A True Story, An Invaluable Lesson


In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

Author’s Note: The following is absolutely true. The names of places and people, however, have been changed for the sake of the personal saftety of the author.

It was not unlike any other night on call in the intensive care unit. As I walked into the call room, ready to settle in for a hopefully quiet night, I saw it and froze in horror. It was four-legged, hairy, golden brown with a black snout, and it had big brown eyes with a short, stubby tail. It was Dr. Brown’s dog. There are two physicians who take call in this particular ICU, and my colleague brought his dog to spend the night with us…in the same call room. I do not like dogs, especially big dogs. And this dog was very, very big.

An overwhelming sense of dread slowly overtook me. How am I supposed to sleep with this dog here? How can I focus on taking care of patients with this dog breathing down my neck? What if he licks me? These and other questions plagued my mind as I put my things down on my side of the room. Apparently, Dr. Brown could not find a dog-sitter for his pooch, and so he had to bring him along…on our night on call together. Our call room was very wide and spacious, as we shared it with two nurses and health care technicians. The ICU we were monitoring was very big, and so we needed that many people to take call. As long as the dog leaves me alone, everything will be alright, I told myself.

The dog, however, would not leave me alone. It was not a mean dog, by any means. He was very friendly, in fact, jumping on my legs and eagerly wanting to play with me…to my utter panic and horror. Dr. Brown did his best to keep his dog away from me, because, although I was never mean to the creature, my disquiet at the dog’s presence around me was clearly discernible on my face. It did not work, unfortunately. I quickly learned, however, that if I ignored the dog, he would in fact leave me alone. And so, I proceeded to ignore the dog the rest of the night.

Now, I have never taken call with Dr. Brown before. A few hours after the shift began, I mentioned to one of the nurses that Smallville Hospital, one of the hospitals in which I work, was not very good, but – I confidently continued – was much better than Vaudville Hospital, its cousin to the North. Across the room, to my utter surprise, came an emotional response to my innocent comment.

“Smallville Hospital is a dump! You are a second-year fellow and you are bad-mouthing a hospital you’ve never even worked at? I am the medical director of Vaudville Hospital, and I can tell you, it is much better than Smallville!”

“Oh,” I said with a huge gulp, “you’re the medical director of Vaudville Hospital?”

My heart sank, taking my stomach with it. He was right. I never actually worked at Vaudville Hospital, and so I had no right to disparage it.

“I was merely echoing the opinion of Dr. Smith,” I told Dr. Brown.

That excuse did not go over well with him. The silence that followed our exchange was deafening. I tried to make amends later on in the shift, but the damage had already been done. I clearly made Dr. Brown upset by my comment, and I knew I made a big mistake. Thus, I decided to remain silent the rest of the night.

Although my ignoring of Dr. Brown’s dog worked for the most part, it still was infatuated with me and would occasionally walk over to me – and jump on my lap – to play. I managed to doze off for a while, and when I woke up, I found its brown eyes and black snout right in front of my face–to my sheer terror. Needless to say, I was not very sleepy afterwards.

Now that I was awake, I decided to do some work when suddenly, I was overcome with one of the worst odors my nostrils have ever beheld. It conjured up images of cigars, horses, and elephants all together in one small room. Actually, it was more like a horse smoking a cigar in the elephant’s tent at a circus. The odor was relentless, and it came right after the dog walked away from me. I dared not say anything and kept on working. No one else said anything about the smell, either, which surprised me because it was so inescapable. (It turns out later that others did smell it, but also neglected to say anything) The smell was becoming unbearable. Thankfully, I had to leave the room to use the restroom.

When I came back, I beheld the dog urinating in a corner of the room. He normally does not do this, I was told later, and he did this because he was sick. Just as with the horrific smell, no one said anything as the urine noisily hit the carpet, and so I acted as if nothing had happened. After the hospital gaffe, I was not about to tell Dr. Brown his dog had just defiled our living space.

The shift was nearing an end, thank God, and it was time to get dressed for work. After getting dressed, I was sitting in the middle of the room talking with one of the health care technicians, and the dog – again due to its illness – defecated right in front of me. I did not need to say anything this time as it was witnessed by other people. Now that the “cat was out of the bag,” so to speak, I was emboldened to reveal to the group that the dog had urinated in the corner earlier. When we investigated that spot, we discovered that the dog had also defecated in that very same corner, and this was the source of the cigar-horse-elephant smell. Dr. Brown was clearly embarrassed by what had happened, and I could not help but pity him slightly. All the droppings were promptly cleaned up, and we all then left for the day.

I am thankful to God that Dr. Brown’s dog pooped in front of other people. Otherwise, I would not have told anyone about that either, because of my previous “open-mouth-and-insert-foot” episode. I still feel bad about what I said about Vaudville Hospital, and I sincerely hope and pray Dr. Brown has found it in his heart to forgive me. Still, the Lord taught me an invaluable lesson from that night on call with Dr. Brown’s dog: think before you say anything. Otherwise, you will get into a whole lot of crap.

This article was published today on MuslimWakeUp.

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