Sterio's incessant chatter leaves out small diagnostic detail: What's wrong?


This one-sided conversation was what I refer to as a reverse history.

Mr. and Mrs. Stereo began to chatter the minute I entered the exam room. Neither one seemed to notice that the other one was also talking. Fortunately, due to my decades of veterinary office experience, I was able to listen to both simultaneously.

Michael A. Obenski

She was singing the praises of their dog.

"Puddles is the best dog we ever had, Doctor. When I get home from work, he always runs to the door to greet me. He is very active and just loves people. Why, he has hardly ever been sick a day in his life."

Mr. Stereo had plenty to say as well. "This little guy has never had an accident in the house in all the time we've owned him. He gets along great with our other dogs, too. They all spend a lot of time together, and nothing is wrong with any of the others."

This one-sided conversation was what I refer to as a reverse history. This happens when people become so eager to educate you as to what is normal, that they forget to tell you what is wrong.

At this point, I was left with two choices. I could read between the lines and assume that the dog was inactive and had pooped on the floor, or I could try to elicit more useful information in an attempt to find out why they had come to see me. Foolishly, I chose the latter.

"I don't know if you'll remember this, Doctor, but Puddles was here about a year ago when he had that problem." They announced.

I assured them that I did remember. (I was faking it.) Glancing at the pooch's record, I saw that there had been an anal gland abscess at the time. (Now we were getting somewhere.)

"That got better within a week and has been great ever since, Doc. You sure did a good job on that, whatever it was." They informed me. (Back to square one.)

I decided to try the direct approach. "What seems to be the trouble today?"

There was a long pause. Finally, Mr. Stereo took the reins.

"We have never been in this situation before," he said. "We don't know how to handle it. When we called, your nurse suggested that we bring him in so that you could check him out. We just don't understand it; he's always been so good."

(Eureka! My receptionist would know why they were here.)

I excused myself and ran out to the front desk to find out why they made the appointment.

Guess what? It turned out the dog was acting lethargic and had pooped on the floor. (I should have gone with my original instinct.)

I headed back to the exam room. It was time to examine the dog. Unfortunately, the reverse history continued.

"Don't worry about that growling, Doctor. He doesn't bite." (We've all heard that one before.)

After the dog's first attempt to amputate my hand, I called in help, diagnosed, treated and had them on their way home in just a few minutes.

As they were leaving, I heard Mrs. Stereo talking to my receptionist.

"You know, we usually like to pay our bills right on time ... " (Uh, oh!)

Dr. Obenski owns the Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.

Related Videos
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.