Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An apology in advance for the upcoming rant.

First of all, I will try to soften this post with poetry. If you are an pet owner, then perhaps you will become distracted, and forget to continue. Lest you hold this post against me, let me caution you that all jobs, no matter how nobly pursued or loved, have their days, and that I am as human as they come. While I shall always attempt to do my best for your animal, I don't have to always like you. Sorry.

all our lives dreamdogs, dreamcats have lived
with us, rising up when we lie down
to prowl the house that we presume to own.
no nightbird sings for them, but they survive
those hours of the absence of our eye
by sniffing at the hem of the nightgown
you've kicked the covers off or listening to the moan
i make, beside you. the world they improvise
out of the random buzz and clatter of our sleep's
the world we wake to: paw prints on the sills,
fur balls in the corners, echoes of nails
clicking across oak floors, hisses and growls
of the busy demiurge that our dreams keep
up all night licking our days into shape.
--Alvin Greenburg

Now. To preface. I am working in an ER, not a day practice. We are the ones open 24 hours so that other vets can get some sleep. It's a different kettle of fish, mostly. Yes, vets are vets to some extent. But those of us who choose to work in ER did so to get away from the management of skin and ears and vaccinations. So.


1. Your dog's ears ARE NOT AN EMERGENCY. Sorry. If your pup's been shaking his head for two weeks, why in all that's holy was today (a Sunday) the day that you decided he should come in?

2. This also follows for your dog's rash, dental disease, or overgrown toenails. I will give you the benefit of the doubt for a nasty hot spot.

3. Skin mass? NOT AN EMERGENCY.

4. Please understand that if you bring your animal to me, that sometimes I will not know what's wrong just by looking at it. The power of the physical exam is pretty awesome sometimes, but when your budgie is sick I may have to do some other tests. If you did not come prepared to deal with this, why did you come? If only I had holy healing hands I would be set.

5. Money sucks. Believe me, I have been poor for most of my adult life, and I have shelled out a few pretty pennies for my ferrets (hence their unofficial title, solid gold weasels). And it sucks that pet health insurance is not really a great deal yet. (Although I would never ever want animal health insurance to resemble people insurance in many regards, but that's another story.) However, have you ever stopped to think what you would have to pay for your ER visit if you had no insurance? A pretty penny, my friend. I have all the training and most of the tools they have at human hospital. And everyone at the hospital has to get paid so they can eat and live like the rest of us. And the equipment will need care--oh you get the idea. It's expensive, but I cannot give free care out of my innate caring heart. (Newsflash to those who think that loving animals is the sole reason to be a vet. Sorry. Loving animals is great--get a pet, love it, care for it. Most of us in this profession love animals, but we also love people--despite our rants--and we love medicine and science).

6. Science sometimes sucks. It is our greatest ally and has many shortcomings. There are NO blood tests for cancer. Wouldn't that rock if there was? The only cancer you see in the bloodstream is leukemia. Most others are a lot harder to find, and more common. Sometimes I do not know what is going on with a patient. Believe me, I wish I always did. But the body is often a mystery, despite our greatest desire to know its secrets.

7. Sometimes you have to wait to see a doctor. I hate that too. Believe me, I am not in the back picking my nose or playing cards with the techs. I am sorry your pet is scared/hurting/vomiting, etc. But your dog's bum leg is not going to kill him in 5 minutes, or probably ever. As opposed to the cat or dog that was rushed in 5 minutes ago hit by a car. Your pet is your best friend, or your baby, or your life and you are freaking out. I get that. But I am one person and cannot be everywhere at once. Being rude to me is not helpful.

8. Birds and ferrets, etc. deserve regular medical attention too. Why do you bring me your exotic pet when it has never seen a vet before and expect me to fix it now that it's at the end of its lifespan? A pet is a pet. They need yearly physicals just like your kids.

'Nuff said. I just get annoyed sometimes. It's not fun to be bitched at, or have to remove a skin mass at the end of a 12 hour day when you have at least 3 more hours of paperwork ahead of you. Be gentle, people.

Git in tha Cellar, Ma! A Storm's a Comin' !

As most people can tell you, there's always the inevitable jokes made about your name. People named Gloria are probably so sick of the 1982 one-hit Laura Branigan wonder with the same name. If you have an embarrassing last name, you've probably heard every imaginable crude joke there is (An unfortunately named veterinary student I met once took her last name in stride. She had another friend with a similarly unfortunate moniker. "All we need now," she told me ,"is one other vet--maybe someone named 'Gay'? Then we could open a practice called 'Gay, Butt and Cox'"). Everyone somewhere has some song with their name in it, that some unfeeling clever stranger belts out when they're introduced to you (unless you are someone with unusually creative parents, in which case, you usually have a different sort of embarrassing label problem). I've always counted myself lucky, as there are only two songs that involve my name, both somewhat obscure, and my name really rhymes with very few things. But the spector of my shortened name has loomed. Now, I don't mind being called "em," generally. I answer to it; it just sort of happened over the years, an organic change. But I could see as my friends and family hit their child bearing years that it was coming. And, as of August 16th, it's official. I AM "AUNTIE EM."

Too late, it's just too late to avoid the image: Clara Blandick, crotchety and hairbunned, no-nonsense, trying to keep that girl Dorothy in line-- a dear girl , but foolish like all young people are. Since I can never free myself, I have embraced it. Hmmm. I'm not sure where we'll put the pigs, though. Come to find, I'm excited to be an auntie. I get the good bits--the presents, the holiday visits. And you never know, maybe there will be cousins for her to play with, down the road. Funny what babies do to otherwise sane people--I've already sent her my favorite book from when I was small, and she's not even learned about focusing her eyes yet! I am often pessimistic about the future of humankind, and yet I cannot regret anywhere in my heart that she has been born. Welcome to you, niecekin. Come up and visit sometime--I'll let you slop the hogs and feed the chickens. Just watch out for that Toto dog--he likes to run off!

My niece. Pretty disgusting, eh? I'm smitten.