I like to think I’m a fairly patient person. I try to give others the benefit of the doubt. Everybody has their own set of experiences and insecurities–me too. And when somebody rings my chimes, I try to look inside and find what hurt, what insecurity is in there, that got my back up when they said or did that. Usually that defuses my defensive reaction, and I can forgive and forget and make the interaction a productive one.
So it is with more than a little frustration that I have finally reached my breaking point with someone who has been very helpful, yet in equal measure annoying: Atina’s veterinary resident, the one who has been shepherding us through the grueling process of finding out what is wrong with Atina.
It started with her insisting on calling herself Doctor, while calling me by my first name. Maybe there is a different protocol in veterinary medicine, but in human medicine, to call a senior physician by her first name without being invited to do so, let alone insisting that she, a young doctor still in training, should be called Doctor rather than by her OWN first name, is not only rude, but a major insult.
I let that slide for a few weeks, then had a joking conversation with her about it that either made her blush, or perhaps flush with anger, I don’t know. It didn’t seem to “take,” in any case, so I guess there’s something about it that I don’t get.
After hanging around Colorado for weeks spending money on campgrounds, I had to start East. I have stuff I have to get done before I head back to the Southwest for the winter. I waited five days after Atina’s surgery, to make sure she was OK and that her surgical wound was stable enough to travel, and then I began making my way slowly across Kansas, what a drag.
In the meantime biopsy results are slowly rolling in, and Dr. Vet is being kind enough to forward the reports to me. Today came a preliminary pathology report, complete with photos of the microscopic sections. Terrible. Really terrible. The results, I mean. The quality of the pathology studies is excellent. It shows the mostly non-functioning elements of Atina’s kidneys all too well.
In my thank-you email, I mentioned that because of the storms and flooding on the East Coast, I would likely be delayed past the 14 day timeframe for taking Atina’s stitches out, and if so, I would just remove them myself. Her reply: she would rather have a veterinarian remove them.
I wanted to blow my stack! Here is a very junior clinician, who knows that I have many years of practice under my belt, almost all of them in the emergency department, telling me that I should not remove my dog’s stitches. I’m sure she means well. Maybe she is concerned that I might get bitten, doing it myself without a tech. Who knows.
It rang my chimes.
In addition to six months of surgical training in a veterans’ hospital, where they were so short handed that I was first assistant, I did four excruciating months of facial plastics. Excruciating, because my attending was a total asshole who sexually harassed me, at a time in history when such practices were routine and not reportable.
But the training came in handy when I worked in rural ERa where the nearest plastic surgeon might be 50 miles away, so rather than send somebody off in the middle of the night, I had the skills to repair the delicate layers over an eyelid, or fix a busted lip, reimplant a torn out tooth, pick iron filings out of a cornea using a microscope….
And also castrate my goats, fix plugged udders, sew up my horses when they ran into fence posts, perform reconstructive surgery on my Corgi when she picked a fight with my German Shepherd over ownership of a stick and got her throat badly torn (duct tape makes a fine muzzle in a pinch. Always have some duct tape around). Of course it happened on a Sunday, and I couldn’t get a vet. Even the large animal mobile vet wouldn’t come. He knew me, and suggested I take care of it myself. 😠 My son, who was 14 at the time, held the thrashing Corgi down while I irrigated the wound, identified the tissue layers, and made a decent job of it despite the moving target.
So of course I bridled at this junior physician’s opposition to my performance of this very minor procedure. Even if there were a sign of poor healing of the deep abdominal sutures, that is first of all something very easy to detect, and secondly something that would have to wait until I could see my “home vet.” Clearly, if it were anything major, like wound dehiscence (the wound not healing at all and instead falling apart), I would seek out an emergency veterinary hospital.
So now I’m writing this, as a way to lick my wounds. I miss my practice. I miss my active medical life. I want to go home to the ER and sew people up. I don’t want to battle death. I just want to sew people up and pick hair beads out of ears, noses, vaginas, and any other orifices hair beads can get stuck in. I want to lance boils and pack them with Betadine gauze. I want to set broken bones and put dislocated shoulders back in place.
I want to rise from the dead.