Hysterical Clients

Who said veterinary medicine wasn’t fun?

There’s the man who got out of jail (he didn’t say why- either for going in or getting out) and came home to find his dog sick. This enraged him. We know this because he brought the dog to us (he was passing by, thought he’d drop in) and he was very thorough in his explanations to us of society’s injustices, particularly that he might have to take financial responsibility for his pet. We couldn’t diagnose the illness without a blood test – and magic wands are out of date, though I kept one on my desk for years. We’ve kept statues of the Virgin Mary, Buddha, dice, and a crystal ball. We do not turn our nose up at anything that might intervene on behalf of our patients. In the science-based world of medicine we have seen miracles – but we have also seen cases where the pet should have lived, by all rights, but died. In the end, we fall back upon diagnostic tests because they do just that: they help us to diagnose your pet’s illness, to unlock the pieces of the medical mystery so that we may help the patient.

This man was very angry. The time spent in jail seemed not to have been used for self-reflection or internal contemplation. It seemed unlikely that he read poetry. We thought we should focus on the dog. We weren’t entirely sure he could focus well enough to drive. He had no interest in paying to care for his dog nor did he wish to surrender it to a Rescue group. So he left. Only to return a half hour later, which we noticed immediately because his car was sideswiped as he drove in to the parking lot. While he was waiting for the police to show up (to investigate the accident) he surrendered the dog to Rescue. Post-script : dog did great.

And I fondly recall Crack-A-Nose. Her name alone kinda gives you a heads-up, yes? A pitbull, she had a huge pink mass of doughnut-shaped tissue protruding from her vulva. Bigger than your fist. It was very dramatic. This dog had a condition called vaginal hyperplasia, or swollen vaginal tissue. It is not a true prolapse of the vagina nor a cancerous tumor. It occurs when a female dog has been in heat, producing high amounts of estrogen. The swollen tissue will shrink back to normal size when the estrogen hormone has declined – and the fastest, most effective and permanent cure for that is to recommend an ovariohysterectomy or spay. I explained all of this to her owner, a young woman who was rail thin with blond hair, beautiful, a little twitchy. The young woman pulled a fistful of hundred dollar bills out of her bag. She requested that I perform whatever services were required and informed me that she would pay in full right then. I agreed to her terms and performed surgery successfully that night. I figure the dog must’ve been a great guard dog for some very important stash, oops, stuff.

Now stop me if I’ve told you this one before. This was when I worked in a small office off Highway 59, still called “J” street back then. I remember the skirt I was wearing because it was the last time I’d ever wear it. It was quiet, around lunchtime. A man in his twenties came in. He announced that his dog had been run over by a mower. I was nearby and nodded, told him to bring the dog in. Occasionally you see an overactive puppy bouncing around a lawn mower and accidentally getting a toe clipped. Not very serious. He stared at me. But he’s bleeding, he said. I nodded again. This was to be expected. Please bring him in.

And he did. Only he hadn’t been talking about some little push mower, he meant a tractor hay/disc mower (the tractor weighs over a half ton) and it had practically amputated the dogs’ leg, so the “bleeding” he’d mentioned was an enormous spraying jet of blood from the severed femoral artery. The dog was going to bleed out – I was surprised it hadn’t died already. I stepped in with a pair of hemostats to stop the gushing fountain and got lucky. I completed the amputation in a sterile surgery and the dog lived. But my clothes were history.

Christine B. McFadden, DVM


One thought on “Hysterical Clients

  1. Hi Christine,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I have been enjoying reading your blogs. You are truly a talented story-teller, and you do have some wonderful stories to tell about your experiences in veterinary practice! Perhaps you will be the next female James Herriot!

    Keep up the good work,

    Barbara Atlee

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