Friday, December 29, 2017

What I'm Reading Now...

I don't have a whole ton of time for reading, but I'm still an avid reader.

When I was younger, I read voraciously.  My parents didn't push reading on us, just like I'm not pushing it on our son.  I suspect and his teacher suspects that he has some reading ability at this point, but there's no flashcards or trying to make him read.  I figure that sooner than I want he won't let me read to him anymore, so at this time, I will cherish the snuggles and reading.  We started reading to him when I was pregnant (only occasionally) and since then there's probably only been a very few days where he hasn't had something read to him.

When he was 5 months old, he LOVED Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins.  It could even stop a crying fit in my son if you pulled that book out.  It's still a favorite of mine to pass on to new parents.  With a grandma as a former librarian, my son's collection of books is enormous and his "favorite book" changes on a weekly basis.  His love for reading is developing well.  I imagine he may become somewhat like I was when I was a kid.

I was a voracious reader.  I would read anything I could get my hands on.  Whether it be National Geographic, a bunch of old Reader's Digest books my grandparents had or the Encyclopedia Britannica, I would read it.  I would generally work on 5-7 books at the same time (which made for heavy baggage when I travelled anywhere.)

I read a lot of non-fiction because I wanted to learn about everything, but generally I liked to switch between books.  Sometimes, I would be so enthralled in a book I would stay up late to finish (including Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings).

Then Veterinary School happened.  That squashed my desire to read really anything additional to all the other stuff I had to read and keep up with.  I'm not sure if it was my eyes, my brain, or my spirit- they were all exhausted from all the academics.  It was hard to motivate me to try to upload anymore information.  For a period of about eight years,  I really didn't touch many books.

Then I was busy with an internship and my first few years in practice.  As my need to "upload" more academic information slowed down, I desired to learn more about the rest of the world.  Especially when I was getting ready to plan a mission trip to Mongolia, I wanted to read more about the culture and place I was going to.  Around this time, I found out that you can check out books from the library electronically, without stepping into a physical library.

Fast forward and I had my son and spent many hours nursing him.  During his feeding sessions that could take an hour, I would put my phone on airplane mode and read away.  The more I read and the more "senior" I became as a veterinarian and confident in my knowledge, the more I've gone to recreational reading.  I still have a tendency to read a lot of non-fiction, or historical fiction.

Last week I just finished, The Zookeepers Wife: A War Story.  It was a great story for me to read.  I'm 50% Polish, so learning about Polish heroes, especially one's that lived in the same era as my grandparents was engaging.  I also have a fascination with World War II history and how ordinary people are capable of extraordinary actions in hard times.  It was a very engaging story and one that I had a hard time breaking away from.  I also loved that the people in the story utilized their knowledge of animal psychology when dealing with humanity- and inhumanity.

Another book I'm close to finishing is Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine In The Twentieth Century.  As a medical professional and a lover of history, this was a perfect molding of the two.  The author has lived an interesting life, from working on helicopters, to aerospace to a diving doctor, he is like a jack of all trades who makes medical lingo accessible and can tell a great story.  I wish that when I was in veterinary school I learned how reconstructive surgery and skin flaps originated with World War II pilots.  That would have helped me get a lot more excited.  From all different medical advances, the author goes back into the history of how they came about- how heart surgery was "forbidden" up to the 1950s and how anesthesia used to be the profession for doctors who couldn't do anything else- how times have changed!

I have a couple more books on my to-do list next, A Man Called Ove,  My Badass Book of Saints and Hidden Figures are on my to-do list.

My husband and I are actually listening to First Sisters, by Jenna Hager and Barbara Bush and I may end up finishing it by reading.  It's a book that has been fairly family friendly for the car and fairly light for driving.

What books are you reading now?

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Being quiet for Santa

As I was talking to my son Christmas Eve, I realized some of his crankiness throughout the day was- lack of sleep, overabundance of excitement and possibly a certain amount of Type A-ness....

Now my husband is outwardly Type A and I'm an inward Type A person.  Many people would not believe I'm Type A.  I am at work, but I WORK hard at NOT being Type A in my private life for health and spiritual reasons.  It is work though.  When I'm around fellow people who are tightly wound or obsessive compulsive it drives me crazy because it makes it harder for me to LET GO.  I WORK at Letting Go and enjoying God's creation.  Just like we have to work at realizing that Christmas is not a meal, not the perfect gift or anything like that.  Christmas is not anything we earn or work hard for.  Christmas is a Blessing and sometimes we have to let go of our own hangups and lack of perfection and just let ourselves be BLESSED.

