"A shuffling in the predawn darkness. Baby's got a mouse," we captioned this image of our late precious boy three years back, exulting in the happy fact that "Baby Cakes hits the big time with his first [unsolicited] InstaLanche": "Some first-rate catblogging from Sissy Willis.
"Baby held our hearts in his paws, too," writes Connecticut Yankee Betsy Frey in the comments to our earlier post, "Baby held the blogosphere in his paws," opening our eyes in a subsequent email to "what's the matter with kids today." It had struck us in blogging today that some of the bright young veterinarians at state-of-the-art Angell Memorial in Boston come across to us folk of a certain age as cold and detached, greeting us not by taking our beloved animal in hand to get a "feel" for what might be ailing the beast but rather, by ignoring the pussycat and heading straight to their laptops to input our answers to a series of bloodless questions and perhaps call up some notes from the database. Betsy Frey had this to say:
A thought came to me when I went out for a walk about an hour ago that perhaps the problem with the clinical detachment of the vets you encountered at Angell is a generational issue, at least in part. I work as a freelance academic editor, and I remember being told by an in-house editor who has never met me face to face that I must be over 50. When I asked her how she knew, she said, "Because you have a feel for language that I find only in people who grew up with books rather than computers and word processors." In other words, there's a hands-on dimension to editing that comes only from many years spent reading books that one holds quite literally in one's hands. I think the same is true of medicine, both human and veterinary. I don't think it's an accident that both vets who have cared for my kitties are between 55 and 65 — that is, they received their basic training before the computerization of medicine. I wonder whether the vets at Angell who caused you such understandable distress are young, possibly still in their twenties or early thirties?
Yes, although Dr. Williams and several of the emergency doctors we found so empathetic these last few weeks at Angell were youngsters, too.
I'm attaching an article ["The Lost Art of the Physical Exam"] from the winter 2009 issue of Yale Medicine (the alumni magazine of the School of Medicine} that I copy edited only a few weeks ago, in hopes that it might be of some indirect comfort to you (as well as legitimate concern about the current state of human medical diagnosis). I'd forgotten about the article until your post today about the lack of a bedside manner in Baby's last days. Please take very good care of yourself (and Tuck, and Tiny) in the coming days — grief can take a real toll on your energy and immune system. Once again, God bless.
Thank you so much, Betsy, for your kind thoughts and provocative insights. More insights on this Brave New World from related imail with our sis this evening:
We: Egad. A totally awesome note from one of the readers. I've stumbled onto something big.
She: Indeed, you have. Keep on the case!!! It's not so much PC as the computerization of daily life. (As you and I communicate by instant-messaging). As I said the other day, I love writing handwritten notes to people, and everyone in the room looked at me in shock.
We: YES. It's HUGE, now that you mention it.
She: Putting pen to paper is far different from dashing off a quick e-mail. For one thing, you use up a lot of paper, what with mispelings [misspelling intended], etc.
The laying on of hands isn't just for religious believers any more.
Update: Hope springs eternal in the Goompster's heart in the comments:
Yes, the computerized world has lost the human touch in many cases, but a world of warmth and sympathy has also appeared in the blogosphere with the passing of Baby Cakes.
As our mother always, always said, look to the animals.
Update II: Cat Blogosphere dedicates Carnival of the Cats #250 to "The Babe, Sissy’s cat who has been with the carnival from the beginning and is known and beloved by all who see him." Thank you so much.