I absolutely adore my job. I have never wanted to be anything else- oops! I did once want to be a famous singer, a talk show host like Oprah Winfrey with my own talk show and a Bollywood actress too. Still I am really happy to be in my shoes. Yes. I can say hand on my heart that I am deeply grateful and feel greatly honoured to be a Veterinarian and be a part of this noble Veterinary profession. Alleviating the pain of a suffering animal, healing and curing them with my knowledge and surgical expertise is extremely rewarding. Hearing the words- “You saved my pet’s life” or “My dog is so much better because of you” is more than enough to make my day. But as you rightly guessed there is a flip side to this.
Talk to any new Veterinary graduate and ask them how they like their new job. Most of them will say- “Well, we love the animals but the owners……Oh dear less said the better.” Sorry. If you are a pet owner or guardian, accept my sincere apologies for that statement, on behalf of the whole veterinary profession. However, there is a lot of truth in it. You, the pet guardian can make or break our day and our spirit. Here I speak for myself, all vets, all veterinary nurses, veterinary nursing assistants and receptionists. You really are so powerful. You make us laugh, cry, you can shock us and you can scare us too, more than your pets.
I have been a vet for 20 odd years now and like to think that I have seen it all but “NO”. Every day I learn more, I learn something new about my job and learn more about you the pet guardian. I learn what you know and don’t know. Many of you are the salt of the earth and are definitely saints, martyrs and truly amazing people with huge magnanimous hearts. You stand by your pets – no matter what and give them 100% or more. I salute you and will certainly blog more about you in my future posts. But sometimes you leave me bewildered. So please let me talk about one such situation and I will talk about others in future posts. Data protection rules prevent me from using real names but these people are REAL not fictional characters. However, I have given them and their pets imaginary names from my own imagination to protect them and myself. They do exist and are larger than life. My aim is not to poke fun but to share my experience with you. Maybe you may even learn something from this story.
It had been a typical busy Monday morning surgery. I was nearing the end of my list and was down to my last two patients. Mrs Hare turned up with her new pet rabbit Cuddles. He was a little dear and was only in for a quick manicure. He had extra long nails so I quickly clipped them. Mrs Hare suddenly said – “Can I be cheeky and ask you a question about my other rabbit Clifford?” She was a really polite lady so I said-“Sure, how can I help?” She said-“You see, Clifford and this new bunny Cuddles had a little tiff yesterday and I think Clifford might have a broken leg as a result. It seems a bit dangly and he can’t seem to run on it. Do you think he needs to come in?” I was really shocked. Inside my head I was thinking- “How stupid can you be? How could you keep a nail clip appointment but not bring a rabbit in with a broken leg?” I was definitely gobsmacked. On second thoughts I felt differently. Mrs Hare was such a polite person that the only possible explanation could be that she thought it would be impolite to bring an extra rabbit in without having an appointment. Besides she may really not have realized the gravity of the situation. My guess was right as she confirmed it on further questioning. I told her that a fractured leg was an emergency and asked her to rush Clifford in immediately. She muttered-“He seems fine in himself you know.”
Well, I made her bring him to the practice quickly, took an xray and it confirmed he had quite a bad fracture of his tibia. It was a nasty one so I had to amputate his poor leg. Clifford has since bounced back and is doing great, albeit on three-legs. Poor Mrs Hare was mortified afterwards. Rabbits are very stoic animals and it is not easy to recognize pain in them. I am not angry and have since realized that many pet guardians are unable to recognize true emergencies. I therefore have made it a point to emphasize conditions that are urgent in my book You can heal your pet and without sounding too patronizing started to explain a lot more in my consultations. Another useful lesson learnt.
Signing off until my next post.
Dr Rohini Sathish MRCVS