Vet Talk

To Dress or not to Dress

I’m tempted to throw a robe – or four – over my jammies in the hope that I can sleep-treat the cat

Published: December 15, 2014

It is 6 a.m. Sunday, and time to roll over and go back to sleep. But, nooooo, not today. Today I am handmaiden to a diabetic cat boarding at my clinic. She needs insulin, and I’m pretty sure she arranged the weather as a special feline present to keep me from being bored with a warm, lazy weekend. It is -12°F outside with six inches of fresh snow.

Like a cat, diabetes doesn’t care about the cold, the dark, or my desire to go back to that dream of a beach made of margaritas. Both my patient and her diabetes demand that she be fed and given her insulin every 12 hours. Not darkness, snow, nor yeti invasion will get me out of this duty.

Not for the first time, I’m tempted to throw a robe – or four – over my jammies in the hope that I can sleep-treat the cat and return to my warm bed. There are a few problems with this fantasy.

  1. The robe-jammie ensemble raises the question of appropriate footwear. Everyone knows that a simple slipper best complements classic flannel, but everyone also knows it’s uncouth to wear fuzzy mules outdoors after Labor Day.
  2. With my luck, this would be the time I get pulled over by the police or, half asleep, decide to dash into the quick-mart for milk.
  3. It would take me too long to find the hair curlers to properly accessorize the look.

My Sunday morning arctic trek reminds me of all of the cats and dogs I have treated outside of conventional business hours.

I wear contacts and so just jumping out of bed and running to town without them is a driving hazard, and I’d probably knock myself out on the doorjamb before I made it to the car. I finally got tired of wrestling my contact lenses into sandy eyes and upgraded my glasses specifically for these nighttime excursions.

The first morning I got to use my new glasses, I was so excited, like a kid at Christmas with a new toy. I drove in, marveling at the crispness of the signs, the ability to see the road in all of its detail. I got to the clinic, grabbed the insulin bottle and syringe and realized that my new glasses were not bifocals - I couldn't see clearly enough to draw up the insulin. I shoved them back on my head, the cat got his insulin and I got back home, but it was like my Christmas toy came without batteries!

I have spent the night at the clinic – without my jammies and stuffed bunny - several times.

Once a dog decided rat bait would make a good snack. This poor dietary choice meant, among other things, that he needed to be on oxygen. My clinic does not have an oxygen cage. Most dogs don’t have the restraint to lie still and inhale, or to work the anesthesia machine to deliver their oxygen, so guess who got to have a sleepover. He slept on a dog bed on the floor with oxygen flowing to him; I slept in the hall on a camp cot. I assure you he slept better than I did. At least he lived for another 10 years after that.

The next time I spent the night (actually three in a row) at the clinic for was a dog who was having seizures. The owners were afraid they wouldn’t wake up if he was in trouble. I bought an air mattress for that event, but quite frankly an air mattress on tile is cold and hard, and I had aged a tad bit since the camp cot. The dog didn’t have any seizures, and I didn’t sleep. I was bleary eyed for three days!

There have been many hospitalized animals that required middle of the night care – 10 p.m. meds needed to be given and there are 3 a.m. checks for animals on fluids. I am grateful that I had learned to go back to sleep after these forays to town, but not sure if that was learned when I had children or opened my veterinary clinic. I was always envious of veterinarians who lived in areas with emergency clinics open at night, so they didn't have to make all of these trips into town. However, most days (and nights) I would not trade that for my small Wyoming town.

I need to go get dressed. Maybe this time I'll just head to town in my jammies and snow boots; hopefully, no one will ever know except the cat.

1 Comment

Pip Richards 
January 27, 2015

I think you are fantastic.  That's it.  Just bloody dedicated.  Although it doesn't get that cold in Australia I often have my dogs out during the night so I just end up throwing on sweat pants over my jammies while I take them out for a piddle or sit up with one of them if they are crook (sick).  Anyway thanks for being one dedicated vet I wish we had more of you.


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