Friday, March 12, 2010

Books and covers

Last Saturday night, I had another important lesson reiterated (seems to be the theme from last week). I was down to a nub. I was exhausted (sleeping poorly), we'd been busy all week, so I hadn't slept on any of my working nights, and one of my technicians was giving me the silent treatment (more or less). Basically, I was finished. My judgment can be admittedly hazy in these situations, but I was still caught off guard.

At around 9pm, an absolutely beautiful, purebred show dog walked in. She was pregnant, had produced 2 puppies over 13 hours, and was now very, very lethargic, feverish, and still having intermittent contractions. Diagnostics confirmed a retained, very dead puppy. Seeing that this was a gorgeous, well-loved show dog, I popped into the room certain that I would be doing a c-section. Much to my horror, the owners barely had the money to cover the diagnostics we had conducted. They euthanized.

Later that night, a 70 pound, extraordinarily pregnant pitbull walks in. She'd had a puppy stuck for 12 hours, the head hanging out of the vulva. She was so pregnant, she could barely waddle into the clinic. The puppy, of course, was long dead. This pitbull had home-cropped ears (she actually had NO ears, really). She was dirty, wearing a large chain collar, and she was very aggressive. Her owners were...........Well, they didn't look like the type of people to plop down $2000 for emergency surgery.

After 20 minutes of pulling, rotating, lubricating, etc., my tech was able to get the puppy out (he used every inch of his not inconsiderable height and weight). I gave mom a shot of oxytocin and crossed my fingers. Twenty minutes of pregnant dog screaming later, I figured c-section was the only good option.

The owner barely glanced at the estimate for $2000-2500, says "well, it's gotta be done," and signs the form.

Repeat lesson of the day: never judge a book by its cover.

(As an interesting sidenote: the pitbull weighed 67 pounds on admission. After c-section, she was 46 pounds!! Yup, her uterus weighed 21 pounds. The actual c-section was an utter nightmare. I think there was uterine juice on the ceiling when I was done. I had a good cry afterwards, because I was so tired and stressed.)


Peggy B said...

That is the biggest uterus I've ever seen!!

Mara said...


VetRN said...

I saw a uterus that looked just like that yesterday--at the shelter where I volunteer, and my reaction was--WOW! Sweet-tempered American bulldog (approx 3-4 yrs. old) brought in as a stray the previous evening at closing time, after our vet had left, apparently ready to deliver. Next day (yesterday) no pups, poor bitch in distress. At C-section-spay, 6 dead puppies- 3 in each horn- lots of blood loss, but Mom survived and hopefully will be fostered and adopted quickly due to her sweet disposition. After extubation and recovery, she was looking for her pups, but seemed in no real distress. Note: Pre-op weight 86.4 lb., post-op weight 71.2 lb. Again--WOW!

Hermit Thrush said...

I can remember a few times that I misjudged an owner's financial commitment and means as an emergency tech but not too many. It can be surprising that how much someone is willing to pay is not always proportional to how much they are able to pay. I'll never forget one woman who pawned her wedding ring to pay for care for a chihuahua with a traumatic head injury. That one did surprise me.

Nicki said...

Never can tell can you? Great job!