I was chatting with an Embraced pet parent, LeAnne, a few months ago and she told me her crazy-awful story about her two cats and their adventures with lilies. I've used this situation in several conversations with journalists since; it's definitely a "glad I had pet insurance story" for pet health insurance month.
Here is LeAnne's story in her own words.
I am 33, active, not overweight, and generally healthy, yet I injured a disc in my back by sneezing and then injured it further by coughing a few weeks later. Part of my disc actually detached from the rest and the detached piece floated out and was pressing so hard on my sciatic nerve that it was causing my whole right leg to go numb. I could barely walk. I work for a large corporation that offers several options for health insurance, and since I historically only have preventative-type visits in a year, I always choose the lower monthly cost option with high copay and deductibles. This need for surgery was very unexpected and it cost me $5,000 out of pocket, and I was off work for two weeks, then restricted for another three weeks.
During the two weeks that I was at home, many friends, relatives, and coworkers sent flowers. Typically, I really don't like when people send me flowers, as I am always afraid that my over-curious cats will knock over a vase and hurt themselves and my floors. I decorated my back patio with all of the flowers instead of keeping them in the house. One Thursday afternoon I got yet another delivery (from the team that I manage at work.) I was out of vases, and the flowers hadn't bloomed yet, so I put them in the kitchen sink. I hate to sound ungrateful, but I just didn't know what to do with all of them! Before heading to bed, my fiance asked what I was going to do with them and I told him just to
leave them, I would figure it out in the morning.
The next day I decided to get on some work conference calls and do some work from home. I was busy all day and didn't even remember that I left the flowers in the sink in the kitchen. That afternoon, Flora (who traditionally DOESN'T get into things--that's Stella's job) walked into the family room where I was working and started throwing up. She was throwing up leaves. I ran to the lowers in the sink and saw teeth marks all over them. I also noticed about half of the flowers had bloomed overnight. I know that Easter lilies are bad or cats and when I saw the bloomed flowers, I knew they looked like a type of lily, so started googling. I quickly saw pictures of the kind of lily that as in my sink--it appeared to be an Asiatic Lily--which were labeled as highly poisonous to cats.
Due to my surgery, I wasn't even permitted to carry my cats, so I called my mom in a panic and told her that we had to get them both to the vet. It was Flo that was throwing up, but I wasn't going to leave Stella alone in the event she ingested them and was going to start throwing up next.
Because it was late in the day Friday and my vet knew how serious it was, she had me take them both to MedVet, a 24-hour vet hospital. I talked to my vet most of the way there, trying to decide if I should admit Stella too, and she said that even if Stella had brushed up against the pollen and licked it off of herself, she was in a lot of danger. Well, ironically, one of the funny things about Stella is that she licks EVERYTHING. Like a dog! She especially likes to lick Flo--constantly. Knowing that Flo had certainly played around in the flowers long enough to have brushed up against pollen, and then had obviously eaten the plant was enough--now I was scared for both of them. My vet had explained that lily ingestion causes kidney failure, and I was beside myself with concern, as I lost a cat about 3 years ago due to unexplained kidney failure at the age of 6 (no flowers that time, we have never been able to figure that out.) What I DID know is that there is no way to fix it or reverse it.
As the severity of this sunk in, I knew I was in for a huge bill. This was within less than two weeks of my surgery. I was already extremely concerned about the bills I was facing for my own health over the upcoming months. But, I reminded myself that this was why I had two things--pet insurance and a credit card. Granted, I HATE using credit cards, and between the cats and me, my balance is higher than it's ever been, but Embrace reimbursed a large portion of the expense, and I each month I am chipping away at the rest.
Like all pet owners, my cats mean the world to me. I felt incredibly guilty that I left those flowers in the house, and I couldn't imagine losing them. When reviewing the statistics on lily toxicity with my vet and the staff at MedVet, I was truly bracing for the possibility of losing one or both of them. Having insurance allowed me to make decisions based upon what was best for them, not what I could afford. That peace of mind was so important to me--especially since my body and mind was already under a lot of stress with my own operation.
I appreciate what Embrace offers and what you do to help your customers through situations like this. I plan to keep insurance for these two for the rest of their lives--I can't afford NOT to.
Flora's vet bill total was $1,410 and Stella's was $1,305. With their deductible of $400 and reimbursement percentage of 80%, LeAnne received back $1,500. Her policy premium for both cats is $356 a year - less than a dollar a day.
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
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Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
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"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix