Friday, March 21, 2008


Funny way to start a blog post after almost a year, I guess. But this week has been dramatic, making me wonder if there's something about the end of March that I should hide from next year (considering my March of 2007), or just sort of pushing me back into needing to say something about life by shouting it into the electronic soup.

Part the first. This has been one of those death/crisis weeks at work. As a veterinarian you do see plenty of death, and plenty of heartbreaking diseases and/or circumstances that lead to death. You don't get used to it, and you shouldn't. The best news for anybody who wants to get out of the ER and into private practice is that 1) you see way less death and, 2) often it has more meaning because the animals you see that are dying you know, you grieve for. Maybe number 2 should make it sound worse, but somehow, at least for me, it isn't. It's not easy, and it sometimes makes me cry later on that night, at home, where I try to leave work behind, but there's something noble? ethical? at least decent about providing that one final service for a patient; making it as quick and as peaceful as possible, and providing their family with compassion and understanding during a tragic and heart-rending decision.

Many weeks, I see no grieviously ill patients at all. It's been quite some time since I euthanized a patient, and I am grateful to the universe for that. And yet, this week many dear and beloved patients have struggled to their utmost and failed. The elderly dog with terrible immune-mediated joint disease that finally no longer responded to medication. The neurologic dog who howled and circled and stumbled all night. The 21 year old, 5 pound cat whose kidneys finally failed her. And we have had some near misses with grave undertones: the newly diagnosed congestive heart failure dog; the ferret with abdominal effusion likely from cancer; the ferret with a blood sugar too low to measure. Somehow this week has felt less like "the universe hates us" or perhaps "why do bad things happen to good people" and more like a gentle "all things end in their time; acquiesce to the slow march of time." I don't really know why, because I have definitely spent a lot of time in the why do bad things happen camp, but I am moved profoundly and quietly by this sense of grace in the face of grief.

Part the second. Several of my friends may be emotionally where I was last year; stunned, broken and full of doubt. From relationships lost to abrupt loss of future paths, this week has been scattered with little emotional shock-waves. To those I love I send as much support as I can. Whether that be talk or not, a silly card, or complete disregard of the subject at hand and a deep insightful discussion of the best easter candy to be had in the US, I'm there. It's spring here in Oregon, please call.