Doc­tors and vets de­serve our grat­i­tude

Bray People - - OPINION - Fr Michael Com­mane

HAVE you ever watched Chan­nel 4’s ‘The Su­per­vet’? It pro­files the work done by Laois man Noel Fitz­patrick and his team in ‘fix­ing’ an­i­mals. It’s a pro­gramme about love, skill, ded­i­ca­tion and tech­nol­ogy.

After last week’s pro­gramme a friend of mine, who has had a knee re­place­ment op­er­a­tion, had seen the ‘Su­per­vet’ pro­gramme, phoned me to say how amaz­ing she found it. I knew ex­actly what she was say­ing be­cause I have seen the pro­gramme and also saw Noel Fitz­patrick be­ing in­ter­viewed on tele­vi­sion. He comes across as a re­mark­able man. He refers to vets as gate­keep­ers of un­con­di­tional love. If some­one says that they are ‘only an­i­mals’ he im­me­di­ately points out that we are all ‘only’ an­i­mals and we are all go­ing to die.

I re­mem­ber my late fa­ther say­ing how im­por­tant it is for chil­dren to be around pets as it helps them to learn how to be kind. “Peo­ple who are not kind to an­i­mals will not be kind to hu­mans,” he would say. How true. Like ev­ery­thing else in our lives, when things are go­ing well and we are in good health we can eas­ily take our doc­tors and nurses for granted. Okay, I hear you say that our doc­tors are well paid for the work they do but so of­ten their ded­i­ca­tion is way and above the call of duty.

My friend who had her knee re­place­ment has been through the mill and the pain has been hor­rific. But all the time she has placed her com­plete con­fi­dence in the doc­tor who per­formed the op­er­a­tion. Last week on re­turn­ing from a con­sul­ta­tion, she ex­pressed the con­fi­dence he had given her. He told her she was do­ing well, that the op­er­a­tion had been a great suc­cess. Those words made her feel good and gave her the strength to throw away one of the crutches. His skills and the skills of his team, plus their ded­i­ca­tion and gen­uine con­cern for their pa­tient was al­ways a con­fi­dence-build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for her.

Some years ago I moved from Kerry to Dublin. It meant I had no doc­tor. In the last few months I have found a new GP. I can’t get over his kind­ness. I take his ex­per­tise and pro­fes­sion­al­ism as a given. Some weeks ago I was wor­ried about a health is­sue. I was al­most em­bar­rassed to face him about it and yet he made me feel com­pletely at ease and dealt with the sit­u­a­tion. Ex­actly what he does is repli­cated across the coun­try. Of course some doc­tors and vets are bet­ter than oth­ers. But in the main it seems to me that our doc­tors do a great job. There is a young doc­tor who lives in my neigh­bour­hood. I think he’s still in training but not sure. I’m an early riser and try to be out walk­ing my dog be­fore 6.30. I see him most morn­ings head­ing off in his car just as I leave my house.

Doc­tors work hard and then to think of all the pain and hu­man suf­fer­ing they see ev­ery day. They have to go to tell moth­ers and fathers, sis­ters and broth­ers, hus­bands and wives about death, brain in­juries, los­ing limbs. It’s a long list. No mat­ter how of­ten they tell such ter­ri­ble sto­ries it must al­ways be emo­tion­ally drain­ing for them. That, mixed with their ex­per­tise, surely makes them spe­cial peo­ple. They de­serve our grat­i­tude. They mend us. It’s that mend­ing that makes Noel too such an in­spi­ra­tional per­son.

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