As I spoke with my son, I realized he was legitimately worried that his less than stellar behavior would mean no presents and a lump of coal under the tree.  This had been jokingly mentioned and we had mentioned that Santa likes good little girls and boys.  He also informed us sometime this weekend that he did not like the "You better be good" Christmas song.  I reassured my son that Santa, like his mommy and daddy just want him to TRY to be nice.  We don't expect perfection and heaven knows we love him no matter what he does, but we know that God made him to be a great man and so we expect that he tries to fulfill who God made him to be.

His body relaxed and he smiled.  I didn't realize that he was being mentally tormented that because he had less than stellar behavior he was "not going to get Christmas".  We told him that Jesus came precisely because we are all not perfect and that is the Blessing of Christmas.  I then told him he did need to be quiet and stay in his room overnight because Santa does not want to be "discovered".  I told him that when he heard Santa on the rooftop, or the reindeer eating their reindeer food, he had to stay real quiet and pretend he was sleeping.  He then looked at me, tapped me on the shoulders and said, "You have to tell Grandma and Grandpa not to snore and Duchess (our cat) to be quiet so I can listen for Santa and his reindeer."  It was a very sweet moment.

Hope your Christmas was full of sweet moments too!

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Blessing Of A Few Broken Bones At Christmas...

Let me just start with this.... One of my least favorite things to diagnose in my patients is broken toes.  They are painful and there's really not a whole lot you can do other than some pain medication and try to convince active dogs and cats to "take it easy".  Good luck with that.

In my early days, especially coming from a school that is known world-wide for it's orthopedic expertise (most of the orthopedic surgeries in veterinary medicine originated with my old professors in some form) I would try to treat.  This involved carefully placed splints and bandages.  After about a year of doing it this way, (seeing more than I can count as an emergency clinician), I just kind of threw up my hands in the air.  Often times the splint took a painful dog to completely non-weightbearing and agitated.  How can you explain that putting something uncomfortable and that interferes with walking is going to help?

Sometimes, due to improper care of the bandage the broken toe became limb swelling or infection or something worse.  I don't really think the splints ever made a huge difference.  In animals that are calm or a particularly bad case, or multiple broken toes, I'll still place a bandage- more to make me feel like I'm doing something than really thinking it will help.  I've had broken toes before (I'm an inherent klutz) and I know you just kind of power through it.

Tuesday, I'm not sure exactly how it happened but a piece of our cabinetry that we had meant to fix fell from about a height of three feet and hit me squarely on my middle toe and middle metatarsal (foot bone).  I'm not a curser by nature, but I kind of wanted to holler something.  My four year old was standing nearby.  I transferred my expressions of pain to stomping on my heel until I could regain my composure.  My four-year old so "helpfully" came over and said, "Mommy, there's no blood- it's all good, you can stop carrying on," or something along those lines.  My son is normally empathetic, apparently not in this case.  By the level of swelling, bruising and pain, I didn't really need an X-ray to figure out that it's broken.  I iced it and called a friend in the medical profession and asked, "Is it like it is in my patients, kind of stinks to be you but there's nothing we can do situation?" She verified what I already knew and said, "you don't need to go to urgent care before Christmas, you can get it checked out after and there's not really much you can do..."

So I've been hobbling around with a broken toe and metatarsal.  I initially tried to power through and then I reassessed.  Rest is best and do I really need to do a ton of stuff at Christmas time?  So a couple of my friends are going to get gifts after I asked a friend to pick up some stuff for me from Costco instead of hobbling around myself... so some cookies didn't get baked....  Christmas does go on.  As my four year old reminds me- what's important at Christmas is that it's Jesus' birthday.  Let's just simplify it.  I don't think he notices half the stuff I do for Christmas anyway.

So my broken bones have meant that I'm not racing around as much and I'm enjoying more cuddle time.  It has forced me to slow down and realize I don't HAVE to do everything.  That is a blessing.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Quietest Room In The House...

Just in case you missed it last year, I still think it's a good post and I updated it for the catholic website-  Christmas Stress, it's a good reminder for me every year- and every time I fall prey to worrying about other people's expectations.

