kids.

      • Kate says:

        Marie, I’m sorry if I offended you. Obviously having a child in surgery is a big deal and parents should be emotional about it (not in front of the child though). But I was talking about a regular old vaccination, and based on all my other friends with kids, it’s easy and over with quickly.

        I totally agree with Maybe Lady, that seeing a parent freaking out makes the baby/child even more scared. Kids (and pets) trust us to protect them, and need us to be calm and collected, to reassure them that everything will be okay. To say “I know it hurts, but it’ll be over soon”. (what’s that phrase, this hurts me more than it will hurt you?). Think about how your dog would act if you broke down sobbing when you took him/her to get a rabies vaccine. He/she will most likely think “if Mom is freaking out this much, then I should be REALLY scared, and I’m going to fight tooth and nail to escape and avoid going from now on”. I think my BFF just reinforced her baby’s opinion that doctors are evil and scary and should be feared.

        And my real point was, if my BFF breaks down sobbing because her son is getting a standard shot, then how will she deal with all the various injuries little boys tend to suffer? Broken arms from falling off the monkey bars, fingernails ripped out from skateboarding, etc. I feel like a vaccine is the least of my BFF’s potential worries when it comes to sick/hurt kids. You don’t want your kids to think that Mom can’t be counted on to help if something bad happens because she’ll be too busy freaking out. (something my husband and I both learned through various run-of-the-mill childhood injuries).

        So again, I didn’t mean to offend you (or anyone else). I just think my BFF needs to realize what’s freak-out worthy and what’s not. And, in my opinion, a routine vaccination to protect your child from potentially fatal diseases isn’t freak-out worthy.

  • Diva says:

    Interesting post! The NYT just had an article about pet spending this week: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/your-money/costs-and-choices-mount-for-pets-end-of-life-care.html

    I don’t currently have any pets due to my busy lifestyle and allergic boyfriend, and while I miss having them, I find it’s a relief. I’ve had friends spend thousands of dollars to help their pet — neurologists, MRIs, etc. I love animals and honestly don’t want to have to make a choice as to how far I would go, or spend for their health. Some people have no limits, and spend whatever it takes, but I simply could not afford to do that.

    That being said, I think a kid is different than a pet. The emotion you feel for your pets, while strong and loving, I think will pale in comparison to a kid. I have friends who love their kids so much and enjoy them, but are also in a constant state of anxiety about all of the terrible things that could happen to them. I would think and hope that anxiety would lessen with time as the kid gets older and survives falls, bumps, scrapes, etc.

    I have not heard a single parent say that this anxiety makes them regret having kids — it’s just something they deal with (and maybe take a little pill for).

    I think if you’re an anxious person, you will be anxious about anything be it kids or pets. It’s more about managing that anxiety…

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yeah, I think what I hate is having to make that DECISION about how much to spend, when to take them in, etc. Perhaps it’s that whole I’m-bad-at-making-decisions thing rearing its head again.

  • jennyjen says:

    I forgot Maybe Lady, a few months ago was asked by one of your readers on a previous post about a study I read that sad CF older people are no more regretful and lonely than parents. Less actually. Here is the link to the study…

    http://news.ufl.edu/2003/04/17/childlessness/

  • Scott says:

    Aww, such a cute little guy. How could you not blow your whole budget on your furry little baby?

  • Scott says:

    You might want to shop around for a vet that’s right for you. They can be a bit like car mechanics sometimes. Some are really eager to find something wrong and assume the absolute worst and recommend the most expensive heroic measures, and others are a little more balanced.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yup, and I think I really do have a good one. She definitely didn’t encourage me to do it, I’m just an idiot.

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