There are days when you feel anxious and lose focus on many things. Listen to Whitney Lauritsen as she shows how she learned about some tools that helped her during the tough time her dog, Evie, was at the vet. Having tools is an excellent way to help yourself be distracted. Whitney shows us that, although we have other ways to deal with our anxiety, it is also worth noting that it is okay to be vulnerable and seek someone to share your discomfort with. Tune in to this episode and learn from Whitney’s experience. Always remember that it is valuable to put yourself first!
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Dealing With Anxiety: The Tools I learned During Tough Times
This has been a struggle in an interesting way that I want to share. I want to start by sharing one big thing that I’ve learned from the emotional well-being coaching training program that I’m in, which is how important it is for people to feel heard. Sometimes people don’t want solutions or advice. They just want to share.
I’m in that spot. I want to thank you in advance for reading. Most of you read but sometimes people will read an episode and reach out to me and share advice or something. That’s very well-meaning. I’m that type of person too. I want to help, support and problem solve but I am having the clarity at this moment that there’s only one other person that can solve this with me beyond myself.
Taking Evie To The Vet
At this moment, I don’t have answers. Let me share what’s going on. I took my dog, Evie, to the vet. Her vet specializes in dental care. I took her in for a cleaning and I wanted to do that before we left. In 2021, when I was on my road trip, she was having some dental and gum issues. I remember feeling super stressed about it and got an appointment for her when we returned to Los Angeles.
In 2022, I was like, “I’m going to get her another cleaning and make sure everything’s good. They’ll check her out.” After that appointment, they recommend a follow-up visit because her gums are either infected or there’s food getting stuck up there. I’m not fully clear. They want to do an X-ray and a deeper cleaning.
That was concerning on a few levels. One is the possibility that she might need more teeth extracted. She’s had at least two teeth operations. It’s super expensive, thousands of dollars. I can’t remember if I shared this in an episode but it is stressful for that reason. I have opted not to have pet insurance. All of the financial responsibility falls on me.
In hindsight, I spent thousands of dollars on her dental care but it’s all okay. It’s such a great lesson with money because I also spent a ton of time researching insurance. It was maybe after the appointment in 2021 I sat down and weighed out all the pros and cons. I did all this research and ultimately have decided not to get insurance because it seems like I was guaranteed to lose money every month.
I wasn’t guaranteed that I would need that insurance. That’s the way insurance works versus a lot of the alternatives recommended saving for your dog. I believe it was late 2021 when I started saving money every month for Evie. I bought her a stock that I invest in twice a month, a small amount but that has been her insurance. Unfortunately, the appointment was more than I expected. I got off the phone with the vet saying that she needs another X-ray because of her heart murmur.Sometimes, people don't want solutions or pieces of advice. They want to share. Click To Tweet
A few years ago, this same vet practice noticed a heart murmur while they were doing one of her cleanings and they didn’t make a big deal out of it. It didn’t say much. I usually forget about it until I go to the vet. She doesn’t have any other issues but the vet called and said he wanted to do an X-ray to check on her heart before proceeding because they have to do some light sedation.
This vet is called Green Dog Dental. For anyone in Los Angeles that’s looking for dental care for their dog, so far, I’ve had good experiences with them but not perfect. There are a few minor issues but overall, I appreciate them. They’re also on the pricier side. I did a ton of research on dental options in the Los Angeles area. I still picked them because the reviews were positive and had my positive experiences but it’s not cheap by any means. However, I would rather spend the money and get quality care.
Let me go on a little tangent for a second. The very first appointment that I had was to get her examined for teeth extractions because the other place I was taking her to could only do basic teeth cleaning for her. They said that her teeth were loose and probably needed to be extracted. They couldn’t do it. That’s why I went to Green Dog. One thing I like about Green Dog Dental is that they text and call you. They texted me that she’s stable under sedation. They’re working on her dental X-rays and cleaning.
I chose Green Dog Dental a few years ago. They have a couple of different locations. I’ve been to a few of them. They’ve done a great job but it’s crazy how much money. In hindsight, I wonder if I’ve chosen insurance probably. If I had known how much money I was going to spend in a few years, I’d probably spend at least $7,000. When I priced out insurance, in my likely neuro-divergent way, I did a hyper-fixated, deep dive research project for myself to select a dentist and also to look into insurance.
