Things You Cannot Unsee
There are so very many things you are exposed to in veterinary medicine that you can never ‘unsee’. I think the most memorable tend to be human body parts. Body parts that you never actually asked to see to begin with. It is remarkable how willing The Public is to show off their body parts… to a stranger … completely unasked.
Furthermore in a pre-tale digression – have you ever noticed how often that freely offered up naked body parts are never ever the body parts you dreamed about seeing. Never. For instance, no twenty year old ever seems to flash you their breasts, not in an exam room, maybe in New Orleans, but never in an exam room. No well built young Adonis ever drops his drawers either. Remarkably uncanny how it never involves a naked body that you might enjoy recollecting at some point while sitting on your porch and drinking iced tea. No, it is always something shocking that makes you wonder if you could bleach your brain in some way.
My Puppy has a rash
An extremely common source of naked body part sharing is associated with puppies that have sarcoptic mange. That is a little mange mite that can be temporarily transmitted to people and will cause an itchy rash on people and a really miserably itchy puppy. At some point in that discussion there is always a moment where naked show and tell will be threatened. They really need to spend some time teaching young vet students more about this sort of thing in order to try and save their poor eyes and bright young minds. It usually goes like this true story:
So in comes a very large woman with a very tiny chihuahua puppy that rides atop her very ample breasts. This woman is wearing a tube top. Of course, as usually is the case with tube tops in my experience, she has no business in a tube top. I can say these things, because I am a large woman, and I adore large women. Let me state for the record that I have never once walked around in a tube top, ever, and definitely not in public. Thus concludes the scene set for this particular memory.
I am not entirely sure that the little chi was able to walk. I suspect he mostly traveled through life in soft comfortable style upon those ample breasts. The tiny tot was in for a check up and vaccinations, and because he was itching all the time. Initially, a large amount of time was lost while trying to convince the owner than the puppy did indeed need to come off of her breasts in order for me to examine him. Seriously, she had to be convinced to put him down. Actually said she was fine with me examining him right where he was laying. *Cough*. In retrospect, I should have been suspicious about how this was going to go from that point right there.
My tech was in the room with me and we had already exchanged that super subtle secret ‘look’ over the whole painful effort to get cooperation in dislodging the pup from the ledge of her breasts. After checking the little dude out it was evident that there was a skin condition going on, and given the level of itch, the preliminary conclusion was that this was likely to be sarcoptic mange. My tech assisted with some skin scrapings and then left to go check them under a microscope to rule out other things. I began to explain sarcoptic mange, and how it can be transmitted to people and other dogs. I explained how it often causes a temporary ‘heat rash’ type break out in people which itches. I was just about to go on to explain the rest of all the pertinent information when she interrupted.
Tube topped owner, “Wait. We can get a rash?”
Me, “Yes, Ma’am, but no big deal. Usually it clears up quickly. Tends to be where you touch the puppy or at waist bands and collar line and that sort of thing. You know, where a heat rash might bug you.”
Tube topped owner, “I think you are right about this. I have a rash.”
Me, “Ok well sounds suspicious for sure. Your doctor can help you out if it is severe.”
Tube top owner, “Can’t you just look and see, and tell me if it is the same thing?”
Me….silently screaming in my mind, no no no NOOOO, “Uhm no, wait” *waving a hand wildly*
The tech walks back in at this opportune moment to let me know the results. The door opens the tech steps in, the tube topped owner yanks said tube top right down. Unsurprisingly, there was no bra involved. Merely ample bare boobs, with a rash. The tech turned right around on her heal at the door and mumbled, “I’ll be right back!”. I glare at the back of the tech’s head, and then I slap my eyes closed. Of course it is too late, and the image is actually burned into my retinas and my brain.
Me, with my eyes closed, “Please get dressed.” I sigh softly as the image continues to be present in my brain. I open one eye a teensy little bit and verify the tube top is back up in place. I thank all nearby local deities. Then I open both eyes and smile, “I will be right back. I need to check on that slide.”
I leave and fast! I accost the tech who is laughing hysterically in the back room relaying this to all other employees. People are literally crying laugh. I may or may not have called the tech a ‘heinous bitch’ for speedily abandoning me in my time of need. You can do that sort of thing when you are a small business owner with no corporate HR department. This resulted only in more hales of laughter and tears. Clearly, when naked body parts come out, no one is going to save you. You are on your own to navigate that professionally with no training whatsoever for that sort of thing. None.
There is a moral here for new baby veterinarians: never ever wait until they say “I have a rash!”. That is too late. You know how they say you have to time your positive reinforcement reward just right when training dogs? Well this is the same. You have to interrupt them at the right time or you will fail miserably every time. Always, immediately after mentioning to the owner that they can get a rash too, immediately say – “Do NOT show me the rash! Do NOT! I do NOT need to see it!” That is the path to saving yourself young folks. Because trust me, you never want to see whatever body part they are about to flash!
But wait there’s more, see Things You Can’t Unsee, Part 2.