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Claim story: Ozzie’s "perfect storm of a stomach" surgery

Today, we have a claim story from Embrace’s Claims Manager, Chris Wrona. She has recently gone through over $12,000 of veterinary bills and two health crises with her dogs and shares her story here.

Ozzie 1My little boy, Ozzie, has had a rough couple of months and I’m so very thankful for Embrace. I’m the type of pet parent who will go to the ends of the earth if I know it can help my fur kids and I’ve been in the extremely difficult situation of not having an insurance policy in effect when my fur kids got sick. This was well before Embrace and I will never be without Embrace insurance again.  Prior to having insurance for my other pets,  I worked multiple jobs to pay off the debt  from their unexpected, uninsured medical expenses. I don’t have to worry about the expense now that I have Embrace insurance and can strictly focus on the best care that is needed. 

This was put to the test this past May. Ozzie, my youngest, is an amazing dog. He can jump a 4 foot wall from a standstill and is just always so full of energy but in May, Ozzie had something so simple turn into a life threatening condition and I’ll never forget the words of the surgeon “Mrs. Wrona, I need to let you know Ozzie’s prognosis is guarded and most of the pets who experience this don’t make it.” 

Ozzie began licking his rectum in May of this year. Being a veterinary technician prior to Embrace, I knew this may be something simple but shouldn’t be ignored too long. I checked his anal glands and they were normal so off to the vet we went. We decided to change to a vet closer to home (our prior vet was great but pretty far away). The vet diagnosed Ozzie with anal sacculitis but I wasn’t convinced; however, I decided to follow the treatment protocol to see how he responded. 

Ozzie 3Just a couple of days into the treatment he began bleeding from the rectum and his poor little bum became inflamed. Not large amounts of blood but enough for a neurotic pet mom to rush him to the emergency room on Mother’s day. The emergency room vet, who knows Ozzie very well due to his appetite for anything inappropriate, noted that she didn’t see much wrong with his anal glands but he had been on antibiotics.  We changed the treatment protocol but were warned to make a recheck appointment if he didn’t get better. Ozzie did very well on this new treatment until the treatment stopped, then it all came back. Off to the Internal Medicine Specialist we go! 

The beginning of June, Ozzie visited the Internal Medicine Specialist who changed the treatment protocol and warned me that if this didn’t work we would need to do further diagnostics including colonoscopy. So far the cost was only $911.00 but I knew how much a colonoscopy/endoscopy would
cost. The new treatment didn’t do anything to help Ozzie and the day of diagnostics were scheduled.  Ozzie had to stay at the hospital for almost two days and while I couldn’t stay with him overnight, I was at the hospital by his side early the morning of his procedure (of course visited with him most of
the day prior too). I never once had to worry about how I was going to pay for this because he was insured with Embrace. I made sure Ozzie was insured extremely early in his life before he had a chance to develop any pre-existing conditions. I had confidence this would be covered and after submitting my claim and going through our stringent internal review for Embracer claims, it was.  I was able to be worried about my boy and focus on just being with him.

The emotional/financial rollercoaster doesn’t stop there. It turns out Ozzie had Irritable Bowel Disease but not only did his story continue, my little girl, Mysha, became seriously ill 3 days after he came home.  Again, something simple that turned out to be serious. She coughed once and I didn’t think much of it. The cough progressed and of course we were into the vet immediately but despite the best efforts by the vets, they couldn’t save her. Ozzie came home on Tuesday and my Mysha
crossed the rainbow bridge the following Sunday. Ozzie’s expense for his diagnostics were an additional $2500 and Mysha’s expenses were $2600. It’s never about money when it comes to my babies care but knowing we didn’t have to worry about the financial side let me mourn my little girl and focus my efforts on Ozzie’s care.

