When Veterinarians Don’t Listen… and How to Get Them to

2. Start from the beginning. Sure, some stories hop all over the place in time, but it only makes sense to start at the beginning. It helps make your story more intelligible if it progresses in chronological order (beginning, middle, end): When did you first notice something was wrong with your pet? How did it progress? What does it looks like now? 3. Always include context. When you tell your pet’s story, always think about what was happening at the time things started going wrong, and include circumstances and events that might have altered its progression. Though it may not be relevant, it’s important to raise issues that directly impact your pet’s health (foods, family stresses, travel, trauma, housemate illnesses, etc.).

4. Be specific. It’s always a good idea to be as specific as possible, but we know that it’s hard when you’re trying to describe symptoms someone else is experiencing. So the best way is to concentrate on being specific about what you see your pet do: What does the vomit/urine/stool look like? When do you notice it? How does she feel when she does it?

5. Keep it simple. Convoluted stories are common in my line of work. But as much as we want to get to know you, it confuses things when the story includes information that’s obviously irrelevant. Streamline things as much as seems reasonable.

6. Prepare ahead of time. The best storytellers don’t do it on the fly: They prepare. So should you. Organize your story ahead of time, so you don’t leave things out and you don’t cram too much extraneous stuff in.

Follow these tips and you’ll go a long way toward making sure your vet doesn’t inadvertently tune you out.


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