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Taking a stand on healthcare costs Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Oct 02 2010 12:00 PM

Lines are made to be drawn in the sand, aren't they? Years ago, after Gracie may or may not have eaten rat poison and we visited the emergency room and spent a few hundred dollars on tests and ultimately treatment, the decision was made to set a cap on healthcare.

We don't have insurance so all medical expenses are out-of-pocket-never-going-to-see-any-of-that-money-again costs.

Some people say it's hard to put a price tag on good health but when forced to make tough decisions (eating versus healing a broken body), it's funny how you can suddenly assign a dollar value to things. Even life and death.

At the time Gracie was 3 years old.

"Listen," I said, feeling angry and embarrassed because of my inadequacy as a caregiver. "You can't be doing this anymore. Getting sick costs money. Hell, keeping you healthy costs money. I can't afford to keep doing this. This is the last time."

Gracie stared at me a few seconds then turned and left the room. He started to chase the cat but after a couple steps he stopped, threw up on the linoleum and started to eat it.

Stupid dog.

Since then Gracie developed canine melanoma. Skin cancer on a dog? Are you kidding me? I asked him: "What good is all that hair that sheds on my clothes if you're going to develop skin cancer." He responded by licking himself.

The surgery to remove the cancerous growths all over his body cost twice what it cost to save him from the rat poison he may or may not have ingested years before.

Unfortunately the line in the sand was redrawn.

It doesn't seem fair. After all, I'm the one who has to trail behind him like a servant, scooping up the waste he leaves behind after relieving himself like an imperious lord. And I'm the one who gets blamed when he breaks wind in a crowded room.

Couldn't he show a little appreciation by taking better care of himself and wearing sunblock with SPF 90? But he doesn't care. He just wants to live in the moment and have a good time. Dumb dog.

Recently, a trip to the vet revealed that Gracie had ruptured his cranial cruciate ligament. He blew out his knee. The doc says the surgery to repair it will cost close to $4,000.

"How much to put him down?" Whoa, easy Doc, it was only a joke (sort of).

Four thousand dollars. How many times can that line in the sand be redrawn, I wonder.

And I also wonder if he really needs all four legs. After all, I'm getting along well enough on only two.

Also, would Gracie mind having his name changed to Tripod?

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