Friday, May 28, 2010

In honor of those who have served and have fallen

As we start what some call the first weekend of summer, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day - to remember and honor those who have served and who have fallen. At the same time, I would just like to say thank you to all the fine men and women in our military that are out there working hard and fighting for our freedom. It makes me proud to be an American when I think about all the sacrifices that both our soldiers and their families make to keep us safe. I have a nephew who is in the Air Force and currently serving overseas. How I have enjoyed watching him grow and turn into such a fine young man.

So as we all enjoy our weekend festivities full of cookouts and softball and family fun, please remember why we are able to enjoy all our freedoms.

This rendition of our national anthem was video taped at a memorial service overseas. Most of us are used to hearing it played at a ball game or other festive event with a lot of cheering and clapping. The silence in this video gave me chills. Thank you thank you thank you to all who have served.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Commitment and dedication

I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of my absolute favorite parts of veterinary medicine is spending time in the exam room chatting with clients. What better way to spend one's day than hanging out with people who love animals as much as I do. A lot of my blog topics are born in the exam room during those conversations. Unfortunately my love for gab can get me in trouble sometimes and when I leave the exam room, my techs will give me the "look" and whisper "Code Red". This means the waiting room is filling up with people and I better quit talking about people's kids and where they are going on vacation this year and how their garden is growing. Ooooops. I can get off track sometimes.

A couple weeks back I was seeing Meike, a friendly high spirited German Shepherd Dog, for her annual physical exam. Meike is a special dog because she really would not be alive today if it weren't for the dedication of her owner. As soon as Meike started on solid food at around 6 weeks old, it became obvious that something was wrong. She regurgitated food often and wasn't growing as fast as her littermates.

Here is a picture of Meike's chest x-ray after giving a barium slurry. She was just a small puppy at the time of this radiograph.

As you can see, there is a big blob of barium balled up in the esophagus in the front part of the chest. Turns out Meike was born with something called a persistent right aortic arch. This is a birth defect where a ring of tissue circles around the outside of the esophagus and makes it difficult for food to pass through on the way to the stomach. The danger is that food collects in a pouch in the esophagus and gets regurgitated from time to time. If a little food or fluid leaks down into the lungs, it can cause pneumonia.

Meike went and had surgery done by a surgery specialist. The surgery got rid of the tissue causing the stricture so that food could better pass through to the stomach. The first part of her esophagus still does not function properly though and so Meike has to eat a liquefied diet. The esophagus not returning to normal is quite common in puppies with this condition and is called megaesophagus.

Now Meike is four years old. She is still smaller than her littermates, but her coat is shiny and she is very playful and happy. Every once in awhile, I have to treat her for a bout of pneumonia, but she really has done quite well. I give all the credit to Meike's owner. As I was doing Meike's exam earlier this month, Meike's owner mentioned that every day for four years she has soaked dog food in water and ground it up into a liquid slurry to feed. She said this so casually like this is just something she does and it's not a big deal. Holy cow! This is a huge deal! All I can think about is coming home dog-tired after a long day and whining in my head about having to feed the animals when I really just want to sit down and put my feet up. And all I have to do is scoop some food out of a bag and into a bowl. I will never whine again. Or at least until I'm really really tired and I forget that I wrote this.

So kudos to Meike's owner. I am in awe of her love and commitment to her dog. Meike would truly not be alive today and grace all of our lives if it were not for this devotion. See, what a great way to spend a day talking to people who love animals. I am truly blessed to be able to spend my days this way.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Animals can get in the strangest trouble

One of the things that makes working at a veterinary hospital a great job is that it is never boring. I'm sure it's kind of like working in a hospital emergency room. The news is filled with stories like the guy that shot himself in head with a nail gun and didn't even know it until his head was x-rayed or the woman that had a toilet seat stuck to her back end. I once had someone bring in a stray cat that they found walking around with its head stuck in a clear glass jar. That was pretty cool. He kind of looked like one of those cartoon astronauts. I had to sedate him to safely break the glass and get the jar off his head. I'm sure he was happy to get that off his head.

Well a month or two ago, this cute little dog Princess was running around her backyard playing with her dog friend when her owner heard Princess cry out and come running up to the back door. At first she couldn't see anything, but then noticed that Princess had a piece of a stick coming out her skin on the lower part of her neck. So she brought her into the clinic.

I sedated Princess to get a better look at what was going on. Here is the what it looked like after we sedated her and shaved all the fur off her neck.

And when I opened the wound and pulled the stick out, this is what I found.

That was one big ol' hunk of wood that Miss Princess impaled herself on. It took a lot of time to clean out all the hair and debris that the chunk of wood carried deep into her neck. When all was cleaned up, everyone in the surgical room got a good look at Princess's jugular vein. That was quite impressive and quite the lucky dog for the stick to miss this. (I just had to make this picture a little bigger so you all could get a good luck at that big old vein.)

Princess went home with a drain tube in place. You can tell in this picture taken after the wood was removed that she was sore and didn't want to bend her neck.

Princess is all healed up now and doing well. Let's hope in her young dog exuberance, she doesn't impale herself on any more objects.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Taking a trip down Memory Lane

First I want to thank everyone for the well wishes and prayers during these last couple of weeks. For those of you who don't know, my dad passed away a couple weeks ago. He was truly blessed in that he lived into his eighties, he traveled and golfed up until the last day of his life and died peacefully in his chair at home. If we should all be so lucky, eh?

One of the positive things that came about because of all of this is that I got to go through my entire photo collection I had stuffed in the back of the closet. It was fun pulling out pictures of my dad from when I was a kid. I also got to remember all the pets and animals along the way. All things that influenced my path to becoming a veterinarian.

One photograph that made me chuckle was this picture of me around age 6 or 7? God Bless patient dogs. This was my first dog and her name was Micki. Gosh it looks like I'm strangling her, but I'm just being a kid and making her look at the camera. Too funny though. She was a very forgiving dog for having to put up with me. Love my grandad sitting on the couch in the background and looking bored. I loved that man. He was so kind and giving.

Hard to believe I was so blond too. My husband says that explains so much. Thanks dear.

I guess the point of all of this is that I really enjoyed going through all those old photographs. It is something that I intend to do more often. After all, our memories are what we have to take with us through our life. Treasure the good ones and treat them like they are precious. And when we pass, we will hopefully live on in the memories of others and make them smile when they think of us.