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Friday, April 3, 2009

The Humor Of Abscesses

Vets can be a pretty strange group of people. This week I was mentoring a doctor new to our practice, and showing her around. One of my last cases of the day was a cat who had a nasty open wound that the owner had just noticed. When I was done with the exam and was working up the estimate for fixing it, the new doctor and I were talking about it. The conversation went something like this...

Me: Just saw a cat abscess. Looks nasty, but the cat is in really good shape and is purring.
New Doc: Was it a bite wound?
Me: Looks like it. [and I proceed to give her the history] It had already opened and the owner noticed the hole.
New Doc: Did you get anything out?
Me: Nah, already opened and drained. Too bad.
New Doc: Yeah.
Me: I haven't seen a good messy cat bite abscess in a long time.
New Doc: Oh, I know what you mean! There's nothing as satisfying as popping one of those open and seeing all of the pus pour out.
Me: Tell me about it. It's so great when you get a big, messy one and lance it and see that spurt of goo!
[both of us chuckle as we remember cases like this]

What kind of people get a kick out of pus and infection??? Vets. We're pretty strange, and enjoy a rather strange, twisted sense of humor. A few weeks ago I got all giddy and excited when I diagnosed a hamster with a type of mite that I had only heard of and never seen. We'll make fun of really ugly or silly-looking animals. Just about any type of disease or injury can be a potential source of humor for us.

We're not the only ones. I've had friends and acquaintances in just about every health-related field: paramedics, physicians, nurses, dental hygenists, etc. All of them tend to have a rather twisted and often gallows humor. I think that it's primarily a coping mechanism, as people in these fields are often faced with pretty disgusting or dismal cases. If we couldn't laugh about these situations, we might just go crazy.

It takes a pretty special person with a certain kind of odd personality to truly thrive in a medical field. A large part of that is being able to laugh. We just laugh at some pretty strange things.