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Friday, June 10, 2011

It Happens To Us Too

One of the goals I had when I started this blog almost three years ago was to show the human side of a veterinarian's life.  I'm happy to discuss pet-related medical issues, but I also want to show what it's like to be an average veterinarian.  Today is one of those days.  Problems that happen to other people happen to us too, because we're also "other people" to someone. 

My wife had picked up our kids, some nieces and nephews, and a neighborhood girl from vacation Bible school.  She was dropping one of them off, backed out of the driveway, and suddenly the minivan wouldn't go into reverse.  That was worrisome, but she tried to turn around and get to the street through the yard in forward.  She managed to go a few dozen feet when it wouldn't move anymore.  The engine was fine but something had disconnected from the gears and it wouldn't engage with the drive train.  After fiddling around we realized it wasn't going to be an easy fix and we called a tow truck to take it to a local mechanic. 

But it got worse.

I drove my car over to the mechanic to be there with the minivan and talk to them about the problem.  As I was driving over I started having some weird electrical problems with the car, losing power in acceleration.  By the time I pulled into the mechanic's parking lot the car was having some serious problems.  I turned it off and then couldn't get it started again.  That was two cars dying in less than two hours!  Our ONLY two vehicles!!!

They looked over my car and managed to get it started again.  However, they couldn't figure out why it had died.  There was something with the electrical system or the battery where it wasn't charging.  However, my alternator was replaced about eight months ago and shouldn't be bad.  The battery checked out fine, as did all of the other systems they looked at.  I finally drove away with the car acting fine, but without an idea of what had happened or whether it would happen again.  For a while things seemed okay, but less than an hour of driving later and I started having more issues.  I was able to make it home, but I'm not sure if it's drivable anymore.

Another thing with my car...It's a 1995 Chevy Lumina that has a very long list of problems.  The cost of even a single repair on it will likely be more than the car is worth, so we had previously determined that we wouldn't fix it when it finally ran out of steam.  However, we have been hoping that it would last several more months until we could afford a new car payment.

So let's recap.  Vehicle #1 is currently at the mechanic with an unknown problem related to the gears or transmission.  Vehicle #2 is having an unknown electrical problem and may not start in the morning; if it does, I don't know how far it will go.  And I'm scheduled to work tomorrow!  Saturdays are very busy for us, so it would be bad if I can't make it in.  Thankfully, my father-in-law may let me borrow his car tomorrow so I can make it to work.

So does this sound familiar to anyone?  Few veterinarians are wealthy, and things like this hit us just as hard as they do anyone else.  The next time you see your vet, remember that they have problems and challenges just like you do.