One of the best things about working in the ER is that you never know what you’ll see next. I never fail to be surprised about something during the course of my shift. One day I looked up to see three people struggling to tape down the lid of a trashcan, whose contents–a wounded porcupine–were bumping about rather alarmingly. On a different day, I was startled to see the smallest, saddest looking beagle puppy I’d ever seen, gazing around the room at a bevy of rapt admirers with the grace of a pope.
But yesterday, I had my biggest surprise yet. When called to triage a new arrival by the name of Gilly, I was taken aback when, instead of the expected cat in a carrier or dog on a leash, I was presented with a baseball-sized goldfish in a double-bagged ziplock baggie. Gilly was the largest goldfish I’d ever seen, almost 8 years old, and a very handsome creature. Unfortunately, Gilly’s left eye was abnormally large and strange-looking, and he had clusters of grape-like tumors near his dorsal fin. Gilly’s owner had watched his other goldfish buddies in the tank die a few days ago with similar signs, and he didn’t want Gilly to suffer any longer.
After consulting with the exotics department, we euthanized Gilly the goldfish by sprinkling an overdose of anesthetic into the water. He’s getting cremated, and his ashes will be returned to the owner. It was a sad outcome to a case, but I thought it was great that Gilly’s owner cared enough to help him pass peacefully and pain-free.