Friday, October 20, 2017

Going Home

I went "home" to my alma mater for my ten year vet school reunion.  Somethings change and some things never will.  As we travelled through the school and clinic, the memories came back.  Some traumatic, but most of this have been blocked.  Mostly memories of hard work and remembering feeling that our time in school would never end.  Here I am, ten years out, I don't know how much wiser, with a lot of experiences since then and a lot of loss of the academic memory.

They talked about changing the curriculum to have future veterinarians "full wellness" in mind.  Not 8 straight hours of class with only bathroom breaks.  Good for the future students!

Our tour guide was actually a professor who started teaching in the 60's.  Needless to say, he's old.  I confessed to a classmate that I periodically have scanned the obit pages for his name.  That professor has not a changed a bit since 2007.

I'm hopeful for the future of my alma mater.  Sometimes going home can remind you of all the new frontiers.

Monday, October 16, 2017

My favorite case today...

Today was a day when everything seemed to go wrong and I got behind because nothing was simple. I think we all have those days where we just wish we could crawl back in bed and just wake up the next day.  I just kind of plugged through knowing that it would end and I would get to see my cute snuggly kid again soon.

I walked into a room assuming that hairlessness in a cat was yet another case of fleas.  This time of year I feel like I see cases of fleas at least three times a day.  It gets old.  What I first noticed was the cat was sitting on its owner's lap watching video on an I-phone.  Much akin to what happens when I take my son to doctors appointments, the owner was "amusing" her cat during the waiting time.  I was informed (and could kind of hear from the audio) that the cat was watching his favorite person- I'm not sure if she was a "niece" or a "cousin" doing cheerleading.  Yes- this cat was calmed by watching cheerleaders.  Ok- to each their own...

I then went on to examine the cat and speak with the owner.  Apparently, said "cheerleader" was the favorite person in the cat's life and he didn't really have use for others.  He was an old kitty and he knew who he liked.  As the story went on, I realized this cat most likely didn't have a case of fleas, or just arthritis- he had a lonesome heart.  The cheerleader spent long days in the summer with the cat, and now, with school started and cheerleading in full force, she tried to see him, but it was often only for 5-15 minutes.  He would calm down when he got to see her cheering on video and he liked to sleep in a blanket that smelled like her.  The owner informed me when I suggested she keep more items around the house that smelled of his favorite person that she made the mistake of washing the item and he grimaced and gave her the evil eye the rest of the evening and refused to come near her- he knew she had washed the smell out.

Now, apparently his anxiety of missing his loved one was causing him to tear his hair out (in absence of another diagnosis).  We talked about ways to reduce his anxiety and reduce the pain of arthritis if that was also involved.  We also talked about an anti-depresseant.  Clearly we can't make his loved one stay home from her life to be with him, but there's something crazy about a cat with such a strong love.  As the owner was perplexed by the cat, I think I made her feel better when I said some cats (such as my own) have separation anxiety that is expressed as inappropriate elimination, her kitty is more polite that he harms himself rather than her property.  She seemed consoled by this.

The love of this cat kind of reminded me of one of my favorite stories as a child, Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree".  I think as a child I was more mesmerized by the tree for all the gifts it gave and now as a parent I identify more with the tree.  I think my patient also identified with the Giving Tree. For anyone who thinks cats are aloof and don't have feelings- this case is one that shows they have feelings, they might just express them differently.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Flu vaccine

I'm not sure if the following statement is going to be proof I'm a good vet- or a bad mom.  The only individual in my family that has received the flu vaccine so far this year is my dog, Dewey.  I'll go with- "I'm a good vet"

That information can be explained by the following:

1)  It's exceptionally easier to get a 60 pound goofy, happy dog in the car to go for a "trip" than to try to convince a 4 year old that a needle is a good thing.

2) It's also easier to remember to take the dog into work with you to get the flu vaccine when you hear his nails on the floor and realize he's due for a nail trim.

3) I planned on getting my son his vaccine at a pediatric specialist's office because I figure they are better at giving the vaccine (yes, with personal experience I can tell you some people are good at giving "shots" and some people are NOT).  Unfortunately he has developed a respiratory illness.  My immunology class may have been 14 years ago, but if a respiratory illness would keep my dog from getting a vaccine, I know my kid with a cold shouldn't get one- even if the local pharmacist doesn't care.

4) My husband hates shots- he says he's going to get it tomorrow.  Maybe I should make a bet with him as to which one of us goes first to get it.

5) My excuse- I was planning on going weight-lifting and I didn't want to be painful prior to the weightlifting.  Yes- this is a real excuse.

6) Flu in people is bad, but so is flu in animals.  There are actually two strains that they can be vaccinated for, so my poor dog is going to get his other one boostered in February.  They need to be boostered once a year once they do the initial series of two (at least us humans only get one once a year).  Dogs can die from flu, even healthy dogs and dogs that are social and travel are more likely to get it.  My dog fits both of those bills.  We also live in an area where dogs travel from all over the country and the world, so we are ripe for an outbreak.  Currently, it's the southeast and midwest that has had some outbreaks, but it can happen at any point.

Well, hopefully writing this blog
post will assure that I remember to follow up and make sure everyone gets taken care of.  Also- hopefully this is a reminder that if you are part of the at-risk population you should get your flu vaccine too!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Made it Back!

We made it back from a long road trip and a veterinary conference for me.

I convinced my husband to stop at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere instead of the regular fast food fare that I was sick of.  He lamented how it was going to take longer and make us late.  I told him "if it makes us run behind I'll...." I stopped myself as I noticed that there was a table of 6 cops (probably all of the police officers in the area) and maybe it wasn't so wise to say, "put the pedal to the metal".  I'm certainly not a flagrant speeder and my last speeding ticket was over a decade ago (Alas- my last parking ticket was last week, but I won't focus on that one).

We had a good meal and we made it back in time to pick up the dog AND the cat and so our family is all back home and tired.  This explains why I didn't post earlier...

A bit of exciting news- a while ago I was accepted as a contributing writer for

My first post will go "Live" sometime Thursday afternoon.  Please check it out and the other great content on the website.  I also love their "Daily Gospel" feature which helps bring perspective on each day's daily gospel reading.  I will be doing a couple of these come Spring!  Just thought I'd share the great news and if you haven't heard of the website, check it out!  My blogpost Thursday will be new content.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Beautiful Drive and Fall Changes

We got to take a beautiful drive through some gorgeous mountains today.  Sometimes I forget that Fall can be my favorite season.  I was lamenting last weekend that the weather had taken a change and that I forgot to bring a jacket for my son to the park.

This week, it's been a struggle to get him to wear a jacket or long pants.  He still thinks shorts and a T-shirt should carry him through the day.  If not for his cold, I wouldn't be opposed to "experiential learning" but the kid is so stubborn I'm not sure what it would take for him to admit that it was a good idea.

I'm reminded of when I went to high school wearing Birkenstocks in winter.  Apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  I guess in this way my son takes after me and not his Floridian father.  I used to roll around in snow in my bathing suit in my younger days.  Perhaps I should be grateful I live in a warmer climate.

I found myself buying Christmas Cards this week (who can't beat 75% off and free shipping?).  It was alarming to me how fast time flies and my son is talking about, "Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Christmas".  He wants them to come one day after the other.  How age changes perspective...  I want to slowly savor the Fall like a good pumpkin spice latte.  Cliche, I know, but this time of year wants me to savor, to slow down, to appreciate the changes and hold onto the present.

