Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Sorry I've been away for a bit...

Between a swollen throat (I think attributable to allergies), working out of the area and then a brief anniversary trip with my hubby, I've been away for a bit.  It seems like every time I try to catch up on stuff, another roadblock gets in my way.  The following may be a little gross for sensitive tummies.

I've been doing some work for a vet that's really sick and it's a reminder to me to be appreciative of all the little struggles in life.  Whether it's sitting for five hours in traffic and finding out my son get's carsick or something else (Here's a glimpse of that conversation; "Mommy, can you get home any faster?"  Me- "I wish we could- no sweetie, we are stuck in traffic."  "Mommy, I'm siiiiiick!"  "What feels sick?" I ask (he can sometimes over-dramatize illness).  "Mommy my tummy's sick."  "Are you carsick?"  "No, I'm HOMESICK, I want to be home already!"

Yep, the prospect of being stuck in a hot car with vomit all over the place kind of took some compassion out of my voice.  "Ok, are you going to vomit?"  "yes, I think so, Mommy".  "Ok, would you like this bag, or this box to vomit into?"  "Nope".  "Ok, what's your plan?  Because if you are planning on just vomiting everywhere in the car, that's not going to fly."

 Sorry, I wasn't the most compassionate Mommy at this point, I struggle to understand why I can't get my kid to vomit into receptacles.  I can get dogs and cats to do it, but not my kid.  "If you aren't going to vomit into some type of receptacle, then you need to swallow it, because it's just not cool to do it over everything."  I wasn't serious on this, I was just hoping he would see the wisdom of not making a mess.

I was apparently not persuasive and heard a small noise.  I'm pretty sure it was a burp.  I'm pretty sure my son doesn't know what a burp feels like and he got body functions confused.  I wasn't going to intellectualize it.  I was grateful that after that, we made it home.  I'll be grateful for making it unscathed through horrible traffic.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Gratitude- I thank traveling for that.

A while back I overheard someone talking about travel.  They were putting down a country as being "Third World" and nothing but a pit.  I have been blessed to travel to many parts of the world.  I thank my parents for the blessing of travel they gave us growing up, and more importantly, the seed and curiosity to travel.  I've  been blessed to see many beautiful parts of our planet and I hope to travel to many more.  From the hills and cliffs of Ireland, to the ancient villages, beaches, castles and churches of mainland Europe.  We have family friends in Belgium and France, but frankly, those travels were not as deep and rich as the ones I developed in some countries people would not put first on their destination of choice list.

Every nation has it's own natural beauty.  Some wild, some with deep history.  Each country has its own scars, either from colonialism, communism, civil wars or other parts of its history.  There are parts of countries that are not safe to go to, there are panhandlers, gypsies and groups of people in almost every country that people would like to pretend aren't present.

I have found that I can get by with strange food, strange customs and even strange toilet facilities (I never knew how much I appreciated having a toilet bowl or toilet paper until I spent time in some countries without them) or how much I appreciate having a hot or cold shower when I've travelled to at least 4 different countries where these things were not a guarantee (including Ireland, what is considered a western country).

I've eaten stale bread because that is all the host has had to give.  I've tolerated some strong language, because apparently one of the local dialects involves having a swear word every other sentence.  I've had an old man tell me, "women can't be vets," then quickly back track.  I've walked the beaches where soldiers died fighting for our freedom and seen ancient Roman ruins.  I'm grateful for all my travel and experiences.  Some have been difficult, some ( a lot) have been downright comical.

I've come to appreciate the "western" conveniences and lifestyle that I'm blessed to live with.  Going to some areas of the world can give you a glimpse into how people lived over a hundred years ago, it can be a reminder of all the luxury we have today and a reminder that we don't "Need" the things we think we do.

What I've found most enlightening though are the lessons I've learned from people in these places and locations where some don't dare to tread.  The humanity, the acts of kindness, charity and generosity. I still remember when I was in Mexico and I bought some candy to give to children we met a long the way.  We were at a rural farm and I gave a little boy riding a tricycle a bag of candy.  I then noticed that there were other children further away.  My heart sunk, as I realized that I didn't have any more candy for the rest of the children.  I then noticed that the boy had immediately taken his tricycle over to the other kids.  No parent or adult told him to do this.  He just knew he got something good and he was sharing.  In a land where they don't have excess, sharing was automatic to him; how many 5 year olds in this country do the same?

On the streets of India, giving our leftover food to the poor on the streets and watching an old woman come by every Sunday and giving soup to the poor was also a chance to witness charity as well as seeing the charity of the Missionaries of Charity, St. Mother Teresa's sisters.  St. Mother Teresa herself said, "The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved."  This poverty affects the western world as much, if not more than India.  How many times are people around, but not truly present?

I remember traveling in Europe and how it seemed to get to the point that my teenage voice said, "Not another church, not another castle".  We were on a whirlwind trip and tried to get as much out of it as we could.  I love history, but I've found that I get more out of traveling where I can see great natural beauty.  I also find the beauty of people adapting and being joyful in situations and environments that would be difficult to most Americans as a more important way for me to grow than simply staying in fancy hotels and having the best service (although that's nice too sometimes).

