I was sitting her today working, mind wandering while I typed away, and somehow or another got to thinking about my veterinarians and this post. I suppose it stemmed from Honey, who just had her first heartworm round in her heartworm treatment, then graduated to her docs, then to them being my docs in general, then to the rest of the docs, etc. I thought for quite some time about how they’ve all affected me through the years, some of the things we’ve gone through together, and how wonderful they’ve been. Various thoughts and scenerios played in my mind, and suddenly I felt compelled to write about them.
Since childhood, I longed to be a veterinarian. Much to my dismay, when I entered college I realized it involved Science courses. Dreadful. Despite medicine being in my family, and being predisposed to gore via mother’s ER stories at the kitchen table, science didn’t like me. However, quite frankly, at the time my “artsty fartsy” side dominated, and I didn’t particularly care for science either. I preferred to focus on my more creative and thoughtful side, which led me to an English major for the creative side and Psychology for the thoughtful side, resulting in a Psychology major and a Public Speaking/Interpersonal Communications minor. While I still had to take plenty of science for Psychology (gross), I didn’t have to endure what I felt was the more painful side of science…you know, the 3-400 levels or so of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc. I do not regret my decision, for both Psych and IC taught me tremendous amounts, while also bringing a great deal of joy and wonderful experiences to my life. What I do sometimes and sadly ponder is not actively using both of those to pursue medicine, a true love of mine. I LOVE medicine. I constantly want to learn more, listening intently to my doctors (unless in a “Fibro Fog” state and caring less about which way is up), and researching to educate myself so that I know as much as I possibly can. To me, medicine is the most facinating profession and science, and I will forever thrive on it and long to be a doctor. On the other hand, I realize that if I’d of gone to vet or med school, I’d not be here now with these animals, saving their lives and reaping the benefits of them saving mine. So, I live vicariously through my veterinarians
When I was 28 I began working for Dr Shrum at Holly Tree in the hopes of learning more about Veterinary Medicine, still holding the deep desire to become a Vet. This was a major turning point in my life, for it introduced me to so many things that I was never aware of…including how ignorant I was about animal care. I was fortunate because Dr Shrum was so wise and intelligent, while also willing to teach, tolerant of mistakes, and facinating to watch. He had a calm and sense of control that tamed even the wildest of humans…er…uh…animals, and he was highly respected by his clients. Let me simply say that I was extremely fortunate that he was my doctor, my teacher and my boss (and truthfully, I don’t know who else would have put up with me 😉 ). I was also lucky to have some excellent co-workers, turn excellent friends, who supported me and didn’t mind my tagging along to learn. It was Dr Shrum that opened my eyes not only to joy of the science, but also the art of medicine, and the realization that good doctors are a Godsend and a rarity. Not his words, mind you, but I saw him work amazingly with both the clients and the animals, work on the animals, not give up, and I saw him fix so many others mistakes. I watched him in awe…he was brilliant and everything I wanted to be in a doctor.
I learned a great deal working for Dr Shrum, more than he’ll ever know, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from him. Almost 2yrs later I left Holly Tree Animal Hospital due to my move to TN. Surprisingly to some, when I relocated my biggest fear was finding a quality veterinarian. I held my expectations high, and I compared everyone to Dr Shrum. I would accept no less, and didn’t much care about dumping a vet if he/she was less than required. I tried a few vets that didn’t seem up to par, and eventually made my way to Dr. Myers’ clinic. Oddly, Dr Myers had also just made the move to Nashville, so I’ll go ahead and say that we were both very fortunate at the time…Me, fortunate in finding a fabulous doc, and him fortunate to find a client as wonderful as me 😀 (He would appreciate that comment due to our constant, sarcastic bantering).
I will describe Dr Myers as a very patient and tolerant man…I say this because when I first began seeing him I was flat out brutal. I was pleasantly brutal, mind you, but I hammered tests and questions at him so that I could determine if he were adequate…I suppose because he was my age. Being younger I felt certain he was a bozo…as opposed to me and all of my just-shy-of-2 years-part-time-experience. A tad arrogant on my part, but it was such an important thing for me to find a great vet that I was unsympathetic. I went into deep discussions, asked numerous questions, talked as if I was so experienced that I might as well be a vet, and perhaps, now looking back, I tried to make him faulter. Truth be told…certainly he was a miserable man coming into my room. I know he was, actually, for he later told me so. 😀 I also saw his co-worker, but somehow still managed to see Dr Myers repeatedly, as well, much to my uncertainty as to whether or not I liked him. In fact, I really don’t know why I didn’t say that I didn’t want to see him…I suppose it was because the good Lord wanted me to have him as my doctor. 🙂
Dr Myers and I ended up working together for 8yrs, and even still talking on occassion despite both of our moves back to our hometowns (comically at the same time). After a very, very sick and critical needs dog of my own, I learned of his extreme intelligence and amazing compassion for the animals, and he became my Godsend veterinarian. The animals loved him, and he proved himself brilliant. I was amazed at what he came up with for various problems, and how well he handled them, regardless of how non text book (a common thing with me and my animals). He was a phenomenal surgeon. It was proven that my initial thoughts of him were very wrong (but I’m always right?), and he was, indeed, a superb and higly skilled doctor. Thank God he was also tolerant. 😀
Unfortunately, Dr Myers changed his schedule to only working weekends, and I was put in a bind due to the number of animals I had between personal and rescue. I preferred, by that point, to only see him in that particular clinic, yet I was now faced with going a week without him – I panicked. I could not go a full week without a doctor. It was then that the good Lord, again, intervened and took care of me and the animals. One day I asked a technician, who was starting a new job at another clinic, who he recommended at his new clinic. Without hesitation he said “Dr Houlberg – he’s awesome.” Trusting this technician completely, I said “Okay, I’ll make an appointment with him.”
