Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Beauty and Failure In Seeking Quietude. Doing Good AND Doing Well.

It is time to slow down.

Truth be told, if I don't I will break. I am too tired to be any other way. Maybe it is midlife meets maybe too late?

I built a few key things on the way to tired, things I am immensely proud of and equally exhausted because of.

I built a veterinary empire (albeit rural and quaint) based on compassion. It is the key ingredient to my success in veterinary medicine. BUT, I also built a business centered on it as our core concept. Having such a strong emotional purpose makes daily life challenging. It also wears down your engine and psyche.

A letter came to me a few months ago inquiring about the recipe to our success for "doing good and doing well". We do both. I cannot see living, or even attempting to live this life, any other way. It was a wonderful opportunity to remind myself who we are as a vet hospital, what I am consciously creating, and how we can be profitable while doing "good" for our community. These two things, especially when you are a caregiver based profession, are intimately and vitally entwined. I cannot give up one for the other. I would rather walk away broke, then abandon the core of what we are and what we are here to do. I know others might argue this point. That we aren't expected, nor should we feel compelled to have to help everyone. But that is a shallow excuse to the start of a slippery slope on the way to blind and indifferent. Little steps can still lead you to the same destination.

I cannot imagine exiting this profession without a soulful of stories and a legacy to be proud of. It is the subject matter of every moment of my day. Trying, (sometimes failing), to live up to a persona of the character I carved long before I got the white coat and the accolades of graduation.

I get tired. Lately I am very tired of being sent the cases no one takes the time out of their day to try to manage. Lately we have had some happy endings for some very needy patients get some attention. It has caused a flurry of equally needy patients to find, or be sent, to us.

On a personal level this is hard to come to terms with in any sort of healthy, optimistic, peaceful fashion. It is difficult to understand how other clinics clients get sent (literally told to show up at our clinic) because they cannot, or will not, take care of them. How does this happen? Where does personal responsibility come in? I am not sure if it exists in many places any longer? I think it is the code of ethics that the private established practitioners once regaled as being expected and honored. If a client called you in a bind you made time. I know that when my families dog, cat, sheep, horse, whomever found themselves in a predicament we called our little small town vet. He always came to help. Weekends, night times, rain, shine, he was counted on and accountable. The humble roots of that mantra seem sorely lacking these days. Sure, there are lots of excuses, and lots of reasons, but an emergency and a patient in need are timeless. How does the whole integral commiserative collaborative community coexist if we don't help each other?

Where did the relationships go? Why are they no longer valid? Or valuable? Why, and when did neighbors start sending their patients elsewhere when they had the means to assist them?

I am human. I get tired. I get frustrated. I have to ask myself a lot of questions, and even face the ugly answers occassionally. But the most important part of my human-ness is still getting up to try, and never abandoning caring to someone else to manage.

I refuse to give up, pass the buck and turn my back on the people who need us. I damned sure don't send the cases that are sticky down the road to my colleagues. Maybe they snicker? Take pleasure in being selective? I honestly don't know? If you are a client of ours we take care of you. Through sunny puppy days as much as the dark days of dying.

This is why I am so tired.

The time under the guise of being compassionate comes at a cost. Maybe that's why it is so ubiquitously abandoned?

Taking time away to regroup, redistribute the wear and tear and remember what I can do and how I can continue to contribute to my little community is vital.

We do so much. I have to remind myself what we are doing and how we are giving back even on the days that wrench your gut and break your heart into shreds.

Here's a sampling of the requests we get. These are from this last week alone;

Situation Number 1;
The emails start at 9 pm on a Sunday night. They find me. (Desperate people in dire circumstances with a little bit of digging find me).

Help! Our 7m old pit, Tracy has eaten something foreign. X-ray shows it is stuck in small intestine. Tracy started showing symptoms of distress 2 days ago. We came back from vacation where he stayed with my mother in law on her farm. The morning after picking Tracy up, he began vomiting to the extent of a close 30x in a few short hours. What started as bile and mucus slowly turned into a color resembling blood. Tracy began to look pale and his attitude was that of a lethargic pained animal. All of the red flags promoted our first trip to the animal hospital. $1000 later he underwent blood work, fecal sample, urine test, and X-ray. All results were normal except for the X-ray which showed the foreign body. The vet told us it appeared that the object was trying to make its way out but could be lodged. Clinically Tracy appears to be near death. Doc says object could possibly be removed with an endoscope or surgery which would cost anywhere from 2k to 3k. Our family just cannot afford the bill, however we also cannot afford the heartbreak. In a short 7 months Tracy has become my child’s keeper, my boyfriends companion, and my best friend. I cannot live with myself knowing a fatal outcome could have been avoided if the money was right. I am asking in desperation for anyone who reads this to open their hearts to us and to Tracy in helping us give him the treatment he needs to survive and live out the life he deserves. I will be applying for care credit first thing in the morning but a recent home purchase along with other things tell me that a denial could be in my hand. Even with an approval we desperately need the financial help to pay it back. I am begging all of you to look at gods plan for Tracy and see that it is not his time to leave this world especially not like this. Thank you all for reading and God bless. 