So today we had an interesting morning.  My father is very good at what he does and is a very smart and influential guy (I can brag about my Dad, right?).  Anyway, he does a bunch of interviews with different groups and people that are done on video.  Apparently this is so "everyday" for him, he didn't let us know he needed a "recording studio" when he visited.  My mom, son and I found ourselves being puzzled at 9 this morning when my dad was getting ready for an interview and he set up shop in our kitchen breakfast nook.  "Ok now, everyone be quiet," was said.  This was at a point when my "not really a morning person" 4 year old hadn't had his breakfast yet- oh- and did I mention he likes to eat breakfast in front of the TV?  My mom and I both realized that trying to keep a 4 year old quiet is akin to herding cats, and was unlikely to happen.

We hurried around the house looking for a suitable location.  It couldn't have clutter- that ruled out my husband's office where we have tons of stuff to file and other boxes.  It needed to be quiet.  That ruled out a good deal of spaces.  It couldn't have stuff on the wall.  The guest room seemed like a good spot and I thought if we just moved the huge poster of St. John Paul II we would be all set with a blank wall.  Apparently I forgot that St. John Paul II was helping us cover up butterflies and flowers that had been put up by the little girl that lived in our house before... and we didn't take them down because they were impossible to peel off.

Running out of time to find a suitable location- we actually chose the four year old's bedroom.  Yep, the quietest place in the house in the morning is the bedroom of the preschooler and that's the easiest room to keep him from bounding into.

So next time you are looking for a quiet room in your house- just remember it may not be the first one that comes to mind.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Being grateful.. and anthropomorphizing

With some recent unexpected car trouble (which was really unexpected as we bought both of our cars new last year), my husband and I have learned to be grateful for the convenience of 2 working cars.  Fortunately, the warranty on the problems we've had on both cars has paid for the problems, but that doesn't make up for the inconveniences involved.

Last week, it was one of our cars that we got set up in advance for an appointment but somehow the dealership messed up and sent the needed part back.  They didn't tell us until after we dropped off the car on a day both my husband and I were available (which is rare).  We would have to try to find a time to bring the car back AGAIN.  I took the news fairly well over the phone and my husband decided the service man at the dealership was lucky I took the call because he wouldn't have been as understanding.  As I went to pick up the car and spoke with the serviceman I told him what my husband had said.  He was very grateful that he got me he said, he said that he felt better that I was understanding and if only I could have heard him yelling at the person's who fault it was.  I told him I'm in the line of work where I get to tell people bad news unfortunately often (and in my case it's not my fault but the fault of age and disease).  I told him I don't shoot the messenger and I know screw-ups happen.  It also didn't hurt I told him that they had been excellent with their service in their past, "You've made a withdrawal, but fortunately there's enough money in the bank to cover it," I analogized.

Then this week there was a different problem with our other car...  That is after we all had the flu over the weekend, someone messed up my work schedule and I found myself leaving the house with two different(un-matching) shoes all in the same day.  Sometimes you just have to laugh at stuff like that.

We found out that public transportation is not as bad as we remembered.  My husband took public transit for two days and found out he actually got home quicker.  I took it today and found out I didn't have to go in tons of traffic with ice on the road.  Sure, there's the downsides to public transit, but rather than sitting in the car with clenched fists for over an hour, I got to be in a warm vehicle reading a book- not too bad!  My husband and I both found a valid option- not for every day use, but for when it works out and it could help the environment too!

I found myself today comparing a difficult behavioral case in a dog to what I was seeing with my sometimes difficult 4 1/2 year old preschooler.  As I was counseling the owners, I was aware that I was using strategies  that I was reading about and using in my own child.  While a dog doesn't have quite the intellect of a preschooler, there can still be portions of psychology that children and animals can have in common.  I admitted to the owners of the dog that I was seeing these similarities, and while I don't typically like anthropomorphizing, sometimes human and animal psychology aren't that different...  When you find yourself saying, "try to take control out of the equation" and "trying not to battle over who controls things, give them some autonomy"  one can see that some things in the animal and human world are not that far apart...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Almond Milk

I recently found out that I have a sensitivity to dairy...  It was probably only recently because pretty much my whole life I've adored the flavor of cream, cheese and everything dairy.

