I wrote this when I started this blog in 2009, and it still holds true when I reread this in 2018. (Except my kids are now in high school and middle school. I still constantly worry I’m screwing them up, though. Now they try to avoid telling me when they are sick because they know I’ll freak out and jump to the worst possible conclusion.)
Sometimes I think of the way we practice medicine is sort of like fishing with a net. Dog or cat comes in sick, we cast this big, wide net of diagnostic tests to see what kind of disease it’s got. Could be anything from cancer to it ate a bug, but by running tests and stuff we can figure it out.
Conversely, I feel like human doctors often “fish” with harpoons. You come in sick, odds are it’s a cold, but sometimes it’s someting worse. Human docs seem to be trained to play the odds and cast the harpoon at the most common thing, the cold. Occasionally (?) they miss, and it’s really something awful, and then you hear the horror stories of people who are sick for years, and multiple docs can’t figure it out, then the right doctor runs the right test, and they finally figure it out, etc etc…
This is totally subjective, but I think that sometimes, we vets have better luck figuring things out using the net. I just hear all these tales of people waiting for weeks for a diagnosis, when a lot of times, we can figure things out within a few days. (Often there’s not much we can do about it, but at least we can tell you what’s wrong)
Anyways, this gets me to the Weatherman’s “net”. The folks at the National Hurricane Center call it “The Cone of Uncertainty”. I think it’s kind of funny, because, if you look at the picture, the “Cone”, comprises almost the whole coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. That’s a pretty good margin of error. It’s like me handing the sick dog owner the book: The Clinical Veterinary Adviser and telling them, your dog could have one of these diseases.
Furthermore, and I know I’m waaaay overthinking things here, but that’s what I do…it’s what I liiiiiive for (to quote Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid)…I often feel like my whole life is a cone of uncertainty. If I let myself, I can literally drown in a sea of it…Will my kids turn out ok, or will they be psycho drug dealers? Will I live to see them grow up? Should I stay a vet or become a teacher? My kid has a nose bleed, is it just a nose bleed or is it cancer? Is daycare screwing the kids up? Am I selfish to work and not stay home with the kids? Paper or plastic? Save the trees or the oceans? walk or drive? Do you want ketchup with that? But, I read once that “worrying is about as effective as trying to solve an algebra problem by chewing gum”, so I try to bury that stuff and silence the whatifs.
I feel like I’m constantly walking on the edge of a precipice, and things could go terribly wrong in the blink of an eye. SO, here is me officially declaring: I am wholeheartedly, profoundly, and utterly grateful for what I have and who I am right now.
We all live in a cone of uncertainty, and I guess it’s what we do with it that matters….