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Tales of a Veterinary Spouse #11: Kind of Blue

“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.”–Vincent Van Gogh

“All’s well that ends well.”–William Shakespeare 

MilesDavisKindofBlueThe bard was right.  Van Gogh was…um..uh–I have no idea.

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.

blue catIt’s just that the pearly white cat turned….BLUE!!  Its skin, its gums, its sclera, its paws. Everything but its fur turned a bright shade of blue!

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.

blue man gourp

 

 

 

 

 

If you are feeling blue, try my other blog, Seeking Delphi.™  That will really get you down.   😛

 

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New Feature: Tales of a Veterinary Spouse

Another oldie but goodie.  New stuff soon–I promise.

“The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter-he’s got to just know.”–Will Rogers

Episode One: You called me for what??

You may laugh, but this is literally true.  I finally became inured, but she ruined my appetite many times.

You may laugh, but this is literally true.  She has ruined my appetite many times.  Image credit unknown.

I don’t know if a veterinarian is the best doctor in the world, but I do know this:  to survive thirty years of marriage to one, I may be the most patient spouse in the world.  The early years were the worst.  Why?  In two words: on call.  Thanks to a proliferation of 24-hour veterinary emergency clinics, she no longer gets those middle of the night wake-up calls.   But here are just two of the many gems she dealt with through the years.

Phone conversation Sunday afternoon late summer day

Panicked client: “Help! My dog can’t get up!”

Dr. Sackler:  “What’s happening.”

Panicked client: “My dog can’t get up.”

An effective restraint device?

An effective restraint device?

Dr. Sackler: “Well can you describe the situation?”

Panicked client: “I see my dog outside struggling to get up and he can’t get up.”

Dr. Sackler: “Well stay calm and go out there and take a closer look.”

The dog’s collar ID tag was caught in a slot between planks on the wood deck.

Phone conversation at 1 AM, Monday Morning

Ditzy client: “Dr. Sackler, I swallowed my dog’s heart worm pill, what should I do?”

Dr. Sackler: “Mrs. So-and-so, I can’t help you.  If your dog had swallowed your birth control pill, that I could help you with. But I can’t advise you on a human accidental dosing, you have to call your medical doctor.”

Ditzy client: “OH, It’s the middle of the night, I can’t bother my doctor!”

Dr. Sackler: “What am I, chopped liver?”  CLICK!!

The second story was so ridiculous, my daughter, who was in 9th grade at the time, wrote it up and submitted it to Readers Digest for their On The Job column.  They published it–sans the closing chopped liver line– and paid her $300.  Oh, and it also turned up a couple of years later on a page-a-day calendar created from that column.  Those were fifteen minutes of  fame my wife could have lived without.

That’s enough for now, but stay tuned.  These stories are just the tip of the iceberg–they get better.

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Tales of a Veterinary Spouse #8: Doggone Pets

“Armadillos make affectionate pets.  If you need affection that much.”–Will Cuppy

“I…discovered you can get used to a man, much like you do a household pet.”–Terry McMillan

There is no greater futility in the Sackler household than to complain about the animals that share our home.   Not their numbers, their habits, their exotic variety nor their ruling of the roost.

“What did you expect?  You married me when I was a veterinary student ,” is invariably the response I get.

Heck, I married a vet; I did not marry the Bronx Zoo.  And , as I often point out,  I was a sportscaster when we met.  This has not kept her from complaining about all the games I watch on TV.  The least she could do is accept it and keep the chips and dip coming during the NFL playoffs.

Hermit crab.  You'd be a hermit, too, if you looked like this.

Hermit crab. You’d be a hermit, too, if you looked like this.

But I digress.  Our current pet count is nine, a rather typical number.  Six dogs in the house, two horses in the paddock, and one cat in the barn, appropriately named Barney.  In the past, our  critter count has numbered as high as 17 at one time, and not all of them with four legs.  Critter is an appropriate term, as it is a rather extreme stretch of the imagination to call some of them pets.   These have included rabbits, hedgehogs, guinea pigs, guinea fowl,  turkeys–both domestic and wild–chickens, hermit crabs a gecko and a donkey.  We’ve also had visits from–but thankfully not made homes for–an iguana, a boa constrictor, an African millipede and Madagascar hissing cockroaches.  The variety, and the stories that go with them are never ending.

One of the earliest tales  dates to our first apartment during Cheryl’s years in veterinary school.   We had a visit from a very special friend, Kate–the very woman who had introduced us in the first place.   She entered to find us in a frenzy.

“We can’t find Archibald.  Archibald got lose.  Help us find Archibald!”

Kate was all too happy to comply and began scouring the premises with us.  She looked under the couch, behind the dresser and basically mimicked whatever searching patterns she saw us following.

Ten minutes into this, she suddenly stopped, and stared at both of us with a quizzical look.

“Um, excuse me for asking, but what are we looking for?  What exactly is Archibald!?”

A good question, if a bit late for the asking.  Archibald was  a tiny hermit crab.  And it was Kate who ultimately found him–once she knew what she was looking for, the quest was not so daunting.

Guinea Fowl.  Proof that god has a sense of humor.

Guinea Fowl. Proof that god has a sense of humor.

From my perspective though, the most annoying of these fauna have been those that shatter the calm with odd and unusual calls.  Screeches, brays, cock-a-doodle doos.  The Guniea fowl screamed bloody murder during their spring mating season.  The first spring we had them, they did this while stampeding on the roof over our heads in the middle of the night.  Fun.   A donkey and a rooster on our premises made noises, while I worked from a home office, that must have sounded to my customers on the phone as if I was selling grain out of a silo in Iowa.   More on these lovely experiences in a future installment;  in the meantime, step a way from the barn.  You never know for sure what might be in there.

