So back in 2003 I started to date this guy that had been an attorney, and was now doing the family law judging in town. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I had happily stereotyped lawyers a long time ago, and though I even knew a few I’d call friend and neighbor, still… you know what I mean? But this man was genuinely nice, we’d been introduced through mutual friends, and on this particular evening he had invited me to a very nice Italian restaurant north of town. We muddled through a few topics during the appetizer, and just as the soup and salad course arrived it became difficult to overlook an overly affectionate couple at the next table. I shook my head and looked away. My date re-focused my attention on him, saying with enthusiasm “we need to discuss that!” I shook my head again, dismayed. “Discuss what?”
“PDA’s”, he said.
I stared, riveted in place. My jaw literally dropped. Patent Ductus Arteriosus?!? He had my full attention while I marveled at the RANGE of this man. In seconds I was reliving my first case in vet school, which involved a mother goat and her kid. The youngster was born with a heart defect, Patent Ductus Arterioisus or PDA. The condition is not that uncommon in newborns of any species: an embryonic blood vessel that bypasses the lungs while circulating blood through the heart in the unborn fetus (no air to breathe inside the womb!), it is supposed to close up just before birth. If this particular blood vessel or duct doesn’t close completely, you can hear a swooshy abnormal heart sound, or murmur, in the newborn and most importantly, if the retained embryonic vessel is very large, it will continue to bypass the lungs and the baby may not receive enough oxygenated blood! This can be a life- threatening condition. Happily, most will close on their own within 2 weeks of birth. I still encounter this condition occasionally in young puppies and kittens, and have even had to refer tiny patients to cardiac surgeons for life saving surgery.
It is an intense situation when encountered- and here was my date, delving deep into such an intense subject on a first date!
“Wow,” I said, leaning forward, now fully engaged in this conversation, “What did you want to talk about, when have you encountered this?”
“Well,” he gestured, “on dates.”
“Dates? Your dates have had heart problems?”
We were both now staring at each other- (remember, this is early days, when you still give the benefit of the doubt to each other- you know, he seems like he can walk and chew gum at the same time; she appears to be able to navigate a room without falling off her heels – you are charitable). But?!?
I waded in again. “Aren’t you talking about Patent Ductus Arteriosus? A heart murmur in newborns?”
The man who would become my husband glared back, “No, I’m talking about Public Displays of Affection!”
Silence again as we contemplated each other.
“Oh. I’ve never heard of that before.” I mumbled, ” What kind of public displays of affection did you have in mind?”
Never mind. The zest for the topic was gone, and we segued into other, safer conversation.
Christine McFadden, DVM