“You are more committed to being a vet than you ever have been to this relationship!” Ouch! Relationships can be tough, especially when they are not going well. Things are said in the heat of an argument and be they true or false, they sometimes resonate. And by resonate I mean hurt.

I was shaken when that statement was made to me.  I had no response and thought it was a product of frustration and the moment. It couldn’t be true, could it?   As startling as it was, I had heard the statement before. Several of my colleagues, to a one all males, have shared the moment it was said to them. We all took it as a comment made very much in the moment, a sign of the lack of appreciation, respect, and understanding of all our hard work and dedication. But that one question kept rolling around in my brain:  It couldn’t be true, could it?

Throughout my profession carreer, I have always worked long and hard hours.  I have worked eight, twelve and twenty four hour shifts regularly that have covered every hour of the day, every day of the week, and at least once on every holiday.  Most Saturdays and many Sundays are work days capping off a five to seven day work week. I attend two professional evening dinner meetings at least twice a month, subscribe to six professional journals and magazines, and  attend one national or international multiday veterinary conference once a year. I have been on call after hours, missed family events, had to leave dinners and gatherings for work, and made countless phone calls during personal times.  I have made the call to say I am going to be late so often, I often get the reply “Ok, come home as soon as you can.” before I can explain why I am calling. Over the last 30 years, I have been employed by myself, private concerns, local, state, and federal agencies as a veterinarian in 7 states and turned down offers for employment in 2 foreign countries.

“You are more committed to being a vet than you ever have been to this relationship!” It couldn’t be true, could it?  Instead of being a statement of character defamation, it was one of character definition. But in truth comes realization.

For me, it is better to be aware of who you are and live that truth rather than be oblivious to the fact. Choices are made, sometimes unknowingly, and a life is formed. I have never pretended to be anything other than what I am, a dedicated professional and a man trying to be decent while doing the right thing.  Unfortunately, my dedication has often come at the expense of my personal life, but that is the way of my world.  It is what I know and what I do. I can think of a lot worse things to be other than a veterinarian actively trying to be the best he can be.  But with that realization also comes some regret.

In this case, the pain of loss is tempered with the gift of the truth. We can’t have a better past but we can have a better future. When we know better, we do better. All very sound aphorisms, but they ring hollow in this case. It is still emotionally painful and it sucks.

Dr. Pierre Bland is a small animal practitioner who offers office and house call appointments to his clients.  His offices are located at 3225 N. Andrews Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL and can be reached at 954 673-8579.