Sunday, January 29, 2012

Grapefruit Juice & Other Things We Are Going to Die From

I was going through some piles of things from vet school and came across this list. It was compiled by my friends and I during basically years one and two. After that I became too apathetic to notice. Let me explain. Our professors were a pretty morbid bunch, although friendly about it, don't get me wrong. When we were discussing certain diseases or syndromes that were particularly nasty, they would often comment that it may be the death of us later in life. It became a hilarious list, and sometimes we added several deaths per day. Most of them can and do kill people, and I am NOT trying to make light of any of these often serious diseases. (I recognize they may only be funny to me, however decided to share it anyway. It's my blog and I can do what I want!)

Things We Are Going to Die From

1. Rabies
2. BSE
3. "Not healthy"
4. Heart disease
5. Cancer
6. Small pox
7. Flu pandemic
8. Homicide (if you're a zoo vet)
9. Contagious Pustular Dermatitis Virus
10. Anthrax
11. Monkeypox
12. Avian Influenza
13. Hypoglycemia
14. Acetaminophen overdose
15. Grapefruit juice
16. Suppurative Brain abscess
17. Moldy bread
18. Nasty Exam Cycle
19. Radiation excess
20. Lung disease
21. Tuberculosis
22. Mexico
23. Leptospirosis
24. Psittacosis
25. Vet school cookouts
26. E. coli O157
27. Dumb people
28. Etorphine
29. Listeria
30. Drinking salt water while on a raft on the middle of the ocean
31. Swine flu
32. Echinococcus
33. Trichinella
34. Screwworm
35. Stress (why isn't this higher?)
36. Sudden death from A-fib
37. Consumption of raw milk
38. Tilmicosin

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lies Never get you Anywhere

All names and identifying details have been changed and any resemblance to actual persons or events is entirely coincidental. I've been waiting to tell this story. It's a good one.

A young woman brought in a kitten one night because it had been attacked by her dog. The kitten was breathing heavily and was unable to stand, so we placed it in a warm cage with oxygen while speaking with the owner.

The owner was a 5 ft tall Hispanic woman with short shorts, long hair, and about 10 months pregnant. She was incredibly distraught about her kitten. She could not sit still, was drinking coffee like it was her job, and kept checking her cell phone. She was likely a tweaker according to more informed sources. (I had to look this up, it means meth user).  Yep, and she was pregnant. And had two other young kids at home. What a Bad Mother.

She signed an estimate for over one thousand dollars, after it was made clear that by signing it she was required to pay that amount. She went out to the front desk and said she didn't have any money or credit cards or ID because she forgot her wallet, as she was in such a rush to get the kitten to the hospital. She went out to her car and made some phone calls. 

In a few minutes she came back in with a credit card number, and lo and behold, she managed to find her ID.

Receptionist Extraordinaire: "Is your name on the credit card?"

Bad Mother: "Yeah."

Receptionist Extraordinaire: "Are you sure, because when I punch it in the name will come up."

Bad Mother: "Oh...uhh no its my boyfriends."

Receptionist Extraordinaire: "Well can your boyfriend come down here?"

Bad Mother: "No, he doesn't have a car. I could go get him."

Receptionist Extraordinaire: "Unfortunately you can't leave while your pet is here unless you leave a deposit."

Bad Mother went out to the care to make some more phone calls. Soon enough a squealing of tires was heard as she drove out of the parking lot as fast as possible.

Receptionist Extraordinaire called her cell phone. Bad Mother answered. She said, "Oh, I just went to Jack-in-the-Box to get something to eat." Really? Because you told us you had no cash. 

A while later, a Small Man came in the door and said he was there to pay the balance for Bad Mother. Receptionist Extraordinaire walked away from the desk for a few minutes, and the small man looked around, spotted a donation box, grabbed it, put it under his shirt and ran out of the building, which we all saw on camera.


The next day, the owner of the hospital called the woman to tell her that we would be pressing charges against the theif, unless he returned the donation box.

Meanwhile, the kitten was slightly improved, and was able to stand, eat, drink, poop etc.

A day or two later, Bad Mother showed up with a Big Guy. A guy different from the one who stole the box. We knew this because, as before mentioned, the first guy was small. Short and squat. The guy she showed up with, well, let's just say you wouldn't want to come across him in a dark alley.

When they showed up, we called the cops.

Well, we only said we wouldn't press charges, not that we wouldn't report them. We asked Bad Mother to sign the kitten over to the hospital. Meanwhile, the cops talked to them both. Then the cops searched their cars. This was allowed because as it turns out, Big Guy is wanted on drug charges. Sure enough, the cops uncover meth in the guys car, and he is escorted off to jail.

The kitten was adopted and is doing great.

