Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Hardest Days are Not The Days to Wish Away

Sometimes this little piece of space is not the educational prose that I intended it to be.

Sometimes it is just a little piece of my day, a small snapshot amongst a whirlwind of crazy busy multi-tasking and demands.

Today was a day filled with surgeries; teaching, learning, and offering services to clients for rock bottom deals in an effort to help a pet, teach our staff, and be able to offer more services for our future clients and patients. It is a day we schedule yearly. I love the thrill of the fast pace, the challenging tutorials and the belief that was happens under this small humble roof is life-changing, inspiring, and unparalleled. I firmly believe this.

But today between the chaos and the surgical skills we challenged and honed, I stopped for a brief moment to spend the last few moments of a dear patient I have seen almost weekly for the last three years. It was a very sad goodbye to a very dear long time friend.

When you see a patient consistently and persistently for years you get attached. Attached to them, their evolving changing diseases, and their parents. Lucky suffered from terrible ears and skin for the last three years. It was a never ending battle of changing medicines, protocols, and swapping a new treatment for an old one that had failed to deliver.

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," and Lucky's endless illnesses, diseases, and constant supervision bound us all to a common goal.

Lucky never suffered from a rare or untreatable disease. Her story won't re-write any veterinary text books, nor will her time with me redefine how I practice medicine, but her life will always be one that I remember vividly and explicitly.

Her daily life was a series of scheduled well rehearsed movements set in perfect synchrony to deliver a litany of drugs, washings, cleanings, and feedings. Her daily requirements were more complicated than most humans in an ICU.

There was never a hesitation to comply, nor was there ever a hint of doubt that she was worth the time and effort required.

We should all be so Lucky.

Saying goodbye was not easy. It was necessary and it was time, but often our blind devotion leads us to being unable to recognize the end. That sheer unyielding devotion to push fate beyond its limits, leaves us feeling as if there is no end, and there is no giving up.

I know that in many cases I have to be the advocate for my patient. That I have to remove my personal feelings, my stubborn tenacity and say that there is nothing more we can do. It is not what people want to hear. They want some ray or glimmer of hope, and I feel obligated to always try to provide this. I am not God, it is not my place to admonish defeat, and the greatest power any of us have is to provide hope.

But, I also owe my friends, my patients, and my failing optimism, honesty.

Lucky was tired, she was unhappy, and she was beyond any last ditch efforts to reverse her present state. It was time to let her go. And so her parents did.

And with that goodbye, in the midst of my weltering waves, like the eye of the storm, my day had a few moments of peace, and clarity, and purpose.

There is never a good-bye to good friends, and
how Lucky we are to have found each other.


  1. Thank you for this post, we had a hard day of doing right by patients yesterday to and it meant a lot to read this.

    1. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to leave a comment.
      Many days at work are challenged further by trying to find the glass half full amongst the empties. You are not alone, and I appreciate and empathize with you every begrudging step of the way.

      Chin Up, Press On