Ozzie 2Well you guessed it, Ozzie wasn’t out of the woods yet. His treatment for the Irritable Bowel Disease caused more harm than good. I watched my beautiful boy waste away to nothing.  He was lethargic and lost all of his muscle mass. He didn’t play anymore, had trouble getting off and on the couch , we had to lift him onto the bed and my baby who once gave me kisses any chance he could, stopped giving me kisses. I consulted with the vet weekly and continually pressured to change the treatment because of what was happening. Again, Embrace came through and I was able to get a second opinion without worrying about the expense.  This occurred near the middle of August, and the new Internal Medicine Specialist changed his treatment. After only two days on the new treatment, Ozzie was more alert and wanted to play. He even gave me kisses again.

The next day he was playing and doing so much better but we didn’t realize we were at the top of another hill on the roller coaster ride. Ozzie vomited at 3:00 am on a Sunday morning, he had a lot of activity the day prior and he didn’t seem critical so we decided to wait a bit to see how he did. Later that morning, he was worse and didn’t want to eat anything including my breakfast, which is not like him.  We rushed to the emergency room again.  The vets were suspicious of a foreign body but due to the treatment of Irritable Bowel Disease he was not a good candidate for surgery. They decided to keep him and have the radiologist review the radiographs and possibly do more diagnostics. I decided to go home because I couldn’t stay with him and I would just wait for the vets update. 

I hadn’t been home for 15 minutes when I got the call. The veterinarian called to say that Ozzie’s stomach had ruptured and she needed my authorization to rush him to emergency surgery. I went back to the hospital to at least be in the building during his surgery. I was able to visit with Ozzie and meet the surgeon who reviewed all of the details with me including the uncomfortable (for the vet) topic of expense. I think he actually breathed a sigh of relief when I told him Ozzie was insured and we didn’t need to worry about expense.  

My husband left work as early as he could and met me at the hospital to wait. Over 4 hours later the surgeon emerged to let us know that Ozzie did well through surgery but the prognosis was bad. Ozzie had ingested 5 socks and a bandana but the surgeon felt this isn’t what ruptured his stomach.  He let us know that he took a biopsy sample to figure out what caused this. This is when he let us know that Ozzie most likely wouldn’t make it (well, at least that’s what we heard) but he was going to do the best he possibly could. The surgeon let us know he would call us immediately if Ozzie worsened so we could be there if he should go to meet his sister across the rainbow bridge. Again, we were not concerned about finances and could just focus on Ozzie.  My husband and I have been through this before and knew this was going to be between $5000 and $8000. The final bill was $7500.

My strong boy amazed everyone and not only pulled through but exceeded everyone’s expectations.  He has since gained most of his strength back and has returned to the hyperactive boy he was before this whole ordeal. His Irritable Bowel Disease in maintained and we are weaning him off of all treatments. 

We found out that his stomach was the perfect storm. He was immune-compromised due to the treatment of the irritable bowel disease and he developed an overgrowth of bacteria that caused an ulceration in his stomach. Plant material was found on biopsy of the tissue so we can only speculate that he ate a piece of plant material that was hard and it punctured the weak spot causing it to rupture. Where most dogs eat grass when they’re stomach is upset, Ozzie eats clothing.  We are
doing everything to prevent a relapse and we have puppy proofed the house even more diligently than before.

As an Embrace employee, it’s difficult to tell people about my claim stories because many feel that employees get special treatment working for Embrace; however, this is the farthest from the truth.  Employee’s undergo a much more strict claim review than our non-employee pet parents. Our claims are processed according to the same policy terms and conditions but there is an additional review by our Chief Embracer to ensure there’s no funny business and are audited by our insurance underwriter twice a year. Our claims are just as real and even if I didn’t work for Embrace, all of my pets will be insured by Embrace.  There’s no way I could save up to pay for the $12,000 in bills that piled up in just 4 months.  Thank you Embrace for all you do and helping me to provide the best care to my family members without having to worry about how we will afford it.

To date, Ozzie is recovering remarkably well and has been spitting his ball onto my laptop trying to get my attention as I was typing this.  He’s even gone as far as licking my laptop screen :)   I’m so very thankful to have my boy with me today and thankful to Embrace for being the company they say they are. Ozzie sends you many puppy kisses for helping to save his life!

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