Sometime in the later part of the 90’s, not too long after I moved to Nebraska and went to work at the feed yard, I asked my consulting veterinarian to come out to the farm and help me diagnose a calf. I knew that something was wrong with it, but I was not experienced enough at the time to figure out exactly what ailed the animal.
When the vet arrived, he looked at the calf and said, “Anne, this calf is ADR”.
I replied, “Doc, what does ADR mean?”
He responded, “Well Anne, ADR means ‘ain’t doin right’.”
At this point in the conversation, I found myself getting a little bit frustrated as I knew that the animal was having difficulties — I was smart enough to figure that out on my own. What I needed was help figuring out specifically what was wrong so that I could enable the calf get better. We eventually got to that 🙂 And, I spent the next decade using his advice, along with my growing knowledge of the bovine animal and pyche, to become a intuitive animal care giver.
Over the years, Doc and I established a truly meaningful relationship and I think that we each got smarter as we traveled down the cattle care journey together. Much to my children’s chagrin, I started bringing home his interesting verbal lingo. Perhaps more importantly, I also developed an innately acute awareness of the concept of normal and healthy vs. abnormal and sick.
Anyone who has children recognizes that their good health will be interrupted with bouts of sickness. The key to being a good caregiver is recognizing the point that the pendulum shifts from healthy to ill, and acting appropriately to help diagnose and treat the challenge. We take our kids to the doctor when they get sick, but we still play a critical role on their diagnosis and care team. It’s really not very different from the relationship that I had with my veterinarian caring for my cattle.
The observations that we (as caregivers) can offer to the doctor, and the intuitive awareness of what level of support those that we care for need throughout the illness helps to aid in their recovery.
This past week my favorite brunette was challenged by a nasty viral respiratory infection. Despite a trip to the doctor and a round of tamiflu, she progressed past ADR to a level of illness that made my “caregiver’s instinct” uncomfortable. After almost 7 days with a fever and nasty cough, I sent her back to the doctor as I feared a secondary pneumonia infection. X rays showed pneumonia in the right lung and she began antibiotic treatment.
When she and her dad got home from the doctor, my favorite farmer looked at me and said: “Well, I guess you were right. I should know by now to trust your gut instinct.” I am glad to report that the pneumonia infection appears to be susceptible to the doctor’s choice of antibiotics. After 10 days of misery, she was able to swing back past ADR to a much better part of the health spectrum.
While I know that I sometimes drive my family nuts with my cowboy euphemisms and diagnoses, I think that the knowledge that I gained working with my vet made me a better caregiver — both toward my animals and toward my children. Awareness, intuition, education, and a practical team based common sense approach sets both our animals and our kids up for success.
It is good to have my baby on her way back to good health. While her recovery is slow, hopefully in the next week or so she will be back to answering the call of the track as she is going a bit stir-crazy being banned from running and exercise…