I spent a fabulous weekend away from school working at an equine clinic where’d I’d spent a lot of time this past summer. It was a perfect weekend. Blue skies, sunshine, warm enough that you didn’t need a jacket, but still hint of fall in the air as we drove past fields of corn and soy beans just starting to change colors.
So far that weekend we had some work, but not so much that we were swamped or exhausted with emergencies. As we headed to a call about a colicy horse, I was preparing for the worst. When we arrived and walked into the barn, we saw three horses standing fairly calmly in the arena together. The owner immediately came rushing out from the house and proceeded to brief us on the horse.
Although the mare’s vital signs were normal, she was pawing, rolling, and exhibiting unusual behavior, which is what veterinarians always teach owners to look for in regards to colic. During our physical exam, we noted that the mare had a slight fever and hives all over. After talking further to the owner, she mentioned that she had been struggling with insects biting the mare all summer and that the mare had also had a severe reaction to a vaccine last spring. We then realized that the pawing, rolling, and unusual behavior was because the mare was uncomfortable and itchy from the hives all over her body.
We treated the horse appropriately, but a lot of what needed to be done to help this horse was environmental management for insect control. The owner was clearly overwhelmed — this was one of her babies, and she didn’t know what to do. I happen to have a horse that also has hypersensitivity to insect bites and though his reaction isn’t as severe, I have developed some tricks and tips to manage the issue and keep him comfortable. I started talking with the owner about what I have used and found to be successful. When it was clear she was still overwhelmed, I grabbed a notebook and started writing down various instructions and things to try. This made the owner so happy to have a list. I patiently wrote and answered her questions until she felt comfortable that we had a plan in place with things she could try.
When we went to leave, she asked me “You’re Dr.______.” I smiled and said, well, I’m not quite there yet as I’m still a vet student, but I’m working on it. She then asked my name and on the top of the notes I gave her she wrote Jill Dentel (Almost DVM). She then shook my hand and thanked me profusely again. Those two words “Almost DVM” made me smile all the way home. I know them to be true, but knowing they came from a client and that was the way she saw me made it that more real.