Often, the only way into a heart is that it be broken first.
This wise statement is from a book written by a dear friend of mine, Patrice Rancour, called Tales From The Pager Chronicles (published by Sigma Theta Tau International, 2008). Patrice and I have walked together on the path promoting wellness in humans and animals for many years.
Patrice is a psychiatric/mental health clinical nurse specialist who assisted families in crisis before she crossed over into focusing on wellness. As I read story after story of these families, and the doctors and staff who cared for them, I marveled at the healing that occurs when a tender heart and helping hand are available. Obstacles that seem insurmountable can be overcome. But isn’t that what nursing is all about? Nurses are our advocates in a complicated medical system. I always knew that when I wanted answers about my hospitalized loved ones, I asked their nurses.
The stories in Tales also created a deja vu feeling for me. Even though Patrice is talking about human medicine, many parallels to specialty veterinary practice revealed themselves. You may think it is inappropriate to compare the crisis over a human illness to that of a pet’s situation, but to those of us who have lived in the drama, it is a very real comparison. I have had pet guardians collapse in my arms over a unexpected death. I have seen them at the brink of suicide. I’m certain their lives outside of the vet hospital were not stable, and the emotions of what was occurring brought them to the breaking point.
Thanks goodness veterinary medicine has embraced the concept of support services for pet guardians. We are blessed to have the Honoring The Bond program at Ohio State Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and I am busting a few buttons over the fact that my niece chose the human-animal bond as her specialty in social work. I could say I taught her everything she knows about clients, but who am I kidding? It was one of her mentors who held me up as I was burning out. I can remember calling Dr. Brandt on the phone many times before going in to talk to a client. At the end of a particularly tough day I’d ask her to foam the runway, because I knew I was coming in for a crash landing.
Do all veterinary specialty hospitals have a social worker or counselor on staff? No, but I hope the day comes when this service becomes the standard of care. These professionals also provide a needed service to the veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and students who care for severely ill patients. The stress can be overwhelming. Veterinary medicine now has the highest suicide rate of all the professions. There are many theories as to why we have made it to the top, and hopefully we will soon gain the awareness needed to give up that statistic.
As I present workshops on living according to energetic principles all across the country, I am reminded that our wounds (whether it is patient or a wounded healer) begin with a broken heart. Something happens to shut us down. The anger, judgment and bitterness follow as the energy from the initial wound continues to vibrate in our field. I liken it to Nikola Tesla’s theory of magnetic resonance, which states that a seemingly gentle oscillation over time can topple a sky scraper. Our wounds continue to vibrate and create drama in our lives until an event such as the loss of a loved one (two or four legged) pushes us over the edge.
The good news is that once we understand life as energy, we can regain our power. Once we know that there is an oscillating device called heartbreak in our energy field, we can take steps to quiet it — before life’s inevitable crisis occurs.
I’d like to dedicate this day to all the medical and veterinary nurses and staff who work so hard to watch our backs — whether we are the patient or the care provider. Please take a moment to remember them.