Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Frustration

I had a slightly frustrating day yesterday - it happens now and again, and sometimes, though not always, its the result of an encounter with the veterinary profession(!).  Most vets are great to deal with - professional, helpful and undoubtedly concerned primarily with the welfare of the horse - but they are also, understandably, conservative by nature.

One of the reasons I spend a lot of time collecting and recording information on the rehab horses is because its only by this sort of evidence-gathering that our rehabilitation becomes credible.  The research project is absolutely critical, and I always send details of the project and the results to vets, and try to keep them updated as the horses here progress.

Maybe its because I am a hopeless hoof nerd, but I find it odd that vets don't get as excited by the results as I am.  I know - because they've told me - that vets find it depressing and frustrating to see these horses become lame and fail to improve - so why aren't they more intrigued when the same horses become sound?  Some vets do get excited, but many others don't - which to me is inexplicable.

I'd understand completely if the view was "we're interested but we need more research"; I'd be ecstatic if someone was intrigued enough to use the research results I've got and analyse them further, or develop more research - which is something I don't have the skills to do.  I find indifference puzzling, though, particularly when for many of these horses everything else has been tried and has failed.

At times like this I go back to something written by David Wootton in his excellent book, "Bad Medicine".  Its so good that we also quoted him in "Feet First" :-)  He is talking about the development of modern medicine and why anaesthesia took so long to become standard for operations.  Do read the quote below if you've got a minute, because its an incredible piece of writing:

"Think for a moment what surgery was like before the invention of anaesthesia in 1842...  Imagine taking pride above all in the speed with which you wield the knife - speed was essential, for the shock of an operation could itself be a major factor in bringing about the patient's death.  

Now think about this: in 1795 a doctor discovered that inhaling nitrous oxide killed pain..yet no surgeon experimented with this.  The use of anaesthetics was pioneered not by surgeons but by humble dentists.  

One of the first practitioners of painless dentistry, Horace Wells, was driven to suicide by the hostility of the medical profession.

When anaesthesia was first employed in London in 1846 it was called a "Yankee dodge".  In other words, practising anaesthesia felt like cheating.   Most of the characteristics that the surgeon had developed - the indifference, the strength, the pride, the sheer speed - were suddenly irrelevant. 

 Why did it take 50 years to invent anaesthesia?  Any answer has to recognise the emotional investment that surgeons had made in becoming a certain sort of person with a certain sort of skills, and the difficulty of abandoning that self-image.

If we turn to other discoveries we find that they too have the puzzling feature of unnecessary delay...if we start looking at progress we find we actually need to tell a story of delay as well as a story of discovery, and in order to make sense of these delays we need to turn away from the inflexible logic of discovery and look at other factors: the role of emotions, the limits of imagination, the conservatism of institutions.

If you want to think about what progress really means, then you need to imagine what it was like to have become so accustomed to the screams of patients that they seemed perfectly natural and normal...you must first understand what stands in the way of progress"

Rehab updates to follow, by the way, but I've exceeded my quota on Vimeo so new footage of Kingsley won't be up till tomorrow(!)

5 comments:

Wiola said...

So glad you typed it in here - I was tempted to do it on my blog but was worried about infringing copyrights ;)
Sorry to hear some vets are still reluctant to fully acknowledge that barefoot helps with so many soundness issues.

Damn Vimeo - You Tube has no restrictions other than length of videos (15min!). I use Vimeo for some riders' feedback but it drives me mad and uploads take forever.

Kate said...

Very interesting quote - it points out how wedded humans become to "systems" of behavior and belief and how hard it is to challenge those assumptions.

Nic Barker said...

Its a superb piece, isn't it :-) Its something I need to be reminded of regularly ;-)

Val said...

Keep keeping on.

cptrayes said...

"Maybe its because I am a hopeless hoof nerd, but I find it odd that vets don't get as excited by the results as I am. I know - because they've told me - that vets find it depressing and frustrating to see these horses become lame and fail to improve - so why aren't they more intrigued when the same horses become sound? Some vets do get excited, but many others don't - which to me is inexplicable."

This is where I am. I am absolutely certain that if I was one of the vets who I argue with on H&HOnline I would be on the phone to you the moment that I heard about the number of "incurable" horses that you have restored to full work after being lame after every vet treatment known to man. I just can't understand why your phone is not red hot. It baffles me, it really does :-((((

C