Otis's Story

Otis's story Otis "Oatmeal"

1/24/2010- 2/1/2020

This is the short version of what happened to our boy Otis at BGVSC between October 2019-Janurary, 2020. I did my best to keep it short and concise. But there is so much more to his story. There was not much I could leave out. However, what I have wrote out are the main points. In September 2019, Otis was diagnosed with anemia and diabetes. Otis had a splenectomy performed in February of 2019 from a previous former vet. ***THE MASS WAS BENIGN*** It was an ongoing question with BGVSC, was the removal of his spleen the eventual cause of his anemia? Red blood cells are aided by spleen. Internal medicine refused to answer these questions and disregarded it. This was the first question of MANY that went dismissed and unanswered BY BGVSC.

My point is we came to BGVSC to get answers since they are a specialty hospital. I do not see WHY they never questioned or mentioned the splenectomy ONCE. Perhaps if they did further investigation I may of had some sort of answer. But BGVSC does not provide answers nor collaborate with patent families. We were referred by our former primary vet because Otis’s RBC count dropped dangerously low. We were sent to BGVSC for a blood transfusion. Otis had 10 “partial” blood transfusions at BGVSC during his time with them. We were greeted by Dr. R (internal medicine) during our first or second visit. He informed my husband and I that if Otis needed more than a couple blood transfusions than he would need a FULL blood transfusion (a very risky procedure essentially draining ALL blood out and putting in completely new blood) which is a $12k procedure. We only heard about that ONE time. So why did he have to have TEN “partial” blood transfusions? We never got an answer.

Otis tested positive for the Coombs Test down at U of I Vet Hospital in early October. His symptoms resembled an auto-immune disorder. Once Dr.R took Otis off his medications for said disorder, Otis’s RBC kept dropping at a faster rate. I brought this up at least THREE times to Dr. R. Are we sure this is not IMHA because he tested positive for Coombs, can we retest for Coombs? All questions dismissed immediately. Dr. R had his agenda on how he was going to treat Otis, and nothing was going to sway him- not even with Otis’s life on the line. There is further testing that could have been done to absolutely rule out IMHA but that was never done. During one of our first visits the only thing I thought was “great” was Dr. R sending our Otis’s blood to Cornell University to see where his iron levels were at. Otis had an extremely low iron count at 19. D. R gave the full impression to my husband and me that this was the answer. He had an iron deficiency that caused his anemia. Dr. R started to give Otis monthly long-lasting iron injections. However, it did not take too long to find out this was not the cause and it was not helping with his RBC. First occurrence of “false hope.”

When Otis had his upper GI scope done and I read about the findings in his clinical summary (again, the longest a doctor there spoke with us lasted no longer than 5 min. All our questions, or thoughts were immediately dismissed/rejected). We were left completely helpless. BGVSC at no time offered any guidance, support, or counsel. I had to consult with a third- party vet to help me interpret test results and lab work to me so I could understand.

I cannot understand a veterinarian at BGVSC who talks like they are on “speed” and then exits room before you even realize the one-sided conversation had ended. The third-party vet we worked with to consult and get guidance from felt it was a definite case of IMHA and the findings of scope were mere “coincidental.” Hence why I kept asking about the IMHA and Coombs testing. I felt I was talking to the wall. It was beyond frustrating and I cannot explain how helpless my husband and I felt. The results of the upper scope results stated Otis had an “ulcerated mass” in his upper intestines. Dr. R said it was a “risky” surgery as the mass was located right by his pancreas. Dr. R never got into detail about the risks involved or how any complications could be fatal. We were under impression it was “risky” due to the fact Otis was 9 and already had multiple procedures.

Enter Dr. M. Dr. M removed the mass that was found during the scope. I asked why this mass did not show up on ultrasounds, x-rays, CT scans, etc. I never got an answer. Dr/M merely called me to say, “We got it all out.” It was a two-minute one-way conversation. I was never able to get the full clinical summary or any details on this surgery. What I do know is Otis developed a severe case of pancreatitis. Honestly, I do not believe anything this vet hospital has said. Congruently, I am working with my third party outside vet (not our primary vet nor is she local) to try to put together exactly what happened to Otis.

