Chapter 9: Thursday, August 22 3:25 p.m.

Filed under: @ 8:49 am

From the middle of July until the end of September my hospital was playing host to a very green new graduate DVM. His degree still squeaks when he turns around too quickly.

Dr. New was helping out while the other associate was on medical leave and he was intended to continue helping out during the time that I was out surrounding Andrew’s surgery.

We, the other two doctors and I, decided that we’d not be comfortable with leaving Dr. New to be doctoring on his own so we’d arranged our schedule so that he was on duty only when one of the three of us was also on duty. Not that we thought him incompetent, more that when you’re a brand spanking, and very squeaky, new doctor it’s helpful to have someone off of which you can bounce ideas, diagnoses, and treatment options.

I was standing at my desk in between appointments. I’d purposely scheduled my afternoon light that day because I’m the DVM in charge of the hospital’s control drug supply and I wanted to take most of the end of the day to do a control drug inventory. I try to get the inventory done at least once a month (Shhh! Don’t tell the pharmacology wonks. Their opinion is that a multi-DVM hospital should have a control drug inventory done once a week.) and I thought that a very careful inventory would be ideal just before I was gone for a month. I also didn’t want the tail end of what would be my last day at work until early October to be clogged with patients that I’d be starting to work up then having to transfer to another DVM.
So I had a few appointments left on my schedule for that day. Dr. New had a full appointment schedule that was intended to keep him occupied until closing.
I was discussing options for diagnosing and treating a difficult bacterial otitis externa when my phone boinged. My text message sound is a very penetrating boing, so when my phone boings I want to get it to shut up ASAP.
I flipped over my phone while chatting about infected ears with Dr. New.

It is a common literary device to have your protagonist’s voice “just trail away into silence” when they’re shocked by something. I’d always kind of considered the idea a little -well fanciful isn’t quite the word. Fantastical is closer. Surely anyone can manage to at least complete a sentence regardless of how sudden or severe the shock.
I was wrong.

This is what I read:
“Surgery is off. They found another area of potential blockage. They want to do another cardiac cath first. Will call me with the schedule for that ASAP.”

I was literally incapable of coherent speech. Fortunately I have a couple of staff members who are very good at reading my moods and who are experienced enough that they know the diagnostic and treatment steps for simple medical issues. M caught a look at my face and towed Dr. New off into the other room while I shot out the back door (there are no private offices in our building, it’s a VERY small hospital) to call Andrew.
I called Andrew.
I called Dr. Boss who had been on the schedule for the day, but had gone home early with The Crud. Dr. Boss was asleep so I left a message for her.
I called the office manager who isn’t in the office on Thursdays. I told her I had to leave. Now. That I was going to have the front staff reschedule the rest of my day because I couldn’t be of any use to anyone and that I’d be in contact with her as soon as I could to let her know whether I really was going to be starting my leave the following Monday.

I went back into the building, went straight up to my senior receptionist and told her that she was going to have to reschedule the rest of my day because I was going home. My senior receptionist, fortunately, is also very canny at reading my moods and she could tell from my affect that Something Bad had happened.
I went into the treatment area to talk with my two senior technicians. M, who is a lovely girl and a talented veterinary nurse, is also one of the most insecure professionals I’ve ever run across. Looking back on it I can tell that she knew from the tone of my voice and from my actions that Something Catastrophic had happened and it scared her badly enough that she had made herself scarce.
So I talked to H, who is lovely, talented, and pretty much not scared of anything. I told her that she’d have to babysit Dr. New, that she should call our office manager if she needed anything and that I was leaving so I could go somewhere private so I could scream. Incessantly.

And then I packed up my things, got in my car, and drove home.

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