Monday, July 16, 2007


Sheesh, nearly a week since my last update. What can I say, busy as usual. I thought summer would be more relaxing (ha!) until I realized I'd have the kids with me all day on all my days off. We are adjusting to the rhythm of summer, though, which is a little funkier, a little more freestyle than the school year tempo. With a lot more water.

I have had some cool cases at work - like the dog who got into a fight with his housemate and bit a hole all the way through his lip. His upper canine was still piercing his upper lip when I saw him a few hours later. He was too painful and too swollen to get it off without sedation. Luckily, there were only a few puncture wounds to sew up - no avulsed lips or luxated teeth hiding under there. (We vets always have to warn owners of the worst case scenario, just in case.)

I also saw some not so cool cases. Like the kitten with diarrhea so severe she came into me comatose with hypoglycemia. I gave her some fluids and dextrose IV, and it was like she was reinflated - dink!- and she lifted her head up. Unfortunately, her owner didn't have any money for diagnostics, and had to borrow the $275 dollars needed to stabilize her that afternoon. So I just treated her for every kind of diarrhea and gave her lots fluids and sugar. I warned the owner that she could relapse, though - once hypoglycemia occurs, ALL the glycogen reserves in the liver are gone, so there are no reserves. At the end of the day, at discharge, the kitten was limp and listless again. There was no money to send her to the emergency clinic for the overnight care and monitoring she needed. I instructed the owner to give her karo syrup and pedialyte intermittently overnight. She did, and the kitten survived the night. I treated her gratis the next day - she was better, but still emaciated, weak, and continuing to lose electrolytes and fluids with more diarrhea. Hopefully she survived the weekend.

I also saw a puppy dumped on the poor guy who brought her in. He is the landlord for his nephew. When the nephew asked if he could get a dog, he said alright, as long as you take care of it. The nephew never took the puppy in for shots, and now has left the property, leaving the sick dog behind.

The receptionists thought since she was vomiting and unvaccinated she might have parvovirus, and wisely used precautions against contagion. I took one look at her - weepy eyes, heaving for breath, head bobbing with ataxia, and knew it was distemper. Placing my hands on her, I could feel her lungs wheezing with pneumonia. This virus is not so common anymore thanks to vaccination, but killed many dogs before the 1950s. It starts with respiratory signs, sometimes gastrointestinal, then progresses to neurological signs. Once neuro deficits occur, they are usually lifelong - IF the puppy survives.

I didn't mention how sweet this puppy was, soliciting attention and petting despite her jerkiness and difficulty breathing. I was angry that she was suffering from this totally preventable disease, and angry that I couldn't do anything about it. Being viral, there is no specific treatment, and it is so contagious, most animal hospitals won't treat it in-house.

I went in and gave my sorry prognosis, and recommended the uncle euthanize her. He agreed. I told her I was sorry that he had to deal with his nephew's mess, and thanked him for bringing her in. As I slipped the needle in her vein, I told the puppy I was sorry for her, too.


Joey said...

I laughed out loud when I read your 1st paragraph...having kids with you ALL day long on ALL your days off. That's exactly why I'm so tired all the time. That is my life in a nutshell. I've just realized over the past few weeks why I'm a little resentful. John has days off with no kids. I don't. EVERY single day that I am not working, I spend the entire day with the kids. There is no day off. But alas, I should be grateful and enjoy this fleeting time in their lives.

I had a challenging day at work with some depressing cases today. Reading your cases just makes me sad again. Rough days like this hopefully remain few & far between because I'm emotionally exhausted.

grandad says said...

Nice post Jenn. Reading the probs helps me reconcile and put in its proper perspective the fact that Patchie SHEDS SO MUCH.
I could brush her and pull at her all day and she still would mark on everything that she rubs up against.
I have a lot of dark T-shirts that do not see the light of day since I got her.............

But, she's my dog!

Emily said...

Oh, how sad.

Remember, if you ever need a break from the kids and the noise, you can always come visit me...

Leah said...

I really felt bad for that pup. She was a very pretty thing and very sweet. She looked at us as if she was asking for help. To bad the only help we could offer was to end her life.

EdamameMommy said...

Oof. You vets/techs are everyday heroes for being able to carry out the sad but most humane end for dogs like that.

Yesterday I bathed my geriatric siamese cat. She is so amazingly SKINNY under all that fluffy fur except for her droopy old lady belly. She's still got her wits about her and seems content to live in solitude upstairs. Reminded me of singing about Cashmere..."I'm gonna live forever..."

ColeBugsmommy said...

It has been a tough week with sad cases. Try to forget about it all as you sip mojitos in Mexico. Lucky Duck!