.....giving a Pixie update and thinking the dramas were over.
On Monday night Pixie was taken out for her last pee/poop of the day when she suddenly walked underneath our golf cart. She let out the same high pitched yelp that we'd heard when she had been picked up and ruptured a disc last month. This time the yelping went on for about 7 or 8 awful seconds as if someone was standing on her paws and not getting off.
I rushed out to help and immediately put my hand in to see if I could get to her, thinking she'd become trapped underneath and somehow twisted her back trying to get out. Doing this while she was in this state was understandable but, looking back on it, not the best move I've ever made. But you just don't think rationally - you want to help and you certainly want the pitiful noise to stop.
So she bit me and got me good. Right on the end of my index finger as that was the closest 'meat' to her teeth. I withdrew my hand, somewhat quicker than it had gone in and using the torch I had with me, surveyed the damage. Pixie had stopped yelping by now and when I moved the torch beam back to the ground, she was right by my foot and her tail was wagging !
I suddenly realised I was dripping blood all over her head and back. A combination of the depth of the bite, it's location and the fact that I'm on blood thinner medication, all meant that I was leaking blood faster than Arnie's stunt double.
When we decided we'd had enough fun for the night and were encouraging Pixie to return inside, we noticed she was dragging her back legs just as she had done after popping her back and before her surgery. Oh my God was she paralysed again ???
I had to go to the bathroom to take care of my finger as I was dripping blood over everything. I heard Debby saying.....oh she's walking !! I came out and sure enough, Pixie was up on all 4 legs, albeit wobbling quite a lot on the back ones. What a relief. Again thinking back on it, the wagging tail was the first clue that she wasn't paralysed but I'd forgotten about that.
Anyway, since then she's almost fully back to how she was before the golf cart incident although I don't think she's quite as steady on those back legs yet.
As for me, I went to bed with my finger washed and covered with a plaster. I had Pixie in my room so I could respond to anything out of the ordinary during the night and was reading my book in bed (me, not Pixie) when thoughts of tetanus came into my head. That was it. As a confirmed hypochondriac I knew I'd not get any sleep unless I investigated further, so I got up and searched t'internet for help.
Oh if only it was that easy. I got more confusing and conflicting advice about what to do if you're bitten by a dog than I really needed at 2am. Keeping the wound under running water for 5-10 minutes seemed to be a universal truth. I hadn't done that. Do not use antibacterial cream or ointment. Damn, I HAD done that. You'll probably need a tetanus shot. I'd no idea when I'd last had a shot.
I sought advice everywhere. Emails to still sleeping friends who had dogs and so MAY have been bitten at some time. Posts on pet forums. I even used Skype later on to talk with a friend who rang NHS Direct on my behalf for advice. The tetanus issue remained unresolved. Did I need one or not ? Geez it was only a little bite on the end of my finger after all.
In the end, after getting about an hour of troubled sleep, I decided I needed to try and find out when I'd last had a shot and so I rang my doc's office back in the UK. That was fun. NOT. Receptionists do not suddenly speed up and become efficient even when you tell them you're ringing from 5,000 miles away and it's costing a fortune. I was put on hold. I was finally told that such information wasn't on my medical record. Wonderful. She then suggested I ring the following morning and make use of the doctor call back service if I wanted to actually speak with my doctor.
I reminded her I was in America and actually heard her say "oh we can't ring you there". I never exepcted them to........never intended to make use of the call back service. I didn't need to talk with my doctor. I just wanted to know when I last had a tetanus shot.
I decided to get one here. I needed peace of mind.
So now I was going to make use of my expensive medical insurance for the first time in 18 years.
I read the Endsleigh policy booklet and the instructions for making a claim and rang the US number - for some company called ISIS. After several minutes of musak, the line went dead. I rang again. After several more minutes of musak I got a person. Success. She took my details and opened a file on the incident and gave me a reference number. I was told to go to a web site (of another company - GMMI) and enter my location and I'd get a list of approved 'providers' from which to make my choice. Fabby.
I got onto the site and a drop down list gave an impressive menu of specialists covering acupuncture to zenophobia. I picked 2, family practice and general practice. I picked a 10 mile radius and hit the search option. No results. I made it 100 miles, the furthest possible. No results. I unchecked the 2 specialist choices and left it on 'no preference'. Hey maybe a gynecologist could give me a tetanus shot. Why not ?
Holy crap I'm in mid Florida, not mid Sahara Desert.
I called back and got the same lady. She asked for my location. I could hear her typing and finally she says......you're right. NO SHIT, LADY !!! Did she think I was lying ??? I guess so. I said now what ? She said now I could go to ANY doctor or hospital and just mention yet another insurance name and ask them to ring for authorisation to treat me.
After talking it over with Debby, I decided to ring her doctor here in Sebring and use this as an opportunity to be registered in case I have some medical problems in the future. Fine. I ring them and give them the name of this latest insurance (sub)company and they don't use them, never heard of them and aren't prepared to ring them.
A foreigner could die in this country before being seen !
The receptionist adds helpfully, "we take cash"
So does WalMart lady but I'm not going there for a tetanus shot !
I ring lady 1 again and put this new development to her. Yes it's fine for me to pay cash, get the receipts and send them, with a copy of my policy and they'll reimburse me - minus the £40 excess (co-pay) I signed up for. I'm good to go.
I'll draw a verbal veil over the doctor visit as you, my dear and faithful readers, are probably falling asleep by now. It was......different. I'll just summarise it all by saying....lots of forms, weight and blood pressure taken, lots of questions, saw a nurse, saw the doctor, got my bite cleaned and dressed, got a prescription for antibiotics and ta-daaaaaaaaaa, got my tetanus shot.
I was also offered a flu jab but I couldn't work out a way to get that into the treatment for a dog bite and so decided the insurance company would refuse to pay for it. I'll take my chances with flu.
The doc visit was $110, the prescription (with added peroxide and bandaids) was $25 but the peace of mind was, as they say, priceless. I'm now registered with a lovely lady doctor, I have even more pills to pop daily and best of all, my jaws shouldn't lock together anytime soon. I'm also relieved of washing up duties for a while and that's a huge bonus. I may never play the violin again but I couldn't before. Old joke I know.
We'll never know what went on under the golf cart that night as Pixie isn't telling. It's high enough off the ground that she shouldn't have got stuck. Not normally. The thing is, with her current odd way of walking, she does arch her back a lot. Maybe she DID get stuck a little and turned in a panic to get out and twisted her back. I guess that would've hurt a lot, considering her surgery was only 4 weeks or so ago and maybe she was simply just scared out of her little head. We donno.
Now I have more forms to fill in and I can't believe trying to get some of this money back from the insurance company is going to be straightforward. It never is. I sense another blog post may result.
If it does, you'll be the 2nd to know.
BEWARE OF THE DOG !!!