I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, “When it rains, it pours.” As in, when life is already kicking your butt, it then drops a sledge hammer on your foot and then punches you in the face. Some weeks it just feels like this all day, every day. You go from a difficult surgery into a difficult appointment. You get bad histopathology results back and give the bad news to an owner who’s parent just died. Your life at home involves having to get a new well dug at your house and then the furnace broke, and then you come home to your horses in your neighbor’s yard (me last week). It just never seems to end some times. Last week we had a couple of cases of pets that maybe could have been fixed but it would have taken a lot of time and medical intervention to get them 100% and the owners couldn’t do it mentally, emotionally, or financially.
Every patient comes in with a back story. Every owner comes in with a back story. As veterinarians, we don’t always get the whole picture. We may be upset that a client doesn’t do what we recommend, but we don’t always know what’s going on at home. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a client say the phrase, “When it rains it pours,” or “This is just the icing on the cake,” after I’ve talked to them about their sick pet and what we should be doing for him or her. We as veterinary professionals have to remember that there might be another reason than the client doesn’t want to do a treatment or can’t afford a diagnostic test. Maybe that elderly couple can’t medicate their cat at home. Maybe the young woman who’s dog waited a couple weeks to be seen is trying to feed three kids and struggling to pay the bills. It’s not our place to judge, only provide the best medicine that we can and just acknowledge that maybe the reason our recommendations aren’t being followed is due to a story we don’t know 100%.
Sometimes life happens and sometimes we have to change our game plan, flexibility is a necessity as well as compromise. No, we don’t have to practice below standard or care, but coming up with alternate solutions is what needs to happen to at least get the pet feelings better. Just remember that it might be pouring at home.