Mind Over Miller: The accidental patient

Mind Over Miller: The accidental patient

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Aug 01, 2009


Robert M. Miller, DVM
You may recall that the title of my first book was Most of My Patients Are Animals. Last year in this column, I related a couple of stories that illustrated the meaning of the title, with an emphasis on "most." Well, here are a few more.

My wife and I were skiing the Back Bowls once at Vail, Colo. We had the mountain all to ourselves until we caught up with a woman skiing alone. We stopped to watch her below us when she suddenly caught a ski tip, somersaulted, and yelped as we saw her leg fracture at the top of her boot. My wife went for help (no cell phones at this time) while I went to assist the victim. I got her head downhill to reduce the effects of shock, straightened the fractured leg, put my parka on her to keep her warm, and told her help was coming.

"Oh," she said. "I have three kids at home. How am I going to get along with my leg in a cast?"

I comforted her, when another skier showed up. He stopped and asked, "Is she OK?"

I told him that she had a broken leg and that my wife had gone for the ski patrol. Then I removed her skis and stuck them in the snow, crossed, to indicate an injured skier. The stranger stayed until the ski patrol showed up with a toboggan and took charge with typical competence.

The stranger and I said goodbye to the injured woman and wished her well. I added, "You can tell your friends that when you broke your leg, a veterinarian took care of you."

The stranger and I skied down the mountain together and then stopped to catch our breath.

"You're a vet?" he asked. When I said yes, he said, "I'm an M.D."

I looked at him with amazement because he hadn't even bent over to look at the injured lady. Throughout the time we had stayed with the victim, he had simply stood by, helplessly.

"I'm an obstetrician," he explained apologetically. "I'm sure you have seen many more fractures than I have."

* * * * *

When Panalog Ointment was first developed by Squibb, I helped out with clinical trials for the product.

One day, one of my clients came in with her dog. It had acute otitis externa, so I dispensed Panalog and asked the client to return in five days.

Upon reexamination, the ear was much better, so I told the owner to continue the ointment for another week. She said that she needed more. I said, "Oh, you're using too much. All you need is a tiny amount deep in the ear," and gave her another tube.

In a few days, she was back for a refill. Again, I told her that she was obviously using too much ointment.

Then she confessed, "Dr. Miller, I have to be honest. I have had chronic otitis since I was a girl, and this is the best thing I have ever found!"

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his Web site at http://www.robertmmiller.com/.