Saying Goodbye to Einstein (The Veterinarian)

About six weeks ago a man brought his fourteen year old cat named Einstein into my hospital for an examination. He obviously cared about Einstein and believed that he had suffered some sort of a wound to his face and jaw region.

I had to tell him then that the chance was overwhelming that the lesion wasn’t a wound, but rather a nasty malignant tumor that had reached a state beyond feasible removal. We attempted to “treat the treatable” with antibiotics and steroids, but as originally predicted the treatment had no effect.

This gentleman had to euthanize Einstein last Friday. He was understandably upset; a real grown man does often cry when they suffer a genuine heartfelt loss. While we were in the actual process of calmly restraining the patient, finding a vein, and giving the lethal injection, Einstein’s owner spoke with me. He never stopped caressing his cat in the process.

Einstein’s owner had been to Vietnam on four different active engagement deployments. He had been bayoneted and shot. He had thought that after every single active engagement completed, he had finished his obligated active service duty and that he would be allowed to head home to finish his enrollment in a non-war zone. He was not “exactly” given the option.

He also related a near death experience that he had at the hospital a few years ago while suffering an aortic dissection or aortic rupture. Only a tiny percentage of people survive such a condition. He told me that while he was lying there waiting to be rushed somewhere for surgery, he kept trying to joke with the nurses and the doctors attending to him. He was more relaxed than they were and apparently they had been extremely alarmed. He said “Dr. Cribb, after everything I had been through in Vietnam, after all of that carnage and pain, I thought to myself, if I have to go, this bleeding out thing isn’t such a bad way to make my exit.”

And during the caressing, and the shedding of tears, and the melancholy smiles of shared understanding over his conversation and experiences, Einstein passed away peacefully in silence. There was a feeling of lightness in that room afterwards, sad but still light. We continued to share a few more words about all of it within that lightness for a moment or two, but eventually it became time to part. With a somber smile and a steady hand, Einstein’s owner scooped him up in a blanket and took him home for burial.

Dr. Cribb          2018

T’was Christmas Day at the Waffle House; a Time for such Connections, Discoveries, and Eventual Ponderings (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 222)

I went to the Waffle House (WH) for brunch on X-mas Day and ended up sitting at the highbar. Normally, I read while caffeinating and ingesting my scattered, smothered, diced, peppered, and capped, along with my meat choice du jour, but on this day I happened to make a joke with a couple as they sat down next to me, and that easily lead to our conversation over the next hour.

Though the conversation rotated between the three of us, I spoke more often and more directly with the man because he was seated adjacent to me, while his wife sat on the other side of him. I cannot say for sure, but it seemed to me like we were all in the same general age range.

They had heard an indirect comment that I had made with a good friend who happens to be a WH staff member, which intrigued them to ask me about my vocation. (Under normal circumstances, I tend to guard that info from casual public knowledge for multiple reasons.) After I had explained that I was a veterinarian, the other man responded that pre-vet had been his first love, his first focus in school, but that after he had been seriously advised on how hard it was to get in and then through such a program, he had given up on it and gone in another direction. I believe that direction was a business degree, but I cannot state so definitely. We talked for a little while after that about being animal lovers, and then, about some of the challenges currently bombarding independent veterinarians and the whole spectrum of veterinary medicine.

Our conversation moved on naturally and comfortably towards the principle of retaining independence in our lives, living in less populated areas while still appreciating Atlanta for what it does offer, and a passionate love for all outdoor activities, including mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking.

At some point mutually agreed upon about also appreciating the outside in warmer weather, it came up that this couple, was headed down to their beach house, which they had personally built on some island in the vicinity of Gulf Shores and/or Orange beach. From the way they described it, it sounded glorious and heavenly in regard to my beach preferences. I was happy for them and felt that they deserved to be so successful to be able to afford and enjoy such a piece of property.

Soon, the conversation turned around a switchback once more and together we stumbled into the wilderness area of the Cohutta (GA), home of Jacks River Trail, the Conasauga River Trail, and Bear Creek MTN Bike Trail, amongst other treasures. Our knowledge rivaled one another about the entire area, but his definitely bested mine a bit. We talked about the trails, hiking and biking, the crashes, getting lost miles off of the map, unknowingly stumbling into the Mountaintown floodplain basin, and the bigass Poplar tree that serves as a sentinel for those riding on the Bear Creek Trail.

