Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Waiting Game

I wanted to share with you all a case that we had recently at NAAH that really put everyone through a range of emotions. Christy is a 9 year old Labrador that began seeing us in 2017. She's such a sweet girl, and it's so exciting getting to see her when she comes by. She normally comes with her sister, Summer. They are both the sweetest dogs ever. Christy has these big brown eyes that draw you in to immediately pat her head or give her a scratch on the chin. Christy had gained a little weight in 2018 and her owner wanted help to get her weight down. When Christy came in for a dental cleaning in January, she had lost 15 pounds. Great, right? Well, I was pretty excited until I looked a little closer. What should have taken her 4 months to lose, had only taken her 2 weeks. Her labwork was totally normal. Given Christy's breed and age, I had a sinking suspicion something more nefarious was the culprit. An ultrasound of her abdomen confirmed what I had feared. She had a tumor about the size of a baseball coming from her spleen. 

Here's the deal -- when we find a splenic tumor in a patient, it's almost always best to surgically remove the spleen. This is because splenic tumors are at risk of rupturing, leading to bleeding in the abdomen.  With most cancerous tumors in dogs, we can know what specific type of tumor we are dealing with prior to surgical removal. This helps us and the owner know the pet's prognosis, survival time post surgery, etc. With splenic tumors, we can't do this prior to surgery. We have no idea what specific type of splenic tumor it is until after surgery. A benign type of tumor means a wonderful prognosis with a normal life expectancy, whereas an aggressive, malignant tumor is quite the opposite. So, until we perform surgery and send the tumor to a pathologist, it's an anxiety-ridden waiting game.

Christy's surgery was scheduled for 2 days later. Everyone was rooting for Christy on surgery day. From the client service reps greeting her when her owner brought her in, the technicians getting blood samples prior to surgery and basically anyone within arm reach of her, Christy got a reassuring pat on the head. Surgery went great and she went home the next morning. Now for the hard part -- waiting. For 4-5 days, we wait to hear back from the pathologist. The weekend passed and the next work week began. Finally on Wednesday, I got an email saying that the pathology results were in...the tumor was benign! What great news! I called the owner immediately and he was overjoyed. He was thrilled that Christy, his faithful friend, who had been a constant companion for him for a long time, would be around for a good while. 

Now that's something we can all celebrate.

Dr. T 

- Christy and her big brown eyes -

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


Well it's been a while since we've posted on our blog and I thought we'd try to get it going again! Enjoy a little behind the scene look at life at NAAH! Please comment with any topics you'd like to see in the future!

Family. Family means a lot of different things to people. As one of our core values here at NAAH, the word family describes the relationship our team has with one another. When my 1 year old has been sick, I can count on a call or text checking on him. When someone's father is in the hospital, it's for sure going to come up as a prayer request at our daily morning huddle. We genuinely care about each other and can tell when somebody is having a bad day. With 1/3 of our life being spent at our job, it's important to have a solid support system at work. That's something that we are fortunate to have at NAAH. "Family" also forms the groundwork for the experience we strive to create with our clients and their pets. Going to the veterinarian can be stressful for the pets as well as their 2 legged owners. We aim to give both you and your pet a positive experience from the time you walk in the door to the time you leave the parking lot. Whether it's taking the time to thoroughly explain what's going on with your pet or taking a bag of food out to your vehicle, we really want to make our clients and their pets feel like they're part of our family, because they are!

Dr. Thompson 

2018 NAAH Christmas Party with our own families

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mr. Ben

Mr. Ben
Recent weeks for me have been a confluence of variations of mortality.  I celebrated an immortal and risen Christ with my family led by the sermon of my brother in law Josh.  It was inspiring.  Flowering shrubs and trees have waited patiently for their chance to usher in spring.  Patches of green grass can be seen.  Nature’s reminder that winter doesn’t last forever. I also felt the pain of mortal man with the loss of some truly wonderful people.  One a lifetime educator who saw good in all, the other a selfless mother of five.  Empty.  Bleak.  Dark. 
I felt like I could both curl up in a ball and run without tiring at the same time.  Like I knew that life was but minute long and also that I had the opportunity to “suck the marrow” out of the day.  Inspiration in such circumstances can be hard to find.  And sometimes it literally walks by your window. Such was the case when I finally met Mr. Ben Law.
Mr. Ben patrols the street in front of our office daily.  Rain or shine.  He picks up litter, prunes trees, and pulls weeds.  For free.  He champions no cause that I’m aware of.  He was asked by none to perform his job.  He simply saw an opportunity to make the world a better place and acted…..alone.  He seems oblivious to the cars passing by just feet from him.  I have seen him for years now and never had, or took, the chance to visit with him.  I feel very fortunate that I finally did and got to say thank you sir you are an inspiration!  Oh by the way, Mr. Ben is 83 years young.  I hope he does come in out of the cold one day to take me up on that cup of coffee. 
There have been tighter hugs in my house and I have told people “thank you” and “I love you” a bit more.  I have listened to my trainer friend more closely when he says “we get to do this today”.  We don’t really know much here on earth.  And furthermore we don’t get a lot of answers.  We might be 83 and find a new purpose, or leave loved ones far too early.  In either case, this day I’m going to truly live.
Dr. Y

