Hi From Sunny San Diego

So, mental note:  when going to “sunny” California, don’t forget the sunglasses. 

It was pouring and cold when I left Dallas, so sunglasses weren’t even remotely on my radar. I was more concerned with my flight not crashing due to bad weather conditions.

Anyhow, I survived and made it here to visit my brother and his family and get some continuing education at the Central Veterinary Conference.

So, I’d been suffering from a degree of “burnout” prior to this trip.  Usually I look forward to CE opportunities, but this time around…not so much.  Despite what my husband thinks, vet med can be a pretty stressful job (just Google suicide and veterinarians…apparently we take ourselves pretty seriously, which combined with our easy access to deadly chemicals, makes suicide a popular option in our ranks).

Anyhow, this meeting has been great.  Maybe my neurotransmitters and hormones are all in alignment this week, maybe it’s the weather, or hanging out with my super cute 2.5 year old niece, but the burnout has receded. 

I think maybe it’s because one of the reasons we get sick of doing our jobs stems from the insidious creeping spectre of the unknown.  I graduated from vet school almost 13 years ago.  I’m pretty smart.  A lot of the stuff that used to confuse me when I was younger, I know backwards and forwards. 

So the things, the cases, that I can’t figure out easily are bigger and more complicated than when I was a newbie vet. 

Things change, treatments change, new medicines, tests, data and studies come out. 

I don’t necessarily keep up with all that stuff on a regular basis.  There was a time…long ago…pre-kids where I read 5 or 6 journals a month.  Now…not so much.

Like the majority of the rest of my life, I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  Relying on my 12+ years of experience, consults with specialists and colleagues to deal with the caseload I see daily.  Generally that gets me by 90% of the time.

I think as the year goes by, the accumulation of those 10% of cases that I just can’t fix.  Can’t figure out. Can’t refer due to financial constraints…maybe they get better on their own, maybe the clients move on and find another vet, maybe I euthanize the pet…who knows… but I think maybe the ambiguity of it, the residual debris of this uncertainty begins to poison my overall outlook on my chosen career.

I come to these big meetings and sit through hours of lectures and talks and I try really hard to make myself go and listen to topics I don’t like. For example, orthopedics…I can’t stand ortho cases.  Why? Because they’re hard.  It seems like half the time, if it’s not an ACL tear, split pad, obvious fracture,  you can hardly tell which leg the dog is lame on, much less why. 

So…hair of the dog…I goto some lectures on front leg lameness (my least fave ortho issue) and learn GREAT info on what could cause it, how to treat it, etc. 

Boom! Just like that, I’m ready for my next front leg lame dog!  (which, ironically, is my brother’s dog, who I diagnosed this morning with severe elbow arthritis/disease per my lecture on Thursday, and I will send to have his elbow scoped because, per  a lecture today, I learned can be very effective in giving him relief so his elbow won’t snap-crackle-pop like a bowl of Rice Crispies.)

So in my own little nerdy way, I’m here in San Diego battling my veterinary demons.

I’ll be back at work next Tuesday, armed with new and exciting weapons to my little arsenal of knowledge…

Maybe I’ll even be awake and perky and rearin’ to go for that 8AM appointment…(don’t get your hopes up). 

Well, gotta run..time to learn about difficult urinary cases…

Jealous aren’t ya?  😉

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