Some lessons are learned the hard way

Published 5:22 am Monday, January 10, 2022

On the top of our whiteboard in the treatment area, I have written “Learn Something, Teach Something and Accomplish Something, Everyday” in permanent marker.
This started from my time in the Coast Guard where we had various leadership classes that were designed to make us more productive for our military service.
Some of these lessons I learn from others.
Dr. Fling used to say, “You can learn from listening or you can learn from doing.” The point being that you don’t have to make all of the mistakes yourself.
With this in mind, I look at other professionals and client services to make Guardian Animal better.
One of these instances is my recent doctor visit.
While my surgeon did a great job and I have done what was expected of me, my body has decided to object.
The first objection was when it rejected the suture material.
My surgeon was somewhat surprised when I rejected lidocaine for the cut to remove the suture, but I was correct that the lidocaine would have hurt more than the scalpel blade does. This reinforced my feeling that the experience and tissue handling is the most important thing in pain control.
I am still having more complications post-surgery than I should. There is no question that I could stand to lose even more weight, but the food aversion is not fun. Nor is the sensation that I would describe as liver cramping sometimes after I eat. My surgeon explained that this can be a common bile duct stone or bile entering the stomach causing pain.
He recommended that I have some blood tests done. I readily agreed, but then found out that he expected me to go to another building to have the blood drawn. Still, no problem, except that M’Kinzy was in town from college and we had some things planned for today.
The paperwork went to the truck and then to my desk and well, I haven’t gotten the blood drawn.
(Lesson: make things convenient for people so that they will get done.)
Another lesson was closer to home.
As it turns out, with staff schedules, medical issues and weather delays, Garrett and I were the only ones that could help with the installation of the dog park equipment. Garrett had picked up the rental equipment on the way to work.
While he did morning kennels, I had an early morning mammogram appointment (all normal!) By 10 a.m. we were ready to start on digging the holes for the bench, hoops, jumps and various items.
Garrett was bending down using the gas-powered saw with the concrete blade cutting holes in the black top.
I knew there was no way that I could bend over or kneel to use the saw, so I asked if I would be able to use the power auger. It is a tribute to my leading from the front line that Garrett said “I don’t see why not” as he proceeded to show me the controls on the auger.
Now I had watched Garrett and while the holes didn’t seem too deep, it didn’t seem like something I couldn’t do. I grabbed the throttle handle and started up the auger. Later I realized that I had not seated the auger into the dirt to start a straight hole.
I also did not put enough pressure on the auger nor plant my feet in a sturdy triangular base. I did have a firm hold on the handles right up until the time that the auger hit and caught on the edge of the blacktop.
Since I was holding firmly and the auger was continuing its rotational torque, I went up and over the auger and went down on my knee a few feet away. I rolled to my back and laid there for a while before, the curb stop, the fence and Garrett were used to get me up.
Another tribute from my staff, is that nobody laughed and Steph was happy to get me an ice pack and Naprosyn. As I was sitting with my ice pack, I recalled that Lindsay’s significant other had recently been laid off from a roofing job.
I asked if he was available. Thankfully, he was and had experience, because by noon, Garrett and I had cut two holes in the blacktop and neither was deep enough to get anything mounted.
As I watched Devon, I realized I was totally unprepared for using an auger. I may have understood the controls, but my feet, center of gravity and tamping into the dirt were all wrong. I used this example during my shift at the ER yesterday when I told the staff that they must not only talk people through, but also show and teach. The people who handed off the big equipment to Garrett should have done this also.
While my military service is behind me, I strive not only to continue learning and accomplishing, but teaching that to my staff.
It is not unusual for me to ask the staff one of the “dailies” on the way out the door, but I also walk the talk. I strive to learn something, teach something and accomplish something, everyday.
Even if sometimes that means I fly through the parking lot.

MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. 606-928-6566

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