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My pets are no better than yours

I’m sure this is contrary to popular opinion, but my dogs are not anymore well behaved than yours.  In fact, if you ask my wife today, she might claim they are the most despicable, deplorable creatures that could have ever been thought of by the most demented individual that has ever roamed this earth.  I’m not quite there yet, but we’ll see what this week holds (its still early).  I have come to this conclusion through years of careful contemplation and review of too many to count “what the heck where they thinking” moments. 
Our first big event after we got married was getting my Labrador retriever, May.  Now if you don’t know May, she is a very sweet dog who does “know” commands (not sure she cares to follow them all the time), and loves my family.  But what you may not know is May loves tearing up fabric (I mean LOVES).  We went through 3 sheet sets as a puppy (mind you this was when we did not have a tremendous amount of money).  You might ask while we didn’t you keep her away from the sheets, well we tried.  She was kept in a crate beside our bed.  Because of our small living quarters, the crate had to stay in the bedroom. Now here is the amazing thing, the crate was a full 6 inches from the bed.  I’m still not sure how she reached them, and I’m really not sure how she was able to pull the entire sheet into the crate with her through the small opening, and then still how she was able to wrap herself in the sheet like a shawl to look like she was living in the Middle East.  She has chewed up too many dog beds, cushions, and pillows to count.  I don’t want to even guess how much they all cost. 
Like many of you, I spent those cold mornings out on the front lawn with icicles hanging from my nose; pleading, you would even say begging for just that 2 seconds of pee from your newly acquired spawn of satan (I mean loved one) so that you can go back inside and defrost your toes.  I have cleaned up numerous, I’ll just call them, odiferous presents after just returning inside from a walk around the block.  I’ve deep cleaned the carpet after someone decided it was a good idea to eat the entire bag of starburst, wrappers and all, and then evacuated their stomach on the carpet. 
Then if we weren’t insane enough at that point we “adopted’ a cat from the vet school.  I put the quotations there because you don’t adopt a cat, the cat tells you its ok for him to live with you.  And then to add to more fuel to the fire, we acquired a South African Boerboel (google it).  The cat really enjoyed cords (power cords, phone lines, remote control cords, shoe laces, draw strings, you get the idea), and the boerboel really enjoys wood furniture (pine, wicker, plywood, oak; he’s really a connoisseur you might say). 
It is actually a miracle that our house is still standing (well it was when I left for work).  I have racked my brain, thinking I must I have missed some sign or didn’t provide some structure or didn’t put the food in their bowl just right.  What did I do to lead them astray?  Where did I go wrong as a pet father?  I’m ashamed!!
…then I realized, they’re dogs and cats (mind you they are my four legged kids).  They just thought it tasted good or it was fun.  They were living in the moment.  Enjoying what life was at that point; mind you, I wish they would enjoy it in some other way.  I think we all could learn something from them.  Life is short, enjoy it.  This was not an invitation to come by my house and destroy anything thoughJ.

Dr. B

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To Everything there is a Season

Ten and one half years ago when my wife and I moved to the Shoals, we were invited into a supper club with a few other couples.  Corks were pulled, dinners consumed, and friendships forged.  There was but one child amongst us at the time and she just an infant.  But pets, on the other hand, were plentiful ranging from 2 to 100 pounds.  Since that time, it has been my sincerest pleasure to have been their veterinarian.  And like us, our animal companions were young and spry and had no noticeable grey hairs.  Collectively we endured surgeries, holiday emergencies, late night calls and many happy wellness visits.  All of the pets were friendly and well mannered except a cat of my own that once attacked an unsuspecting jogger.  One had both knees repaired and another lost an eye to a BB gun (he also once passed a large portion of a beer can).  Their owners were always understanding and appreciative.  
My relationships with my patients are often times too short.  After all their life expectancy, albeit longer than yesteryear, is much shorter than our own.  And as such, many of that group have slipped into memory and no longer greet my friends at the door.  It saddens me greatly.  Last week I said goodbye to yet another after a long battle with kidney disease.  I was glad to have been with her when she died.  I would have wanted it no other way.  
That infant ten years ago is now a fifth grader and she is joined by 13 other children from that group of 5 families!  Some of the pets remain my patients today and there have been some new additions.  The pets, like us, do have grey hairs and wrinkles have gone where smiles began. And I love seeing them every time.  I am reminded each time I see my friends with pet and children in tow of the seasons of life.  I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the seasons of so many pets and people’s lives in my time here.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart! Rest in peacemy old supper club boys and girls: Buck, Macy, Madeleine, Maya, Lucky, Savannah, Norma, and Richard Hyler.
Dr. Y