I would just like to point out that this would NEVER have happened if Bad Mother had just told the truth at the beginning. We could have reduced the estimate or tried to work with her so she could afford the care.  Lying never gets you anywhere. Truthfully, the kitten deserves a better life than she could have given it so I'm glad it all happened. Plus it makes for a good story. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stranger in a Gas Station

Years ago, my parents, sister and I were on our way to Virginia for my aunt's wedding. We got off the highway in some semi-rural town and stopped at a gas station. I saw a man with dark hair and a very distinct face wearing a ratty tee-shirt and blue jeans get out of a pick-up truck and begin pumping gas. There was a tear in the shoulder of the tee-shirt, which was a washed out pale green color.

Soon we left the gas station and about 20 minutes later pulled into a convenience store parking lot. (I think we were lost). As we were waiting for my dad to come out of the store, I saw the same man from the gas station. He was leaning on a car, a blue car, not the pick-up truck he had at the gas station. His hair ruffled in the wind, and he seemed like he wasn't really on his way to anywhere. I quickly looked for the tear in his shirt to make sure it was really him, and there it was. Just as we pulled away, he turned and looked right at me.

I saw him for the third and last time at an intersection down the road. He was at the corner to our right in the pick-up again, driving. He pulled away from the four-way stop without a sideways glance. By this time I was a little freaked out. I never saw him again.

Who was he? Was it really the same guy? Was he real? I will admit I had a very active imagination as a kid, but I have to believe that I wasn't making things up. I am a very visual person and remember almost every picture I've ever seen. I'm very good with faces. I had forgotten all about this stranger in a gas station until I read a story that triggered the memory. Could he have been a figment of my imagination? Was he a criminal, or was he a guardian angel of some sort? Who knows. Maybe I'm just crazy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Some short stories from the ER

All names and identifying details have been changed.

It was late one night and the receptionist was on lunch, so there was no one at the front desk. I was in a room with a client, heard the door alarm go off signifying that someone came in, and maybe 2 minutes later walked out of the room to find two civilians in our treatment area.

Lady Intruder: "There was no one up front so we just walked back here."

Me (thinking): Really? You think you are entitled to just walk to the back of a veterinary ER after having been waiting in the lobby for no more than 2 minutes.

Man Intruder: "We are the owners of Very Sick Cat." 

Me (aloud): "Well visiting hours were over 2 hours ago, but you are welcome to visit." 

Man Intruder, referring to Lady: "Well she was out of town and just got back."

Me (thinking): That still does not give you the right to walk to the back of my ER. Do you just walk through the doors at a human ER? No. Why? Because they are LOCKED. Maybe we need locking mechanisms on our doors. 

The Lady Intruder opens the cage, picks up her cat, and disconnects the line containing the insulin CRI, and informs me in a condescending voice that they are taking the cat home tonight.  Fine, you so clearly know better and can take much better care of your cat at home, so go ahead. They ended up leaving him with us. 


Phone conversation:

Caller: "Can you give Pedialyte to a dog who's been vomiting a lot?"

Me: "No, if your dog has been vomiting a lot you should bring him in to be seen."

Caller: "Ok thanks bye." click

.... You're going to do it anyway, aren't you.


About 5 people come to pick up at cat with head trauma. One seems to be the speaker for everyone so I address him. He informs me that he isn't the owner, just a friend from their church. Right. I ask who the owner is, and its a small dark haired woman who tells me she is a "nurse." Ok fine. Whatever, I don't care. Here are the instructions for your cat, who really shouldn't be going home yet but since you are insisting we will do the best we can to make you understand what needs to be done. 

Lady 'nurse' owner: "Ok so I give this IV right?"

Me: "No, its given by mouth. We will be removing the IV catheter before you take him home."

Lady 'nurse' owner: "What? But this is an IV medication. You should leave the catheter in."

Me: "It can be given orally in cats, and that is how you are going to give it. We do not send animals home with IV catheters."

Lady 'nurse' owner: "But I am a nurse. You can leave the IV catheter in for me. I give IV drugs all the time."

Me: Well, you won't be giving any IV drugs to your cat. You may be a human nurse but you are not a veterinarian or a veterinary technician and have no training in that respect. And, we do not send animals home with IV catheters, even with veterinary nurses.

Lady 'nurse' owner, muttering under her breath to her friend, but I can still hear with my superhuman hearing: "I will just give it IV at home."

Me, alarmed and a little angry: "You will NOT be giving anything to your cat IV. We will not be sending home any needles. This medication is effective orally. If you go to your place of work and steal needles to give meds IV to your cat, you could seriously hurt or even kill him, not to mention be breaking ethical and moral code, (silently) you asshole."