Yet another life experience I did NOT need.

Filed under: @ 1:23 pm

I promise this will be the last one of these for a while. I said when I first started posting that I’d try not to write exclusively about work, but the things that happen at work are frequently so bizarre that during the winter I don’t often have anything more interesting to talk about. They really should warn prospective veterinary students that their careers aren’t going to be entirely about medicine.
I’ll try to have a non-work related post the next time.

Around the middle of last week a guy comes in to our emergency service with his Doberman. He claims that he is a retired veterinary pathologist (no way to find out if this is true) and that the Doberman is, weirdly, French. Okay, a little eccentric, but apparently harmless.
Then the bizarre shit sets in.
He’s bringing the dog in, who, BTW, is paralyzed and has a chronic urinary tract infection because of a neurologic disease common to Dobermans, because she has pleural effusion (fluid in her chest). She has pleural effusion because his neighbor’s kids have implanted a microphone in her trachea that is giving her pleural effusion.


Paul, the on duty DVM at the time, managed to talk him out of having the dog x-rayed since there was no evidence of ANY cardiopulmonary disease. Sent the dog home with additional antibiotics and instructions to have the dog seen by his regular veterinarian in the morning.

Fast forward two days.
Guy comes back in on Friday. 45 minutes late for his appointment and pitches a snit when he’s told he’ll have to reschedule. Sits down in the lobby and refuses to leave until he is seen.
We should have called the cops and had him removed at the time, but we’re soft hearted and that sort of thing kind of takes you by surprise so we weren’t thinking clearly. And the appointment doctor, Laurie, agreed to fit him into a bare spot in her schedule.
So Laurie went in to see him and came back to the ICU where I was overseeing patients and doing surgery a few minutes later. Picture me sitting at my desk and Laurie, face red, eyes bugged out and spinning in different directions coming in from her appointment with the guy.
The dog is still paralyzed and has a bladder infection but now, according to the owner, she has two microphones implanted in her trachea. On receives and one transmits so now the dog is talking. She said “Ho Ho Ho!” in the exam room. And Laurie should be aware that parts of their conversation might be overheard. Also the dog still has pleural effusion and now she also has chronic active hepatitis. She has the hepatitis because the microphones are either made of silicone or of arsenic. Or she might have chronic active hepatitis because the neighbor kids are giving her scopolamine (a common anti-nausea drug), or they’re giving her strichnine. Or they’re giving her ipecac. But she has chronic active hepatitis. And pleural effusion.

At that point the world was spinning around inside MY head and I did the only thing I could think of to do which was to call my brother. It is a great comfort to have a brother in the medical field.
Called Matt. Left a message on his cell phone to have him call me back.

Laurie, bless her patience, got some blood from the dog to check for hepatitis. Sent the blood to the lab, sent the guy home with a balanced electrolyte fluid supplement (at his request) that he could give at home to treat the hepatitis. Playing into his delusions might not have been the best thing to do, but following the principle of “first do no harm” at least the fluid injections wouldn’t hurt and they might actually help the dog’s bladder infection.

Dude left, dog left, and we breathed a sigh of relief. Matt called me later and told me that not contradicting the guy outright was a good idea lest he really get berserk on us, and the next time (if there was one) he showed up we should have him removed if he refused to leave. He also suggested we call Adult Protective Services to have someone go and check up on the guy. Suggestions noted, advice gratefully taken.
Laurie wasn’t on over the weekend, but I was. I warned the ICU doctor, Joel, that he’d have to talk to the guy about the labwork.

Saturday afternoon. I came down from my office after lunch and our (relatively small) parking lot is full. FULL of aid units, sheriff’s department cars, an ambulance and at least two city of Burien cop cars. Now it isn’t unusual for some fairly impressive crackups to happen on our road. It’s a busy arterial with businesses on either side so we frequently get treated to this sort of display when someone gets t-boned pulling in or out of one of the parking lots. I wandered over to the window and asked Joel, who was sitting at the desk, if someone had had another accident.
No, he said, the doberman guy was back.
Doberman guy drove his truck into our parking lot and over the kerb stopping just short of hitting the front of the building. He came into the lobby ranting and incoherent about how the dog still had pleural effusion and chronic active hepatitis. Also the fluids that we had given him (despite being still within their protective wrap we discovered later) were contaminated with scopolamine. Doberman guy was raving about pleural effusion to our receptionist, a tough broad named Meghan, when he wet himself. Meghan asked him to leave, he refused. Joel asked him to leave while Meghan was calling the cops and he refused. Cops showed up and called the paramedics. Paramedics promptly carted the guy off to the Ha Ha House leaving us in posession of his truck, and, god help us, his dog.
We had the truck impounded if, for no other reason, it was parked in our handicapped parking space. The dog, unfortunately, is in our care unless Joel really did manage to get ahold of the guy’s lawyer, or brother within the last 24 hours to get her OUT of our care.

It’s a sad situation all around.
I feel for the guy that the world is that threatening a place for him. And it’s obvious that he is unable to care for himself properly, let alone his dog. There is no doubt that being somewhere safe, clean, warm, and LOCKED is better for him than it would have been for him to get back in his truck and go back to wherever he was living.
And I really am sorry that his truck had to be impounded, but we couldn’t be responsible for it to say nothing of the fact that it was parked in our only handicapped slot (and on the sidewalk, and almost in the building).
The dog is in a sorry state. If she belonged to anyone else I’d be calling up Animal Control Pam to have them cited for cruelty. As it is, we’re obligated to care for her until one of the guy’s representatives takes over care or we have 10 days without documented contact with the owner at which time the dog is considered abandoned and Animal Control can give us permission to euthanize.

But what makes me the most insane about the whole thing…… One of our support staff, a very immature woman only a few years younger than I, was ranting most of Saturday night about how mean we had been and how would we feel if it was our grandfather that had been treated that way?
I really hope Joel has a come-to-Jesus talk with her. Or just plain fires her butt. That sort of thing we do NOT need.

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