The cheapest insurance that I have found is $80 a month. That’s about $1,000 a year. I would have been guaranteed to spend at least $4,000 in the past few years that I’m talking about this dental stuff. Me spending $7,000 is $3,000 more than that but most insurance only covers 70% to 80%. This is great. This confirms exactly why I haven’t gotten insurance for her.
What it’s saying is the insurance would have covered about $5,500. I would have paid out of pocket $1,500, which would have led my insurance costs to be at least $5,500. Maybe I would have saved $1,500 if I had insurance all these years ago. That’s also on the low end of insurance from what I saw. This is great for me to share out loud at this moment because I’m wondering, “Have I made a mistake of not getting insurance,” but it’s all about that risk.
I would rather be guaranteed to be saving money. If you’re curious what I did instead is I came up with several how much money I would like to save over time. Evie is on an older side of a dog. I’m hoping she gets close to twenty. Maybe she’ll make it to twenty. I started to think about how much money would I want to save for her in case of an emergency. I even like looked up what typical emergency costs are, started making a plan and picked a number divided that by however many years I hope she lives so morbid. I came up with a monthly allotment for myself. I’m going to check my math again.
What I’m saving for her could get me there in the time that she may have. The other thing is also being morbid, if Evie does not live very long and I don’t spend all the money I’m saving for her every month, I’ll have that for myself and/or another companion animal in the future. To me, that felt like a better use of my money. That’s how I thought through it. This is when I get very practical but there’s the emotional side.
Going back, I brought her in for a follow-up and was feeling anxious. I feel a lot of anxiety around Evie. She’s my first dog on my own. I remember when she was a puppy, I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing. It was what I expect being a parent would be like. I wanted this dog but how am I going to take care of this thing? She’s had little issues here and there. She’s a huge part of my life. Taking her to the vet when she’s a senior dog and not knowing what’s going to happen is scary for me.
It went pretty well at Green Dog Dental. One of the reasons I picked them is that they try not to sedate your dog versus a lot of places that do dental work use anesthesia. Green Dog is it’s a deeper cleaning that they need to do or if your dog is a little on the aggressive side. In 2021, Evie had to start being sedated on her regular cleanings because she was aggressive with the technicians. She growled and looks like she was going to bite them. She’s old and nervous. They had started sedating her.
When I picked her up, she was super groggy for hours and that felt concerning. Knowing that I had to go in, they are going to sedate her again and there was going to be a high, if not higher bill. I sit around for hours waiting to hear from the vet. I finally get an update. Previous to that update, I felt like I could not focus. That was the reason that I decided to sit down and do this episode. I don’t feel like I can focus on anything other than Evie. That’s so frustrating.
I had this whole plan for how I wanted to spend my day and what I was going to get done but my anxiety, perhaps other elements of how my brain works and how I respond to stress, I feel like my brain shuts down. I got back from the vet and had two things I had to do immediately that took up about an hour. Once those were done, I felt my body start to, not shut down but I haven’t been able to do much. That in itself is frustrating.
I sat on the couch for a bit and scrolled through TikTok. I ate a little food. I still haven’t eaten enough but my appetite is weird. I lay on my bed. If you’re not watching, the visual behind me is my body pillow. I want to give a shout-out, not only to the body pillow, which is from the brand Essentia. I’m obsessed with this body pillow. It’s so amazing.
I got this new cover from this random brand I found on Amazon called Cosmoplus and this jersey knit cover is amazing. It took my body pillow to a whole another level and this is not sponsored. Isn’t it funny how many people feel the need to say I’m not sponsored when we rave about something? It’s such a weird time to live in where if you publicly make a positive statement about a brand, some people assume that you’re being sponsored.The comfort of being with a group of compassionate people is so healing. Click To Tweet
I bought this. I’d never heard of this company before. It’s wonderful. That was great for me. When I was feeling stressed, I lay on the body pillow, which hugs me from both sides and gives me that comfort. I had my weighted blanket on top of that, which is also a game changer for my anxiety and stress. I know that. When I am feeling overstimulated, stressed, anxious or can’t focus, I go into it like a cocoon. I also pulled out my favorite fidget toy. I’m blanking on the name of this thing. It’ll come to me but it is my go-to. When I am feeling fidgety, I use it. It also helps when I’m feeling anxious.