The beauty of those mountains remind me of this timeless world, this place where everyone and everything seems to move faster and faster, but God's gift of beauty, though it changes with the seasons is solid as a rock.  There are so many things in this world that can lead us to anxiety and fear, but for me, looking at those mountains and taking a deep breath holds me in one thing that's timeless, God's love for us.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Thank you Lord for my strong-willed child

Thank you Lord, for my strong-willed child.

Sometimes he challenges me beyond belief.  Sometimes I think the Lord may have not blessed us with more kids because sometimes this one takes all the patience and energy I have.

Sometimes I feel like getting him into clothes in the morning is a courtroom battle.  Or pretty much getting him to do anything.... Sometimes going to work is the "easy" part of my day.

Sometimes I'm required to use my knowledge of feline behavior  as in, "get them to think it was their idea" as a parenting tool.

Sometimes I try to leave 45 minutes early and end up 15 minutes late because of some debate that at the end of it neither one of us could tell you what it was really about.
Thank you Lord, for the challenges he brings, it makes the rewards of his temperament all the sweeter.

As I heard one blogger say, "remember, if you can't get your kid to do anything,  neither will anyone else".  Strong willed children are "less likely to give into peer pressure," be led anywhere or with anyone and "are more likely to be confident".

This weekend at the end of what was a week in what can sometimes be called "the parenting wars", I watched my son sit down with a man who was in his fifties, in a home for the elderly infirm and engage with him- talk baseball with him over a meal.

He excitedly came over to me and was so happy to share with me "my new friend, he's a little boy who has my same name and likes baseball".  Looking around the elderly population we were serving, I was confused.  I was running around being a busy Martha and here my 4 year old was showing me Mary.

My son who is often very shy was bonding with a Brother in Jesus more naturally than most of us adults could pull off.  I didn't ask him, or tell him to sit down and converse with a stranger.  He did it because that's who he is, my strong willed child.  

That man probably hadn't spoken about baseball with a 4-year old in a very long time, if ever.  He was surrounded by a bunch of people who weren't even familiar with baseball and my son just buddies up to him and gave him such joy.

Thank you Lord, for my strong willed child.  Sometimes I need a reminder that micromanaging and correcting is often not the way with him- modeling, guiding, and letting the Lord take over is just easier for everyone- and a huge blessing.

Thank you for the BLESSING of my strong-willed child.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Kitty Asteroid?

Yesterday was a looooong day.  That would be why I'm not posting until now.  I somehow got signed up to be in charge of hosting a barbecue for 100 people.  You know those things you say "No" to that everyone else just says "yes" for you?  Yep, that's how I ended up in Costco with a cart full of barbecue items to the point that I couldn't physically add items to the cart, and combined with a respiratory illness, I physically had a hard time moving the cart.

My son commented, "Mommy, you have a sad face".  I told him it was because I wasn't feeling well and was pushing over 50 pounds in a cumbersome cart.  He seemed to understand.  He tried to make me laugh and cheer me up, until we got home and I asked for help unloading the car.  Then he wasn't so helpful.  I got everything inside because I didn't want it sitting in a hot car all day.  I somehow forgot that my cat has a thing for bread products (which is hard to believe, because the great banana bread caper was just earlier this week).

I went upstairs and fed my son lunch and ate a little something myself and then got him down for a nap, leaving all the buns (over 60 of each, hot dog and hamburger buns) in the front hall on the table. My son slept well until I had to wake him up to go to soccer practice.  He wasn't thrilled.  He found out that chattering his teeth drove me nuts.  I was exhausted and trying not to let him know I was annoyed with his new skill (because if I did, I knew I was guaranteed he would practice it more).  I saw HER.  HER- the cat- on top of the pile of buns, happily gnawing on the plastic and getting into a hamburger bun!  UGH!!!!  We were already running late (even though I had started the process 45 minutes ahead of time) and I had no where to put 120 buns that wouldn't take more than a couple of minutes of transfer time.  I grabbed the cat and locked her in the basement, not feeling very sympathetic to her pleas.  My son stopped his chattering and laughed at how many times I yelled "No" to a deaf cat- apparently my associated arm movements were also hilarious- oh well, mocking was better than chattering.

Later, I came back home and assessed the damage, removed the affected buns/bags and moved everything up 2 floors to a locked bedroom.

That night as we were getting ready for bed, we were talking as a family.  My son used to say his planets songs with "going around the bun" instead of "going around the sun".  I asked my son if our cat Duchess was a planet rotating around the sun.  Or if she was a black hole.  He commented, without much thought, "she's an asteroid."  My husband and I both looked at him and after a little thought on my part, I said, "Yep, that makes sense, she does put craters in buns."  At least we got a laugh at the end of the day.

Monday, September 25, 2017


So, I thought I've had some awkward experiences as a veterinarian-

The guy with his dog who came at 2 am with a trench coat- only a trench coat on.

The woman who wanted to show me her pacemaker and took off her shirt  (did I mention she was like ninety something?)

The woman who wanted to let me know just how bad the fleas were in her house so she started to take her shorts down to show me the netherworld.

Yes.  Awkward.  I should almost get a stop sign to help as a visual aid to say- no, don't do that- don't say that.

The times where we've done foreign body surgery and found out the panties/socks did not belong to the spouse... awkward...

The times we've called up one owner to find out that there is actually a custody battle going on over the pet...

Yes.  Awkward.

There are also those moments where we have to talk about body parts that no one wants to talk about in public. The moments that we have to do gymnastics and get in awkward positions to restrain or get access to an animal.  I remember when my husband and I were first married he remarked at all the odd places I got bruises- yes- in the spur of the moment everybody can get knocked around in all sorts of unnatural positions.

I stumbled across a venue today where different veterinarians shared their different awkward stories and it was HILARIOUS!  More than that, it was reassuring- yes, I don't live in a bubble of weird people and weird situations- we all have an odd job everywhere.  When we struggle to look for some type of unity in this world, it reminds me of that country song- "God is great, beer is good and PEOPLE ARE CRAZY"

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cancer Warriors

Sometimes I love how my son asks deep questions and makes me think about topics in new ways.  Sometimes I just want to drive home from a fun morning at Chick Fil A.  The other morning we were driving back from breakfast.  It was my son's first discovery that Chick Fil A offers breakfast and that's the best time to go because there are no other kids on the playground.  This is when he hit me with a doozie.

We were driving back a different way to our house and we went by a huge fountain.  If you know anything about my son, he's OBSESSED with fountains.  He pointed it out to me and then asked, "What's that fountain building".  I looked at the sign- "It's a place where they do cancer research."  Hoping that the direct answer without extras would satisfy his curiosity.  Nope.

"What's cancer research?" was the quick next question.  "It's where scientists investigate how to cure cancer."  Yes, me, the queen of the run-on sentences was going for crisp remarks.  "Why do they want to cure cancer, what is cancer?".   "Cancer is a bad disease, a pathology that turns the body's good cells into bad cells," was along the lines of what my reply was- yes, I did use the word pathology.  Who says you can't use scientifically appropriate words with 4 year olds.  "What do the researchers do?"  this was a little tougher.  While I like to give my kid the honest truth and explain things, there was no way I was going to delve into PCR and cell culture and all of that stuff.  "They fight cancer."  "Oh- like with swords and stuff?"  Not giving me enough time to answer, he went on to create his own idea what they do in that building- "The mighty cancer researchers run after the cancer with their swords and their lasers and they do battle in that building with the big fountain."

Wow- my son makes cancer researchers sound like awesome warriors.  Not sure I want to totally knock down that vision...  I just responded with, "something like that, but not exactly."

