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Mapleton, MN 56065

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Blog/Health Tips

Hey … Perceptions really are Reality!!!

Hey … Perceptions really are Reality!!!
Tim Klein, DVM
All Pets Medicine, Surgery, and Rehabilitation Clinic

Another first for me – writing a Blog! I have actually been looking forward to this, anytime we have a chance to have some direct contact with our clients my pupils dilate just a little. But we had to wait until our web page was updated and all that, and now here we are!

So our plan is to blog weekly. We’ll rotate it through the veterinarians and technicians here at All Pets Clinic, so you will get a lot of different perspectives.

So … here we go!

Ever think about how our perceptions affect our opinions of things? One of the best illustrations I have seen of this is a story that I saw in a book that I read when I was in my late 20’s. In the story below the author uses the word “paradigm” to mean the same thing as “perceptions”.

I remember a mini-paradigm shift I experienced one Sunday morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly – some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.

Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.

The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man next to me did nothing.

It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”

The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”

Stephen R. Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

What a good example of how we can be so sure of what is going on, only to have our whole perception changed with a little bit of information, and what an “ahaaa!” moment it can be when our perceptions are changed.

It seems like what happens at a vet clinic should be fairly straight forward. Certain symptoms + Certain blood tests = Certain diagnosis and Certain Treatments. And sometimes it does work that way. However it’s not always quite that simple.

When I read the story above, it really helped me to better understand situations we see occasionally. Like when a canine patient with a graying muzzle comes in, walking a little stiffly and sits/stands very slowly and deliberately, and the family member says “he’s just a little stiff, that’s just normal at his age”. Biologically, we know that patient is experiencing hip pain, and that canine patients are great at hiding mild to moderate pain, so if he is showing any stiffness at all, the pain really is affecting his quality of life.

But the family member’s perception is different than what is happening biologically, and, just like the story above, I need to both be careful not to sit in judgment and I also need to realize that none of my training as a veterinarian will impact my patient without first addressing the family’s perception. And changing someone’s perception about osteoarthritis in dogs is not just about education; I can’t just give a handout with scientific jargon and expect that “ahaaa!” moment to occur.

Changing perceptions is as much about changing how a person “feels” inside about a subject as it is about simply educating. I have to admit that just giving a handout is quite a bit easier.

Understanding that has helped me a lot. We see perceptions about vaccinations, dental disease, arthritis, fleas, ticks, etc. that do not necessarily match what we know is happening biologically. Yes, working in a veterinary clinic means we need to educate about all of those things. However, our patients and our clients benefit most when we are not judgmental like the author in the story above, but still try to “nudge” their perceptions toward that biological reality. That is way different than symptoms = diagnosis = treatment.

Because, hey … Perceptions really are Reality!!!

Hope you have a great day! Tim

Post Tagged with arthritis, cats, dental disease, dogs, Dr. Tim Klein, mankato vet, mankato veterinarian, mapleton veterinarian, pet health, Tim Klein DVM, tooth pain, vaccinations, veterinarian.

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