A Positive Medical Experience (Really!)

This Monday I had to do something I wasn't looking forward to at all. I had to take my dog to a specialist.

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I took Monday off to do something that I wasn’t looking forward to at all. I had to take my dog to a specialist, a veterinary ophthalmologist. Winky’s eyes have gotten really cloudy and she’s been bumping into things. Our regular vet ruled out cataracts and glaucoma and recommended we see Dr. Welser. I tried to think positive but I was dreading the appointment.

It would probably cost a bundle. Just getting there and back would be a hassle—Dr. Welser’s office is almost three miles away, a long walk through crowded city streets (it’s near-impossible to get a cab when you have a big dog in tow). Winky would be stressed out. And worst of all, what if it turned out she had some rare eye disease and was going blind?

To make things easier, I booked a pet taxi service to take us to our 11 a.m. appointment. Winky likes car rides and she really liked the driver (a young guy who pet her and didn’t mind when she tried to climb in the front seat) so at least the day got off to a positive start. Then we pulled up in front of NYC Veterinary Specialists, a bigger facility than I’d expected. Uh oh, I thought. She’ll pick up the scents of lots of anxious dogs and refuse to go in.

Guess what? Winky had the opposite reaction. She practically pulled me in there. She sniffed around the waiting area while I filled out paperwork (only one form instead of the five pages I’m used to at my doctor’s appointments)—more curious than fearful.

Dr. Welser called us into her exam room right at 11. She exuded friendly competence, which put me at ease. And she put Winky at ease by immediately offering her a treat. “Nothing like liver to make this a positive experience,” Dr. Welser said.

Dr. Welser let Winky sniff every piece of equipment before she used it and gave positive reinforcement with each step. “Good girl. Now the left eye.” Winky didn’t try to wiggle out of her grasp and by the end of the exam, she was even wagging her tail.

The diagnosis was age-related deterioration of the endothelium, the inner layer of the cornea. It wasn’t reversible but Dr. Welser prescribed two eye ointments that would help keep the condition—and Winky’s vision—from getting worse.

The bill was just over $200. Better than I’d expected, considering the two prescription ointments were included. In fact, the entire experience was way better than I’d expected (Winky and I even had a nice long leisurely walk home). I shouldn’t have gone into it with a negative attitude, a sense of dread. I should have been more like my dog, more curious than fearful. I guess some of us are born positive thinkers…the rest of us have to work at it!

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