The Perilous Plot of the Puking Pug

My client this morning asked me how my “semi retirement” was going.  I have to admit, I love it.  I’m not sure we’ve ever had this degree of peace and harmony in my household.  The bickering level has dropped precipitously (at least between myself and my husband. The kids are another story).  I can’t remember if I told you guys, but I drastically cut my hours  to do a better job taking care of my family.  Mom’s happy. The family is happy. I like my job more because I’m not seething with anger, fatigue and stress as a result of my failed attempt at “work: life balance”.  For now, I’ve found peace tilting the scale in favor of the family.  It’s nice to work in a place and profession where I can do that.  Eventually, maybe the scale will tip back the other way, as the kids grow older and start to drift away (I’m not going to think about that though because my kids are so fun now and I don’t want to imagine them as stinky hormonal surly teens). 

Anyhow, I figured I’d post something because it’s been awhile. 

So I’ll tell you a story.

Saturdays at our place, as you know are crazy.  In the middle of a particularly crazy one walks a super cute little pug named Zack. 

Dread filled my soul when I gazed upon his chart which read “ate an apricot yesterday, vomiting today”.  “Hopefully it’s a mistake, maybe the dog just got a bite of it, not the pit.”

I spoke with the owner and, no mistake: he ate the pit.  The whole thing in one quick swallow.  “It’s just the size of a dime though”, said the owner.  “It was a mini apricot”. 

Dime size should pass” my foolishly hopeful brain whispered to me, while appointments and walk-ins piled up outside in the lobby.

“Lets take some x-rays” I say to the client.

Of course, the x-rays are suspicious.  Because there is nothing better to do on an insanely busy half-day than to try to get in a barium series and an exploratory surgery. 

So we start the barium series where we give the poor guy a stomach full of barium and then take a bunch of sequential x-rays to see if the barium passes through the guts normally. 

Meanwhile I go back to seeing appointments. Zack’s here for the day. 

Dime size:  it’s fine” my brain calls seductively. 

Seriously? How many dime sized apricot pits have you seen lately?” A whisper from the rational part of my brain that I was feverishly trying to ignore.  Clinging to the hope that Zack had just swallowed a cute tiny pit that will pop out with his next bowel movement. 

 “He’s pooping just fine”, said the owner, “but he’s thrown up about 7 times in the last 24 hours”.  “So NOT dime sized” whispered evil-rational pessimist brain.

I concentrate on the ruptured anal sac before me.

The barium is moving but there is a strange puddle of it left behind in the stomach.  “It’s just the pylorus” whispers hopeful brain.  (that’s the bottom part of the stomach where food collects before heading out to the intestines.  Usually looks like a ball on x-ray.) 

“Oh good God woman, that’s totally the pit” smart-brain sneers. 

I need an objective opinion, I grab Dr. Sharp as he’s cruising by between exam rooms. 

“What do you think”? 

“Hm”, he says, “that looks strange”.    “I think that’s the pit”, he remarks. 40+ years experience radiating off him like sunshine.

It’s now 20 minutes after closing.  “Make him throw up, let’s see if it comes out”.  It’s a long shot, but it’s that or surgery and there’s not much to lose.  So we inform Mrs. Owner and proceed to give the apomorphine to induce vomiting.  

At this point the whole staff is gathered around little Zack.  We’re all on pins and needles as he gets woozy and develops that “oh I don’t feel so good” look (he wagged his little pug tail the whole time though, so cute).  

The staccato roll of imaginary drums pound in my head.  My heart is racing as he gags once.  


On the third gag, into the metal bowl plinks one quarter-plus sized apricot pit.  

A cry of jubilation from the staff in the back echoes all the way to the darkened lobby.  

Vomit never sounded so good.

Here is Zack’s x-ray:

I’m figuring out how to label these. With any luck there should be an arrow pointing to the apricot pit.

6 thoughts on “The Perilous Plot of the Puking Pug

  1. Congratulations on your semi-retirement. Color me totally greeeeeeen with envy.

    Great story and it’s nice to hear a happy ending, although Zack will probably remember the whole day as not-so-nice.

    It’s surprising, though, that Zack had been vomiting previously and hadn’t expelled the pit.

    Poor little guy! Hopefully he won’t scarf apricots again.

    (Did I mention greeeeeen with envy?)

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