Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Battle Rages On and the Pain Cuts Deep: #SufferInSilence with Compassion Fatigue

Hello my friends. I hope you're all doing well. I come to you today with a heavy heart and soul. As many of you know, I'm a veterinarian in my "real" life. I've been at this job for over 23 years, through many highs and lows. Right now I'm about as low as I can get. 

Working in an emergency veterinary hospital has taken it's toll on me. I thought I'd be able to cope with just two days a week there and the rest with another general practice hospital. It's not working out as I'd envisioned. Over the last two weeks alone, I've had to end the pain and suffering of twenty patients. One shift...yes that's one 12 hour shift SEVEN of them came in at once. All from different families. All for different reasons. It was bad enough that one of the other families in the lobby burst into tears with having to witness the heartache of those who had to say goodbye to their pets.

Take a moment and think about that scene. This family who had no contact with those pets were crushed with the sadness. My techs helped me with those patients. They were able to rotate so not one had to do them all. I was the lone person who had the task to euthanize each and every one. 

I use my poetry as a form of therapy to help me express the emotions swirling around in my mind when I can no longer speak through the tears.

Suffer in Silence

The Noblest of Professions
Calls to those with caring hearts.
No one tells you about the secret
That will tear your soul apart.

Bit by bit it eats away at your humanity.
To survive you must shut off your emotions
Or your mind gives up
And crosses over into insanity.

Happy, joyous occasions
Become fewer and farther between.
As our patients grow older,
Their bodies become frail and lean.

Still we’re expected to soldier on,
With a smile on our face. N
Never mind the price we must pay
With each and every case.

By our hands one more life is ended.
Their pain they suffer no more.
But who grieves for us
When yet another is carried through the door?

The Noblest of Professions…
That much is true.
Would anyone want to still be a part of it
If they knew what they’d be asked to do?

Ending another’s suffering comes at a price
That in the end is far too steep.
Could you stand by as the end draws near
And not allow yourself to weep?

Someone must take up the mantle.
Someone must know what to say
To those whose pets suffer so,
Whose broken lives must end today.

The members of the Noblest of Professions
Die a little every day.
We remember each life we’ve held in our hands
The loss of our hearts is the price we must pay.

The Noblest of Professions must carry on
And Suffer in Silence.
To do anything else would make them appear
Self-absorbed, uncaring, and defiant.

Truth of the matter is
We suffer every day.
We carry the burden.
Our compassion is the other price we must pay.

Will you take up the mantle?
Could you die a little every day?
Will you heed the call of the Noblest of Professions
Even knowing the price you must pay?

©Tammy Dennings Maggy June 13, 2016

The hardest part of this job is holding these lives in my hands and letting them go. Yes I know I'm ending their pain and suffering. I know their quality of life is poor and they're no longer enjoying life as a happy, carefree pet. I know this and that's how I'm able to perform the task...

Asking me to do it over and over and over again during the same shift or even within a couple days is more than I can bear. It's more than anyone should have to bear. 

Before you stand up and shout, "It's your job" put yourself in my shoes for one moment. Put yourself in the shoes of the family in the lobby the night so many pets came in for their last goodbyes. The ages of these animals range from very young to ancient. Some have lived long lives filled with love and others have known only sickness and pain in their short lives.

Being their advocate takes compassion, courage, strength and love. Unfortunately there isn't an unlimited well from which we can draw from to keep filled with all we need to help those who cannot speak for themselves. THIS is what wears us down. THIS is why we burn out. THIS is why veterinarians have now surpassed all other medical professions as having the highest suicide rate.

I've battled depression since my pre-teens. This is so much more.

The nightmares are the worst. Tired all the time? That's part of my traveling for work and trying to be all things to all people—or is it?

Looking at that list I'm sure all of us can relate to at least half of the symptoms but how many of you have a job where you have to continue to buck up and soldier on?

I'm not asking for your pity. 
I'm asking you to look after your loved ones who are members of medical professions where they have to deal with life and death on a daily basis. Get them to take time off even for just a weekend away. Find support groups for them and for you so you will know how to help get them through.

Until next time, 

The Fat Chick 

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