Sunday, August 28, 2016

Musings of Dr Liz - Five gifts I wish I was born with

 Whenever I look at the TV or read through magazines, there is an undeniable bit of envy.  Whilst I know I have my own special talents, it is human nature to never be satisfied with what has been given us.

Why could I not be given the gift of a singing voice, or be able to draw, or move well on the dance floor, or be able to act, or even wear an outfit well.  It isn't that I am ungrateful for the gifts I do have, which is my love for my family and my animals, but it often feels like it is not enough.
I am like a happy Lab - thankful for the gifts I do have!

As a general practitioner vet, I know that there are skills that I wish I was gifted with, that would make every interaction with my pets and their owners so much easier. 

1.How I wish I had Superman eyes --- Xray and Microscopic Vision!  (not asking for much).

So many pet owners expect me to know what the lump is by just looking at it.  No sooner than they walk in the room, and point to this tiny lump in an obscure spot, I am expected to give  a diagnosis, then be able to give a prognosis, and then be able to cure the problem before the pet even leaves the consult table.

What about the pet dental check where I am expected to give an accurate assessment of the severity of the disease in their pet's mouth, and therefore give them an accurate estimate  (with the added difficulty of not doing any extractions or complicated dental work, as we would hate for the tongue to loll out the side).

Oh, how I wish I had Xray vision, being able to answer the question "is that leg broken", especially when the pet is running around the room using the leg with the slightest of limps.  In a young animal, it is perfectly possible to have a greenstick fracture, or thin bones due to a calcium deficiency, and still be using the leg.

Cats are notorious for hiding their fractures well.

The xray vision would certainly help  figure out why the pet had been vomiting for 4 days or having trouble urinating, or urinating pure blood.

Wouldn't it be nice. Real nice.

I guess I have to be happy with the equipment being able to do all of that, whether it be use of my xray machine, my dental xray machine or my ultrasound.

And, in this instance, no one else has been blessed with this gift  or xray vision either, except in the movies, so it is a bit of an unfair thing to ask for.

Thanks to whoever invented  Superman (not)!

2. Able to diagnose the illness of each pet as soon as they walk through the door

Wouldn't it be amazing if each sick animal had little clouds above their head, and in these clouds had the disease that they are suffering from?

Or even a handy dandy Star Trek type gadget, that when I scan the pet up and down, is able to tell me not only their vital statistics, such as temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, but also their blood pressure, their full genetic profile, and, well, to make this sentence shorter, the diagnosis in just a few simple minutes (or even better, seconds).

After all, when a pet is sick, seconds can make the difference between life and death.

Or these clouds would say things like, "I have a headache, a really bad one, not the usual kind, and not one you want to ignore", or "I ate three servings of roast pork last night, and perhaps, that wasn't a smart move".


Really, anything, other than relying on the owners observing the vague signs of "not quite right".

Whilst I applaud those owners who are sensitive to these vague signs, it doesn't always make things easier.  Vague signs are often just that... vague.

Admittedly, I do sometimes get a vibe from the animal; I wouldn't say I read their energies, as that sounds a bit "out there", but sometimes I do get an inkling that pushes me to go in one direction versus another when I am trying to sort out what is going on. Us older vets call that a "hunch", the smarter vets call it, well being "smart". 

Fortunately, I am gifted with the ability to do a full physical examination, (the "touchy feely" is what my vet nurse, Dirk calls it) to get a better idea of what could be going on, and we have the equipment to be able to perform a wide array of blood, urine and fecal tests (and xrays and ultrasound) to find out more if we need to.

I have to be thankful that I am in era where we can put a name to many of the diseases if we are given the opportunity to test for them.

3. To be Dr Dolittle

No, not a doctor that does little, but Dr Dolittle, the wonderful, amazing doctor that can "talk with the animals, walk with the animals....grunt and squeal and squawk with the animals." and, it would be super grand if the animals could talk with me too.

Now that would be really really grand.  Even better than the clouds in No 2.

Not asking much, I know!

