Funny, heartwarming, hilarious and absurd...short stories that are about "The Other Family Doctor"
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The puppy was clearly in trouble. The story I got was that the neighbor had put out antifreeze to kill some cats. (I tried not to appear horrified as she relayed the story.) Instead, poor little Roscoe had eaten the steak laced with antifreeze and was already very ill.
“What we need to start with,” I explained, “is blood work to determine if the antifreeze has already affected the kidneys. If it has…” I paused for emphasis, “then the outcome is probably not going to be very good.”
“We know about kidneys,” the mother commented, looking at the young boy, obviously her son, that had come into the clinic with her. “My son Dillon is on dialysis every day. He is in kidney failure.”
I stared, incredulous, at the young boy, Dillon, which, ironically, was one of my step-sons’ names as well. He couldn’t be more than, what? Nine, ten? In dialysis?
I continued, a little more hesitantly.
“So, if the blood work shows no damage to the kidneys yet, then chances are better. The treatment is a little unusual.
Basically, we have missed the window of opportunity to use the commercial antifreeze treatment. But, we can still use grain alcohol as a sort of antidote. It has to go in the vein, so he will be drunk for a few days…but it’s the only option available now.
Mrs. Baker nodded solemnly.
“I just want him well, if possible,” she said as Dillon reached up to pet Roscoe tentatively. Tears glistened in his eyes and spilled down his cheeks. He knew the pain of intravenous catheters and spending nights away from home. He knew what it was like to have angels waiting for you in Heaven.
I couldn’t resist asking.
“Is Dillon on a transplant list?”
His mother looked at him quietly.
“He has already had a transplant. It failed.”
I looked at Dillon, who was off playing with Dakota, our clinic bird. I couldn’t imagine knowing that my child had been given a death sentence, and I was powerless to stop it. I mentally shook my head to clear the oppressive thoughts.
Roscoe’s deep brown eyes were watching me with quiet interest. His tail wagged slowly back, forth, back again.
We began treatment on the sick puppy, and I have to admit, I held out little hope of a successful outcome. I injected grain alcohol into Roscoe’s IV bag, and monitored the rate over the next hour, adjusting it as necessary to keep him from being too intoxicated. He looked at me dazedly, but seemed to have a smile on his face. I shook my head at the unlucky dog.
His owners came to visit later in the day, and I noticed Dillon had a cast on his arm.
“What did you do?” I asked the boy.
“Oh,” he said dismissively. “I got hit playing baseball.”
I was stunned. Baseball? But he…how could he…?
In outward appearance, Dillon was like every other third grade boy. Active, care-free, sturdy. If not for the tubing peeking out from his shirt, indicating an intravenous catheter, no one would know that he was sick at all. I was even more determined to save Roscoe, but, it was just a waiting game now. Dillon knew what that was like.
On the third day of hospitalization, Roscoe started eating again. All his vital signs were back to normal. When his family came to visit, his tail wagged with vigor. I didn’t see any reason that he couldn’t go home, to which Dillon was ecstatic.
Several days after Roscoe’s discharge, they came back in for a recheck. He was doing extremely well, and Dillon thanked me with tears in his eyes. I had thought Roscoe had been handed a death sentence too, but it taught me that life is never predictable, and my patients surprise me all the time. I pray to this day that Dillon surprised his doctors, too, and that his angels might somehow wait just a little bit to take him home.