been avoiding mainstream medicine, as much as possible, for years. I
will only go to a doctor, or take a family member to one, when I want
to confirm a diagnosis or fix an injury. Most prescriptions that are
offered are either declined or left unfilled, unless the doctor can
give a compelling reason why their benefits would outweigh their many
attitude and approach is the result of repeated disappointment with
the medical industry’s ability to prevent or heal disease…something
they repeatedly claim they can do. I see doctors as a resource of
information, with limited knowledge and a limited viewpoint. Since I
read health and medical books for fun, I have a growing foundation of
knowledge regarding various conditions and their treatment options. I
consider my perspective and opinions to be just as valid to the
situation as theirs; and often more so, since I know myself and my
family members far better than the doctor ever could.
rarely takes long in the course of a visit to realize that the doctor
doesn’t agree with me on this point…at all. The doctor is the
“expert” and I am expected to “comply” with the doctor’s
“orders.” Clearly they don’t know me very well. I will be
polite during the visit, ask questions, and get his/her opinion…then
go home and do additional research about other options, before
deciding how best to move forward. I had never met a doctor who
showed me an equal level of respect and consideration, where I could
actually voice my opinion during the visit…until Kevin.
family member who needed care was our 14-year-old toy poodle, Booboo.
He had a growing list of health issues, yet every vet I had taken him
to either didn’t think my concern about his symptoms was anything
to worry about, or wanted to run a bunch of expensive and invasive
tests that wouldn’t accomplish anything towards improving his
health or comfort level. It had been two years since Booboo’s last
vet visit, and the only thing accomplished during that last visit was the
stressing out of our poor old dog.
here we were. I wasn’t happy with any vet we had seen so far, and
yet I needed some insight into the specific problems Booboo was
dealing with. An internet search of local vets led me to a new vet in
Toman at Mission Animal Hospital.
His website showed he embraced nutrition and homeopathy, in addition
to mainstream medicine. I have found that any doctor willing to
accept homeopathy as a valid form of medicine has loosened the straps
of his medical training enough to allow himself to be open to
alternatives. This was a good sign. I called his office and made an
health issues were quite advanced, especially his congestive heart
failure. His cataracts, deafness, spinal arthritis, and dental decay
all aggravated his declining condition. We accepted that we would not
be able to heal most of these diseases, and instead focused on things
that might make him more comfortable…until it was clearly time to
let him go.
interaction with Kevin, his wife Diane, and their office staff lasted
a total of two months. It was an experience that far surpassed any
interaction I have ever had with anyone in the medical
community…before or since. When I made my last visit to his office
to pick up Booboo’s ashes, Kevin was working alone at the front
counter. After we took care of business, I looked him in the eye and asked if
he had any idea how unique he was. He paused, and then joked that his
wife would probably agree he was unique, but he wasn’t sure if that
was a good thing.
are several things that made it clear that Kevin sees his role
differently than most medical professionals do. He is very open about
everything he does. There are windows in his examination rooms and no
roof. You can hear everything he’s telling the pet family in the
next room, which gives you a feel for his approach to animal care
before you even meet him. When he comes in, he drops the “Dr”
when introducing himself. He’s just Kevin. This sets a
collaborative tone to the visit, rather than an expert/patient
hierarchy. He then sits on the floor and listens, really listens, as
you tell him about your animal and any concerns you have.
our visits, information flowed both directions – him getting a feel
for Booboo and our relationship with him, and me getting helpful
information and answers to questions. If I asked about something he
wasn’t familiar with, such as an alternative treatment option,
Kevin had no problem accepting the limits of his knowledge and
expertise by responding with “I don’t know” …and then
qualifying that answer with, “I don’t have any knowledge or
experience with that form of treatment, so can’t advise on it.”
It was incredibly refreshing, and rare, to find a doctor willing to
admit he didn’t know something. Most doctors would give an opinion
anyway. Kevin just offered a couple of cautions and left it to me to
research more and make the final decision.
opinion and his differed on a few points, to which he always
responded, “We can disagree and still be friends.” That was my
absolute favorite thing that he would say. And he meant it. I know
that, because it was put to the test during Booboo’s final week
had prescribed a few medications for Booboo to help stabilize his
congestive heart failure and ease the pain of his spinal arthritis.
These medications helped Booboo physically, and yet they muddled all
traces of his personality. In addition, his appetite had declined
significantly, which made it even harder to get him to take his meds
on the prescribed schedule without having it turn into a battle of
give Booboo and me a break, I skipped a dosage on one of his meds.
Within a couple of hours, I noticed a slight return of his
personality. I then skipped the next one and he came back to us a bit
more. It didn’t take long for me to decide to drop more of his
meds. After a few days without the drugs, he did a
bow-stretch…something he hadn’t done in weeks, and a glimmer of
our old, loved friend came back for a bit. Getting that last glimpse
of his former self, however brief, was well worth any speeding up of
his decline that most likely took place.
Booboo’s next appointment with Kevin, I told him that Booboo had
been off his meds for a week and explained my reasons for
stopping them. This action had caused a worsening of fluid build up
in Booboo’s heart, which was a serious backslide of his physical
condition. Kevin sat on the floor and visibly struggled with the
situation. He looked from his left hand to his right, with one
representing his opinion and the other representing mine. He
concluded that we were both trying to do what was best for Booboo,
but each had different priorities. In the end, Kevin confirmed that
Booboo’s condition would continue to decline – with meds or
without. We came to a compromise on the medications and I agreed to
give Booboo the one he felt was most important.
any other doctor, I would have been scolded for not following his
“orders”… or I would have withheld information about my
actions, to avoid having to endure his judgment of my choice. Neither
one is helpful to the healing process – whether it’s physical
healing we’re striving for or emotional/spiritual healing. The
respect Kevin showed towards the needs of our emotional relationship
with Booboo, which toward the end overrode Booboo’s physical needs,
was something I had never experienced before from anyone in the
medical profession. True mutual respect.
final gift to our family, and especially to Booboo, was his
willingness to come to our house to do the euthanasia. Booboo was
able to spend his last day with us in the comfort of his home,
surrounded by the love of his family, until his last breath.
rest of the medical community needs to get off their high horse and
take a lesson. Care of the body, mind, and spirit requires true
mutual respect…and an acceptance that the doctor may not agree with
the path that needs to be chosen. And that’s okay.