Looking for the easy chair

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At 6 p.m. on a Friday, Dr. Glenn Blodgett was looking forward to putting another stressful week of running a veterinary clinic behind him.

At 6 p.m. on a Friday, Dr. Glenn Blodgett was looking forward to putting another stressful week of running a veterinary clinic behind him. He would end his 14-hour workday in the comfort of his easy chair, absorbed in the mindless callings of a football game on ESPN—or so he thought.

It was 6:30 p.m. when his phone rang: A horse was suffering from colic, and his intern was concerned about the speed and severity of the symptoms. While a wonderful evening of rest was what the doctor ordered, it wasn't what he was going to get. He knew how valuable the critter was and decided to go back to the clinic. Afterall, it would take just a few minutes, and then the easy chair would welcome him back for the second half of the game.

But Dr. Blodgett would miss the game. By 7 p.m. it was clear that the horse would need surgery, and it was a two-hour drive from Guthrie to Lamesa, where the surgery would be performed. Tack on about an hour-and-a-half for surgery to the total four-hour commute, and Dr. Blodgett would be lucky to be tucked in bed by a little past midnight. That is if all went well. Why do things have to be so complicated?

It was 4:30 a.m. on Saturday when the first incision was made, and 7 a.m. when Dr. Blodgett climbed into his truck to head home. Fortunately, he would have just enough time to get back to take a quick shower before interviewing a visiting veterinarian at 9 a.m. for a job.

By 3 p.m, the good Dr. Blodgett was still standing and being a hospitable host to his applicant. The two were headed for a gathering in a town an hour away. If everything went as planned, he would have been in bed by 9 p.m with a mere 41 or so hours of sleep deprivation. Of course, the gathering lasted a bit longer than expected and the normally happy go lucky Dr. Blodgett entered the "hazy zone," which includes moments of ravenous laughter followed by moments of blurred understanding and silliness.

The clock on the dashboard read 10 p.m. as the two doctors left for the hour-long journey home. No more conversation was to be squeezed from the delicate neurons in the cerebrum of Dr. Blodgett. He could only muster a word now and then to pierce the silence.

Finally, Dr. Blodgett heard the sweet sound of the passenger door closing as the visiting doctor headed for the bunk house. All that was left to do was conquer two gates and a garage door and he would dissolve into a welcoming bed at last.

The first gate required manual opening and closing. Easy enough—he put his truck in park; opened the gate; drove through; parked again; closed the gate and moved on to the next one. The second gate was better. He just needed to drive up, and the motion detector would sense the approaching vehicle and open the gate. The clock read 11:45 p.m. as Dr. Blodgett approached the last gate on this 43-hour journey.

As luck would have it, the dang thing wouldn't open automatically. He put the truck in park, opened the door, and then, fell asleep behind the wheel of the red Ford pickup.

A mere 100 yards from his house, the 43-hour journey ended. He had spent every ounce of gas in the awake tank and every muscle in his body could no longer hold those eyes open. Thirty minutes of sleep gave him just enough juice to open the gate, drive through and find that elusive bed.

What a life we veterinarians have—absolutely amazing.

Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.

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