Thursday, June 8, 2017

All The Crazy People

Summer is the time for light things. Light food. Light clothing. Light conversation. Light work schedules (hopefully). And light reading. My most popular posts by far have been the heaviest and darkest ones. I'm not sure what to make of that. Regardless though, it is summer now and you are hopefully on your deck with a gin and tonic and, damn it, you should read something light.

As I've mentioned before, veterinary medicine may be fundamentally about animals, but it is also far more about people than you might expect. The world is full of all manner of interesting people, but it seems that the "most interesting" ones all own animals. This is why veterinarians make great dinner party guests. If you can prevent them from telling gross-out stories (oh, but the urge is so strong...), they often have some fantastic crazy people stories. Before I tell a few of mine (in point form to keep it light!) I should make a couple disclaimers.

First Disclaimer:
Don't be alarmed. If you are reading this you are almost certainly not featured in the stories below. None involve regular clients. If you think you are crazy you are probably not. The truly crazy generally don't realize it.

Second Disclaimer:
The use of the word "crazy" is a shameless and amateurish attempt at click-bait. Most of these people have something else going on like intense grief, or intense anger, or intense stupidity. But some are definitely full-on bat poo.

So, in no particular order, here are the inductees to my Crazy People Hall of Fame:

- The young man who had his beloved dead ferret freeze-dried and mounted on the mantlepiece in what he described as a "heroic pose".

- The elderly woman who kept an astonishingly detailed diary of her perfectly healthy cat's eliminations on reams of loose leaf and then would proceed to try to read two months worth aloud to me. "On March 13 he had one regular sized bowel movement at 6:03 in the morning and then..."

- The man who threatened to punch my partner when he remarked that the man's dog was overweight. The man was seriously going to assault Bob. The dog was seriously obese. Bob calmed him down. The man never came back.

- The man who missed his appointment because the bus driver wouldn't let him on. He had had his sick four foot long ball python draped around his shoulders.

- The woman who came to visit her dead dog the day after the euthanasia in order to groom him before the crematorium picked him up. He was a very large dog. She bathed him, shampooed him, blow-dried him and brushed him out, humming all along. It was heartbreaking.

- The young woman who began to un-button her pants, saying she wanted me to tell her whether the bites she had were from fleas. I declined saying that all bug bites look the same.

- The woman who brought her budgie in wanting to know why it wouldn't sing or eat. It was dead. Cue the Monty Python sketch...

- The couple who were astonished to find out that their young cat was pregnant. "How could that happen? She doesn't go outside and the only male around her is her brother!" (I'm sure every vet has run into this at least once.)

-  The woman who phoned and in a very high squeaky voice said, "I have always had the ability to smell cancer. All my friends say I can smell cancer. And I smell it on Billy. I want to bring him in so you can find it and get rid of it."

The last one and one that you may not want to read aloud to the kids:
- The woman who, with an entirely straight face, asked whether venereal diseases are transmissible between humans and dogs.

I have left the very best one off this list because it deserves an entire post of its own, and I'm still wresting with whether to let it out into the public domain yet or not. Let's just say that it involves a teddy bear. Don't even try to guess - you'll be wrong. I apologize for the cruel teaser.

Now you can return to your gin and tonic and the next piece of click-bate.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Supersonic Octopus

June 1.
First receptionist, "Philipp, Mrs Patterson is late, can I set up Mr. Cho instead?"
"Uh, sure." I'm trotting down the hall, hoping to get to my computer to catch up on files.
Then it occurs to me, "Mr. Cho? I don't remember seeing him in the schedule."
"No, he's a squeeze in. Killer collapsed and he says 'stuff is coming out of him'!"
"Oh, ok."
I turn around and head to the exam room.
Second receptionist, "Mrs. Patterson just showed up. She apologizes, it was the traffic, but she has to see you today. And your next appointment is here too. They're a bit early."
"Ok, well I'll look in quickly on Killer and then I'll see Mrs. Patterson's dog."
First technologist, "Philipp, can you come into the back, I think Dodo is having a seizure."
Third receptionist, "Can you pick up the phone first please, Mrs. Wilson says she has left three messages and needs to talk to you right now before they leave for the cottage."
First receptionist back again, "Before you see Cho and Patterson, Samsons are here to pick up those prescriptions you told them you'd have ready..."
First colleague, "Philipp, can you squeeze in an ultrasound soon? I think Buzz Firth is bleeding internally..."
Second technologist, "Buzz's owners are here now visiting him and want to know what's going on. Did you do that ultrasound yet?"
Second receptionist again, "I set up Mrs. Patterson, she brought her other dog too, hoping that after you see Marvin for his chronic diarrhea you'd have time to discuss Melvin's chronic skin condition which has gotten a lot worse."
(Yes, a pair of cockers named Marvin and Melvin.)
Third receptionist again, "Before you talk to Mrs. Wilson, can you quickly answer a question from your last appointment? Mr Schmidt's at the counter still and has his wife on the phone who reminded him what he was supposed to ask."

I haven't checked phone messages in two hours.
I haven't written on files in three hours.
I haven't been to the bathroom since I got to work...

Then my brain began to liquefy and I slumped into a gibbering vibrating heap on the floor.

Ok, that last bit isn't precisely true. And the very first line is misleading too - June 1 is truly the epicenter of our ultra-busy heartworm season, but I'm not at the clinic today. Today is my day off. Today I am mowing the lawn, drinking beer and writing this.

When the kids were small and they would pepper me with a series of complex overlapping requests I would joke with them that I was not a "supersonic octopus". This expression comes back to me frequently this time of year...

A Public Service Announcement Postscript:
It is critical that you give your dog heartworm preventative medication.
It is not critical that you give the first dose right on June 1. Please do not phone your clinic in a panic today or tomorrow. As long as the first dose is given within a month or so of the first mosquito bite it will still work well. The medications kill the first larval stages of heartworm in the bloodstream before they can do any harm.