Recently I was the victim of a serious automobile accident. The first responding paramedics were exemplary as well as the team that air lifted me to a prominent Boston medical facility. The trauma team was extraordinary and the orthopedic service very capable. However in reflecting on my recent hospitalization it missed the mark. In spite of the excellent medical care that addressed each and every injury it was as if I existed not as a patient but as a problem list. The fracture was reduced, lacerations sutured, scans performed and concussion diagnosed. But rather than being discharged with a comprehensive plan for recovery, scant instruction but plenty of pain medication was provided. How much should I exercise? Does my diet need to be altered during recovery? How do I manage the brace on my arm? Are there activities I should avoid? When should I return to work? These were a few of the questions that came to mind yet never thoroughly addressed.
At the Brockton Animal Hospital considering your pet’s presenting problem only begins the patient care. A consultation involves a complete physical exam keying on any abnormality present in addition to those brought to our attention. Continuing is a discussion of the pet’s environment and any changes that may have taken place upsetting the norm. What is the perception of the pet’s family as far as activity, appetite and overall “joie d’vivre”?
After any hospitalization we confer with you, the client, regarding dietary requirements, recovery expectations and social interaction with other pets and household residents. What should you as the client expect over the next several hours to days? How can you best effect a smooth and rapid recovery given the situation. Final discussion includes the circumstances under which you should call the hospital if recovery is not as expected.
The above is far from an exhaustive discussion of what constitutes Holistic Veterinary Care. However it touches on an urgent issue that pervades all aspects of medical care. In treating conditions whether cancer or chronic urinary tract disease it is essential to note that they do not exist in a vacuum. Our lives and the lives of our pets are in a delicate balance. Treating disease without considering all other aspects of the patient’s life often dooms a treatment plan to failure. Can we expect an anorectic patient to recover quickly from illness without nourishment? If we confine an outdoor pet to the indoors how much additional stress does that bring to a recovering body? Restricting social interaction during recovery can lead to depression resulting in protracted recovery.
In dealing holistically with illness we must address all aspects of our patients’ lives. Diet, exercise, environmental enhancement, social interactions and home environment all play an important role in recovery. Only when we consider these areas of well being can we begin to approach an acceptable level of patient care. In the meantime, my recovery progresses well.