Dec 02, 2009
We used to have sign in our lobby that said “Any unsupervised children will get a cup of espresso and a free puppy.” We took it down after one of the clients asked what kind of puppy we were giving away. We now have self-serve coffee in the lobby anyway, and it’s not uncommon to see a kid trying to short-circuit the coffee maker.
Which brings us to the case of Tonsi, a 7 yr old, hyperactive Australian Shepherd who tore into the 50 pound sack of coffee beans his mom brought back from Nicaragua. Fortunately, he was discovered before he devoured the entire sack (which certainly would have resulted in his demise), but he did manage to scarf down several pounds.
Our staff has the routine down for toxin ingestion cases: an injection of apomorphine to cause vomiting (it always works), then some charcoal to absorb any toxin from the intestines, then possibly IV fluids for 12-24 hours, depending on the ingested substance. To be honest, these indiscriminaate dogs seem to keep our ER’s in business. Tonsi vomited up a large amount of undigested coffee beans soon after getting his apomorphine, but apparently there was a lot more caffeine on board, as we were soon to find out.
Tonsi’s heart continued to race at 180-200 beats per minute (normal should be around 80-90.) He was amped up and wired to the gills, jumping straight up in superman-like attempts to leap over the 8’ high run walls in a single bound. He gave all of us the jitters; it was almost as if Starbucks had spiked our water. I have to admit, equally enthused and irritated by Tonsi, I had been imbibing more than my share of coffee during the shift.
One of our nurses suggested giving Tonsi a beta-blocker, which would help slow down his heart, but we did not have any stocked on the shelves. At this opportune time, enter (stage left,) Corky, a 6 yr old Cockapoo who had just ingested his owner’s vial of medication, which included, (guess what), a beta blocker.
One more dose of apomorphine, and I found myself sifting through the vomitus. I spotted a small red tablet, perhaps the ingested beta-blocker? Tonsi continued to wildly leap in his run, barking crazily. As I slid the red tablet out of the bilious slime with a tongue depressor, an idea crept into my over-caffeinated, somewhat deranged mind; do I dare?