"Who gets cancer?"he asked.  "Anyone can, " I told him.  I was wading into some deep waters here... "But mostly older people," I quickly added as I sensed a small amount of fear in his voice.  I told him it's very unlikely that he would get cancer.  As he was computing this, I said, "You know that sometimes bad things happen, right?"  "Yes," he answered. "But Jesus is with us when bad things happen and they don't happen very often," I said calmly.  This registered with him and seemed to assuage the fear.

I then told him of the people he knew in his life that had had cancer and won, that they had beat it.  He asked me how they beat it.  I told him with doctors help and with Jesus.  He got a smile when I added in "Jesus".  He thinks He's the ultimate hero.  "How did the doctors beat it?"  was his next question.  "The doctors cut it out with surgery.  Sometimes they use radiation and sometimes they use medication."

I think my son may have overheard how one of my best friends'  father has cancer, and it's bad.  He then said, "Not everyone beats cancer, right, does it win sometimes?"  "Yes," I told him as the conversation took a sad turn- "not everyone beats cancer in this world.  Sometimes Jesus takes them so they can beat it in Heaven."  "Ok," he said.  Then he thought for a minute.  "Mommy, when I get older I'm going to become a cancer researcher and I'm going to take that nasty cancer and I'm going to haul it on a spacecraft and then I'm going to send it into the atmosphere of Saturn so it burns up and never bothers people again!"  He said this with much excitement and hope.  I was puzzled for a moment and then realized he was referencing the destruction of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft.  Wow, I'm raising a science nerd, I thought.  However, with the images of the swords and warfare he  used he was bringing to mind how I pointed those out with the St. Michael the Archangel statue at church a week ago.  Who knew a child's mind could connect the two?

My son asked me about a difficult subject and hopefully when he is older he won't need to be a cancer researcher- hopefully it will be cured by then.  But if he wants to play "cancer researcher" instead of "soldiers and battle"  I'm ok with that.  I certainly have some white lab coats for him.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Back from the silence....

I enjoyed my silent retreat.  Even though I hadn't slept in a twin bed for quite some time, it was enjoyable to sleep by myself without night terrors, or an elbow or knee or foot in my back.  I found out the next morning, that my poor husband awoke at 6:45 (much the same time that I had woken up) to a four year old with a nose bleed.  He got to deal with it all on his own.  Have I told you when I first met him he'd practically faint when you mentioned blood?  I knew he had toughened up, but apparently he had toughened up for what he may have at one time considered the worst case scenario.

I wish I would have taken a picture of my son's face after being separated from me for 36 hours.  He was SO HAPPY to see me and so happy to snuggle.

My husband and son have a very strong relationship, but according to my son, "Mommy is a way better snuggler and tickler".  I'll take that.

I was reminded today of something I don't think a lot of clients are aware of.  We veterinarians are pretty tough.  I don't know how many times I've been injured in an exam room and the client has no clue.  A couple of weeks ago, a dog hit me just the right way, pushing me back into an exam table.  I had a bruise on my back from the force I was pushed into the exam table, and I actually bruised a rib (figured this out when I was having difficulty breathing).  The owner had no idea I had been injured.  Another circumstance, a cat actually hooked their claw into my finger and it came out another spot (so about 1 cm of my skin was attached to the cat).  This time, the owner was impressed as I calmly called for assistance to have someone help me remove the cat.

When we are injured in a exam room, we have to be calm for a couple of different reasons.  One- we are professional and we need to try to keep things professional.  Two- we don't want the humans passing out.  If they see our blood/trauma, they could easily pass out and we don't treat humans.  Three- with animals, it is best to stay calm, especially with an anxious or possibly aggressive animal. Once stress hormones and chaos is released into the room, things can quickly escalate.

Some of us have higher pain tolerances than others, some of us just have a devotion to what we are doing and are able to elevate ourselves above having a breakdown in front of strangers, but one thing is true, most of us are tough as nails.

Friday, September 15, 2017


The first time someone told me about a silent retreat, it seemed like a feat possibly more difficult to make it through than a marathon.  In theory, it sounded good, but I wasn't sure if it was possible.  Coincidently, I just read an article about "noise pollution".  Noise pollution is increasing even in protected areas and areas that were previously places of solace.  It contributes to memory loss, cardiovascular disease and all sorts of ailments.  Noise is not always a good thing.

I'm Irish and Polish AND I've kissed the blarney stone.   So needless to say, I have the "gift of gab".  It's not always a gift though.  Sometimes it's my cross too.  Sometimes, my mouth gets me in trouble.  As I discussed with my husband recently, some of our biggest gifts can be our biggest faults too.  In the case I was talking to him about, sometimes my empathy, which makes me a great, caring doctor also makes me an overly sensitive person.  I'm "gifted" with being able to read a room, and to read people- their emotions, their behavior.  I'm not always good at this, especially with those closest to me (I think if I was busy "reading" those closest to me, my relationships would be less authentic).  But some cases, I'm able to pick up on subtleties and try to navigate around potential land mines.  Some of the people I've worked with have commented that I have the ability to "talk people off the ledge".  My mom has commented on my "Irish Diplomacy" before.  This is a phrase that's supposed to mean, "the Art of Telling a man to go to H-ll so he actually looks forward to making the trip."  It's exhausting though.  As I've gotten older and more experienced, interacting with 20 or more people a day and "working the room" is draining.  I enjoy people, especially when they are friendly and care for their animals.  The people who are draining though, the people who want a simple answer, when it's not a simple disease, the people who you spend 20 minutes talking to and then they ask a question which is what you just spent the past 20 minutes answering- that's what drains me at the end of the day.

My husband does not think of me as anti-social, but sometimes, I feel very anti-social.  I just am tired of talking- even with friends I just don't enjoy conversations as much as I used to.  I still enjoy the friendships but talking just seems more draining to me, especially after I've spent ALL DAY talking at work.

What's the point of this blogpost, you're probably asking now...  Well- I have done a silent retreat before- twice and it was wonderful.  The first one was when I was engaged and the second one was right before I found out I was pregnant.  The retreat was great (maybe not the food).  The silence- the reading- the being present with other people with the expectation that they don't talk.  It's not complete silence- it's typically presentations by a retreat master (the one person who is allowed to talk) and Masses with music- oh and you are allowed to talk during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

I'm looking forward to this weekend- it's been 5 years since my last silent retreat, so there is a certain part of me that might be slightly nervous about keeping my mouth shut for over 36 hours, but there's also a part of me that is really looking forward to this.  The time for me to try to stop talking and to stop the internal voice that even talks in my head during Mass.  If I remember correctly, I will go through a couple of hours of constant chatter in my head and then I will be able to bring on internal silence.  Sometimes, internal silence can be scary- sometimes it's at that time when things come to light that your subconscious has been trying to talk over, but sometimes letting whatever that is bubble up is the route to healing.  I seem to remember my last retreat I spent a lot of time sleeping- probably a sign of my early pregnancy- but also probably a sign of how much I needed rest.  I also remember not feeling guilty about that- it's good to remember what St. Therese of Liseux said about falling asleep in front of the Lord- "I remember that little children are as pleasing to their parents when they are asleep as when they are wide awake".

I will miss my husband and son for about 36 hours, but hopefully, after a weekend of silence, I will be a refreshed and happier wife and mother to be able to take on whatever next new horizon the Lord has in His plans.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Kitty football player

As we were trying to clean up our family room and move some toys out of our central space, I moved my son's little football game with Lego figures over to the entertainment center.  I knew it was the cat's favorite spot to sit, but she has so many favorite spots, I figured she would adapt.  I should know her better.

