Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

Bainbridge Island

One of my main reasons for starting this blog was to reach people who may be in need, in distress due to the current condition of their pet, or just plain curious about different disease mechanisms. I tried to address multiple surgical conditions in the dog and cat, because I am a surgeon and try to approach things in a calculated, methodical nature. My overall goal is to help people and pets.

I never in a million years thought I would be writing articles and/or blogs (some may wish I didn’t). I do want to thank the following that I do have to this website. Writing and grammar, not arguably I’m sure, have never been my strong suit. If you wondered if I was a little off, you probably could have guessed – I am LEFT handed. Yes folks, I follow in the footsteps of some famous people: Michelangelo, Ty Cobb, and the list goes on. You would have thought that being left handed would have made me right brained and lean towards, the arts, writing, etc, however I don’t and I am sure my high school English/grammar teacher would have a visceral, gut wrenching response to my writings (I am trying extra hard to paint a picture, just for her).

While I will continue writing posts about disease processes and various cases that are seen through the hospitals at Affiliated Veterinary Specialists, I would like to change focus from time to time, addressing topics that may surpass the practice of veterinary medicine and deviate into the emotional, communication, and management world. How many times have we found ourselves immersed in situations where we have been overwhelmed either with the medical condition of our pet or the declining medical condition of a loved one and thought “if only my doctor would listen to me, to my questions, and concerns”? At times we may feel like the tree falling in the middle of a dense forest – never heard or noticed. At times, we may be the doctor who is trying their best to communicate the gravity of a medical condition to a client or patient and don’t know how to chose our words properly or are rushed by the overbooked schedule we allow. It is not that there is fault to be given, but is there a better way, can we teach ourselves to be a more articulate, caring professional? Can we manage our time better to be a more caring and compassionate professional; for that matter can we maximize our time both at work and at home? How many times do we feel drained emotionally when we come home and don’t have enough compassion for the ones who are supposed to matter most to us? What is the bigger picture, can we “make out the forest through the trees”?

Obviously, there are a lot of topics to discuss and with time and diligence we will cover the big topics. I will try to pull from my own life lessons and the life lessons of others, both professionally and personally (and I will try to make them short and light if possible). As a professional, there are times I do my job well and there are certainly times that I could have communicated differently or acted differently for a more desired outcome. I do expect that some of my future topics will leave me open and vulnerable. I am always open to constructive criticism. For me this altered direction is about self improvement as well – ask my wife how well I separate work and home life, on second thought don’t.

I will leave with this one thought (OK it will be a long thought, I am long-winded). I remember vividly January 1, 2000 sitting in the packed waiting room of a hospital emergency room, while my grandfather was being admitted for congestive heart failure. Being twenty-one years old and that it was New Year’s Day, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind to say the least. I would have rather been home watching bowl games and celebrating the new year with my friends and family, however I learned a very important lesson that I have taken with me since that lonely day. It was just me in the waiting room filled with people waiting their turn, some in more serious condition than others (many nursing their New Year’s Eve hangover). I can remember the scene like it was yesterday: an elderly man in a wheelchair came up to me and we exchanged the normal small talk and discussing the football games that were being played that day. He asked me where I went to school and what my plans were after school. My answer was well rehearsed, since I knew that I wanted to be a veterinarian from a very early age. I told him my current status of having applied to various veterinary schools when he abruptly stopped me and gave me this word of advice: “No matter what you do, if you are able to help people and animals ALWAYS treat that opportunity as a blessing and a privilege”. It was obvious that he had his run in with the medical profession and I am sure he had both positive and negative experiences. He was right, I was blessed, I had my veterinary school interview at Ohio State University (where I would eventually attend) the day before my grandfather passed away – it was his dream that I go to veterinary school. That man, whom I do not know his name and can barely remember his face, touched a young man that day and it is my goal to impact others in a similar way.

Kevin Benjamino, DVM, DACVS

Copyright 2015