Literally- I could live on dairy and maybe a few veggies here and there- I always said I wouldn't be able to be a vegan because I'm so addicted to dairy.  Needless to say when I found out that dairy and I don't agree, it was a sad day.  Once I eliminated dairy from my diet it was very apparent how sensitive I am to it.  Between lethargy and a range of symptoms I'll spare you from discussing, it is definitely not kind to me.  Now- I still love how it tastes, so I will still have it in small amounts.  Thankfully it's a sensitivity and NOT an allergy.

A while ago (even before my dairy avoidance) I started getting almond milk because it's about the only way I can get almonds into my son which is something his allergist wants so he doesn't become allergic to it.  For a while I could blend a little in with his regular milk and he had no idea.  Lately, his palate has become sensitive.  He will wrinkle his nose and point to it and say, "There's almond milk in here!".  He says it as if he's Sherlock Holmes.  Between him being on to it and then me finding out the "potential" carcinogens in commercially made almond milk, I was about ready to throw my hands up in the air.  A friend pointed out that it was really easy to make almond milk.

Between work, making homemade bread, meals for my family and all the busyness of the Christmas season, adding something more to my to do list just didn't sound appealing.  I went ahead and bought a nut milk bag and gave it a try.  I soaked the almonds overnight- not to hard and blenderized following the milk bag company's directions.  It was actually pretty easy and not bad to clean up.  I even sweetened the milk with a few dates I had and put in a little homemade vanilla.  My son saw the frothy mixture I had and after scolding me for using the blender (apparently it's too loud for him), asked for some.  I told him, "It's mommy's and I don't think you will like it."  "I think I will like it," he said.  I gave him a little and then he asked for a whole glass.  So maybe it's not almond milk he doesn't like, maybe it's just commercial almond milk...

Now- if there's only a delicious vegan cheese out there I'll be all set!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Perils of Christmas- A Veterinarian's Perspective

Besides the perils of stress, drama and seasonal affected disorder as well as everything else that doesn't put people in the holiday mood, I've been reminded of a couple of other perils recently.

1) Cutting down the Christmas tree and getting it home.  The cutting of the Christmas tree this year wasn't too bad as my husband planned ahead and purchased a new saw.  I also remembered if you bring cash to pay for the tree you can take the short line.  As we were tying the tree to the top of the car, there was foul language I heard all around.

From family drama to someone next to us waiting over an hour to back up to all the other stresses of the season, there was language out there that my son had never heard before (and I hope his little mind did not process).  I may not be perfect in a ton of ways, but my husband and I don't swear, so if my son says a swear word, it's not going to be learned from his parents.  Fortunately my husband is an assertive driver and we were out in no time.  We did have to wait over an hour at our restaurant for lunch, but that's another story.  I didn't exactly enjoy my lunch, or the trip, as my husband told me he didn't trust his knots, so the tying of the Christmas tree would be up to me.  Unfortunately, I had recently seen the insurance advertisement where "mayhem" is a Christmas tree that falls off the car.  Yep, that's what I had visions of all the way home on our 45 minute ride back.  I looked up through the sunroof of our fairly new car, praying my knots would hold.  I don't think I've been that stressed since I had a dog with an open chest and was putting in sutures near the aorta.  Stressful!

2) Make sure you know what your guests are bringing into the house.  Yep.  That sugar cookie might have more in it than what you think...  Especially now when so many states have marijuana bakeries...  Yep, I saw that recently.  It's also real fun when your guest brings a baked good into your house that they have no idea what substance exactly it has in it...  This goes for your kids guests too.  I don't need to spell it out more.

3) Want to know what the weekend after Thanksgiving and Christmas veterinarians are doing?  This is two pronged.  This is the one time of year that your veterinarian's clinic may run out of anti-diarrheal medicine, or anti-nausea medicine.  Yep- not only do the humans partake in too much stuff or the wrong type of stuff this time of year our four-legged friends do too.

4) It's not always the happiest time of the year....  Ask any veterinarian who's been in practice for a little bit and they will tell you; Christmas and Thanksgiving are when we euthanize the most animals.  Either a family member comes home and notices that their dog is a lot sicker because they haven't been around it for a while, OR people who are really busy during the year are spending more time at home and notice their pet more OR the family has been waiting for someone to come home for the holidays to say goodbye.  Yep- this is a time of sadness for a lot of people saying goodbye to their pet and there's something paradoxical about trying to get all in the Christmas mood and at work you have to grieve multiple times a day...

