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These farm-hand 'doctors' are in need of some serious CE


It must have took about an hour of serious wiggling before I got it out.

As a consultant veterinarian at a feedyard, you entrust the health program of thousands of cattle to a group of people that are referred to as "doctors". They are not really doctors; it's just a term used by the people that work there to describe what they do, to the chagrin of veterinarians.

It is the consultant's job to train these people to treat sick cattle, and it can be a frustrating task. Here's why:

Dan Thompson, DVM, and I arrived at the feedyard at 6:00 a.m. This particular feedyard uses two young ladies as the doctoring crew. They were not the brightest bulbs on the tree, which makes the task of teaching them complicated "doctoring" terms even more difficult. You might think I'm a tad critical, so judge for yourself:

One of the girls was sitting on a table with a twisted look on her face. The expression seemed to reflect a mixture of disgust and pain. I really couldn't tell which, so my curiosity got the better of me.

"How's everything going?"

As it turns out, her little boy, Junior, was having problems in school. They put him back into the third grade, and considering it was February, this must have been for significant reasons.

"He's not a dummy; I'm telling you, those stupid teachers just don't know how to teach someone with an IQ as high as his.

"My momma told me that Junior is just so smart that he gets bored with the slow pace they set over at the elementary school." The words rolled out of the side of her mouth as she unveiled the unfortunate details of the last few days.

The expression on her face just didn't seem to match the emotion that should have come with the "stupid" people over at the elementary school. Her manner was peculiar. Suddenly, she reached up and cupped her chin with both hands. A mild moan trickled from the corner of her mouth as she winced a bit.

"Besides all that, I have a tooth ache that is killing me!"

"Well, why don't you go to the dentist," Dr. Thompson quickly chimed in.

"I hate dentists," she retorted. "They scare me and they are all stupid. It got to hurtin' so bad last night that I just pulled it myself."

"You mean to tell me that you pulled your own tooth?" Dr. Thompson squealed as his eyebrows rose high on his forehead. "How did you do that?"

"I just got a pair of vice-grips and starting wiggling it," she replied. "It must have took about an hour of serious wiggling before I got it out. I even had to get my husband to hold my head down because my neck got so tired."

"You've got to be kidding. You mean you actually pulled your own tooth?" Dan asked with utter astonishment. He went on to ask if he could examine her mouth. Sure enough, there was a giant, enflamed gap about two or three teeth back on the upper-left arcade.

"Well," Dan started quizzically, "if you pulled it, then how come it still hurts so bad?"

"Turns out, I pulled the wrong one." She didn't smile. "The one that really hurts is the next one back."

I thought to myself, "So, this is my student?" How would you like to teach this one? How would you like to entrust the healthcare of cattle worth million of dollars with this gal?

Then I thought about that poor third-grade teacher, who not only was asked to perform an education miracle on Country Bumpkin Street — again — but parent/teacher conferences must be an exercise in total frustration.

My advice: speak slow and repeat often.

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

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