I hope that I will be able to give my son some travel experiences that make his horizons grow and also his appreciation and gratitude grow.  Gratitude for those blessings we have and most importantly for realizing the best blessings are the simple ones; each other.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

I had written this post earlier today and somehow lost it.  I will try to recreate it from the best of my memory....

Memorial Day.  To some, it means picnics, the beginning of summer and time off.  To me, and to all of us, it should mean so much more.

My son last night, in an effort to negotiate for dessert, said, "It's a special holiday, it's Memorial Day, the veterans fought for our right to have dessert."  I corrected him and said, "no, they didn't fight for dessert, they fought for freedom."

Having a grandfather who fought in World War II and a great-grandfather who was a medic in World War I definitely gives me some appreciation for the sacrifice our veterans have made.  My great-grandfather developed depression, anxiety and even underwent electro-shock therapy.  In the light of modern medical knowledge, I'm sure he had PTSD, but back then it was just thought to be mental illness, they didn't understand it.  My great-grandmother also sacrificed as she was a working mom, supporting her family in the 1920's and 30's when it wasn't that common because of my great-grandfather's hospitalizations.

A couple of weeks ago, my family was at a race that was helping to support our wounded veterans.  My son was staring at a man who had two prosthetic legs.  He was getting ready to run.  Instead of saying, "Don't stare," I talked with my son.  I told him, "see the man there who has different legs?"  Yes, my son said in awe.  "That's pretty awesome he's running today isn't it?  My son asked what happened to his legs.  "I don't know his story, he may have not been born with legs, he may have lost them in an accident, or he may have lost them defending our country."  "Wow, " my son answered and pondered.

As I've written before, my husband and I don't want to over-shelter our son.  We don't want him to become part of a society that seems to be becoming more and more entitled every day.  We want him to be a person of gratitude.

In light of this, we let him watch the Memorial Day Special on PBS last night.  Perhaps unwise, because he is easy to have nightmares, but he's always enjoyed watching for the music.  We let him watch a little bit more (although not the most gruesome).   We watched and talked about gratitude.  My heart changed a little as I watched and thought of my grandfather and great-grandfather who fought for our country, our rights, our freedom and for the right of my son to have dessert.  I'm pretty sure my grandpa would have agreed, that's an important right.  Our freedom to live and be peaceful and grateful and enjoy dessert rests on all those veterans, now and before who fight for those who they never even got to know.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Elizabethan Collars...

Elizabethan Collars- also known as: "the cone of shame,""lampshades," "leg killers," and E-collars.  They range from the basic plastic cone to elaborate devices like inner tubes, fabric neck braces and more.  Their basic function is to keep your pet from pulling their stitches out, licking themselves, or opening their incision with their teeth.

This does happen.  It is not pretty.

Ranging from just a little bit of skin infection to cases where the abdominal contents come out through an open incision, it's just not good.

This is a public service announcement.  If your veterinarian tells you to put a device on your pet to keep it from injuring itself.  Do it.

I once spent a New Years Eve doing surgery on a cat who had gotten a cheap spay at a cheap clinic.  The owners had spent about $250 on the spay and they spent over $1,000 fixing the spay and long-term antibiotics.

I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the nnumber of times people have told me, "well, my pet hasn't been licking at the incision" for me to tell them, "the only way that happened is from your pet licking at it."

Unlike normal humans, cats, dogs and other animals don't have the common sense to not pull out their sutures, and to not eat themselves.  It sounds gross.  It is.

I won't get into details, but just understand this is a common, preventable occurrence.  Just the other day, I saw someone, who had gotten surgery elsewhere.  By the time I saw the damage the dog had done, the owner told me I was the third person who had asked if her dog had an E-collar.  There is a reason for this.  It's considered common sense in the veterinary world and now I'm passing it on to you.

If your pet can't tolerate it, you have a long line of excuses, etc..  Let us know.  We have ways of working something out.  (There have been many dogs wearing boxer shorts and onesies because of a modification of the "E-collar" in my history.  Let us know.  Don't assume your pet has common sense.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Poison Alert

Recently, I was made aware of an incident where there was a person who didn't like squirrels.  I'm not familiar with the person, but my guess is, they didn't like animals.  (I mean- if you have a dog or a cat, then you wouldn't have a squirrel problem... just a thought).

Apparently, the individual put out rat poison to poison the small mammals.  They didn't really think out what they were doing or the consequences of it and I will refrain from putting in the many judgmental comments I could share.

