Archive for March, 2015

Maurice and Dotty

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

I euthanized two good friends this week.  We will call them Maurice and Dotty.  Maurice was an orange cat with a thick neck and a big heart.  Dotty was a happy dog with lopsided ears and an easy smile.  They were patients at Madison and I never saw them in their natural environments, but something about them touched my heart and I will always carry memories of them with me.

Maurice

We are blessed to see many animals like Maurice and Dottie at Madison. Pets that are special. To their families, of course, but also to us. When you come into Madison and we gush all over your pet, that is not for show or because we have to. We do not have to. We love your pets. And we grieve when they die.

Everyone grieves differently and that holds true for veterinary staff too. There is debate among veterinarians about the best way to help people deal with the pain of having a pet die. There are books and articles written on the subject. Some veterinarians and staff members become very clinical and professional. Some will lead a prayer. Some with cry with you and some will save their tears for later. There is no one correct way to grieve. Everyone is different. Every family is different. Every animal is different.

Each day at Madison we have exciting and adorable moments. And many days we also have heartbreaking moments. We are all deeply affected by the animals that we treat. This can be emotionally exhausting, but it is one of the reasons that we choose to be in this field. We want to help. Even when it breaks our hearts.

Our families have seen us cry because we are with your families in grief. As coworkers we support each other and help each other work through our pain so that we can go back to work and help more families who need us.

There is a term often discussed in veterinary medicine, Compassion Fatigue, also called secondary traumatic stress. It affects people who work/live in care-taking rolls. Who give so much of themselves emotionally that over time they lose the ability to care for anyone, even themselves. Recently some students asked me how I avoid getting compassion fatigued. I told them that I don’t, that I am running full tilt right into it.  I told them to find good therapists, to have a support network that will help them take care of their own emotional needs so they could be there for their patients and their own families at home.  And to show up every day with an open heart.  Ready to give of themselves and to receive love and pain in return.  In this field there is no way to avoid some degree of compassion fatigue, our pets just don’t live long enough.  If all goes according to plan, we will outlive all of our patients.

For me it helps to give the animals that I love a good death. To offer a yummy and previously forbidden last meal of candy or donuts. To do what I can to make their final moments comfortable, emotionally and physically. And to listen to and talk about the good times so those memories can live on.

Veterinary medicine deals with death so often. It is not my intent to make this blog a morbid place, but we cannot hide from death.  I have found it helpful to remove death from that place of being taboo.  To examine it and what it means to me and those that I love and care for. To plan for it. To remember the good times and shed some tears at the end.

Next time you see one of our team members with a tear in their eye give them an extra big smile and let them know that you appreciate their compassion.  Madison has so many big-hearted, compassionate, and talented people who are working hard physically, intellectually, and emotionally to keep your family healthy and happy.  I am extremely thankful that we all have each other for support during good times and bad.  When Maurice and Dotty left this world they were not alone.  They were surrounded by their family and their Madison family and they will be well remembered by many.

Note – The pictures of not of Maurice or Dotty.

Circle

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Prozac Dog Nation

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Luna was 6 years old when we started her on Prozac. My husband and I rescued Luna when we were first married and raised her as we eventually would our human daughter. We lavished attention on her, we took her everywhere with us, we took tons of pictures of her and annoyed our friends by always bringing them out and demanding that everyone appreciate how adorable our dog was! Anyone who has ever had a Golden Retriever for a companion knows that Luna returned that love five-fold. She was constant in her devotion and love to us. She would lay on us while we watched TV or read the paper, sighing contentedly because she was with her family. When we went to the d-o-g-p-a-r-k (don’t say it out loud) she ran around like a crazy thing and played with everyone, then she would come back to us and collapse in our laps, her eyes laughing and tongue lolling.

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Then we noticed that she was not venturing out to play as much at the park and she would actually snip at other dogs if they sniffed her rear end. Since I am a small animal veterinarian for a living I panicked and took her to see two different specialists who did a spinal tap, an MRI, and at least 7 radiographs (x-rays) and diagnosed her with two blown anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL or CrCL). More about that fun surgery on a different blog. The recovery involved her living in a cage for 16 weeks. My husband and I took turns sleeping outside of her cage and reading to her out loud so she wouldn’t be lonely.

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We were firmly bonded.

A while later my husband and I welcomed home a beautiful baby girl, E. She was and is our pride and joy. We take her everywhere with us, we take tons of pictures of her, and certainly annoy our friends by always bringing them out and demanding that everyone appreciate how adorable our baby is! I envisioned Luna taking the newest member of the family under her paw and treating her as tenderly as she treated us. Like she did with the kitten we brought home a few years ago. I thought she would sleep next to the crib and sit beside me while I rocked the baby. I could sing lullabies to both of them. I tried to make special time for Luna every day. I would snuggle her and I made sure that E shared her toys with Luna. I tried to take her for walks, but that got harder and I couldn’t take her to the p-a-r-k because she never really got over her aggression when another dog sniffed her rear end.

