There is no doubt that the last few months have been incredibly difficult for all of us. From having to pivot not only in our personal lives but for many of us, also our professional lives, the last few months have tried and tested most of us!
The last few months have been challenging for me as a mother of twin toddlers, hospital manager of a busy GP right in the heart of the NY metro area, and senior dog mom. Trying to navigate childcare, or lack thereof, manage the hospital’s needs (especially being in the middle of the epicenter of COVID for a large part of the last few months), and manage the medical care of an elderly pug who was rapidly losing his ability to hold his urinary bladder but also not-so-slowly losing his ability to be mobile (he was becoming paralyzed in his hind end) was more than overwhelming up against the backdrop of a global pandemic.
Working with the incredible staff at the veterinary clinic made even the most stressful days better. The staff came in knowing they were there for the purpose of creating a better world for pets and they live(d) that day in and day out. Amongst the uncertainty of what the next day would bring, each member of my incredible staff would come to work in good spirits and ready to take on whatever was thrown at them. From curbside struggles to client’s expectations being, sometimes, a bit unreasonable – they took it in stride. Their optimism has made coming to work enjoyable even though so much of my personal life felt like it was falling apart around me.
In April, my husband contracted COVID-19 which meant my entire family had to quarantine. Luckily during the week leading up to him becoming ill, the hospital was closed due to staffing issues. Since no one was working, no one else had to quarantine and the hospital staff remained safe and the hospital once reopened, stayed open.
Being home was both a blessing and a curse. We tried to keep my husband quarantined but in such a small space it was nearly impossible. A few days into quarantine our son and I became ill which made it even harder to care for my husband. Despite a few weeks of sickness, we are a very lucky family as we had minor symptoms and, while I had more breathing issues than my husband or my son, and my daughter never got sick at all, we all have recovered and have been back to work and school (daycare) since the end of April.
Being away from the hospital for three weeks right in the middle of some of the most uncertain times was really tough for me. Trying to support the staff from home was hard, but their mission to care for pets was clear and they supported me from afar despite my inability to support them the way they had become accustomed to prior to my quarantine.
As we prepare to start sending our children back to school in whatever capacity that may be, having a job to come to where, despite the uncertainty, I know that I’m walking into a building full of like-minded individuals all ready to do whatever needs to be done to make sure pets are cared for, really helps ease any of the anxiety that I normally would have had working during this time. I have been blessed with a team that works well together and supports each other regardless of job title.
A week or so ago my husband and I made the devastatingly difficult decision to euthanize our elderly pug. His hind end was progressing rapidly, his blood pressure medication was not seeming to keep his blood pressure under control. His tracheal collapse was getting worse so quickly that I was worried he would have a catastrophic respiratory event and it was my worst nightmare thinking he could suffocate to death. Working as the hospital manager, I decided to wait for the end of the day on a Friday so I could still be available before shutting off my phone for the weekend (let’s face it, I needed a few days away). While I tend to be a more private person, my staff made sure to do everything they could to make one of the worst days of my life a little bit easier. They checked in on me, made sure I ate and asked me how they could be there for me and allowed me to set my own boundaries which was incredibly helpful.
Saying goodbye to our best friend, our first child, our first dog together, after 12 years was one of the hardest things my husband and I have had to do – and trust me when I tell you we’ve been through a lot together. Despite having worked as an oncology technician for years and having been present for more euthanasias than I’d like to recall, there’s something much different about it when it’s your own. I will forever be thankful for the staff members who worked that day and those who sent their condolences and checked in on me the days following.
Some of the most impactful things I’ve learned over the last few months have come from the hardest moments. I’ve learned how resilient a staff can be if they are communicated to in an honest and transparent way. I promised them from day one that I would tell them what was going on the moment I found out so they would always be in the know. During some of the most uncertain times of our lives, being able to provide information has been vital in keeping the team’s spirits up.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to lean on others when your life feels like it’s falling apart around you, and that good people really do exist! Having supporting and understanding coworkers and staff members has been vital in my ability to maintain my mental health over these last few months, especially over the last few weeks.
Despite having had a difficult few months and weeks, and no real end in sight, I know that together we are going to be OK!
My advice to anyone struggling to find the positive in all the negative around us is to lean on those who are a positive influence in your life, and know that you are not alone. If there’s one thing we can all relate to it is the current struggles regardless of the intricate specifics, the overall feeling of “suck” is something we can all understand! We’ve all been forced to stretch, to find new ways of doing things, and to be flexible. In a world full of uncertainty it’s been refreshing to have a constant reminder that when a group of people comes together for a common purpose, no amount of uncertainty can stop them!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suzanne Thomas, BA, BS, LVT is the Hospital Manager at VCA Bond Animal Hospital in White Plains, NY, CATapult facilitator (a two-day, 17-hour new hire training for all new VCA employees), and a Penn Foster success coach for the NE02 region. After graduating from Pace University with a degree in business administration Suzanne went on to graduate from Mercy College with a degree in veterinary technology. A self-proclaimed serial student, Suzanne is also pursuing her MBA from the University of Scranton.
Suzanne has a dog and a cat: Miley the Chiweenie and Louie, a 25 lb. domestic shorthair that she swears is part Maine Coon! She most recently said goodbye to her one-in-a-lifetime pug Charlie, who she misses dearly. When she’s not working, Suzanne enjoys spending time with her husband, teaching group fitness classes, and reading personal development books. A fairly new mom of twins, Suzanne is often busy taking care of her babies with and without fur!