From Doctor to Patient

As a veterinarian, I spend most of my time on the doctor’s side of the medical relationship. I ask questions, weigh options, and give a treatment plan. This past week, I had the opportunity to be on the opposite end of the spectrum when Monday night I hurt so bad that I finally broke down and called the hospital. The phone rang twice and on the other end the receptionist picked up. I have a feeling dialogs only go like this in a small town.

Receptionist: St. Michael’s Hospital, this is (a person I know from church) how can I help you?

Jake: Hi, this is Jake Geis, I’m calling because I’ve been feeling pretty poorly today.

Receptionist: What’s been happening?

Jake: Well, I’ve got the chills, a fever, diarrhea, stomach pain…

Receptionist: And let me guess, you went to work all day and thought you could just tough it out.

Jake: Well, yeah, I did.

Receptionist: Really Jake, what were you thinking? Your wife is going to chew your butt for this.

Jake: Yeah, yeah I know.

Receptionist: Okay. I’m going to transfer you over to our on-call nurse.


Jake with thermometer

To my knowledge, that thermometer had never been used in a calf’s rectum. I can’t be 100% sure though.

So the phone rang for the nurse. Due to my veterinary prospective this conversation also ended up being pretty entertaining. It went something like this.

Nurse: Hi, how can I help you?

Jake: Hello, I’m feeling under the weather right now and thought I could use a second opinion. I’ve been having abdominal pain, generalized muscle pain, nausea, diarrhea, and a fever of 101.2 degrees.

Nurse: That’s not good. How long has this been going on for?

Jake: Well, the recent bout just started last night, but the stomach pain started before that. Two weeks ago I was at a banquet and the food was free so I ate until I foundered.

Nurse: You foundered?

Jake: Yep, just like a horse when he finds the grain bin open, I engorged myself with pulled pork and cheesy potatoes then woke up at 3 am with severe heartburn. My stomach has been hurting on and off since then.

Nurse: Ok, is there anything else?

Jake: Oh, and there’s another part. Yesterday while working calves I accidently got a needle jabbed into my humerus just proximal to my elbow. It hit the bone hard enough to dull the end of the needle.

Nurse: Holy crap! That had to hurt.

Jake: Yeah, that hurt pretty badly. I don’t believe anything was injected with it though.

Nurse: Do you have any swelling around the site of the injection?

Jake: No, and the pain has gone down significantly since then.

Nurse: Ok, from the sounds of it that doesn’t fit with your other symptoms either. Let’s break this down to try and identify the problem. Where is the abdominal pain located?

Jake: Well, I’m not sure if these are correct human terms, but I’d say it’s two inches cranial to my navel and an inch and a half deep on my ventral side.

Nurse: Your ventral side would be your stomach.

Jake: Yep, that’s what I mean. I figured if I was walking on all fours that would be the ventral side.

Nurse: I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you are a veterinarian.

Jake: Haha, yeah you’re correct.

Nurse: From your descriptions and the needle stick it was easy to tell.


From there we just hashed through the symptoms and decided it was just the flu. In spite of the flu, I still went in and worked on a sick calf after that phone call. I thought it was ironic because the calf had almost the exact same symptoms as I did—fever, diarrhea, and weakness. But it looks like both the calf and I are going to pull through, so we can go back to frolicking happily on green pastures and such.


P.S. Update to this post since its first writing—my illness came from that calf. The calf did not pull through and I’m still a bit sick. So much for the happy frolicking I was looking forward to.