Tuesday, September 22, 2015
In Other Words: A Vet Can Mend a Person Too (But Not How You Think)
By Chuck Keller
Lydia Staggs left Fort Thomas to study marine biology. And now she is a vet at Gulf World Marine Shores but also works at a local veterinary clinic in town. She has rescued dolphins from hurricanes and mends puppies and kittens and birds. But this story is different from the “Guess what the dog swallowed” variety. I will let Lydia tell her tale:
As some of you may know, I'm a full time aquatic animal vet, but what many of you don't is that I still work one day a week at a small animal practice. I've been working at Bayside [Fort Walton, Florida] since I graduated from veterinary school and still love my dog and cat time. Since I'm only there one day a week my schedule is normally filled with "Dr. S" clients who are awesome. However, this has lead to an unexpected dilemma.
In veterinary school, they teach us not to get attached to the patients, but they never said anything about the owners. A few weeks ago I had a call to do a home visit to one of my long time clients. At first I was concerned that my feline patient had suddenly become ill and could not come into the clinic, but then discovered that the owner was dying of cancer.
When my tech and I went to the house the cat was in the bedroom with the owner. I was shocked to see how frail he was as I knew him as a vibrant older gentleman. He smiled and greeted me with a, "Hey Doctor Lydia have you come to see me?"
We chatted for a few minutes and then I examined the cat. We also spoke to his wife for some time about how things were going with her. When I got back to the clinic, the receptionist had said the wife had called and told her that was the first time in weeks he had recognized anyone and to thank us. Some staff members even went over to help out Mrs X since hospice care had become a bit overwhelming.
Mr X passed away and I find myself having a hard time doing my job today. Mrs X called and asked if we would like to attend the funeral. Reflecting on this event I've realized several things. First, the staff at Bayside are fantastic which I knew but I don't think I brag enough about them. They consistently go above and beyond in order to care for not just the pet but the family. Second, I realized how deeply I care for not only the animals but the people who trust me to care for their animals. Finally, I never knew just how important a veterinarian, the techs, or receptionist mean to our owners. I always knew, for the most part, that they liked us, but to some we truly are as close if not closer to them as their family members.
The moral of this is that you never know whose life you can touch with a simple act of kindness. What might seem like your job or something you consider to be not a big deal has the potential to have a major impact on someone else. Wake up each day trying to give joy not only to yourself but everyone you meet.