Sometimes people just don’t get ranchers. I was in the grocery store one day pawing through the potatoes in the produce section and ran into a retired medical doctor that I know. And I mean I literally ran into him. I got my head out of the spuds whirled my shopping cart around and hit him broadside standing next to the asparagus. The force from my cart sent him back a couple of steps and he put his hand in a pile of brussels sprouts behind him for balance. The Doc was just fine, however there were a couple of smashed brussels sprouts that probably didn’t survive.
As I exchanged pleasantries with the Doc about the weather, I decided to ask him about a calf that I had been concerned about. After all, a doctor is a doctor whether they treat humans or cattle so I figured what the heck, he might know something about this… So I said, “By the way, I’ve got this calf that is giving me problems.” Oh,” he said, “What kind of problems?”
“It’s really stiff and sore,” I said. “What did you do to it? he asked. “I didn’t do anything,” I retorted, a little miffed at his insinuation. “It was just like that yesterday morning, it couldn’t hardly move.” “Did you try putting ice on it?” he asked.
“No,” I said incredulous. “I don’t think it would be still long enough to do that.”
“So it’s twitching and jumping around a little too?” he said.
“Not much, it can hardly move. But I still don’t think ice would be a good idea,” I replied.
Doc scratched his head for minute. “If the problem goes on for much longer you might want to consider letting a physical therapist take a look at your calf,” he said.
“I’m sure they know a lot Doc, but I doubt that they would let me bring it in.” Even though it has something wrong, it is still pretty big and fleshy, and is haired up from the cold weather.”
Doc shook his head from side to side quickly like he was erasing the screen on a mental Etch-A-Sketch. “Well if you don’t want to put ice on it or let a physical therapist look at it, how about an anti inflammatory like aspirin and maybe a little pain relieving gel like Icy Hot or Ben Gay? he said. “It’s probably just a sore muscle or strained ligament.”
“It’s safe to use aspirin on a calf?”
“I don’t see why not,” he said, “unless there is a chance of an allergic reaction.”
Intrigued with the idea of giving a calf aspirin, I asked, “How would I know if there is a chance of a reaction if I have never used it on a calf before?”
“Have you ever used aspirin for a headache?” “Well, yes,” I said. “But not on a calf.” I could tell the Doc was getting exasperated with me. He patted my shoulder and looked into my eyes like he was trying to see if my pupils were dilated.
“If you didn’t have a reaction when you used it for a headache,” he said, “then I don’t think there would be any problem with using it for your calf.”
Now it was my turn to look at his eyes for any signs of prescription drug abuse. After all, I’m sure he probably hung on to a few prescription pads when he retired.
I finally said, “I’m not trying to be dense here, but I just don’t understand what difference it would make if it was O.K. for my headaches. How would that be any indication that it was safe for my calf?”
“Have you ever considered that it might be more of a mental condition than a physical abnormality in your calf?” he said gently. He pulled out a business card, wrote something on the back of it and said, “You might try this.” He said it had been nice talking to me but his wife was waiting in the car and he had to go. I stuffed the card in my pocket, finished my grocery shopping and headed for home. As my husband was helping me unload groceries, he asked, “What took you so long?”
“Oh, I ran into Doc at the store,” I said, “and asked him about that sick calf.” “How would he know anything about a sick calf?” my husband asked. “He’s a medical doctor, not a vet.”
“I know, but I figured he is a doctor and it might save me some time, besides the vet was out somewhere on a horse emergency,” I said.
“So did Doc have any ideas?” he asked. “Yeah,” but they didn’t make much sense,” I said. Then I remembered the card and pulled it out of my pocket.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“It’s a card the Doc gave me. He said he was writing something down that might help. But I don’t understand why he would give this to me. It’s the number of a mental health counselor.”
My husband leaped through the air like one of the Flying Wallendas and snatched the card from my hand.
“What are you doing,” I said, somewhat startled. “I’m making you an appointment,” he said with an eerie glow in his eyes and an exaggerated laugh. “We better follow through on the doctor’s orders!”
He looked at the phone across the room, and then looked at me, contemplating his chances of making it to the phone and dialing the number before I could stop him. I didn’t throw a fit, that wouldn’t be lady like. Instead I reached into a grocery sack pulled out an uncooked five pound pot roast and dropped it at his feet. There comes a time in every rancher’s life when he must chose between the gratification of seeing one of his theories come to fruition, or dinner. He chose dinner. Some days are just like that for a rancher’s wife..