Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Evolution Of My View Of Vets, the Universe and Everything

"O Deep Thought" said Loonquawl nervously, "do you have...er, that is..."
"An Answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought majestically. "Yes, I have."

The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting
[seven and a half million years] had not been in vain.

"There really is one?" breathed Phouchg.
"There really is one," confirmed Deep Thought.
"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and everything?"
"Yes."

Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.
"And you're ready to give it to us?" urged Loonsuawl.
"I am."
"Now?"
"Now," said Deep Thought.
They both licked their dry lips.

"Though I don't think," added Deep Thought. "that you're going to like it."
"Doesn't matter!" said Phouchg. "We must know it! Now!"
"Now?" inquired Deep Thought.
"Yes! Now..."
"All right," said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.

"You're really not going to like it," observed Deep Thought.
"Tell us!"
"All right," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..."
"Yes..!"
"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought.
"Yes...!"
"Is..." said Deep Thought, and paused.
"Yes...!"
"Is..."
"Yes...!!!...?"

"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”


~ Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Deep Thought. Hitchhicker's Guide to Galaxy.

My parents never really seemed to realize how lucky they were. I was a good girl. I grew up with high regard for authority. I believed, accepted and obeyed what I was told.

Life was easy then.

We were only presented with one answer to any question. And for the longest time I took them at face value. It came from the place of authority, it had to be true, had it not?

It wasn't until I got older when I started to realize that there was something wrong with some of those truths. But even then, all you had to do was to put on a white coat and I would still believe anything you said.

Out of all forms of authority, the white coat authority had the biggest weight.

This reverence for white coat authority extended to veterinarians as well. Even after a number of misgivings with human doctors, the authority of veterinarians remained untouched by doubt and mistrust. Until ...

Then we got Jasmine with all her medical challenges.

Though it is quite possible that she only started with one - irritable bowel disease - which, not addressed properly, likely could have been at the root of all the health issues that followed. And yet, for a long time I still took the vets at their word.

Any answer is only as good as the solution that it offers.

If it doesn't offer either a solution or at least a [good] explanation, than it really isn't an answer.

It wasn't until Jasmine was five and a half years old when we started getting some answers after we yet again found a new vet. Or should I say THE vet.

At that time I also finally started doing a lot of my own research and I learned two things. Not all vets were created equal and there is no such thing as the ultimate answer. Well, maybe there is but nobody knows it. And maybe if we knew it, we wouldn't like it.

I went from questioning nothing to questioning everything.

I've learned that if you ask three vets one question you are quite likely to get three different answers. And if you research the internet the information gets even more conflicting. And no, I am not talking about questionable sources. I'm talking about opinions of veterinarians. If you really dig deep, there is very little out there everybody agrees on.

I love authority. And I loved trusting authority.

But things are far from simple.

I love vets.

I do. I love and trust vets more than human doctors. Would I look to laymen for answers? No. But I do like having more than one veterinary opinion on about everything from now on.

Maybe, one day, science will find the answers to everything. But I don't believe it has them at this time. And maybe, when the answers are found, we won't like them.

42

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Veterinarians Are People First 
A Word On Second Opinions
Brad Pitt Doesn't Believe in Germs. Could he be right?

25 comments

  1. Hello,
    I had to be the first to comment! I also have to first admit that I was a little hesitant to open and read this. Seems that we vets have been on the other end of the proverbial stick and I, (I dare not speak for the lot of us), have become a bit gun-shy about potential for backlash about the frustrations associated with the cost of care and perceived lack of compassion. But, there you are giving thanks and making me feel like maybe we do something right after all. Many Thanks from all of us (there I go claiming thanks for the group)..lol. XO to the kids..

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    1. Hi Krista, oh no, so sorry you got used to expecting something bad. Would I rather pay $5 instead of $500 for an ultrasound? Sure. But I understand it's not possible. Seems like I ought to write one about the pricing of veterinary services to set things straight a bit.

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  2. Great post. I no longer love vets. Although our dogs are fortunate to have some great vets and our dogs are healthy so I have no complaints, I still smart when I think of our first veterinarian whom I think shouldn't own a practice. When I'm online I veterinarians reach out to me through social media with ignorant statements that sprout from the party line they learn from Iams, Science Diet, Purina and Pedigree - it makes my heart sad, because there are loads of animals who are receiving inferior care, because a veterinarian doesn't expand his or her mind; instead they get defensive when a layman asks a question.

    It's wonderful to see more and more veterinarians exposing themselves to new medicine and getting additional education. I hope this trend catches on and spreads.

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    1. Well, that ties into the realization that there are no ultimate truths out there, at least not at this time. And since the "truths" are conflicting, one has to pick. I believe that the vet preaching Hill's cares about the animals just the same as the vet accepting alternative diets, such as raw or home cooked. There ARE risks with doing alternative diets wrong. And I do respect conviction. I think conviction deserves respect. Because if one believes in their heart that what they're doing is the best they should be doing, it means something, whether I agree with it or not.

