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Brave Veterinary Teams Take Care of Yourself

April 2, 2020

Thank you brave, compassionate veterinary team members providing essential, healing care. Your deeds are heroic! You are HEROS! Forever grateful. Take care of yourself.

The topic we chose for this month (three months ago) is Veterinary Team Safety. We had no idea we would be amid a pandemic!

You may find helpful information within the World Health Organization’s handout on taking care of yourself. 

So here we are, April 1st and I am compelled to share moving posts from two colleagues Lauren Smith, DVM and Kate Neligan. I am hopeful their words help to create a safe place for your feelings to reside. All feelings are normal in the turbulence we are enduring.

When I first read Lauren’s post, I felt connected, for the first time, to the experiences veterinary team members were having. I felt what was “out there” was “in here.” I physically felt it in my heart and my gut. It moved me. She did a great job expressing her fears, doubts and outlined a sequence that I could see. Putting her thoughts to paper was cathartic for her and for those she touched. I Instant Messaged Laruen today and she is feeling better.

Lauren Smith, DVM wrote 3/29/2020 Read the entire post.

“I have COVID-19. At least I assume I do. The test results are still out.

….Friday, I feel great-energized!

….Tuesday, I feel fine.

….Friday, I am having a shortness of breath.

….Saturday, I set up a Telemedicine appointment with a doctor.

….X-ray results; they’re clear. Isolation for 14 days.

I wonder what I can do other than Netflix “Love is Blind” and continue re-reading “Harry Potter.” And then I decide I can share my story. I can let others know how it feels. Let them know that the fear and confusion, the guilt and uselessness, the feelings of helplessness and loss of control, the ups and the downs—they’re all normal. We’re all just here, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Worrying we’re not doing enough—worrying we’re doing too much. Knowing we should stay at home but feeling like we should be being productive.

So here it is…You are not alone. You are normal. In fact, what you’re feeling right now is probably the only truly normal thing in this totally abnormal world.” Thank you, Lauren. Read the entire post.

You, too, may be feeling the turbulence. For me, my emotions have been all over the place. Concern, doubt and uncertainty. This SUCKS! Then in the next moment, embracing opportunities, creativity and excitement for what can be. It’s like going from first to fifth gear without the middle transitions.

Another colleague, Kate Neligan, has been generating words that resonate well with me.

“Let it out….. let it go. Let out the primal scream of anger into your pillow or blast music in your car and let it out.

Let out the tears of grief for any loss you’ve ever experienced. Let out the fear of the future and the fact that the unknown can feel scary because we aren’t in control and yes, the shoe can drop. Let it out in safe ways – into your voice memo, into a pillow, into a bath, on a pad of paper. Run it off, tap it off, and clear it out.

Your true divine essence is clear, grounded, calm love. It’s safe there and it’s beckoning you to return there now. Feelings are energy in motion, and they need to move.” Thank you, Kate. Connect with Kate.

Odd both posts included “the shoe can drop.” Curious what does that mean. Not a phrase I use and unsure of its origin. It means await a seemingly inevitable event.

So, the veterinary team safety message is this, whatever you are feeling, it is normal. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. In the moment of anger, frustration, fear, elation and gratitude simply recognize it and feel it. Both Lauren and Kate referenced waiting for the shoe to drop because there is more to this event. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

From within the WHO handout:

  1. Take care of yourself at this time. Try and use helpful coping strategies such as ensuring sufficient rest and respite during work or between shifts, eat sufficient and healthy food, engage in physical activity, and stay in contact with family and friends. Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies such as use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical well-being. The COVID-19 outbreak is a unique and unprecedented scenario for many workers, particularly if they have not been involved in similar responses. Even so, using strategies that have worked for you in the past to manage times of stress can benefit you now. You are the person most likely to know how you can de-stress and you should not be hesitant in keeping yourself psychologically well. This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Be safe. Be Well.

Reach out to me if you need to speak with someone. I have an empathetic ear.

Rebecca Rose, CVT

References:

How it Feels to Have COVID-19, Lauren Smith, DVM, https://medium.com/@laurensmith_5693/how-it-feels-to-havwe-covid-19-b8d92746259

Let it Out. Let it Go, Kate Neligan, https://www.facebook.com/KateNeliganEquineCoach/

CATALYST VetPC Resources in Veterinary Team Safety

Psychological Safety, What is and how do I create it in my culture; https://catalystvetpc.com/psychological-safety/

Take your MEDS, Meditation, Exercise, Diet and Sleep; https://catalystvetpc.com/take-your-meds-wellbeing/