*before Panic!’s first show* Pete: I can’t help but notice you’re getting cold feet, kiddos. I know you’re all probably nervous. And that’s normal - you guys really don’t stand a chance here, so I don’t blame you. But, there’s an old saying that might help: “Have you had your break today?” Ryan: I’m pretty sure that’s a McDonald’s slogan. Pete: Yeah, cuz you’re gonna get grilled, son! *laughs hysterically for a full hour*
A few years ago when I was a fresh faced, ready for anything newly graduated veterinarian I was working in a mixed practice when I discovered one of the simple truths that every new grad vet should know.
Your bosses will make you see every exotic animal that they don’t remember how to deal with.
Consequently, new grads often end up seeing most of the rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, rats, mice and reptiles that the good ol’ boss just feels ‘a bit rusty’ on. After all, that book learning should still be fresh in your head, right?
Which is why very early on I had a little patient called Mouse, who was a mouse, who was presented to me in a tissue box (that he very nearly ate his way out of in the waiting room) by a nearly 7ft tall sausage fingered man who very well could have been Lenny from 'Of Mice and men’.
Mouse had a problem. Mouse was going bald and looked pretty poorly, despite being bright and eagerly looking for a bolt hole. Mr Mouse Owner loved Mouse. Friend of Mr Mouse Owner, who may have been his carer or a relative, did not quite share the same level of affection, and thought Mouse should probably be put down.
There was only three things I remembered about mouse medicine from uni: respiratory disease, mammary tumors and mouse fur mite.
So despite Mr Mouse Owner’s companion strongly hinting that he thought the mouse should be euthanized, I talked them into spending a whole $6 on a skin scraping to try to identify mites.
For those of you that don’t know what a skin scraping is, you basically put a little oil on the skin and using a sterile, sharp scalpel blade scrape away the superficial and deep layers of skin. This is difficult enough on a wriggly dog, but on a wriggly little mouse was nearly impossible without damaging it. The mouse was barely bigger than the blade. Nevertheless, with help from a slightly confused nurse, we got our sample.
And we found our mites!
Hooray for a treatable diagnosis! Gosh, you wouldn’t believe how smart I felt at that stage.
The next step was finding some ivermectin to treat the mites. Our ivermectin only came in 1 liter bottles for dosing sheep, with dosages given in 50kg increments. It took a lot of maths and double checking to dilute the ivermectin correctly down to a fraction of a drop for little Mouse.
So after all the fuss, the test and the maths, I carefully administered one fraction of a diluted drop to the back of his neck, watched curiously by his owner, his friend muttering that they probably could have bought 30 new mice for the same price as this visit.
But Mouse got better. He was properly furred a month later.
So pay attention to your exotics notes if you’re about to graduate as a veterinarian. The older vets who feel they are 'out of practice’ will fob these patients off to you, and they’re equally as loved as their more common counterparts.