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Monday, March 8, 2010

Taking It In The Face

I've already talked about how gross veterinary medicine can be sometimes.  But what I didn't mention is where all of the fluids and other things can end up.  Often, it's right in the face.

Last week I was flushing out a dog's anal glands and had some of the fluid splash back into my face.  A few months ago I was looking at a problem with a dog's rectum and narrowly missed being squirted in the face with explosive diarrhea.  It's pretty routine to have a dog sneeze kennel cough vaccine back on us after we've given it (it's an intranasal spray).  I've had arteries arc towards my face after being cut during surgery.  Frankly, I'm glad that I naturally wear glasses and have some built-in eye protection.  But the worst case I've ever heard of was about 11 years ago with a guy named Earl.

Earl was a veterinary assistant at the practice I started at after graduating from vet school.  He was a laid-back, easy-going guy and a lot of fun to work with.  He had incredible compassion for the animals, and was a very hard worker. 

One day we had a dog come in with a horrible skin infection and maggots crawling over it.  When moist dermatitis happens during warm, humid months, flies may lay eggs on the diseased skin.  When the eggs hatch, the maggots will emerge.  There's nothing quite like seeing a mass of squirming white worm-like creatures wriggling over a dog after you've cut off the mats.  And this dog was pretty severely affected.

Once we did the initial cleaning, Earl took the dog to the kennel to bathe it and wash both the maggots and the dirt off the pet.  He was back there for several minutes when suddenly we heard a loud, horrific scream.  We rushed back there to see what was wrong and found Earl almost wretching into the tub.  Apparently he had the water on too forcefully when he started washing the dog and when it hit the skin the spray rebounded into his face...carrying maggots with it.  To make it worse, when the maggoty spray reached him he happened to have is mouth open.  Yes, he ended up with a mouthful of little maggots.  Frankly, we could all understand his scream.

Just one more escapade in veterinary medicine!