Thursday, March 31, 2011

Workplace Dress Code

As I sit in front of the computer with my day-old chinese food (someone give me an amen on this - chinese is always better after sitting 24 hours in a fridge) and ponder how long I'll need to microwave my fund-raiser KrispyKreme glazed donut so that I can make it taste like it just emerged from that hot oil vat of glory like the "Hot Now!" ones back in the big city...I'll give you all a smidgen of an update from this past week.

The premise for this particular subject all began from the fact that a few of the people I work with read this blog and expect to see the day's crazy happenings appear in type in some form or another.  Often, someone will give me an idea or remind me of something insane that happened that day...this week, however, the ever-trusty vet assistant, Ashley, offered to furnish some pictures from my latest adventure in large animal surgery...

As in, "Hey Doc!  You want some pictures for your blog?   I took one of you when you were doing the c-section on that hog yesterday - your knees were stuck in the mud and your pants were falling down like crazy!  Don't you know that crack kills?!?!"

Yes.  I do know that "crack kills," and I also knew my jeans were falling down while I was performing surgery...but I was "sterile," elbow deep in a hog's abdomen, sitting on my heels (that felt like pins and needles) and simultaneously being sucked down by the mud that I was mired in and couldn't do a thing about it.  A truly excellent vet assistant would have grabbed me by my belt-loops and yanked my pants up to remedy my embarrassing situation.  My vet assistant was not excellent that day (are you reading this, Ashley??  Next time, I expect you to pull up my pants for me!).

No.  I am not posting the picture.

But this got me to thinking.  What is a country vet's dress code?  Every day of work so far, I've dressed like my fellow associate, Jessica: jeans, a scrub top and boots.  Obviously, I should also be wearing a belt...but maybe I should start imitating our superior, Nash, and wear bibs every day to altogether avoid the unfortunate situation I found myself in on Tuesday.  I can just see myself now:

This photo is from the Carhartt website.  I think it may be some sort of wedding ceremony, but I can only hope I'd look as stylish in my bibs at work as she does in hers on her wedding day.  I can't imagine I'll be wearing the halo of wildflowers, though.
I already know that some of the other people I work with at the vet hospital have a better sense of "country style" than I do...and quite honestly, the attire is so much more serviceable and, more often than not, pretty darn funny.  Here, let me give you a couple of examples:

This is Matthew.  He's an all-around great guy and a fantastic person to have around when you need a stout young man to crank the calf jack or work the saw wire when you're de-horning adult longhorn cattle.  Note the mudproof boots, the fail-safe "crackless" bibs, warm flannel jacket and hat to keep manure out of one's hair.

The hat's the funny part.  Here's a closer look: 

I'll read the fine print for you:  "1 mile off Interstate 69.  Sin City, Nevada."
Constance wore a great shirt today too; perfect for that shy farmer who comes in the office for some cattle medicine and who's not quite sure whether to ask you out on a date or not...I mean, we've even got a reward out for this fella:

All in all, I think next time you see me in the city, you might realize that I don't fit in quite as well as I used to; I'm already enjoying my new-found country fashion sense way too much.  You just can't beat a pair of Levi's and some worn-in boots.

PS.  The cat from Florida had an abscess (which is NOT cancerous).  The client put it perfectly when she said, "I've never been so happy to hear that my cat has a pocket of pus under his skin!" 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

By George!

For some time, I've been making notes of Bella's slightly (okay, more than slightly) destructive behavior and wondering what kind of training techniques I could employ to help her enjoy life more and enjoy chewing up my things less.  In the end, I decided to take the easy way out and wondered aloud to Aaron Ray if maybe Bella just needed a friend.

So, as usual, out of thin air, Aaron Ray managed to get me exactly what I wanted and brought home Bella's baby brother, George:

Ok, so it's hard to tell in this picture, but he looks like he's wearing some serious eyeliner...
So instead of naming him something more appropriate, like Bandit...I named him George, after this guy.
But, mostly, he's curious.  More like this fellow:

I also tried to take some "Bella + George = BFF" pictures, but after several attempts, I failed, and I think it's only going to get more difficult over time, so here's the best I could do:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

On Being a Veterinarian, Marriage and, the Waltons.

