Friday, May 28, 2010

A hike

We did a 4 mile round trip hike today. The up part was 2 miles, and d@mn, was it steep. I'm amazed I made it to the stop and didn't just lie down and die (the thought occurred to me). Once at the top, the view was definitely worth it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blue hand towel

The puppy in front of me was flat-out. Shoulders hunched, eyes squinting, tongue hanging out. You could tell instantly that she felt terrible. The question was why? As I looked at her triage sheet, my eyes came to the line: "reason for your visit today." The owners had written: vomiting, won't eat, dumpy, vomited up bits of a towel today.


I did my exam on the dog, stepped out of exam room 3, and merrily told my technicians (who were hopping due to the busy-ness of the day) - "foreign body on aisle 3."

When I gently palpated the dog's abdomen, she cried out in pain. She was very dehydrated, and she was very, very depressed. Xrays showed something plastic in the abdomen, although I was not convinced that the plastic was the problem. I recommended an exploratory surgery.

Three hours later, I got my answer as I slid the intestines out of the abdomen and onto my lap sponges. The intestines were bright pink, angry, and attempting to peristalse (squeeze) frantically. They were unable to do much because they had become kinked up completely on a linear foreign body - likely the blue towel. Luckily, we did not delay on surgery, so the intesitines were still healthy and pink. There were no areas where necrosis had started and no areas of intestinal perforation yet.

I had to make 2 intestinal incisions, as well as a gastrotomy (incision into the stomach) to remove all of the hand towel, but it all came out.

Three days later, my patient is eating, drinking, bouncing around, and acting like a Jack Russell puppy should. In another 24 hours, I'll add this to my win column. It helps me feel better about this - even though I know that wasn't my fault. It still bothers me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

For future reference

If you have questions - about this blog, tomatoes, veterinary stuff, or would just like to chat in a more private forum, you can email me at


Stress stress stress

I thought surgery was stressful. Today, I did something that made me sweat and tremble.

I trellised my cukes, squash, and added support to my tomatoes. PHEW. Talk about stressful. And yes, I am serious.

It's no secret that I am a total noob to the world of gardening. I'm learning as I go. Let me share what I have learned thus far:

1) Cucumbers and squash really like to grow here. If left to their own devices, they will grow out of the garden, along the ground, and start to invade the neighbor's fence. Give your cukes and squash a trellis! They will also out-compete nearby plants. I had to trellis the vines today, because the red peppers had disappeared under the huge cuke/squash leaves (you can see this in the picture up there). Do it early, before the leaves and stems are huge, or else you're going to be messing with adult plants and breaking stems and freaking yourself out.

2) Tomatoes really like to grow here, as well. They need support...and measly green plastic sticks ain't gonna do it. Not when your tomatoes are 3.5 feet high. Stake your tomatoes EARLY. If you do it late - when they are huge, it's stressful. When I got to the last of my 3 Big Boy tomato plants, I was wracked with fear. This was (is) Steve the tomato's bush, and I was terrified to disturb it. Alas, I think all went well.

3) I used a mix of potting soil, topsoil, and composted mulch. The potting soil and topsoil were 50/50 - with a thin layer of composted manure on top. It is a rich, dark soil, and the plants are thriving.

As for an update on the garden, I have counted a half dozen or more baby tomatoes. Steve continues to be an overachiever. He is fat and plump. I've decided that I might not eat him. He's working so darned hard at growing, and I feel that my plants are going to thrive. So I might grant him a pardon. On the other hand, I don't want to see him descend into rot and dissolution, so he might be salad garnish...

A few people have asked me where I got the name I will send you to this website. I warn you, if you read this, you might laugh so hard you'll lose bladder control.

In other news, I baked 3 loaves of bread yesterday in preparation for my mom and grandparents coming to stay on Friday. I have to work all weekend, but it's the daytime shift, so I will get to be social at night thankfully.

The pictures of my Sennie are what she was doing while I was bread baking. She kept me company.

Back to work tonight. Some interesting veterinary stuff will likely come your way shortly.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's that time of year

My African grey (Titus) appears to be interested in nesting.

In other, strange parrot news, I forgot to mention that last time my Sennie was into see our avian vet, I had "him" sexed. Everyone has always thought Carnegie was a male - even the avian vet. Nope, turns out, Carnegie is a she! This is only shocking probably to those of you who have birds and find out LONG after adopting them (7 years) that they are another sex altogether. We didn't change her name.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We live in a fairly small community that abuts / is a suburb of a very big city. Thus, you'd think I would run into people whose pets I've seen at the ER fairly frequently. That's really not the case - or - not until this past week.

We sat down at Cracker Barrel to have breakfast, and the waitress came to our table. I looked up and instantly recognized her, although it took me a moment to place her animal. It was only after about 5 seconds that the light bulb went on. She had come in with her husband and daughter. They'd been walking their small breed dog outside when a large, aggressive dog had run up and grabbed the dog - shaking it and throwing it in the air. They had no money to pay for emergency care. The people responsible for the terrible accident were not interested in paying for the injuries. The dog needed - at minimum - xrays, oxygen therapy, pain medications, and possibly surgery. They just didn't have the finances, and they wouldn't qualify for CareCredit. I had to euthanize the dog. Talk about depressing. Through no fault of the owners - they had lost their dog - the dog their daughter had grown up with. She was there (about 8 years old), crying hysterically.

