The New Job

Well, I’ve had two shifts now.  All in all, I think I’m adapting and fitting in relatively well.

*Warning: Description of cases follows.  I have done my best to be brief and avoid excessive graphic-ness, but it is not all happy endings, and by nature of an emergency hospital some things are difficult.  Read only if you feel comfortable*

Sunday night we got majorly slammed, basically had 3 cases walk in all at the same time, so trying to attend to them all while prioritizing which was the worse case was a bit of a rush.  One hit-by-car dog, one bloat dog, and a cat with seizures after most likely getting into canine flea treatment.  (Feline and Canine flea treatments are different for this very reason.)  The most frustrating thing is when people come in and when you explain what we need to do to further diagnose and/or treat, they tell you they have no money.  As much as we love animals, we cannot do these things for free or we would be out of buisness.  It is an unfortunate reality that our supplies and equipment cost money and our employeese need paychecks.  Because we are an emergency clinic we do not bill, we must be paid at time of service.  This is routine of MANY human doctors as well as basically all veterinarians. The hard thing is when people elect to take home an animal over pursuing treatment or euthanasia and not know how the animal ended up. Such was the case with the cat.

I spent a lot of my shift cleaning up vomit, the dog that came in with bloat (Highly life threatening if we can’t empty the stomach, it can burst.  Luckily the stomach hadn’t fully twisted yet so we were able to treat the animal without surgery) I think I cleaned out 4… maybe 5 different kennels because of this dog alone.

The HBC we were able to stabilize, and keep quiet until the morning when the owners (I assume) picked it up to take to their regular veterinarian for pelvis surgery.  I really hope that is what they did because a broken pelvis is incredibly painful.

I clocked in about 6pm, at 10:30 I felt myself suddenly lose a lot of energy and ability to focus.  I pushed through as best I could but it showed when I tried to mop and then sweep… Oh well.  I don’t think it was apparent in my attentiveness with the animals.

Near the end of my shift when the relief technician had come in and was chatting with the tech that had been working with me all night, I heard one say “I think she’s gonna survive!”.  It was a lighthearted comment, not sarcastic or overly serious, and it really was exactly what I needed to hear.  That I can do this.

I then clocked out, came home, and went to bed, woke up and nannied in the afternoon.  I was so out of it, I was barely holding myself together, just feeling emotionally and physically drained from the previous night.  I confirmed with my boss that I can’t juggle both jobs forever, and she assured me she is looking for someone else.  I got home and just cried in Hubster’s arms, I felt like I was never going to have time for anything except sleeping and working these jobs.  But I sucked it up, ate a grilled cheese and napped before me second shift at the clinic.

Got in last night and went over “beginning of shift duties” and we were totally dead so we inventoried the medications and supplies.  Then abut 9:30 we got two cases in, both cats.  One was a “blocked tom” which means he has a urinary stone blocking his urethra.  It is incredibly painful and life threatening (if they can’t eliminate waste it builds up…) and he also had been exhibiting signs for several days and they waited until last night to bring him in.  This was a case that with surgery, would have had a fairly good prognosis.

The second cat was a super teeny tiny kitten who had gotten it’s head accidentally slammed in a door, was disoriented and vomiting, with a very low temperature; all signs of neurological damage.  Something that once damage has been done it is all but impossible to reverse.

Of the two cases, I figured we would be taking the adult cat into surgery and euthanizing the tiny kitten.

But the owner of the tiny kitten whipped out her credit card to start treatment and hospitalization of the kitten.

And the adult cat’s owner signed the euthanasia consent form.

She didn’t want to be present so we took him in the back, and I was asked to place the needle.  In part, to show that I do know how to perform venipuncture.  So I did.  And promptly started crying.  I have assisted many veterinarians to euthanize animals, but I have never had to place the needle and give the injection myself.  When the other girl realized this had been my first euthanasia she was upset I hadn’t said anything, she said we would have handled it differently, but I know this is part of the job.  I just needed to do it.  And after I had cried, I took a few deep breaths and moved on to doing everything in my power to save the trauma kitten.

The kitten was given medications, including Lasix which assists in fluid retention (to aid if there was any swelling in the brain) and we took radiographs of it’s neck and scull.  I have to say, the kitten was quite the little fighter about getting the radiographs taken which to me was actually a good sign that he was feeling better enough to resist being restrained.  And as stressed as we were that the radiographs wouldn’t turn out well, they actually did!  There was a real sense of accomplishment with those.

