I had to put my remaining rat, Thelma, to sleep today.
When I got back from Xmas vacation, she had developed tumors in a few different spots. It's truly amazing how fast these tumors grow in rats. She did not have any visible tumors when I left, & I was only gone 7 days. I noticed the tumors upon my return, but didn't think much of it....Louise thrived for over 6 months with her tumor. But Thelma is 2 1/2 years old, if not older, & the max life span for a rat is 3 years. Most don't live past 2. So Thelma & Louise already exceeded common expectations. Louise probably would have lived longer if I hadn't felt it was time to let her go (she could barely move around due to the size of the tumor, & I felt her quality of life wasn't great). And I was surprised that Thelma lived as long as she did after Louise died. Usually, a rat will pass shortly after their companion does. And Thelma & Louise were sisters & had never been apart. But Thelma kept on going, like the Energizer Bunny. I decided to monitor her this past weekend, & that's when I noticed she hadn't been eating. She would still eagerly snatch her fave snack out of your hands...and then, apparently, she was hiding them in her igloo. I happened to look in there & noticed all her fave snacks from days & days, just stockpiled. She just stopped eating. Then I noticed she was bleeding from one eye. She also appeared to lose her vision, because when you approached the cage, she just looked out as if she knew something was there but she couldn't see it. Then I noticed she could barely walk; she had lost her coordination. So I decided it was definitely time. It was painful to watch her like that...and I knew it wouldn't be long anyway, if she was not eating. Also, she could no longer climb to the other levels of her cage (it is a 3 story condo), & her water bottle was on the second level. Come to think of it, I hadn't seen or heard her on her exercise wheel for quite some time, & she had always LOVED to use that.
So I put her in her little travel cage, & off we went to the vet....which was a horrible experience.
When I took Louise to be euthanized, I had called in advance to find out how much it would cost. I hate to worry about money so much, but I simply have none. My friend, Aimee, goes to a vet in OC that puts rats to sleep for $10. I mean, how much medicine do they need to put them to sleep? The $10 is pretty much for the "disposal" of the "waste" (I know, seems harsh). So I called my vet, since Aimee's is far away for me, & they told me it would be $10-15, because they have to charge for disposal, no matter the size of the animal. So I took Louise in, & the vet, Dr. Chan, wanted to examine her first. She asked me if I wanted her to try to remove the tumor through surgery. I told her I would LOVE to do that, but I simply didn't have the money for it. The surgery probably would have cost hundreds of dollars, & while you can't put a price on a pet you love, rats cost about $5-10, & mine was free (from Knott's petting zoo). If I had had the money, I would have done it in a heartbeat. But I don't have it. So Dr. Chan offered to do the surgery for free, IF I signed Louise over to her, making her responsible for her. I agreed to do that, because I would rather Dr. Chan have Louise & she be alive, than her not live at all. But she called me later to let me know that the tumor was too extensive, & attached to one of her limbs, so she had to put her to sleep (I let the tumor go so long because my old vet told me that as long as she was breathing fine & eating fine, she was okay to live with the tumor....much like some humans do). They charged me $15. When I took Thelma in today, I rightfully assumed it would be the same amount. Wrong. They took Thelma away, & then came back & said, "That will be $88." HUH?!?!?! I don't have $88. As it is, I need to pay for my car insurance, which is over $100, & can't pay it cause I don't have it. So I certainly didn't have $88! Plus, I was confused as to why it cost me $15 before, & $88 now, for EXACTLY the same thing. So I asked, embarrassed to have to be asking it, "What is that amount for?" She said, "Well, she's charging you $55 for the euthanasia, & since she had never seen this rat, she's charging $33 for an office visit." HUH?!?!? There really wasn't an "office visit," not in the general sense, as in an exam, etc. So I asked what the difference was between this rat & my other rat, & explained that I had only paid $15 before, for the exact same thing, & pointed out that Dr. Chan hadn't seen my other rat before, either. She went to ask Dr. Chan, & came back & told me that the last time, the office manager had approved that fee, & this other fee was what Dr. Chan would normally charge. The office manager wasn't there to approve that fee again, but they would do it "this time." Gimme a break. Here is an obvious massive problem in communication. They had never told me that the $15 fee was an "office manager approved fee." They told me $15 over the phone when I first called. I didn't know they were making an exception that time. As far as I knew, they always charged $15 to euthanize rats. How was I to know any differently? And to make matters worse on their miscommunication front, when I called today to make an appointment, the girl who answered the phone told me they didn't even have anyone there who dealt with rats!!!! So....here I was, upset & in tears over losing my rat, & they slap me with the surprise of $70 more than I was planning on paying. I am already embarrassed & depressed over having no money...and this made me feel even worse, emotionally, than I already did. I like this vet office, otherwise. I am thinking about writing to the head vet there, & explaining the situation. Not being angry or mean, just explaining that, perhaps, they need to be a bit better with their communication, because when you come in with your heart already aching, you really don't want to be surprised with something like that.
I am unsure whether I should do that or not, though...
Another horrible story regarding my rat....I was telling my friend Amy about Thelma at work yesterday, because she loves the rats. I was telling her how Thelma had been bleeding from her eye, was barely able to walk, & had stopped eating. I explained I was going to have her put to sleep today. Another friend of mine, Maranda, says, "Why don't you just hit her over the head with a hammer? I mean, what's the difference?" I said, "I don't think so." And then she says, "Why don't you just flush her down the toilet?" She went along in this vein for a few minutes, highly amused with herself, until I said, "You know, I have to put my pet to sleep tomorrow, & I think your behavior is extremely insensitive & mean." She stopped talking, but still had a little smile on her face & never apologized. Granted...she's only 18. She also is NOT the most sensitive person in the world, period. If she knows someone is sensitive about their weight, she will make mean comments to them about it. Our friend Mary is really insecure about her weight, & one day, when she went to eat a piece of chocolate, Maranda said to her, "You shouldn't eat that, you're fat." Mary is NOT even the SLIGHTEST bit fat, she is GORGEOUS & slender. She hurt Mary's feelings beyond belief, & then acted like she didn't know what she did wrong. I was trying to stick to the Slim-Fast diet, but was having a hard time with it, & grabbed something to eat. Maranda said in a snide tone, "What happened to your DIET?" I have to pity someone who has to be so mean to others to make themselves feel better. It's sad, really. But I thought such comments about someone's pet who is dying is WAY beyond insensitive. Some people see their pets as family...and I guess some people just don't get that.