I am rapidly approaching a burnt out point. This scares me, as I've only been practicing 3 years. Granted, it's been an intense 3 years - with the internship from hell and now, working ER. On top of that the economy has taken such a huge nosedive that clients' financial situations are just getting worse and worse. Veterinarians are really bearing the brunt of many of these financial situations, and nowhere is worse than ER. It's exhausting and demoralizing to spend the majority of the day seeing critically ill and injured animals only to turn around and euthanize them. By the end of today, my head was pounding, my heart was sore and bitter, and I just wanted to quit veterinary medicine forever.
It's not the cases that I can't fix for any amount of money - those don't eat at me so much. It's the ones that I CAN fix and that have a great prognosis that break my heart. My first one of the day was a blocked cat. He'd been blocked for at least a couple of days, given his condition - but he would have responded well to treatment. The owners came with $100 (our exam fee is $92). They both sobbed as I euthanized him.
Then, the small dog that was picked up and ripped to shreds by a CANE CORSO - a whopping 36 hours before the owners decided to bring him in. He was covered with rotting wounds, couldn't walk, and was likely septic. Had the owners brought him in when it happened - a day and a half prior - than I might have been able to fix him for a reasonable cost. Now, he was trying to die and needed serious intervention to the tune of at least $1500-3000. No can do, said the owner.
I know that pregnancy hormones are worsening my feelings, but it doesn't help. I feel so bad right now that going to work is a chore. Leaving the house is a chore. I want to hide somewhere. Facing these owners, in this economic climate, with their animals that need medical care, I am starting to FEEL like a moneygrubber. I hate going into a room and telling someone that we cannot continue care for their pet because the care will cost $1500 or more. LOATHE it. I would fix them all for free with my expertise if I could, but I have to eat too and feed my family. Just like everyone, we have a mortgage, electricity bills, phone bills. Yet still, lately, the guilt is overwhelming. The blocked cat was especially hard because it was one of the rare cases where the owners did nothing wrong. The cat was vaccinated, indoors, and well-loved. Fate dealt him a crappy, crappy hand.
On top of the stress of my job in general, there is the financial stress. We are trying to carefully save for my unpaid maternity leave, but I am paid on production. And our numbers have been way, way off compared to last year. My pay has dived down about $2200/month, adding stress to the burn out. At this point, I'm looking at doing relief shifts to help build up the savings for baby Homeless Parrot. My husband has offered to find a job, but his thesis is finally in the writing stages and may be undergoing defense THIS SUMMER, so I want nothing to interrupt his continued work. Once he's finished, a massive amount of stress will magically be lifted.
Sorry for the tirade...but it's one reason I blog. Therapy. Catharsis. Release.
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