Monday, March 5, 2012

Humorous Life Stories #1- "Oh Crap, What Do I Do Now?"

I am the type of person who tries to see the humor in life.  I have found that if you look for the humor in a stressful or awkward situation, it can make it almost enjoyable. So, in an effort to let you know more about me and my life, I thought that I would periodically share humorous stories about me, my life as a veterinarian, and my family.  Hope you enjoy the first installment.

"Oh Crap, What Do I Do Now?"

It was the beginning of my last year of veterinary school. We were finally to the stage in our veterinary training where we were moving out of the classroom and into the clinics.  We were all very excited to get to finally see patients.  The year was divided into different rotations such as radiology, surgery, anesthesia, large animal medicine, and small animal medicine.  My first rotation was small animal medicine.  This was the rotation that I looked forward to the most.  During this rotation, I was going to get to see examine patients and make diagnoses.  It was the most hands-on real world training of all the rotations.  The first day, I was really nervous about making a good impression.  I was also scared about whether or not I would be able to make the correct diagnoses.  The first thing that we did when we arrived at the clinic was to go to the front desk and sign our name next to the patient that we wanted to see.  All that we had to go on was a time, the owner's name, and the name of the patient.  I was the first one to the sign up sheet, so I signed up for the first patient on the list.

We had been instructed to take a thorough history and perform an examination, then find an instructor to run through our list of differential diagnoses.  We had been given a check-list of questions to ask when taking the patient's medical history as well as a check-list of things to look at during the examination.  I went to the back of the clinic to review the check-lists.  The history questions were things such as:  What symptoms have you noted?, Is your pet eating normally?, Is he having any problems urinating or defecating?, etc.  The examination check-list included things such as:  check ears, eyes, skin, heart, lungs, and temperature. 

So, the time finally came for me to go in to see my first patient.  Armed with my stethoscope, thermometer, and pen light.  I went out into the lobby and called the owner's name.  A woman stood and walked toward me carrying a large cardboard box.  I thought, "Cool, my first patient must be a puppy or kitten."

The woman placed the box on the exam table and opened the lid.  I looked inside and lying there was a large coiled up Boa constrictor!  As you may have guessed, the thought screaming through my brain was, "Oh crap, what do I do now?"  I didn't know anything about snakes.  It was just my luck that the very first patient in my veterinary career was a snake.  The check-lists were of no use to me.  I didn't want to look like an idiot, but I had no idea what to do with a snake.  I asked the woman what symptoms the snake was having.  She told me that the snake had a rash on its belly.  While she was telling me this, the only thing that I could think of was, "How am I supposed to perform an examination on this thing?  Where the heck is the heart?"

I pulled the stethoscope from around my neck and just stood there staring into the box.  The woman laughed and pointing to an area about a third of the way down the snakes body said, "The heart should be right around here." At that point, all of my anxiety whooshed out of me and I started to grin from ear to ear.  I admitted that I really didn't know anything about snakes and thanked her for understanding my awkwardness. The snake ended up having a bacterial infection that was cleared up with a shot of antibiotics.  That was the last snake that I have ever had in an exam room..  At the time, I was really disappointed that my first patient wasn't a fuzzy puppy or a patient with a really complicated issue, but I definitely won't ever forget it!

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