I didn't really have a concrete idea for this month's blog. Don't get me wrong - I have plenty of ideas. Some are vague one-line thoughts that need expanding on, others require more work than I have time for right now, and some I'll just have to be in a certain mood to get into them. Humor is a fickle thing. So, this month, please indulge me (as if this whole website weren't an ongoing, perpetual indulgement) as I'm just going to do a little stream of consciousness thing on thoughts I've had recently.
People are weird. And I realize I'm a people too, therefore I must be weird in my own way (no need to post in the comments section, thank you). However, I routinely seem out of sync with my fellow primates. They seem like a different species, Homo clientensus, perhaps, or Homo ignoramus. I had an owner recently who makes a very decent living and seems in the many ways society expects, to be educated and "normal". He uses Palmolive for flea control and a "concoction" (his words) for cleaning ears that includes, in part, pink eye medication, athlete's foot powder, and salt water. He also stated that the dog is an outdoor dog except in the winter (because, you know, here in Florida winter can be pretty brutal). I told him that Palmolive just makes cleaner fleas. He retorted with how it was a vet who told him to do it. When I told him to not use that concoction in the ears, he replied rather arrogantly, "Well, it works." Granted at the visit the ears looked fine, but he had already said that they are a recurrent problem and he has to treat monthly, which makes it seem, that, oh, I don't know, his concoction "doesn't work". His next line of defense against a reasonable conversation was that it cost him $500 - $600 the one time he took the dog to a vet for an ear infection, which has to be an exaggeration, because he either had other things done as well as dealing with the ear problem or he's just pulling numbers out of a bodily orifice.
Three things I took away from this conversation. One is that people aren't necessarily coming to us to get good and proper information. It's not like I'm the neighbor giving unsolicited advice. You brought your pet to me. I'm going to do my job well and tell you what's best for them. I'm sure human physicians get ignored by their patients as well. Two, this encounter was a great example to show that ignorance crosses all educational and socioeconomic levels. The last thing is that many of us got into this profession because we are most certainly attuned more to animals than people. Yet we can't get to the animals except through people and only if they really allow us to. And the more we deal with people, the more we like the animals. It's quite a conundrum.
Let's talk about misdiagnosis. This word gets thrown at us (or maybe just me, I don't know) and I don't think people know what it means. If I tell you your dog has feline leukemia, yeah, that's a misdiagnosis. If I tell you your dog has lymphoma and we treat for lymphoma and it really has ebola, that's a misdiagnosis (as well as a potentially bigger problem). However, if I tell you that your dog might have neoplasia and actual testing reveals, instead, an immune-mediated disease then........not a misdiagnosis. And besides, along with mentioning neoplasia, I also said it may be other things, such as an immune-mediated disease. It doesn't help if a client has selective hearing. If you run with your dog in the summer, in Florida, during the day, while it has an upper respiratory infection and its temperature reaches 106.7, yes, that's heat stroke. Just because 3 or 4 days later it continues to cough because of the upper respiratory infection (which we're treating), doesn't mean your dog was misdiagnosed. If your dog is fine on a visit from 9 months ago, but now has a heart-related condition, that is not a misdiagnosis. That is because the problem wasn't there before, now it is. If I had the ability to see the future, I'd charge more. Lastly, if tests haven't come back yet and your pet's condition worsens while getting supportive treatment, that is not a misdiagnosis. That is a "wedon'tyethavea"-diagnosis. There's a difference. If we didn't have to do testing to get a diagnosis, if I had the ability to just look at a pet, or do that "laying on of hands" thing, and tell exactly what something is every time, well, I'd charge more for that too.