Unpredictability. It’s one of the things I love most about veterinary medicine, but also a common source of frustration and emotional ups-and-downs.
I love that I can never predict my patients: The elderly diabetic tortoiseshell feline is not the grumpy, skeletal cat I was expecting, but a silky well-conditioned cat who looks remarkably young for her advanced years. The three-month-old Chihuahua turned out to be a little Landshark who deeply resented receiving his first puppy vaccines.
It can be frustrating to adjust to the feast-or-famine workflow so common in ER settings and general practice. Some days it seems that all the appointments are no-shows, and I while away the hours reading dense research articles to keep up-to-date on new medical findings. Other days seem to have far too few hours in the day, and the cases begin piling up like an 8-lane California highway at rush hour.
It’s rewarding when a treatment option that wasn’t previously feasible–either due to financial constraints or the severity of patient illness–suddenly becomes possible, and suddenly hope is again a bright light on the horizon.
It’s gut-wrenching to watch an inpatient rapidly decline over the course of a day, but force yourself to paste on a smile during the day’s appointments.
It can make you a little giddy monitoring a severely ill patient’s turnaround and remarkable recovery when he ignores his grave prognosis and bounces back.
Veterinary medicine’s unpredictability is both a blessing and a curse, and some days the dichotomy can be extremely hard to reconcile.