Last night I caught her kicking the Lego football (about 1 cm in size) down the Lego field.  While my son would have loved to see this, I was not too amused.  I was even less amused when she looked like she was going to pick it up with her mouth.  I told her, with baited breath as my son was asleep upstairs with his door open, "No- you did not survive 18 years for me to have to remove a FOOTBALL from your stomach."  Did I mention she's deaf?  I think she did get the message- somehow from the way I glared and lunged at her.

If I wasn't a vet, I probably wouldn't have had the same enthusiasm for the incident.  My parents cat ate the letter "H" from a kids foam set.  She's also eaten brownies and hair ties and other sundry items.  I thought my cat was smarter than that.  I'm not sure if it's because she's getting older and losing her sense of smell and is willing to go after anything that looks remotely edible, or if she's picked up a love of football from my son.  Whatever it is, I have another thing to add to the list of why mom's need eyes in the back of their heads to monitor...  Who says old cats can't learn new tricks?  I just hope my kitty's new trick doesn't end up with me doing exploratory surgery on her...

Friday, September 8, 2017

My son's first day at a new school.

I've enjoyed having my son home with me this week as he gets ready to embark on a journey at a new school.  It's been a busy week, full of paperwork, orientations, school Mass, getting the dog caught up on vaccines and all the administrative stuff that goes on during the beginning of a school year.  Add on editing an article for a medical journal, trying to throw together a picnic/barbecue for 75-80 people and a few other odds and ends and I'm getting a little tired on what is supposed to be "a week off".

It's always interesting, when you think you have down time, a bunch of stuff gets added on top.  I might actually be looking forward to working tomorrow (on a Saturday) because then I will at least have my focus on one thing.  Although as a veterinarian, you never really have your focus on one thing.  I may be putting on my cardiology, dermatology or neurologist hat tomorrow- you never know.

I had attempted to do something "special" with my son on his last day off before school started.  I was going to take him to Chick Fil A (He couldn't believe that they served breakfast) and then to a new park we've wanted to go to for a while.  Instead, my son woke up and said, "Let's do that another day."  We spent most of yesterday at home with him playing with his wide variety of toys and me trying to pick up after him, among getting other things done (I finally had it with the cabinets and the onion dust in the pantry and went on a full frontal offense).

While part of me felt disappointed that my son didn't want to celebrate school in a "special" way, I reminded myself that all of this time is special.  The fact that my son just wanted a day to hang out at home and hang out with his mommy was more important than doing something out of the ordinary.  Sometimes the ordinary moments are the most special things we have....

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day

My family enjoyed a great Labor Day weekend, complete with a 5K run in the remnants of Hurricane Harvey (as the rain pelted us, I remembered not to whine and be grateful that was all the storm was doing for me and I did offer up some of the annoyance as a prayer for the victims of that powerful storm).

We also got to go to a minor league baseball game, and while my kid waking up early from a nap was not something we planned on, it worked out that he got to play catch on the field before the game started.

Perhaps my favorite part of this weekend was spending 5 hours at the pool.  It's the last day the outside pool with waterslide was open and we even got a "Cabana" to hang out in between playing and romping in the pool.  I actually got to sit and finish a magazine and my son and I got to admire and stare at the clouds for a while.  It was nice and relaxing and the first holiday this summer that we actually spent at home.  Did I say it was relaxing?

My husband finished it off well with a little bit of homemade Jambalaya and my hubby and son made homemade ice cream (which involved cleaning out the freezer enough to make room for the ice cream maker in there, that was great motivation for a freezer clean).  My son realized that yes, ice cream can actually taste better than what you get out of a container.  He actually ranked homemade ice cream higher than going to the pool or eating pizza (that puts it toward the top of his likes list).  He did rank it below playing catch on the field prior to a baseball game, so hopefully that means he's set up for a life of moderation...

Friday, September 1, 2017

Computer Update and Reason 1001 why to do your research

The technician looked at me sadly- I could see it in his eyes- I've had that look in my own eyes- how to break the bad news.

Even if it's the case where you can fix the animal- when the price of a fix is horrible and unexpected, people can say and do pretty crazy things in shock.....

I looked at him and said, "I know it's going to be around $500."  He got a sudden look of relief.  I then told him, "It's nice not to have to break that bad news to someone isn't it."  He said- yes, it certainly was nice to not have to deal with someone in shock.  I told him I had asked around and also done research on the computer, so I was prepared.

Later on, he told me it was a part they had in stock- so it would take 2-3 days max.  He got a BIG smile out of me.  I told him I thought it was going to take up to 5 days from what I had seen online.  He looked so thrilled to have someone smile at him.  I got the feeling he hadn't given anyone good news in a while.  I talked with him briefly and said, "I'm in a profession where I have to break bad news to people, it's nice to not have to do that isn't it?"  He was very excited and said, yes, it was very nice that I had done my research at home.  I shared with him it's much better to go into shock at home where some wine and a hot shower is readily available.  I choose to try to do research to avoid an unpleasant public meltdown.  He got a smile out of that.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Broken Computer Screen

You may notice a difference in my blog over the upcoming days/ weeks as my computer screen has broken.  I'm not sure exactly how it happened (I always find it interesting how my computer and phone can survive being dropped and other incidents that I was sure would injure them, while they break when I'm not sure exactly what happened).

Somehow, my computer was on the floor and the screen cracked.  The only viable reason I can come up with is if there was a cord or wire or something that got caught between the screen and keyboard that cracked it.  Regardless- you never realize how much you depend on some
thing until it's broken.  Currently, there is about 1/4 of the screen that is still working, so I'll go with that.

I won't be able to take it to get fixed for another week and then it will probably be a week after that before it will be fixed.  I joked with my husband that it saved us money (haha) because I had been doing some online shopping and when it broke it saved me from making some purchases.  He didn't think $500 for a broken screen was worth saving me from a $60 pottery barn purchase.  I guess I can understand his lack of humor there.

Life will go on and at least I have my new planner!  Can't you tell I'm a glass half full type of girl....

Friday, August 25, 2017

Marco Polo Chocolate?

My son has loved playing Marco Polo in the pool for a while.  I still need to clarify with him and my husband that when you play this game, your eyes are supposed to be CLOSED.  Oh well.

I have written previously about "purple light" and we still use "red light, green light, yellow light , purple light" when walking but when we went on vacation a little bit ago, we needed a new variation.

We went on a trip in beautiful northern Idaho and embarked on what my husband thought would be a brief hike.  He thought there was no way my son would make it for a 2.75 mile loop of hilly terrain and cliffs.  I was doubtful as well, but thought we'd make it further than my husband thought.

It was a beautiful hike but a little scary with some of the sheer drops.  The place could be featured in those cliff-diving shows they sometimes put on TV.  Our four year old understands that falling hurts,  but we tried to explain that falling down in this location would MORE than hurt (without scaring the living daylight out of him- a difficult line to walk and I'm not sure how we will do this in the teenage years).

We held his hand a lot and I really wanted to be able to hike to the "swinging bridge" we had heard about.  My husband thought we'd just walk for 20 minutes and then head back.  My son had just played non-stop at a park and water play area for 2 hours, so while I was trying to have realistic expectations of his abilities, I also knew if I could bottle him up it would be more potent than an energy drink.

My son was happy to keep hiking and so we kept going.  At a certain point, my husband looked fairly amazed we had made it as far as we had and we were closer to the bridge than we were to the beginning of the hike.  It might just be possible for us to make it, my husband said.  My son started growing a little weary, or bored- not sure which or maybe a combination of the two.  I promised him that if we made it to the bridge with him walking (instead of being carried) that I had some chocolate in my bag that he could have.  My husband looked at me puzzled.  Yes, I told him, I brought chocolate- I'm sure I'm not the only mom who carries bribery with her (or an afternoon treat for myself).  The chocolate was definitely motivational for my son.

