Friday, May 26, 2017

Stop and Smell the Reflection.

"Please submit 5 stories for review and consideration."

A personal letter from a dear old veterinary friend came in the mail a few weeks ago. It was short, simple and inquiring about using my veterinary blog posts for submission to a compilation book about the stories that make the fabric of a veterinarians life.

"Sure! I would be happy to submit a few of my stories!" I replied eagerly and instantly... I mean, come on,, I write a blog! I have tons of stories. It will be easy to find five.

And thus began the stroll through the 900 stories I have written. Easy? Right? Well, not so much. Seems about three years ago I started writing cases, all cases. Cases to learn from. Cases to help others. Cases to provide transparency for pet parents to learn from,, and in the process I lost my fun. I became the rote routine pet care professional who was all business and no cute fluffy stories. I lost my ability to share what I love most about being a vet in an effort to help other pets..

I took a little break from writing. I had to. I had to remind myself about what my voice was and who I wanted to read about if I was the audience. There had to be balance. Truth be told the world is a mess and I felt lost and disheartened to be in it.

It seemed that I had to shed my joy to shoulder the ever burgeoning burden of need. I feel that Jarrettsville Vet needs to be the answer to all of the pet problems in my community. Jarrettsville Vet also has become the place I spend the biggest part of my life. I am not alone. I know many other practice owners of every other kind of business share this ideology and compulsion. It can take you over. There are many vets before me who have given up everything else to the point that they don't remember, recognize or even reflect on what life used to look like.

We call it our "work-life balance". The terminology the new grads throw around in interviews when they chart the 'pros' v 'cons' list. They have to feel like you aren't over loading them because they need to preserve their "work-life balance". To which I reply, "you just got out of vet school, you never had it and you shouldn't be protecting it now." But I am not that predecessor and these are millennials. They feign from intimidation and crumble under pressure. They don't want any advice that I have short of mentorship on a healthy, less than 40 hours a week.

For me the balance has not been re-calibrated and the work became the life. Hard as I tried to be savvy and see it coming.

The request asked for 5 stories and I had three Herriott-esque ones from my first year out,, none since then. The reflection in the blog mirror proved I had become what I saw coming, drove into, and plead no contest to. Sure, I could dismiss it, pardon it, or even refuse to believe it, but, it happened.

I lost the puppy in the exam of the search for congenital deformities. The purr in the auscultation of abnormal lung sounds. The wag in the assessment of neurological function. The joy in the patient that is more than the sum if its parts. The emotional had succumbed to the analytical.

I needed, I wanted, and I had better take a second to stop and smell the roses. I at least needed to take pause to check my own health status.  There has to be a funny, cute, happy ending story in my day?

Maybe I will try to find the comfort in the challenge of the situation?

Maybe I will just try to recognize my own reflection and ask her if she knows where I went? Or if I just temporarily misplaced her?

Maybe too many of us work harder to find the balance and can't stop the pendulum from swinging higher as we jump from side to side?

Maybe all of this is what makes the greatness within the greater good? Or, maybe I let the grindstone take my nose to spite my intentions otherwise?

A happy ending lives here
About me;
I am available to answer  pet questions for free if you visit Pawbly is an open online pet community dedicated to educating, empowering and inspiring pet parents around the globe. 

I can also be found at Jarrettsville Vet in Jarrettsville, Maryland for appointments, or visit us on Facebook

I am also on Twitter @FreePetAdvice. Or check out my YouTube channel.


  1. I found a connection with this blog post, perhaps because I have found myself in a very similar position. Three years ago I was happily blogging about my foster puppies, rehabilitating their feral momma and raising my children amidst a running a rescue while finding time to grow my own produce, pickling vegetables and refinishing antiques. I thought I could balance it all and save the world a couple dogs at a time. I thought I was on top of the dog saving world when I managed 8 very sick 20lb puppies. Then a litter of puppies died, born too early, to a momma too young on a cold, damp, germ filled shelter floor....and a part of me went with them. Carrying their little bodies in one at a time for cremation was my walk of defeat. Then returns started, most from adopters with unrealistic expectations. Then several of my pets and family members reached the end of their journeys and I went back to work. Suddenly rescue had lost it's beauty, it became a commitment rather than my passion, a sad reality that I am one person who can not save the world set in and my blogging came to an end, my camera collected dust and my dreams seemed so very far out of reach. Creativity, whimsy and beauty took a back seat to reality. I know she's still in there I just haven't seen her in a long time....and perhaps that was the greatest loss of all.
    Anytime you are knee deep in caring for living breathing beings I think this comes with the territory. Those with a compassionate heart need to stick together and push each other forward.

    1. Hello Jennifer,
      I am so deeply sorry to hear this. I know how hard it can be to keep going simply on faith, determination and some lofty hope that things can be better for others if you simply keep trying and refuse to abandon that hope.
      I agree with you that the greatest loss in anyones life is missing who you once thought you could be. The loss should never be your ability to find the joy in giving, even if no one else recognizes it or appreciates it. Maybe, for me, it is simply that I refuse to live in reality...
      There have been (it seems) as many disappointments as there are miracles... but, I keep going, keep faith, blog, lean on the others who support and believe in what we are doing and I don't give up. I can't, there are already too many pets who dont get help.
      If there is anything I can do, ever, please reach out...After all, those with a compassionate heart need to stick together.
      I wish you the very best,, I hope for you.. and I believe in you.
      best wishes,