Monday, October 8, 2012

Every one needs a Kitten

If you haven’t come by the office recently and seen our new clinic cat, Buckwheat, you really should.  He is a 6 lb; black and white; long-haired; ball of mayhem, energy, and laughter.  We have had him for about 5 months and he has taken the role of clinic mascot since the passing of “Wildman” who may have been 20 years old.
It had been a few years since I had been around a kitten on a daily basis and I forgot how much fun they can be. 
Let me describe this beast for you.  The cat literally has no fear or concept that he should be scared of dogs/people/other cats, especially the ones that can shallow him whole.  He runs at and play attacks almost every dog that comes back to the treatment room, including pawing at legs (he is declawed) and grabbing their tails.  He has also successfully “killed” every cord (which we have a few) that is dangling from any of the number of machines we have (by the way, this is a good way to anger the people paying for them aka Dr. Y and myself). 
No dust bunny/hair ball goes unpunished under Buck’s dominion.  Any tantalizing shoe lace, mesmerizing neck tie, tempting stethoscope is sure to come under fire when Buck is on the prowl.  After he has been kept in his cat condo for the weekend, he spends the first 3 hours on Monday morning running non-stop making sure no one has moved anything without his approval.  He is the king of his domain and no attempt to usurp him from his throne will be left unchallenged, including by us (have a feeling most cat owners feel this way).  When you get on to him for doing something wrong, he looks at you with his head half-tilted to the side with the “whose place do you think this is, buddy” look, and you know you are in trouble.

For all his Napoleon complex personality traits, he really is a cute cat who is fun to be around.  You don’t realize how quick you find an attachment to them.  He is a barrel of monkeys/nest of hornets/pride of lions/pack of wild dogs (any other clich├ęs you can find) rolled into one.  He makes it fun to come into work to see what he will get into next (usually the trash).
Every kid needs to experience the joy of owning a cat or dog, the responsibility of caring for it, and the unconditional love they provide (you thought you would get out of here without the plug for getting another pet??).  My kids help me feed my dogs every night, and boy, help me if I forget to let them help.  They really are part of your family and those memories you make last a lifetime. 

Dr. B

Monday, September 17, 2012


Last week I sent my dad a picture of his three year grandson from my phone while we were fishing.  He responded in minutes and I’m sure was tickled to be included in our outing though 7 hours away.  After said picture was sent I responded to an email from a colleague, received a grocery list text, and checked the weather forecast.  Then I loathed the fact that I had only 17% power and had to put the phone in the truck on the charger.  Holy Cow!  
My dad took me fishing early and often.  When we had nothing else to connect us we could go fishing and the world was just right.  Dad did not have a pager.  His job did not require it.  A cellular phone was not a defined word (or is it a term?).  We were totally unaware of scores, headlines, market changes, or whether we would be blown off the lake.  And by God, it didn’t matter. He probably listened to every silly word I uttered!  There was a sense of freedom and mystique that we just don’t know anymore.  I can tell you the price of wheat in Russia in 14 seconds but not the last thing my daughter said before I returned a text about antibiotics.  
I run with the phone so I can listen to pod casts on how to be a better leader.  I can hardly wait for a sermon to be over so I can check for texts that assuredly will change my life. I have gotten so connected that I’m not sure what being disconnected feels like anymore.  I would actually like to wake up and not know what is “going on”.  In spy films and the like people are said to be “off the grid”.  I assume that means nobody can find them.  
So just how would that feel?  Could I handle it?  I would like to say of course, but then I’m afraid the guilt of not being responsible, or a good husband/father/friend, or a caring veterinarian would consume my being.  Somewhere there is a middle ground I suppose.  One where it’s OK to shut her down for a short while and try to focus solely on the moment.  Only to be snapped back to that funny whistle that tells me I have message.  I am fully aware that these amazing devices have allowed us all to keep up with family and perform our respective jobs easier.  And for that I am very thankful.  But I think my goal for just one day will be to leave the phone off just to see if I can make it.  
I hope everyone understands. 

Dr. Y