So, one thing that makes being a vet pretty interesting is that you get to see a lot of different stuff, medical and otherwise, every day. A LOT of different stuff. Some of it is just a new variation on an old theme. Some of it is different enough that you've never seen anything much (or even remotely) like it. Some of it is so different that you think: Are you having me on? (Or, alternatively: I guess we're not in Kansas anymore!)
One of the things that sort of brings me up short from time to time is the disconnect between what I think I'm saying and what the client thinks I'm saying. To combat this problem I tend to repeat myself at least twice, using different terms, every time I explain something to a client - but that's not always enough. I do TRY not to get too jargonized when talking to clients; after all, they would not be coming to see me if they had been to vet school themselves, so it stands to reason they didn't have the annoyance of - er, opportunity to - learn all that obscure medical vocabulary. Still.... sometimes I assume that people will get what I'm talking about, only to discover that I Could Not Be More Wrong. I'll take my lumps up front and admit that if there's a disconnect on communication, it's my fault and my job to set right. After all, it's my responsibility to educate the client. Still, I guess I kind of expect that there is at least a little overlap between the jargon-rich world of medicine and the everyday world of people's regular lives. I sort of assume that certain things are understood by both groups, that there is some common ground, that there are some terms and concepts we all understand even though not everyone has gone to medical school. But it isn't always so. There are times where I find myself going: "Now, is it just me...?"
As it turns out, it's not always me. Because today one of my nurses tells me this story.
When she was working at her previous place of employment (a vet hospital in a state which shall remain nameless but which rhymes with "spillinoy"), a client called up in a state of great irritation.
"I want to talk to someone about this medicine for my dog's ear infection," she says, in an annoyed tone of voice.
"Yes, Ma'am, how can I help you?" my nurse - always the professional - asks.
"I don't see any way this is ever going to work, " says the client, rather waspishly.
Well, that isn't too odd; sometimes it takes a few days for meds to kick in and show an improvement in symptoms. However, there are some other possibilities, such as a pet that's vomiting their meds (which obviously does no one any good), or one suffering some annoying or worrisome side effect from them. With this in mind, my nurse decides to get more detailed information.
"What seems to be the problem?" she asks.
"You gave me enough medicine for a week. I've only been treating my dog for three days, and I can't fit any more of the pills in his ears!" exclaims the client.
There is a moment of silence after my nurse relates this tale. "Really?" I ask her, with a sidelong look and a raised eyebrow.
"God's honest truth," she says, with absolute sincerity.
Now, is it just me....?