The Special Bond We Share With Our Patients
Nat Hunt, Vet Nurse – Pet ICU
We all get heavily involved in cases, and the stories of many patients we come into contact with. We hear stories of companionship and the unbreakable bond between owners and their pets. It can take an emotional toll. We shed tears of happiness, and tears of sadness, but with every bad day, there is a reprieve. A patient that we didn’t think would make it, fighting against all odds and leaving our clinic, tail wagging or purring, returning to their families at home.
In the Pet ICU, we are a team of enthusiastic, compassionate and caring individuals who strive to be the best we can be, to be a voice and advocate for our patients – who can’t tell us how they are feeling. Our goal is to help every pet that comes through our doors. It is not uncommon to spend weeks watching a patient fighting numerous battles. Every setback drives us to try even harder to figure out the answers. When we see improvements, we cheer!
We choose this line of work because we have developed a special connection to all our patients that cannot be ignored, and we care beyond ‘just doing our job’. It is always difficult when your own pet is ill, but for us in the Pet ICU, over a short period of time of caring for other people’s pets, we too, develop a special bond with them. We see pets in their most vulnerable state, and that combined with the fact that they often cannot communicate with how they are feeling, makes things even scarier for them. We understand this fear, and knowing how we treat our own pets at home, we try to comfort these animals in the best ways we know how.
After spending several years looking after animals, there are clues that help us try and decipher what they’re trying to tell us. Collectively, our team of Nurses and Vets communicate these cues and in turn, help treat the patient, to try and prevent anxiety, or to ensure they’re comfortable in the new environment. Of course, this would not be as simple if we did not experience first-hand, this beautiful human-animal bond.
If you ask any Nurse or Vet in this industry (not just ICU), about their most memorable patient story, I can guarantee there will be more than just one. We bond with all our patients, but sometimes we develop a rare connection with a few. It is these patients we remember years later. My patient: a fearful, aggressive dog that spent weeks in hospital, only to gradually learn to trust the Vets and Nurses caring for him, so that when he finally left Pet ICU, he was a completely different dog, happy and licking faces goodbye. Another memorable patient of mine underwent challenge after challenge, set back after set back, spending weeks in hospital under our care, and finally turned a corner – heading home just a week before Christmas. I’ve had many cats prove they have nine lives, giving a new meaning to the term ‘fighting spirit’.
This pathway is a challenge, but it is one of the most rewarding challenges to ever endure. So when I hear that sentiment of ‘I could never do what you do’, please know, that we are born to do this job, and there’s no chance we would want to be doing anything else.