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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Some Things Can't Be Unseen

You never know what you're going to encounter and see walking into an exam room.

This afternoon I had a routine exam on a dog and a rabies vaccine.  My assistant went in, talked them into a heartworm test and and prevention, then came out to update me on the case.  She warned me that the client was breast-feeding in the room, something I've encountered from time-to-time.  So I gave it a couple of minutes before going in so the woman could finish.

When I walk in the room their baby is lying on the exam table getting his diaper change while the dog is sitting on the floor.  The parents are both there and mom is doing the change while dad is helping.  Definitely not a sight I was expecting!  Especially since I could tell pretty quickly that they had a boy and he was uncircumcised.  Did I really need to know that?

Being the professional that I am, and having children of my own, I didn't make a big deal about it and for the most part ignored the dirty diaper, concentrating on talking to them about their dog.  I made a joke about the dangers of changing boys but overall went on with the visit.  Their son started to cry and be fussy so mom said that he was probably still hungry.

Remember the whole thing about breast-feeding?  Yeah.  Let me also mention that the woman was not exactly tiny and had a rather ample chest.

Sitting on the bench in the room she pulls up her shirt and bra, her left breast spilling out for all the world to see.  Unfortunately that world included me as well as her husband.  I had a rather graphic view of the entirety of her breast and all of the details.  She started to adjust herself and her baby until he was latching on.  During the rest of the conversation she continued to feed him right there in the open, periodically having to shift herself or him on her nipple.

Please understand that I am not a prude, have no problems with the human body, and find breast-feeding very natural.  However, I think there are appropriate places and times to do it.  In an vet's exam room is NOT the time or place, especially when this is your first time meeting him!  I spent a LOT of time focusing on the husband and directing my comments at him, even though neither of them seemed phased by the events.

Was I uncomfortable?  Heck, yes, and it was a very awkward situation for me. I most certainly did not want to see their baby's genitalia or the size of the mother's areola.  But I think I handled myself well and hid my discomfort.

Yes, these kinds of things really do happen to veterinarians.