The minute I met Dr Houlberg I knew I had no worries, and I felt completely safe (and immensely relieved!). He was kind, gentle, patient, amazing with the animals, and also brilliant. The animals immediately responded to him, and he did exceptional work with them, both emotionally and physically. He was my 2nd TN Godsend, and I don’t know what I would have done without him. I saw him pick up my critical dog’s case with ease, fall right into place, and never bat an eye, as well as take on my crazy cases with ease and immense knowledge. He was oustanding, fabulous, and a top of the line practitioner. Dr Houlberg and I worked together for 4-5 years, and I will still use him for any TN animals that I take into rescue. He is a delightful person with whom I hold the utmost respect both as a friend and a doctor. Thank God I was led to him.
Dr Myers eventually went back to working during the week, and I was fortunate to have both Dr Houlberg and Dr Myers available pretty much at my beck and call (a girl’s dream, right?). I often joked about how I had it made, for I had one during the day and one in the evening. I secretly wished they could work together since they were so much alike and on the same page, but unfortunately my dream never came true. Perhaps in a sense they did, through me and even with Dr Myers referals to Dr Houlberg after he moved back to Ohio. Who knows…maybe they secretly had a drink after hours and vented about me behind my back. 😀 I’d be lying if I said I blamed them.
Lastly, an adopter-turn friend-turn Memphis and virtual vet, Lisa. She’s an amazing woman with a heart as big as Texas. Also a patient and tolerant individual, she has proven her extreme intelligence repeatedly. I would, without hesitation, urge anyone in the Memphis area to have her as their vet. I love the way she calms me and helps me to focus, while feeling my excitement, worries and pain. She’s a true gem, and I think the world of her. I feel very fortunate that she’s become a part of my life.
Since back in South Carolina, I’ve returned to Holly Tree as a client, and thankfully Dr Shrum welcomed me with a hug. I have so enjoyed seeing him and working with him again, as well as meeting the staff members who work with him now. He has two wonderful doctors working with him at this point, and I have really enjoyed meeting them and getting to know them. I have been truly impressed with their precision, their thoroughness, and their hearts, as well as their knowledge. Thank goodness these two wonderful ladies have joined MY practice! 😀 As mentioned before, I am annoyingly picky and anal in what I consider to be a good vet, but I will say that I give a high five to Dr Shrum for getting two great docs to join the practice!
This long winded post was written for a couple of reasons. First, I think about all of this and say to myself…how lucky am I that I came across multiple, wonderful veterinarians? Seriously…what ARE the chances? I’ll tell you the chances…they are slim. During my 11yrs of working with animals, I’ve come across many, many veterinarians, and I’m here to tell you that good ones aren’t “a-plenty.” The fact that I was blessed with so much…let me, again, use this suitingly word…brillance…well, that is something only the good Lord can provide. Too boot…they put up with ME!!!!!! Let me just say that I am far from easy to work with, and I know darn good and well that I am annoying at times. I am a “wanna be” vet, I am irritatingly inquisitive, I am a “Googler,” a user/liker of homeopathics, and I poke and prod on the animals. I am, without question, the ultimate Veterinary Nightmare. I know this…I really do…although I’d lie if I said I know I could change…or that I would. 😉 Yet each of these doctors have continued to work with me, (again) tolerated me and my antics, and never given up on me…even when I was giving up on myself. I can easily pick times when I know they wanted to smack me, or even doubted me for one reason or another, and I couldn’t have blamed them. I can’t express to them enough how grateful I am that they didn’t.
So, if you love your vets as much as I do…go thank them and tell them how much they are appreciated. Relish in the fact that you are blessed with such a fantastic individual and physician. A veterinarian’s job is far from easy…they are expected to know everything, play God with animals that cannot communicate with them, know multiple species, practice numerous professions ranging from obstetrician or urologist to ophthalmologist (plus surgeon), and work for free b/c they’re supposed to have big hearts since they work with animals. “Easy” isn’t in the job description, so a “By the way…you’re a blessing to our lives” is a joy for them to hear.
Thank you to Dr Shrum, Dr Myers, and Dr Houlberg for never giving up on me or the animals. Thank you to Lisa for always being there for me, and thank you to Dr Storm and Dr Powell for jumping right in for the duration.
To everyone reading this blog, know that I could never do what I do without these doctors, and they are just as much a part of rescue as I am. They are the Godsends. 🙂