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Compendium May 2012 (Vol 34, No 5)

Guest Editorial: Seeing the Light

by Jennifer A. Schleining, DVM, MS, DACVS (Large Animal)

    The Lord works in mysterious ways.
    —Author unknown

    Learning that I had achieved diplomate status within the American College of Veterinary Surgeons was a proud moment—the culmination of a dream 8 years in the making … an astronomical feat. After many exhausting hours of residency training, research projects extending well into the night, and the challenge of balancing my home life with my ambition to become a board-certified veterinary specialist, I had finally reached my goal!

    There were many congratulatory phone calls, hugs, and well wishes from coworkers, family, and friends. But where was the proverbial light—the one I had envisioned would shine straight down from an opening in the clouds to bathe me with instant, all-knowing, academic prowess and a profound understanding of statistics? After all, I’m a board-certified surgeon now! I was happy, but for some reason beyond my comprehension, I didn’t feel any different than I had the day before.

    That is, until I went home. My oldest daughter, Celia, was waiting for me in the mudroom, wearing her cowgirl boots and pink canvas Carhartt barn jacket. It was time to change the bandage on her pony, Pooh, who had developed an abscess in her left hind foot 3 days earlier. I had opened and drained the abscess after anesthetizing her foot as I had for a hundred other horses. At her own request, Celia carried the bandage material, duct tape, and ointment to the barn. After leading Pooh from her stall and tying her, Celia was nowhere to be found.

    “Celia, where are you?” I called.

    “I’m outside so I don’t hear Pooh cry!” she yelled from outside.

    “Celia, Pooh’s not going to cry. Come back in here.”

    “But Mom, you have scissors!”

    Trying hard not to laugh loud enough for her to hear, I assured her that the scissors were just to remove Pooh’s old bandage so we could replace it with a new one. After Celia understood exactly what we were doing, she was the world’s best veterinary assistant, handing me the ointment, then padding, then gauze, then self-adhesive bandaging tape, and then duct tape. She even put a layer of elastic tape around the top of the bandage by herself.

    When we were done, Celia inspected our work, looked at me, and said, “Mom, you are a real doctor.” And at that instant, the inside of the barn seemed a lot brighter than it had before. There it was—the light was shining! It does not matter how many letters I have behind my name because to one very special little girl, I am a real doctor.

    NEXT: Hypercoagulability in Dogs: Treatment

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