Monday, March 11, 2013

Somebody hold me back, I'm gonna punch him....

It's taken me a few shifts to gather myself to be able to write this story.  That's how angry I was.

Two clients arrived with their 10 year old pomeranian.  The presenting complaint was difficulty breathing; it was easy to see at triage that "Syclla" was breathing too quickly and too hard.  Her mucous membranes were pale, and she was definitely ill, but still able to walk and wagging her tail.  My technician asked for permission for immediate emergency treatment and diagnostics, which was declined.  We placed Syclla in an oxygen cage and I immediately went to talk to the family.

"Hi, I'm Erdoc, and I'm sorry to meet you at such a difficult time.  What's been going on with Syclla the last few hours?" I started to ask the pertinent questions that are vitally important for a patient history and to help sort out the more likely conditions.

The husband and wife (both in their late 40s) were immediately rude.  As hard as I tried to be compassionate, kind, and understanding of what is never an easy situation, they remained cool, crispy and unfriendly.  Their answers were short and their attitudes impatient.  Certainly I respect that different people grieve differently, so despite their attitudes, I moved on to my recommendations for their pet.

Just like any other case, I gave the clients the findings based upon my exam, and options for diagnostics (to figure out what's wrong) and possible treatment options (which would depend on what's wrong).

"Our dog is old. Don't you think this is a bit ridiculous? She's 10 for god's sake."

"I certainly agree that Syclla is older.   I understand if you don't think testing or treatment is in her best interest.  I meet different kinds of people all day long, and so I just want to make sure you understand the options, the risks and benefits of each option, and make a choice that's best for you and your dog.  Certainly euthanasia is something we never want to go through, but is a understandable choice in this situation, and if you felt it was right, I would support your decision."

The clients asked me to leave while they talked.  When I returned, they had made the final decision for euthanasia.  I told them that I supported their choice 100% and I was sorry for their hard day.

The euthanasia was smooth and painless; the clients held Syclla in their arms as she passed.  

After she was gone, I again expressed my sympathies for their loss.  "I'm so sorry you had to say goodbye.  Take as much time as you need, and whenever we can help you with anything just ----"

The husband stopped me in mid-sentence by putting his hand (open palmed) 1 inch from my face, effectively telling me to shut up and definitely the most disrespectful thing that any client has ever done to me.

 It took all of my professionalism, grace and restraint to walk out of that room and shut the door without saying or doing anything I would have regretted later.  I'm still angry about how much emotional energy I spent trying to be kind, caring and compassionate only to have my kindness returned with disrespect.

How dare he?


  1. What horrible people. They did not deserve your kindness.

  2. unbelievable you were treated so shabbily

  3. No sympathy card for them. Why are people such assholes?? I don't think I could have walked out without saying anything, even if it was 'wow.'

  4. I remember one memorable boss that was like that. He would use the hand gesture and we would reciprocate with our own behind his back. Not professional, but stress relieving after being so disrespected.

    You are rightfully angry. What you did benefited this lovely little dog, kept her from suffering from her illness and at the hands of owners who lack compassion.

  5. Well, this is a crazy story! You should be angry. I have heard some stories from emergency veterinarians in Gilbert, some stories like yours even. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I'm sorry you had such awful clients. I used to work as a vet tech in an ER. We had a lot of rude clients. It's pretty ridiculous.