Eventually, my new friend(s) revealed that he actually owned a cabin in the Cohutta in an area that I am familiar with and truthfully very fond of. And then, he revealed that he also owned a second cabin that stood in a different, more remote and secluded region of that wilderness area. The second cabin is harder to get to than the first and its location does not even allow him access to an electrical connection, but nonetheless, it is still a second cabin and land that he happens to own in one of the most beautiful and feral areas of Georgia. He more than graciously offered to let me use either of the cabins and before parting, we exchanged numbers and emails. They seem like very genuine, extremely cool people, who just get it. We even discussed maybe getting together to force ourselves to ride our mountain bikes again. I like the idea. I like their spirit. I loved the conversation and the happenstance of spontaneously meeting people like that in one improbable moment or strand of theoretical time, space, and reality. T’was Christmas Day and a time for such connections, discoveries, and eventual ponderings.

I would be lying though, if I didn’t also say that I did experience a smidgen of irony and jealousy in this communion and our shared tale of choices and the consequences those choices had brought about. A lifetime ago, my newfound friend turned away from veterinary school because it was too hard and difficult to gain admittance and then to survive the tribulation associated with earning such a degree, but it would appear his financial gains related to such a decision, have far, far surpassed anything that comes even remotely close to my own. I can barely take a vacation and I am essentially homeless, while he (and his wife) owns a primary house with considerable acreage, a beach house, and at least two other cabins in a pristine Wilderness Area.

I accept the choices and the associated consequences related to such that I have made. I also do not wish ill will upon these new friends of mine. I am happy for them. If I had to hedge a bet, I would guess the world is better with them in it. But I wonder, I really do wonder, about our world and the reward system of business that people have fostered and caused to thrive.

I imagined once I was accepted into veterinary school, I would be the one making a little extra money, the one having a little extra family time, the one with maybe an extra house or two, both modest of course. I never imagined or conceived in my wildest dreams, that financial reward could work inversely upon someone who competed and survived in a challenging professional atmosphere, and who also just wanted to put his vocational expertise and responsibility foremost over revenue and salary. I never imagined that was a real possibility for the longest time.

I wonder if I was presented with the real option of switching places with my newfound friends what I might do. I have to admit that I’m very tired of suffering for trying to honorable, noble, and skillful in my profession. Those houses and getaways are quite alluring to me. I also wonder if they might switch places with me? Would that first love of interest and desired accomplishment hold over the material assets and accumulations that resulted from less of a challenge, if he knew, knew, he could attain the title of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and the associated responsibility of such?

Jeff Cribb , Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Lover of the Great Outdoors


The Difference Between Bandaged and Unbandaged Reality (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 214)

Pretext: I am a veterinarian and this piece relates to the practice of veterinary medicine, but its greater purpose and message is in its complete metaphorical potential.

I recently performed a skin graft on one of my patients because I did not have enough surrounding tissue remaining to close the incision after removing a tumor off of the dog’s lower leg. This surgery is almost always done at specialty hospitals and associated with a much higher cost that what I charged the client. My opportunity to perform this procedure in this manner and have the fortunate results so far experienced is also highly attributable to the clients/owners for being exceptionally attentive and observant in the post-op aftercare of their dog and in complying with all of my instructions and requests.

Today is post-op day 14 and the graft has done exceptionally well. It appears that 80-90% of it will take. That’s a pretty high ratio of expectation especially given the conservative manner in which the wound has been managed.

I was very excited about the results when I performed the recheck exam today and I almost took a picture so that I might share the level of skill and success my team/hospital has been able to achieve for the patient. But then, as I was talking with my staff, we collectively realized that anyone in the general public that viewed a picture of the wound in its current state would not be able to appreciate or understand what they were looking at. Most likely, they would think that a butcher had performed the surgery and was displaying a sick picture of his gore.

That is such a hard concept for me. To know, to profoundly know, and objectively see the exceptional product or change that you can bring about doing things the right way and yet, be unable to share it with others so that they might see, appreciate, and accept the truth of the matter. So, explicit truth must be tamed down or covered up with a bandage until it might become subtle enough in appearance for someone to not even appreciate its presence or the significant difference in effort and skill that it brought about.

Taming things down seems to make everything look the same. It collectively homogenizes outliers and noteworthy differences. In part, I think that’s why such a tolerance has been allowed to foster, or maybe I should say fester.

Maybe we should be looking at the raw unfiltered and unbandaged truth more; looking at the flesh, the ooze, the scabbing, the inflammation, the blood supply, and the compromised tissue, which are all involved and relevant towards the final outcome. That might tell the true tale; the difference between what works and what does not; the difference between what we are capable of and what we settle for; the difference between the illusion of proclaimed reality via lip service and the reality experienced through witnessing the healing of a very challenging and complicated wound.