Often times, when there is a poison such as rat poison, it doesn't just affect the animals you want it to.  Whether it be a rat, mouse or squirrel you are trying to kill, it puts dogs, cats, other mammals and even our majestic eagles and birds of prey and larger predators at risk.  Besides the ability of other non-targeted animals getting into the "traps" or places where the poison is put out, it's very easy for the poison to drain into different areas (if you put it under your porch and you have a good rain with wet ground, it can easily seep into the lower areas of your property).  We saw this quite often when I worked in the emergency room.  The newer poisons are even more dangerous than the first generation ones, some of the poisons there are not antidotes for.

Don't listen to your local hardware store salesperson for what "trap" or "poison" to use.   That's akin to me asking my manicurist for a good solution for acne.  Ask a professional before you do something that could have many, many consequences (and before you have all your neighbors very mad at you).

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Lord is My Shepherd

That is one of scripture's most comforting passages.  Until you get to know sheep.  Then you re-think what the Lord is really saying about us.  I'm only partially kidding.

I think the first time I met sheep was long, long ago, at my great-uncle and aunt's house.  They were romantic and peaceful.  I probably wasn't much older than 5 or 7.  My great aunt and uncle were pretty awesome and had cool farm toys.  That's about the extent I have of that early memory.  Later on, I found out that they were actually unlikely sheep farmers.  If memory serves me right, just a year or two ago my great-uncle told me the reason he had sheep was he didn't like to mow the grass.

I started knitting when I was 6 or 7 and have been knitting since.  Yarn is expensive, especially nice yarn, so I dreamt of having my own sheep and making my own yarn.  Somewhere in high school or early college my parents actually gave me a "spinning" class.  Not like the bicycle type of "spin" but using an actual spinning wheel and making yarn.  It was pretty cool.

In my undergraduate years I took a "sheep management" class.  I got to learn all about sheep farming.  I had no intention of becoming a sheep farmer for a living, but I thought it would be helpful when I had my own "hobby farm" someday.  With the way I knit, it could even become self-sufficient.

Photo by Meg Herriot 2007.  Do not reproduce.
In veterinary school, I was one of the lucky few who got to take the last "small-ruminant" rotation.  Our beloved professor retired after our class graduated.  It was probably one of my favorite rotations in vet school and it prepared me in ways one wouldn't think.  There's something about delivering lambs at midnight.  I also found out that I had actually paid attention in some of my classes, but didn't remember everything.  Without going into too many details, there was a wine-bottle trick that I had thought my professor was kidding about- no, it actually does do the trick (and more than just the relaxation of the vet drinking the wine).

  It takes physical labor, mental fortitude and definite problem-solving skills.  It takes more athleticism than you would think.  Sheep are made to be "flight" animals.  Even though they might need assistance, when able, they will run away from you.  Animals typically are "fight or flight".  Cats have excellent skills in both areas.

Photo by Meg Herriot 2007.  Do not reproduce.
One of my fellow vet-students, Sarah actually commented that I would make a good quarterback because I was known for running after sheep who needed assistance, tackling them and then getting them into a position where I could assist.  My classmate Sarah and I actually realized when we were working with sheep, "If the Lord is my shepherd and we are his sheep, I'm not sure that's His nice way of saying we are REALLY stupid," I can't remember which of us said that.

I still like sheep though.  There's something about a newborn baby lamb, it's innocence and sweetness.  As I told my husband, I've done more C-sections in sheep than I have in dogs or cats.

About 4 years ago I convinced my husband (reluctantly) to go to a "Sheep and wool festival."   I think he thought it was going to be like going to a giant yarn store.  We got there and my son and him enjoyed the "folksy" music, the live demonstrations and seeing all the different breeds of sheep.  It was a kinder on the nose situation than your regular county fair (due to diet, sheep excrement does not stink nearly as much as other species).  Now my husband and son are hooked and it is an annual family affair.  Now I just have to continually remind him how much he doesn't like mowing the lawn so I can get a few sheep of my own!

Friday, May 4, 2018

A Year With Mary Book Review

When I first obtained "A Year With Mary" by Paul Thigpen, its appearance was the first thing that struck me.  It is an elegant book with gold-lined pages and leather-bound with a ribbon to mark your spot.  It is a book that definitely resets me from the "Kindle-reading digital world" we seem to live in.  It would be great for a gift and I intend to give it to a few special people in my life.  There's something about having a well-bound book that is elegant, and a beverage of your choice, that just seems to put you in the "meditate and enjoy" mood.

I liked how the book is organized.  It may be "A Year With Mary" but you don't have to start on a particular day and you can skip through and look at particular themes.  I often find myself starting the "one reading a day for a year books" and getting frustrated after a few hectic days are missed and then I fall behind and just give up.  I would say this book works well for "a reading day, as able" which is perfect for a busy women's life.

It is well organized and laid out in a manner that is easy to read.  With reflections from the Saints and Fathers of the Church, a thought to meditate on and a closing prayer, it's very doable to get a "small retreat" all in just one page.  Along with it's rich content, the physical presence of the book sets it apart.  As you physically hold it, it engages you in your walk with Mary.
This book was a joy to read, and although it may be titled "A Year With Mary," I think I will be reading it for many years to come as the meditations and content are timeless.

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