Baby for the Beast

By: Penelope Bloom


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I take a deep breath, stripping off my latex gloves carefully to make sure I don’t splatter blood on my scrubs. I just finished a two-hour surgery on a hundred pound husky and removed a tumor the size of a golf ball from his stomach. There’s a glow of satisfaction in my chest. All the time and hard work I put into becoming a veterinarian feels worth it when I’m exhausted after a successful surgery. Sending sick pets home with medication or trying to convince owners to spend the money their pets need to get healthy is often more frustrating than therapeutic. At least in the surgery room, I’m able to get my hands directly on the problem and fix it.

I’ve always liked fixing problems, and I’ve always been good at it, too.

“You’re good?” I ask Crystal, my lead vet tech. She’s short, and one of the youngest vet techs we have, but I respect the competence and focus she brings with her every day. She reminds me of a younger version of myself, which makes me the most humble person in the world for liking her, of course. She’s in her early twenties while I’m turning thirty in a couple of months. When I was her age, my drive to make it to where I am always pushed me to do everything carefully and to do it well.

“All set,” Crystal says as she efficiently cleans up the scalpel blades and materials I left behind.

I give her a quick smile before heading into the lab area to check on a blood sample. It’s the last item on my to-do list before I can meet my sister, Jess, for lunch. I find Mike already checking it for me. He’s abnormally tall and has an easy-going manner that I’ve always appreciated. “Hey Doc, check these platelets out. I swear one of them looks like JFK.”

I roll my eyes but peek into the microscope anyway. All I see are globby little red circles, as usual. Mike spends way too much time analyzing blood and fecal samples because he’s always claiming to see this and that under the microscope. The only thing I ever agreed with him on was the time he saw a red blood cell that looked like one of those pillows people wrap around their necks on long flights. “Hmm. Not seeing anything,” I say.

Mike frowns and then looks again. “Shit. I swear it was just in there.”

“Are you going to have the bloodwork done for room three soon?” I ask. “They’ve been waiting over an hour already.”

Mike gives me his patented smile and waves me off. “Doc, I took care of it. You know I’ve got you.”

“What about the treatment plan?”

“Took care of that too.”

Technically, a vet tech should’ve never written up treatment plans for patients. That’s most of the reason I went to veterinary school and studied my ass off. Vet techs are the nurses of the veterinary world, but depending on the clinic, they can sometimes be trained on the job. Thankfully, my hospital only hires certified vet techs, which means they’ve studied all the same information as I do, but with less emphasis on diagnosis more on the day-to-day hands-on tasks in the hospital like administering vaccines, prepping for surgery, and educating pet owners. My job is to prescribe the proper treatment when something is wrong. However, after having worked with me nearly a year, Mike has had time to absorb my usual treatment plans for everyday issues.

The control freak in me still wants to go back and make sure he did everything right, but I can wait until after lunch to do that. I might’ve done something similar in his position to earn a little respect from my superior, and I don’t want to undermine his confidence, so I play along. “Well, well, well. Look at Mr. Capable over here.”