As we sail forth deeper into the pending depths of winter and the associated holiday season, the appointment book begins to look a little thin. Our quietest months in practice occur between November and early February. No one is having babies yet, fall and spring vaccines are either complete or have yet to start, there are certainly no 4-H fairs or major shows occurring that require health papers, and even the emergencies tend to slack off. And I am grateful.
Although this time of year becomes dreary and cold, the slower days allow me some breathing room and time to step back and not only re-stock and clean out the truck, but also to be reminded of all the little things that I am thankful for. As such, I present you with The Large Animal Vet’s List of Thanks.
- Random offers of the bathroom. When a client randomly offers his or her bathroom for my disposal, sometimes I am almost grateful to tears. Usually, the timing is so that the last time I used the facilities (and I use the term loosely) was five hours and four cups of coffee ago, in a cruddy gas station two counties away. And there wasn’t any soap.
- Instant thermometer. You know, it’s sometimes pretty awkward standing around holding the old mercury thermometer and waiting for it to register its reading. Exactly what does one discuss in the eternity it takes to reach body temperature while standing behind a very large derriere? The weather? The tragedy of the Titanic? Instead, my trusty insta-read gives me readings in about ten seconds. I can only converse so long about the Titanic.
- Alpaca socks. I have been lucky enough to receive a few pairs of socks made from alpaca fiber from various alpaca clients. These things are wonderful. This is worth repeating: Alpaca socks are wonderful. Everyone should go buy alpaca socks. They are worth every eye-popping penny (read: expensive). They are warm without making your feet sweat, and not scratchy like wool. In other words, heaven for your feet in the winter.
- Flashlights. My hot pink Maglite is worth its weight in gold. Trudging my way through a cow pasture on a cloudy night? No problem. Investigating a wound on the belly of a horse in a dark stall? Easy-peasy. Interrogating suspects? I could if I wanted to.
- My coveralls. These things are indestructible. Over years of use there’s not one hole nor snag nor loose thread nor stains, which is inconceivable given my job description. Plus, the pockets are to die for. Pen? Got it. Notebook? Here you go. Above-mentioned instant thermometer and hot pink Maglite? No problem. And there’s room left over for the occasional calculator or candy bar (preferably a candy bar).
I’ll note this list does not contain any fancy super-science items, like MRI machines, blood gas analyzers, or endoscopes. I’ll let the internal medicine specialists and surgeons giggle with glee over those toys. Me? I’m super happy with my calculator and sturdy clipboard. And don’t forget about those alpaca socks.
Dr. Anna O’Brien