Jeff Cribb DVM          2017

Who I Am (part of my blog profile)

I am a boy who was once terrified to be separated from his parents, a boy who once thought our family might be locked in department stores inadvertently after their closing, a boy who once stuffed pillows over his head to muffle the all night verbal attacks that my mom bombarded my father with. I am a boy who suffered from extreme insecurity and because of such, I vomited everyday on a school bus for probably a year or more, and my normal desire and attraction to sex became clouded and confused by religious dogma, feelings of possible inadequacy, and a perpetually destructive guilt of sexual desire that is often and pathologically imprinted upon children.

I am a man who chose to open his eyes and see the perpetual cycle of insanity running its crooked course between my parents, and decide that somehow, anyhow, I would break that damn cycle. I am a man who saw and still sees similar cycles of hypocrisy, delusion, dishonesty, and ultimate, infectious self-destructive behavior, applied in extreme prevalence as the glue that supposedly cements most family bonds, the majority of friendships, the employer-employee-customer relationship, governance of any sort, and even most peoples relationships with their pets. I am a man who sees almost everyone everywhere trying to convince themselves and one another that the lie that everyone else is living, and obviously suffering from, 
is still “the only way”, still the “best approach”, to an existence that reaches its potential for oneself and for all. I am a man who believes that these cycles can be broken and I am a man who will do anything within his power to aid anyone who attempts to do so. 

I am a man who made the high school All-City football team. I am a man who initially thought he would be an English major, so that I could teach the philosophy inherently injected within literature. I am a man who was admitted into the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, much to the overwhelming surprise of my family, and perhaps many of my limited friends. I am a man who has always been drawn to the untainted, savage beauty of the nude bosom of mother nature. I am a man who skipped many days in veterinary school to white water kayak on the Chattooga River (amongst others) so I could sustain my soul through the process of such “learning”. I am a man who one day decided to build a castle, and who then proclaimed to himself that within his castle and on his grounds, life would be different. I say this knowing that I am far from perfect and that I must battle my own imperfections with priority for all of my remaining existence, but I also say it nonetheless with truth. In these walls, life is different. 

I am a dreamer, “but I am not the only one.” I am a veterinarian. I am a naturalist. I am a friend. I am a landscape designer. I am a lover. I am a listener. I am a reader. I am a knight. I am someone crazy enough to believe in it all. I am a brat. I am still a moody person (but so much less than previously). I obsess. I misjudge. I am impatient and I still have a temper (also much improved from my past life). I am an alpha-male. I am a person who knows that everything really should contain at least a smidgen of laughter. I am a tuque lover, and an adult, a child, a geriatric, a hero and a villain, all in one, and I might even be a little bit of a dead man or a ghost, or half angel and half devil, trying to save you one moment, just so I can trick you the next. 

And who really knows what all of that means? It could mean everything or it might mean absolutely nothing. Can I even believe my own self-description? Can others believe my words? What is the true relevance of the letters that are joined to form these words that are supposedly accurate in representing and conveying my thoughts to you?

Well, it is my guess that even after I attempted so very diligently to weave together all of those letters and words and postulations in some declaration of profound meaning, the only irrefutable and easy conclusion we might be able to actually agree upon is that now, for better or worse… 

I am most definitely a writer.

Cribb          11-16-13


Compliance with Style and Laughter, even when it really doesn’t mean a Damn Thing

Note: This is my non-fictional response to a Workers Comp Insurance Company that performed an assessment of Veterinary Care Center to ascertain what safety risks or safety compliance issues might exist, and thus, need to be addressed. This assessment appears to have been performed by this company because of a “slip and fall” accident that occurred at VCC previously. Some specifics of that “slip and fall” will be revealed below. The previous Workers Comp Co. jacked our rates up after settling with the “fallee” because despite the clear facts, it was simply cheaper for that company to settle with the “fallee” than to defend the truth and my honor. So, as some ignore reality, I must comply with silly lists that will never be long enough or contain enough clauses to protect my honor or liability, but I can do it with style and make myself laugh in the process. May you laugh as well, whether it be from humor or the absurdity of it all.

To whom it may concern;

I believe that I have addressed all of “your” concerns as listed in the Oct 17, 2013 letter that was sent from ABC America to Veterinary Care Center.

