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Every Day is a School Day

Yesterday, Sophie was at the vet for some dental work... it turned out she needed five teeth removed, at least two of which were quite tricky, so she has soluble stitches in her tiny kitty mouth, and two kinds of meds to take.  In the course of her treatment it was discovered that she has laryngeal paralysis, a potentially life-threatening condition with no viable treatment options.  This news, 'she might die suddenly' was delivered in a very matter of fact way - so very different from my experience as a cancer patient where the initial diagnosis was prefaced with 'I'm sorry but...'

It got me thinking, and that's a good thing.

I am a facts person, I'm not good at small talk and I've never been taught how to deliver bad news. 

I still recall, with embarrassment and a degree of shame, the time when someone was newly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (news delivered appalling badly on a Saturday afternoon when she was alone, and only because I happened to be visiting was I called in by a nurse to pick up the pieces).  She asked me to tell her husband, and to stay with him until he had told their children.  I arrived at the door, asked if I could come in, something he was reluctant to allow, and so I stood on the doorstep sayong 'I'm really sorry, I have bad news for you...'  I stayed with him a while, listened, clarified, repeated, then, at his insistence, left before his (adult) children were told. Not my proudest moment.

Sophie is doing just fine - in my household all three of us, the two cats and myself, now live with a degree of uncertainty.  I defy the statistics my consultant doesn't believe in, Sasha fares better off the meds, Sophie is her cheery self.  After Dusty and Holly, I've learned that kitties who don't get run over risk the same horrid conditions as people.  And after all these years of doctors and vets, I continue to learn from them how to - and how not to - deliver bad news.

The last time I had to break bad news, and it wasn't unexpected or terrible, was by phone at 8 a.m. I did my best, but still feel I have lots to learn.  I have editted this a few times because it was too 'bald'.

Every day really is a school day, and I, like the young vet yesterday, have a lot to learn.

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