I'm on call, Aaron Ray is attending several meetings this evening (he had one at 4:00 and two at can only assume that he spontaneously split in two and attended both) and it's nasty, cold and tragically un-spring-like this evening, which means I'm stuck in the house, not being all...since, at any moment, I could get a phone call like the one Megan fielded this morning:

Client (on the phone):  I have a question.  I'm in Florida right now but I'm considering bringing my cat up to see you all this weekend since the vets down here are so expensive.  What I need to know is, my cat has this lump on his hip...could it be a tumor?

Megan (best receptionist in the world):  Well ma'am, yes, it could be a tumor.  

Client (on the phone): Wait, like cancer?

Megan (best receptionist in the world):  Possibly.  One of the doctors could talk with you about that and do some tests when you come in with your cat.

Client (on the phone):  But I don't understand.  My cat is only six years old and it has never been sick in its life.  How could it have cancer?

Megan (best receptionist in the world):  Well ma'am, I can't tell you for sure if it has cancer or not, but pets can have cancerous tumors just like people get.  

Client (on the phone):  That can't be!  This cat has never smoked or drank alcohol in its life!  I just don't understand how this could happen!!

Megan (best receptionist in the world):  Maybe you should discuss it with the vet when you bring your cat in.

Client (on the phone):  Well, are your vets even qualified to deal with cancerous tumors?

Megan (best receptionist in the world):  Yes ma'am.  We'll see you when you come for your appointment.  Have a nice day! *click*

So, to pass the time while I wait to get a call like that on emergency, I've been sitting by the computer and realizing as I look around the desk/kitchen that my husband not being home has allowed me to regress from a newlywed back into some of my tried and true behaviors of singledom.  Currently, Eve 6, Django Reinhardt and Amos Lee are alternately playing on my iTunes (all of which would probably be unacceptable to Aaron Ray, but of course he would never say so), a freshly-baked frozen pizza is cooling on the stove (whoever invented stuffed crust frozen pizza is a genius) and I drank the rest of the orange juice straight from the bottle with zero guilt.

I'm pretty sure all of this might surprise Aaron Ray since, just the other night, I announced that I wanted our family to be just like The Waltons and that I was going to be just like Olivia Walton and spend my evenings off catching up on laundry (which is not done) and dishes (which are currently stacked up in the sink).  Drinking OJ straight from the bottle is most certainly something that Olivia Walton would not do.  Olivia Walton also would not have a full time job, and if I was truly going to be like her, I would already be raising five of my seven children (the older ones would be doing the laundry and the dishes right now) and I would have said "Goodnight, Aaron Ray!" last night instead of, "Aaron Ray, would you have married me if my name had been Nicole?"

Poor man.  I'll go back to being a housewife when he gets home.

Monday, March 7, 2011

This little piggy cried "wee, wee, wee!" all the way home.

Spring.  It's a time of renewal, warmth, and re-birth.  New life is everywhere - you can hear it in the trees as the new hatchlings chirp their way into our hearts, you can see it in the eyes of new mothers, and, at the Tompkins' household, you can find it both in the basement and the den.

Before I explain what I mean, let me tell you a short story.

This past November, when Aaron Ray announced that he had gotten me an early birthday present, I was instantly wary.  When he gleefully went on to tell me that my gift was a pig, I was concerned, because to me, pigs look like this:

 ...And I knew that, to Aaron Ray, a pig is not a pig (see cute picture above), it is a hog.  And hogs look like this:

This is Daffodil, "my" birthday pig.
Daffodil, the hog, therefore, joined our crew in the barn at the farm that Aaron Ray rents.  Thankfully, I thought no more about her after that, because, well...I don't "do" pigs.  That is, until a cold, wintry night after Thanksgiving, when Daffodil went into labor and was having trouble.  It was my evening off (of course) when Aaron Ray called me, concerned, and asked that I rush down the mountain and see to Daffodil.  Now, Daffodil did not understand that I was trying to help her - she bit and butted and generally embodied all the reasons why obstetrical work in a hog is difficult.  That night, I was convinced that Daffodil was not only decidedly not a gift, but rather, a chore.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, I'm not sure), Daffodil's babies did not make it, and Daffodil's career as a mother came to an abrupt end.  As a matter of fact...

