Last week, our technician and/or receptionist, chief kennel steward and animal caretaker, Erica, got married. She promptly marked off the next workweek with the big words "honeymoon," and we did not see hide or hair of her for about 10 days. This girl has worked diligently for us for nearly two years and needed a break like all of us from the claws and fur of veterinary practice. But when I told my wonderful wife she had to sub for her, you would have thought I was cutting off her credit card usage.
I sat down and prayed long and hard for a peaceful, steady and busy week for both of us, so hopefully the time would fly by. Believe it or not by the middle of the week, we had only one or two spats and were still eating and sleeping together. Although, I would not suggest full-time, spousal work relations unless absolutely necessary.
I just do not know how we worked side by side in those first few years of our early practice days. What a test of a strong marriage and love -- commitment, mixed with just a hint of insanity maybe.
Toward the end of the week, I was reminded of all the unusual and crazy things that can occur in the everyday goings on of the business of cats and dogs. On a busy, typical Friday afternoon, I was catching my second wind about 2 p.m., when in the door flies open with a gentleman exclaiming his dog was outside bleeding to death.
I dropped everything and summoned him to bring his 90-pound Labrador retriever around to the side door, in hopes of saving a massive blood spill in the waiting room. Upon examination of the pooch, I could find only a small laceration on the lip of the patient, who was dripping bright red corpuscles while at the same time wagging his tail like a metronome. When I inquired how the dog got hurt, the owner modestly offered how he was trying to show his father-in-law the finer things of golf. As Dad was making his follow through, he struck him in the jaw. I took a look at the accumulating pile of blood splattering every which way as ol' Rover danced nonchalantly about, and I assessed a few stitches. I looked at the clock and realized I had about 20 minutes to get this brute of a Labrador retriever anesthetized, sutured up and into recovery by my 3 p.m. appointment. You know, I made it. It's amazing how efficient things can be in solo practice.
As the day wound down to its finality, I peered back in the back and my wife, Lea, was putting the finishing touches on the last of her dog groomings for the day. I peered at her records and added up all the grooms she had accomplished in the week and it totaled nearly 40. No wonder she was complaining the night before of a twinge of pain in her right wrist. Thank God, it's not that carpal tunnel I've heard so much about. I do not know what I'd do without her. As I got her attention, I sheepishly and cautiously inquired what was for dinner. (I had also put that attorney on hold, just in case this week did not go as planned.) To my surprise, she replied, "Fried chicken. I think after this week, we can all afford to go out to eat in McLouth. I'm paying for it too." I did double, ran over and checked her pulse while looking dumb-founded at her and asked her if she was OK. She replied, "Sure, I'm just not cooking tonight. What would I do without restaurants and carry-out?"
As I shut and locked the side door behind me, I took a deep breath and sighed. I mused to myself about the week behind us, having worried so much about being short-handed and getting my wife in to help out. Was it really worth all the fuss and worry anyway? That prayer was answered, as the week went by so fast we had little time to even stop to ponder it. I even half enjoyed the time with Lea, my wife. It was sort of like old times.
My last thought as I hopped in the old Volvo was: "I'm going to work my assistant's tail off when she gets back." Then I reconsidered and decided it's just a new week and we'll just have to have a good time together. Those furry friends make our lives interesting.
See you down the road. By the way, I'll be wagging my tail.