Travel Nurse Aim is a Nurse, Not a Vet

File this story under things my husband will never let me forget. About two weeks after starting a nursing assignment in Tallahassee, Florida I was asked to give a seven-way vaccine to a lab/chow mix in our neighborhood named "Bear." Simple enough.

A Crowd Gathers
I brought my nursing bag to our neighbors' house, knocked on the door and my husband and I were invited in. Unexpectedly, a small crowd had gathered in the living room (call it morbid curiosity) to watch me give the shot; my first real shot to a non-human. When I walked into the room Bear came up to me wagging her tail. She seemed to enjoy being the center of attention. I sat and pet her for 10 minutes or so to let her get used to me.

***Note to animals: Don't trust a strange human with a black medical bag showing you an unusual amount of attention.***

When Bear finally seemed to be calm enough for me to administer the shot, her owners took her in their laps and held her as I got everything ready. She was extremely calm. I quickly ran through the following in my mind:

Subcutaneous Injection 101: Pull out syringe. Stick pointy end into vial. Suck medicine into syringe. Remove from vial, and (my favorite part) stick pointy end into the dog.

My next thought was that I could use this as a teaching opportunity for those in the crowd who might be considering a job in the medical field. I started explaining the different types of medical equipment in my bag and began to walk them through each step in the injection process. My head swelled as one of the girls in the crowd started asking medical questions. As I answered the questions I could feel myself becoming the neighborhood expert on veterinary medicine.

A Teaching Opportunity
I continued answering questions as I prepped the patient for her shot. Reaching forward, I grabbed the lose skin and hair around the scruff of Bear's neck, raised it away from her body with my left thumb and index finger and inserted the needle with my right hand. Still explaining the process to my new student, I began to press the plunger into the syringe. When all of the medicine was adiminstered, I pulled the needle out and said "See, its that simple."

Back Down To Earth
Just then, one of the owners said "What is all of that wet stuff on Bear's neck? Is it blood?" I looked down at the dog and immediately turned bright red. I had stuck the needle into one side of the dog's scruff and out the other and squirted the medicine all over the dog's back. Not a drop reached the patient. So much for my veterinary expertise. In my defense, the dog was extremely hairy and had a lot of excess skin.

Two Things I Learned from the Experience
(1) I just love teaching opportunities; especially when they completely blow up in my face; and
(2) My husband can be a real jerk. He was the first person in the crowd to make fun of me saying "Oh yeah, you can give me a shot anytime." Now when he tells the story the dog ends up blinded by the medicine which somehow shot from the scruff of the dogs neck into its eye.

I hope my readers realize that I use a lot of sarcasm in my writing and that, in fact, my husband and I have a great relationship. We do LOVE giving each other a hard time though.