I have written articles in the past about the downside to the veterinary profession. The dark side that people don’t typically see. With any profession, there are dark sides, but it is the happiness and the little glimmers of hope that can remind you why you are doing what you are doing. The other day I was reminded why I became a veterinarian.
I have always wanted to help animals and sometimes we get so into the mix of things that we forget the real reason on why we are here. We forget the happiness, the joy and are blinded by sadness. It is a ray of sunshine to see a case like this.
I saw a 3-month-old kitten recently adopted from a kill shelter with suspected pneumonia. I say suspected because I did not have the x-rays to prove it. The owner not having much money and couldn’t afford the x-rays. Having to pay for medical treatment up front can be financially difficult and while we want to help sometimes our hands are tied in what we can do. So instead of telling the owner that too bad, I can’t treat the kitten we discuss other routes we can take without knowing the true answer.
The concern is the antibiotics that I typically will prescribe for this can cause side effects since the kitten was so young. After discussing this with the owner we decided to take the risk. The one thing about veterinary medicine is sometimes we have to treat without knowing the true cause and sometimes we have to weight the risk vs benefit. In this case, the side effects were not as bad as if the pneumonia got worse.
I called a few different hospitals to see if anyone carried it when I finally found one the owner went over to pick it up. Two days later I rechecked this kitten and found minimal improvement. We had a very sad but serious conversation. A conversation I, unfortunately, have too often but I had a feeling she just needed more time.
A week went by and I finally saw this kitten again. This time we couldn’t control her. She was jumping all over the room, eating like crazy, no fever and an owner crying in my arms thanking me. This is why I do this job.
While she just adopted this cat 2 days prior to her becoming sick, she was already part of the family. She was already loved. We both knew she couldn’t take the kitten back to the kill shelter because they would euthanize her. This is the reality. So we did whatever we could to find a way to treat her.
This is why I got into veterinary medicine. To save a life and a family. I don’t need to be thanked for what I do, I just need to see the happiness in the eyes of the family when they leave my office knowing their pet will be ok.
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