It is inevitable that something difficult, messy or never-heard-of-before will happen in a veterinary clinic. No one is safe, no one. At times, it appears technicians are the ideal target for crazy situations. From untimely fires to breaking personal space and animal bodily fluids landing in unfortunate areas, technicians are exposed to it all.
So we asked technicians to share the craziest stories that have happened to them at our various referral hospitals.
Cute but Messy Kitten
Speaking of bodily fluids: A technician was cuddling with the cutest kitten in the world. He climbed all over her, and suddenly — to her horror — he had explosive diarrhea all over her: her face, her neck, her hands and her scrubs. Yet it’s hard to get mad about a cute kitten…
No Scrubs, No Problem
At an emergency clinic, a technician became covered in blood while triaging a hit-by-car patient. He was covered in blood, and pretty soon, she was covered in blood as well. Of course, this happened at the beginning of her shift. There were no extra scrubs anywhere, so she decided to wash her scrubs at the clinic. And so she wore a towel wrapped around her body until her scrubs were clean.
At another emergency clinic, around midnight, a woman showed up carrying her Yorkie with a proptosed eye. This is a common presentation at an emergency hospital… except for the situation below the waist. It appeared that the frantic owner neglected to put pants on. So there she was, in the exam room, with no pants, wearing white baggy granny panties. After sharing this story with other technicians, we have since heard of panicked clients coming in… naked!
Multiple situations require getting up close and personal with patients and, at times, employees. As a result, people get strangely comfortable. And one day, a tech was asked to blow the nose of a doctor performing surgery. The tech pulled down the doctor’s mask and… the rest is exactly what you’d imagine.
Wardrobe malfunctions doesn’t only happen to singers and actors. Once, Newton's law of gravity took full effect on a scrubbed-in doctor's pants. What to do? The anesthesia tech had to pull up and secure the Doctor's pants so that he could continue to perform surgery.
Karate Kick Meets Door
One day, a technician used a swift karate kick-like motion to open a door that would always stick. Unbeknownst to her, the door at been fixed. The freshly-loosened door was now stuck about 3 inches deep into the drywall. About a week later, the owner’s wife (and hospital manager) called her into her office. After a week, the actual story had become quite different. The wife started: “I’d like to talk to you about anger management…” The technician had to correct her and tell the real story: it was not anger, but foolishness, that caused the problem.
At another clinic, a technician was scrubbed in, assisting in surgery. She noticed a strange chemical, electrical-like burning smell. Then the wall in the surgery room, next to the radiology room, caught on fire! The fire was contained and the surgery was completed with a flash light. Fortunately, the patient did very well.
Even if you make it out of surgery, the possibility of something going awry does not end. Two techs in two different clinics (located an hour apart) followed up with the same histopathology lab for biopsy results that never arrived. Both techs were told that the lab never received the samples. So they called their carrier. They were told that the truck that carried their sample had caught on fire. All packages, including the biopsy samples from both clinics, were permanently lost. Try to explain that to a worried pet owner…
Comic relief is an integral and necessary part of our days. This can compensate for the long hours, the sad cases and the angry clients. One clinic keeps track of these stories, and shares them at the annual Christmas party. There are even awards for the most unfortunate mishaps.
Now it’s your turn, which crazy stories have happened to you or your colleagues?
Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com, and follow him at www.facebook.com/DrZeltzman.
AJ Debiasse, a technician in Stroudsburg, PA, contributed to this article.