I need to move my body a lot when I feel this way. I’ve been thinking about jumping on my rebounder, my little trampoline or using my Quest 2 VR headset to do some immersive experience. I have resisted that because I don’t want to be that distracted. Even though scrolling through TikTok is a distraction. You could even say doing this show is a distraction. I don’t know. I’m trying to be selective and aware of the type of distractions. The way I’m feeling about the unknown is I want to crawl out of my skin. I feel not good but I also don’t want to run away from that.
There are so many things I could go do. I haven’t eaten lunch yet but my body doesn’t want food. I tried eating some gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookies and they tasted nice but that’s not what my body needed. I’ve been thinking about making a beyond burger but it doesn’t appeal to me. I’m trying to drink a lot of water and sit with myself. I could go on and on and make this list of how I could make myself feel better and escape.
Making Financial Decisions
Beyond doing this episode, trying to escape is not what I need. I feel like I want to talk through it and that’s what I’m doing as if you were a friend. To add to the stress, when the vet called me, he shared that they’re doing this other X-ray that’s going to cost more money. I found myself at that moment having a good experience though because I value Evie so much. I love her and feel financially secure in my life.
I also have credit cards with room to put additional expenses on. Was I budgeting for this? No. Do I have the money in a savings account for Evie? Yes. Do I want to take the money out of the savings account? No, but that’s what it’s there for. It’s there for unexpected costs and that’s an interesting practice too. I’ve become very attached in a lot of ways to my savings account. I have this awesome High Yield Savings Account. It’s through Ally Bank. I love them. I would have them sponsor me in a heartbeat.
Although I have not looked into fully their ethics as a company, fingers crossed. They’re an ethically good bank all things considered. Although the other bank that I use is not as ethical and I have stayed with them for a host of reasons I’m not going to get into. Banking is complicated. I’ve been wanting to look into credit unions but it hasn’t been a priority amongst everything given that I tend to spend hours researching things. I haven’t gotten to research credit unions. If you have one that you’d like to recommend, I’d love to hear it.
I love my High Yield Savings Account with Ally because they allow you to put your money into buckets. It’s treated as one lump sum on which you earn interest. It’s relatively high compared to what you would earn on a regular savings account. I have a bucket for Evie and general emergencies. They’re folders or categories. I’ve planned it all out. I put money into most, if not all, of the buckets on Ally every month. It’s sitting there. I see that money and I look at it sometimes. It brings me joy. I feel excited to feel financial security.
The opposite happens when I need to take money out of there. I feel like I worked so hard to get the money in here and save up and then it’s being taken away. It’s this experience with the vet when he called me and said, “It’s going to be X amount more money to have the X-ray done and potentially even more if we discover more issues.” I was faced with the temptation of panic. I released that and said, “This is what that money’s for. You love your dog. You’re committed to your dog so you’re going to spend the money.”
That decision is so personal because some people wouldn’t do those things. Some people would say, “I can’t afford to do the X-ray.” That’s okay too. In these situations, there’s no right or wrong. I’ve had so many bad experiences over time. One of them in particular years ago. I brought Evie to a vet practice that I liked for a while until this one vet who was not helpful from my perspective was purely like, “Here are your options. Which one do you want?”
I wanted guidance. In hindsight, I wonder how much of my supposedly neuro-divergence played a role in that situation because I struggle with certain types of communication. I need deep clarity, oftentimes repetition. I’d benefit from seeing things in writing. I also appreciate it when somebody helps me make a decision. If they will not help me make a decision, I need to hyper-fixate or be hyper-focused. I need to manage my anxiety, stress and decision brain. I feel best when I can dig in and feel clarity.
With that vet in the past, she was not working well with my communication style and was not willing to help me make a decision. She kept saying, “It’s up to you.” She was saying things that I didn’t understand. How could I make a decision? That was challenging. I’ve done some growth. I have more awareness. I know what my needs are. I have a lot of clarity about my values and ethics. I’ve also done a lot of work financially so that I can have more room to make these tough decisions as I did. At that moment with the vet, first of all, he was awesome in walking through what he would recommend. That made a world of a difference.
