I spend all day trying to ensure that pet owners understand me.
I consider it the role of a good GP to help pet owners to consider options for their pet’s care, and make appropriate decisions that are best for the pet, and the budget available.
This means using words and phrases that do not require a medical degree to be understood. When I came out of vet school, my head was loaded with six years of studying. It was as if I had been learning a foreign language.
But I quickly learnt that these long medical terms, whilst being perfectly clear to me were unintelligible to the pet owners who with whom I needed to communicate. So, in a sense, I learnt to translate all the knowledge into terms that were easily understood by anyone, and prided myself on that skill.
After years of translation, I was unusually asked to revert to medical language, and I was surprised how out of practice I was.
A local young orthopaedic surgeon, specialising in knee surgery owns a lovely Staffie. Wilbur had been intermittently lame on his back leg on and off for months, and the problem was worsening. My examination made me sure that his stifle was his problem. This is the doggy equivalent of a person’s knee.
I felt quite nervous about guiding a surgeon and straying into his specialist area, but he put me at ease. We examined WIlbur’s x-rays together and enjoyed comparing the similarities and differences with the ones that he was more used to looking at.
Wilbur went to see the veterinary orthopaedic specialist and had his knee repaired, and I gather that they had a similarly interesting chat. Wilbur had an almost complete cruciate rupture. This is a common injury in people as well, especially those playing football or going skiing. Three years later his other stifle suffered a similar injury, which was a fairly predictable risk. He had this stifle repaired as well.
Nowadays Wilbur still has excellent mobility. Wilbur’s owner was good enough to let us know that he was delighted with the result, which really couldn’t be higher praise.