We made it through the hike to the bridge, got some great pictures and then we were on the land-locked side of the mountain, so we could give my son a little more free reign with moving around as there wasn't a worry about him falling off a cliff.  His spirits seemed to get deflated (or the sugar wore off) after a little bit and we still had a little ways to go.  Over 2.5 miles of hiking had made my husband and I a little weary too, so we weren't jumping to carry a four-year old.

 I told him when we got to the end of the hike, he could have another piece of chocolate.  Somehow this evolved into a game of "Marco Polo Chocolate".  My son would call out, "Chocolate- where are you?" and my husband or I, dependent on who was ahead would call back as if we were "Chocolate".  This was great motivation and fun for my son, especially on parts of the trail that curved or changed where he could not see "Chocolate".  This made the end of the hike a lot more fun.  Then it happened.  What seemed like a tiny tumble over a small root sticking out in the trail was EPIC.

 For some reason- I'm not sure if it's an anatomical issue with his nose, an adventurous attitude or many factors combined- my son get's more bloody noses than anyone else I know.  Not only did he get a bloody nose, but a severely swollen lip.  It was so swollen he actually had difficulty eating dinner later that evening.  There's nothing like having a bloodbath all over you on a public trail with a kid crying bloody murder.  Our relaxing, beautiful hike became horrible.  No chocolate was going to solve this issue.  A fellow hiker stopped by and stated that she was a lifeguard and gave us some baby wipes to try to clean up some of the mess.  She also said we should pinch my son's nose (as said previously- great advice, but not one a four-year old wants to take).

We ended up getting him back to our hotel, cleaning up and trying to continue with the day- he was a little more subdued than usual and fell asleep in the car on the way to our next destination.  He was a real trooper.  He then went on to toss stones on the beach and walk in the cold lake water, even though he looked like a disaster had happened on his face.  He did remarkably well and even survived going to Mass on the Vigil of the Feast of the Assumption.

I had had a lot of fun playing, "Marco Polo Chocolate" with him, but was pretty sure he would never want to the play that game again- after how it ended.  Apparently he is not scarred for life.  His face (and lip) have recovered and a couple of days ago he called out, "Chocolate, where are you?????"  Glad to know the power of chocolate is stronger than the fear of falling.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Other names my dog answers to.....

I was humored the other day when I realized something that I probably should have picked up on long ago.  My dog is pretty good at answering to Dewey- especially if I'm getting my gear on to go outside and take him for a walk or a run.  He's not that great at answering to his name if it's raining or cold outside and I'm trying to get him to go to the bathroom.

What I realized a couple of days ago is he answers to me exclaiming, "DARN IT!" and "UGHHH!" especially when I'm in the kitchen.  Apparently he responds to these exclamations almost faster than to his name itself.  He equates frustrated expressions from me in the kitchen with the sentence, "FREE FOOD, COME AND GET IT".  It's kind of funny that what I see as a kitchen disaster, my dog sees as manna from heaven.  Unfortunately, his vacuum mode only works if it's a tasty disaster.  If sugar is spilled or onion peels get all over the floor- forget about it, he comes and then has the expression of a kid who just chased after the ice-cream truck and it still ran off.

While I had thought about renaming my dog Dewey many other names (I think Scooby was one I had seriously thought about), the name Dewey just kind of fits him.  He's rotated through many nicknames (I can't remember them all), but Dewey just fits his personality.  He's certainly not organized and orderly like the Dewey decimal system, he's kind of like a cat (so that fits with the cat named Dewey who has his own book), but he's really kind of a Dufus- but in a cute way.  Apparently I can add "Darn it and UGHH" to his long list of nicknames.  At least from now on when I have a kitchen disaster, it will give me a small smile to know it gives him joy.

Friday, August 18, 2017


My family and I had a wonderful vacation out West.  Along with the wide-open spaces and exploring the natural beauty God has blessed us with, were some observations about my loved ones.  When it comes to friends or family, nothing says learning more than spending 5 days in a row of early mornings, full days and late nights...

Sometimes it can seem like a pre-schooler is a bipolar person.  There are highs and there are lows and they can be interspersed pretty close together.  A temper tantrum can become laughter and laughter can quickly devolve into unexplainable crying.  It's an emotional roller coaster there is no medicine for.  It was a reminder to me that controlling emotions is a learned and practiced ability and not an innate expectation.  As I tried to keep my cool with my son's unpredictable changes, I was reminded of the fact that many adults can't keep it together either.  Hopefully my steadfast patience would lead to a well-conditioned, even tempered adult.  In an interesting irony, on our flight back home I kept getting kicked in the back of my chair repetitively.  As I tried to avoid the evil glares I wanted to shoot back, I thought, "well, maybe it's an autistic young kid, or a small child that doesn't know better."  I tried to be understanding and offer it up.  I was somewhat surprised to learn when I got off it was a perfectly normal looking woman who was my age or older.  Well- we never know anyone's story and if I'm going to teach my son to be patient and not judge- the buck stops here...

Back to learning a little more about my son.  We had a Monday with a wonderful hike (which my son actually walked the whole 2.75 miles until a stumble and a nose bleed which I will write about next week).  Then Tuesday came and we were all set to head north to a beautiful town with a lake and my husband was looking forward to exploring the town with us.  Unfortunately, not even 5 miles away from our start, my son got sick.  We are talking fairly epic, clear the car out sick.  Ironically, I had to get lab work, and I asked the lab worker for a bag to put the soiled clothes into- she gave me a giant red biohazard bag- couldn't be more appropriate.  My husband and I tried to figure out how sick my son was.

This can sometimes be hard to reason with a four year old.  How sick are you?  You look sick, but was that just a passing thing, or the beginning of something more?  My son told us he wanted to go on with the planned trip, but obviously some modifications and a trip to Walmart needed to be made.

New shirt, shorts, socks, soda and wipes were purchased.  I also made a trip down the pet aisle and told my husband I was looking for a litter box so if he got sick again the rental car would hopefully not take the full brunt force.  The litter boxes were a little expensive and fancy for the purpose I was looking for, but I found a animal feed tub and it seemed to suit.  There was a clerk stocking shelves in the aisle and I can still remember her face as she heard me ask my son, "So- you think you could puke in that if you have to."  Yes- a little crude, but to the point.

We made it up to our destination and parked at the city beach.  My son was happy and I told my husband he would have to eat lunch alone and then bring me some, because I was confident taking our son to a restaurant would be a bad idea for all involved.  My son, my little sick boy was soon running around the beach, trying to take his shoes and socks off and walk in the lake which was COLD.  We were not far from the Canadian border and he just wanted to be in the cold water.  I tried to play along as I imagined the cold water probably felt good to him.  He played for hours.  We even built a sand castle (a couple of times, as I found out he prefers to destroy sand castles more than building them).  I even found out that the feed bin doubled up as a great sand castle builder.

My son and I could have easily written the day off as a day of sickness and just staying in a hotel room- but instead I actually got a day at the beach at a beautiful mountain lake- can't ask for much better than that.  My son was soon hungry and stated he wanted pizza- we avoided that and we avoided further illness and my son taught me that even though he can be very whiny and demanding- he can also buck it up and have a great time- kind of like his mommy, I guess.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New School Year Hopes

It's kind of silly how excited I am to be getting a new planner soon.  As I was purchasing some supplies for my son, I asked my husband if I could make a purchase for myself.  As an independent contractor, I make my own schedule with over ten different locations a year, spread across a couple of states.  It is an inconsistent schedule and with being a small business owner, I have invoices and accounts receivable and occasionally the role of collections officer.

