Thursday, May 01, 2008

Reproductive cycle

I saw a new patient a while back. A young girl brought in a pregnant chihuahua who had received very little veterinary care over her lifetime. Her previous pregnancies all ended with dystocia (prolonged, difficult labor), and trips to the emergency clinic where the owner found out she could not afford a c-section. Subsequently she fortunately passed the unfortunately dead pups.

The owner did not want her dog to get pregnant again, and said she was pretty angry with her cousin when she found out he let is male dog get "stuck" with her. We calculated when her due date was from the date of that incident, and I gave her an estimate for a c-section. This time there was only one puppy - in people that means less complications than a multiple birth, but in dogs, especially small ones, it's trouble. One puppy all alone in the uterus gets all the blood flow, and usually grows too big to pass.

The girl had saved up enough money ($600) for the surgery. "My family never took dogs to the vet, because they said if you take them there they always get sick," she said. "But I never want to go through that again!" (referring to going to the emergency clinic with no money). I told her that I would definitely spay her little dog at the time of the c-section so she would not have to face this situation ever in the future. I noticed a small but deep scar on the owner's baby face, and wondered if not going to the doctor in her family extended to people, too.

The surgery was scheduled a few weeks later on a Thursday, but I got a call on Monday from the owner, concerned that she might be in labor already. I examined her and she was not, although her belly was now huge. I offered a blood test for progesterone that would help me more accurately time her delivery, but adding $70 to the bill was not an option.

The next day I got another call. The patient was definitely in labor! Of course, it would be on the day I was getting off early to pick Colin up from school. She brought her in right away and we went straight to surgery. I pulled a big puppy out of the uterus, handed it to my technicians, and then removed the baby-making factory.

"It's a girl!" we all shouted, then laughed, because usually we say "It's two girls and three boys!" after a surgery like this. The owner was overjoyed that her dog was fine and had finally delivered a healthy puppy. "Just make sure you get the puppy spayed when she's 6 months old!" I said.

Then the owner told me she, too, is pregnant. Yikes, she can't be more than 19 years old. Still, I am proud of her for at least taking charge of her dog's health and reproduction, for breaking the pattern of ignorant medical neglect for her dog.


EdamameMommy said...

wow. Reading that, it definitely seemed the young woman was aware of consequences and accountability. Wonder what she'll make of her life and the one growing inside her.

get2eric said...

Good story. Can you spay the 19 yr old too?

peevish said...

I agree with Steph: wow. I wonder, too.

What a great story. After all that did you pick up Colin on time?

ColeBugsmommy said...

I like your dad's comment!