First, I do want to bring something to your attention that I believe your “Loss Control Department” is not aware of or has chosen to ignore. Absolutely, none of your recommendations have or had anything to do with, or would have prevented the “2012 slip and fall incident due to a wet floor” that was referenced in your letter. The employee that suffered from the “2012 slip and fall incident due to a wet floor” had a pre-existing knee condition that she had previously and openly discussed with multiple employees at Veterinary Care Center, as well as her inability to afford the medical care that was required to have such a condition evaluated and treated. Of note, is the additional fact that in the week prior to our pre-existing knee condition “claim winner” suffering from the hazardous workplace conditions at Veterinary Care Center and “falling immediately next to a bright yellow mop bucket, tattooed with a bright red label warning of caution”, she had received a verbal warning that her work ethic was poor and that she was facing impending termination if her work ethic did not improve. While, none of your bullet points would have prevented this event in any way, what would have appropriately and rightly balanced this employees’ sham act, would have been the previous worker’s comp insurance agency, defending me via the actual facts related to the “case”, instead of choosing settlement because it was more financially prudent for their interests. So, while I attempt to comply with your list, forgive me if I laugh a little bit in the process. When truth and defending such yields to the ease of allowing fiction to rule simply because it is more financially advantageous to your company, no list or employee handbook will ever be long enough to protect me.


We have 3 employees. I am directly involved with the supervision of all employees. Employees are instructed to use common sense relating to all of the categories listed. If an employee fails to display enough common sense or aptitude to protect them or maintain the safety of other employees, they will be terminated. In any matter that an employee questions or perceives involving a possible risk, they are specifically instructed to speak with me directly before proceeding. The staff is prohibited from any activities I perceive involve a high level of risk.

The staff is made aware of your extensive safety library at www.ABCAMERICA.JOKEcom should they want further training in common sense and a different, objective source for safety considerations and recommendations.


We do not have regular (or recent) accidents to have regularly scheduled meetings about. We have 3 employees. The “slip and fall” referenced above has been discussed in great detail with my entire staff. The staff understands completely that the previous worker’s comp insurance company totally sold out and did not represent my interests. The entire staff knows that the “claim winner” was a player who orchestrated events to my detriment and her benefit. The entire staff understands that the “accident” was a joke.

The staff understands they are perpetually suppose to report any thing pertaining to anything or any event on the hospital grounds or in the hospital that could lead to an accident or a problem with safety.


Motor vehicles are very rarely used pertaining to clinic business. The driving records of all employees are consistent with responsible individuals that drive safely. Employees with a questionable safety driving record will never be involved with operating a motor vehicle for company business.


Henceforth, no employee who operates a motor vehicle in the very rarely performed task of company business, may use a cell phone in any manner whatsoever while operating the vehicle. There are no exceptions to this rule.


All employees are to wear footwear that is in good general condition and good tread condition. All employees are to check their footwear daily to assure that their footwear remains in good general condition and in good tread condition. If any footwear theorized to be slip resistant is found in actuality to be less than slip resistant by an employee, said footwear shall be replaced by the employee with footwear that is in actuality slip resistant.


Your picture of the dog bathing tub (referencing this concern), clearly shows a slip resistant rubber floor mat sitting in the tub. The mat is normally kept in the tub unless a bath is being performed so as to not create a tripping hazard for someone who is just walking by the tub. The floor next to the tub and within the kennel is to be kept as dry as is feasible at all times. Any item creating any sort of a tripping risk is to be removed immediately from any floor. See your picture.


The fire extinguishers (2) have just been serviced and have been deemed adequate for a period of one year. Continued annual inspection will occur. Appropriate tags are attached to each extinguisher. See attached picture.


All items have been removed from at least 36” from the front of the electrical panels to assure for rapid access should an emergency develop. This area will be maintained as such. See attached picture.


All gasoline containers (oil containers, etc.,) have been moved to the exterior of the building. Some lawn equipment is being stored in one closed room within the clinic that no one except Dr Cribb is allowed to enter. Employees are not to breathe gasoline fumes or attempt to ignite these same fumes at any time, even when the fumes are outside of the building. Employees are not to approach with a 10 foot radius of me while I am mowing the lawn with the lawn mower because they might trip on whatever substrate is under their footwear and fall under the mower, to lose life or limb. See attached picture.


We do not have a ladder. We do have a step stool that I just inspected and found to be structurally sound. I will continue to inspect this step stool monthly. It will be culled should its structural integrity become compromised.


All employees are advised to not stand with both feet at the same level for too long a period because this will lead to excessive static loads upon their legs. Employees are instructed to sit down if they feel like their legs are too fatigued. No employees are currently complaining about this issue being an issue and no employees are currently requesting anti-fatigue mats.


Jeff Cribb DVM