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Tag Archives: veterinary technician

John Oliver the Cat

30 Nov
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Dramatic reenactment of our first meeting.

Labor day weekend this year, I had plans to meet some friends for brunch in Chelsea. I woke up late and hung out in bed watching old episodes of Last Week Tonight.

As I lay there, I heard a clear, distinctive meowing which almost sounded like it was coming from my apartment. It took me a couple of minutes to realize it was coming from outside. Still in my pajamas, I put on my rain boots and rain coat (it was POURING) and headed outside to investigate. I stood at the side entrance to my building where my landlord parks his car and listened. I heard nothing. Maybe it was a stray cat passing by. Maybe one of my neighbors adopted a cat. As I turned to go back inside I heard it one more time. A tiny, little meow.

After looking around, I finally saw a little ball of fluff darting between the garbage cans. I didn’t think I’d be able to get to it, so I headed back inside to text Dr. L.

IMG_5136She guilted me into going back in the rain. Nothing in me wanted to, other than my sacred duty and pledge as a veterinary technician to help the furry creatures of the world. I grabbed an old beach towel and went back out. The cat did not want to be caught, but I kept following him around until I cornered him by the recycling bins and blocked his escape with a grate. Once he ran from me and hit the grate I grabbed him with the towel and swaddled him close to me. He didn’t fight, didn’t cry, he almost seemed to relax in my arms. I got him into my apartment and dumped him in my bathroom while I figured out what to do next.

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Scared little kitten hiding behind my toilet.

I made myself presentable and grabbed an old gym bag to put him in. I took an Uber into the city, and I kept peering into the bag to make sure he was okay. He was shaking and looking at me with those big eyes not sure to trust me or not.

“I got you,” I kept telling him. “I promise to not steer you wrong.”

My boss agreed to let us keep him at the hospital until we found a permanent home for him. I named him John Oliver, although most everyone just calls him Oliver. Within a couple of days, he was playful, friendly, exploring all over the hospital.

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Making friends at the hospital.

He quickly grew to love his little life. Steady supply of good food. Warm bed. Lots of attention. He was right at home at the hospital. We posted a couple of pictures of him on Facebook and immediately started getting responses from people who wanted him. I was happy for him, but so so sad for me. He felt like mine, like our lives were fated. He belonged with me. I had been told when I moved into my apartment that I couldn’t have pets, but I had to try. I had to ask again.

Turns out, both of my roommates really wanted to keep him and our landlord didn’t mind! John Oliver was coming home with me. The day I brought him home, he was so confused to be leaving his happy hospital. I took him back on the subway with me, and he kept looking up at me through the mesh of his carrier with that same worried look he had given me in the Uber a month earlier.

“I haven’t steered you wrong yet, have I?” I quietly said to him.

It took him a while to warm up to his new home, but now he owns the place. Even though I work with cats a lot, I’ve had to learn a lot about owning a cat, especially a rambunctious kitten. He still bites and gets what we call his “night crazies” where he runs laps around our living room nonstop from 1am-3am. But I love him. He’s my guy. My little John Oliver.

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My guy, all dressed up for the day he was neutered.

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New Jobs Suck

12 Jun

Nail trims are the most dangerous things we do. Here’s proof.

My job as a technician isn’t new. I’ve been training at it for months. But, now I’m full-time. When they offered me the position a couple of weeks ago, they put me in the tutelage of my co-worker Christine who was due to give birth the first week of July. Dr. Z (the practice owner) very firmly told me that I had two months to “sponge Christine’s two years of college-level tech training and her 16 years of experience. You must become the best technician.”

One and a half weeks into my intensive training, Christine is out on bed-rest, and I am completely unprepared. I am a perfectionist. I hate not doing things well and starting a new job kills me. I hate being discombobulated and feeling useless.

Last week went really well. Christine is an awesome trainer. I was inserting catheters in pit bulls, intubating poodles, running ear swab cytologies, setting up ultrasound equipment and scrubbing in a dog for a nasty gastrotomy. I was feeling amazing. Drawing blood from the jugular vein of a cat? That ain’t no thang.

I don’t know what was wrong today. All I could think of is watching Mariner’s games where Felix Hernandez doesn’t pitch well. He’s such an amazing pitcher with exceeding talent, but sometimes things are off, and it gets into his head, and he pitches a shitty game. Today, I pitched a shitty game.

I made so many simple mistakes. I was tripping over myself, and I felt like I spent most of the day just standing around taking up space. It makes matters so much worse that Dr. S, the vet that once told me he’d help me in my path to becoming a vet tech and that he had complete faith in me, now wants me gone. He was happy when I quit, and I only got the tech position because of Dr. Z and Christine’s efforts. He glares at me. He snaps at me. But most of the time, he pretends like I’m not there. The man hates me for a lot of inconsequential and silly reasons. Stupid metaphor, but I feel like the dog that keeps getting kicked.

It got into my head. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to criticism, and I’ll beat the shit out of myself mentally when I make mistakes. At some point in the afternoon I was running an ear swab cytology for Dr. R. I could not for the life of me focus the microscope. I kept checking the oil lens, readjusting, making sure the slide was in place. It just wasn’t happening, and Dr. S was standing nearby staring me down while flipping through his charts. I felt like crying. But I didn’t. I just kept focusing until I found the swabs I was looking for. But it took forever. Dr. R appeared at my side.
“How’s that slide coming? Got a yeast party for me?”
“Um, the left ear has tw0 to three yeast per field with occasional cocci, but I’m still checking the right ear. I’m so sorry it’s taking so long.”
“No worries. Listen, you are doing fine. It sucks that Christine had to leave early, but if you need help, I’m here. I’ve been exactly where you are. I can answer any of your questions.”
It was reassuring, but I hate being so helpless.

After that I held a Cairn Terrier for my co-worker Daryl to cut his nails. The dog started flipping out the second Daryl touched its paws. I tightened my grip and braced myself. This dog was going crazy. I had the dog in a muzzle and a headlock to keep him from biting us, but his foot got up under my arm and sliced me (see above.) I’ve been scratched a million times before, so I didn’t think anything of it until another technician Clive walked by.
“Woah, he got you!” I looked down at the gashes in my arm, gushing blood. No dog had ever broken skin before. Clive and Daryl started clapping.
“Welcome to being a technician! You are one of us now!” They patted me on the back and started to show me all their scars.

I’ve been staring at that stinging wound all day. I rolled up my sleeves on the subway so everyone could see.

I was a shitty barista at first, and my boss wouldn’t let me anywhere near a steam wand. Now I can make you gorgeous latte art and the silkiest milk imaginable. I was originally dead weight with the Mariners, but I ended up running my own kiosk and raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the team I love.

I am a technician now. It’s just going to take a while before I’m a really really good one. But I will be. I’ll be the Felix Hernandez of veterinary technicians.