It's not that veterinarians necessarily suffer from bad habits more acutely than any other hardworking group of people, but the reality of our daily stress load is a tad off the beaten path … what with all the potentially adverse client interactions and stomach-churning nastiness that often accompanies our work.

Always in search of greater clarity — not to mention some great stories to add to my collection — two years ago I polled this blog's contingent of in-the-vet-biz readers (I was going by Dolittler back then) on this very subject. I asked, "What unhealthy, unique-to-your-profession work habits will you cop to for the sake of a little illumination (and fun, of course)?"

Here's what I got:

1. Eating lunch too close to the microscope. We're all guilty of this. And by we, I mean those of us who consider a little fecal material on one's person to be an inevitable constant. Why the fuss? It's just a little poop, right?

2. Taking clients at their word. Ignore clients when they urge you not to put a muzzle on their dog. "My dog does not bite!" is altogether too often followed by, "She never did that before!" (A trite non-expression of sympathy which helps us not-at-all in the emergency room, and less still when we have to cancel all our surgeries for the next week.) 

3. Not wearing gloves while flushing out ears … or examining a potential abscess. (So much for a dinner date appetite.)

4. Investigating a possible ringworm lesion bare-handed … and then getting distracted and suffering three circular lesions to your ankle. (Presumably after scratching the mange mite bumps on your leg.)

5. Agreeing to conduct a post-mortem on a two-day-old specimen.

6. Rejecting vet-tech assistance for a house call euthanasia … especially when it's a 100-pound Rottie with a personality disorder.

7. Filling two vaccine syringes at once. One colleague confessed to having attempted this reserved-for-professionals, do-not-try-this-at-home trick and ended up with two syringes sticking straight out of her chest. (Attractive, no?)

8. Uncapping a syringe with one's teeth … and then stabbing oneself in the tongue with a rabies vaccine after indulging in this very, very bad habit. This is another confession from a colleague, but I confess to having found it difficult to break this habit myself, once upon a time — though I never stabbed my tongue.

9. Using the necropsy knife to cut into brownies. Now that is an extra-special one I will never forget. Foul! (Megan, I think that was yours, no?)

10. Eating with same cutlery used for serving the cat food … which often ends up in the litter pans in the sink. I happen to do this a lot — which disgusts my co-workers to no end. I just smile as I happily lick the peanut butter off the kitties' spoon.

***

During the discussion that followed my original post on this, it was posited (by FV reader BarbaraA?) that it's these often uber-gross habits that keep our immune systems in tip-top condition. If so, I must have the gruelingly-conditioned immune system of an Ironman champ.

Now it's your turn to add to the list...

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "Disgusting" by Jsome1