I could even be satisifed with  that dog collar in the movie "Up", but then, having a dog holding a conversation with you that lasts 2 seconds, then have their head twist when they see a ball, or a treat, or a cat (we don't have squirrels here, so no point saying "squirrel") probably wouldn't be super useful.

I suppose I have to be satisfied with the licks (boy did I get a nice licking today from Nitro), and purrs (thanks Timmy).  Those happy licks and happy wags communicate alot to me, as do those "complaints" from pet owners about their pets dragging them into the vet hospital.

Yes, I really do feel I talk with the animals, and they talk to me too. 

4. To have a Crystal or Magic 8 ball,

Every pet owner has an expectation during each veterinary consultation.

 For some, that expectation  requires a bit of X Files intervention, in that they assume that not only will I be able to diagnose their pet's illness, but that I will able to do that without testing (definitely not of the invasive type ), be able to give them a treatment protocol that will not only work, but that will automatically administer itself,  all the while ensure that this will be 100% effective, 100% of the time.

If only I had a crystal ball to know that the therapeutic trial  is going to work, as I do agree that no one, including me, wants unnecessary, expensive tests or therapies that will not help the pet.

Or a Magic 8 Ball, that answers those nigly questions. The pet is coughing - is it respiratory or cardiac.  The dog is choking - is it kennel cough or do they have something more sinister.

The pet is scratching - is it due to allergies, fungal infection, bacterial infection, dietary problems or immune mediated disease (or something else).

Shake the ball - Yes or No.

Thank you Ball, that was good to know! Could not have done it without you!

"Mrs Jones, the Crystal (Magic Ball) confirms the diagnosis of "XYZ", we just need to turn around three times and wave to the star to the left of the moon at 8 pm, and your pet will be cured (not forgetting the important step of holding your breath for 10 seconds whilst reciting the first two lines to God Save the Queen at this time). " Oh, and that dash of salt over the left shoulder - essential step!

Yup, super useful gift to have. 

I suppose I have to be thankful for the gift of a practical, logical, thinking brain, which works through problems systematically (including going over things from the very beginning to make sure I am not missing anything), to get to a solution. 

Finding the answer is like doing a jigsaw puzzle - we need to collect the pieces, and then put them together in the right way to get the right answer.

5. To Be like Hermione Granger (of Harry Potter fame).

I don't really want to be like Harry Potter (wearing glasses, with a scar on my forehead and have someone evil want to kill me doesn't quite give me thrills); nor do I want to be like Ron (I have a temper as it is without being a redhead, and whilst he is lovable and true, having tools that wants to backfire on you (like his broken wand), also doesn't work for me). 

How is that for a really long long sentence!

Hermione, however, is just right!  Smart, sassy, confident, organised, precise but knows how to be honest, loyal and faithful.  And she has a cat.  Not a rat like Ron, or an owl (how snobby, really) like Harry.

Did I mention she knew how to pronounce "leviosar" correctly, even though that ended up with her sharing a bathroom with the Troll!

What I admire most is her photographic memory, her intelligence, her loyalty, and her grace. I wouldn't mind her little Time twister device too - that would be handy on some days so I can go back a few minutes to stop myself from saying the wrong thing!

She was always the outsider (being muggle born of muggle parents), not like Harry and Ron.  Well, Harry's mum was also a muggle.  She had to fight against the taunts of being a mudblood but she stood firm and true to herself and her muggle parents and her new wizarding family.

I am no Hermione, but even so, I am thankful that despite my "outsider" status of being the daughter of immigrants (even though I am aussie born and bred), that I live, and am able to bring my family up in the best country in the world.


Life is difficult, complex, difficult.... we are often so hard on ourselves, and wish we were shorter, taller, skinnier, fatter, more blonde, more brunette, smaller boobs, larger boobs, etc etc etc.

But you know what... we may not always have the voice of Celine Dion, or the sassy kindness of Sister Therese, but each of us have our own special gifts.  We just need to learn to appreciate them.

And if you are vet, well, you already have superhero status! 

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi.

Madness is one gift I am very thankful for - it keeps me sane!