The Sick Mouse

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

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

7 thoughts on “The Sick Mouse

  1. Oh man, I was horrified! To this day I hover over the keyboard before hitting the key sending whatever into cyberspace never to be seen again! Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wishing you and Sandy a Happy 50th! When I first saw the title of this post, I was thinking you spayed another live mouse. 🙂 I enjoyed this story of computerizing the office, especially writing your own program. Seems all that Army training got put to good use in some form or another over the years. No knowledge ever goes to waste.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used my program for 13 years. Finally, I tired of of the time required to keep up with the upgrades and commercial programs were more affordable.

      Liked by 1 person

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