I read an article not too long ago about the importance of hugs. It is recommended to get/give 7 hugs per day that last at least 7 seconds. It is amazing that even in an emotionally charged situation, at the seven second mark the body begins to relax just a little bit. I have been testing this after emotionally charged situations (I give a lot of hugs) and have found that it is true in most cases.
There are days that every veterinarian loves when intelligence, skill, and luck converge to produce an amazing outcome of survival that defies all odds. I often wish that I had those days more often, although I will be honest and say that until the amazing outcome happens I am very stressed out! I may look calm and like I have it all together, but my brain is racing trying to connect the dots that appear to be in different time-space continuums. I enjoy having even the simplest of cases turn out positively. I enjoy the heart felt “Thank you” from a client and the tail wag from the pup. When I get cards and letters, I keep them and re-read them often to remind myself that these cases, these days do exist. The crazy part is that most of the cards and letters that I get are after an animal has been euthanized. There is the occasional gift or note when things have gone well, too, but they are not nearly as common.
Recently when speaking with a human emergency room doctor, we discussed cards, gifts, and “thank you” notes. He said that he has never received a thank you note when someone has died. In fact, he has received very few cards or gifts for anything. He does some amazing work, but he generally does not get the recognition when he has done so. This made me really sad for him and for many of my human doctor friends. I struggle with some of the stuff that I deal with day in and day out, but rarely do I have to deal with the carnage that can arrive in an emergency room. I am so thankful for all of the human and veterinary emergency and referral facilities that take in these cases. Yes, I see some carnage when it comes to animals being hit by cars, fights, and unfortunate situations that cause injury, but it usually is not on a daily basis. Please take the time to thank your emergency professionals – the doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, chaplains, the in-take receptionists at the hospital, the janitor that cleans up the biohazard material, etc. These people have tough jobs that do not often come with glory, but they do it anyway and often with a smile.
There are days when my job really gets me down – multiple euthanasia cases, too many diagnoses of cancer, kidney failure, or liver disease, and just generally grumpy people that think I am only in this for the money (don’t get me wrong, I do like to get a pay check and feed my family). That being said, at the end of the day, I still love it! I know that if I cannot fix the problem, I can relieve suffering with euthanasia. I can help my patients pass with dignity surrounded by family. I know that even if I euthanize a dog one minute, it will not be too long before there is a puppy to snuggle. Today, I helped a number of patients cross over the rainbow bridge and gave bad news to a number of others, but then I gave a little puppy a snuggle and a kiss after giving her a vaccine, she jumped into my arms and snuggled right back. I am pretty sure this does not happen with my human doctor counterparts…and if it did, they may get in trouble! The snuggles do not remove the pain of death, but they sure do place a balm on my soul.
To each of my co-workers, clients, patients, family, and friends – thank you for helping me do my job, because without you, I would not be able to do it without a break down or at least a really good cry on a regular basis. I ask you all to snuggle a little more (for at least 7 seconds!) your furry and not so furry kids and loved ones today!