#4 is obviously the biggest peril in a vet's mental health.  #2 and #3 are cases where we can genuinely help our patients.  Sometimes putting stress in perspective helps and sometimes watching my son try to tell the "Story of Christmas" helps.  Apparently, as my son tells it, Jesus said, "Hey, will you guys be my disciples?"  The disciples said "sure".  Then Jesus said, "Ok, then come see me be born in a manger and celebrate my birthday and go to the Last Supper when he was 3 years old".  Obviously my son has some processing to do on this whole story, but it sure is interesting to see his take, and reassuring that Santa and gifts weren't mentioned.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent Book Review: Waiting With Purpose

If we don't wait for something, if we get instant gratification, it's just not as special and we take it for granted.  Jeannie Ewing's book Waiting With Purpose is a perfect Advent companion but also a good read for any time of year.  All of us have waited and longed for something.  Whether it's a spiritual desert we are in, or trying to figure out what we are going to do next, we all wait, but do we wait with a purpose?
Many people try to skip past Advent and go straight to Christmas.  I smiled as my son reminded my husband as they set up a nativity scene, "Daddy, it's not Christmas yet so Jesus doesn't go on the manger yet."  This was a special tradition from my family, as well as the Advent Calendar, Advent Wreath and encouragement to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at this time of year.  Not only do we get the house ready with decorations and prepare gifts for others and bake cookies, but it's time to get our hearts ready too.  Consider doing something special this Advent and "lean into" the wait.  Come Christmas, the wait and anticipation will be worth it.

It is apparent that the author's time spent waiting has been for good use.  Her trials and struggles, and most of all the passing of time, was necessary to bring about such rich insights that are hard to find and understand in our instant gratification society.  She shares these insights in a very accessible way.  Jeannie's words of wisdom come off the pages and it almost feels like I could have a conversation with her over coffee, discussing the troubles of my life like I would a good friend.

 "He does not rest in a soul that is anxious or fretful... If God hides or rests in you, it is precisely because you are His beloved and have provided a refuge to Him in your heart..."  It's hard for me to pick specific words of wisdom from this book, as it so rich with them!

Like a fine wine or good whiskey- sometimes there is no substitute for time and waiting in order to bring about something more rich and wonderful than a human can imagine.  Our trials and tribulations are not for naught.  God is there, in all of it, and he is able to build a masterpiece when we hand over the steering wheel and have patience on our journey.

While giving examples, such as St. Monica waiting for St Augustine to leave his debauchery, and tapping into the richness of our Catholic history and tradition, this book would be fully accessible and enlightening to Protestants and others on a spiritual journey to grow closer to God through patience and waiting.  The author also speaks about waiting in community vs. waiting on your own and the different types of active and passive waiting.

"In the darkness of the night we await our Bridegroom, like the five wise and five foolish virgins."  The author gives an abundance of scriptural references to draw from and applies them to modern life.

Her writing reminds me that, while I fret and worry about the exterior preparations of getting ready for Christmas, the interior preparation to do some spiritual housecleaning is even more important.  I may just add reading Jeannie Ewing's book to my annual Advent preparations.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

A Long But Beautiful End To The Day

This post is occurring so late tonight because it was a long day.  It was one of those long days where I thought, "Maybe I should listen to my son when he says he just wants to be bored."

My husband has been working late a lot this week- which means my son pretty much refuses to go to bed until he gets home, or close to that time.  Which means he's horrible to wake up.  It's fun.  No- not really.

After waking him up this morning and he did not have the strength to go to school I reminded him we were supposed to go to a Christmas Concert tonight at one of his favorite churches.  I hadn't planned this into our already busy December schedule, but a well-connected friend got us tickets to sit in the VIP section.

Several times today I considered aborting the plan.  My day at work was hard- I actually got kicked by a 3 year old human (I've found out I have more patience with being abused by people's pets than by their kids).  The trip to get from work to pick him up from school took an hour and a half instead of 45 minutes.  My son was not the most cooperative and I feared traffic would be bad on the way to the church that was on the other side of town.  As I was doing a mad dash to let the dog out and change and find appropriate clothes for my son, he decided to have a breakdown when I told him, "No- you may not wear sweatpants to Church!".  We got in the car and several times I considered turning around.  I could tell the little guy was tired.  I could tell this could be a recipe for disaster.  He cracked me up when he told me he was "cooped up in Church clothes".

