A day in the life of a veterinary professional is almost always unpredictable. A day that starts off looking fairly routine is likely to change, as soon as a dog decides to eat a toxic dose of chocolate or get in a scuffle at the dog park. We are accustomed to days filled with uncertainty and our team is trained to stay focused when unexpected challenges arise.
The pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus has made all of our lives more unpredictable and uncertain than ever. As veterinary professionals, we are constantly reminded that life is uncertain, yet this pandemic is testing our resilience and tolerance for uncertainty in ways we couldn’t have imagined. I (Katie Rob) am a co-owner and veterinarian at Columbia City Vet Hospital (CCVH), but for reasons I’ll explain in a bit, I haven’t been able to work in the clinic during the pandemic. So, I wanted to give a big, loud SHOUT OUT to our veterinary nurses, customer service team, veterinarians and management team who have been at the clinic providing compassionate, high quality care during this pandemic.
Our team members show up for work every day, even during uncertain times, because they love your pets too. We’ve adapted and found innovative strategies to safely provide care. One of the biggest changes we’ve made is the switch to “curbside care.” This means your fur babies have to come into the clinic without you. This can be anxiety-provoking for you and your pet. Our team is more motivated than ever to make sure every pet has a positive experience while in the clinic. Behind the scenes, puppies and kittens are playing with our fun-loving team while getting their vaccines. Our team is taking their time with every appointment, so they can use “fear-free” techniques for handling, distracting and comforting all of our patients.
I can’t thank the CCVH team enough for their dedication and devotion to the fur babies of Seattle throughout the pandemic and during my longer absence. For me personally, life became a lot more uncertain than usual in October, many months before the pandemic. On October 19th I found a lump in my breast. It wasn’t very big (1.4 cm to be exact), but after years of feeling lumps and bumps on dogs and cats, I could tell by the firm, irregular and invasive nature of the lump, that it was bad news. I had a mammogram and biopsies two days later. I spent the next four days anxiously waiting for the results. My doctor called me while I was at work on a Friday afternoon to tell me I was diagnosed with a grade 3 ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer.
I had a mastectomy and am now in the final stretch of chemotherapy, with two of the twenty weeks of infusions remaining. I still have radiation ahead of me, but as I get closer to the finish line, I find myself starting to think about life after cancer. I think about getting back to the vet clinic to do what I love. But, the pandemic complicates my safe return to work, as my cancer treatment has compromised my immune system, making me a “high risk” individual. I currently go to the hospital weekly for treatment, and as I sit in the lobby with other cancer patients, I am reminded that our community is filled with “high risk” individuals. I wonder how the vet clinic can stay safe as Seattle gradually “opens up.” We will be following guidelines closely and continue to do everything we can to stay safe.
Still, it seems to me that until we develop a reliable vaccine, we will be faced with a lot of uncertainty. “Curbside care” might be part of “the new normal” for many months ahead. Our team misses seeing you in our lobby and exam room. We miss having in-person relationships and conversations about your pet’s health. But, despite all of these changes, one thing that’s not uncertain is our team’s dedication and devotion to your four-legged family member’s health and well-being. I look forward to seeing your fur babies in the clinic this summer.
Written by Katie Rob, Veterinarian and Co-Owner/Medical Director