Many careers have a fixed pace and steer a predictable, stable, fixed path through the days of work and through life. It is very different in the veterinary world: the working lives of veterinary clinics have a tendency to be punctuated with gloomy lows and exciting highs. This last week was a typical example.
I will first tell you the low story. I came to work to discover that our nurses had discovered that a cardboard box was left at the clinic gate, with a cluster of four young kittens, no older than two weeks. They were weak and hungry; a few hours on their own, and they would have died.
Our nurses had jumped into action. The kittens were quickly warmed, bottle-fed with bottle milk, and nestled in a cozy bed with cozy heated cushions. The challenge, however, had just begun: the kittens had undergone a severe ordeal: abruptly separated from their mother, deprived of their constant supply of milk and taken away from the warm comfort of their mother's nest.
It was too much for the two smaller female kittens; by the end of that first day they had succumbed and died quietly in their sleep. The two male kittens were stronger, eager to suck the bottle and talk loudly.
I brought the kittens home that first night and put my alarm clock to wake up to feed them every three hours. Then another member of our team took them home every night. The kittens did well initially, but on day four they stopped so strongly that they seemed to be weaker and their meows became calmer. We were hoping that they had just a small setback, but that night the vet had trouble nursing the kitten service. The fading went on the next day. By lunchtime one of the boys had stopped breathing. By that evening the last kitten had died. All our efforts had been in vain.
There were many possible causes for the death of the kitten, with a viral infection being the highest on the list. But the real underlying reason was simple: they were neglected. First, their mother had to be sterilized; it is not necessary to bring unwanted kittens to this world. Second, their mother had to be vaccinated so that her kittens would be protected by the antibodies that she had received in her milk. And third, they should be cherished by the household that had allowed them to come into this world. The death of the kitten was preventable and that was particularly disturbing for our clinic team.
Simultaneously with the kitten saga our clinic was busy with the usual flow of cases that form our days and nights. And the good news is that we had a story with a happy ending that helped prevent the tragedy of those unfortunate kittens.
Ben was a twelve-year-old German shepherd who embodied the best of his breed: he was huge, weighing more than 50 kg, but he was gentle, affectionate and loyal. He was adopted as the family dog when the three children were younger than ten years. They were all at the university now, but were living at home.
Ben & # 39; s disease quickly came upon him. He had enjoyed a normal evening, walked into the local park and hungered for his evening meal. But the next morning he did not want to get out of bed, and he refused to eat anything. He just stared at his owners with pleading brown eyes. They had to lift him to get him outside to do his business, and even after this encouragement he refused to get up and walk. They called our clinic and walked to their house to try to help.
My research on Ben told a special story: his heart was beating, his gums were pale and his stomach was tubby. He had all the signs of a bell tumor that started to bleed. I had to confirm this with blood tests, x-rays, and ultrasound, so we lifted him into my car and I brought him back to the clinic.
Half an hour later I called the family: our work had confirmed that he had a tumor on his spleen that had been growing for a while, but which probably had to bleed a night. The only way to save his life was through radical surgery, and he would need a blood transfusion before we started to make sure he was strong enough to keep his head above water. Even then there was a risk that he would not survive, and there was a chance that the tumor would be malignant, so the operation could be in vain. The family gave us permission to continue.
Four hours later I called them back: the operation had been successful. We had removed his spleen, including a tumor the size of a male fist. This was jumped like a ripe tomato, causing blood to leak into his lower abdomen, and that is why he had collapsed.
Ben stayed in intensive care for 24 hours, but by that time he was fit and strong enough to take a walk. The laboratory tests of the tumor told us that it was a benign tumor, so Ben was completely cured by the operation. He is still an older dog, but he could have a good life for another three or four years.
The testimony of his reunification with his family was the lift our clinic needed last week: laughter and laughter from the people, wagging tail and body of the dog, and happy emotions around.
The low points and highlights of a veterinary clinic: that is the life of a veterinarian.