The Sick Mouse
D. E. Larsen, DVM
Preface: This is a short post today as Sandy and I are on a weekend trip to celebrate our 50th Anniversary.
In the early 1980s, computers were coming on the scene in small businesses and in a few veterinary practices. With my background in electronics from the Army, I was interested in being on the leading edge of this change.
The problem was that I could easily see that the world of IBM’s DOS would not work for a small office unfamiliar with the ways of idiots or for me. But I kept looking.
In January of 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh. This immediately caught my eye as a functional alternative to DOS. However, it was small and slow.
In the summer of 1986, I attended the annual meeting of the Oregon Veterinary Medicine Association. The main speaker presented a workable solution for small clinics. Using a computer to keep a client and patient list and a computerized cash register to handle a fee list. The record-keeping was enhanced, and the practice was inched toward the new world of computers.
In the weeks following that meeting, I purchased a Macintosh 512K Enhanced computer and a computerized cash register. For several years, we operated with this system before I wrote a functional program for medical records on the Macintosh.
With the computer in the office, there was a lot of learning to be done by everyone. There were a few errors. Just a day or two after I learned to back up the computer, Ruth hit the wrong key and deleted the entire client list. She was amazed that I was not upset. It only took a few minutes to reinstall the list. That was a good early lesson in being precise on the keyboard and on the value of a daily backup.
The system was mainly problem-free. In the Army, I worked on many large systems for receiving and analyzing radio and radar signals. The electronics in those systems were very sophisticated. I was horrified when I first looked into the guts of our TV. I never had to look a the inside of one of the early Macintoshes
We did run into a problem, however. There came a day when the mouse would not work. I tried everything, except a new mouse. Which I did not have on hand.
So I took the mouse and headed to the computer store in Corvallis on a Saturday morning.
When I walked up to the counter, Jerry Stevens was also at the counter. Jerry was a Sweet Home High School math teacher.
“What can I do for you?” the clerk asked. I think he was the only one in the store at the time.
“I have a sick mouse,” I said
“I would think you could take care that yourself,” Jerry said with a smile. “It should be right up your ally.”
The clerk looked at Jerry with a confused looked on his face.
“We know each other,” I said.
“And he is a veterinarian,” Jerry said. “I know he has taken care of a mouse or two in the past.”
“Oh, I see,” the clerk said as he turned the mouse over showed me how to open the bottom of the case. “There is a trackball in here, and it tends to collect dust and dirt, and in this case, it looks like dog hair.
“There is plenty of that around my office,” I said.
The clerk promptly cleaned the interior of the mouse and put it back together.
“If I were you, I would clean that mouse every week,” the clerk said as he handed it back to me. “You probably have a little more debris floating around than most folks.”
“Any fee for that?” I asked.
“No fee, we are glad to help out on the simple things,” the clerk said.
I gathered my mouse and turned to leave. “Next time, I will take care of this mouse at the clinic,” I said to Jerry as I was going.
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash