Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Know When to Shut Up

At the ER this weekend, we had a case with a family involved. There was a mom, and a dad, and a particularly good little boy.

As we were finishing up, I asked the boy how old he was. He proudly held up four fingers. He added "Then I'll be five, then I'll be six,..." etc. When he got to ten or so, I asked him, without thinking, if he could count up to my age.

The lad looked shocked for a moment, then said "NO!"

I should know better by now.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

One lunch special to go please.

They are crawling out of the woodwork today.

My RBB just told me one of our clients phoned and needed to speak to me. Apparently this client was completely irate that when her husband picked up her dog after boarding, the dog was not sent home with a package of our house diet so that she could transition him back to his regular food slowly. No amount of explaining that this was not standard procedure seemed to calm the client down, and the client was apparently insisting on a prescription for the house diet, which the client could take with her elsewhere, because heaven forbid she ever give us one red cent ever again.

I did pick up the phone and call this client, but unfortunately (can you feel the sarcasm??) got voicemail. I left the following message:

Hi, this is Dr. VBB calling about Fluffy. I got a message that you wanted a prescription for our kennel diet. Unfortunately, I can't write a prescription for anything for Fluffy without examining him. We do feed Food X here at VBB Hospital and you are certainly welcome to purchase that from the food vendor of your choice. I wonder if perhaps there was some misunderstanding regarding Fluffy's dietary status, or regarding your request, because no one has ever made this kind of request in the twelve years I've been here at VBB Hospital. Please give me a call back at 1-800-VBB-HOSP if you have additional questions or concerns.

Either the client has no additional questions or concerns, or is not interested in addressing them, or has not gotten the message because we have not heard back.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Update - The Notebook

We remember the story about Mr. Sweets and his owner, a very sweet lady who had advanced Alzheimer's disease, who would rush down with Mr. Sweets if he so much as sneezed, right?  That story was written as much about Mr. Z as it was about Mrs. Z.  That sweet man stood by his wife for YEARS with that horrid disease, keeping her safe and warm and comfortable, maneuvering his way around her deteriorating brain and memory in a manner that required so much love and patience that to this day, I stand back in awe of his abilities.

I talked to Mr. Z last month.  Hadn't heard from him in a little while, and of course, because I hadn't seen Mr. Sweets in a while, I became concerned.  So gave him a ring.

"Hello Mr. Z!  How's it hangin'???"  (cause that's how we'd kid around)

"Oh hello doctor!!  Well, I'm doing well.  Mr. Sweets is doing great!  No problems and he has finally lost some weight!"

Uh oh.  Mr. Sweets lost weight.  I knew what that meant instantly.

"How is Mrs. Z?"   I asked.

"Well, Mrs. Z finally passed last month.  She finally let go of that agonizing body of hers and moved on to the other side."

I got a little choked up, but I held it inside so I could maintain the conversation and not show him how... upset...  I really was.

But after a few minutes, I felt relief.  Relief for Mr. Sweets for finally have a shot at having a healthy body weight and for not having to get *another* physical exam for the third time in a day;  relief for Mrs. Z for not suffering any more after years of living with Alzheimer's;   but most of all, I felt relief for Mr. Z.   He sounded....  happy.  He sounded...  free.   He sounded... relieved. 

He told me once how utterly impossible it was to live with your soul mate and watch them slip into the pit of hell with no memory.  He told me how agonizing it was to look at your wife of 50 years and love her and then have her ask, "Who are you again?"

I understood.  I got it.   It's one of those human condition things, where we survive and we go on.  And Mr. Z is going on.  And not one person on this earth could accuse him of not loving Mrs. Z with every ounce of his soul.

Of course I haven't seen Mr. Sweets since, but that's a good thing.  He's been to the vet's office enough times in the last year to last him...  a lifetime.  But I'm sure he feels relieved too, and is now the caretaker of Mr. Z.

One thing bothered me, though.  When I called Mr. Z, he said...."Oh honey, I forgot...  I thought I had called you and let you know...."   (he hadn't called)

Which sent a shiver down my spine because now I'm worried Mr. Z is slipping without Mrs. Z around.

Mr. Sweets has a very big job ahead of him.  It will be my job to make sure he's around to do it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

No Hope for the Human Race

I've been doing this job for 10 years.  I've seen a lot and few things actually shock me anymore.  But occasionally something happens that makes me stare straight ahead for a few minutes, trying to get my brain around what just came out of the mouth of another being that is supposedly a part of my own species.

I wish I could say it's the usual complaint we all hear, when someone pleads ignorance about giving their dog or cat their rabies vaccine.  They either don't know it's the law or they don't know that they or their pet could die from it or that it's a really, really dangerous disease.  I get that kind of stupidity.

But today... today we got a call that has me scratching my head in both absolute confusion and absolute....  what's the word?  Oh yeah... disbelief at how utterly stupid another human can be.

So little Johnny is an 8 month old Yorkie.  His owner scheduled him this week to be neutered, because he was starting to mark her house (read: piss all over everything she owns because he's now a macho little fucker).  We happily obliged and I neutered him yesterday.

This owner called my staff this morning and screamed at them.  SCREAMED at them.  She had a complaint about the procedure and wanted to make sure we knew she had gotten the worst service EVER from us.

From a simple neuter?  Okay, I'll bite...

She went on to explain that WE TOOK HIS TESTICLES!!!  Her dog went INTO my clinic yesterday with two normal balls and went home WITHOUT HIS BALLS.  She was APPALLED.

Imagine the silence she got on the phone as my super intelligent tech tried to process what was being said to her.

She informed us that 20 years ago when she had her other dog neutered, he kept his testicles.  Never in her life has she had a dog have his testicles removed!

Except....  her other dog was my patient, and guess what?  He was a....  neutered male.  His testicles had been removed, too.

So it made me - for a brief moment - think, "Oh great, the VMB is gonna ding me for not explaining that a neuter means taking the balls out."  I worried about that for a brief moment.

Then I thought...  SCREW THAT.  If my job now entails explaining things like THIS to an owner who has owned dogs previously, who CALLED US and scheduled the neuter surgery - then I'm done with this job.  I cannot be responsible for the complete education of the entire public while they hold no responsibility for their own ignorance and stupidity.

There is no hope for the human race.