Sunday Sep 22, 2013. Bright sunny day.
I was surprised to see a father and two daughters of around 10 and 12 years old, bringing in a 1-year-old dwarf Winter White hamster with a right ear tumour for treatment as 99% of my clients are locals. The ear tumour was large and lobulated, around 8 mm x 6 mm and 5 mm deep and so the only treatment was to excise them using electro-surgery.
"Hamsters cost $15 and your vet surgical fees costs $150-$200," the father said to his 2 daughters. "Shall we get a new hamster instead?" They were fair complexioned girls. One sister had a sharper chin while the younger one had a rounded face and was be-spectacled.
"Actually you can adopt a hamster for free," I said. The younger sister clinged to her father's trousers tighter.
"Do the two girls have savings to pay for the surgery?"
The younger sister was clinging to the trouser of the father and apparently sobbing with silent tears and so I assumed that the father was against payment for treatment on the way to the Surgery. The elder sister looked at Dad as solemnly as a judge prior to announcing her judgement.
"They do have savings," he said but the daughters did not volunteer to part with their money. The father continued "What it is going to be? Shall we get a new Snowie or not?"
The younger sister grasped the father's trousers tighter as she sobbed.
"The vet fees are low compared to a similar operation in a dog or cat," I said. "There is the anaesthetic needed, otherwise the hamster would be in great pain when the lump is cut and the wound stitched. There is the cost of electro-surgery to excise this lump so that the hamster will not continue scratching his ear trying to get rid of this growing tumour."
"Shall we get a new Snowie or not?" the father teased the daughters. Caucasian fathers generally never abandon the children's sick hamsters and I know he was teasing them. But they were taking him too seriously for not wanting to treat this hamster and it distressed the younger sister a lot.
He gave permission for the surgery. I was surprised that the 2 daughters studied in local schools which they could pronounce in Mandarin and could write their names in Chinese as they did it for me on the case card. Good Chinese character strokes. "How about your father's name in Chinese?" I asked. They could not do it. This father could see that Mandarin would be a good language to learn and so must have the foresight to educate the two daughters in local schools to prepare them for global competition.
"You can bring the hamster home before 5 pm today," I said to the father. "Provided you know how to clean the wound. Do not leave it to the maid."
"OK,' he was a busy man and so Sunday would be his day off work. However the 2 daughters
had no confidence in his nursing and so the hamster stayed one night and would go home on Monday. Dr Daniel injected an anaesthetic into the 35 g hamster, excised the big tumour using electro-surgery and stitched up the defect. He was OK and recovered well as I see him now at 1.10 pm today Monday.