Platinum Year for Stephanie

November 2002 was the month Stephanie began working at Winterset Veterinary Center(WVC). She had been working at a bank in her prior years. They moved out in the country by Winterset as a young family. She had 2 young children who were in school. At that time Dr Ken Henrichsen and Dr. Jim Pottebaum were the two owners of the clinic. Stephanie was good with numbers and customer service. She was a willing worker for whatever task was needed and quickly became efficient at all tasks within WVC.

I was looking up the symbol of 20 years and discovered it was platinum. Platinum has become popular and its traits are to be admired as a “noble metal”.

A noble metal is a precious metal that is resistant to corrosion and oxidation in moist air. It is in the class with gold and silver, the same metals used in fine jewelry. Platinum will not tarnish and yet is soft and malleable which makes it easy to shape. It is unreactive and can change shape without losing its toughness. I see Stephanie in this light. She has shown her soft side to many over the years during times of loss or tragedy. Many customers have felt heard and understood when sharing situations. She has become as important at the clinic as Dr. Jim and myself because she anticipates our needs but also those of the clients and other staff. She can be tough when needed and is slow to show her frustration in many stressful daily situations. I have fully relied on her and when she is gone, I definitely feel her absence. We laugh that it is good job security when one is missed during vacation.

Stephanie has a daughter Ashlyn and son AJ who are the same age as my 2 oldest Jaclyn and JD. We now each have a granddaughter and share many fun stories of our “Yaya” and “NeNe” time. We both live on acreages outside of Winterset and see our husbands as our best friends. We love to travel to warm sunny places and eat great food while sipping fruity cocktails. As you might notice we have lots in common besides working at WVC.

I decided to honor Stephanie with this blog and share some fun photos taken over the last many years. She always loves to have her picture taken with the unique critters that come into the clinic. We have had many fun staff photos over the years that I posted in August when I wrote my blog about my 15 years at WVC. The following photos are just a few of the interesting critters that came into WVC for some reason or another. Of course if you want photos through the last 15 years — go look at the August blog from 2022.

On Wednesday, November 30th, we plan to celebrate Stephanie’s 20 years with WVC.  Please stop in anytime during our regular business hours 7:30-5:30 to congratulate her. She is not retiring — that would be terrible for all of us — we just feel the need to recognize her many years of service. If you cannot stop by but want to congratulate her – feel free to send us an email or drop a comment on Facebook for her to see. Our email address is Facebook is Hemingway Winterset or Winterset Veterinary Center.

A few clients have sent us messages and I want to share a few words from them.

“Steph has such a compassionate heart towards animals and is so good at what she does. Her smile and laugh are contagious.”

“Steph has seen me through some very difficult circumstances over the years with my fur babies, as well as enjoying my “ newest additions too…always professional, caring, and empathetic.” “I’ve always felt like she listened to me and helped me make the best decisions for my furry family. When calling the clinic you can hear it in her voice she loves what she does.”

You have always given our animals the BEST of care and attention. You care, really care, each time we walk through the doors.”

As you can see, it is not just the staff at WVC that appreciate Stephanie. The gratitude we have for all she has contributed over the years could never be expressed in the words of this blog. The appreciation I have for not only her professionalism but more importantly her friendship runs deep. CONGRATULATIONS STEPHANIE ON 20 YEARS OF SERVICE AT WINTERSET VETERINARY CENTER.

Digital Radiology

Way back when radiology was cumbersome and messy, we had dark rooms with red lights and tanks full of water initially that were required to develop the films. A file cabinet was essential to store all the radiographs taken. Then we got automatic processors for the films but still had lots of maintenance for those machines. Today the process is much simpler and safer. We use a cassette that is connected by Wi-Fi to a computer that captures the digital image. The image immediately shows up on the screen so additional views can be taken or bad images removed. We can adjust the exposure, email the image, and store on a thumb drive which makes everything smoother. Less radiation is used to produce a digital image verses the older equipment of the past.

Digital radiography can be used to examine a pet’s urinary system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, and bone structure. It is noninvasive and a great tool to reveal internal or structural abnormalities. We can use a chalky white substance called barium to help us see if the intestinal tract has a blockage. We can use air as a contrast agent to identify abnormalities in the bladder. The air in the lungs can give us a great image of the heart and its size and shape. Mineralized densities can be detected easily within the bladder or intestinal contents when present. Broken bones are always difficult to see since we know how much pain the pet must be in from their traumatic event. Subtle changes to joints can offer an awareness of early stages of arthritis or vertebral disc disease. We sometimes use digital films to verify that a dog did not eat a diamond ring or someone’s silver coin.  

Many sites post each year the unusual things that pets have consumed and their appearance on a digital film.  The following link is one sight you can see some interesting digital films that show the objects dogs have eaten. The amazing thing is these pets recover from the abdominal surgery and go on to live a normal happy life. Some continue to want to eat things they should not so safety measures are important, like picking up socks and undergarments so dogs do not have access to them.

This tool is important as a diagnostic addition to our physical exam and bloodwork. Some conditions are obvious, but others can be more subtle and difficult to diagnose. We have the option of sending films to a specialist to help determine what might be going on. With the digital age that happens much more quickly than when we had to send the films by mail to get a 2nd opinion. Over the last 35 years there has been tremendous advancement in radiography and that only helps us and our patients to have the best possible outcome. Hopefully your furry friend will not need this technology, but if they do we are prepared.

Happy Fall everyone!

Cryosurgery — What is it?

Ever been to the dermatologist showing off all your skin imperfections and they hit you with a cold blast of forced air? Sometimes shocked at the surprising cold pressure on your skin. The first time it happened, I was startled since there was no warning or conversation about why and what was about to happen. Maybe because I over explain procedures to my clients it felt strange to me. We all have different bedside practices, and in this case, surprise was this dermatologist’s method. The liquid nitrogen comes out at over 250 degrees below zero. It freezes deeply and should prevent further growth in the future. Occasionally the lesion or growth will need an additional freezing depending on the size and thickness of the lesion or growth.

We purchased a CryoPen a few years back to use in the clinic for such purposes. This is the only cryosurgical system that does not require gasses or liquids to operate. This tool is reliable and easy to use. Of course, we can explain to the owner what we are about to do, but the poor patient will have a surprise once we press the trigger. In the following photo you can see the instrument and the growth we are freezing on this patient. The second photo shows the frozen growth.

The dog is awake for this procedure. Most do not move while using the CryoPen. We freeze and then let it thaw and then freeze a 2nd time. A growth such as this would require additional CryoPen procedures to remove it completely. We do the 2nd one 2 weeks after the first. If additional treatments are needed, we will schedule them as needed.

Many clients find this more desirable than placing a pet under anesthesia to remove growths. We are willing to use this, but it does have its limitations. We have used it for eyelid tumors that are small and not ulcerated, lick granulomas, skin growths, small anal growths, etc. Most pets do require additional treatments after freezing. We did have an eyelid growth that disappeared but returned about 6 months later. Therefore, it is not 100% curative in some situations. We leave the decision up to the owner as to what their personal preference would be.

The next time you notice a small dermal growth on your furry friend feel free to ask us about cryosurgery. It might be the best option for your pet. This is another tool we use to practice Veterinary Medicine.

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