Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Confessions of a Veterinary Social Worker: Installment 1

One week into the new job and things are going well. It is certainly a different way of life working for the University rather than the Health System. It is very laid back...to the point that some of the administrative aspects of the job...i.e. getting an email, getting a logon to my computer, getting enrolled in the University's benefits system...seem to be PAINFULLY slow to happen.

But the client work is fascinating and so different then working with (chronically) ill oncology patients. The grief is acute, raw, visceral and LOUD. I mean screaming, crying, yelling---unbelieveable PHYSICAL reactions to the loss (or impending loss) of a beloved companion animal. My first ER case was, of course, a dead beagle. And, it was in the same room where I had made the painful decision to have Molly euthanized just a few months before. But there is something so different about this for me in that experience---just that, I've been there, I've experienced this and I know how crappy it feels. I helped countless people with cancer over the years, but I am lucky to have never experienced that myself or in my family. Working with people who have lost animals just seems more natural to me.

The next day, I got a call from another woman who's dogs name was Maxie. For readers who don't know, my first dog, who died just 2 1/2 years ago suddenly, was named Maxie.

So, all my fears about my personal shit...I had to face them RIGHT AWAY. I knew I would encounter a dead beagle...I knew I'd be in the room where Mols died...I knew there would be a Max...just not the FIRST WEEK!

But it is all fascinating and new and exciting and I'm (still) thrilled.

But it is lonely over here. People don't just drop by to chat...no doctors yelling at me or trying to be cute to get their patients out of the hospital. No one to dine with regularly...I mean I meet up with the HUP girls as much as I can...but we are all busy. And I'm just not used to having people around to account my activities to...and I don't have to document ANYTHING. It is just all a little bizarre to me.

But I'm sleeping better and getting lots of knitting done in the evenings. I don't find the need to just stare aimlessly at the TV for hours everynight because I am in such a rut...the rut is done.

So, farewell to the rut...and the old me...the adventure continues


Kathy said...

I hadn't realized what your new job was! How wonderful for you. Yet, how painful. I can see how you could get burned out by dealing with people. This job sounds like it's perfect for you, even if it does hit you personally.

JoAnn, Wynnewood said...

If I'd had your phone number I swear I would have called you. Last Saturday night my Puli, Ozzy, was hit by a car. Thankfully it wasn't life threatening and he's doing fine but my husband was a mess. He had let the dog out for his nightly run on our street that has no cars - except he was earlier than usual and there was a car. The guilt was awful for him and I couldn't get him under control. At the vets, luckily I go to a 24/7 vet, I actually had to tell him to leave. I love Ozzy but those two are joined at the hip.
I'm happy to report that today the drains are coming out of his wounds and hopefully we can take the cone off his head. He came up to our room under his own power last night and, although the meds have made him dopey, he's happy to be home.

Bridget said...

I think you are the perfect person for your job, and hope you will realize how important you are to people like us who have lost animals.

(I am also jealous, I've always wanted to work with the Vet School somehow ...)

Sandy said...

you should not be talking about your job, your clients, on the internet. It is a blatant breach of professional social work ethics.

KGC said...

Commenting on your job and clients is not a breach of social work ethics as long as you keep it vague and change names.
I wish you the best at your new placement! It sounds challenging but very rewarding!

thenutfantastic said...

Do you still have this job? I am just now realizing such a field exists and am so excited and want to learn more!