Where did I go wrong?

Breaking through to Iva Granite-Head.
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Dec 01, 2009



When I gave her the news, my client Iva Granite-Head was beside herself. (That was bad news for me, because one of her is all I can handle.)

"A bladder stone? That's impossible, doctor. Your X-ray must be wrong. Opal never goes outside unless he's on a leash. There's no way that he swallowed a stone."

I tried to point out that this was a different type of stone, one that forms inside the body. Unfortunately, she was on a completely different wavelength.

"I'll bet that this is my husband's fault," she said. "When he walks the dog, he isn't as careful as I am. I would never let my baby eat a stone!"

Once again, I explained that the stone was not in the GI tract but that it had formed in the urinary bladder. After showing her the X-ray, I described the surgery that would be necessary. She still didn't get it.

"You know, doctor," she said. "I've been thinking. It must be a penny in there. When my son, Igneous, was 3 years old, he swallowed a penny. The pediatrician saw it on the X-ray. All we had to do was wait, and the penny passed. Can you tell just by looking at that white mark on the film that it is a stone and not a penny?"

I assured her that I could. In fact, I considered joking with her that the stone was so big it more closely resembled Lincoln's head on Mount Rushmore than it did his head on the penny. I thought better of it though, because Iva Granite-Head has no sense of humor. (In fact, she has very little sense of any sort.) "Well, if he didn't swallow a penny, how about a dime?" she asked.

A voice in my head screamed "No, you idiot—it's a urinary stone!" In actuality, I gave her a handout to read at home and had her schedule surgery.

A half-hour later, her husband called.

"Hi, doc," he said. "This is M.T. Head calling. What's this about Opal swallowing a stone? My wife says it's my fault for not watching him closely."

I told him to read the paper that I sent home with his wife. He promised to look at it, but didn't see how that would help the situation.

For the next few hours, sanity slowly returned to my office. It was interrupted again by a call from Mr. Savvy.

"Let me get right to the point," Mr. Savvy said. "I have no intention of paying for the surgery of my neighbor's dog. They said that he swallowed a stone that probably came from my driveway."

After I explained the situation, he calmed down. "Oh, I get it, doctor. What you're telling me is that the dog has a type of stone called a bladder stone. Since my driveway is gravel stone, he must have swallowed that bladder type somewhere else."

"Right!" I told him.

Unfortunately, the fun was not over quite yet. The next call was the real gem.

"Hello, Dr. Obenski. You don't know me. I'm Iva Granite-Head's sister, Hedda Granite. She told me about her dog's problem. Well, about four years ago, I lost a diamond earring. It might have been at their house. That dog must have swallowed it."

I pointed out that the stone was clearly not in the GI tract. (She didn't get it, either.)

"After the surgery," she continued, "my insurance company will sure be happy if that stone turns out to be that diamond."

I did the surgery a few days later, and all went well. The next week, the Heads were back for suture removal.

"You know, doc," M.T. said. "We took that stone you gave us all over the neighborhood. We couldn't find anything anywhere that looked exactly like it. Where he got it, I guess we'll never know."

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

For a complete list of articles by Dr. Obenski, visit http://dvm360.com/obenski/