Friday, July 14, 2006

Why I'm Not A Veterinarian

Not For Those With Delicate Sensibilities

I'm home with Byron this morning. He had to have surgery yesterday for impacted/abcessed anal glands, and they sent him home with a drainage shunt that has to stay in until Monday, a satellite dish around his neck, some pain medication, and antibiotics. I stayed home today because he seems to be in a lot of pain, at times crying and yelping and trying in vain to lick/chew at his bottom. I hate seeing animals in pain or suffering; it just breaks my heart. I had to stop watching those animal rescue shows on Animal Planet because I'd end up in tears every time. He won't lie down, keeps starting to fall asleep sitting up until the pain wakes him again. The vet said they don't know what causes the glands to become infected, but that some dogs are prone to it. (Oh goody.)

I used to want to be a vet. I love animals, and as a kid thought it would be a great way to be around animals all the time. One of the vets in the town where I grew up used to let kids who expressed an interest in becoming vets watch him perform operations. I did that once or twice, and once I got over the blood, I was fascinated. But then I started noticing that vets, like doctors, have to distance themselves from the suffering of their patients, and I knew I'd have trouble doing that. However the main event that put me off a career in animal medicine, was a demonstration of veterinary arts that I witnessed during one of my horse's not infrequent bouts of colic.

Those of you who have been around horses know that for a horse, colic isn't just a tummyache. Horses can't vomit, and if they get intestinal blockages, it can kill them, either from the blockage itself, or from twisted/ruptured intestines that can result if they are able to get down on the ground and roll. So when a horse has colic, you walk them. And walk them. And walk them. Sometimes for hours until they finally pass stools. And sometimes you walk them for hours and still nothing is happening and you can't hear any intestinal rumbling when you press your ear to their belly, so you call the vet. In this particular case, the vet gave our horse a shot to relax his intestines, and we walked him again for an hour, but nothing. So the vet returned, and donned an elbow-length plastic glove. "Hold his head," he said to me and I did. My horse's eyes almost popped out of his head as the vet proceeded to reach up into the horse's butt all the way up to his elbow, until he found the blockage and pulled it out...and like pulling the cork out of a shaken bottle of champagne, was showered head to toe with a fine mist of pent up manure. We hosed him off, and he went off on his next call.

So I'm waiting for the vet to call me back to see if it's OK to give him a little more pain medication, or if I can maybe get some doggie downers so that he'll at least sleep a little. Wish us luck, or it might be a very long three days...


Blogger Maya's Granny said...

Pseu, My daughter was going to become a vet, until we took a stray kitten we had found a home for in to our vet to have this little problem she seemed to be having checked out and she had to be put down. Julie cried and cried -- as much for the vet as for the kitten.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

I don't know if you've ever read any of the James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small being the first) books, but they were filled with similar stories. I don't think I could do it either.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Deja Pseu said...

I used to love those books, but yes, it's very different on paper than in real life.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous citizen spot said...

Nothing worse than an uncomfortable pet with a big plastic funnel on their head. Coco must be kind freakin' out. Hope everything turns out ok. Yikes!

10:24 PM  
Blogger Deja Pseu said...

Things have improved since Friday. Byron's wound seems to have progressed from "painful" to "itchy", and he comes to us now for behind-the-ear scratches since he can't do himself with the Cone of Silence on. Coco was really freaked out when he was gone (he had to spend the night before his surgery at the vet) and she was SO happy to see him when he came home. I finally felt comfortable letting them out in the yard together yesterday, with supervision, and they were very happy to be able to play together again.

7:33 AM  

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