Healing Lessons from Veterinary Neurology

What was I thinking? I can’t tell you how many times those words have come to me over the years as I have pondered my neurology practice. Neurology can be one of the most frustrating disciplines in veterinary medicine, but at the same time, it has taught me some of the best life lessons.

Why is that the case?

Neurology cases are some of the trickiest. Many defy diagnosis, even with the state of the art technology we have available to us. Yes, we have come a long way with diagnosing and treating brain tumors and spinal cord disorders, but there is so much more in neurology. And even when we get the diagnosis, or a couple of clear possibilities, we often can’t give a definitive prognosis.

Time is a neurology patient’s best friend. But for those of us who like answers, that’s not so easy to swallow. Tohear that you could pay a large sum of money, spend a huge amount of time caring for your animal, get your hopes up and still lose isn’t the type of message we like. And for those of us delivering the message and going to bat for everyone involved, it can be emotionally exhausting. It can hinder our ability to do our best.

As I gave advice today on another dramatic, frustrating, heartbreaking neurology case, I was thankful that I could look at it from a different perspective. I am grateful for the wisdom that I’ve gained over the years, and for being able to approach all animal cases from an energetic and spiritual perspective.

Perhaps one of the best lessons neurology can give us is to realize that it mirrors life. The more we try to control the process, control the outcome and control each other, the more drama we create and the more thesituation falls apart. Perhaps these animals are teaching us to trust them, andtrust that they are connected to a strong energy that will guide the situation — if we let it. Our pets know when to come into our lives, and when to exit. And even though their physical presence is gone, their energy stays with us.

If we can disconnect from the frustration for a moment, open our hearts and ask for guidance, the answers will show up. If we fall apart, stay in the drama, or blame others, we don’t help our animals. We actually make it harder for them.

Isn’t that a great lesson on life? As I always say, if you play in drama, you stay in drama. Instead, why not stay calm and ask for guidance? I’m not talking about crying out and asking to be rescued, I’m talking abouthelp that will come in a way you can process. Despite thegrief,you have tostay calm – good vibrations can’t get through if your energy field feels like a hurricane.

Immediately after I gave my recommendations on this case, I received an email talking about Oprah’s interview with Maya Angelou. When Oprah asked her what she thought about growing older, shespoke wisdom for us all. One of the things she said was, “I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”

She’d make an exceptional veterinary neurologist.


carole hagen
.7 years ago

Great story!

Bobbie D.
Past Member 8 years ago

Thank you for this article! I am wanting to complete my graduate work in neuroscience & animal behavioral psychology. It's nice to read something positive.

Sarah A.
Sarah M8 years ago

Hm, veterinary neurology is a new profession to me, and it does sound simultaneously fascinating and frustrating, especially when it comes to diagnosing a detrimental condition, and reporting the news, or apparent lack thereof, to the people who care for the patient. I hope you continue to be strong and wise for your patients and their people.

Barbara Sullivan
Past Member 8 years ago

Thank you for this wonderful article, Susan.
And for your comments, Toni, about the importance of paying attention to the ingredients on dog good packages. I, like you, learned that the hard way when my wonderful dog died at only 6 years old from cancer.

Toni C.
Anne M8 years ago

Wonderful article. Thank you. I did stay calm while my champion German Shepard went through the horrific "throws of death" in the middle of the night for three hours. I held her, stroked her, spoke softly to her but I must admit it broke my heart that I could not help her. she was terrified and in great pain. "Sasha" was a 110 pound magnificent dog who always seemed hungry. She ate everything. I was worried about her size altho' she was bred big for border patrol but her vet had her on a Fit & Trim diet for several years. Suddenly without warning, her hind legs swelled and within three weeks she was gone from cancerous Lymphoma.
An autopsy showed that her body was starving from a lack of protein and essential fatty acids! I know that carnivores eat Meat, yet her diet was filled with corn, grain, flour and not enough to keep her healthy. I learned a painful lesson. If the first two or three ingredients are NOT protein/meats and essential fat...DO NOT BUY IT! These grains are called "fillers" and that's what they do...fill up the dog but provide no nutrition for her organs. We are also taught not to give our dogs table scraps. America has the highest rate of cancers in pets. Table scraps help to fill their nutritional needs that packaged foods do NOT! Third-world dogs may starve to death but they don't die of cancers. Remember, dogs are carnivores. You will never see a wolf eating corn! They need MEAT and fat. The spirit of my beloved pet is always with me and I s

Catherine O Neill

I agree animals do have their own energy & instincts. If only we would pay more attention to these qualities. When I put my beloved Border Collie Misty down she was ready to go I know. She was 17yrs old with arthritis she just would look at me as if to say Release me I need to leave now.That was years ago but I still see her eyes today,

Kristi H.
Kristi H8 years ago

Yes, their energy stays with us. Many choose to come back to us, which has been my experience.