Gross ER Veterinary Stuff

Posted: Aug 30, 2013
Views: 1763 - Comments: 16

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IVECCS is coming. It’s NEXT WEEK. It’s my favorite conference of the year, even when it’s in San Antonio (river walk again?). Because it’s 4 days of emergency nerds trying to one up each other with our stories. Stories of how many hours we’ve gone without sleep, stories of being the only person on the floor who knew how to deal with all of the fancy tubes in that patients, stories of crazy toxins and days on a ventilator, and stories of gross.

I can handle gross. I wear it like a badge of honor. Tell me your stories, show me your pictures, and there's a good chance I’ll just ask more questions out of fascination for your yuck factor. It comes with the territory of what I do. Poop is literally in the job description. Pus collects and is meant to be enjoyed. Trench mouth is a real thing. Open fractures, hemorrhagic diarrhea, vomit containing feces, that’s just a Tuesday night. But there are a few things that get to me… I can taste the bile now…

OTFadvice: Keep your mouth closed. Picture of gloved hands squeezing pus out of a cat's abscess.

Early mornings. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it happens to me early in the morning, chances are it will make me gag. I used to have to start (yes, start) my shift at 4:00am on Wednesdays, and I remember sitting on the floor against the pharmacy cupboards during rounds just trying not to vomit. Smelling yeasty ears in the early morning is sometimes enough to push me over the edge.

Dentals. I blogged about it. Enough said.

Dogs vomiting unmentionables. Yes. I am that girl who gagged at the used condom brought up in the vomit. Used tampons? Do you even need to ask? I will submit that there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with you if you don’t think those things are horribly disgusting to clean up off the floor. Now underwear? That’s more entertaining. Mind you, I certainly don’t want MY top drawer secrets on display to the entire ER floor, but making judgments on yours after your dog has chewed holes in it is perfectly acceptable. I will draw the line at the dog who ate poopy toddler underoos. THAT is gross.

Bones. Ortho makes me squeamish. Feeling bones grind against each other in radiology, or watching the surgeon try and reduce a nasty fracture. Yuck. I passed out in 10th grade biology class when we had to watch a video of a human hip replacement. I should have known then to stay away from the bones. Clicking, rubbing, scraping, cracking, I’m out.

Eyeballs. This is the biggie for me. My first veterinary surgery was a cherry eye fix. I had to leave the room. I’m realizing now how many red flags I ignored on my path to working in gross. Enucleations, melting corneal ulcers, even hyphema is gross. I don’t even like to look at pictures of gross eyeballs. And those of you that have left enucleated eyeballs in the wash for me? You’re sick. SICK!

But sometimes something is so gross that all you can do is laugh at the nasty absurdity of it. That’s the take home from my job – if I can’t eventually laugh about it, I’m going to cry or gag. Neither of those is much fun for me. So I file these stories away and wait for the right moment to share them. If I like you I’ll wait until you’re done eating. If you like me you’ll wait until at least 10am to share your stories.

OTFadvice: The best team-building exercise is just laughing about our weird jobs.