Thank you, Momma and yes, I actually do know what I'm doing
Its the time of year to reflect on those whove shaped our lives as veterinarians, Dr. Brock says.
Every veterinarian has someone to thank for getting them there. In most cases it's one of the “big six” in life-that is, the four grandparents and two parents. One of them, or perhaps all of them, guided and influenced an easily molded mind into realizing and chasing after a dream.
It's no easy ride becoming an animal doctor. Just getting into veterinary school is an unbelievably difficult undertaking. Once there, the amount of material thrown at you is staggering. I stacked my notes from vet school in a corner of the room I studied in. Back then, there were no computers, and the faculty would hand out typewritten notes at the beginning of each class. By the time I had finished my four years of vet school, my stack of notes was more than seven feet tall.
This past Thanksgiving, the family gathered at our house for a feast and a weekend of remembering what we're thankful for. My Momma was there, and at 80 years old she's the last living member of my big six. She's still sharp as a tack and agile as a cat. I sat across the living room and watched her tell stories and interact with her great-grandbabies. It reminded me that I made it through all that vet school rigor because of her.
I listened to her tell my oldest daughter how she's a wonderful mother. My Momma has a way of finding the good things about a person-and not just finding them, but telling them. I watched her and realized she had done the same thing with me.
My Momma made me feel like I was the smartest person alive while I was growing up. She would brag to her friends or other relatives about me when she knew I could hear. She said she couldn't believe how smart I was, or how fast I could run, or how wonderful I was no matter what endeavor life threw at me-and I believed it.
The years passed and I eventually figured out I really wasn't all that smart or fast, but it was too late-I had already accomplished things that were beyond my capabilities and didn't even know it. I am educated far beyond my intelligence, and it's all because my Momma made me feel like I could do anything.
While she was here, Momma came to the clinic and watched me stick the scope in a few horses' joints. I have a custom of squirting the lavage fluid that runs through the scope on anyone who wants to watch. I squirted it at her just like all the others. She scolded me like I was a little kid, and everyone in the surgery room laughed and told her she needed to stick around and scold me more.
I've scoped nearly 10,000 joints in my career and have had hundreds of people watch me over the years, but having my Momma watch made me nervous. I couldn't believe it. She wasn't afraid to ask me a million questions, tell me she couldn't see what was going on and wonder aloud if I had any idea what I was doing.
I've always thought she would have been a wonderful veterinarian. She has great hand skills, a logical way of reasoning through things and the stubbornness of a mule. I watched her watching us repair the broken joint on a racehorse and I could tell that she was proud of me. It still makes me feel happy when Momma's proud.
My middle daughter, Abbi, is also a veterinarian. She's doing a one-year internship at Alamo Pintado, an equine clinic in California. I was there two weeks ago to watch her work and listen to what her mentors said about her, and it made me imagine what my Momma must feel when she watches her oldest son work.
I'm thankful for my Momma and all she did for me when I was growing up. I am humbled by her caring, and even though she's only five feet tall, I believe she could still whoop me if I ever needed it.
Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.