Medical Terminology

I usually read Dr. Donahoe’s medical column in the paper in the mornings and am frequently struck by the number of submissions that run something like this:  "My doctor has informed me that I have pyogranulomatous myxosarcoma.  Could you explain to me what that is, what my prognosis is, and what the treatments are"  (I actually just made up that condition, but you get the point.)  I am left with the mental image of a  doctor popping his head into the room where a patient is anxiously awaiting a diagnosis, announcing the name of the problem in incomprehensible medicalese, and then popping his head back out and disappearing.  I can’t imagine how desperate one would have to be to have to turn to a newspaper columnist for an explanation of one’s medical condition rather than get that information from the doctor who made the diagnosis.  I generally hope that the question has just been rephrased to be more succinct in order provide more space for the discussion of the problem, but sometimes I wonder.

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Not long ago I had a very nice couple come in with one of the most beautiful Australian shepherds I had ever seen.  He was as well mannered and pleasant as he was good looking.  The people said they had been camping for the past week and this dog just showed up and their campsite and hung around the whole time they were there.  He had no collar, tags, or identification of any sort.  He was in good health and well groomed and he obviously belonged to someone.  They had talked to everyone they could find in the area and had put up signs, but there had been no response by the end of the week when they were getting ready to leave.  They couldn’t just leave the dog out there so they brought him home with them, and then brought him to me to see if we couldn’t identify him and get him back to his real owners.  Our last hope for finding out who this dog belonged to rested on scanning him for a microchip that might tell us who he is

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Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs--NSAIDS

Mrs. Smith called in the other day and reported that her dog Max has been slowing down and seems to be having a hard time getting around.  He had gotten some pain medication from us before after he had injured his leg on a hike, but that stuff was awfully expensive.  She just wanted to know how much Advil to give him to ease his apparent arthritis.   We were all very grateful that she had called to ask instead of just giving her dog a random dose of medication because it gave us the chance to talk with her and to save Max from some medical problems that could have ranged from simply misery inducing to life threatening.

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Online Pharmacies

Our receptionist was in with her own dog who had become suddenly mysteriously ill with severe muscle cramping, nausea, and fever.  She had just given all of her dogs their monthly heartworm preventative, the same type they had been taking for years,  and because they were all the same size she gave each dog a dose out of the same box.  Within hours she found that all of her dogs were showing the same symptoms.  Clearly there was something wrong with the medication, so I called the manufacturer to discuss the adverse reaction.  The first thing they asked was where the medication was purchased.  Because our receptionist prefers to use a brand of heartworm preventative that we don’t generally keep in stock we have her order it from a reputable online pharmacy.  As soon as the manufacturer discovered the medication had been ordered online they lost all interest in pursuing it any further.  I thought they would have wanted to investigate whether there could have been a glitch in the manufacturing process or if somebody may be making counterfeit medication and passing it off as theirs, but the only response I could get was "Talk to the Hand."  It made me start to wonder how often this sort of thing happens when medication is purchased online.

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Until the late 1970s it was generally accepted as scientific fact that animals (and small children) do not feel pain.  Of course the idea is not only inaccurate, it is completely ridiculous to just about anyone who has ever interacted with an animal.  I think the idea that animals don’t feel pain came about primarily because pain is a very subjective experience, and beings that have no way to verbally communicate what they are feeling can be easily assumed to not be feeling anything at all.  The idea also served to sooth the consciences of those who performed barbarically painful procedures on animals in the quest for scientific enlightenment.  But even when we acknowledge that animals feel pain it can be tricky to know what is going on with them and what to do about it.

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