Published Dec. 2, 2011 @ 10:21 p.m.
“I’m afraid your dog has bilateral medial luxating patellas which are affecting the dog’s gait due to the osteoarthritis developing in the joint.” As my client looked at me with a blank expression, I instantly knew they did not understand a word I just said. I quickly rephrased “In other words, your dog suffers from arthritis which developed due to his knee caps moving in and out of place.” In which my client replies, “Well, why didn’t you tell us that in the first place?” Talk about a communication barrier! Medical terminology is often considered a type of foreign language to many.
When we first opened Garza County Animal Hospital almost 2 years ago, my wife had never worked full time in the veterinary industry. She was anxious to learn as much as possible and always asked questions. I’ll never forget the first time she asked me a question then slapped me after I answered. Now, let’s stop a minute before you go reporting her to the authorities…she slapped me on the arm. No, it didn’t hurt. But what she said after the ‘love tap’ changed the way I communicated with my clients even after 8 years of practicing. “You better explain that in English or I’m going somewhere else to find the answer!” What? My own wife threatening to go somewhere else? Houston, we have a problem!
Why is it people in the medical field talk using those big ‘ol fancy shmancy words? Words like Ablation (removal of), Thrombocytopenia (low platelets), or Splenomegaly (enlarged spleen). You can barley read this words much less say them! Did you ever want to interrupt and say “Can you tell me in English please?” However, I must defend myself and my colleges! This terminology is embedded into our brains. We don’t know any other way. We’ve spent hours, months, and years studying and memorizing in order to have a career such as this. It’s hard to break that habit. But I’m trying. If I happen to talk over your head, just interrupt me and ask for the English version. My wife does it all the time.
This same concept applies to the way I write these articles. I know most of you don’t want to feel like you’re reading something from a medical terminology book. How boring would that be? So I type like I talk. It may not be proper vocabulary or correct grammar, but it’s how I would be talking to you as if we were face to face. If that gives me the image of a good ‘ol country boy, then I must be doing something right because that is exactly who I am.