It’s interesting. There are always these little moments of like, “Is he recommending this?” You want the best for your dog. That’s part of what makes medical stuff, in general, challenging. We want the best for our animals, ourselves and kids like anyone else but when money comes into play, it’s a hard decision to make sometimes. In this specific situation though, I sat for only a couple of seconds and realized, “It’s an unexpected cost but I can make more money and put it on a credit card.”
I have one card through CareCredit. It’s another thing I recommend, depending on your financial relationship because it’s also a credit card. With every purchase you make and this might not apply to everybody, but from my account with CareCredit, they give you 6 months 0 APR. If you pay down what you put on that card within six months, you don’t pay any interest. I’m going to double-check that. Don’t quote me on it. I will likely end up using that CareCredit card. I can spread it out so that feels a little bit more comfortable to me but this is tough too. It’s like, “Technically, I could dive into my savings and pay it all upfront.” That’s an option too. I haven’t even fully thought through it.
I often like to poke big purchases on another credit card of mine because I get points or rewards back. I have to weigh out, “Are those rewards from that credit card purchase worth it or would I prefer more time to make the payments?” The other side of it is if I don’t take it out of the High Yield Savings Account right away, it can accrue interest, which is probably in alignment with what I would get through my credit cards.It's valuable in many ways to practice being what we perceive as selfish and realizing that it's not necessarily negative. Click To Tweet
Now that I’m talking this through, that might be a good choice and this is it. I’m demonstrating to you, not just what I’m going through for your interest but if you’re trying to think through hard things, whether you’re anticipating them looking back on hindsight or dealing with them in the present moment, practice and think through, “How would I handle this?” I’m curious. What would you do? Do you have pet insurance or a savings account for your animals? Do you use credit cards? How do you make these tough decisions? How do you decide what vet to go to? These are complex choices.
To me, it also helps to think how Evie brings so much to my life. When I came back from the vet, I had to drop her off. It’s about 30 to 40 minutes away from me. Los Angeles traffic can be challenging. It could even be an hour away. When I pick her up, I’ll probably have to sit in an hour’s worth of traffic on the way back but that’s okay because I like this vet a lot. Valuing Evie’s care, trusting somebody given how anxious I feel, I can’t imagine if I took her to a vet that I didn’t feel that trust with. I’d probably wouldn’t be able to do this episode. I don’t know what I would do with myself if I didn’t have the history with this vet and some of the mental tools that I’ve developed over time.
My anxiety gets so intense. I can feel it. My body feels different when I’m stressed and anxious. That’s why lying under the weight of a blanket feels so good. The pressure helps with that crawling out of the skin feeling. It’s so comfortable. I want to feel like I’m being hugged constantly. The combination of the body pillow and the weighted blanket is amazing for this.
I’m feeling that way but still somehow moving through this well. I have butterflies in my stomach because I still need to get a phone call from the doctor after they do the X-rays. It’s not over yet. That anticipation is challenging. I’m also thinking of the X-ray. The best case scenario is that the X-ray shows them that her heart is fine and it’s not a big deal.
That money would still be worth paying for that piece of mind. If they do the X-ray and find out that something’s going on with her heart, that could feel tough. I don’t know what it’s going to feel like until it happens but that’s important information for me. They’d recommend that I take her to a cardiologist regardless. It’s more money and stress but I love this dog. She has been an amazing companion.
This is something that’s not talked about enough, at least not that I’ve regularly heard. A lot of people talk about getting animals very relaxed because it’s easy. There are so many animals that need homes. They need to be adopted. You can go anywhere. I could walk a couple of blocks down the street to a place and get a cat if I wanted to. There’s a cat cafe near me. I would love to go there and get a cat. At this moment, I’m remembering that you’re committed to this animal. You’re buying them food, taking them to the vet for emergencies and getting little things done like Evie’s nail trim, which she won’t let me do myself.
