Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just a little bit of life.

I spent this past weekend fielding an indeterminable number of emergencies.  If there was ever a day that I wanted to sit down on my front porch and cry a little cry, it would have been Sunday.  Here's the play-by-play:

6:00 am:  Woken up (2 hours before my alarm was set to go off) by my mom's dogs who I am babysitting while she is away visiting friends/family.  I do mean babysitting in the most literal sense of the word; somehow, I had forgotten how high maintenance some animals can be when you're forced to live with them.
6:30 am: Again, woken up by my mom's dogs.
6:45 am: Mom's dogs howling.
7:00 am: Yelling at my mom's dogs to be quiet from bed with pillow and blanket mashed over my ears.
7:45 am:  Phone rings.  Horse colic coming into the clinic.  Stomach immediately feels like a 50 lb. brick and entire body turns ice-cold.  Mild panic ensues (read: my experience level in matters of the horse gastrointestinal tract could gain some bolstering).
8:15 am:  Kiss Aaron Ray goodbye as he leaves for Sunday School
8:30 am: Attempt to leave for the clinic.  Truck battery is dead.  Call Aaron Ray who is already in town and can't come home to rescue me.  Moderate panic ensues.
8:45 am:  Father-in-law comes over and jumps truck battery.  I could have kissed the ground he walked on.
8:46 am:  Leave for the office.  Realize I have a sinus headache, sore throat, hot flashes and cold chills.
Between 9:30 am and 8:30 pm:
Colic (where Jessica, AKA horse-vet extraordinaire came and held my hand)
Torn dewclaw (NOT an emergency, but somehow I couldn't convince the owner of that)
Vomiting/diarrhea (pancreatitis) in a mean dog
Vomiting/diarrhea (parvo) in a mean dog
Vomiting/diarrhea (parvo) in a cute little puppy
Neck injury in an old dog
Sick Calf
Donkey with ligament damage
Vaginal prolapse in a cow
Bloated Cow
Colic from 7:45 am starts having seizures and dies in front of owner.  Owner starts wailing uncontrollably.  I feel like I want to pass out from exhaustion but feel confident that I did all I could for the horse.

I was on call last night as well but thankfully only had to field a couple of phone calls and the full night's sleep has done wonders for my upper respiratory infection.  My full night's sleep has also enabled me to look back on this weekend with a little more perspective: first, I survived it, which proves that God was listening when I kept asking Him to give me strength.  Second, I had great help.  Ashley, the ever-trusty vet assistant was there along with me to hear the phone ring almost every half hour and to make sure we ate at least a couple of times that day.  Third, I took call for my boss this past weekend because he wanted to take a trip to go rabbit hunting.  I won't be doing it again next year (sorry, Jess).

So, tonight, I'm lounging around by the computer because my poor husband is posted up in the bedroom with some kind of stomach illness that includes vomiting.  This is what me lounging around by the computer looks like:
Yes, that's Lucky, sleeping under the desk, and Daisy May, who would rather be outside playing with Bella, which looks like this:

With that, I think I hear ARay snoring...which means it's safe to sneak into the bedroom and grab a few things so I can make a cozy, disease-free nook for myself in the living room.  Goodnight!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The winds of change.

Or maybe just WINDNOAA has informed me of something called a "Red Flag Warning", which means we are at high risk for wildfires because of high winds that fell trees into power lines.  I could have told them wanna know why?  Because I can see the wildfire from my house:

You see that haze out in the distance?  That's about one mountain away from ours.      

Aaron Ray has already called all the volunteer fire fighters he knows in that county to see how the effort at containing the fire is going...and everyone says that with gusts at 50 mph, it's not going well.  So.  I'm going to sleep soundly tonight in the security that comes from trusting my husband, who dutifully explained to me that the fires didn't get over to this mountain last year, so it is unlikely that they'll make it up here this year.  Not to mention, I'm going to ask Jesus to intercede on our behalf.  Apparently, this is just something I'm going to have to get used to, seeing as I'm a mountain girl now.  

On a lighter note, Valentines Day arrived at the Tompkins house today.  Have I mentioned yet that I love fresh flowers?

Saturday, February 12, 2011


The temperature is supposed to be in the mid-fifties next week; Ray's Weather says that it's finally ok to start thinking about golfing again (yeah right) and that, miracle upon miracles, February and March are supposed to be mild.  You know what that means?  It means that people will start riding their horses again and having horse-related emergencies.  Ugh.  I suppose I'll take it as a trade-off for no more snow, the promise of a hot summer complete with buzzing cicadas and thunderstorms, and GREEN PLANTS (I've been planning my herb garden, front porch ferns and flowers all winter)!  This year, I'm excited about gaining some helpful advice from the country-folk that actually know about growing such things (ahem, Uncle Gerald, that means you).  I kill plants.  This is my ONE you can see, it did not survive the winter:

Inspired by the idea of spring and spring cleaning, I learned something new yesterday.  A couple of months ago, Aaron Ray was experimenting with hot wings in the oven, and unfortunately was unaware of the concept of a drip-pan.  The spicy grease from the wings dripped all down into my pristine oven, and ever since then, I've been fighting off the burning mess EVERY time I cook something in the oven.  So, in anticipation of having people over for supper today and not wanting my house to smell like burnt grease (again), I read up about the "self clean" feature of my oven and embarked on a cleaning adventure.  Now, I had spent most of the day cleaning the house, so it was all pretty and smelled like the almond oil I use to clean the floors...until the smoke started billowing out of the kitchen from the ultra-high burning temperatures that are apparently necessary to clean an oven.  This morning, while there is only charred ash in the bottom of my oven, my whole house smells odd.  So, in effort to combat the smell and get some more home improvement done, I painted the downstairs hallway:

The walls leading to the downstairs bedrooms and bath used to be a drab pinky-gray, and now are a bright, crisp Linen White.  I really like this color, it looks more aged than your average white.  It's a Benjamin Moore color, just fyi.

