Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I think I'm starting to repeat myself

This blog might be reaching the end of its lifespan. I feel like my posts are starting to repeat themselves. This past weeknight brought the following cases - all in ONE 2 hour span.

Room 1 - 3 eighteen (barely) year old kids and their unvaccinated 12 week old, weak, lethargic, vomiting, anorexic puppy. The first words out of their mouths to my technician: "DO EVERYTHING TO SAVE HER!" Yeah. Here's your estimate for the emergency exam room fee ($95) and a parvovirus test ($55). Suddenly they're all, "uhhhh...we need to think this over..."I never even see these kids, but instead go into Room 2.

Room 2: people that make Deliverance extras look normal. Obviously, no branches in the family tree. They'd brought in their very stoic, junkyard dog who turned out to be very sweet. He'd had his foot run over by the lawnmower. A cursory glance showed that the bones of his toes were exposed on top. They had $140 and were declined for CareCredit.

Room 3: A dog that had been mauled by the neighbor's 2 junkyard dogs (not related to the junkyard dog from Room 2). The kicker? Said mauling victim was unneutered and free-roaming. This was the SECOND dog that the owner had allowed this to happen to. The first was euthanized because the owner could not afford to treat him. This dog was likely facing the same fate, as the owner had $200 MAXIMUM to work with and was also declined for CareCredit.

In the midst of all this, in waltzed a woman with $60 (not even enough to cover the exam room fee). Her cat had a stick protruding FROM her abdomen. Kitty was essentially shish-ka-bobbed.

*SIGH* In the end, I administered pain medications, a strong sedative, an injection of antibiotic, and cleaned and carefully bandaged the lawnmower dog's foot. He was to see his vet in the morning. In my heart, I know he is somewhere with a filthy bandage and a rotting wound. I'm trying to be optimistic, but my good 'ole common sense knows better.

Room 3 got a dose of strong pain medications so that I could examine him (he screamed anytime his neck was touched). His wounds were deep and the tearing of the muscle was significant. We shaved them, cleaned them thoroughly, administered an injection of antibiotics, and sent him home with antibiotics and pain medications. He was also to see his vet the next day for follow-up care. He is likely either dead or somewhere suffering a slow death of sepsis.

The shish-ka-bob kitty's owner declined humane euthanasia and took the cat home with the plan to return with funds. Someone was "wiring money to her at Wal-Mart, and she'd be back." We did not see her again. (Shocking, I know).

The kids with the likely parvovirus puppy elected to leave without an exam or treatment, as they didn't have any money.

And people wonder why vets get burnt out?

10 comments:

Blueberry's human said...

I'm really sorry that you have days like this - I know it must be disheartening. This world has some really poor examples of good pet owners but on the other hand - there are a lot of us that are responsible and are so grateful to all of the vets like yourself that care and provide such great services. In these cases you did what you could for these animals in distress and the rest is up to the owners. You aren't responsible for their actions. I hope you have some better days soon.

Jenn said...

You know, I know you sound like you're repeating yourself. However, I find every case fascinating - every one is different, even if they may all blur together for you, and I've enjoyed watching you pick them apart for us. I don't always have time at work to pick the vet's brain about complex cases, so that's one of the reasons I love stopping in here. That, and adorable baby pictures. :)

I also find that, after a particularly hellish day, I can regain some perspective after reading your blog, because I know that cases like the parvo puppy/no money clients happen everywhere, to everyone.

Holly said...

I just now, 1/2 through this post walked into my supervisors office and said "I could NEVER be an ER vet, never." I'd be fired or have to find different work as I would ask repeatedly "WHATis the matter with you?!" At least at my job, I can and am permitted to tell them no and nobody is going to die (probably).

Nicki said...

Ditto

Walla Walla Sk8ter said...

I'm so sorry you have to deal with such horrible people. I know what burnout feels like from my own profession. I totally sympathize. Accordingly, I wanted to share something you; perhaps this will make you feel a bit better, at least about your blogging.

I found your blog on a Saturday afternoon about a month ago. At the time, I was spending the entire day in our bedroom caring for our profoundly ill kitty. He had developed pancretitis and hepatic lipodosis. He'd been in the hospital all week and we were beginning his home care.

I sat on the floor beside him and read your blog. I learned what I needed to know at the time--how vets think and feel. For irrational reasons, I blamed myself for my kitty's illness. We spent $11,000 trying to save him. We regarded the ER vets and techs as incredible professionals. After reading your blog I have even more respect for the profession. It was oddly comforting to read your stories at that particular moment in my life.

The next morning we returned to the hospital. It was clear that kitty's liver was failing. The vet was kind and empathetic. Your blog helped me deal better with the euthanasia. We were grateful to our vets for their efforts--we will always cherish the fact that we got to bring our kitty home for a least a day. I know it made him happier.

You and I are complete strangers, but you made an impact on my life. Thank you!

Walla Walla Sk8ter said...

I'm so sorry you have to deal with such horrible people. I know what burnout feels like from my own profession. I totally sympathize. Accordingly, I wanted to share something you; perhaps this will make you feel a bit better, at least about your blogging.

I found your blog on a Saturday afternoon about a month ago. At the time, I was spending the entire day in our bedroom caring for our profoundly ill kitty. He had developed pancretitis and hepatic lipodosis. He'd been in the hospital all week and we were beginning his home care.

I sat on the floor beside him and read your blog. I learned what I needed to know at the time--how vets think and feel. For irrational reasons, I blamed myself for my kitty's illness. We spent $11,000 trying to save him. We regarded the ER vets and techs as incredible professionals. After reading your blog I have even more respect for the profession. It was oddly comforting to read your stories at that particular moment in my life.

The next morning we returned to the hospital. It was clear that kitty's liver was failing. The vet was kind and empathetic. Your blog helped me deal better with the euthanasia. We were grateful to our vets for their efforts--we will always cherish the fact that we got to bring our kitty home for a least a day. I know it made him happier.

You and I are complete strangers, but you made an impact on my life. Thank you!

Karen Whiddon said...

{{{{Hugs}}}} I'd be burnt out too. Some people shouldn't breed, never mind own pets.

Chris Bern, DVM said...

All of us vets deal with this. But at least those of us in general practice also get to see the cute, healthy pets for routine exam and preventative care. This helps balance out the hard cases. I have a lot of respect for ER vets like you. You see the worst of the worst.

Class factotum said...

Oh this makes me so mad. We love our cats. They bring so much joy into our lives. We don't have to spend too much money on them, because they are young and healthy and not allowed to roam outside, but we still take them to the vet for their checkups and shots and buy the flea stuff because Laverne loves to go outside, even if it's in a harness attached to the clothesline. We would have to be in very desperate straits to deny vet care to our pets.

Anonymous said...

Those stories are the reason why every time I think about leaving my current job I sigh and continue answering the telephone. I don't have it in me to deal with "real" veterinary medicine anymore.

Karla