“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.”–Vincent Van Gogh
“All’s well that ends well.”–William Shakespeare
But here is a story that ended well, though with an unexpected twist that makes it one of my all time favorite veterinary vignettes.
This happened some 30 years ago, when Cheryl was working her last job as an employee before starting her own clinic. Her partner in crime in this particular case was the junior associate in the group, one Susan Cole, a pretty and vivacious young blond just a few months out veterinary school.
It started one typical Monday morning, when in came a panicked old lady, Mrs. P, with a pearly white cat.
The cat was struggling to breath.
Mrs. P: “Save my kitty!!!”
Dr. C: “When did this start?”
Mrs. P: “Save my kitty!!”
Cat: “[cough] [choke] [wheeze]”
Dr. C: “How did this start?”
Mrs P: “Puhleeeaaase save my kitty!!”
Cat: “[gasp] [gasp]”
It was obvious that Mrs. P was not going to be any help. Enter my intrepid Cheryl to consult.
“This seems to be some sort of respiratory distress, we’d better take an X-Ray.” She advised.
Dr. Cole thought otherwise, and suggested drawing a blood sample first. Cheryl was skeptical, but realized it couldn’t hurt, so that’s what they did.
The cat’s blood was brown. Freaking brown.
The two of them scratched their heads in puzzlement. What could turn a cat’s blood brown? Cheryl observed that if they saw this in a cow they would diagnose it as methemoglobinemia, a condition that bovines get from eating cherry leaves. You guessed it, cherry leaves are toxic to cows. But cats? How would this indoor feline even have access to cherry leaves, whether or not they are toxic to cats?
At any rate, regardless of the cause, the diagnosis was confirmed. But, then, how to treat it?
“Well” Cheryl posited,”we use methylene blue to treat this in cows. Let’s try it.”
Methylene blue is a dye that also has some medicinal purposes. But the cat’s wheezing and gasping for breath was rapidly worsening, so Sue and Cheryl frantically calculated the appropriate dosing. Let’s see. Bovine dose, 60cc. Feline dose…hmm…. 6cc.
They administered 6cc of methylene blue, and by golly, that cat rapidly improved and its blood and breathing were back to normal in no time.
End of story? You know me better than that–there’s a little kicker. Of course there is, there always is. You see, there was a slight miscalculation in the dosage. The feline dose should not have been 6 cc, it should have been 0.6cc. But hey, what’s a silly little order of magnitude among friends. After all, the cat got better.
And that, of course, is still not the end of the story. The denouement came the next morning, when Mrs. P. phoned to find out the condition of her kitty.
Dr. Cole took the call, and she answered with a straight face, within ear shot of just about every employee in the clinic.
“Oh, she’s doing much better, but she’s feeling a little blue right now!”
Crash! Bang! Thud! All over the hospital employees dropped whatever they were holding as peals of laughter erupted. They say that in comedy, timing is everything. I guess that goes for veterinary medicine, too.
Anyway, the cat’s normal color soon returned, and it turned out that Mrs. P had given it Tylenol. Tylenol, you may surmise, is toxic to cats. So don’t give your cat Tylenol. This goes doubly if you have a yellow cat, as the antidote could turn the poor thing an ungodly shade of green.
Is there a moral to this story? Yes. The next time you are feeling blue, be thankful it is only a metaphorical, and not a literal, blue.
If you are feeling blue, try my other blog, Seeking Delphi.™ That will really get you down. 😛