Crash-Tested Harness, Pet Insurance, And Car Safety Pet Accessories
I always have to get a professional nail trimmer, also with the dental cleanings and the flea and tick treatment. I bought her stuff for the road trip, a brand new harness. That’s cool. I don’t remember what the company is called but I want to pull this up since I’m mentioning a few products here. Another thing that I did a ton of research on is car safety. I can’t remember if I mentioned this in a previous episode but in hindsight, I’m thinking I have not done a lot of car safety practices with Evie in these years that she’s been in my life. I look back on some of the road trips I’ve taken her on where if I had gotten into an accident, she might not have survived specifically.
The one I took years ago with my sister, my first cross-country trip, my car was packed to the brim because I was moving from San Francisco and temporarily going to my parent’s house in Massachusetts. My stuff along with my sister’s stuff was fully packed in this small car. I have a picture of Evie in-between the two front seats up above our shoulders. She was laying on stacks of suitcases or whatever else was in there. She wasn’t strapped in whatsoever. If we got in an accident, she would have gone straight through the windshield.
At the moment, I didn’t give it a second thought. Evie’s comfortable, no big deal but then I’m like, “That wasn’t the best choice.” The last few road trips I’ve done I’ve been a little bit more cautious but she’s still sat in the front seat, which I’m learning is not great for your dog. She didn’t have a crash-tested harness on her. I got one from this company called Kurgo. I opted for the less expensive one, not because of money but because I compared a few. They can cost upwards of $100. The one I got was $33 the day I bought it. It’s a crash-tested safety harness for dogs with good ratings.
There’s another company I want to recommend that I’ve considered for a health insurance option. It’s not technically pet insurance. It’s like community care. I feel like I brought this up in a previous episode but worth mentioning again. It’s called USO. I’m glad that whole call happened. First of all, spent fifteen minutes talking to the vet. This is another reason like with our human medical care working with a doctor, you get what you pay for in a lot of ways. If you can afford it, picking someone that has been highly reviewed is great. Although I would say with Green Dog Dental, every time I’ve gone there, there’s been a new vet.
That’s one of the bigger downsides. That’s common for a lot of vet practitioners. I would love to have the same vet over and over again. When I first got Evie, I had this wonderful house-call vet named Dr. Armaiti May and we did YouTube videos together. She is vegan and I wanted to consult with her because I raised Evie on a plant-based diet. She was always so great and informative.
A house-call vet is a nice choice. Over time, I started going to offices because it was a lot more affordable. I’ve been going to Green Dog now so I don’t know. It’s possible that it’s about the same price and given I have to drive there with traffic and all that. Who knows? My point is this wonderful doctor that I spoke to spent fifteen minutes, which felt so generous. He went through all the options, which was so great, especially given that the price has doubled from what I initially thought it was going to be.
After everything I’ve shared in this episode, I got to practice it once again in almost real-time. I heard what he had to say. He made a recommendation. Evie has to get another extraction, which is what I was concerned about. However, I thought it could be both teeth. That’s what they were worried about. That’s why they did the X-rays and deep cleaning. They found one tooth they highly recommend getting extracted. He talked me through it, the pros and cons and the long-term impact. I thought, “I’m going to say yes to this, even though it’s a lot more.”
I’m going to focus on the fact that I’m doing the best for my dog, I have money in my savings account for this and I can make more. Sometimes I think at least in my experience when things like this happen that impact me financially, it motivates me to do more. I feel very grateful that I’m feeling financially stable and that I have opportunities for more work. Not everybody is in that position. I don’t want to take that for granted, nor do I want to say that that’s going to apply to everybody else.You have to emotionally and financially support yourself through tough times. Click To Tweet
I’ve learned all these lessons to emotionally and financially support me through tough times like I’ve been going through with Evie. I’m not going to pause this episode, go pick her up, come back and finish it off. I will try to remember to do that in the next episode. I hope that everything goes smoothly. I still have the lingering anxiety of waiting to hear how she does because complications can happen. That’s the thing too.
I’ve tried, as Evie gets older, to be as present and loving with her as possible. I have no idea how much time I have. Doing all these expensive vet practices or extractions and all these things that I’ve done to take care of her doesn’t guarantee me time. I was going to write the other element of going on road trips. My life is at risk driving around the country as I do. Even though I’m in a safe car and I feel like I’m a safe driver, anything could happen. I saw a video on TikTok when I was laying in bed. That probably wasn’t the greatest thing to watch while feeling anxious.