Besides that, I have a couple of side gigs I do, my role in my Dominican order that, since I've become fully-professed seems to be increasing, my role on our church's Respect For Life Committee that also is increasing, my role as a mom and "Chief Administrative Officer" (meaning I get to try to do all the administrative stuff like paperwork and coordinating repairs) and my role as mom.  At my son's current childcare situation we were expected to do co-op hours and in my son's preschool next year, parent participation is mandatory.

I'd like to say I do a decent job at the above, but that probably wouldn't believable.  As I talked with another busy mom one day- you give up on "not dropping balls" and accept that balls will drop- you aim for efficiency at getting the balls back up in the air as fast as you can and accept losing the less important ones.

I look back at everything I did in college- NCAA student athlete, work in a molecular genetics lab, president of my school's Students For Life program, officer of the pre-vet club and active in my parish.  How did I do that all, I asked my husband.  The likely answer is- I was in my early twenties and I didn't have a family.  Another answer though, was I was old school.  I had a planner and I worked off of that.  I also think of if I lose my phone, or the internet goes down at our house, or any other types of computer/programming snafus I would be totally in a deep hole.  It's good to have a paper AND computer copy of where I'm supposed to be for everything and anything that let's me have a little less anxiety and be a little less attached to my cell phone is a GOOD thing.

I'm not expecting to become superwoman when my planner arrives, but I'm hoping it will help me on my journey to become more of the woman God wants me to be.  I'll keep you updated...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Baby Cages and Crate Training...

I was reading an article today about how "baby cages", where human babies would be enclosed in a cage, hung out a window to be "raised in fresh air" used to be a fad in the 1930's.  Apparently Eleanor Roosevelt used one for one of her children until one of her neighbors threatened to report her for something she thought was just part of being modern parent.  Good Housekeeping Article on Baby Cages  While baby cages sound ridiculous to us today, I was commenting to my coworkers, "What do you think they will think of crates and cages for animals in another 100 years?"  What will people think about some of the things we do now- it's always an interesting discussion.

Cue an appointment, a short while later.  I was talking with the dog's parents about their dog who has suddenly developed separation anxiety.  The dog, when separated from his family, will chew things he shouldn't.  I took time to try to tell the family this was a serious issue- their response, "Well, he doesn't really hurt anything important, the house is already pretty baby-proof, he just chews on wood and stuff."  Woah- I've heard this before and it can lead to dangerous behavior.  Dogs with separation anxiety can chew all sorts of things and get foreign bodies (things in their stomach that don't belong). I once saw a dog with very interesting X -rays that ended up being 3 pacifiers and 4 nipple tops to bottles.  The owner kind of laughed that his dog was being passive aggressive because he never really liked their new baby.  He wasn't laughing at his $3,000 bill.

I also shared about dogs who eat dry wall- destroying not only property but also causing obstructions in the stomach that required surgery.  Separation Anxiety can become a form of mental illness that can be very detrimental for everyone's quality of life.  We discussed anxiety medications, homeopathic therapies and other suggestions for reducing anxiety (such as the chapter on it in Sophia Yin's book, "How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves").  The owners didn't really seem to take it seriously.

I mentioned, "well, at least put him in a crate when you leave so he can't hurt himself."  I got hit with bad looks and the comment of, "We'd never kennel him!  That's cruel!".  While I don't recommend keeping dogs in cages or crates all the time, there is appropriate times where you are actually helping the dog.  Do you think dogs enjoy gastrointestinal surgery?  Do you think they enjoy spending tons of time in the hospital?  Do you think you'd enjoy spending $4,000 to save your pet's life from a preventable problem?  Apparently my pleas went nowhere, so I just documented the conversation in the hopes that what I was worried about would not come true.

Crates and crate training are important to get your puppy used to.  In a way, it's kind of like their "cave".  I put my dog in the crate when I was gone or late at night when I wasn't sure how he would react to my cat.  He would go into his crate on his own if he heard scary noises or me chopping vegetables (or escaping the toothbrush).  It was his safe place and he was fine with it.  I was happy with knowing I wouldn't have to take him to surgery for removing something stupid he ate.  While Baby Cages are a home trend that has gone out of style thankfully for safety reasons, crates should stay in style for a LONG TIME, as they protect our family members.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Good Neighbors

I think I've blogged previously about our neighbors and how they've been really great.  From helping us cut down a tree that fell on (and debilitated) my car to helping with packages, trash and other neighborly things, they've kind of stepped up to it this week.

Last week,  a day before a bunch of family was supposed to visit, as I was getting the house ready for visitors, our laundry machine broke.  Flat out, broke with water sitting in the drum and not draining.  I tried everything to clean the system out and touched slime and yuck more than I care to remember.  I went on a late night trip to Home Depot, which taught me that 9:30 PM is the perfect time to go shopping there.  There's hardly anyone there, there's plenty of staff who are helpful and everything moves efficiently, even finding a parking spot.  I'm filing that away in my memory.  My brother in-law even tried to take part of the machine apart and see if he could fix it- No luck, but I was appreciative of his try.

With scheduling of work and our visitors and the fact that repair people have to give you a window of "the whole day", we couldn't set up the repair until a week after the machine broke.  I was not a happy camper.  I used to have to help a group of nuns hand wash clothes and I knew what a hassle it is and how hard it is to get soap out of clothes.  We tried to get through the week and I only bothered one of my neighbors once to let me do the tablecloth and bathroom towels before our visitors arrived.  I thought that maybe, just maybe we could make it through the week.  It actually turned out to be an interesting exercise in finding items in my closet I didn't even know I had.  My son was rather confused when he told us he wanted to wear several of his sports hero's shirts and we told him NONE of them were clean.  He was confused and saddened.  I actually dug out my hand washing skills for a couple of his favorite shirts and my shorts.  In hot weather, I really don't own enough pairs of nice, non-exercise shorts to make it through the week.

We almost thought we had made it until the end of the week.  Of course when I was at work we were too busy for me to put my white coats in the laundry and OF COURSE I had to see patients with fleas and other issues that are infectious and communicable so they can't be re-used.

Between that and an unexpected accident in the household, we had to do some more laundry.  My husband offered to go to a laundromat, but we actually didn't even know where one was!  I had asked a neighbor to pick up a package that I couldn't re-schedule delivery for and it needed to be refrigerated and so when I went to get that from her, she asked how things were going.  I casually told her of our peril and she stepped up and not only did our laundry, but even folded some of it!  My husband and I were impressed by her folding skills.

Thanks to our neighbor being inquisitive as to what we had gotten in the mail, "What fabulous thing did you get in the mail, we know you love to bake, so what are you up to now?" I had the perfect idea for a thank you- chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.

It's sure nice to have good neighbors.  Some days I think about living out in the country and having a farm, but it's certainly nice to just run across the street for an egg or twenty feet for laundry...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Garden Help

Last year, when I embarked on my first community garden experience with a friend, I had visions of my son learning how plants grow and where his food came from and "helping" in the garden.  He had fun with my neighbor's daughter who shared the garden with us, but that was about it.   This year, I've been more realistic.  I try to do most of my garden stuff as my own personal "me" time.  On weekends or other times when I don't have a preschooler in tow because I realize his interest level is close to zilch.