Getting a little pizza into him lightened his spirit.  He must have picked up how worried I was that we were going to be late because he became worried that we were going to be late.  We actually arrived 45 minutes ahead of time to hear the carillon.  The church was decorated beautifully and our seats were at the front, right below a beautiful dome.  My son excitedly pointed out, "What's a sister doing up there?"  It made me happy to see him think of Mother Teresa as one of the religious sisters he knew.  He then saw St. John Paul II on the ceiling and said, "Hey, I know him".  He died long before my son was born, but he has gotten to know him through pictures and books and his parents talking about him.

The concert started and my son was on the edge of his seat.  I sat back for the first time all day and just tried to take it in.  The singers, orchestra, carillon and bells.  It was magical.  I remembered the last time I had been to a Christmas concert was when I was pregnant with my son.  That was the first time I had felt him moving inside me.  It was beautiful to have that memory and then see this 4 1/2 year old in front of me enjoying the music and wanting to sing along.

There were some ups and downs tonight.  At one point, I started to take him out of the Church, so he wouldn't disrupt the other people in church- he quickly figured out that we had the best VIP seats and that is where he wanted to be.  I had told him at one point that I used to go to sleep during concerts, a family friend actually called the nice dresses my mom dressed us in our "fancy pajamas" because we spent more time asleep in them than we did awake.  I told my son he could rest under Jesus and the sister and the friendly man and go to sleep.  According to him he drowsed off at one point.  The sweetest thing I've heard in a while came out at one point, "Mommy- I could just stay here with you and God and the Angels and Mary and Jesus for the rest of time".

Yep- sometimes it's good to push through a day and to work a little extra harder to have precious moments.  I have a feeling my son will remember this night for a while.  Thank you God, for giving me the patience to push through.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Powerful Four and... waiting

We spend a lot of our life waiting.  Especially in the high- traffic area my family lives in, my family spends a lot of our time waiting in traffic.   My husband and I spent a lot of time waiting to find each other.  I was reminded of this when I visited with a good friend last week and remembered through her travails the not so pleasant parts of dating and yearning for someone.  It seems that I didn't find my husband until I had finally resolved to "lean into" waiting than running from it.  The waiting was for good purpose.  If I had met my husband earlier in my life, I wouldn't have been wise enough to see him for the gem he was and I wouldn't have gotten some things out of my system that I needed to.  Watching my young son wait, for Christmas and for his next birthday, is a reminder for me.

If we don't wait for something, if we get instant gratification, it's just not as special and we take it for granted.  I have the opportunity to review a great book by Jeannie Ewing, Waiting With Purpose.  It's a particularly relevant book this time of year and will be posting the review soon.

Many people try to skip past Advent and go straight to Christmas.  I smiled as my son reminded my husband as they set up a nativity scene, "Daddy, it's not Christmas yet so Jesus doesn't go on the manger yet."  This was a special tradition from my family as well as the Advent Calendar, Advent Wreath and encouragement to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at this time of year.  Not only do we get the house ready with decorations and prepare gifts for others and bake cookies, but it's time to get our hearts ready too.  Consider doing something special this Advent and "lean into" the wait.  Come Christmas, the wait and anticipation will be worth it.

Now that I've made you wait for why I titled this post... My son has been showing some signs of frustration with not being in control of things (I know this is a problem many of us adults have too).  I spoke with him and told him instead of throwing tantrums or saying hurtful things to others, when he felt like he wasn't being listened to, or was frustrated, he could throw his arm up in the air and declare, "I'm a powerful 4!".   I don't know where I came up with this idea, but this sounded better than the other things he was saying and I wanted to give him some feeling of self- empowerment.  Later on that night we were out to dinner at a nice restaurant and he was getting tired and wanted to go home.  He let everyone know he was a powerful 4!  The smile on his face made the situation slightly less embarrassing than it could have been...

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Trying to get some inner peace before the hustle and bustle of the holidays takes over.  God Bless!

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Bath and a Nail Trim

We are getting ready for the holidays here and part of getting ready is getting the dog ready.


