Sometimes I get tired of writing about medicine and diseases that some people find boring. So, I decided to write about some of my adventures the last 35 yrs as a veterinarian. One story I was thinking of just the other day happened to me in the early nineties when I was still young, vigorous, and also doing farm calls.
It was just after midnight and I was alone, warm, cozy, and sound asleep. Suddenly, my phone exploded through my brain. I struggled to answer it and it was a man with a heifer in trouble trying to have a calf. “In the middle of the night?” I thought. “Who checks on their cows at this hr?” There was no GPS in those days so I had to get directions and hope for the best. I got dressed as I could hear the light rain gently hit my windows. “I better put on warm coveralls for this one.” I sighed.
I finally found it and I was somewhere in Moore County. Smack dap in the middle of Jack Daniels country. The middle aged man met me outside as I pulled into his place. He was obviously intoxicated and really liked to talk about everything. He really knew little about raising cattle but he was very concerned about a heifer who he said had been down since the middle of the day trying to have a calf. Of course we would have to walk and tote. She was way down in a holler. I gathered up everything I thought I might need and stuffed it in buckets as I didn’t want to have to hike back to the truck. Though he could hardly walk I had him tote some of the stuff too. As we made our way down the holler he kept talking and falling down as all I could think about was how big a disaster was this going to be.
Finally, we reached the heifer at the bottom of the holler. She was on her side and was miserable. I grabbed a sleeve and checked things out inside her. She was too young and small to be having a calf. It wasn’t coming out the conventional way. I broke the news that I would have to do a c-section. He said he couldn’t afford that and he would just shoot her as he pulled out a pistol. He wanted me to do it as he said “ I just can’t do it. I refused to shoot her. Finally, just as I was on my way back to the truck to get my euthanasia he begged me to “cut it out doc”.
I got him to hold the flashlight while I anesthetized the heifer. I cleaned and prepped her the best I could in the rainy , muddy conditions. He couldn’t hold the light still and kept dropping it until he broke our only flashlight. If you have never been in a TN holler in the middle of a rainy moonless night, you don’t know what dark is. School was out, I had to go by feel only. He was freaking out as his 90 proof burbs burned my neck. “Oh God doc, I can’t see! What are you going to do now?” I kept working as I made the incision I had made many times before. I made my way through each layer until I got to the uterus. The warm insides of the heifer thawed my hands that were now frozen. I sliced it opened an pulled the calf out as the drunk man fell down backwards pulling me down with him. The calf was alive and he asked me what he could do. By now, I was disgusted with him and told him to blow in the calf’s mouth just for kicks. He actually did it before throwing up yet again. After a while, I finally got the heifer sutured up and on her feet. The calf was nursing. I gathered up everything I could find and we made out way back up the long, steep holler. All the way up as he fell down time and time again he said that was amazing. He said he had never seen anything like that. And he didn’t it was pitch black. Finally, as we reached the top he said, “ Hell, that was the most amazing thing he had ever seen anyone do.” I got my truck loaded and he slurred the all too familiar words, “Just send me a bill doc”. He staggered back in to pass out and I was all alone again, wet, bloody and cold as the rain gently turned into sleet. I was happy anyway. I would soon be home in my nice warm bed to get a little more sleep before starting another day. And no he never paid the bill.