Occasionally because of the weather pattern or my schedule and needing to go to the garden to pick produce, I've brought my son along.  More recently I've found that bringing a snack and plopping him up in the base of a tree has been helpful (high enough he can't run off, but low enough nothing would break if he fell). This was working well for a while, but even with a popsicle in the tree, he grew bored the other day.  I'm pretty sure a four year old's whines are not fertilizer for the plants- or a mother's nerves.

The other day I still needed to water the garden a bit more so I asked him to help me.  No interest.  I tried to think about what else I could do to keep him from running away from the garden and away from where I could see him.  I don't know what I was thinking when I enticed him with, "You can spray the plants and you can spray Mommy!".  I think I envisioned a nice cooling spray or mist.

Instead, I found myself afterwards needing to squeeze the water out of my garments, even my undergarments.  My kid drenched me.  We had a full out water war of epic proportions.  He had a blast chasing me around with the water.  I, in turn, tried to wrestle it out of his hands to turn the tables and spray the plants.  In the meantime, the plants couldn't help but get a little spray.  A bathing suit would have been a good idea, I thought in retrospect.  Oh well, I was already wet, might as well make the best of it.  My son had a good time trying to make mud piles in the garden.

Afterwards, when I asked him what he was thinking he said, "Mommy you were a plant and you were REALLY thirsty for water."  Ok, maybe my son won't be a member of future farmers of America, but at least he has a sense of humor and imagination and at least he knows mud can be fun.  If I keep it positive maybe I can come up with a creative way to help get him to weed.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Saying goodbye to the changing table.... another use..

I've been putting off cleaning out my son's old changing table.  He has a fairly small room, so the changing table has always kind of stood as a large object jutting into his room.  I have been hoping that we would be having another sibling for my son, so the changing table wouldn't be out of use for long.  Alas, my son is four and hasn't worn diapers for half a year.  We don't have a whole lot of room in our place to store things (no true basement or attic).  I somehow one day, without even planning it decided it was time to take on the project.  My husband and I had been talking about how my son didn't have a playroom, and so, our whole house was starting to become a playroom.  Especially with Legos.

I decided that once I cleaned out the changing table, it wouldn't make a bad lego station.  The top, with the railing could be where my son put his projects, the middle bin that used to hold odds and ends and wipes could hold all the random Lego's.

It was kind of sad to clean out all the items from when he was a baby.  He was amused by some of the items I found and tried to squeeze a football baby hat onto his head (this was amusing for me as his head is large for his age- I can actually wear the same hats my four year old can).  Fortunately, a neighbor of ours has a daughter who is almost in size 5 diapers, the size he used last.  I packaged up wipes, diaper cream and all the odds and ends babies use and sent them across the street.  They were grateful for the extras and I was grateful they were going to good people and wouldn't sit in my hallway for a month until I could make it to our local diaper bank.  The happiness of sharing with others was a good pancea to the bittersweet sadness of packing baby stuff away.  Hopefully, one day, there will be another baby in our house but for right now I will rejoice in hopefully not stepping on Legos at midnight.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Popsicle Days

Lately, we have been braving a lot of heat and a lot of storms down here.  I enjoy going out with my son on the back porch, and though I'm trying to stay away from sugar, I get enjoyment from my son enjoying a popsicle and then "cleaning up" the patio from the mess.  He always gets sticky hands and is hard to get him to wash his hands or get his hands wet.

That is until the other day.  My son was asking me what I was doing when I took a Kleenex to my nose and was acting uncomfortable.  I told him I had a bloody nose (probably a combination of heat and allergies).  My sweet little guy quit what he was doing, grabbed one of the dishcloths we keep at his kiddie table for emergencies and proceeded to get the cloth soaking wet.  He hasn't quite grasped the concept of wringing out the dishcloth yet, so he came walking over to me leaving puddles of water as he came.  He then instructed me to put it on my nose and lean my head back (you know, those things that I tell him when he has a nose bleed and he doesn't listen to...)

My son's gesture was very sweet and now I'm thinking his exposure to popsicles and their stickiness is helping him overcome his aversion to wet hands... or so I can hope.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Purple Light

A while back on a walk with my in-laws, my mother in-law taught my son "red light, green light".  I think I had tried to teach him this earlier as a game, but at the age he was at, and in the context of trying to get him to stay with you when we were walking, it worked great.  He could get a green light to run in places where it was safe, yellow light near driveways or if he was getting too far ahead and a red light for obvious reasons.

 We had been using this "technique" for a while on family walks and it worked well for a bit, but then I think he got bored with it.  I started to let him yell out the commands to us (which did give my husband and I a bit of exercise) and added in a new command, "Purple Light".  "Red light" just wasn't interesting enough for my son, so "Purple Light" means stop whatever you are doing and run as fast as you can to the other and give him a hug.  It brings joy to us to have him stop and run and hug us, but I think it brings me even more joy when he wants me stop and run and hug him.  I hope "Purple Light" will continue to be popular with my son for a long time.  Alas, kids grow too fast, but I think hugs never get too old...

Friday, July 21, 2017

Orange Juice Stand and a wet super-hero

Last week, on a really hot day, my son declared it was, "Movie Day".  My husband and I inquired to what he meant.  He said, "Going to the theater and watching a movie on the big screen, like when I saw Peanuts."  That was a year and a half ago, and ever since, he had declared to us that movies were too loud and too scary.  That was fine with us, movies are very expensive too, so they would continue to just be a special treat for my husband and me for date nights.

Well, my son was adamant that it was "Movie Day" and knowing that the heat index was supposed to get up over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it didn't sound like a bad idea to me.  I searched to see if there were any movies that were even appropriate for him, and found Pixar's "Cars 3" which seemed to have halfway decent reviews for a kids movie.  Apparently the posting on the internet was wrong, because when I took my son to the theater at 11:15am, the ticket office said they didn't have any showings until after 1pm.  My son was upset and said he would sit and wait until then.  I was sure he wouldn't really want to wait two hours in a movie theater (or if they would even let us) so we searched for another one and he reluctantly agreed to leave, but insisted we couldn't stop and run errands.

We went to the movies at another theater and he had a great time and tried to stay to watch another one (after shelling out close to $50 for the tickets and his soda and parking, I tried to explain this was a special treat).  We went to lunch and then the only way I could convince him to willingly and pleasantly join me at the grocery store was to tell him he could pick out his own flavor for ice cream.

As we went through the produce aisles, I picked up two oranges.  He noticed they were like balls and I told him he could have them.  He was very sweet and insisted to me that he wasn't going to "squish them into the grocery cart like he did with the peaches last time".  That was an ordeal where I ended up rummaging through my purse for kleenex and wipes to clean up a mess and having 2 or 3 peaches I had to pay for ending up in the grocery trash... Lesson learned.  I told him I gave him the oranges because I was sure he COULDN'T squish them like the peaches, but I appreciated his promise.

As we continued to shop, my son started saying something about making orange juice for neighbors and we needed more oranges.  For my picky son who doesn't like to eat fruit most of the time to ask for more oranges, I decided not to quash that request.  We went back and I asked him how many he wanted.  Five, he said.  He was excited and held onto his oranges for the whole trip.

As I got home and started unloading groceries he took off for downstairs and out the front door with oranges.  It was about 3 pm, but he was convinced he needed to make orange juice for the neighbors like Daniel Tiger did.  I tried to get him to stay inside until I was done unloading groceries, but had a hard time, I ended up coming with ideas of things he needed to get upstairs, sprinting up the stairs ahead of him to get a few groceries put away and then coming back down with him with supplies.  The prospect of sitting outside for the next 3 hours to wait for the neighbors to come home in the heat was just not appealing.  Fortunately, a neighbor across the street who had just picked up her daughter from school was passing by.  I pled with her to please come over and have some orange juice from my son's stand so I wouldn't have to stay outside for the next couple of hours.  She looked slightly perplexed, but obliged.

