The group of people who inspired The Very Hungry Entourage blog are all, in some way, connected to the practice of veterinary medicine. Together (often hugging, gorging on cheese products, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, or screaming bloody murder) we have supported each other through the strange, frustrating, hilarious, and heartbreaking moments that are involved with the veterinary profession.
This career is a doozy, folks. There is a reason why I no longer work full-time as a veterinarian… a post for another time, maybe. But I do distinctly remember the day learned I was a veterinary burnout.
The docs in my practice were meeting with a new veterinary graduate. She was eager, wide-eyed, nervous, and she couldn’t stop talking about how much she lived for the practice of veterinary medicine. She asked us all about our special interests… “You know, what do you LOVE?”.
My colleagues were quick to answer. “Dentistry” said DC enthusiastically. Then JW, chiming in, said “Ultrasound”.
There was a pause while she looked expectantly at me. I said:
“My day off”.
That answer spoke volumes about my mental state.
It’s funny, though. Now that I spend fewer days in practice, I enjoy my time in hospitals more. I also have a different perspective. I can honesty look back at my ten + years working in different veterinary clinics and smile.
But the happy moments that I reflect back on the most are the times when I acted like a cracked nut in an exam room.
Honestly, the things I say and do can make me appear, well, certifiable. And for reasons beyond me, clients seem to like it… at least so far (knock on wood), and thank goodness for that. I love my furry four-legged patients, but I do actually enjoy interacting with the humans that are attached via a leash to those patients. Well, let’s be real. I enjoy the nice ones, not the screaming ones, but still, I have shared some pretty interesting memories with them over the years.
Here are my picks for the top moments in practice so far. Many of these are quotes; surreal language that has, without warning, come out of my mouth while in an exam room. Some of these moments have literally turned the lovely staff members working alongside me different colors – whether it be ghostly pale or a darkened shade of hot pink – as they desperately fought back screams of laughter or shrieks of horror.
Memory #5 – Using all of my really appropriate anatomical terms in one appointment, including “bell-bells”, “girly private parts”, “tooters”, and “schnoz”
I confess, I like making owners smile. Plus, some of this vocabulary makes a diagnosis less difficult to discuss. YOU try telling a leather-clad New Hampshire Harley dude on his way to Biker Week that his new puppy has vaginitis.
Memory #4 – The Anal Gland Incident(s)
I am not a neat person. The technicians who are patient enough to work by my side affectionately compare to me a tornado. I fly through a space opening every drawer, leaving gauze, rubbing alcohol, and syringes in my wake. And being a veterinarian is a dirty, dirty job. One of the things we are required to do is express little glands, ones filled with a musky and horrific-smelling oily substance, that sit on the edge of the dog/cat anus. On more than one occasion, I have managed to cause a gland explosion that covered nearly everything in an exam room… including me and the person standing behind me. Terrific.
Memory #3 – Singing the words “wood, wood, wood… I LOVE wood”.
I honestly have no freaking idea why I used those words in an exam room, and even less of an inkling as to why I added a melody. I do remember waving an ophthalmoscope around at the same time, and I definitely remember the technician hurriedly leaving the room while suppressing a massive outburst of laughter.
Memory #2 – The Vaccine Incident
Chatting is something I seem to be very, very good at, and while I chat, I tend to gesticulate wildly with my hands. On one occasion I managed to do that with an uncapped leptospirosis vaccine in my hand; needle exposed. And the vaccine went flying. Where it ended up landing, needle first, I will never tell, other to mention that no animals were harmed in the making of this story.
Before I get into my #1, let me give a little historical background. People spend thousands of dollars purchasing dogs from “breeders” that are not actually breeds, but are instead doggie hodgepodges with uber-cool names. Peekapoo, labradoodle, puggles… these are not breeds. They are, in fact, mutts. Really cute and sweet ones, but mutts just the same. Often breeders take advantage of a nice person’s ignorance and will call a weird looking dog something that is it not.
So, to get to it, a “breeder of cockapoos” (I got hives just writing that quotation) sold my very nice client a dog that was essentially a poorly bred and monstrously large cocker spaniel. My response when meeting said dog was not exactly politically correct. Which brings me to:
Memory #1: Exclaiming loudly “he’s all cock, and no poo!”
And by some miracle, it wasn’t badly received.
A veterinarian’s life ain’t easy. We struggle mightily with our workload and our emotions. Our lives are perpetually filled with stress, anxiety, and heartbreak. I am a professional, and I do my job well. However, it is important for me to remember that it’s ok to laugh, and also perfectly reasonable to have a good time. So if I want to kiss a cat on the head and tell him he is “super, crazy, ridiculously handsome”, so be it. If I refer to my own dog proudly as “one hell of a sexy pug” to other pug owners, don’t judge me. And if I want to pretend a dachshund is superman and pick him up saying “up-up and awaaayyy”, the owner giggling next to me, I don’t see why I shouldn’t.
That is just who I am.