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Tales of a Veterinary Spouse #6: Say what!?

“I got a big mouth.”–Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Note: This material is rated PG-13.  My wife should have realized that before she retold this story to a bunch of Catholic middle-schoolers at a career night.  Have you heard the phrase “he (or she) has a mouth that could make a sailor blush?”  Cheryl could make Larry Flint blush.

blah blah blahIt was the late night for office hours at the clinic–a Thursday to be specific.  It was a few minutes before 8 PM closing, and the doctor undoubtedly was tired and ready to go home.  But she had just come back from a seminar that focused on bonding new customers to the practice, and wouldn’t you know it, the last appointment of the day was a newbie.

The woman was in her mid 20’s or so, and the kitty she had just adopted was her first pet ever.  Despite the fatigue of a long day, Cheryl was determined to execute a perfect “bonding” experience.  She launched in her “new kitten” spiel,  and  all was going well for the first few minutes.  But then the office manager stuck her head in the exam room and interrupted.

“Pat D. is on the phone, Cheryl,” she reported matter-of-factly, “he wants to know if he can bring his dog in for a semen sample.”

“What?  You’re kidding me.  The lab has already picked up today and I am out of gas.  Tell him to bring the dog in tomorrow morning.”

So much for that, or so she thought, and immediately pushed the “kitten spiel” button and resumed the pitch.

But something had changed.  The customer seemed distracted, even a bit perturbed.

“How do you do that?” The young woman asked, two minutes into the resumed talk.

“Huh, do what?”

“How do you get a semen sample from a dog.”

Cheryl is never one to mince words or be diplomatically indirect under any circumstances.  At 8 PM after a 12 hour day of appointments, this was certainly not going to be an exception.   Making the appropriate gesture, she curtly replied, “hand job!”

Thinking that would be the last of it, she forgot about it and resumed the kitten spiel.  But the woman was still not paying attention, and two minutes later interrupted Cheryl again.

This really is how it's done.

This really is how it’s done.

“C’mon how do you really do it?’

“Huh, do what?”

“How do you really get a semen sample from a dog?’

“Well,” she replied impatiently, “really, you get a cup and you stimulate the dog manually and, well, I can show it to you in a text book if you want.”

The woman frowned and Cheryl resumed the kitten talk, but it was readily apparent that the client was still not satisfied with the answer.  In fact, she appeared downright angry. Within a couple of minutes, she abruptly changed the topic for a third and most emphatic time.

“You’re just goofing on me,” and by now she was almost yelling, “HOW DO YOU REALLY GET A SEMEN SAMPLE FROM A DOG?”

Cheryl had had enough.

“Look at it this way lady, I’m not gonna give him a blow job!”

That ended that.  Permanently.  She never saw that customer again, and to this day she reckons it was worth sacrificing one client just to have the story.

Oh, and she really did tell that story at a Catholic middle school career night.  The students loved it; the nuns were horrified. She never got asked back, and I’m guessing she thinks that was worth it as well.

If you enjoyed this story, just wait for the next Tales of a Veterinary Spouse, which will deal with extracting semen from a rather larger species.

Cheers.

Signature    On twitter @MarkSackler

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New Feature: Tales of a Veterinary Spouse

“The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter-he’s got to just know.”–Will Rogers

Episode One: You called me for what??

You may laugh, but this is literally true.  I finally became inured, but she ruined my appetite many times.

You may laugh, but this is literally true.  She has ruined my appetite many times.  Image credit unknown.

I don’t know if a veterinarian is the best doctor in the world, but I do know this:  to survive thirty years of marriage to one, I may be the most patient spouse in the world.  The early years were the worst.  Why?  In two words: on call.  Thanks to a proliferation of 24-hour veterinary emergency clinics, she no longer gets those middle of the night wake-up calls.   But here are just two of the many gems she dealt with through the years.

Phone conversation Sunday afternoon late summer day

Panicked client: “Help! My dog can’t get up!”

Dr. Sackler:  “What’s happening.”

Panicked client: “My dog can’t get up.”

An effective restraint device?

An effective restraint device?

Dr. Sackler: “Well can you describe the situation?”

Panicked client: “I see my dog outside struggling to get up and he can’t get up.”

Dr. Sackler: “Well stay calm and go out there and take a closer look.”

The dog’s collar ID tag was caught in a slot between planks on the wood deck.

Phone conversation at 1 AM, Monday Morning

Ditzy client: “Dr. Sackler, I swallowed my dog’s heart worm pill, what should I do?”

Dr. Sackler: “Mrs. So-and-so, I can’t help you.  If your dog had swallowed your birth control pill, that I could help you with. But I can’t advise you on a human accidental dosing, you have to call your medical doctor.”

Ditzy client: “OH, It’s the middle of the night, I can’t bother my doctor!”

Dr. Sackler: “What am I, chopped liver?”  CLICK!!

The second story was so ridiculous, my daughter, who was in 9th grade at the time, wrote it up and submitted it to Readers Digest for their On The Job column.  They published it–sans the closing chopped liver line– and paid her $300.  Oh, and it also turned up a couple of years later on a page-a-day calendar created from that column.  Those were fifteen minutes of  fame my wife could have lived without.

That’s enough for now, but stay tuned.  These stories are just the tip of the iceberg–they get better.

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