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Don’t Ignore Your Pain!

Blog Author: Jamie Rauscher, LVT

NAVTA President

Adequate pain control is something we strive for in our patients every day. We are constantly scrutinizing our hospital protocols to make sure we are giving the patients that we see the best medical care possible. From up-to-date pain management protocols for our surgical patients to the most effective medications for our chronic pain patients, we are always looking for ways to improve. We spend all day and sometimes the night worrying about our patient’s comfort level and alleviating their pain, so why do we ignore our physical pain?

Sitting here now writing this blog, my back is only slightly aching, but so much less than it would have been a few years ago. I have been performing COHATs in my clinic for most of the day. For 28 years, I stood bent over the wet table to do my cleanings. Over the past several years, I have tried to sit down for my procedures. Something as simple as sitting on a saddle stool instead of standing for hours on end has made a tremendous difference in my body’s pain and fatigue.

Footwear is one of the most important things we can provide for ourselves. Invest in a good pair of shoes. Whether running shoes, clogs, or crocs, spend a little to make yourself more comfortable. We are on our feet for hours, sometimes longer than the time spent sleeping. A good pair of shoes are worth their weight in gold. Remember, shoes wear out, too! At least replace them yearly! Does your clinic offer a uniform allowance? Ask if it applies to shoes!

Use a friend to help carry the load. Literally. Does your patient weigh more than 50lbs? You should be asking for help when picking up a large dog. Lift with your knees and not your back. Think of alternatives to lifting our giant breed friends. Use lift tables and gurneys, and do exams on the floor with your patients. Think outside the box.

Take a break. Appointments, as well as emergencies, seem to never stop some days. It is all we can do to keep up and remember to take a bathroom break. Every clinic should have some type of break fit into the day for their employees. Step outside. Get some fresh air. Take a dog for a walk. Read a book. Unsure how you will fit that lunch break in? Talk to your teammates. You are all in the same boat, most likely. Come up with a break schedule and present it to the powers that be at your clinic. They will appreciate your effort in finding a solution, not just complaining about the work day.

We have all been in that situation where we have neglected to care for ourselves, hoping to relieve someone else’s suffering. We are our own worst enemy in that respect. Assuming everyone’s intentions are good, know you are not alone in your struggle. We speak for those with no voice. Sometimes, we are included in that group. How can we minimize pain in our daily lives? Our jobs are tough, exhausting us, both physically and emotionally. Some days more than others. Take time for yourself, invest in things that provide you joy, and remember that you are a valuable asset to our veterinary community.