The Gift of Variety part 1

Yesterday was my first day back from vacation.  I went to Destin, Florida with the family.  I got to not think about work at all (except for one client call, but she’s going through an unbelievable amount of life stress right now…including a 38 year old hubby who had a stroke! So, I forgave her for the call!).  Anyhow, I got to de-stress and recharge my batteries. Theoretically, I should be ready to hop back into the fray at work.  Right?

In reality I’m not just chomping at the bit to get re-entangled in my job though.  Everytime I take an extended period off and realize just how much baseline stress is created by said job, I start thinking about alternative career paths.  I revisit the ideas of: 

1. Teaching Grade School– Pros: summers/breaks off, similar schedule to kids   Cons: heard the parents are evil, teenagers are scary, and elementary school kids don’t take anatomy/physiology, and I hear the pay isn’t so good.

2. College Professor–  Pros: Flexible scedule?  Might be fun?  Cons: boring?  Low pay? Weird hours? (I’m not sure about this stuff because I don’t know any college professors)

3. Artist– Pros: Creative outlet (there was a time when I drew/painted all the time, but now I’ve crammed too much science and stress into my brain and the creative part has atrophied)   Cons: no steady pay, particularly since I have trouble selling my work, I get attached…

4. Writer–  Pros: pretty good at it, I think but…  Cons:  I think maybe 60 people read my blog….best seller I ain’t!

5. Stay at home mom– Pros: lots of quality time with the kids, Cons: lots of quality time with the kids. 

I work myself up with these mental gymnastics until I dread going back to work.  (and to think that when I was youger I just worried about forgetting how to draw blood..!)

But, then I get there and reengage, and: Boom!  Just like that, I’m back in it and it’s o.k.   I think all those other jobs would just be boring in the long run. And being a vet definitely is not boring. 

Seeing appointments is like receiving this seemingly endless stream of little packages.  Each one contains a surprise of some sort, it could just be some boring ole thing that you’ve got a million of, or something so sad it tears your heart out.  The contents of each box requires 100% of your attention, regardless of what the previous box contained.

Yesterday was a day of many, many different boxes (does this even make sense?)  Sometimes the sheer variety and hodgepodge of what I see and who I meet  in one 10 hour day are pretty staggering to me. 

Here’s my day:

8:00: Jesse, cute white maltese.  Recovering from Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia.  He was one of the dogs that got sick during the horrible month of April diseases.  Thankfully, he’s doing stupendous. Yay!

8:30:  Girl cat named Paul.  New client, I’m going to wheedle the story of the naming of that cat out of him some day!

9:oo:  Chocolate lab named Natasha.  One of the stressfull things about being a vet is that we get to see far more of our patients throughout their entire life spans.  From the time they are babies through til they are seniors and pass away.  Humans live too long and are too transient to put this burden on their doctors very often.  It’s an honor, but it’s stressful too.  For some reason, I’m dreading when this happens with this dog, she will be one of my firsts.  I remember when she was a fat wiggly puppy with a big light brown stripe down her back.   She’s 7 now, the perfect lab, and hopefully has a LOT of years left in her!!

9:30:  Cookie and Muffin.  Two incredibly curious cat sisters belonging to what appears to be a very gruff Korean War veteran (this is what I thought when I met the guy many years ago).  Turns out he’s a brilliant softie who always has great stories.  This time I got to hear about how once, when he was in the Army, he was near Yellowstone and some Buffalo got caught in their com lines.  He had to go try and untangle them.  OK, maybe it wasn’t such a cool story because they had to shoot the buffalo because they couldn’t untangle it safely, but still interesting nonetheless.  Meanwhile, while we were talking, his cat actually jumped up and into he cabinet over the sink to check it out.  Never had a cat do that one before (usually they cower and hide under the table!)

10:30:  Rosie and Alex.  A couple of pudgy cocker spaniels who belong to some clients from Puerto Rico.  They are pretty much the only people I get to practice my spanish with anymore.  Learned about good restaurants in Puerto Rico, and about her grand baby  (there is a giant story here, but I’m not telling you as it’s private).

11:30:  Oscar, brother of Meyer.  Cute, cute weiner dog (dachshund to the non-Far Side fans).  Oscar belongs to this big truck driver guy.  He’s from somewhere in the Ukraine I think based on his accent.  He’s another one full of stories.  As I mentioned before, he’s a big guy and he had this tattoo on his arm of a snake bursting out of it.  I always got a kick out of this big scary dude with the little cute dog, but boy does he love that dog.  Anyhow, he just got the snake turned into a big red koi because he said the snake was one of his biggest regrets.  The koi is infected right now so I had trouble keeping my eyes off the big red sores, but it will be pretty once it’s healed.  He’s told me that he might not survive anything happening to the dog, so for his sake, I hope nothing ever happens to the dog.  Thank God the dog is young.   He does have a spot on his lip that could be a melanoma but I really think/hope it’s just a mole.  Next time he’s in Dallas (next month) we will biopsy it.  Say a prayer for the big truckers little dog.

12-2:00 Lunch (return phone calls, emails etc.)

2:00  Young schnauzer named Augie with the dry heaves.  Hopefully it’s due to too many food changes and not a swallowed object (as young dogs tend to do).  Their other dog is called Mulligan isn’t that a great name?

2:30 Very cool new (to me) clients.  They have a weird outbreak of biting flies in their yard.  Not sure what to make of the flies, but I can help the dog with Vectra 3-D.  Got to talking, turns out they moved here from Mississippi.  The kid is in 5th grade I think and is brilliant.  I love when kids actually chat with me and you should have heard this kids vocabulary!  Holy cow! What a lucky mom, except that in the course of conversation I learned that the boys sister died last year in a car crash.  The dog got in the car for the first time yesterday as she’s been afraid to get in the car since the accident (the dog was in the car when the crash occured).  Talk about a bittersweet experience (great family, sad story). 

3:00 dreading this one.  Cute, cute, cute puppy.  Just adopted a few weeks ago.  His former name was Phoenix, now it’s Jake.  He survived losing an eye, intestinal surgery for a puncture from a dog fight wound only to be stricken with a bad, bad set of kidneys.  When I met him he was this goofy, sweet, bubbly boy.  I ran bloodwork because the previous vet said his kidneys weren’t so good.  They were TERRIBLE.  I could not believe he looked so good.  Pretty much that meant he was born with the bad kidneys and had adapted to them.  Unfortunately, his luck ran out.  Yesterday he was a different dog.  He was so weak he could barely walk.  He had stopped eating.   We had the difficult talk.  The only option was a kidney transplant and that’s really not a reasonable option.  We could hospitalize and buy a little time, but, really, who are we kidding?  We decided to put him down.  Carmen opened the cabinet to grab a blanket for the pup to lay on and he crawled into the cabinet, curled up, and layed down, his back to us.  I think that’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.   He had given up. 

Close that box, open another…

3:30 Armand, another great name.  He is gentle, dignified cat who turned yellow about 3 or 4 weeks ago.  Bloodwork and ultrasound later, found out he had fatty liver syndrome and pancreatitis.  He needed a stomach tube (well, really an esophageal tube, but stomach tube makes more sense…) to survive.  So, Dr. Rogers and I got it in.  His owner went to work armed with pureed stinky cat food, lots of pills and a spreadsheet.  She kept that cat alive out of sheer force of will, and he thrived.  He put on two pounds and is no longer yellow.  We took out his feeding tube.  Their 5 year old daughter drew a picture of Armand’s bones from his X-Ray.


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