What is the Nature of Your Emergency?
I’m sitting on the floor of my bathroom with my husband’s laptop (mine suffered some kind of terrible fate at the hands of the kids and is showing only a white screen; hope it’s not a virus), which is sitting atop the toilet seat. It’s 9:40 p.m, and my 6½-year-old is in the tub. He hasn’t had his hair washed in close to a week and he’s starting to get the beginnings of a dreadlock, the cleanliness situation was getting dire. The dogs need feeding, I need a shower, and I need to turn in a blog for next week.
Finding blogging time during the summer is tough for me, to say the least.
Anyhow, today I had to call 911 for a fainting client. This isn’t the first time, but the other two vets were giving me a bit of a hard time about it and it’s given me the impression that I may be a bit of a 911 frequent flyer of sorts. I’ve been in practice for 13 years, and this is for sure the third time I’ve personally called paramedics to the practice. This is the fourth client I’ve had pass out on me.
The boss says I’m doing something to scare these people.
The majority of my passer-outers (all of them, in fact) did not involve anything particularly bloody or disgusting. My first fainter was probably my first year out of vet school. I was trying to give this lady’s little bitty kitten a big fat dewormer pill. I was having trouble stuffing this big pill down this tiny cat, and next thing I know, the client turns green, slumps over, and lands face first on the floor.
This wasn’t a small lady, and, well, on that day I learned the meaning of the term "dead weight." The lady was flat on her face and I just didn’t have the physical strength to roll her over. I remember feeling very helpless and wishing I had those smelling salts I’ve seen wake people right up on TV (but then again, I guess I couldn’t have used them, as she was on her face). We called the paramedics and they arrived as she was coming to. Turns out she was pregnant, hadn’t eaten anything lately, and became hypoglycemic. Guess the sight of me struggling to pill her cat put her over the edge.
I have a vague recollection of somebody passing out during a suture removal. I think it was another pregnant woman.
I distinctly remember one client. A young skinny girl; looked like the type that worked out a lot and ate little. She was picking up her cat that had been declawed the day before. The cat had white feet, and the feet had a bloody tinge to the fur. Kitty hadn’t gotten around to fully cleaning her feet.
The client took one look at the paws, got a dazed look on her face and fell like a stone; hit her head on the wall. It was like in the cartoons, when Wile E. Coyote takes a pop to the head and spins around, little birds fly around his head, and then he hits the ground.
The girl quickly came around, we got her a ride home, and aside from embarrassment and probably a bruise on her noggin, she was none the worse. I now warn all my declaw clients with light colored cat toes that the feet may be bloody post op. Just in case.
A few years ago we had to call in the paramedics for a client whose beloved chow (you know, the one the client swore would NEVER bite him) bit him in the face when he was getting it out of the car. The cut was tiny, but the client was diabetic, on blood thinners, and the dog must have hit an artery because blood was squirting all over the place. I think the paramedics put in a butterfly stitch and he was fine.
That reminds me of another client, an older lady, again on blood thinners, again had insisted her pet would never hurt her. She insisted on restraining her own cat and the cat nailed her with its claw. (Incidentally, the cat was named "Angel." Very, very often, cats named Angel tend to be evil.) The claw actually got hung up in her skin and hit one of the big veins in her hand. I will never get rid of the image of that claw pulling up her skin and blood shooting everywhere. The exam room looked like a murder scene.
Incidentally, cleaning up the human blood posed a weird challenge to those of us who have never had to worry about catching anything from our patients.
Today’s passer-outer was the world’s sweetest little old lady; one of my absolute favorite clients. She was fretting about her limping puppy and his diagnostic and treatment options when she grew agitated, faint, and had a seizure like episode. Paramedics came to save the day. She’s in the hospital overnight for observation.
This one wasn’t a minor thing, so I’ve got my fingers crossed and prayers said that she’ll be OK.
So that’s pretty much it for my human medical run-ins in vet practice (not counting the time I almost passed out myself while trying to suture my boss’ finger after he cut it). Most are minor, one might be major (but I’m sure hoping it’s not). But are they unusually frequent? Do I have a 911 curse or is it par for the course in this biz?
Anyone else got any stories?
Dr. Vivian Cardoso-Carroll