I was denied care credit I copied that into the email from our gofundme where we were only able to raise $500. Delaware specialty wants 75% upfront and 25% at pick up. They won’t take donations from any organization that I have reached out to. I have 2 places willing to help. Krista it is an emergency tonight Tracy has a fever. I’m so concerned and idk what I’d do without him!

What do I do with this? Better yet, what would you?


Situation Number 2;

Client shows up with a cat with an injury to its ear. It is not her cat, she does not want to pay for care. She expects we will take it and care for it, and be the person she is not. Uncomfortable, awkward conversation ensues that we cannot take the cat. She isn't ours to take. She isn't hers to give. And we are not the shelter designated for such pets. Further, while there is an injury a torn ear is left torn. Cat is scanned for microchip, none found, and we post her photo on our Facebook page to notify the owners (hopefully part of our large FB following) that she is headed to the shelter. There she will be vaccinated, treated and held for the owners to come (hopefully) claim her. Finders are always given the option to adopt them back if the owner does not come forward. She calls us later to explain "how disappointed she is with us." (Like that river don't run both ways). Side note: we have 8 clinic cats already. All were cats brought in to be euthanized for peeing the house, or just not wanted any longer. They remain all are looking for homes. Cat anyone? P.S. I will keep an eye on her at the shelter and make sure she is kept safe. I do this with all of the shelter animals. For those clients seeking help we are happy to help. 'Help' is a term that infers giving assistance. It has to be a mutually agreed upon proposition. There are, of course, also legal parameters to comply with, like; "Not your cat" is not your cat to abandon on someone else. Her cat got a free exam,, and she never showed up at the shelter.

Situation Number 3;
Dog fight dog limping, unable to use leg. Caller has "no money". They NEED to come up with the price of an examination ($50) if they are not a client to be seen. It is the only way we can insure some basic degree of responsibility to the care of these pets. If you cannot come up with the $50 we try to offer surrender to one of the shelters/rescues we work with. Know how many people "with no money" surrender? None. Why? Well, they would rather be "theirs" and neglected than rehomed and treated. The story of the Judgement of Solomon is referred to commonly in my head for these cases. We ask that people come to us willing to put their pets life before everything else. We will meet you there on how to proceed forward. I, we, everyone at Jarrettsville Vet has witnessed the power of making what seems like the impossible possible. But everyone gives and contributes. The dog from this week had been attacked by another dog (the other dog was not on a leash, theirs was). The victim had not seen a vet ever in their hands. Was not neutered, and was an injured pit bull. They couldn't come up with the $50 and they didn't have a way to get the dog to us if they could. These, these are the cases that drive me to,, well,, blog... lets leave it there. We stood firm on two points. They had to drive to us. They had to come up with $50.

At the moments that seem most bleak, take a breath. Have, find, and resurrect faith.

Jax showed up a day later, lucky. He was limping. He had a very swollen, painful and infected leg, and a few minor lacerations. He was gimping around on the other three legs, but eating, happy, and otherwise unscathed.

He needed three things I could give him;
1. Antibiotics
2. Pain medications, (NSAID)
3. A rabies vaccine.

Total bill incurred; the $50 they borrowed from family, and the $16 bucks I loaned them for the rabies. The rest of the meds were generics and donated/trial size.

His family also got a lecture.. most of it off the record.
  • file a police report. Maybe the owner of the other dog will take responsibility? (prob not, but I divert back to the faith statement).
  • start a Pet Savings Plan with us to get the vaccines updated and him neutered. An estimate and budget plan was also provided.
  • I know you love this boy. He is a lovely dog, but he needs more than love. We will help but it takes both of us to make his life safe and healthy.
I hope they heard me. I did fall in love with that dog...

That's my problem. I invest myself for these animals.. It is who we are. It is also why I get tired,, too often. I'm looking for safe boundaries while trying to not lose faith in mankind.. The animals, well, I am still doggedly determined to save every single one of them.

Every week it is at least one phone call, one person who shows up, and a pet stuck in the middle. We, collectively, all of us, can do this. We can "do good while doing well". We can save the huge majority of pets who need help. Maybe not at "Gold Standard" but this is life and death. I rarely think death (our coined "economic euthanasia") is the best option.

More information on me, this blog, and who we are at Jarrettsville Vet can be found here: is about saving lives, and providing options with data. Let the data set the standard of care and integrity via transparency be the guide.

If you care about pets, believe in making happy endings happen, and want to help others please join me on our Jarrettsville Vet Facebook page, our Pawbly Facebook page,and also on Twitter and YouTube.

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