They came over and had said some freshly squeezed orange juice (I was able to convince my son that a necessity of having an orange juice stand was thoroughly washing your hands before you touched other peoples beverages).  My neighbor offered to pay, as she thought it was like a lemonade stand, apparently, according to my son, "Daniel Tiger gave orange juice to his neighbors because it is a neighborly thing to do".  Free orange juice for neighbors, that's not a bad lesson my son had learned... Fortunately, quenching the thirst of two neighbors was enough to satisfy my son and he decided it was time to move on.

It wasn't too hard to get him to move on at that point when I suggested we take his new chocolate ice cream out to the back porch.  My dog Dewey, the "Arizona Dog" likes to sunbathe in 100 degrees.  It's kind of crazy, but he'll actually ask to go outside in the backyard and lay out in the sun when there is a heat alert.  I decided to let him on the porch with us too.  Not long after I had gotten water bowls, phone, ice-cream bowls, etc. out on the porch, I heard thunder.  There hadn't been any warning of storms other than the vague, "It could storm between noon and 9pm".  I told my son it looked like there could be storms to our north, and we would monitor it, I told him at the first sight of lightening, we should all run inside.  I surveyed the porch for Dewey, who has thunderstorm anxiety and he was as cool as a cucumber, so I decided I would start rounding up other stuff first.  As I did this, the lightening started.  I got my son inside first and then went for the dog.  Well, that was an adventure...  My son apparently likes to get excitable about storms, he's not really scared, but he's like my sister who has a strange fascination love/hate relationship.  He was like a cheerleader through the screen door.

That didn't help the already freaked out dog. As I was trying to wrangle him inside, the cat snuck out.    This is the same cat who I previously had to jump from our 2nd floor porch to our neighbors 2nd floor porch to get her off of before she could jump to another neighbor'
s porch.  The prospect of jumping porches as the wind was picking up and the lightening was going made me forget about the dog and get the cat.  I got her inside and then almost gave up on the dog.  Except I didn't.  The mom in me just couldn't leave him out there.  I wrangled him inside and got some anti-anxiety medication down him (He was so stressed he refused beef jerky and all of his most favorite treats).  My son was excited; he had had perhaps the most exciting day he'd had in a while and he almost looked at me like I was some type of frazzled wet-haired super hero.  I had tried to spend the day like a kid but responsibility had kicked in.  A very memorable day and one I'm not sure how my son would re-tell it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Day In the Life.... of a general practice veterinarian

I've given some info in previous blogposts about what it's like to be a veterinarian, but those of us veterinarians and technicians in the veterinary community really feel a lot of people just don't get it...  A couple of years ago, my husband would give a bunch of "Monday Night Quarterback Talks" with feedback from what I brought home and how he thought things should go.  Fortunately, we had the childcare and he's a wonderful guy, so I convinced him to come in and be a "honorary tech" for just a Saturday morning.  He didn't get the full scale picture (it was only a Saturday morning and because he gets queasy, I tried to keep him away from the gross stuff).  He did get an idea that it was a little different from how he thought it was before and new respect for my coworkers.

This is going to be a long blogpost, only meant for people who really want to get a taste of things.  If that's not for you,  wait for Friday's post which will be something cute about my kid.

Well, the best way to start this is with a discovery that my four Physics classes at the University didn't go to complete waste.  I always wondered how they would be relevant to being a veterinarian.  Besides concepts of velocity and force with fractured bones and pets hit by cars, and electrocution wounds and how to use the paddles during CPR, I have a new one to add.  The concept that I had to pass on to someone that, "Please don't use the shock collar on your dog while I'm holding your dog."  Yep, that actually happened.  They went to shock the dog while I was holding the collar.  I won't get into a diatribe about shock collars (that'll be another post).  One point for physics class and the concept that if electricity flows, it flows to any object attached to it.  Luckily, I saw her big electric control before she zapped me.

A typical day for me involves vaccinations, preventive health visits, parasite exams, preparing cytologies (my husband was confused why I carry a lighter with me when I don't smoke, but this would be the reason).  I look under the microscope and identify bacteria, yeast, inflammatory and cancer cells and crystals in the urine.  I help clean ears and teach people how to do it, restrain animals to get their blood drawn and toe nails cut, or I perform those tasks myself.  I express anal glands (won't go into that one), clean up after animal waste and chase animals around trying to get samples.  I occasionally have to rodeo a rambunctious labrador or calm an angry cat (all while trying not to get injured).  I also sometimes make copies, enter charges and answer phones.

Diagnosing diseases and finding appropriate treatment is the fun part for me.  It's like being a detective and occasionally I get something I haven't seen before.  In 10 years of work, I've probably diagnosed 20 ear infections a week x 52 weeks in a year x 10 = roughly over 10,400 cases.  I've got a spiel for many diseases that ooh and awe the owners but that are like my "bread and butter" routine stuff.

In many cases, I'm the dermatologist, neurologist, cardiologist, ophthalmologist, internist, orthopedist and more because owners either choose not to or are unable to go the specialist.  I don't really do many surgeries now but before I used to be the surgeon and dentist too.  How many of your general physicians would be able to take out a 15 pound spleen or pull an abscessed tooth?  Yep, that's the life of a general practitioner.

Just today, I dealt with cases of "Cognitive Dysfunction" or dementia, testicular asymmetry, anal gland issues, gastrointestinal parasites, a bee sting (Did you know some dogs need Epi-pens too?) and urinary issues, among other things.  Interesting cases and helping animals is why many of us came into the profession and one of the reasons I haven't specialized in something specific.

Now the difficult part of the profession and the part that puts a lot of stress on our profession, the communication issues.  The talking with owners about finances is probably our least favorite thing.  The even worse thing is when owners accuse us of being money-grubbing and worse.  I've had people say many inappropriate things on these lines.  Just for the record, I don't make any money off of whether people do or do not do certain diagnostics and treatments for their pets.  I make a set rate regardless of what I recommend people do, which means when I recommend something, it's because I truly think the pet should have it.

The majority of my time though is spent speaking with and educating people about many issues, some as mundane as grooming (and that it's not ok to have a matted dog to the point of discomfort) to the dramatic, such as a young dog with possibly irreparable trauma or telling a young child their pet is terminal.  There can be many awkward discussions too (such as weight loss and obesity issues that many human medical doctors don't have the nerve to confront people with) to anxiety problems that are actually due to the owner (either their anxiety rubbing off on the pet or inadequate training).  I won't go into the asymmetrical testicle or other reproductive conversations- that can get awkward.  These conversations are difficult and often unappreciated.  Often you spend ten minutes explaining something and the next question is regarding what you just explained.

There are other difficult conversations, such as discussing quality of life issues.  This may seem straightforward in some cases, but if you've ever euthanized a pet you would understand the emotions and difficulty involved.  When people consult you about their family member that will become depressed or even commit suicide if they lose their beloved four-legged family member and ask for your advice, that's a hard conversation.  So is explaining terminal illness to kids or euthanizing animals that have saved their owners lives in various ways.  Ending any four-legged animal's life is difficult for most veterinarians and it's something that I've determined if it ever got easy, I would have to quit.

These are all a day in the life of a veterinarian.  Please remember this the next time you see your veterinarian.  For every day I have people who are rude or unappreciative, that one person who actually listens to what I says- and does it- and says I make a difference helps to make up for a day of the other type of people.