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Getting the Most Out of Your Vet During The Rise of Dr. Google

How to Help your Pet's Doctor Help Your Pet

Googled to Death

I want to. Kill it, I mean. Not always. But often enough. Don't get me wrong, in my free time it's aces at feeding me pet pictures and Netflix. Maybe the occasional shopping spree. I relish net neutrality and would be lost without the sleepy glow of HBO Go and for insomnia, Wikipedia. In a way, I couldn't live without it. But that's no big whoop. What's increasingly terrifying is that increasingly, it takes almost more valor than I can muster to continue to fight with Dr. Google. I'm thinking I'm not the only one. Others are sloggin it out too. I see him running around waving a gazillion different flags like he's conquered every informational hill there is. He must be gaining ground, I hear about his increasing sphere of influence all day. And I mean ALL DAY. But is he conquering us to rule, or is it something worse? Sometimes I worry he's going to kill us all. Today I watched him almost crush a dog. And it was so easy to see how it could have gone much much worse. But the whole scenario never felt that way to mostly everyone standing right there. Am I looney? I see myself, from the outside. Waving my arms and raising my voice. I'm not entirely sure this Dr. Google has anyone's best interests at heart. Yelling "stop" or "he's a cop" or whatever. It doesn't register. No one figures out what I'm sayin in time and then it's on to Benicio del Toro with a gun like lodged in his head for way over an hour, blabbering on and on. Like me. And I'm pretty sure Dr. Google is just trying to get everyone's attention. It's working. He's probably not even real. I look like Super Chicken. No grace, blind panic. I don't even have a martini and I can't breathe. My friend is possibly dyslexic. 


It's no news that he always changes his story. Dr. Google is a charming people pleaser. A cocktail-party chameleon. Which is a pretty big acheivement for a soulless bank of potentially questionable data! But hey, give the people what they want.


We could imagine he's: 

an kindly old country doc (say Pol and I will lose it)
the young-but-confident endocrinologist we hope has all the cutting edge hormone info?
Maybe that trustworthy TCM/herbalist or the friendly neighborhood pharmacist (not taday!)
He could absolutely be that! If he doesn't end up being Quincy and someone's on the slab.
He will tell people exactly what they want to hear because he only responds to queries. Ask the wrong questions or don't ask the right ones, and his response is as reliable as your phrasing. Or maybe the correct answer was there to be gotten, but that answer was all bland and clinical with some beigy yawn fest site. The zesty answer was: SURE, YEAH, IT'S FINE, GO AHEAD!!! It's very tempting to have a great idea about something possible and get immediate gratification. There it is: confirmation right there for the clicking. SEE!!! It says I was right, It's all right here. Look! SPARKLES It's going to be all right. Who wants to hear that it's worse than we thought? Our easy solutions won't work? It will be expensive and there are no
guarantees everything will be ok? Unless I'm feeling pretty fatalistic, I'm mostly going to choose "it's just a mole." 

The world is dangerous. You knew that. I am not giving away some secret. But who wants to think they can't make life safer for their friends and family? We all want to suck it up and figure it out and be informed. Dr. Google is a TOTAL ENABLER!!!! If you ask and poke him a bit, he will tell you exactly how to fix it all yourself. Even worse, he will find other people willing to help you fix it. Except sometimes, it just gets worse. 


It happened today with that dog. There was owners. Bargain-hunters like myself. Gotta respect a deal! There was a big box store - hey, that's where the deals are. There was the stupid aforementioned interwebs dangling the options - oooh shiny. And there were the pharmacists. They nearly killed the dog.
Dr. Google hired these assassins though.
So here's me: I'm leaping about, pounding a kettle with a wooden spoon, squealing and pleading. Look at the bones strewn about! The lady behind the big formica counter (well, we are on the phone so I'm embellishing for effect) just thinks I'm raising her blood pressure too much and if I don't stop trying to micromanage one stupid prescription for a little dog she will have to skip her 3:30 coffee, which she needs. She won't listen. She won't provide information. She doesn't understand the prescription. She just thinks I need to fix it and tells me to do it. The more I listen to her not listening to me the more scared I become. Then she can't do basic math! Then she refuses to tell me which formulation she's giving this dog. She thinks I'm blocking her from making some $10 sale because I'm bitter. I'm wondering how she supposedly has the exact same brand of medication I'm holding on my end and still can't grasp the plan. The dog's guy saw the medication, same one, online & it was available in store. That's why he drove over there. I'm just reminding myself that I said to the owner not 2 hours before to be careful:


