It’s our brand-new StoryTime series!
This week’s episode explores (with amazingly colorful, ENTIRELY #NSFW language) the struggles of treating a family member…that isn’t human.
– Story time ZDoggMD.
Okay so check it out. One time in medical school me and Dr. Harry lived across the street from Moffitt Hospital. We used to call it the Death Star at UCSF. It was like this imposing 10 story building. And we had done our OB rotations already, so we knew about, I think it was the 14th floor, I forget, where they did all the OB stuff. And the little babies came out of the little baby holes and all that happened. And I’m still suffering severe PTSD from there. But it was interesting because I had a pet chameleon because thug life. I mean who, what kind of gangsta does not own a true Chameleon that changes colors? A camillionaire, that’s who. And so I had this thing in a cage in my little apartment across the Muni tracks from Moffitt-Long Hospital.
Now, it wasn’t just one chameleon actually, I rounded down. It was two chameleons. A male and female pair that I got from this snake shop in Berkeley across the way, where I think the dude was high when he sold them to me because he goes bro, bro, you need to get these in a pair because if you only get one, and it’s a female, okay, it could get egg bound ’cause it needs to get laid. The female lizard needs to be fertilized or it gets egg bound. All the eggs get stuck and then it dies like a dog, man, which is warm blooded, which it’s not so keep it warm. And I said okay cool I’ll get both.
And I called them Wallace and Gromit because why not? And so I had these two lizards. Me and Dr. Harry and Dr. Diego, who you guys might have seen in that video The Confrontation, he was the little psych resident at the end going ♪ There is a castle on a cloud ♪ That was Dr. Diego. So I think Dr. Harry was on call, but he came off call and I call both of them. And I’m like you guys I need your help. I need you to come over right now. First of all we need to smoke cigarettes on the porch ’cause I’m stressed. Number next, Wallace is sick. He’s white. And so they show up and the first thing Diego tells me is that’s not Wallace, that’s Gromit. That’s the female. I was like thank you. Gromit is sick, she’s white. And Gromit was white, which is not normal for a chameleon unless they’re on a white background or something. And look I’ve watched enough cartoons to know what’s normal for a freakin’ chameleon all right. So this chameleon is white AF. It’s looking unwell.
And Wallace, the male, that little punk ass bitch, is sitting on a branch just watching this like yeah I did that to you. And I was like wait, okay is this an egg bound chameleon? What’s going on? So we pick it up, it’s not, it’s lethargic. Normally it’d be trying to bite me ’cause that’s how they are. They don’t, you don’t realize this, chameleons are cute when they’re adolescents and when they’re preadolescent they’re very, you can hold them, they’re all friendly, they have little googley eyes. They’re eating crickets with their tongue and shit. When they hit puberty they become little assholes. Like they will hiss at you, they’re territorial. They bite. This is what they do, they show you their teeth. They’re just like . And so I was like two can play at this game. So anytime I would walk by the cage Wallace would be like , unfurloughing his tail. And I would get in this hissy fit with the chameleon, just . So I already hated this little punk ass Wallace ’cause he was a little bitch.
But Gromit was really still, had a lot of kindness for a reptilian brain. So I kind of really was attached to Gromit. And when she got sick I was very upset. So I started, we palpated her abdomen and we found feel these egg-like masses in her belly. And here we are, we’re third year medical students, all right. We think we are the shit. We think we know everything. We also think we have every cancer. Any time I had so much as an itch anywhere I was like oh that’s, you know, hair cancer. I have cancer of my hair. It was insane. It’s a real thing medical student syndrome. So at this point we’re like dude this lizard is egg bound. And in those days it wasn’t Google, it was like Alta Vista and shit. Like you couldn’t get a good answer from the web. Like it would be some fucked up answer like oh maybe, I don’t, you know. You couldn’t just doctor Google it, or doctor vet Google it. So we thought, we made this diagnosis in our head that it’s a thing. So I said all right, pulled out the yellow pages ’cause it’s the 90’s.
