I realize that today is one of the bigger days in history for politics and if I wanted to be relevant and current, I should write about my pride for living in a country that allows me the opportunity to vote. But, if you know me, you know my level of aptitude for politics is equivalent to my knowledge of dietary nutrition, and frankly this morning I smeared peanut butter on a twinkie and called it breakfast. But I voted none the less, promise!
Anyway, this country that I love dearly and am thankful for the political freedom to alter my future by means of a ballot box in is also the same country that requires me to work a full time job to make ends meet. So, today I remember that I am in fact blessed to live a life unscathed by oppression and poverty, but I am also acutely aware of the smaller picture… working to live and living just to work. America, fuck yea.
Medicine is ever-changing. It’s subjective. It’s expensive. What it’s not is…avoidable. Some days, I just don’t know how my coworkers and I do it.
Watching human beings, care for other living things, I often think it comes as a surprise to pet owners that we aren’t here at their disposal for free. More people than i’m comfortable admitting assume that Veternarian’s are just philanthropists who went to school for [sometimes] over a decade, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to provide educated services at no cost to the Good Samaritans who rescued fluffy from under a dumpster. GTFO. I know who has the audacity for this mentality, and frankly it’s more people than you’d think.
“If you really loved animals you wouldn’t charge this much”
“You aren’t giving me any options, I can’t afford this” *looking at options*
“How do you sleep at night knowing my pet died because I couldn’t pay you?”
Today I was asked if I enjoyed telling people that they had to take their pet home to suffer and die. That’s what this pet owner took out of our forty-five minute conversation about continued supportive care. Amidst a juggle between myself, an incredibly knowledgeable criticalist and this clearly upset owner, fluffy’s mom responded to our medical recommendations with a jab straight to our morality.
This woman, walked into our hospital, asking for OUR advice, and when she didn’t like the cost of services due to financial constraints she decided the best way to handle her frustrations was to personally insult everyone who didn’t give her what she wanted. These are the pet owners of 2018, and they aren’t getting any better folks.
1 in 6 veterinarians have considered suicide. Let that sink in. The practice of veterinary medicine is a selfless one. It doesn’t pad any bank accounts. It doesn’t elude to lavish vacations or short work days. It is a sometimes fifteen hour day, no meal NO bathroom breaks….ending in an owner questioning your moral compass because they feel cornered by recommendations you gave for a disease that you didn’t create. I’d probably kill myself too if I had to take responsibility for not being able to save the world for free, change the outcome of the future, or READ FUCKING MINDS.
In 2017, after a decade of being engulfed off and on in the veterinary medical field, I signed on with an emergency and internal medicine hospital as what my corporation calls a ‘financial coordinator’. Essentially, I am the liaison between a doctor and an owner. While your doctor and their techs are doing the medicine part, i’m explaining to YOU in layman’s terms why your pet needs to be sedated for a fine needle aspiration of it’s liver. Why? Because fluffy is a loose cannon and the last thing you want is him flailing around while we stick a needle into his abdomen. Am i right? I’m right, that was rhetorical. Oh it’s an extra $100 for proper medical care? Does he really even need that? No, Karen…we just really could use that extra $100 to buy taco bell for the staff.
I am the punching bag in scrubs; the nurse of bad news. I spend every clocked in hour reiterating medical necessity while also telling owners that their 2004 furry Christmas gift is going to cost them their immaculate credit score. And I get to do all of this while more than half of them verbally assault me as a person.
The reality is that someone has to be this punching bag until people stop punching the bag. Sick animals are never going to be a thing of the past. So when people ask how I put up with it, I remember that I’ve been doing this so long, it’s my duty to explain to the vastly uneducated pet owners the how’s and why’s of animal health.
Frankly, it costs zero dollars to be a good human being. And instead of spending this life- coupon on a healthier future for all parties involved, you’re bitching about how I had the audacity to present you valued services at costs beyond your means. I didn’t buy your three thousand dollar pure bred pomeranian so that it’s collapsed trachea would send your debt to income ratio out of wack, i’m here to give you options. And you’re here to take them or leave them, not throw a tantrum. Capisci?
For every five Karen’s complaining about inflation in medical costs, there’s a Stephanie who sends flowers to the doctor who misses her family while she stays late to pull the fish hook out of their dog’s esophagus. And that occasional floral arrangement is a great reminder to underappreciated doctors who are highly disregarded for their valiant efforts at keeping YOUR furry family members alive for as long as this life allows us, that we are in this for a reason. The reason NOT being that we would ever enjoy clocking in to schedules chalk-full of cranky pet owners hell-bent on passive aggressively tearing us apart until they get the services they can easily afford.