• James E Aarons DVM

King's Fever


“Good morning Honey,” Rory said walking into the office the next morning.

“Hi, Doc. Have you called Doc Katie?”

“Yep, she’s packing right now.”

“I’m glad, good for her and you.”

“Why me?”

“Oh, I suppose because you’re supporting her going back to school.”

“And she's going to be far away from Tal right?” Rory teased. Honey’s infatuation with Tal was now very obvious although Honey still wouldn't acknowledge it. And even Rory could see, Tal liked Katie.

“Jen says Mozart is better but King isn’t eating and there’s a lump on his face. Can you check him out?” Honey was obviously anxious.

“Sure bring him back to the exam table. How is he adjusting to his new place?”

“He settled in fine for the first few days, but now he's getting lethargic, and I think he's feverish.”

Rory stuck a thermometer in the dog’s butt. “Can you hand me the clippers? I’ll shave this bump while we wait for the thermometer.”

He palpated the firm swelling on the left side of King’s face just below his ear. “I bet we have a submandibular abscess,” he said after shaving and feeling both sides of the head for comparison. “Take his thermometer out. It’s beeping.”

“Oh, oh. It’s 104 Doc.”

He nodded. “Yeah it’s probably a lymph node abscess, or it could be cancer. I need to suck up some cells and look at them under the microscope.”

That worried her. “Oh don’t tell me King has cancer Doc.”

“Shh, it’s likely an abscess because he has a fever; tumors don't cause fevers. But the cytology will show me if there is cancer too.”

This fellow is not a Queensland, but he does have a similar swelling under his jaw.

Opening a drawer, he pulled out a syringe with a needle attached. He used a cotton sponge soaked in alcohol to clean the clipped area and poked the needle into the mass, pulling back on the syringe hard enough to suck a sample into it. “It’s probably pus. But there sure isn’t much. I just need to get one drop onto this slide. Oh yeah. Good, I’ve got it,” he said, smearing the sample over the slide with the end of the needle. He held it in the light to ascertain his success.

“Good there’s enough here,” He could see a small spot on the shiny glass slide. He handed the slide to Honey. “Put this through the Diff Quick staining solutions to show off the cells better.”

“Sure Doc. Hey, what’s this thing you've got going on with Marol?” She asked suspiciously, as she walked into the lab area and unscrewed three bottles of different colored solutions.

“What are you talking about?” Rory was surprised, baffled actually.

“Remember the pig hunt?”

Rory nodded.

“Byron says you were all over Marol like ants on honey and now she’s taking you on a private tour of Hearst Castle.”

“That’s bullshit! He’s trying to get me in trouble. It’s not just Marol; it’s also Hugh her brother and Katie. But that won’t be for a month,” he replied wondering why he suddenly felt he was expected to explain his friendship with Marol.

“Oh, you think this is a tryst!” He smiled realizing Honey misunderstood his afternoon intentions.

“I’m not meeting Marol alone, is that what you thought?”

“I don’t know what I thought,” she mumbled.

“Don’t forget to heat fix the slide first.” He reminded her as he handed her the propane torch.

“Why do we need to do this? It seems like I’m just cooking the cells. Doesn’t the heat hurt them?” She asked as she lit the torch and waved the slide through the flame.

“No the quick high heat glues the cells to the slide, so they don’t wash away in the solutions. It’s called heat fixation; we’re fixing the cells onto the slide using the flame. You seem like you’re concerned about my conversations with Marol, are you?”

“A little.”

“Why? I find her attractive and very interesting to talk to, but I’m in love with Katie. Where is this coming from Honey?”

“I don’t know, I’ve never seen or heard you be so friendly with anyone like that before. It’s... different,” she decided.

“She’s showing me Hearst Castle the way a documentarian would see it. She’s scouting the place for a half hour clip maybe an hour. They’re thinking of combining it with the central coast sea otters to create more interest. At least that’s what Hugh thinks.”

“Doc you sound like you’re infatuated.”

“No, I’m not.” He signaled an end to this subject with a brush of a hand as he dropped his head to the microscope and focused his eyes through the binocular lenses. “Let’s see, lots of neutrophil white cells and some larger white cells with foamy vacuoles in them. This is the result of infection, there are no signs of cancer cells."

Here are the stained cells from the aspiration of the mass.

“And what does that mean? Do we have to ship King back?”

“To Australia?”

She nodded worriedly.

“No! Honey, why would we do that? It's a simple infection.”

That seemed to relieve the worried mom. “I’ll add an antifungal medicine in case they have something like Valley Fever over there. Now when I come back, I promise to culture and biopsy those lumps if they are not better. Are you okay with that?”

She nodded realizing how illogical she had been in her worry over her beloved dog. “I'm sorry Doc.”

“No biggie. You may have a point there Honey about this dog coming in from Australia.” Her concern ignited a nascent worry in Rory. Could the dog have brought something back? “Maybe we should do the full work up right now.”

Honey nodded smiling with relief.

“Okay, call IDEXX for a lab specimen pickup. Let’s get him sedated and get stuff ready for a CBC, fungal panel, and chem panel. I’ll pull more samples and send it in for culture. And finally, we'll biopsy an entire nodule. It's probably overkill but it will make both of us feel better, yes?”

Honey smiled and gave him a big hug.

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King's Fever: Death From Down Under, Chapter 24

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