It is my weekend off however, so I made sure not to spend ALL day yesterday cleaning and being an exceptional housewife (haha).  I did get to spend some quality time with this fellow, who is happiest when I'm lounging around in bed:

Lastly, some interesting notes from work.  After reading my blog last week, the girls informed me that there were several additions to the "vet-vocabulary" that I needed to share with the rest of the world:

1.  Context - Jessica looking at a puppy's eye with a client - "I think maybe this puppy's eye is messed up because it's inborn.  It's like when I was at the hospital in the nursery and there was this baby that was inborn and every time you touched it, it broke out in a rash."  Supposed meaning for "inborn" - inbred.  I'm glad this one happened to Jess and not me because I just would have had no idea what to say in response.

2.  Context - Jessica on the phone with a client talking about her ataxic dog - "Well he's just so oriental.  I don't know what to do with him.  Should I bring him in?"  Supposed meaning for "oriental" - disoriented.

3.  Context - A client explaining to me her dog's injuries after a big dog vs. little dog event - "She's got a few places here and there but the main thing is that when she hollers she gets this big pone coming up in her side."  Supposed meaning for "pone" - large mass of tissue.  Side note:  "holler" is a word commonly used in the North Carolinian mountains.  If you hear me say it, it's only because I hear it on average a million times a day. 

4.  Context - A client with a dog in heart failure trying to tell me that there's nothing wrong with his dog - "Welp, he eats good and drinks good.  He ain't got no trouble making water at all."  Supposed meaning for "making water" - urinating.

5.  Context - Beagle owner who uses his dogs for hunting rabbits - "Doc, my dog here, he ain't got no energy no more.  He's just always sainterin' around."  Supposed meaning for "sainterin'" (I had to ask my husband about this one) - to walk at a leisurely pace.  Now, I believe this word has it's origins in the actual English language and may be just an extreme form of the southern/mountain dialect.   The dictionary applies this same definition to the word "sauntering". 

Finally, here's one of the patients that came in last week.  In theory, I should have known what to do for this animal since I took a semester-long class on Wildlife Medicine while I was in Vet School, but all I really knew was who to call so that someone could come pick this beautiful fellow (lady?) up and get him (her?) well:

That's all for now!  There's lots left to get done before this evening, so off I go.  Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Being a vet is fun...

...And I can still say this after a day of working more than 5 hours even after we closed (although, I will probably take it back if I get called in again tonight).

There are many, many poignant, funny, nerve-racking, maddening, frustrating and fulfilling things I encounter a day in my interactions with clients.  It's truly amazing how different it is from what I imagined, even as realistic as I thought I was about it - the interactions I have with animals are a big deal, but what I do with people means more than anything.  Recently, I've been talking with the girls at work and discussing our new "vet-client vocabulary" which I didn't even realize existed even though I hear some of these words or phrases multiple times a day, every I'm going to share a few gems with you all. 

1.  Context - Jessica (another vet I work with) on phone with client - "I mean, you could see EVERY rib in this horse's body - it was just immaculate."  Supposed meaning for "immaculate" - emaciated.

2.  Context - Looking at cow with farmer - "Well Doc, just this morning I noticed this one looking pretty ganted up."  Supposed meaning for "ganted up" - sunken in at the level of the flank.

3.  Context - Examining a coonhound with a hunter - "Seems like he just don't want to eat today, but he seems peart enough otherwise."  Supposed meaning for "peart" - bright, alert, responsive.

4.  Context - Sobbing woman with dog - "I just, well I can't excuse it, this is my brother's dog and he isn't taking care of it right.  I saw it yesterday and I couldn't get over how emancipated it was!"  Supposed meaning for "emancipated" - emaciated.  Apparently this one is a toughie.

5.  Context - Old timer on the phone asking about his wife's beloved chihuahua - "My old lady says this here dog of hers just ain't doin' right."  Supposed meaning for "ain't doin' right" - not acting like itself (and, one of the hardest parts of my job is explaining to a person that no matter how many times they tell me how ain't doing right their dog is over the phone, I'm not going to be able to diagnose what's wrong with it without seeing it and they'll just need to bring it in to the office).

6. Context - Emergency phone call at 8 pm on a Friday night - "I need some advice..." Supposed meaning for "I need some advice" - I have no money, I do not want to pay an emergency fee, and I just want you to tell me some home remedies for whatever animal it is I'm about to describe to you and not charge me anything for your time, no matter how long I keep you on the phone.  This meaning also applies to the phrase "I have a question..."

I'm sure there are more...but I can't seem to recall some of the others right now.  There will be more funny ones over the course of my (hopefully) 35+ year career...I'll just have to keep you updated.

Now for some sweet ones:

This one almost made me cry a little:  from an owner to her dog that was hit by a car...

Incidentally, "Max" is one of the most difficult dogs in the world to work with.  But he loves his Lily very much and will let her pet him even when everyone else has to be on guard around him.