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Ratso – Your friends miss you

Greta Johansen

Greta Johansen is Assistant Dean for Business and Finance at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Ratso, who is shown above on the cover of the Winter 2009 edition of CVM Magazine, touched all those who helped him in his long battle with complications from diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, and a brain tumor.

Tiger cat Ratso on the cover of CVM MagazineI’m not talking about just your furry friends here at home; I’m talking human friends. You have more friends than any cat I have known. Of course there are your neighborhood friends, all the people who visited and knew you for years. And your California friends who would come to visit, especially the one who would sneak you into bed with her. And there is ‘your’ little girl from Virginia, the one who carried you around and watched movies with you. She misses you terribly.

But most of all, there are all your CVM friends. They’re the ones I still see in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, in the hallways, and every time I see one of your friends, I think of you. You know the ones I mean; there’s just no end to these friends who cared for you, treated you, worried about you, hugged you, loved you. From the front desk to the
back wards, your friends are everywhere.

There are your Internal Medicine friends. So many doctors, residents, and interns worked so hard to diagnose your problems. And the DVM students, my how you helped to train them. Each new student on your case had quite a lesson in case review (your medical records are thicker than Raleigh’s phone book) and learned how to write such detailed discharge summaries! You always made them think. And there are those friends who would always find an appointment when you needed help. And of course, those wonderful clinical technicians. They always made your trips to see the
doctors a good time. So many laps you sat on, so many chairs you took over. I once saw a technician working on her computer standing up, because you had her chair and she didn’t want to bother you. Whether you were having a good day or bad, they always made you feel like the king. Now those friends really miss you.

But it’s not just the Internal Medicine crew, no, you have friends everywhere in the hospital. There are the folks in the labs, in Radiology, and the great people in Pharmacy. There’s the Neurology group, and of course, the Oncology friends. Radiation treatment for three weeks sounded like such a tough course of treatment, but you know, having your friends there to care for you, well, you got through it just fine. Those special heating pads were pretty nifty, and helped to brighten your spirits. And how many cats ever get a party after finishing radiation treatments? So many of your
friends showed up to celebrate.

Of all the friends we made these last couple of years, I think the ones I learned most about were the veterinary technicians in the treatment wards. The day wards, Intensive Care Unit, the Intermediate Care Ward — you spent a fair bit of time in those places. You always had everything you needed, and then some. Enough blankets to keep you snug (my priority), and someone always looking after you, making sure medically you were doing okay. But there was also all the holding, and the carrying around, the singing to you, the kisses on your nose and shaved forehead. In your time of need, in your stays in the hospital, those friends made your days a little brighter, your stay more like a vacation. And your friends became my friends. Friends that were there for me as well as for you. Friends who cried with me when you were gone.

For awhile I couldn’t walk through the hospital, I couldn’t bear to see all those friends. Time has eased the grief, and I can walk down the halls again. Your friends are still there. Some have moved on, and students have graduated and are great doctors somewhere else. But most of your friends are still there, and they still miss you, like I do. They have new patients, new challenges, new victories, and even some defeats. But they carry on, they take care of all the creatures on their watch. Their hearts break sometimes, but they are all there with the same shared purpose of healing, of caring.

Like I said Ratso, I never knew a cat with so many friends. And I am grateful for them all.