This summer has been the summer of health scares and unexpected expenses.  First, my father-in-law nearly died from a sinus infection that went into his brain (luckily, he pulled through and is doing much better now) and we made an impromptu out-of-state trip to visit Brad in the ICU.

How One Grape Almost Cost Me $2,200

Next, Herbie (our new puppy) ate one grape and that almost ended up costing us over $2,000…yes, really.  My step dad accidentally dropped some grapes on the floor when he was making his lunch and he thought he had picked all of them up but must have missed one.

When we saw Herbie eat a grape, we remembered that dogs aren’t supposed to eat grapes and we called the emergency vet to ask what we should do.  I thought they might tell us to wait it out and see if he starts acting sick.  Nope.

The vet told us to bring Herbie in ASAP so that they could give him something to make him throw up the grape.  I had assumed that everything would be fine after that since he had only eaten one grape (that we knew of).  Instead, the vet recommended that we keep Herbie in the vet hospital for the next 48 hours hooked up to an IV to prevent his kidneys from failing.  The estimated cost for this?  $2,200.  For one grape.

Even the vet admitted that this seems a little crazy for one grape, but as she explained, no one knows exactly what it is about grapes that is harmful to dogs.  For this reason, there is no “safe” amount for dogs to eat.  Some dogs are susceptible to kidney failure even after eating a small amount, and some dogs aren’t.  There’s no way to know ahead of time which dogs will be vulnerable to it.

Of course, we didn’t want Herbie’s kidneys to fail and we were getting ready to ask the vet about a payment plan.  (Because of our enormous extra payments on our student loan debt, we don’t usually keep much money in our checking accounts.  Our emergency fund consists of $1,000).

Luckily, we were able to talk to someone at poison control who knew more than the vet did about the effects of different quantities of grapes (the vet had no prior experience with a dog who had been brought in after eating only one grape).

The person at poison control said that she was comfortable with us monitoring Herbie from home since he had only had one grape and it had been in his system for less than an hour before he vomited.  He needed a blood test the next day to ensure that his kidney functioning was normal, but that was it.

Between the two vet visits, the total cost was $350 – not cheap, but certainly better than $2,200.  A week later, Herbie’s kidneys are still functioning normally and he is doing very well.

If we hadn’t gotten that second opinion from poison control, we probably would’ve shelled out $2,200 for a hospital stay that was not needed.  Calling poison control came with a $65 fee, but it was definitely worth it.

Recently, I had another issue that ended up almost costing me several hundred dollars.

How an iPhone Addiction Almost Cost Me $900+ in Medical Expenses

I’ve mentioned previously on the blog that I’ve been experiencing constant pain in my neck and shoulder over the past few months.  I went to a chiropractor recently and found out that I have forward head posture – aka “text neck”.  Forward head posture essentially means that my spine is curved the wrong way in my neck area, which tilts my head forward.

For every inch that the head is titled forward, it adds 10 pounds of force onto the neck.  If your head is titled 3 inches forward, your head feels 30 pounds heavier to your neck.  Your neck then has to work much harder to keep your head up, which causes your muscles and nerves to overexert themselves – leading to chronic pain.

The chiropractor recommended that I come in for twice per week adjustments for the next three months.  My insurance covers chiropractor visits, but I have a $35 copay.  I would end up paying nearly $900 out-of-pocket.  When he went over my “care plan”, the chiro talked about adjustments only and tried to get me to sign a contract stating that I would pay most of the cost up-front.

He made no mention of exercises that I could do at home or the poor habits that could potentially have caused my forward head posture (sleeping with too many pillows, poor posture, spending too much time on my phone and laptop, etc).

I have no interest in shelling out $900 for something that may not work – numerous credible resources state that there is no scientific evidence that chiropractic adjustments are more effective than other types of treatment (such as exercises).

To be clear, I am NOT trying to say that no one should see a chiropractor – if going to one helps you, that’s great.  I am simply saying that it isn’t always the ONLY option, and unfortunately, it’s expensive.

Instead of relying on one person’s advice, I’m going to get a second opinion.  I’m going to see a physical therapist who will (hopefully) teach me some neck exercises that I can do from home (for free).

After doing some research on my own, I’ve learned some other important information as well.  I changed my sleeping position, got a new pillow, rearranged my desks at work and home to be more ergonomic, and I’ve resolved to spend substantially less time on my iPhone.

I deleted most of the apps on my phone and now do all of my blogging/reading/working on my computer instead of my phone.  When I do spend time on my phone (usually for texting), I make an effort to look down with my eyes instead of my entire head.

If I had relied solely on the chiropractor’s advice, I would have spent $900 on treatments that may or may not work, and I may have continued to engage in the poor habits that caused my problems in the first place.

This is why getting a second opinion is crucial when you’re going to spend a large sum of money.

With all of the unexpected issues that have come up so far this summer, I could’ve spent over $3,000 if I hadn’t gotten a second opinion.


Other stuff you might like:

My Personal Finance “Aha” Moment
The Path to Financial Freedom Isn’t a Straight Line
Frugal Frustrations: When I Feel Like Giving Up
How Much of Personal Finance is Luck?
Why I Started a Three Year Spending Ban