The roller coaster of veterinary medicine
I began my career in animal health at Portland Community College in Portland, Ore. It was my first college experience, and for the first week I was in a serious panic about whether I was smart enough to actually be there. After a few weeks of barely controlled panic, I settled in and realized I did belong there and made it through the program.
If there is one lesson I have learned from my 17 years on the job, it's that veterinary medicine is a wild roller coaster ride of emotions. And who's sitting in the seats around you on that coaster is oh so important.
Tomorrow had to be betterI graduated in 1994, passed my CVT boards, and started working at a local clinic. On my very first day, we had a German shepherd that had been run over by its owner's car. Hysterical owner, crying kids, sad, sad scene. Euthanized. Second case: beautiful harlequin Great Dane. Diagnosis: Lyme disease. Euthanized. Third case: ancient cat with kidney disease owned by sweet old couple. No quality of life left. Euthanized.
I went home to my husband in tears, once again questioning what I'd gotten myself into. This was the saddest job in the world. He cluck-clucked in all the right places, assured me tomorrow had to be better, and calmed me down.
Day two on the job. First case: emergency cesarean section on a bull mastiff. We delivered nine puppies, and every one of them lived. There we were, standing in various sections of the clinic, rubbing squealing puppies and smiling. Second case: exotic farm owner brought in a bobcat. After the doctor sedated it, he brought it into treatment, plopped it down on the table, and said, "Hand scale these teeth, please." Really? I paused for a moment to appreciate just how terribly cool that was, then scaled the teeth. Third case: another hit-by-car dog. This time we set the catheter, got the oxygen going, injected the drugs, and saved the dog. The owners were ecstatic and grateful.
I went home to my husband, overjoyed: "This is the coolest job ever!"