Shannon Miller, DVM
Honey Creek Veterinary Hospital
One night about a year ago, I was on call but had important business to attend to—I was standing in line at a local bookstore
waiting for the release of the latest book in the Harry Potter series. It was midnight, and true to form, my pager, the black
box of evil, chimed. I returned the call immediately, remembering the three rules of emergency my mother asked me as a child
when I called her at work. I could hear her now, "Are you bleeding? Is there a gaping wound? Do you need stitches?"
Unfortunately, this emergency answered yes to all three questions. The owners were diligently applying pressure to a large
laceration on their dog's limb, but to no avail. However, they were camping in the mountains and it would take them at least
two hours to make it back to town. I could lock down my copy of the book and still make it to the hospital with time to spare.
My husband often helps me with emergencies that require minor surgery, and he will fetch extra suture, wet the tongue monitor,
and other small tasks. He was waiting with me in the bookstore's line and looked sleepy. I purchased the book and by the time
we arrived at the hospital, he looked rough.
The owners arrived shortly after I had prepped for surgery, and I began working on their dog. I was so focused on the sounds
of the monitor and the delicate skin in front of me, I made a terrible mistake: I lost focus on my assistant.
At the far end of the metal surgery table, there was a sudden bang and the entire table shook. My husband had flipped over
backward in his chair and lay dazed and confused on the operating room floor. He had fallen asleep to the soothing lull of
the monitor and tipped. Fortunately for the patient, the surgery was almost over and no harm was done. Fortunately for my
husband, there was no bleeding, no gaping wound, and no stitches needed.