When I started working on Thursdays the vet I was replacing bet me that I wouldn’t last more than 3 weeks. The staff that works on Thursdays and Fridays is different than on the other days I work. These people have a tendency to forget things. They will be going along fine and then one day you come in and it is like they have never worked there before. They have wiped their brains of the most basic of skills that they need. It is very strange. But things had been going well. Until yesterday.

X-rays were the main problem. Here’s a sample conversation between me and helper 1.

Me: Get dressed and then go get the cat.
H1 turns to get the cat.
Me: No, get dressed first. (I hand her the apron. If you get the cat first then you have to juggle a cat while getting dressed.)
H1 puts on apron and stands there looking at me.
Me: Ok, you can get the cat.
The cat is retrieved and I express a desire to lie the cat down on her right side. I lay the back half of the cat on her side. H1 positions the front half of the cat on her chest.
Me: No, I need her on her side. No. Feet towards us. Front feet the same direction I have her back feet.
Now we are trying to take a chest film. Conversation follows about why H1 can’t put her hand across the cat’s chest to hold her down. Effective, yes. Totally obscuring the picture I want? Also yes.
Next picture is taken with the cat on her back. H1 is holding the front legs. I try to explain again why H1’s hands can’t be in the picture. H1 obligingly slides her hands back. But she does not let go of the cat so she pulls the cat with her out of the picture. Instructions on holding the cat by her paws and not her elbows follows.

This is not the first time this woman has helped with x-rays. She’s worked here for years. But there was a total brain reconfiguration sometime in the last week that erased all her previous experience. The whole time she is looking at me like I’m nuts for expecting her to know this stuff and for being so picky about it.

We also did a dog film that had equal problems with laying the dog on his side. Again H1 tried to make the front legs go a different direction than the hind. She had herself tied in knots trying to hold the front legs and in the process was not restraining the dog at all. I grabbed a flailing front leg and told her to hold him like I was. No, hold him exactly like this. Take your left hand and hold right where I am. Let go of the other leg first. Now, hold this leg. With your left hand. Your other left hand. That hand right there. Yes, that hand. Mimic what I’m doing. And on and on and on…

I had also taken Snowball in for grooming. I decided to do a dental on her because her breath stank. I was in the middle of the dog film when the vet doing the dental came in and wanted me to look at my dog. (I had that vet help H1 with positioning.) He found a mass under my dog’s tongue. I had him biopsy it. I had to hold her tongue out for him to be able to cut. It occured to me that you would never see this in the course of a normal dental. I asked how he saw it. Turns out he was going to try to scare me. We had a lady in a few months ago who was convinced that he had pulled her dog’s tongue out (as in completely disconnected from her head) during a surgery. He was on vacation and I had to spend lots of time dealing with this crazy woman. He was waiting for me to come around the corner and was going to pretend to pull Snowball’s tongue out and say, “I still don’t see where that woman got the idea that I’m rough on tongues.” He was practicing his move and exposed the mass. I work in a nut house.

Then we had a case that I’ve never been faced with before. A woman came home and found a male relative having sex with her cat. He had rubberbanded the cat’s mouth shut and I’m assuming somehow restrained her claws. There was much passing of the chart back and forth between the other vet and I because neither wanted to get into the middle of this conversation. She even tried an “English is not my first language so I don’t always understand the fine details of conversation” excuse but I found an urgent need to tend to my post-op dog so she took the case. The cat was sore but not hurt as badly as expected. The owner was upset and wanted to pursue cruelty charges. But she had watched way too much CSI and wanted sperm recovered for DNA analysis. We tried to explain that we don’t keep rape kits like in hospitals. Swabs didn’t recover anything so we focused on documenting everything and then helping the cat. The owner was pretty unhappy that we didn’t have any fancy diagnostic tests for a situation like this. I don’t think she believed that we have never been asked this before.

After that one I was just glad to go home.