The next day, I was at our local cat rescue (privately run), dropping off my 2nd batch of bottle raised kittens. I looked up to see a familiar couple. Again, it took me a few seconds to place them, and then my heart sank. They'd brought in their cute, small breed dog on Friday evening for vomiting and anorexia. At that time, the dog was bright, alert, and wagging its tail. She did have a mild fever, and her heart rate was higher than I would've liked, so I recommended bloodwork and xrays. The owner declined and elected outpatient therapy. She came back the following night, and her condition had significantly worsened. Her body temperature was subnormal, she was dehydrated, depressed, and had a painful abdomen. Bloodwork and xrays were unremarkable other than a positive cPLi (pancreatitis snap test).

I started treating her for pancreatitis, but I was suspicious. Her condition deteriorated over 8 hours. She remained dehydrated, despite fluids, and her abdomen became more and more painful. I repeated xrays, and she had fluid in her abdomen. I called the owners and recommended surgery. It was done by my colleague after I left Sunday morning. The dog had a giant liver mass and a perforated duodenal ulcer. She was euthanized on the table.

Why can't I run into owners whose dogs I've saved??

Friday, May 14, 2010

My garden

It's really quite out of control, and I love it. I found the first Big Boy tomato today. It's tiny and green and perfect.

P.S.: I named the tomato Steve. I look forward to eating him!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Farmer's market

I've never really given much thought to the whole locally grown, organic hullaballo. No, I've always been a Food Lion/Kroger/Bi-Lo food shopper. It's convenient, it's cheap, and it's easy. Lately however, I've had second thoughts about this. There are a variety of reasons. I think one of the most prevalent is my overall dislike for how meats are raised and slaughtered. Every time I see a truck loaded down with chickens stuffed in crates, my stomach turns a little. I don't have a problem with eating meat ethically. I do have a problem with how it is raised - chickens in particular. In my ideal world, I would have a farm with chickens and cattle - so that I could raise my own eggs and meat (although I would send it elsewhere to be slaughtered). The husband is not so keen on the farm idea - mostly because of the care required and the numerous additional animals.

On another note, I don't have an actual ethical problem with using growth hormones in cattle, and I don't have a problem with pesticides. I'd just rather not have them in my food, if at all possible. The closest possible -SAFE- thing to natural is what I would like.

Another reason is my sudden affinity for dirt and growing vegetables. Now that I actually enjoy digging around and watching green things thrive, I want to support others that do too.

I also HATE the taste of store bought tomatoes.

It's something I've been pondering a great deal recently. On the way back from my annual exam yesterday, I passed a neat looking farm store, set back in big fields of tomatoes and squash and cucumbers, etc. Today, the husband and I went to check it out. It's a great place - replete with locally grown vegetables, locally made jams, fresh baked breads, and local meats.

The pictures are of our dinner tonight - all homemade, all locally produced goods. It was delicious.

Holy geez, it's HOT today.

Off I don't want to discuss work. Ha. Just kidding. I have stuff to talk about, but it will have to wait.

We discovered yesterday that our hot water heater is leaking. So a new one has been ordered and will arrive tomorrow. That was my stainless steel stove...:( I guess I'll have to wait on getting it.

I sated myself by buying some inexpensive but lovely patio furniture, a patio rug, and some pillows. I also plan on putting some plants out on the screened-in porch - tall, bushy green ones. I played in the dirt today - the front beds. I finished mulching. I started that about a week ago, didn't have enough mulch, was interrupted by work, and hadn't been able to get back to it until today. I had good intentions of doing it on Tuesday, but after rabies shot #2, my arm was too sore to haul giant bags of mulch. So, it didn't get finished till today - inarguably the hottest, sweatiest day this week. I also planted a couple more annuals - bright yellow, mounding flowers. The rose bush is still sitting out back on our patio table, waiting to be put in the ground. It doesn't seem to mind.

Who knew I would end up enjoying gardening? Certainly not myself. I've never even had the slightest inclination to do it before. Now, I have all these plans, and read landscaping books and magazines. Perhaps I'm a pod person.

We went and saw "How to Train Your Dragon" yesterday. It was a very sweet movie. I enjoyed it thoroughly. We didn't pay the extra $5/ticket to see it in 3D, and I actually kind of regret that. I don't enjoy 3D movies particularly, but the flying scenes in this movie would have probably been worth seeing in 3D. The animation is absolutely gorgeous, and it's a sweet story.

Not much else here to report. It's hot, I'm dirty. I should probably shower...but I don't want to make water come out of the hot water heater (small leak).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We are siamese if you please...

