Good evening all, the last week or so of work has gotten me kind of in the dumps. Not because I’m unhappy at my job or because every day was a crazy non-stop hell (trust me, I still love what I do and I can handle even the crazy days)…but because we’ve seemed to reach some sort of a “euthanasia spree”.
Now, it’s not out of the ordinary for a typical vet’s office to perform a few euthanasias every week. It just comes with the job. And yes, every one of them sucks. Be it a dog that’s lived a long life and it’s just her time, or a poor young kitty that got into an accident that even surgery can’t fix. They all suck…but we buck up and troop on, after all, we have to be strong for at least the owner’s sakes.
But it becomes another form of sucky when it’s a patient and owner that you’ve grown close to and fond of. It’s almost as hard as losing one of your own. We had two of those this past week, and even though they were both remarkably different cases they were both so, so hard to deal with…and to top it all off, those were only 2 of the approximate 14 that were done within 7 days (I may be exaggerating, but it felt like we were performing 2 every day). It sort of starts piling onto your shoulders, like the weight of each patient is laid on top of you after each one is brought in for the last time. It wears on you, even if you don’t notice it at first. You seem fine for a while but then you start noticing how tired you are every day, and how little you feel for most of the day. Seeing so much death in such a short period of time just tears you apart little by little. And you don’t realize it until you finally have a day off and, your body being so worn out from bottling your emotions up, you sleep the entire day. Or when a friend or family member asks how work has been going and you start bawling because the reality of it all just hits you like a brick in the face.
But then, when you’ve slept and cried and probably done your share of emotional eating, you realize that you just have to remember why you do what you do and carry on. Because yes, there are really sucky times and you have to say goodbye to patients that you’ve become attached to. But then again, you got to see them in their golden days, when they’re all wagging tails and wet kisses. You got to see them get better when they were sick. You got to make a difference in their lives, not only by helping make them better in the past, but by making sure that they didn’t suffer any more.
You realize that every single day, you’re making a difference. Even if you’re just vaccinating a dog or cat to prevent rabies or distemper. It may not feel like much, but it’s enough. What you do is enough. Even if you can’t save every single one. All that matters is that when the opportunity presented itself and the cards were right, you were able to help rehabilitate that stray that a client brought in off the side of the road. You got to see that poor skin and bones pup go from anorexia and near death to a chubby and tail wagging healthy new family member for someone. You’re the one helping the doctor when a patient comes in who has an impaction and needs immediate surgery. You are making a difference.
There are days when at the end of it you just want to cry, or scream, or break down into a puddle of nothingness. But more often than not, there are days when you head home feeling proud of yourself because of all of the lives you helped save or make better. You may be going home late and smell like everything from cat pee to wet dog, and probably have a scratch mark here or there. But those small losses are nothing compared to the victories of saving a life.