Visiting the Vet – Transformations.

This is why some choose to become veterinary doctors.

Today I write about the last animal that Dr. Jim attended to from my morning at Lincoln Road on June 22nd. I have been blown away by the interest in this theme from so many of you. Thank you!

Indeed, today I am back at the clinic spending both the morning and some of the afternoon watching and recording.

My plan from now on, subject to Dr. Codd supporting the idea, is to spend time at the clinic roughly one day a month. For in just the five or six hours of a day’s visit there is such a variety of events that it will provide more than enough material for me to present Visiting the Vet posts regularly each week during the following month.

OK! Now to the last patient that morning.

12:20

A woman carries in a stray kitten that had been found on the premises of a local scrap metal dealer.

The woman, Lynn, didn’t hesitate to bring the kitten to Lincoln Road because it had an infected right eye.

Jim takes some blood, in itself a bit of a challenge with such a young kitten, and looks more closely at the male kitten. He observes that the eye is most terribly infected with puss pouring out and Jim is of no doubt that the kitten had this eye infection since birth just a few weeks ago.

I come closer to take a photograph (the one above) and am in awe of the delicate way that Jim uses a tiny swab, Lynn holding the kitten for Jim, to clear the puss away from the eye. Moments later Jim has not only cleaned out all the puss but found and removed the cause of the infection that was behind the kitten’s eyeball.

12:40 The kitten sees with both eyes. What a transformation in just twenty minutes.

Jim looks up at Lynn: “Lynn, you do know you have saved his life!”

Lynn replies: “I didn’t really want another cat!”

Jim then gets some food for the kitten and gives it time to settle down.

Lynn and I chat and I am flattered to learn that Lynn has previously purchased a copy of my book. It can be such a small world at times!

12:30 All done. Lynn wraps the kitten back into the same towel that was used to bring it in to the clinic such a short time ago.

Thus ended my first experience of being behind the scenes of a busy vet practice.

The experience has profoundly affected me.

For as well as the astounding level of medical skill that I have observed it was also clear, as Jim put it, that he has to play counselor, psychotherapist, and even bartender. Why bartender? Because Jim quietly offers the observation that quite a few persons come in with their pets when they are the worse for drink! The owner that is not the animal!

Seriously though, let me offer what I concluded after just this one visit to Lincoln Road. That Jim and, I’m sure, Dr. Russ and many thousands of DVMs across the world, have many more demands on them than just being a good doctor.

They must display attention to detail and have an inquiring mind. They must be genuinely empathetic for the animal owner’s circumstances. But also good record keepers! Also they will have to endure a great deal of kneeling. Then, again, those knees have to be topped with a head that is jam-packed full of knowledge and experience to avoid jumping to incorrect conclusions. More subjectively, their emotions have to be kept under control for they frequently will see animals that have not been best cared for and, again all too frequently, they will have to end the life of a dear pet as gently and painlessly as is possible.

To be continued!

23 thoughts on “Visiting the Vet – Transformations.

  1. I love this series, Paul. At one time, I thought I could be a vet but I know in my heart I would not be able to put an animal down. Great behind the scenes goodness!

    1. Hi Susan, I agree that euthanasia would be difficult to administer for most people although vets, like surgeons would have to develop a certain level of toughness to do it as frequently as they do. I was discussing this with my vet and she said that there is a huge difference between putting down an animal that has an incurable condition and is suffering or is very elderly and putting down a pet because the owners don’t want it any more. In the latter case, she tries to get them to adopt it out or take it to a good shelter and often succeeds. But there are some people who insist. One such case she had recently done was for a woman in the last stages of cancer. The woman insisted that her beloved dog, aged 8, be put down (at her home), as she did not believe that the dog could ever have as good a life as she had given it. Maybe this was true and I don’t wish to judge but it would be extremely difficult to put down a healthy active dog. (Although we know that this happens every day at pounds around the world).
      My vet also said that the most difficult part of her job was having to deal with people who are neglectful and give their pets only minimal attention and love, except in the case of emergencies.
      On the upside, she said, there were many rewards in her career, many good times with animals and with caring staff and clients which made it all worthwhile.

      1. Susan, Marg has very accurately confirmed what Jean and I have heard informally. If I get the chance to report on such examples witnessed by me then have no doubt that I will.

