Last week I discussed how Cooper’s Doctor helped Cooper live an abundantly beautiful life. This week, I want to share how behind every great doctor is a team that is equally important. In Cooper’s case, the veterinarian team shared a huge role in providing Cooper the life that we worked so hard to give him.
Most of you know that it is not just the veterinarian that cares for your pets. There is a team of professionals that is working to help as well. Cooper met more vet techs than I can name one by one, but each one played an intricate role in helping Cooper. There was also a wonderful group at the front desk that I cannot help but give accolades for making the visits seamless and less stressful.
Once Cooper developed health issues around the age of eight, Cooper was in and out of the vet quite often. Those days of getting a wellness check and his annual vaccines were a thing of the past. At some point I no longer had to say who I was when Cooper and I showed up for an appointment or just to purchase more prescription food or supplies. Cooper and I were one of the regulars.
The Vet Techs
I love Cooper, and he was always the sweetest and loving cat at home. But that sweet cat disappeared as soon as we arrived at the vet. Cooper turned into an unprovoked little monster when he was at the vet. Cooper got the “Will Bite” sticker on his file every time we checked in, and he earned those stickers each time! I was always so apologetic and embarrassed when Cooper would start growling, scratching, and ultimately go for the bite. Cooper would fight tooth and nail, literally, to not be touched. He made it as difficult as he could to make the techs’ job as hard as possible. But, Cooper was challenging the best techs in the field, and they knew how to treat Cooper regardless of his antics.
I cannot count the amount of appointments that Cooper and I had at his vet, but I can say without a doubt that there was not one visit where the vet techs did not put Cooper’s wellbeing and comfort level at priority. Whether it was a checkup, lab work, or an emergency visit, I could breath a little easier knowing Cooper was in the best care. There are some memorable times where Cooper’s vet techs not only helped Cooper, but they helped me as well.
I could do a lot for Cooper but giving medications was out of my league. If there was a compounded transdermal medication over a pill, I took that option. If it was a pill, I would wrap it in a soft treat for Cooper to take. That worked for years, until Cooper was so sick, he did not have an appetite. Cooper was in intensive care because his kidney levels and blood pressure were extremely high. He was not eating and my trick to give Cooper his medications through soft treats was no longer working. He had not been getting his seizure medication on schedule, and Cooper started to have head tremors. Cooper’s seizure medication was at home, and I was picking up Cooper to take him home just for the night. The vet tech in charge of Cooper looked at me and said “You have to give Cooper his seizure medication as soon as you get home! We do not need Cooper to have a seizure with his blood pressure this high!” She said it in such a direct but caring way. I told her, I have never been able to give Cooper pills. She gave me a pill popper and told me how to wrap Cooper in a towel and make a “kitty burrito”. Detail by detail, I was given precise instructions on how to get that pill down Cooper’s throat. That evening I followed her instructions step by step, and that was the successful beginning of being able to give Cooper his medication through traditional pills. I was so happy to tell Cooper’s doctor that I can pill Cooper thanks to one particularly skilled vet tech!
Medications through injection were another challenge I had giving Cooper at home. For the first few months when Cooper needed regular injections for some mild arthritis, I opted to take Cooper to the vet and pay an injection charge. Each time the techs would show me how to give Cooper the injections. They knew it was just a matter of building my confidence, and they also knew Cooper did not enjoy trips to the vet. Injection after injection they kept boosting my confidence and showing me their tricks to the trade. One day I looked at Cooper and all of the advice from the techs clicked. I successfully gave Cooper his first injection at home! Cooper and I did not have to go to the vet for a quick injection from that day on! I was so grateful that his doctor and techs believed in me enough to treat him at home when it was possible. Being able to give Cooper injections at home truly paid off when Cooper went through chemo. At one point, Cooper was on 3 different injections, and I was so grateful to have the ability to give those medications and supplements to Cooper from home. His days were numbered at that time, and all of the time I could spend with Cooper at home was precious to me!
Once Cooper officially became a kidney cat, his doctor asked if I would give Cooper daily subcutaneous fluids at home. Of course I agreed without realizing the learning curve I would have. I needed a lot of training. A LOT! The vet techs once again came to the rescue. Day by day, I would bring Cooper in for our fluid training. The first day started by allowing me to watch. The next day the tech would start the fluids, and they let me take over. The final step was to watch me from start to finish. Through each process, they gave me the things they do to ease Cooper through the process. I eventually made it to the point where I gave the fluids to Cooper at home, but, I still had hurdles. Each appointment I had with Cooper, the vet techs would listen to the problems I had and give some more advice on how to streamline the SQ fluids. Eventually, Cooper and I were able to get the SQ fluids sessions at home from 30 long minutes to 2 minutes! Fluid therapy was instrumental in Cooper’s health, and I was so thankful for the ability to do my part for Cooper.
The Front Desk
There is a group of people that made coming to the vet for a check up pleasant or a medical emergency smooth and efficient. Sometimes we can overlook the people making our pet’s appointment and check us in when we get to that appointment. (They do a lot more than that, by the way.) The more I brought Cooper in for his appointments, the more I realized how much of a juggling act their jobs were. If they had just walked a client to room to put their pet to sleep or they just made a grooming appointment, they treated Cooper and I with kindness and respect. They always asked, how is Cooper? That goes a long way in my book, and that kindness and professionalism is what makes this group at the front desk the best in the field.
When I had trouble getting Cooper to eat the prescription food in stock, they special ordered food. They were waiting for my phone call when Cooper went out of state to see a neurologist for his seizures. They too wanted to know the diagnosis. When I was recovering from two separate knee surgeries, they carried Cooper to and from the car along with the countless amounts of food and supplies. When I came to let Cooper go, they treated me with kindness and empathy. When I came back to pick up Cooper’s items after he was gone, they found everything. They even searched for Cooper’s little medicine box that had gone missing. They found it and called me! When I came by to pick up Cooper’s ashes, they did not just hand him to me, but they talked to me about Cooper. These were not people that just checked us in, they made us feel special and let me know that they also cared for Cooper.
I could write a book about all of the experiences Cooper and I had with his veterinarian team. I could tell you story after story of what made the techs and the front desk so special. These were just a few. Taking Cooper to the vet was not an easy task at times. There were times when we were going to manage his health, but there were times when we were going to get bad news. From the moment Cooper and I came in the front door, the front desk welcomed us by name and the techs were gathering our information to give to his doctor. Cooper spent many days and nights at the vet. They accommodated his finicky appetite, gave him a quiet room when he needed it, and monitored him even though he did not want the attention. The front desk and the vet techs at Riverview Animal Clinic made Cooper’s life better. But, this is what they do everyday for each one of their patients. I am simply thankful that Cooper was in the care of the such impressive and hard-working professionals.
They cared for Cooper until the day he passed. Their job still goes on, and they continue to care for the pets that come through their doors. To all of the techs that cared for Cooper over the years and the wonderful people that greeted Cooper and I each time we came in, thank you for going above and beyond. I am forever grateful and cherish the wonderful memories Cooper and I had along the way!