You’ve heard me say it before, large animal medicine takes its toll on family time. Many large animal veterinarians are female. So, what happens when you have a little one and you have to go on a call….? You take them with you! I know I am not only veterinarian that has had a car seat in the back of their vet truck. I can think of several times Josh went with me on calls. I never really liked having to take him though. I always felt like I could not effectively divide my attention between him and my clients or patients. However, I must say, my clients never really complained.
One of the first times Josh went with me, my clients sat with him in the truck while I finished the call. He was just a bitty thing when I had a call at the end of the day that was near home, but my babysitter was all the way in Harrisburg. Instead of doing the call and then going to pick him up, putting me even later getting home, I picked him up before the call and took him with me hoping the client wouldn’t mind. I had never been to see this client before, so I was not sure how it would go, but I hoped it would work out. This particular call was a simple one, in theory. All I had to do was vaccinate one mule. How hard can that be right? Well this was no ordinary mule. This mule did NOT like needles. I know what you’re thinking… no mule likes needles. You are correct, but this mule was special. This mule had to be put in “lock down” she hated needles so much. I pulled into the yard and the whole family was here for this call. The owner of the mule, Mrs. Judy, was there and she saw little Josh in the back seat and offered to sit with him while the rest of the family handled the mule and introduced me to her “lock down” procedure. It went smooth and quick. Mrs. Judy was very gracious and entertained Josh, so he didn’t get too fussy with the truck not moving. The whole family was amazing, and I have had the pleasure of doing vet work for them for many years since.
Another time, Josh was a little older but still in the car seat. I was called to a cow farm on emergency on the weekend with a cow in labor. When I arrived on the farm, Josh was passed out which often happened with him. I drove a diesel at the time and the sound of the engine and vibration would put him to sleep rather quickly. When I got there, the farmer and I got the cow in the head gate and I assessed the situation. Unfortunately, this was not going to be a quick delivery. I was going to have to do a C-section. I had been able to check on Josh frequently and he was still asleep every time I did. When I knew I was going to have to do a C-section, I got really worried. Sometimes those procedures can take a bit and I knew that once I started, I would not be able to stop check on him. If he woke up and realized he was by himself, he might get upset and start crying and I would just have to let him cry until I finished. It had to be done, though. I got all my stuff together to be efficient and got down to business. The surgery went great. I took me about 45min start to finish which isn’t too bad. As soon as I was done, I went straight to the truck and looked in the window at Josh, still fast asleep. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and finished up the call. He stayed asleep through the cleanup and billing with the client. I was pulling out of the driveway and heading home when I heard a noise in the back seat. I looked back and saw Josh blinking his eyes and yawning. He woke up with a look on his face like where are we, mom? I told him all about the call he missed and the long nap he had while mommy worked.
There have been many other times that I took Josh with me on calls, but most of the calls I ran, I did not take Josh. In fact, I feel like a lot of his childhood was spent with me not at home and not with me. A part of me has always felt guilty about my choice to be a large animal veterinarian and a mom at the same time. I often felt that I did not do either of them justice. I made a lot of sacrifices to keep up the practice when things were tough and still try to spend time with Josh whenever I could. I hope he looks back on his childhood and sees it as an adventure. I pray he is proud of the job I did and the practice I built.