Friday, January 13, 2012

We're Gross

Lest you think we're all about the bitching about others, I think it's fair to turn the microscope around and point it in the other direction every once in a while. 

There's something you should know about Vets.  We're disgusting.  Nothing phases us.  First off, there isn't one of us who hasn't rushed off after an emergency, late for a nice dinner with family or friends, only to look down half-way through the meal at the best restaurant in town to find a giant smear of blood (or WORSE) along the back side of one arm.  And that's not the worst of it.  We'll get well into a story about pulling a 3-day-dead calf out of a cow before we notice that, during the story, the rest of the dinner party (one by one) have stopped eating, turned green, and slowly lowered their forks to their plates.  I usually catch on when they start squirming in their seats.  Oh, right.  That's inappropriate dinner conversation, isn't it?  Mea culpa...

Then there's our tendency to describe everything in food terms.  Blood clots found during a necropsy?  Well, they're either chicken fat or red currant jelly.  Diarrhea?  It's pudding or soft-serve ice cream.  Anal sac secretions are like gray toothpaste, and I've seen gunk in infected ears that reminded me of peanut butter.  Personally, I *really* enjoy a nice juicy cat abscess that pours out strawberry milkshake.  And on a long day with no time for a lunch break I once ate pizza while watching two dogs vomit coffee beans and chocolate.  They'd raided the presents under the Christmas tree.  For a split second I thought to myself, "This should probably make me not want to eat this pizza.  Ooh- they put MUSHROOMS on it!  Yum!"

Well.  Off to lunch.  I have a sudden craving for a milkshake.


  1. Having worked in a vets office in high school, I truly appreciate your blog. The collective You remind me of the vet I worked for, a kind man who gave me (a lowely highschooler at the time) a chance. He was a good man, talented vet, and had a strange sense of humor. Thanks for the laughs, keep doing what you do! As a dog owner, I appreciate vets who dont look at me sideways because the first words out of my mouth are "tuck doesnt do well in the vets office, you are free to muzzle him." *shrugs* I dont care for it much but I'd prefer my vet to have all his fingers and body parts in tact

  2. I love the description of eating while watching dogs vomit. That's really a spectator sport isn't it? Once we had a dog who had eaten some brownies, and I found myself thinking, "I could totally go for a brownie right now. That (vomit that used to be brownies) smells delicious."

    Yeah. It even sounds disgusting to type that out.

  3. Our anatomy dog was in school was a big beefy pit bull type. I used to crave steak all the time while identifying muscles.

  4. Milkshake abscesses? Yes, please! Cheesey-goodness cyst? Absolutely! I live for that stuff. I was talking to a tech student today that said she couldn't wait for us to lance an abscess. It's a personal favorite of mine. Although I call them just "jelly clots" because most of our clients don't know what currants are.

    My anatomy dog made me want pot roast. And after the first week of necropsies, I got over the whole "stinky things make me not want lunch" as did most everyone else. Yes, we are sick, sick people with our food and dead/gross things analogies.

  5. I love taking my daughter to the office. She loves to see all of the funny stuff. One day, there was a parvo dog with that nasty gut sloughing diarrhea...the kind you can smell as soon as they walk in the door. She was running around the clinic trying to flatten her nostrils onto her face.

    It was funny until she came home from pre-school one day and asked me how to spell diarrhea. I asked her why she wanted to know. She said that her teacher asked for words that started with "D" and she said diarrhea but her teacher did not know how to spell that. Ok, if the teachers thought that I was a bit strange before, I was sure they thought I was teaching her all sorts of mildly inappropriate things then.

  6. Oh indeed, we are a strange and gross group of rugged individualists.

    I fondly recall the calf fetotomy after an overnight shift that resulted in my going home and buying steak. Or the wonderful ER shift where three little white dogs ate a LOT of chocolate - how heavenly the aroma of ICU.

    It becomes easy to predict aptitude for the profession based on tolerance for disgusting sights and smells as well as appreciation of my warped sense of humor. Currently, I'm planning the following wardrobe: testicle earrings (large and dangly), a necklace of teeth and toenails, and a "Kentucky Derby Hat" from the hugely distended pyometra uterus. What prompted this? Primarily the need to mess with the minds of a couple of employees plus my admiration of Jack Sparrow's necklace...

  7. Once, when I was pregnant and very, very hungry, I had to induce vomiting in a dog who had just eaten a whole batch of mini-muffins. When they came back up some of them were still folded into their paper, non-digested, and smelled delicious. I had to quickly throw them into the trash so I wouldn't be tempted. Not a moment I'm exactly proud of. Luckily the owner brought me a whole new (non-swallowed) batch the next day :)

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  9. Sometimes when I'm hungry in surgery I'm uncomfortably aware that from the inside my patients look like meat. Cautery smells kind of yummy at those times. I wonder if human doctors have this problem...

  10. I'm guilty of inappropriate mealtime conversation on a regular basis. It's gotten to the point where I'm not allowed to talk about work while my family is eating.

    I can recall one time where the vet was doing a dog spay using the laser unit, and all I could think of was how it smelled like bacon.

  11. haha this is so true! Before I got into vet school I was doing cardiology research with sheep and pigs and during my first terminal surgery they were cutting through the sheep's ribs at the end to remove the heart and I turned to my non-vet, engineering friend and said, "What a waste of a perfectly good rack of lamb", (which is my favorite dinner) she looked quite green and the room of much older men vets and human surgeons burst out laughing ;)

    I have to say I love this blog, I'm a 3rd year vet student in Ireland and I've shown it to all my classmates! Keep up the great posts!!

  12. Before vet school while doing "ride-alongs" with a local LA clinic we always started the mornings with preg checks, after that we would go to the sick pens. Inevitably there would be a cow that didn't clean... and it was always around lunch time by then. So, yes the smell of rotten placenta makes my stomach growl to this day- talk about pavlov response!!!

  13. @tbdvm

    Yes they do..especially pig and human look so very much alike.

    This is why so many murderers get away with chopping up their victims and selling them as meat.

    Not only during WWs but also the new case with the pig farmer who killed and cut up prostitutes.

    I can not recall the title of the book I read but it was about vampirism/cannibalism/lycantrophy and some other stuff and why people develope those beliefs and turn to eating humans/bathing in their blood and so on.

    It was quite interesting how the customers who ate humans testified how so much better human(e) meat was compared to animal meat.

    But I guess different to vets, human doctors are not allowed to eat individuals who are not their clients