A Very Special Place – By Cara Potapshyn Meyers
I experienced another stressful and unexpected event in my life last week. I think I am getting used to all of these stressful and unexpected events that occur almost daily, if not weekly. This one, however, truly touched my soul. And it pertains to my dog, Maxi. My favorite of my two dogs. My “doggie soul mate,” if you will. Yet, unlike all of the other stressful and unexpected events that have been occurring in my life, this one has a very happy ending. However, I digress.
Last Thursday my husband and I took our dog, Maxi, for a check up. I knew going into the appointment that I had many questions and some anxiety about certain issues Maxi was experiencing. The biggest of those issues was that Maxi had 3 golf ball size fatty lipomas in his upper chest. We had one biopsied a year ago, which turned out to be benign. However, over the past year, Maxi developed two more, with one extending under his armpit. The Veterinarian who examined him last year, was concerned about the spreading of the lipoma because he told us that if the lipoma spread much more under the arm pit, it could put pressure on some nerves that run through the arm pit area and cause some nerve function difficulties, possibly making it difficult for Maxi to walk.
Maxi had other issues as well: He had something on his chest that looked like a Melanoma. He had a growth on one of his front paws that he licked constantly. The licking was causing a minor infection. He also had dental problems. And to my surprise, there was a mass growing on Maxi’s gums that the doctors were most concerned and suspicious of. And all of this had to be taken into consideration with Maxi’s age of 12 years old.
Knowing that Maxi is truly my dog, my husband deferred the decision of Maxi having surgery to me. And I had the option of having some of the issues taken care of, all of the issues dealt with, or do nothing. I asked the Vet what the procedure would entail if I decided to have everything taken care of. He outlined step by step what Maxi would be going through. Additionally, because we would having the surgery at this Veterinary Hospital, we were also told that we could leave Maxi for a few days in their “Rehab” area. In that area, he would be watched 24 hours a day by a Vet and assistant staff who would be doing all of the aftercare for Maxi such as change bandages, give medication, etc. That sealed the deal in my mind. Because we have another dog in our home along with a rambunctious child, I was enamored with the fact that Maxi would be in the main hospital facility for two days and then transferred to “rehab” after that for several days of aftercare. I gave the Vet the go ahead as my poor dog sat on my feet, trembling, and looking up to me for reassurance. I bent down, hugged him close and with as much mind power that I could muster, I told Maxi, through my eyes, that he would be perfectly fine, but that I would be there for him and he would absolutely be coming back home to me. I could swear I felt him trembling a little less after that.
Due to the fact that my husband had to go back to work, and we came with only one car, my husband drove me home so that I could get my own car along with my laptop to keep my mind distracted with busywork during the surgery.
As I was driving back to the hospital, the Vet called me on my cell phone to say that they took blood from Maxi and did chest x-rays to see if the lipomas has spread to a more dangerous or complicated degree. I was told that Maxi’s blood work was like “that of a puppy,” which meant that he would probably withstand anesthesia well. And the chest x-rays showed the lipomas with the spreading of tissue under the armpit, but nothing that looked dangerous. This meant Maxi was cleared for surgery.
From start to finish, the surgery took 6 hours. And this incredible Vet took the time to come out and explain what had been done with each issue that needed intervention. He was calm, warm, caring and compassionate. I needed this Vet as the one to oversee Maxi’s surgery. Heck, I needed this Vet to oversee me!
I prayed for a good outcome every step of the way. I asked God to watch over Maxi because besides my son, Maxi is all I have in this world. I wrote on Facebook for my friends to please pray for Maxi. I received an outpouring of well wishes and speedy recovery messages from that post, along with messages to help me think positively. My friends are a huge part of my world. They comforted me to no end.
And now for the special part. Once the surgery was over, the Vet came out to tell me how successful everything went. He knew I looked drained. I hadn’t eaten anything all day, as I felt nauseous throughout the whole 6-hour ordeal. He helped me pack up my things and told me to go home and that I could call later to check up on Maxi. I could have kissed this man. He was a hero in my eyes.
Now, the fact that this animal hospital has a “rehab” center is amazing in and of itself. It also has a boarding facility where healthy dogs are boarded when their owners go away. We board both of our dogs there too. And the staff in the boarding facility love Maxi just as much (well, maybe not just as much) as I do. When I spoke to the clerical staff, they put me on the phone with one of the young men who I knew well from the boarding area. He told me how well Maxi was doing. He also told me that he crawled into Maxi’s cage and laid down with him for about 15 minutes and rubbed Maxi’s back as Max gave this young man a “face bath.” I was shocked. Where would someone at an animal hospital get into an animal’s cage to comfort them? I told this young man that I absolutely couldn’t thank him enough and that he made my evening much less stressful knowing that someone gave my dog some extra attention.
The next day, Maxi was doing so well, that instead of spending two days in the hospital facility, Maxi was going to be transferred to the “rehab” facility a day early. When I spoke with another young man who happened to also love Maxi, he told me how well Max was doing and offered to take a couple pictures of Maxi with his cell phone and e-mail them to me (see below). I was blown away!! Where in the world would employees take the time to take a picture of your animal for you while in the hospital and e-mail them to you?? I told him he made my day like he couldn’t imagine.
And the most important thing was not only the love, caring and attention Maxi received, but that the same doctor called every single day, right after he finished “rounds” to give me a medical update on Maxi! I am blown away by this incredible and amazing facility. I have had family members in real hospitals that never received this level of care and attention!! And to even track down a doctor, any doctor, to find out how your family member was doing was a full-time job in and of itself!
My Maxi will probably be home and resting on my bed as you read this. I needed to share this incredible situation because I kept thinking, “What if it was my son who had this type of surgery?” I would be allowed to stay in his room and hold his little hand, but would he get the same level of caring, love and compassion from the employees? Would he be made to feel as “special,” as my dog was? To be quite honest, I highly doubt it. I do know that Pediatric hospital staff tends to have more compassion and caring than employees who take care of the adult staff. But to find such exceptional care for a dog is beyond incredible. Perhaps actual medical staff that takes care of people should do rotations at this veterinary hospital. Maybe medicine, like old dogs, could be taught some necessary new tricks.
I would like to thank the entire staff at the Long Island Veterinary Specialists hospital. Every single employee made me and my dog feel special and cared for. The surgical team was exemplary. The rehab employees were priceless. And a very special thank you to Anthony and Eric for loving my dog as if he was their own!