Monday, October 26, 2009

Repeat after me: "I love my job. I love my job. I love my job."

Most days, this is true. However, by the time 6:00 o'clock rolled around today, I was a potato. Stick a fork in me, I was done.

The morning got off to a rollicking start with a 15 year old cat exhibiting very odd neurological signs. She had a history of severe urinary tract infection one year previously but nothing since then. She was the picture of health until that morning, at which time she became acutely unbalanced and stagger-y. When I examined her, she had blood clots around her vulva. Ultrasound of her bladder showed an incredibly thickened bladder consistent with chronic inflammation. She also had a terrible yeast infection in both her ears. I was confused. Was she showing vestibular signs (dizziness mainly) due to her inner ears? Did she have a terrible painful UTI? Was the bladder a red herring - a problem that had been around for a long time? Did it have anything to do with the neurological signs? In other words, WTF? In the end, I treated the cat with an anti-nausea/motion sickness medication for possible vertigo/vestibular disease and a pain medication, with a recommendation to see the regular veterinarian in the morning for further testing.

My next case was no better. A 120lb German shepherd acutely down in the rear limbs and in excruciating pain. He snapped at the owner while being brought into the clinic. I examined him, but it was extremely difficult, since he could not stand. It took 4 of us restraining him to get anything done. As we were lifting him to see if he could walk, my tech slipped off his muzzle so he'd stop fighting with us. Quick as a snake, he whipped his head around and bit her hand. I HEARD the crunch and almost vomited. Blood began pouring out of her hand. She held it together for about 30 seconds before the sobbing began. That patient went to see kitty Jesus shortly thereafter (because of his illness, not because of the biting).

After my tech was shipped off to the ER, the next case came rolling in: a 5 year old pregnant Doberman. She'd had "spinal trauma" more than 6 months previously. That was what the small swelling on her hip was diagnosed as then. Now, the "small swelling" was a mass that was 10 inches in diameter, so large that it was pushing her rectum and pelvic canal shut. She couldn't urinate or defecate, and she was in excruciating pain. Her bladder took up her WHOLE abdomen. Once I emptied it, I could see the puppies. On xrays, the mass was already eating away at her pelvis and femur. There wasn't much I (or anyone) could do at the point. She too went to see kitty Jesus.

Then came the puppy with the soft, fluid filled swelling taking up his whole head. A true WTF? moment if there ever was one. Of course, the owners had no money to treat or diagnose...

Today was a reminder that sometimes I hate medicine. Sometimes I hate my job. Sometimes I really really wish that I did something that didn't matter to anyone. That I could go home at the end of the day and not even think about my work day for one moment.

After all, does it really matter if I overcook someone's filet mignon? No. Does it really matter if I accidentally kill someone's beloved pet or make a mistake in my drug calculations? And how many times do I actually help animals anyway? How many times would they get over it on their own or die on their own regardless of what I did or didn't do?

Sometimes these questions keep me up at night.


Elizabeth said...

Time to pull something out of your atta girl file..
Go read, Dear Client redux,
Lessons in Bladder Control and Exotics Extravagaza...
there's more if you need it...

rgcarr said...

Sometimes you just have to zone out and go to sleep. Things always look better in the morning. You are a great vet and you care. Don't be down.

Nicki said...

I often feel like that. So many would get better anyway. It's rare that I feel like I actually help anymore. Oh well.

Elizabeth said...

I am so sorry that as vets you feel this way, even sometimes..
There are always going to be pet owners (I use that term loosely) who do not care and do not appreciate what you do.
But to owners like me you are invaluable.

Going to the vet because you see something you think should be checked out in someone you care about deeply, having blood work done and being told everything is fine: PRICELESS

Finding out something is wrong but can be treated: PRICELESS

Finding out it is something terrible and cannot be fixed but having a caring Vet to help you get through it : PRICELESS