We had one last procedure performed. Again, Dr. R failed to be upfront that this procedure carried a lot of controversy (a common theme) as I later learned from my own research. He placed tubes in Otis’s stomach region to bypass the pancreas, essentially shutting it down to recover. Prior to the procedure, Dr/ R stated a “resident” suggested “draining Otis’s gallbladder to help offer relief.” I would expect that to come from Dr. R and not a resident. Another “resident” recommended to Dr.R to get a kangaroo pump feeding tube. This way Otis could receive his food nutrients as fluids for a 12-hour continuous block while he slept. Otherwise, I would have been trying to administer his nutrition all day as he wouldn’t eat on his own. All Dr. R said to us about the gallbladder was that “a lot of fluid came out.” Also, I need to emphasize that after the procedure was complete, Dr. R told us he would have “a fresh start,” regarding Otis’s condition. Another example of “false hope.”

There were so many times my husband and I embraced and cried in joy after hearing “promising news,” that led to countless times of “false hope” to only having reality crash down on us. It was that night when we came to visit Otis a nurse tech that we have never met nor seen before came out and sat across from us in the lobby area. She stated she was there during procedure and they got an “enormous amount of black sludge. This was so very concerning to us and caused great panic. Dr. R merely stated “fluids.” Finding an “enormous amount of black sludge” is far different than “fluids.” Why am I hearing this from a nurse tech and not Dr. R? This nurse tech also said that “Otis has a probable GI bleed.” Let us just say that the room started to spin for us. I told her that the WHOLE reason for the removal of mass and Dr. M was to “STOP the internal bleeding in GI track” as we were told over and over. How could he have a GI bleed now when we were told by Dr. M and Dr. R that got the source of the bleed? I felt almost like I was in the Twilight Zone and experienced major Déjà vu. We had done a 360 and were right back where we started.

When Otis was discharged, they gave us Peptamen, a fluid like Ensure for humans, for his nutrition. After two days I noticed he was leaking the fluid (not digested) through his anus. I called immediately and was told “this is normal, and they actually call it the ‘Peptamen poopies.’” They made a joke of something VERY serious. They failed to care that Otis was losing (WHICH I SENT PICTURES OF TO THEM) a great deal of essential nutrition that he desperately needed to keep his strength AND to live. We should have been instructed to give subcutaneous fluids along with the tube feedings. They never gave me an answer about how much water to put in the feeding tube to keep Otis hydrated. I had to wait SIX hours for Dr. A to finally call me back regarding WATER. He stated Otis had been receiving subcutaneous fluids via IV but that he did not think it was necessary to give him more. Further indicating that the Peptamen should keep him hydrated (which it did NOT) and if I wanted to, to administer 10ML of water four times a day. I asked Dr. A in person if we could try an appetite stimulant with him to encourage him to eat. I even stated, “Can we try something like Entyce?” He dismissed that one too merely muttering “we could.” But he never did.

Here I am and I feel like I am the ONLY ONE fighting for my boy’s life. Not one time did they ever make any attempt to collaborate or to even be on the same page with other doctors at the hospital? All their responses/answers contradicted one another. I put in at least four phone calls (and e-mails to the internal medicine department) while Dr. R was out of town. He left the day after Otis’s tube placement. Dr. A took on the role as Otis’s “vet” there. It was clear as day Dr.A and Dr.R had not consulted each other on Otis’s case at all. Otis was leaking a clear fluid with a small amount of brown fluid. I was told by Dr. A that “this is normal and unless it smells foul it is not an infection.” As I stated before, Dr. R was gone for the next week. Apparently prior to leaving, he got the results from the “sludge” culture from Otis’s gallbladder. Honestly, it was a fluke the results of culture were even communicated to me, but I happened to be meeting with Dr. A that day. A meeting I insisted on. He brought Dr. E in with him which I found odd. As she remained mute, but obviously, he did not want to be alone in the room, why not? Dr.A stated Otis still had cancer. I told him Dr. R stated that Otis was “cancer free” that prior Thursday. Absolutely no explanation or concern on these two strikingly different answers. He proceeded to state that “the fluid in Otis’s gallbladder tested high in bacteria,” ok... but I was not provided any more information other than about an antibiotic they wanted to put him on. According to Mark’s Drugs on Milwaukee Ave. (who works alongside this vet hospital) told my husband this antibiotic “would either kill our dog or help him.”