      The thing about the diet issues is that these truths come from people in "whiter, shinier" coats.

      Do I believe that some of the science out there is corrupted? Yes, I do believe that. But I don't believe it's the vets that are to blame.

      At the end, everybody needs to believe something. And the choice of what to believe comes from an individual life journey and experiences.

      And yes, there are some veterinarians out there who shouldn't be practicing. Everybody, even other vets know that. But the rest of them are trying hard to do what they believe is best. And we do what we believe what is best. And hopefully, some day we'll meet at the place of the ultimate truth.

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  3. I’ve dealt with a few vets that probably shouldn’t be practicing too. I also imagine it’s pretty tough being a vet these days with clients that are armed with articles from the internet on every possible topic, including holistic approaches they may not be that familiar with.

    You bring up a great point that we need to do our own research and consult many sources, then try to make the best decision possible for our pets. Conflicting information can be frustrating and confusing but ultimately, we’re all better off if we have more information to base our decisions on. That’s why I really appreciate the effort you put into your website. Thanks for being a great source of information to help us pet owners be better equipped to make decisions.

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    1. Thank you, Elaine. Yes, we have to gather and evaluate information and then make our own decision. Because there isn't just one answer out there.

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  4. Things are even tougher for catlovers who take our furry family members to the vet. First, the cats rarely go for a car ride anywhere else, so a car ride can't be pleasant. Then they go to the vet and may get up close with dogs who want to get too close. Then there are a lot of strange people holding them and doing less than pleasant things to their body. If the vet thinks of cats as something they have to do to treat dogs, they may not know what's best for cats, and treat cats like tiny dogs, which they are not.

    The vet I have found has three cats who live at the clinic, all street rescues, and a dog who lives at her home (down from two). She also has found that some of her patients are afraid of the white coat, so she has other lab coats she wears with them.

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    1. Sounds like you found a good one. Which is great. Yes, it's harder for cats who don't get to go anywhere other than have things done to them they don't like.

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  5. I love Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy! I am also just like you. For a long time I believed that people in authority had all of the answers. Now I know different. I've learned that it is very much worth my time to do my own research on my or my cats' medical problems and bring that knowledge with me to the veterinarian.

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    1. Nobody has all the answers. The best vets are those who realize that because they're open to learning.

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    2. Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy is the best, isn't it? :-)

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  6. I have had a similar problem. I believed that the vets would work in the best interest of our animal, but the reality is that some vets strictly view their work as a business. I always get a second opinion, now. Especially since getting a call about my dog dying, from her original vet, while the second vet gave her a liver boosting supplement for the same reason that the original vet claimed to be her death warrant. Getting a second opinion is ALWAYS a good idea.

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    1. I do believe that most vets do work in the best interest of the animals within their capability. There are some bad apples. There are some who think they know all but are wrong about that. I think most do care and do their best. That's why I still love them, even though I don't always agree with them.

      Getting a second opinion when things are not working out is essential.

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  7. I have a wonderful Vet who with problem solving and consulting with other Vets in the field saved my pup's life. I will be forever in debt and awe of this man and his unending search for a solution!

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    1. You cherish and take good care of your wonderful vet!

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  8. Great post - I really enjoyed reading this. 42. So vey true indeed.

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    1. :-) You gotta check out The Hitchhicker's Guide, then. It's full of things like this.

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  9. I've had a similar problem too with my cat Koko (OTRB). She would get these "seizures" and the doctor kept telling me it was flea sensitivity. That cat had fleas, but her back was bothering her. She was spazzing out. I kept going with the vet because I heard she was the best in the area for cats. If I had switched, I might have gotten a different answer. An Ultrasound or even an Xray might have saved me money.

    I think a lot of vets work within what they know. And I respect that, I just wish some would try to learn more.

    Anyway -- good post. Definitely gives me something to think about.

    christie from lifewithbeagle.com

    PS: I know a great restaurant at the end of the world....

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    1. My rule of thumb is that when a solution isn't helping, I look for another one.

      re: PS: Yeah, has a great view!

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  10. As a vet I think the best news is that because there is often more than one "right" answer your vet can work with you to figure out what makes sense for you as a unique person and for each unique pet :)!

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    1. True, our main vet in Fergus would always do that. He's an awesome vet. I wish we could have taken him along when we moved.

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  11. Isn't that the truth! We have had out share of vets that I felt weren't that great BUT we were lucky enough to find some really great ones also! I think a lot has to do with ones expectations and knowledge.

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    1. There certainly are great vets out there. Finding them isn't always easy but it can be done. Our expectations at first were simple - make out dog better. Which, however, wasn't happening.

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  12. I don't just question my doctors, but my vet also. I am happy though that he appreciates me and ability to research things... he has never scolded me for feeding a certain way or how I am handling a specific illness. I am very luck, but I know he is not a "god" in a white coat.

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    1. I think our vet secretly enjoyed our discussions and back-and-forths. Though sometimes I must have been driving him mad.

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