Some know how to deal with animal prescriptions. Lots just fake it. No one wants to look uninformed, right? Murica, go team. Look, can you imagine what it's like to wear a uniform and be stuck behind a customer service pick-up window all day at her age after going to professional school for years? Give the woman a desk and a notepad. She's covered in BPA from thermal receipts. Counting pills for a huge corporation. She must count vials to get to sleep. Rarely remembering your customers or having time to say hi. When does the torture end? One or two creative folks could find fun at that gig. Those folks aren't Jayme, that's for sure. I'm not sure I'd be doing anything constructive or even amusing after a very short time. Lots of plans for my next Regretsy submission and waiting for my next vanilla latte break. Like that lady. The one who had already secretly ordered a xylitol-containing substitute for the medication I prescribed my patient. The owner, well he saw the real stuff for sale online. Mine was more expensive. I get that. I would consider rolling over there and seeing how easy it was. I waved my arms and blabbered on about trusting online pharmacies so he listened & didn't go that route. At least at the big box store an actual person would make sure he got the right stuff. But they didn't.



The scary part is that there's no special training program for pharmacists interested in pet medicine. Not sure there's even a book for them. One was trained up at VSH. She now works at a Rite Aid by my house. The glimmer is still there. I hope it lasts. There's a few pharmacists with interest and even fewer with any formal education in veterinary pharmacy. Triple the species baby, double the fun. And of all the pharmacies in all the towns, are you going to happen to walk into hers? Your call. But not Big Box Bertha today on my phone, no way. She had no intention of learning anything not in her annual review checklist today. No how. I was coming down on her. Not soft but in retrospect, Praise Zeus as hard as I did. I wouldn't let them alter my script because she was so clearly dangerous. I kinda stopped helping her and declined to complete the approval if she couldn't tell me what she was ordering for my patient. I sounded like a sour-grapes merchant to her. Oh yeah, progress little worm girl. You're going down! I felt I sounded like a school marm. Well, they said I was not nice. I said they were straight up derelict in their duties, and I said it to their faces (well, ears). I called after I heard it tonight. She almost poisoned him with a solution made for humans. She didn't understand the sweetener in that medicated syrup kills dogs. Google and Big Box Bertha, Ladies and Gentlemen. Careful of a deal folks. Careful of Big Box Bertha.


Can you see why I'm with wire cutters and a spritzer trying to cause electrical fires up in this mother? It's tiring! All that jumping around and trying to get the story straight and clock-punchin Bertha has me painted the hysteric. Yeah, I would have been if my patient wasn't ok. I'm not the only one with battle fatigue. I read a very heartbreaking blog recently written by an anonymous pediatrician. She was leaving the profession for the very same reasons many of my colleagues do. The stressors she pointed to were that of profit hunger from higher ups, an over-booked schedule leading to rushed visits, poor work environs, the pressure to cave to the whims of parents and to debate Dr. Google. Ultimately it all snowballed into compassion fatigue. It seems that this physician (who, to me, sounds like a good one) was defeated by
the pressures to do other than what felt best for the patients. If you'd like to read what that doctor wrote, it's



Some of what this doctor is exhausted from is part of the human healthcare machine and something veterinarians can fairly easily avoid. A lot of it is not. Of course, no one wants their pets or kids seen by an overwhelmed doctor who is struggling to get quickly from one exam room to another but I wondered, how much of this loss of physician competence and zeal and eventual attrition could be prevented? Avoiding certain healthcare systems certainly can lessen one's chances of getting Dr. Burn Out but doesn't alleviate all of the problems. The somewhat sister question to this is one I've asked myself: "How hard did I just make it for my physician to give me the best care she could?" Sometimes, I don't love the answer I give myself.

I've spent some time on the other side of the exam table, so to speak, and I've felt what this pediatrician is feeling. In particular, a couple of girls recently made quite an impression on me. I doubt these clients know each other but it felt like the same girl. Each was entirely convinced that what they read on the interwebs was going to be news to me and something that they needed to inform me of. They spent a majority of our time together (and as my clients know, I give ample time) schooling me about what they read about their pet's condition or what they thought of meds I should be offering or their negative opinion of what I did offer. I was tempted to ask why they were here if they had it all figured out. I didn't because I assumed they were just really enthusiastic debaters or that Jenny McCarthy had gotten ahold of them but that they would ultimately trust me. Sadly, they went to the church of Dr. Google and they were true believers. I will absolutely talk to you about what you read about your dog's condition online. I want to know and am happy to see you are engaged in your pet's health care. I want you to come to me because you trust me. I want you to know that I will not try to repair your car for you or plan your wedding if you will just let me help you separate the wheat from the chaff online. Fools write some pretty convincing lies on there. Sometimes I get caught believing something about my car or the housing market. I have to check myself. I want to be in this field for a long time. I want to fight for your pet's health. Not for your attention vs WebMD Pets (I have much better places for you to search, my pretties)! G'nite to all the little dogs eyein that bubble gum on the nightstand - down boy.

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