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An episode of ER


There was just too much going on.

There was just too much going on.

We had three seriously colicked horses, a pig under anesthesia, a cow with a prolapse that was trying to have a baby and a waiting room full of dogs. It is times like these that you can't decide what to do first and everyone needs you right now.

Bo Brock, DVM

Tex was standing patiently with his horse waiting his turn. The horse was very sick and it appeared as if we were going to have to do a colic surgery. The pig was on the surgery table with its nose covered by an oxygen mask. The cow was in the chute straining and grunting to no avail.

I had gone to the clinic to get the stuff to do the pig surgery when my ear caught that spine-tingling sound of someone gagging like they might throw-up. With all the nasty smells that a vet clinic can produce, this sound happens on occasion. I looked back out of the door into the large animal part of the clinic just in time to see ole' Tex go down.

Things going downhill

I thought this to be a bit strange. The guy just piled up in the corner in a position that any normal 55-year-old hadn't been in for the past 45 years. It was like he was sitting down, but both of his feet were higher than his head. This caused me some stress

Dr. Zach Smith was looking at me while I looked out the door. He had heard the retching at the same time I did, but could not see out the door. He must have detected panic in my eyes because we both headed out the door at a rapid rate.

As we arrived, Tex was trying to get his feet out from behind his head. I wasn't sure what had happened, but I knew it was going to take some doing to get him out of the knot he had fallen into. Zach pulled one way, and I pulled the other. Finally, he uncoiled and stood up.


"I just gotta get a little air," dripped out of his mouth as he headed for the garage door.

We followed him out with concerned eyes as he bent over the tailgate of the pick-up. I was a bit worried about Tex, and it was obvious that Zach wasn't sure what was going on either.

"You gonna be all right?" Zach asked.

"Why don't we take you inside and let you lie on the couch for a minute?" I suggested.

Much to my surprise, he said, "Good idea."

You know when a tough ole' cowboy dude says he'll go inside and lie down that something is bad wrong. Zach got on one side and I got on the other. About three steps into the journey, Tex totally collapsed. Zach caught him and we carried him over to lie on the horse surgery table.

Let's stop and absorb what's happening here. We have a pig anesthetized on the pig surgery table. Tex's horse is rolling around in pain on the floor of the surgery room. Tex passed out on the horse surgery table, not 2 feet from the sleeping pig, and we don't know what in the world is happening.


I can remember looking at Zach and thinking, "If this was a pig or a horse, I would know just what to do, but what in the heck are we going to do with this?"

Somehow, I could see the exact thought on his face, too.

We went to work. Zach was feeling for a pulse in his wrist and I was listening to his chest with a stethoscope. Neither of us found a thing. Oh my, oh my, oh my! I grabbed the pulse oximeter off of the pig's tongue and hooked it to Tex. It read a heart rate of 180 and a blood oxygen of 76. This is not good. You need a blood oxygen of around 95.

Zach stayed pretty composed, but I panicked. I grabbed the oxygen mask off of the pig and put it on Tex. I started moving toward the chest. I figured if there is any CPR fixin' to happen here, Zach could have the mouth-to-mouth part and I would do the chest compressions. Zach must have been thinking the same thing because we met at the chest.

"You better call the ambulance, Bo," Zach said.

I bet it was the first time that the ambulance driver ever showed up on a scene like this: two veterinarians running around a sick cowboy and treating him like a pig having a heart attack. We had him hooked up to monitors and getting oxygen through a pig mask. We were listening to his chest and trying to check eye responses. In our combined 15 years of veterinary service we have probably worked on hundreds of crashing animals, but neither one of us knew what to do with this.

Everything turned out okay. Tex went to the hospital and they had him fixed up. He was back to the clinic in about four hours. It wasn't a heart attack, just some kind of hypoglycemic thing. I talked to him the other day and he said the only side effects from the entire ordeal is a faint "oink" when he coughs and a subliminal urge to root around in the dirt in the backyard.

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