Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mrs. Bojangles

One of my elderly patients has just gone downhill recently, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why.

So I had Mary bring her in.

I learned that for the last 12 years she based when to take her medications on when her dog asked to go out and pee, which was apparently pretty regular.

The dog died last month. So now she doesn't remember to take her pills.

I wanted to cry.

35 comments:

Pink Lady said...

I want to cry just reading this.

marit leonie fuglerud said...

Oh, that's so sad...

dvmfly said...

That really is sad. Quite the comment on the human/animal bond.

Advice from a vet: Just be sure to advise her family NOT to replace the old dog with a puppy...she could overdose.

Julie said...

:(

Sarah Glenn said...

Maybe Mary could go scratch on her door at regular intervals...?

aek said...

There are several options for her:

The local office on aging if there is one), can link her with daily visitors who can oversee med compliance and alert when there are probs.

There is a national animal welfare program which places carefully screened healthy older pets with seniors (seniors for seniors) program. The website, Petfinder.org, can get you to local organizations that have this program.

There are also animal therapy programs which make home visits.

I hope these are useful.

rnraquel said...

OMG, I just want to to get her a dog and bring it to her :(

Shay said...

I cried reading this. Thank you for all you do for them.

Anonymous said...

These are the folks that just break your heart.

Justine Zoeller said...

stop. this is devastating.

Anonymous said...

This is the most depressing thing I have read in days. I feel so bad for that poor woman!

RC said...

I'm crying just reading this. You are an amazing doctor to have her come in and check on her. Sorry but not many doctors do that anymore. Thanks for all you do.

Don said...

I'm a hard-bitten man, who enjoys making the client's engineers scream when I tell them they've messed up.
But when I read this, my eyes teared up. Must be the pollen in the air here...
(My wife and I have 4 cats, and we take better medical care of them than we do our own)

VetGirl20 said...

This vet just teared up a little. Must be the damn pollen in Texas....

Anonymous said...

Most docs would have assumed the reason for her decline was "she's old.". I can't think of one doc I know that would have made the effort to get her to come in. I KNOW I don't know any who would have asked the questions (or listened to the answers...) that led to such a non-medical issue being the root of the problem. Bravo. You may be a cranky old coot, but that doesn't mean you can't be a prince among men. How about one of those electronic pill boxes that beeps an alarm at pill time?

bobbie said...

Bless you, Dr. G ~ for caring. The suggestions from 'aek' were spot on ~
Could we get an update?

SMHDVM said...

Pets enrich our lives in so many ways. I think that in addition to reminding her to take her meds, the dog was likely giving her a reason to be functional. Her "job" is gone now.

aek said...

Wow - how heartwarming that so many softies read this blog! I used to do senior/special needs animal rescue (think hospice for companion and farm animals), and it's great to read of so much support for two and four-legged seniors! Maybe those of you with well-mannered dogs could hook up with an organization that does home visits - there are so many folks who would love a slurpy kiss and a warm cuddle - from the dog, too!

I hope Dr. G will keep us apprised of this lady's condition. Heartbreaking, but with possibilities for feeling better. (Is there a Grumpy family dog in Dr. G's waiting room future? LOL)

Packer said...

It wasn't the timing of the meds, it was the loss of the dog, that caused her turn. You have to be a dog person to know.
I once had a client who died in her 90s with a dog. I asked my sister a non dog person from the get go, who lived nearby if she would take the dog in for a few days. That few days became 10 years, when the dog died she adopted 2 more.

migrainer said...

Thank you for caring...it's nice to know that there are people who still do out there, especially in the medical field.

23 Skidoo said...

There is probably a pet partner (therapy dog) organization in your town. Contact them and maybe they can visit!

ArkieRN said...

That is heartbreaking. Bless you for caring. I hope she can be helped.

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking...

Mal said...

Hey, my cat reminds me to take my medication.

Animals develop habits the same as people - I give her a cat treat when I take my pills, et voila! If I'm twenty minutes late, she'll be sitting by the medicine cabinet meowing for me.

Texas Pharmacy Chica said...

From behind the pharmacy counter, this is at least someone who took her meds regularly. Of course, I once, in exasperation, told a patient to eat a Chick-Fil-A sandwich with her first dose and eat breakfast promptly at 7:15 for each subsequent dose. Perhaps she would be better off getting a dog. Actually, that would help her on so many levels. Wonder if Aetna would cover it?????

kathleen said...

I am a house call vet and many of my calls are for home euthanasias.

A sad fact is when an elderly pet owner loses their beloved companion, they are not long for this world.

Anonymous said...

I can't stop the tears. As a person with a chronic illness, I would be lost without my service dog. My heart bleeds for the patient and also praises you for caring.

Charles said...

my eyes are tearing up too - must be from trying to read the fuzzy words for the comment moderation box, they are straining my eyes!

Anonymous said...

Nope, not crying... just have something in both my eyes... stupid dusty room.

Knot Telling said...

So sweet, so sad.

DataGirl said...

You really know your patients - this speaks volumes about your care.

A Doc 2 Be said...

@ Kathleen - it is not just the elderly who go down hill with the loss of a beloved pet ...

This story shows the poignancy of furkids and their bond with humans.

Tee said...

Ach, that is sad! Thank you for caring enough about your patient to try and get to the bottom of what was going on. Hopefully this lady will be able to heal from the loss of her dog, given due time.

dvmfly said...

Dr. G, I was thinking--you could expand on this post a little and submit it as a guest post on the vets behaving badly blog. I think they'd welcome your submission. We certainly enjoy your comments there. :)

Spook, RN said...

This is so sad :-(

I know personally of one case, a good friend of mine, who was "rescued" from PTSD, depression and other ailments because he adopted a dog. He even has stickers on the house saying "In case of fire, please rescue the dog".

In his case, I truly believe that the dog "rescued" his owner, rather than the other way around.
We try to organise fund raising when we can for our local 'no-kill shelter'...

 
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