We never received this type of warning from Dr. A. In addition, the dose the vet hospital put on clinical summary was way off from what the pharmacy label stated. I called and spoke to a nurse tech who stated to follow the pharmacy label. I feel this was their way of making us go away permanently, prescribing our Otis is very powerful, very dangerous antibiotic. They were aware we were running out of money. As I had since day one, begged and pleaded for a payment plan to be told “they do not offer payment plans.” Up until the end- when I made a couple of strongly worded comments (not threatening by any means) did they approve a payment plan for 2k. What about the other thousands and thousands of dollars we ran around in a frenzy to collect? When striking up conversations with other clients in the lobby area, we learned about payment plans. We discovered that VSC offered payment plans the ENTIRE time, they just offer them selectively.

Three days later I had a vet come to our home to give Otis a shot so he could go to Heaven as I held him in my arms. He was such a fighter through all of this. That is the only trust BGVSC told my husband and me, that Otis was “a very strong little boy.” He wanted to LIVE. He was the glue to our family. He knew how loved he was/is and all the plans we had for him and his little Sheltie brother, Maxwell. We never got an answer as to what took our sweet boys’ life. Not one doctor could provide definitive answer or diagnosis: cancer, infection, auto-immune disease.

We were always told “Otis is a complex case.” I would think that would motivate the doctor to work harder, sadly no. The doctor was not interested in discovering more about the complexity of condition. Otis was just another number to them. We did not even get ANY condolences.BGVSC knew we were going to be putting Otis to sleep, yet they had some woman call us a couple hours on Saturday February 1 prior to the vet coming to our home to “confirm Otis’s appt with Dr.R that Monday.” I was shaking, talk about horrible. My husband got on the phone and demanded to know if they “actually read any of the files at all,” but the tongue-tied woman on the over line, per usual, COULD NOT ANSWER the question!

Otis was my soul mate. I continue to research my sweet Otis’s case trying to determine exactly what happened to my boy. He was ill but stable when we brought him in, but as time progressed his condition went downhill under the care of BGVSC. Pets coming in are not just going to have broken bones. They are going to come in with complex cases. And why would they not? If humans can have multiple health aliments, why are pets any different? They are not immune from multiple issues happening at once.

These “veterinarians” do not want to be bothered with “additional work” and essentially from the beginning write that pet off. Then when you lose your beloved pet they can rely on their “we told you it was a complex case.” It is 2020- how are vets not trained appropriately in complex cases? And what exactly defines a complex case? It appears to us Otis’s case was complex because they did not know how to handle it- AND did not want to be bothered. Therefore, we should have been referred to someone who COULD.

Veterinarians NEED and MUST do what is in the pets’ best interest. Armentano, 100% could have referred Otis to another specialist. He made it clear he had HIS agenda on how to treat Otis. We never had a chance. Looking back, we wish we would have taken him to my husband’s alma mater UW-Madison. We are tormented on what we could/should have done. But the simple fact is we TRUSTED that as veterinarians they would be able to help our boy and that they care about the animals they worked on. We falsely believed they became veterinarians because they truly “cared.” Sadly, the veterinary world (as odd as it sounds) has become so corrupt and veterinarian hospitals are financially motivated and morally corrupt. Many studies back me up on this. A “wave of corporatization is hitting the veterinary industry.”

My husband and I saw upfront in full display the toxic lack of emotional intelligence. BGVSC is guilty of being ONLY interested in hospitalizing your pet for profit. Please be vigilant about questioning all procedures and tests the doctors recommend- but keep in mind, they DO NOT like these type of pet owners. The ones who have questions, concerns. To them, it is a waste of their time. As their mind and agenda has been set.

Our beautiful little family now brutally broken. I cannot bare nice days. They are Otis days and I am SO angry that he is not here to enjoy, he SHOULD be. His little brother, Maxwell, is very depressed too. He spends most of his time snuggling into Otis’s special pillows. When I can get Maxwell to play, he chooses Otis’s favorite toys. The house has become so quiet and lonely. I will never see my boy again; he is gone forever. We love you so much Otis.

He existed- He has a soul- He is loved- He is our family