things to get used to

crappy night at the hospital tonight. it should have been good: I worked a short, 5-hour shift, the ward was eerily quiet and stress-free. I worked the same shift just yesterday and processed probably 8 new admits. Tonight, there were only two, neither of them actually requiring treatments before I left.

The evening visiting hour started just after I arrived, and as always, a quiet chaos resulting from the many extra people ensued. 15 minutes in, I was walking around looking for something to do when I saw a smaller dog who had been in for a few days with severe pneumonia standing towards the front of his cage, clearly at attention. She didn’t have any visitors, so I opened her cage door and sat with her, petting her and having a chat. Within moments she started wiggling excitedly, tail whipping to and fro like a switch. I looked up to see a handsome couple striding towards us with wide grins – my little friend’s people had arrived, and were happy to see her looking so bright. I left them alone for the happy reunion: the patient was ready to be discharged.

Less than an hour later, the little dog was stretched out lifelessly on the crash table, her previously joyous owners sobbing over her, pleading with her to please not go, as doctors and technicians administered CPR and made all attempts to restart her heart. They had gotten almost halfway home before the dog collapsed in the car; she was rushed back immediately to the hospital, but could not be saved. Her owners were inconsolable, and just being near them made me want to find a quiet room and have a good heart-wrenching cry myself.

This part worries me somewhat about becoming a vet – death is an enormous, complicated aspect of the career, and I am so far unable to witness the sadness of another over the loss of a pet without absorbing it myself. If I hadn’t walked away from the scene on that crash table this evening, I would have been in tears. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; indeed it is a reason I believe, without arrogance, that I will be an excellent vet – I so understand that deep sadness and personal struggle that comes with the decision to euthanize an animal, and I’m good at helping people understand and respect their own choices. I have been with many owners and pets during euthanasia procedures, and I can honestly say that I have been able to be of some, however tiny, comfort to them all.

Still, it’s a shitty forte, and no wonder the fate of the little pup has cast something of a pall over the rest of my night. Perhaps it doesn’t help that Roy spent the day at the hospital for a blood donation (good cat citizen!) and since arriving home Martin will NOT stop hissing at the poor little guy.

But it’s past midnight now, a new day, and so I’ll snap out of it. Much fun coming up for this weekend – good weather, a wedding, a ton of family to visit with and enjoy. It should be a really fun time. So off I go to sleep off my funk.


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