Why I do it

8 Apr

2013-04-05 09.07.22 I enjoy writing on this site about my vet tech career, and I have spent the last couple of weeks brainstorming ideas for a post. The reason I haven’t written a vet tech post in a while is because it has been a rough couple of weeks at work. Lots of loss, lots of tragic loss, saying goodbye to patients that I loved, writing condolence cards to clients who I know are going through a painful time. It’s been consuming my work life, and if I were to write about it, this could  become a rather depressing blog.

One of the most difficult losses was Prince Buster, a cheerful bulldog with a kind family. The owner adopted him years ago, and in the last couple of years has gotten married and had a charming daughter. Prince Buster was there through it all and a centerpiece of the family. A couple of weeks ago, Prince Buster came in because he wasn’t “acting himself.” On a chance hunch, Dr. S tapped (stuck with a syringe) Buster’s stomach and pulled out non-clotting blood. This is a bad sign, it means that one of the organs in the abdomen is bleeding, this usually means cancer.

He was rushed into surgery. The little family said their goodbyes and were told they could come visit after surgery that evening. Unfortunately, upon opening the abdomen, the membranes looked like ground hamburger, each tiny bulb was cancer. There were also large tumors suffocating most of the organs. They were metastatic, and they had won. Dr. S called the family and explained the situation. They wanted to come in to be with him for the euthanasia, but the doctor explained that he would only be in pain and that it would be best if he were euthanized directly on the surgery table. The family agreed but had one request, that the receptionist and technician that had known Prince Buster since puppyhood each hold a paw while he was euthanized.

I stood in the doorway to the surgery suite and watched my co-workers hold those paws and cry. I thought of the little girl who had kissed her dog goodbye, I thought of the happy bulldog. It was a difficult day.

That night I met up with a friend for drinks. I was running late and explained to her that I had a sad day at work. I told her the story of my day, how emotional the euthanasia was.
“Why do you do this?!” she exclaimed at my sad story. I stumbled over an answer of there are good days and bad days, yada, yada, yada. But I didn’t have a clear answer. At the end of the day, I love my job and find it satisfying. I’ve never had a day where the sadness leads me to the thought that maybe I should do something else. But why do I put up with such a sad career?

A couple of days ago, we got a card at the clinic. A little girl had drawn a bulldog on the front and included were a number of photos from the life of Prince Buster. Inside was a beautifully written note. Part of which read, “Whenever he turned down the street to the center, he would fill with excitement and pull at the leash until he could collapse on the floor of the waiting room prepared to be smothered with affection and cookies. Thank you so much for the joy and health you brought to his life.”

And just like that, I had my answer. I’ve never seen my job as a burden of dealing with death, but a privilege to be a part of their lives. The same day we got the card, we had a new kitten exam with a tiny Persian. I went to the room to grab her and said to the kitten, “Are you ready for your very first doctor’s appointment?” Her owners got all excited and began digging through their things for their camera.
“You’re right! It is her first appointment! We must have a picture to commemorate. I hope you don’t mind. We’re very proud parents.”
I didn’t mind as I posed for the picture with the kitten. I thought of the puppy pictures of Prince Buster we had in the back. One day that kitten will likewise pass away. We all know and understand that. But that’s not what’s important. Pets die, but we all continue to own them, love them, adore them. Because to be a part of their lives is worth it. For me to work on keeping them happy and healthy for as long as possible, it’s worth it.

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7 Responses to “Why I do it”

  1. queerfox April 8, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Awwww… You totally made me tear up, and I just want to give you (and all the animals!) a big hug because I completely get what you’re saying. ❤

  2. wiseone April 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    Beautifully Expressed.

  3. Jess April 9, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    I found your blog about 6 mos. ago when I was looking for any blogs about vet techs- just got into a program myself and I wanted to get a real-life idea of what the day-to-day life is like. I LOVE your tell-it-like-it-is style, the ups and the downs, no sugar-coating. Just what I’m looking for.

    And of course your non-vet-tech posts are just as interesting 🙂

    • Chrissy April 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks! I’m so glad you like the blog. Welcome to life as a vet tech!

  4. Amanda April 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    Like Jess, I happened upon this blog to learn more about life as a vet tech. Your posts are candid and insightful. Please keep it up!

    • Chrissy April 20, 2013 at 1:43 am #

      Thanks, Amanda! Comments like yours definitely keep me going. New vet tech posts to come soon.

  5. artVN April 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading your experience it has provided me with comfort to hear it from another. Thank you

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