Feelings and Veterinary Jobs

Posted: Nov 14, 2013
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Today’s blog isn’t going to run smoothly. These are just a few random thoughts on feelings and the veterinary workplace. Summary: Feelings suck.

  • A few months ago at work a DVM started telling me all about this cute, cuddly, friendly, young stray cat that I was petting, and how it needed a home, how much it liked me etc. when I said to her, “Oh I’m sorry, you have mistaken me for someone who has feelings.” This is how I keep from having what the state would call an "animal hoarding situation." If I keep my emotions shoved down enough at work I can prevail over having 500 animals – it is a survival tactic.
  • Clients release their emotions upon me, whether I want it or not. I accept and understand that this can involve a wide range of emotions, from anger to devastation, and I have become incredibly attuned to recognizing them. Not only because I'm on the receiving end, but also because I have released some of these same emotions when I was a client. That has allowed me to have patience, empathy and accept the clients’ state of mind. I am aware of how the client is feeling and acting, because I've been there. Looking back on my experience makes me realize how difficult it was for me to grasp the reality of what was taking place during a pet emergency. For instance, how did the injury to my dog possibly happen?! I threw the stick for her one last time into the ocean, she swam out to get it, and next thing I knew she was screaming in the water swimming in circles... femur shattered into about 15 pieces... no exterior evidence of injury. WHAT? Believe me, I know the guilt and reasoning that many clients are trying to sort through, even if there is no one to blame or reason that makes sense. Your mind will drive you crazy trying to rationalize.
  • We spend so much time with our co-workers that you might assume veterinary people would be okay showing with our emotions to each other. But to remind you, this industry is full of introverts so… NOPE it's NOT that simple! I’m not an introvert, but have personal reasons for not expressing my emotions at work (I'll save that for another blog). Any day can easily turn into this funny game of people trying not to cry at work. Sometimes it affects you, and other days it doesn’t. Not making this up: "No really, I ran out of the room cause I had to have explosive diarrhea. NOT because I was crying." You know there's a problem if you would rather admit to explosive diarrhea than dare have a co-worker know you were crying. Anyway, that's definitely something we all need to own up to...

So, this blog goes out to my favorite cat patient who passed away today. Thankfully I’m writing this blog at my desk in a corner where no one can see the tears. He was amazingly awesome and sweet, despite his illness. There weren’t any visible tears from those who worked closest with him, but you can definitely bet that all of us are avoiding eye contact for the rest of the day, just to be able to make it through.

Mactabulous the cat sitting on Amy O'Daly's back in the DoveLewis ICU

Mactabulous (2003-2013)

Click here to read the DoveLewis Facebook post from Mactabulous's person after he passed.