Clinic Stories

Take My Breath Away

There is something about a veterinary hospital that causes people to faint. I don't mean just clients; employees faint too. You may be thinking that they faint from the sight of blood. Not so much. With employees, surgery can cause them to pass out but pulling teeth seems to be much more effective. Several times I have lost my help to unconsciousness during a dental procedure.

Clients can faint from the sight of needles and occasionally from routine care. Most of the time they are able to sit down as they get light headed. That was the case with a man in about 1985. I was cleaning his cat's ears and he said he needed to leave the room to sit down. When he felt better he came back in the room and apologized. I told him there was to need to apologize or to feel embarrassed. “You don't understand”, he said, “I was a medic in Viet Nam. I've seen the worst of the worst but when it's your own cat, it's different”.

One night on emergency I euthanized a dog with the owners present. The woman, about five feet tall with flaming red hair wailed loudly and hugged me firmly around the waist sounding as if she were possessed. Her husband began jerking his head and twitching. “M’am”, I said, “It looks like your husband is having a seizure”. She managed a brief moment of lucidity and said, “Don't worry, he does that all of the time” and again grasped me and wailed. Eventually she quieted and he calmed but neither of them passed out.

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