This week at morning tea at the college we had a lively discussion about medical diagnosis, alternative treatments and the importance of getting a second opinion. I can’t quite remember how the conversation started (somebody’s bad back I think) but at one point it was suggested that perhaps that person might be best to get a second opinion from our local vet, as whatever their doctor was doing for them definitely wasn’t working. We all laughed of course, but I am not sure that the suggestion was entirely silly . . .
I have a huge amount of respect for vets. As you might imagine, having had many dogs and cats over the years I have spent a lot of time at my local vet surgery. I’ve been very lucky. For the most part our visits have been for the ‘usual’ yearly checkups, injections, nail clippings and minor infections, and only once or twice for something more serious, but I have always been amazed at the depth and breadth of knowledge that a vet has to have. Not only does the vet have to be a general practitioner (and very probably also their own radiologist, surgeon, cardiologist, ophthalmologist, nutritionist, allergist, groomer, business manager, and legal expert) but he (or she) also has to be a general practitioner across multiple species. (I guess a human doctor could say that too on occasion—but he’d have to be very careful who he said it to . . . )
And, unlike most human doctors, the vet has to be able to diagnose an animal who can’t, at least in words, give him any indication of what the problem is. In addition, the vet’s patient may also (no matter however cheerful and docile at home) be just as likely to kick, bite, or scratch (or all of the above) the hand that is trying to help it—even when visiting for something very minor.
A case in point. My Maudie loves everybody and everything. She is the happiest, lickiest, waggiest little dog I have ever owned—but it regularly takes three grown adults (and very stern words from her mum) to keep all 6 kilos of her under control when I take her in to get her nails clipped. (I am sure our lovely vet Gavin and his team (CamVet) have seen it all before, and probably much worse, but I do find it very annoying. Does it really have to be such a drama every single time??)
And it was because of these drama-queen antics that I had to take Maudie into the vet again this week. She’d had an ear infection several months ago and although I’d had ear drops to administer (8 drops in each ear, twice a day, for 10 days—oh dear God) I was pretty sure I had ended up wearing more of those drops myself than ever went near her ears.
(I did take her back to Gavin at one point to tell him the issues I was having putting the drops in but she sat there like a lamb (smiling sweetly at me the whole time) and let Gavin put the drops in with no problem at all. Gavin looked at me like I was the diva. Sorry Gav, but you did. The next morning when I tried to administer the drops again, the shrieking and thrashing reached epic proportions. Maudie’s shrieking and thrashing—not mine—although . . . )
Anyway, although she never complained out loud, over the last couple of weeks I had caught Maudie a number of times with her back foot gingerly probing her ear, so I was pretty sure the problem was still there.
So it was back to Gavin to get those ears checked out. Happily, this time Maudie did her little freak-out in front of witnesses (yay!—see it is her, not me—I felt thoroughly vindicated) and it was decided that as she was obviously not going to let me (or anyone else) anywhere near her ears ever again, the best course of action was to keep her in the surgery for a day to be sedated and have her ears thoroughly cleaned out and treated while she was out for the count.
That meant no breakfast that morning (wow—and that is a whole other story) and all the extra fun that goes with trying to get only one dog out of the house and into the car without becoming homicidal (dogicidal?) with the other two, or becoming totally deranged and incoherent myself in the process. (Tricki Woo going ‘crackerdog‘ has nothing on my three girls.) But we got there, of course, as we always do, and as crazy as she makes me sometimes, I fretted about her all day. Not because she wasn’t in good hands, because she was—just because—well—you do . . .
When it came time to pick her up that afternoon I was told she had been ‘good as gold’ and had just ‘sat quietly smiling at everyone’ all day. I was not overly surprised at that—my girls are all much braver in a ‘pack’ than they are as individuals and Maudie is a big smiler anyway—but I do also think it might have something to do with the sedative which was obviously still in her system. After a brief but riotous reunion with her sisters, (and after she had finished her dinner, of course—no breakfast, remember?) she settled cozily into her favourite spot on the couch, still a little bleary-eyed and unfocussed, and happily hummed a little tune to herself until she finally fell into a deep, deep sleep.
It had been long, exhausting day for a little dog (and her mum). I wonder if those sedatives are available on-line . . .