'Old Fogysaurus' rears ugly head

'Old Fogysaurus' rears ugly head

Feb 28, 2002

At first, the task seemed simple. All I had to do was to give the pooch an injection, dispense a few pills and send him home.

I headed for the pharmacy.

Unfortunately, that's when the trouble started.

"Let's see now," I said to myself as I read the label directions out loud. "Give 2.27 to 6.83 grains per kilogram of body weight."

I had to stop and think. Multiple questions began to swim in my head.

"How many grams are in a grain? How do you convert pounds to kilograms? Is that Fahrenheit or centigrade? Why can't I put metal in the microwave oven? Why don't they write the bottle label in English?

It seems to me that this all should have been taken care of in 1776. This is the America of pounds and inches. The medication in the bottle is made by a company located right here in the good old U.S.A. They sold the drug to me. Why don't they just tell me how much to give the dog? Is it a secret?

According to my calculations, the dog needed an intra-muscular injection of 4,200 cc. That seemed a little high to me. (The medication comes in a 10 cc bottle.) Perhaps the label was wrong? I did the calculations again. I started by attempting to convert the dog's weight to kilograms. I discovered that it couldn't be done.

Not being one to give up easily, I decided to skip that step and move on to the next. All I had to do was to convert "grains per 10 ml" to milligrams per cc." As coincidence would have it, I discovered that this calculation was also impossible.

Then, in a flash, I had a revelation. It struck me out of the blue. How could I have been so foolish? All I had to do to solve the problem was to switch medications. It wouldn't matter what antibiotic I chose, just as long as the directions were printed in milliliters per pound. Within minutes, the dog was happily wagging his tail and drooling all over the car seats as his family drove him home.

Feeling that I deserved a reward for my ingenuity in solving the medication problem, I decided to have a jelly donut. While doing so, I called my friend, Arnie, to discuss my displeasure with the drug company's label. He was not sympathetic.

"For God's sake, Mike," he said. "Get with the program. That's the way things are written nowadays. If you weren't so cheap, you'd buy a good calculator for your pharmacy area and you wouldn't have these problems."

I told him that a calculator wouldn't help. Wasn't he listening when I explained that the calculations were impossible?

"Mike," he said. "You are a dinosaur; an Old-Fogysaurus. You should consider getting some younger veterinarians with more modern ideas to join your practice before your last remaining neuron gives out.

"I suppose that's not a bad idea," I told him. "Perhaps I should try to interview a few younger guys."

"Don't you know anything, Mike?" he asked. "Did you sleep through the last two decades? Do you even realize the '60s are over? When you interview veterinarians, they are mostly girls not guys and you can't call them girls because that's politically incorrect. They are women."

The conversation with Arnie ruined my jelly donut experience. However, I had to admit that there was a ring of truth to his assessment of me. Sometimes I may be a little out of touch with the current trends. Still, America should think in terms of pounds and inches, not milithings and kilothings, and I have half a mind to write President Nixon and tell him so.

Dr. Obenski owns the Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.