Opened up the yellow pages, and lets find a veterinarian. I’m broke as fuck. I owe the government a shit ton of money ’cause I’m a medial student. And I’m on call the next day, right? So I’m like what are we gonna do? And Diego’s like we gotta do something. ‘Cause Diego’s an animal lover too. We’re like dude we gotta save this thing, right? So I call, just call a vet and see if you can just sweet talk them by telling them you’re a doctor or something, into giving you free veterinarian advice. So I call the first one on the thing. It’s a lady, which it turns out the majority of veterinarians are women. We actually did an interview with Nicole McArthur, a veterinarian, she talked about this. There’s also a lot of depression and suicidality in our veterinary colleagues. But that’s a whole nother talk. This veterinarian was positive and bubbly and said what’s the deal? I said you know I’m a doctor at UCSF. I’m already lying. And as a colleague I just wanted a quick curbside. She’s like you know I take care of animals. I’m like no I got you. I’ve got a chameleon, like legit chameleon, like with the gular and the crazy shit and the tongue that comes out. She’s like yeah, you know, I forgot what it’s called, Ramon’s chameleon or some shit like that. And I said this chameleon is fucked up. That’s my medical diagnosis. It’s white, it’s not moving, it’s lethargic. I started getting emotional. And she’s like okay calm down. First of all calm down. It’s a female you say? Do you have a male? I said yeah, but he’s a little bitch because I don’t think he can get it up. I think she’s egg bound. I think something’s wrong with the chameleon. She goes well it sounds like from what you’re describing, it sounds like she’s egg bound. You can bring her in. I said well how much, I’m just curious, ’cause I got loans, how much will that cost? And she’s like well its $100 for the visit, and then whatever we need to do. And you know this is where like all my love of animals just goes in the shitter. I’m like that, no animal is worth $100, I’m sorry. For me at that time that was like a million dollars. I was like $100? Do you know how many bowls of Ramen I could cook for $100? Jay-Z says what’s 50,000 to a brother like me? Can you please remind me? Okay it’s 100,000, it’s $100 to me. That’s what 50,000 was.
So I said listen, I don’t think, we’re traveling soon, I just need to do something quick. I said what do you normally do for an egg bound chameleon? Do you do surgery? She’s like, you can hear her laughing on the line. Surgery on a fucking chameleon? Like who do you, no, it’s a chameleon. You would just euthanize it right there if it gets to the point where you gotta do a surgery on it. She’s like no, you would inject it with this hormone called oxytocin. And I was like, both me and Diego, she’s on speaker phone, me and Diego are like wait a minute, trade name Pitocin? She goes yes, how’d you know that? Well I mentioned we’re doctors, right? And you could tell she was like you’re not fucking doctors. But we had just been on OB, and they would fucking give everybody Pitocin. Like Pitocin was like just like candy, we’re gonna induce labor. It’s a drug that causes uterine contractions and can induce labor. So I said wait a minute, what’s the dose you give and how do you give it? She goes well it’s this many micrograms or whatever.
And you give it in a, we try to find a vein in the forepaw, or whatever the hell the technical term is for a lizard’s little claw. Little T-rex, little lizard arm. And she’s like you put an IV in there, or your just directly inject it. And I said I can do this. I can do this. You gave me the dose, you gave me the route. I know the patient. I know exactly the pixus where this is coming from. So me and Diego, we hang up, thank you very much for your consult colleague. Put down the phone. We get dressed in our scrubs. It’s our day fucking off. We get dressed in our scrubs and we run across the street and we climb up the 14 stairs ’cause we were like we’re so fat for being third years. We had to exercise. We get to the top and we’re huffing and puffing. And we know our game plan already. Don’t ask a doctor ’cause they are pieces of shit. Okay they will be mean to you.
They’ll realize you’re a medical student right away and they’re treat you like shit. I was like find an OB nurse. They’ll realize you’re a medical student, and if you come at them the right way, they will treat you, they’ll treat you right ’cause they’ll feel bad for you ’cause you’re so sad. So we found an OB nurse who I could tell in her pockets had tons of bottles of stuff, right. All kinds of shit in her pocket. And I’m like I bet one of those is Pitocin. God dammit, Logan ran out of batteries right as I was getting to the climax of this story. So I’m just gonna take it over now. So this chick is like hey who are you guys? We’re like oh we’re a couple of third year medical students, and we just finished our OB rotation. But here’s the story, okay. I have a lizard. I know, it’s gross, but it’s not. She’s adorable. Her name is Gromit. Here’s a picture. And I had an actual fucking Polaroid of this lizard because it’s the 90’s bitch. And so I got this picture, I show her. I’m like look at her, look at all the little. She turns polka dot colors when she’s excited. And I took the flash from the picture, made her excited. And she’s like okay what’s going on? She’s sick, really sick. And she’s pregnant.
