Help! Too-nervous pet owners strum this vet's last raw nerve
Occasionally we vets get stressed by clients with issues so inane they manage to strum our last raw nerve with a high-frequency hum capable of shattering any possibility of a peaceful day. These are the pet lovers so devoted to the most devilish details that there’s nothing any ordinary veterinary provider could do to instill a sense of well-being or even reason into a nervous parent’s one-track mind.
The last six weeks have been like that for me with respect to one particular client. Every week, like clockwork, she’s been in with her tiny dog for yet another check on her spay incision. Six visits after one simple spay is a bit of a stretch—even for the most white-knuckled mom among us. This is especially true in Mimi’s case—since everything went 100% according to plan.
But not everyone has the same idea of what’s normal. Clearly, this stressed-out owner expected the two-inch long spay incision to have healed by the time she was discharged. Sure, there might have been a bit of inflammation and there was almost certainly some licking after the e-collar came off. Otherwise, this was just about as normal a spay as I’ve ever seen—except for the owner.
Every week at least two phone calls. Every week at least one visit. I’m so close to tearing my hair out I can’t even think straight on the subject of this client. Add it all up and I’m sure this $200 spay has cost me $400 in time and energy alone. And how do you put a price tag on stress?
There are plenty of nervous Nellies out there. And most of the time their stress is understandable. After all, anesthesia, vaccines and drugs all have side effects. What I cannot abide, however, are those who would have you surrender every bit of your soul unless you meet their unreasonable expectations.
Normal normal normal. How many times can I say it? Where’s the trust? Where’s the sense of partnership when it comes to healing a patient? Where’s her sense that she might possibly be taking things to a neurotic extreme?
I don’t know how to handle this one. Perhaps a nice letter (once she’s fully satisfied that everything’s perfectly fine) is in order: “Clearly I am unable to provide the care that Mimi needs at the level you consider appropriate. I am sure you’d be better served at another veterinary hospital. We wish you and Mimi the best of luck.”
Is that too extreme? Maybe I’m the neurotic one. Either way, all I know is this one’s gotta go. If it’s like this after a spay, God forbid I should ever suffer the misfortune of having to diagnose an actual disease.