      1. As he treats his patients, it would be wonderful to capture his advice for pet owners who may have to deal with a similar issue, or recommend some preventive actions. 💛

  2. It is truly a multi-faceted practice your friend has and his clients are the better for it. Bravo to you both and thank you for sharing the adventures at a vet clinic. P.S. So happy for the kitty-seems like he’s already dipping in to his reservoir of lives. Hope he will survive and thrive going forward.

    1. Monika, it gives me so much pleasure to receive your feedback. Thank you! One thing already I have realized is that I must pay more careful attention to the detail of each animal seen. Breed, age, likely cause of medical conditions, lessons to be learnt, outcomes, etc., etc. once again, many thanks. 😎

  3. I agree, along with other commenters that this is an excellent series. Veterinarians don’t receive enough praise for their job. It is often stressful and can be agonizing, when it is not possible to save a pet or to know the answers for what is causing an animal’s illness. Then there are cases where the owner can’t afford treatment and the pet must be euthanized because vets rarely are able to afford a charity case. Once is a blue moon a very special vet will decide to give it their all in order to save an animal but the owner most times must surrender the animal to the vet who in turn will then place it with a rescue group to later be adopted. And then there are vets who sometimes form a special bond with a hardship case and keep that the animal as their own pet.

    One lady vet that I use in Temple, Texas, for special cases has about twelve cats that adorn the large clinic. They have the run of the clinic and she has more at home. She does have a thriving practice and thus can afford the pets that she saved. I really do like her- smart and through and congenial.

    Speaking of euthanasia, I have spoken with one emergency clinic vet who I’ve gotten to know a bit. He is very empathic and intelligent. He has now treated about 4-5 of my very ill animals and put down two of them. They had cancer which was fast growing and not evident until near the end. Anyhow he told me he is sure that he has PTSD from having to euthanize so many animals in the EC. My daughter during her mobile practice days, euthanized many but, would not put down a pet that could be saved with treatment. However, she became physically very ill after about two years. She had all the symptoms of PTSD. She has since directed her work in a different direction.

    Furthermore I agree with your assessment to be a bit more specific about circumstances, age, breed and follow-up with the results of the treatment. It would be great if later you could take some pics of the kitten to show us how it is thriving in the gentle care of the lady, Lynn who rescued him.

    1. OK, now in a position to reflect on your response. Your mention of PTSD is news to me and I’ll informally explore with Jim if that is seen elsewhere in his profession. At one level it does make sense. Because without a safe outlet to vent their feelings then one could imagine a build up to the point of PTSD or similar.

      I will see if I can contact Lynn and take some pictures over the next couple of weeks.

      What a lovely, comprehensive comment from you. Thank you!

      1. Something of note that I did not mention that relates to the veterinary profession. It is at or, near the top of professions for suicide. The vet that I mentioned told me that he went to a seminar about suicide among veterinarians., I asked him why suicide was a problem and this was his response- not exactly verbatim. “Every vet has at his or her disposal, the euthanasia drug. It is easy to use and fast acting and if a vet is competent he/she will know how much med to inject which is based on body weight. ” I’m not sure that PTSD has been linked to the profession but this was the emergency clinic vet speaking for himself. And my daughter agreed that having to end so many lives does begin to get to one, especially if that person is overly involved and maybe a bit too caring. As an aside, police officers and fireman also get PTSD.

  4. I am really excited to see more posts about this subject. Initially I was apprehensive to scroll as I am often deeply affected by animals who are injured or ill in any way. However, I found this to be inspiring.
    Just an idea- you may want to spend an evening in a 24 hour emergency animal hospital to compare/contrast the types of complaints or issues that arise during the day versus the late evening/early morning I’m sure you’ll have ALOT of interesting stories to take away from one evening!

    1. That’s a wonderful idea. One to discuss with Dr. Russel Codd, the owner of Lincoln Road. Dr. Russ has already mentioned supporting me observing some of the top animal surgeons later on. Thank you! Brilliant suggestion!

  5. Thank goodness for the Lynn’s of this world, and Vets like Jim.. Another wonderfully told story with pictures Paul.. and I am so pleased you are going to keep this series going.. I love reading these stories and what goes on in a day of a vets life.. Lots of information here perhaps for a second book? sometime in the future too 🙂 LOL.. 🙂

    1. Sue, funny you should mention that! For it had already crossed my mind that there might be a book in it. I asked Russ if he would support me writing a book about my experiences and he didn’t hesitate in saying that he would!

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