Monday, January 16, 2012

My "You Don't Suck" Box.

Anytime a client gives me a card, or writes me a letter, I
put it in a box to keep. I call this my “You Don’t Suck” box. I take it out
whenever someone makes me feel like I don’t care, or I am a money grubbing evil
person etc. Reading the thank you notes helps to keep things in perspective.

While rearranging my office my box toppled over and all of my cards fell out. In the pile I found my very first note.

When I was a vet student one of the veterinary technicians at a place I was an extern at
came to me quite upset. This was my day “off” of rotation so I was surprised to hear from her. She kept saying, “I need you. She needs you!”

Finally I got the story out of her after she calmed down enough to speak. Someone brought in a young cat that got caught in the car fan belt. They just wanted to euthanize the cat. The technician talked them into surrendering the cat to her instead. She had many injuries requiring surgery. One of the surgeons said if I was willing to perform all of the surgeries, as a
learning opportunity, she would not have to pay for them.

“Okay, what are the injuries?” I asked.
“Well, she has a fractured humerus, a fractured tail, dislocated tarsus…” “Oh and her patella is broken in half.” She is purring and licking my hand still.
(Basically her large bone in her arm was broken in half, tail was broken in half, ankle was dislocated, and her kneecap was snapped in half. That is a complex set of injuries)

I must mention that I had only done minimal orthopedic surgery at the time. So I asked “Is Dr. Surgeon going to be there? If he is, get her prepped, and I will be there.”

I was in surgery with that cat for 3 hours doing the repairs. It was surreal. There was a surgeon with me in case I had questions or needed help, and my veterinary technician was holding up a surgery book for me to read as I completed these surgeries for the first time.

Once the cat woke up she was purring in my arms, I felt a
huge sense of accomplishment with a bit of sadness that I would be leaving soon, so I would not get to see her heal.

I couple of months later I received a thank you card from the veterinary technician with a picture of her cat. “She runs and jumps all day long.”

My first major “putting humpty together again” was a success. I received the very first card for my box, and will cherish it, along with the many other letters and cards received over the years.


  1. I have thank you notes stuffed in a drawer somewhere, and a few on the bulletin board. I never look at them. I think I am guilty of considering good outcomes the norm, merely what's expected of us - kind of like having a parent that expects straight As, and only comments on the occasional B+. The bad outcomes, though - those stick with me. Just human nature, I guess.

  2. I got really upset when my first client fired me due to no fault of my own. Then I rembered the two clients who sent Christmas cards and gifts to my house even though I'm sure they would have to look up where I live. Everyone should keep these mementos for when times get tough.

  3. I develop a strong affection for my individual clients. It hurst my feelings when they leave without explanation. It really helps when those who do appreciate me, let me know. Saving the hundreds of mementos does help to remind that more appreciate me than not. I just need to remember to look at them when I am bummed.

  4. i have two things that came from patients over 30 years ago. One is a yellow wooden tulip that came from a 5 year old boy as a "get acquianted gift" on a first visit...He was terrified, but we got through it and he became a great patient. I keep it to remind me to be patient. I also have a book that was given to me by a grateful patient. I will never read it again, but keep it to remind me to be patient...
    Yeah, I need to remember to be patient when I am repeating the same thing to the same person for the third time...or to a different patient for the 3 millionth time... or to just take time to overtly care when I am an hour late and need to be somewhere else....

  5. I have mine on a cork board in my office. My favorite was also my first. It's a hand drawn picture of a parrot on a branch from a 9 year old boy who owned a bird that I saw. It was a very sick (fluffed on the cage bottom, very thin) old budgie that died while I was treating it. I was absolutely mortified to tell the young family but they were nice and understanding. Two days later I got a letter in mail with this picture. The bird has a speech bubble that says "AWK! You did your best!" with a thank you note from the little boy. I actually teared up a little from that one.

  6. I actually really like this idea, I've never really been one for keepsakes but this is actually pretty cool and I can see it being something to really boost my spirit on the days I need to!