Luna stared to act oddly when E was a few months old. She would wake me up by barking in my face but not go outside when I took her to the door. When E learned to crawl Luna would try to get between us and sometimes try to sit on the baby. When E learned to walk and throw a ball I was certain that they would be friends, but Luna wouldn’t chase a ball that E had thrown. She would, however, smack the baby in the face with her tail, knock her down and steal her snack every chance she got.  Luna was/is never aggressive, she allows E to pet and hug and sometimes poke her, although I do my best to prevent any unkind gestures on both sides.

I did several full physical examinations and ran blood and urine tests to make sure that Luna’s behavior was not a sign of physical illness. All tests pointed to a normal healthy dog, but Luna was not her normal happy dog self.

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I did not give up my dream that someday my two different daughters would be friends. But I faced the reality that Luna needed help getting through this hard time and I would not give up on her, or on our family.  I continued to make sure that Luna got plenty of attention and some alone time with me.  Plenty of fresh air and exercise and play dates with dogs I knew she would get along with.  Luna took the Prozac every day for about 6 months.  When she seemed back to her normal loony self, we stared weening her off.

Luna is now drug free and feeling fine!  She even seems to enjoy playing dress up these days and occasionally she runs after a ball that E throws.  I know that their relationship will continue to change and grow and I am very thankful that modern medicine helped my sweet, goofy, wonderful, loving Luna to find a new normal and to feel like herself again.

Eve Luna Hat

If you are struggling with family dynamics.  Please know that you are not alone.  We are here for you.  We have been there. We want to help your family to be the best that it can be!

 

Tiny

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

We all fell in love last week.

That tiny puppy whose needs made me turn around last Saturday evening spent the week in our care.  She only weighed 1 pound 3 ounces.  She is not big enough to keep her blood sugar up with out very frequent meals, and she does not really care for dog food.  She likes yogurt and baby food and fresh chicken.  Being too small for Tough Love we just gave her all of our love.

We took turns taking her on our lunch breaks and taking her home at night.  When she was well enough, she got some proper puppy socialization at our Wednesday night puppy class.

crash puppy class

When it was my turn for the night shift, she wrestled with our cat, Pickles.  Sniffed our retriever, Luna.  And pooped all over our bathroom.  When I told my daughter that she could not live with us forever she just sighed and said “but I love her”.  Me too kiddo.

Good luck little Crash!  You will always be a Madison Mascot!

crash eating                                                           crash iv

 

Nice to meet you!

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Welcome to Madison Veterinary Hospital’s Blog!

Hi! My name is Kate, I am one of the veterinarians at Madison.  We wanted to make a blog in order to give you a glimpse into what we do.  Veterinary Medicine is fascinating to animal lovers but can also be intimidating and overwhelming.  It is, after all, medicine and so deals with all of the complexities of mammalian life.  I hope to use this blog to give you insight into what happens in a small animal veterinary practice, what steps you can take to keep your pets healthy, and hopefully entertain you with some interesting and touching stories.

Most of the stories that I share will be true and from our daily life at Madison.  I will change the names and may change some details in order to honor our clients’ privacy.  I will also use nicknames for my family and our support staff.

I would like to use this first blog post to introduce myself.  My Dad says that I am “Living the little girl’s dream”, and I agree.  So many young people dream of becoming veterinarians.  For me the pull was my strong connection to animals and also my deep love of science and solving puzzles.  Veterinary medicine gives me an opportunity to interact with animals and the lovely humans who care so deeply for them as well as to solve puzzles every day.  All of these interesting and adorable interactions happen in the company of the most amazing people that I know, the veterinary hospital support staff.  I will write more posts about these unsung hero’s in the future but know that they are working tirelessly to keep your family healthy and happy.

I am currently working at Madison part time so that I can also be home with my daughter, my husband, our two cats, and two dogs (more on my crazy animals in coming posts).  My daughter, E, is three years old and is already an animal lover.  E loves to come to the office to check up the animals with Mom, and hopefully catch a game of Blue’s Clues with Dr Scott.

Being a parent and a veterinarian is always rewarding but at times challenging.  Work-Life balance is more than a buzz word.  My job and my passion is taking care of animals and their humans, but I also work hard to make sure that my family also gets my time and attention.  This weekend is a good example of that balancing act. I was on my way home from work this past Saturday when one of our technicians called me, a puppy had been brought in, she was sick and needed help.  I called my husband to make sure he had our daughter then turned around and went back to work.  Sunday was spent talking with the tech on call and going in to help hand feed the 1.25 pound baby who would only eat when being snuggled and slowly hand fed.  So far the puppy is doing well and my husband and daughter got some extra quality alone time.  Next weekend one of the other doctors will be on call and I will turn off my phone and play Candy Land, Dress up, and yes, probably even a game of Veterinarian 🙂

Talk to you again soon!

Dr. Kate Levey

Crash first