I have pondered and pondered this a lot! When I say “what am I?”, I mean how do I describe myself as a vet? I’m a good first opinion vet (I don’t think I’m being overly confident by saying that, I’m well aware of my limitations but I can handle most things that are thrown at me on a day to day basis and I’ve been offered a permanent job in pretty much every practice that I’ve locummed in, which I’m proud and rather in awe of) but I mean in relation to the slightly more ‘avant guard’ bits like the acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and to a much lesser extent the laser therapy and rehabilitation! Sometimes when I’m describing my patients chinese pattern diagnosis I have to remind myself that I do have two science degrees from Cambridge - you do feel a bit daft describing a patient as having a kidney yang deficiency for example.
There are lots of different terms to people use to describe non-conventional medicine - alternative being one of them, holistic being the other. I have to admit that both of these terms make me personally feel bit uncomfortable - I think of floaty scarves and crystals and the like. I just can’t equate them with me. For me, what I want to do is use the best of both western medicine/conventional medicine, and eastern or alternative medicine. Western medicine is amazing and we are hugely lucky to have it - I have saved lives on countless occasions by using it. By the same token I’ve become aware of its limitations and how often it has a narrow spectrum focusing solely on one problem; how it rarely treats the whole animal. The non-conventional treatments can be astonishingly good in many cases that have hit a plateau with conventional medicine or started to become non responsive or deteriorate again. Put the two forms of medicine though and we can have something very special indeed! I’ve come to the conclusion that I am an integrative vet - I want to use all forms of medicine, integrate them together and try to ensure that my patients can live their best life.
So what am I? I am an integrative vet with the hope that I can help my patients achieve the very best from their lives with a variety of treatments. The mantra that I am trying to work by is summarised beautifully by Jen Hsou Lin in the following words:
“It does not matter
whether medicine is old or new,
so long as it brings about a cure.
It matters not
whether theories be eastern or western,
so long as they prove to be true.’