There was a news clip of a freak hail storm that happened in Canada in an area I’m passing through. I was like, “I did not think that hail could be a factor in a summer road trip.” As I learned in 2020 on my road trip, there was a freak snowstorm. I hope the word freak is not offensive. I don’t know what else to use. It’s an unexpected snow storm in early September of 2022 when it was supposed to be 70 to 80 degrees.
The temperature dropped to 30 degrees and it snowed. I’d never driven my car in the snow before because I live in California. That inspired me to get all-weather tires. The tires that came on my car are all-weather. When I needed to buy new tires, I got some to prep me for any type of road condition. Certainly, I won’t be that prepared if I end up in a hailstorm.
Much can happen. We never know. I’m trying not to feel anxious about that but I do like to be proactive. I got Evie two things for car safety. One is the Kurgo dog harness. I also wanted to get her a new car seat. I ended up getting one from Kurgo as well called the Rover Booster Dog Car Seat. That is compatible with this harness, which attaches to the seat belts more safely. I did a bunch of research.
It was hard to get some clear answers. A lot of people recommend using a crate. That’s the safest option for your dog but I had to balance out the fact that Evie enjoys lounging around in the car on these long trips and a crate takes up so much space. I found my happy medium with the harness and a nicer seat than she has. I also am sadly going to move her to the back seat. I’ve been traveling with her a lot in the front seat next to me on the passenger side. It’s nice because I can reach over and pet her but for her safety, I’m going to relocate her to the back seat, set up this new harness and a car seat for her and see how that goes.
It’s Not Negative To Be Selfish
I’m sure that’ll be part of my road trip summary episode whenever I make it back. They’ll probably be a few of those. The road trip is going to come up in most episodes because it’s such a huge part of my life. Taking a deep breath on a call and talking through this episode was helpful. I have a little time before I leave. I’m going to head over to the side of town where the vet’s located to try to charge my car. I’m going to go grocery shopping at Whole Foods to get some food for the road. I have coaching training.
Twice a week we have live coaching sessions for the certification program I’m in. I’m looking forward to this session because every time we do one of these sessions, I not only learn how to be a better coach but a lot of well-being practices. The comfort of being with a group of compassionate people is so healing. I also have a long list of things that I didn’t accomplish during the stress anxiety I felt. I’m trying to get a lot of sleep. That’s been hard. Not that I can’t sleep physically. I could sleep 10 hours, even 16 hours as I did after my international travel.
Getting sleep is not a problem but when I have a lot to do, it’s so hard for me because I ended up staying up late. That’ll be another challenge for me and the ripple effect of this but I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to continue to let the day flow, trust myself, tune in and breathe through it all. Thank you so much. You have done something beautiful by reading this, which is holding space for me. I want to honor and acknowledge that. That is a gift.
I hope that this episode was helpful to you but maybe you being there for me virtually, even if it’s not in real-time, was of help because it feels good to be there for others. It’s an interesting thing doing an episode like this because most podcasts are either entertaining or informative. Maybe there are elements of both in a show like this but it feels vulnerable to ask a reader to be there for me. I get nervous. Is it selfish? I don’t know what else it could be. It’s that fear I have of putting myself first.
As I’ve been talking about a lot in these solo episodes, it’s valuable to put ourselves first, make ourselves a priority and in many ways practice being what we perceive to be selfish and realizing that it’s not necessarily negative to be selfish. It’s not negative to ask somebody for support, ask someone to listen to us and let them know we don’t need advice. We need their presence.
I also hope that by demonstrating that I’m helping you but even for me, it’s complicated and tough to ask for something without giving them in return. It’s my tendency to give and feel uncomfortable “taking and receiving” but that’s all part of this journey too. I will be back again with a guest. If you would like to get alerts and be notified, you can subscribe to the show on your favorite player.
If you want to get in touch with me, you can email me, direct message me on social and join my private community, Beyond Measure, in which we have weekly conversations in a back-and-forth real-time experience and dig into all the nuances of what it means to be human and a human being who wants to raise their self-awareness and learn more about themselves without feeling judged and having a psychologically safe place to have vulnerable open discussions to connect. That’s what Beyond Measure is all about. I’d love to have you part of that. Thanks again for reading. I’ll hope to connect with you sometime soon. Bye for now.
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