Nearly 20 years as a vet, and still losing a patient cuts to the quick. A paper cut, stinging discomfort at the back of my mind, worrying away and wondering what I could have done, would have done, how things might have been different, and a lovely old dog still alive, if only I had made different choices. The curse and the blessing of hindsight.
At the same time knowing I actually did me very best, and that these things do happen, despite your best efforts. It’s part of the job, goes with the territory, and is inescapable. Doesn’t make me feel any better, today, thinking of the grieving owner of the lovely old fellow. Thankfully it’s a rare thing, I could count cases like this on my fingers over 20 years of practice. Each one a hammer that has shaped me on the anvil of veterinary practice a little more, taught me something deeper about life, and made me a better vet.
The first time was soul destroying. It tore me apart, and it took me weeks to slowly piece myself back together, to regain confidence, to soothe my shattered feelings. That was way back in my first year of practice, so long ago. A lot of water under the bridge since then, and yet… Still so much the same.
It’s a hard thing, to have to tell a client that their pet has died. It’s a damn lot harder for them to have to hear it, I suspect. And there’s a strength that brings, the awful necessity, raw and naked, life and death. All of us, the carers of your furry friends, have to find a way to speak the unspeakable at these times. Hopefully with grace, and compassion, and healing. There is no other way, but what there is, here and now.
Life; always unfolding, even in the midst of death.
So, today, I send out a gentle prayer and blessing to all of those who have lost, or will lose a well loved animal companion; and to all those vets and nurses who are caring for them at the time, doing their utmost to save them, and failing to do so. May there be understanding and compassion for them all, all doing the best they can, all left a little broken and needing to heal. May they be looked after, with gentle words and a loving touch. May they find their way to the other side of healing.
I’m taking a break this week, my first time away from work and family for three years, so there will be no more stories from me for just a little while – a short sabbatical to simply be, rest, rejuvenate. I will have some special news for you all when I get back, a new development which will allow me to serve you all better as a holistic vet!
Wishing you all a wonderful week with your pets…