She became supper.

As you can see by the expression on my face, I happily thought the ordeal with the pigs was over.  Clearly, the "pig plan of 2010" was a fiasco...right?  Well, as it turns out, my resourceful husband had other ideas.  He proceeded to gain possession of another hog...who birthed nine babies, unassisted, last week.  Unfortunately, she has very little interest in five of her babies...and therefore....

Aaron Ray has become a proud mama of seven.

"Just one minute!", you might be thinking to yourself.  "Didn't she just say FIVE baby pigs?"  Oh yes, my friends, I did.  But this only accounts for the "new life" in the basement (where I can still hear them squealing, by the way).  There are two altogether different babies upstairs, in the den...whom I can hear bleating and tapping their little hooved feet all over my clean floors as Aaron Ray attempts to corral them and feed them their supper....

Meet Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  At least they're not sheep.  

Now, you also may be thinking to yourself, "Come on, Michelle.  Don't they pull at your little maternal heartstrings, just a little?  Aren't they CUTE!?"  And to that I, invariably some (or all) of them will get sick, and then I will become the family doctor.  To Aaron Ray's credit, he has asked for no help in these endeavors yet (mostly I think because he's not sure if he's in the dog house about all these farm animals being the house or not...and to be honest, I'm not sure yet either - although I definitely wish we had a barn right about now), and has attempted all veterinary work on his own before asking me for any help (or medications).  I appreciate this, but time will tell how it all pans out.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"I'm going to the VET!"

This week began with much of the same business that last week ended with - hysterical clients with miraculous upturns along with some heartbreaking losses.  Living the life of a country doctor can be a roller coaster sometimes...and as my boss likes to remind us, also seems to require a psychology degree more often than not (and maybe the ability to prescribe Valium to people).

Working with Dr. Nash Williams (known to virtually everyone as just plain Nash) these past nine months has been as much of an education as all 4 years of my veterinary schooling was - I've learned to do more than I ever thought I would, and how to recognize diseases that I never thought I'd see (hello, distemper, anyone?).  He's also shown me how to begin enjoying my job, the people I work with and see on a daily basis and how not take things all too seriously.  For instance, I was looking at an x-ray of a puppy that had been shot the other day when Nash walked up behind me and said, "Pretty little bullet.  .22, I think." and then just kept on walking.  Only a country vet who'd been practicing for more than 35 years could manage that kind of nonchalance and then immediately go console a wailing client with a dog that had a non-resectable tumor of the liver.  I think it's going to take me many years to gain that kind of confidence in myself and my skills as a doctor.

One thing Nash has that I am so ready for, however, is the ability to command respect the moment he walks into an exam room or steps out of the vet truck.  I mean, I've begun having "Dr. Tompkins" embroidered on my scrub tops just so people can understand that I'm not some 18 year old high school intern running around the vet's office.  But still, there are some that recognize me in the grocery store or on the street, or better yet, exclaim to their dog/cat/cow (ok, probably not cow) - "Look, Fluffy!  Here comes your favorite vet!"  and I don't think I'll ever get tired of that. 

At any rate, I don't think I'll get philosophical about my job like this again until I've worked another 20 days straight.  I am literally counting down the hours until my weekend off.  I think I'll blow off a little steam by attending this event:

Yes, that's right.  The main article on the FRONT page is "Bigfoot hunt to be held" and if you want to join, you can meet in the Food Lion parking lot in Millers Creek.  I think it's just the entertainment I need on my day off.  See you then!