So, the burned tabby incident was still eating at me. And then this showed up at work, courtesy of a good samaritan. This kitty was suffering from a ruptured globe and an eye socket full of pus. This is fairly common in kittens that develop upper respiratory tract infections with herpes virus or Calici. Sometimes - as in this kitten's case - the infection in the eye gets so bad that the eyes are just eaten away and replaced with a big bag of pus.

I couldn't put him down. He was too sweet and tiny. So, last night, when I had a moment, I took his eyeball out of the socket (or the pus-filled bag that had replaced his eyeball).

Little man is expected to make a full recovery. Now, does anyone need a one-eyed Siamese?

Friday, May 7, 2010


Some pictures of what I've been doing in my spare time. As you can probably tell, most of my spare time involves 1) cooking or buying appliances for our kitchen (the remodeling has officially begun) 2) playing in the dirt in either my vegetable garden (which is thriving) or my front and back flower beds 3) taking care of my dog and taking her picture and 4) driving home to see the folks (jim's parents last weekend, mine the previous). There's been a fair amount of sleeping in there, too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Melted heart

I'm fairly pragmatic about my job. I realize that I can't save all helpless animals and that it costs money to provide medical care. In most situations, euthanasia - while never easy - is something I am comfortable doing, especially when it needs to be done.

Let me start this story out by explaining my frame of mind. I worked all night Tuesday. It was a 16 hour shift, and I did not sleep. Instead of coming home on Wednesday morning and sleeping in preparation for that night's work, I had to run errands and burn time while waiting to get get my rabies vaccine (#1). So, I did that. I didn't end up home and in bed until past noon (with a moderately sore arm). I slept for about 3 hours, then went back to work. It was crazy last night. I worked 16 hours straight without sitting down. I had 2 dystocias, a cat pyometra that I took to surgery, a hit by car, a cockatiel with a persistently bleeding toenail after the owner quicked it while trimming nails, and the usual vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, painful/shaking, etc. thrown in for good measure. It was nuts.

In the midst of this, a good samaritan brings in a cat that showed up at their front door. My heart broke almost instantly. It was a tomcat tabby, sweet as pie. He had been burned over a great deal of his body. His ears were just ragged nubs. His whiskers were melted to tiny little stubs. He smelled of rot and burnt flesh. His temperature was 106 degrees. His entire belly was a raw, crusted, dying burn. He had burns at the commissures of his lips. His fur was gone. Despite all this, he was sweet and calm, allowing us to work on him.

In any other circumstance (i.e. not full-blown exhaustion), I would have done what needed to be done. Euthanasia. Poor tomcat would require at MINIMUM twice a day surgical debridement of his burns, prolonged antibiotic and pain therapy, and ongoing care. It's not something our clinic, as small as we are, can afford to do for cases with no owners.

I persevered though - placing an IV catheter, administering pain medications, starting antibiotics, and gently washing the wound. Crusty kitty (as we took to calling him) responded well, started grooming his wounds, and becoming more alert. A feline leukemia/FIV test was negative.

He spent the night with us.

It was only this morning, before leaving, that I realized how naive and foolish I was being. Sweet tomcat had burns over half of his body. He smelled of dying flesh and feces.

I knew what I had to do. We spent a companionable ten minutes in petting mode - while tomcat tried to gingerly roll around and enjoy the attention. In the end, he went very peacefully, one minute grooming himself, the next asleep, and then gone.

What I keep telling myself is that maybe it was some sort of freak accident. Surely, a human wouldn't have burned this sweet cat deliberately?

It's how I sleep at night.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


4am, and I can't sleep. My work schedule is all messed up. One of the other vets went to Mexico last week for the VECCS Institute. Since she was gone, the shifts had to be divided up between myself and my other colleague. As a result, for the next couple of weeks, my schedule is not normal.

As a result, instead of working Wed/Thurs this week, as I normally would, followed by Friday off, and working days on Sat and Sun, I worked Tues/Wed/Thurs night, and I have the weekend off. It's lovely. Big plans...kicking off with tonight!

Two friends are staying with us. We traveled to a nearby, big city to see an outdoor concert tonight (My Morning Jacket, a very favorite band). It was great. The venue is absolutely GORGEOUS, outdoor, and the night was balmy and perfect, with stars overhead. All in all, a wonderful evening.

Tomorrow (or technically, this morning), I have big plans for brunch...buttermilk pancakes, bacon, eggs, grits. It would be helpful if some sleep could occur beforehand.

Next week, I have to finally take care of something I've been delaying forever. Rabies vaccines. Yes folks, I am not vaccinated against rabies. It's ridiculous that I've delayed it this long. It's not a fear of shots or doctors...just a general reluctance to go and get my immune system hyped up. Who knows why? Oh right, the $875 price tag! To think, I had the opportunity to get it done for $60 in vet school, and I missed it. Stupid.

I have to stake my tomatoes, they are becoming unruly and tall. I also need to trellis my they don't take over. Cuke revolution!

Sunday, we're seeing Grease done by one of the local high schools on Sunday afternoon.

I know this is all very fascinating...

Work has been dreadfully slow lately. This is when the busy season starts (spring and summer), so I'm surprised and a little worried. I'm sure it'll get better shortly. Let's hope so...