And that’s where I got her because this is a nurse, who first of all she’s a nurturer type. She takes care of mothers who are giving birth every fucking day. It’s like okay this is, and we were both like, we’re watching her face, we’re reading the game. We’re like we nailed it already. We don’t even have to think now ’cause it’s in the bag. She’s dying in childbirth. It’s a thing called egg bound. And her little ovipositor is full of eggs and it can’t squeeze. And we called a vet and the vet said you need oxytocin, but you know what, we’re poor ’cause we’re medical students. We have no money. And we thought wait a minute, I bet there’s someone cool at Moffitt-Long who’s like we’re gonna throw this Pitocin away ’cause we didn’t use it all ’cause y’all never use it all. And maybe we could just like borrow some. I mean we could bring it back or we could flush it, whatever you want. And she, without even saying a word, she goes . The thing said Pitocin, this concentration. Here you go. Come back and tell me what happens. And I was like God bless nurses. You can’t survive without them. And so we go running like little school children. Oh my God we’re gonna save Gromit. Run downstairs.
We got, we stole a couple needles from the crash cart. Probably shouldn’t do that ’cause the crash cart’s supposed to be stocked. But I’m like this lizard’s gonna die. So we get back to my apartment, lizard’s not well. Wallace is being a little bitch in the corner. I told him, you get your punk ass in the corner. Let us pick up Gromit and do our thing. So we take Gromit, she’s very weak. She’s, you know, so apparently they get osteoporosis too because in making the eggs they deplete their body’s calcium, which actually, fun fact, can happen to women in pregnancy. So pregnancy can actually cause a real depletion of calcium if you’re not conscious of diet and things like that. That all being said, why am I talking about that? Because she already, it turns out when we picked her up, looked like she had a broken front leg. ‘Cause at some point she had fallen out of her perch when she was sick. So at this point we’re like now this is an emergency ’cause we gotta save her so she can heal her leg.
Little did we know that she’s probably not gonna heal her leg, but we didn’t know that. We knew just enough to be dangerous. We were Dunning-Kruger as fuck people. Just enough to be absolute idiots. So we take her other paw, take the Pitocin, do some quick math, calculate the dose. Stick it right in the anterior dorsal aspect of the leg and inject. Within five seconds this lizard turns purple and then red, and the tail is going . I mean it looked like it was some kind of cartoon, like Wiley Coyote shit where this lizard was just going insane. And started just this and that and the other thing. And we were like it’s working. I bet she’s having contractions. And then she keeled over and died right there.
Right in front of us. Just dead. Agonal breath right in front of us, died. And I think, I think Diego may have burst into tears. And I was just like we just killed this fucking animal. And I realized later that you know we probably either miscalculated the dose ’cause we were idiotic, or it just wasn’t gonna work. And so at this point we’re both looking at each other. We’re like we’ve learned a lesson here. It’s lik an afterschool special. Iatrogenesis happens. You can kill patients with the treatment. Sometimes you can’t save lives and hospice was necessary. She needed lizard hospice Tom Heiniger but the real thing we learned is that we both looked at each other, and we said you know what can we really learn from this? And we said well we can’t learn much until we do an autopsy. And that’s when we cut Gromit open with a kitchen knife, removed the eggs in the black, necrotic ovipositor and actually retrieved them. And there were I think 20 eggs. So she was gonna die no matter what. So we felt a little better after the autopsy, which was another lesson. Autopsies can bring closure and learning for the practitioners and the patient’s family because Wallace was watching that shit. That little piece of crap. And here’s the best part. The eggs, we thought were viable. We said wait a minute. So we actually, my oven always had a low setting where it would be like 98 odd degrees ’cause it was a gas oven and the pilot light just kept it warm. We took the eggs, put them on a tray in the oven. And one month later 20 rotten stinking decaying eggs.
And that everyone is ZDogg story time. Take us out Tom Heiniger. ♪ Story time ♪
– What did we learn about chameleons? Some stuff.
– My guitar.
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