The (lack of) Information Industry

7 08 2009

On Sunday afternoon I noticed that Jenni looked like she’d come out of a horror movie where the eyes change to red, at least her right eye looked like it. A closer inspection indicated blood in her cornea and although it was not bothering her I took her off to the only veterinary surgery that was open on a Sunday.

The duty vet gave her a rather cursory examination, an anti-inflammatory injection that made here yelp and eye drops containing a cortisone and antibiotic. He seemed to think that the damage had been caused by some sort of trauma to the eye.

The next day there was little sign of the injury except for a slight darkening of the iris and what appeared to be coagulated blood in the corner of her eye. I breathed a sigh of relief and carried on with life.

Tuesday morning she yelped when I put the eye drops in. At lunch time when I came home my heart sank. Instead of the usual boisterous welcome she cowered at the gate, whining and yelping, her right eye completely closed against the sunlight. I got her into the truck and we went straight off to the surgery that I’d been to on the Sunday. A different vet was on duty and he was not helpful. He said he could not comment on the state of her inflamed eye as he had not seen it on the Sunday and how could it have deteriorated so quickly? He told me to continue with the eye drops for five days and then come back. I was less than impressed.

At three o’clock I was at the surgery where I usually go with Jenni. The vet who eventually saw her listened to what I said, examined the cornea for ulceration and changed the eye drops to a straight prednisolone (cortisone). On Wednesday morning the eye was much better though she was a bit subdued. But when I came back in the early afternoon she was cringing and whining again with the eye screwed up and the lower conjunctiva covering most of the eye. By morning I had my usual Jenni back again, full of nonsense and affection. I took her with me to work in the afternoon and all was fine. She jumped into the car to come home and I could see she was relishing a good run from the farm gate. I thought it wise not to let her. She got out the car and I could see the problem starting all over again. In ten minutes the eye was inflamed again and she was cowering from the light. Despite the eye drops going straight in the eye continued to deteriorate throughout the evening.

I was now more than a little depressed at the lack of progress and feeling more than a little left out of the information loop. The latter was rectified by a call to a vet friend of a friend who explained that in such cases the cause is often not identifiable so the only choice is to treat the symptoms and it can take a while to get the anti-inflammatory dosage right. The bleeding may or may not result in a reduction in vision in the affected eye and if it does not stop the eye must be removed. Not great news but why was I not given this information to start with? Why do I have to go to these lengths to get it? I may not have a veterinary degree but that does not make me stupid. I have come across this lack of communication in the medical field too, most notably with a highly renowned orthopaedic surgeon whom I have seen occasionally for knee problems. On all occasions I have had to squeeze him for information.

Some time ago I made similar comments to an anaesthetist who is married to a school friend of my sister’s and he said he’d experienced the same thing with his dentist. To be fair not all medical/veterinary professionals are as reticent with information as this but if any actually read this I would say:

  1. I am paying and I am concerned – I deserve to have a FULL explanation.
  2. If I cannot understand I will ask you to re-explain.
  3. If you think I will not understand then explain it in terms that I can understand (without talking down).
  4. It is not my problem that I might not understand what you are talking about; it is your communication skills that need brushing up.

Jenni is still not right as I write this so this afternoon she must go back to the vet. Hopefully I will get some more satisfactory information.



5 responses

8 08 2009
Big Blister

Golly what a worry! Hope they can get the dose right! Seems it might be best to keep her out of the sun if that is aggravating the situation…

8 08 2009

Sadly that is not the problem. I’ve been back the past 2 days and got a much better response after saying that I was not getting much information. This morning after she woke me up at 5h30 in bad pain I went back and after a phone consult with an eye surgeon in Jo’burg and an ultrasound we came to the reluctant conclusion that there is a tumour there so the eye will have to come out. Unfortunately this is a long weekend and they were reluctant to do it today so Jenni is on a powerful analgesic, anti-inflammatory and things to help out with the above. Poor girl, she is not a happy dog but at the rate this has progressed I’m expecting that I’ll have to go back before Wednesday. I knew another dog, “Mad” Mack who was slowed down not a tiny bit by having one eye, so I’m sure Jenni will adapt. What worries me is what type of cancer it is; it can be a local one or a melanoma.

8 08 2009
Big Blister

I’m sure Jenni will adapt well. I know a dog who had an eye removed after being kicked by a moose in his back yard. It did take him a little while to adjust to monovision but he is fine. Hang in there over the weekend!

8 08 2009

A bit of internet research has shown that melanoma in the eye of dogs is common but usually they are benign so the prognosis is good except in the case of conjunctival tumors which this is not (I don’t think!). Yes, Mad Mack was a pointer who used to run in front of my car, spin 360 degrees, avoid a grid and a rail fence all at 40km/h and manage to miss the car too!

8 08 2009
Big Blister

Good to hear that. Darn those holiday weekends! Keep me posted…

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