Recently, I was doing some temporary locums work as a PA in an occupational medicine clinic. This type of clinic is for employees who have been hurt on the job, and their employer sends them into be seen by us, for medical treatment.
I knocked on the exam room door and walked in to be greeted by a women in what looked to be a police uniform. The patient’s name was Anita. After introducing myself, I began asking her some questions as to what happened that brought her to our office.
Anita replied, “I was retrieving a skunk this morning, which had wandered into a guy’s kitchen. In trying to remove the little critter, I snagged him with my long nosed skunk handler. I then flung the skunk a short distance out the open back door, and into the guy’s back yard. Using the long nosed handler allows the skunk to go airborne for a short distance. So I aimed my fling for a pile of dead leaves where I knew the skunk would land and then wander away, like it should. Well, the skunk landed in the pile of leaves, then shook his head and slowly walked off. The only problem was in my using the long nosed handler, my finger got caught in the hand gripper and now it hurts. So I need you to take a look at it.”
All the while, Anita was telling me this, my eyes were getting wider and wider, and my jaw was beginning to drop. My facial expression went from a quiet content, listening to a patient’s story, to one of ‘no way, did you just do that!”
“Ok, Anita, I’ve heard of ‘dog whisperers, horse whisperers,’ but never a ‘skunk whisperer.’ How many times have you been sprayed by them?”
“Never? Like zilch, never?”
“How many times do you have to go out and deal with a skunk?”
“About 3-4 times a week.”
“And you’ve never been sprayed?”
“Okay, now I have to know, how do you manage that?”
“I just understand skunks. I know what they’re going to do, and I use my long nosed handler in such a way that it doesn’t hurt the skunk and they can’t spray me.”
“Amazing! I’ve now met my first ‘skunk whisperer.”
“Even my boss is amazed that I’ve never been sprayed. Many of the other animal control officers get sprayed every once in a while, but not me.”
“You know you could open your own business and become the ‘skunk whisperer’ consultant. There’s probably money in that somewhere.”
“Yeah, but I like working where I’m at right now. So I don’t see a need to change anything.”
“Suit yourself. Alright, well then, let me see your finger.”
Anita extended out her right hand and showed me her second finger which was by this time beginning to ooze some blood, close to her palm. I cleaned the wound, and as it was small enough to only need some steri-strips on it, I applied them. I then put a clean bandage on her finger. The medical assistant gave Anita a tetanus vaccine because she couldn’t remember the last time she had received one.
“Alright, Anita, I want you to keep an eye on this minor wound, if it starts to swell up, turn red around the edges or drain excess fluid from it, get right back in here and let us take a look at it. Also, if you start to run a fever, get back into us. Otherwise, get into the shower starting tomorrow, take the outside bandage off, keep the two steri-strips on, let warm soap and water run over the area, pat it dry, put some neosporin ointment on it and then put a clean band-aid on it. The steri-strips will come off on their own in about 5-6 days, just let them. This wound should be healed up in about a week, so we’ll see you then, just to make sure everything is fine.”
“Okay, thanks a lot.”
“You’re welcome. Oh, and no more skunks for a little while, let your finger heal up before you use your long nosed skunk handler again.”
With that I went to go see the next patient who was waiting.