As I look back over the past few months, I am reminded of so many happy, successful moments that involved my patients and their families. From giving good news that a tumor was benign, to helping a lost pet get back home due to the simple power of a microchip, and treating a little miracle kitty who ate a string and lost 70% of her intestine getting to go home and live a happy life. These are the moments and the days I treasure and live for in my career as a veterinarian.
But sadly, the job isn’t always puppies and kittens or success stories. It’s challenging at times to not become emotionally invested in our patients especially the ones we see fairly often if they have a current illness or chronic health problem. Some of these patients are ones we can be completely confounded by. Understandably, a pet not getting well is taxing on their family but it has a similar yet less devastating effect on the veterinary team.
Sometimes we will recommend you visit a specialist due to procedures being beyond the skills of a general practitioner. Face it, there’s just some things they don’t teach you in the 4 years of veterinary school. Other times, it’s the value of that specialized second opinion and a lot of the time they can help.
For Better or Worse
We (the vet team) try our best; nobody is perfect. Some patients will keep us awake at night as we mull over what we should do next or contemplate the impending surgery the next day. In the worst of cases after a few months or longer of dealing with a chronic illness, all we can do is help ease them of their suffering. It’s in these moments that we realize it’s not possible to fix every problem or save every patient, no matter how hard we try.
This was the case with Maggie. A very sweet dog, with an even sweeter owner. Maggie was adopted with known problems that her family diligently addressed and more so if new ones appeared. Maggie was a patient of mine for almost 3 years and her skin was the biggest issue that nobody was ever able to figure out. This past fall Maggie developed cancer and combined with her other issues, it was time to say goodbye. I hated that we couldn’t help her.
And so it goes, we have to pick up the pieces because there are more pets that need help. In all this though, we take the experience and information we learned from one pet and, perhaps years later, remember the lessons they taught us to hopefully help another.
Disclaimer: Blog posts may contain some opinions which are my own and may not reflect those of any current or former employers.