Faith in Others

Putting faith in people we don’t know, or for that matter, placing faith in anyone at all, can be extremely difficult. Such an act requires trust, humility, vulnerability, and a myriad of other traits dependent upon each situation wherein faith is called upon. And often, the pressures we feel related to trust are rooted in our own complicated personalities, experiences, and issues with the world. Still, faith is incredibly powerful and scary.

I am not describing nor do I intend to explore the type of faith noted in traditional religion, though parallels are undeniable and logical, too. I am speaking to the idea of simple, day-to-day interactions that force us to make decisions often without any predictability or guarantees of outcome–sort of the crux of faith if you ask me. Aside from believing, hoping, or praying that a situation will resolve in a favorable manner, faith can require that its subjects try to imagine and understand all sides of a scenario while simultaneously having no clue–a painful paradox. Last night proved to provide one of these experiences for me, and while portions of the eve’s events are still unwinding, some of its details have already played out in ways that have inspired this entry.

I took our nine year-old Chocolate Labrador, Bo,  to Metropolitan Veterinary Associates (Metro-Vet) in Oaks to see his dermatologist–take a minute to digest that statement. Yes, our dog regularly sees a dermatologist. No, he does not have a spa pass. Yesterday’s appointment was typical: Bo was itchy. Bo had been licking his paws. Bo needed an exam, a discussion regarding treatments, and a nice mani/pedi. His somewhat routine exam was going as expected, and then, I asked if they (nurse and dermatologist) would take a look at Bo’s emerging bumps. He had displayed a lump a few years back, and it proved to be a fatty tumor that posed no threat to his health or longevity, but this time, the masses had multiplied. I was able to find three, and the dermatologist found another five. I wasn’t overly concerned as these lumps emerged over the past few months and felt much like that fatty deposit from once before. But Bo is now nine, less active than before, showing his age a bit, and is probably predisposed to a higher likelihood of illness and disease–it is simply a fact of life.

At this stage in the game, we had already scheduled an appointment, placed Bo in the family SUV, and brought him to the professionals that had done right by us on many occasions. In doing so, we displayed a great faith in their abilities, decision making, and care for our dog. But I believe in varying levels of faith, as some are far more trying than others. So when the nurse came to the waiting room and proposed that the dermatologist wanted to aspirate (draw fluid from) the masses to run pathology reports that would indicate the nature of the cells, I agreed to the idea. At this point, the real faith was not in the decision to aspirate (though that required its own dose of faith), but to do so without knowing the monetary expense, what the results might yield, and how we would cope with any and all outcomes. And to the credit of Metro-Vet, they addressed as many of these concerns as they could prior to actually performing the test–as they have always done in our experiences.

Bo’s nurse had indicated that each lump aspirated would cost $78. I asked, “How many does she want to do?” The nurse suggested, “Five, maybe more.” I was taken back a bit–I had brought Bo for a maintenance call and now things were getting a bit more complicated. I thought for a moment about the decision at hand, and then I contemplated our previous interactions with Metro-Vet and our overall level of trust, the love my wife and I have for our dogs, and the sheer gut feeling that overcame my being. With only a slight reservation of how this would hit the wallet, I then said to the nurse, “Do what Dr. Farver thinks is right. If that means five, do five. If it’s more, it’s more” Admittedly, I scurried to my smartphone after our discussion to review the status of our checking account. I didn’t know if I had just made a $400 decision or one that could have paid the mortgage.

Nearly an hour passed as I waited, and when Dr. Farver greeted me, we exchanged pleasantries, discussed Bo’s treatment and history, and then arrived at the matter of his lumps. “I had to aspirate eight.” I gasped internally…eight times seventy-eight…carry the two…well, you get the idea. Before I could respond, she then said, “But we are only charging you for three.” I thanked her and we dove deeper into the conversation regarding a long-term plan for Bo, but as I drove home that night, I couldn’t help but feel touched by the gesture. Maybe she, and the practice, extended this to us because we have always paid our bills promptly. Maybe she felt compelled to help, understanding that we had probably just anticipated a routine trip. Whatever the case, I was impressed, and my faith in Dr. Farver and Metro-Vet reached an all-time high. Yes, it is an expensive practice, but we have never received anything less than extraordinary. And this leads me to believe that we are probably not the first or last to receive a break on a rather large, maybe unexpected bill.

Last night I did everything in my power to think about what was right for Bo, and I was able to do so with relative ease thanks to the confidence that my wife and I have in the doctors and staff at Metro-Vet. It was difficult to blindly say, “Do what Dr. Farver thinks is right,” for it momentarily took control out of my hands. Luckily, those whose hands received such faith did so responsibly, compassionately, and with great care. Not only did I leave inspired by the professional capacities of those at Metro-Vet, but I left with admiration for their understanding of the human experience.

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