My hope is that the little guy just had a minor concussion and will walk away.  By the time I left his temperature was raising so I’m feeling optimistic, anxious to get in tonight and check in with the shift from this morning to see how it all turned out.

I got home and cried a bit more for the cat I euthanized.  I know that it is a good thing that I cry, that I’m not heartless, but I just want to try and do it outside of work.  Time and place for everything.  But I also have to be able to move on, because I have to be at my best to help the animals we see tonight.

I will have Wednesday, Thursday, Friday off so I’m looking forward to being able to catch up on blogs.  Of course I’m nannying for a bit on Wednesday and Friday but that should only be a couple hours.

And somewhere in there I need to figure out how to fit in my work outs again.



10 responses to this post.

  1. The new job sounds super interesting and challenging – I’m happy for you!

    Remember – probably even MORE importantly when you’re feeling like you don’t have the energy or time for a workout – that’s when you need one!! It gets those endorphins going and helps you to wake up AND feel better about yourself. Make YOU a priority. That’s one of the benefits of this forced TTC hiatus, remember – time to make YOU a priority!


    • It’s really true, I know I do need to get into the gym. I’m hoping that within this first week I will find a way to get my workouts in. I’m planning to go today after I’m done nannying 🙂


  2. Your job sounds very challenging… Emotionally and mentally… I don’t know if I could do what you do but it sounds like you love it and are good at it. I would cry everytime an animal had to be put down…professional or not. Personally, I think if you don’t get choked up that’s when there’s a problem.

    We had an experience with our local emergency animal hospital. Nearly 3 years ago our cat was not acting himself…very lethargic and just not himself. I told my husband that if he was still that way the following morning, I’d call and get him in after work. Well, in the morning he was worse so my husband took the morning off to take him in before work. About 9:30 I got a call saying our cat was in congestive heart failure and we had a choice, either put him down or take him to the emergency animal hospital 30 miles away. (We seriously thought he just had an infection or a virus…we had no idea it was going to be so serious.) It was my husband’s cat so I told him I’d support whatever decision he made. He decided to take him to the hospital. (And stayed by his cat’s side all day…he called into work…how’s that for an amazing husband!?) That night we found out that his prognosis was 50/50. His official diagnosis was congestive heart failure due to untreated dialated cardiomyopathy. Our cat spent the next 3 days in the hospital getting the best care. And now, almost 3 years later and 8 pills a day, he is still our beloved cat. Was it expensive? Yep. Do we ever regret it? Nope.


    • It sounds like you guys were lucky to have a really great state-of-the-art emergency clinic to be able to catch that. Unfortunately the clinic I work at doesn’t have all the bells and whistles because it’s focused on offering affordable emergency care, we just don’t have the income for those kinds of upgrades. But we do an important service regardless!

      I really admire owners that care so much for their animals, give your kitty-cat an extra hug from me!


    • Awww your husband sounds like such a sweetheart


  3. Posted by Rachel @ Eggs In A Row on October 5, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Wow! What a first few days. Seriously. But you are doing an important job. My mom put down her Boston terrier a few weeks ago…she was 10 and had cancer. It was so hard, but the vet helped so much. He let my mom hold her and cried with her. That helped her so much…you will do the same for others. (You can’t see me but now I’m crying thinking of 1) my poor sweet Boston who I miss so much and 2) what good things you will be doing for people like my mom!)


    • That’s what keeps me going. I know there are going to be bad days, but I know that I’m in this for helping the animals, and the owners. It’s just about focusing on the positive outcomes.

      The head trauma kitten survived and went home earlier this morning! Absolutely amazing surprise for everyone in the clinic who didn’t think the little guy would make it, I like it when we are proved wrong like that.


  4. I don’t get it. Was the adult cat not treatable after all? Or did they just not want to pay for the treatments and chose to euthanize instead?

    At any rate, you should keep posting about your interesting cases.


    • The adult cat would have been treatable, with a really good prognosis of a full recovery, but the owner elected to not pay fir treatments, and chose to euthanize.

      Unfortunately it is a common occurrence in veterinary medicine, not just emergency medicine.

      I will post about the cases, as they come along and seem interesting enough to post about.


  5. sounds like a great job, lots of variety. I would be rubbish at the euthanasing, I was thinking before I read the actual part that it would be interesting to get a post from you on the euthanasing, without your work-hat on. Maybe a bit morbid. But real enough!

    Awww poor kittehs, both of them. Loved reading about your work, although this stuff makes me cry! saw a link to a story yesterday where a dog jumped out of a window after being starved, and I started crying straightaway – it guts me when animals suffer as a direct result of human maltreatment


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