I got to take him into work with me for a full "Spa Day".  I'm not sure if it was a "Spa Day" for the cat to get the house to herself...  The dog seemed to have fun, getting to ride to drop off my son at school and then another half hour to work.  Only Dewey can think traffic is fun..

Dewey got a full brush out, nail trim and bath and blow-dry.  He even got a pumpkin bandana.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2017


As I struggle to remember numbers (I won't tell you how long it took me to remember my husbands cell phone number- the convenience of cell phones having numbers saved).  or remember the doses of often prescribed my medication, my son appears to be an ace at remembering them.

He impressed my husband  with looking at the crosswalk numbers and as they changed reciting baseball players that had the numbers on the crosswalk.

The other day my son blurted out, "Mommy, I know your phone number."  Yes, my four year blurted out all 10 digits.  I then decided it was time to teach him how to use a phone.  Not my cell phone, mind you, the good old fashioned wall phone.  I figured it wasn't a bad idea to teach him how to call me if there was a babysitter or some other type of emergency he needed to get a hold of me.

My mom was helping me out with some items last week, and she needed to
 access my phone.  She looked somewhat offended when I told her, "No, don't use my passcode, just let me give you my thumb print."  I feel quite confident that my son would have no problem remembering my passcode, figuring out how to open my phone and doing who knows what on my phone- the few times he's gotten a hold of it he's shown me features I never knew it had.  No- the last thing I need is my pre-schooler re-organizing my email and schedule.

Numbers- I should be proud (and I am) that he's getting such a good grasp on them, but it's also going to mean I need to keep a lot better tabs on what numbers I'm giving out..

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Short Sleeve Time

We are not even past Thanksgiving yet and my son is already longing for summer.  We drove by a playground we just discovered a month or two ago as the weather suddenly turned cold and my son was caught without a coat.  He told me he wanted to return in "short-sleeves".

My son loves shorts and short-sleeve shirts, he's so active he stretches the time that it is still appropriate to wear them further than most people.

I told my son sadly- "it's not going to be short sleeve and shorts weather for a long, long time."  As I was sad as I said this, he chimed in, "well at least it's going to be Christmas and Easter soon!"  It's so intriguing to see how fast time passes for small children and they happily look forward to the passing of time, when I long to freeze time and hold onto it forever...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Childhood fears

My husband didn't realize it, but in his effort to try to caution me to be careful on a big bridge, he brought out a childhood anxiety.  Growing up in Michigan, at one point I recall hearing that a small car went off the bridge. I believe it was in the 80s, at a formative time in my life and it was a young woman.  High wind was an issue.  From that point on, I always had a fear of the bridge.  Not to the point where it would keep me from going across it, but definitely a fear.

I suppose, like my patients, fears don't get better with time, they get worse.  Anxiety gets worse if you don't deal with it.  My husband was shocked when I started searching the weather channel and found out there was a gale force wind warning for the bridge during the time span I was supposed to go across.  Combined with being in 3 days of sustained traffic jams and some inclement weather and my nerves were already frayed.

My husband had not seen me go into a state ever approaching a panic attack before, but I did last night.  I had a difficult night sleeping and was a little anxious approaching the bridge.  I had pre-programmed my phone so I could listen to the rosary as I went across.  I focused on the words of the rosary, even though saying, "Now and at the hour of our death" was maybe not the most comforting, but fleeing to my Blessed Mother was.  I made it successfully over the bridge both ways and even got to get a good view of the pretty water on my way back.  I guess I need to give the same prescription to myself that I give to my patients- counter condition yourself and an added piece of advice for myself.  Rest in the arms of a higher power.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Generally, when one thinks of fasting, they think of Lent.  Fasting is such a rich part of our Catholic faith that has many seasons- Advent, fasting and praying for the end of abortion to fasting and praying for our own intentions.

Last year, during the chaos of the election, my husband and I decided to fast.  We did not have a particular candidate we wanted to win.  We just prayed that God's will would happen and our country would be able to get through these turbulent times.  While that is still in our prayers, the urgency and anxiety isn't quite what it was during election season.  We have continued fasting now for our own special intention.

When we discussed fasting as a couple, we d

ecided to do a "mix" of fasting.  I let my husband be the leader and decide what things would be good to fast from.  We are both avid football fans, so we didn't want to entirely stop watching TV and miss out on supporting our alma mater's.  We both have sweet teeth and we also spend a lot of time on our smart phones and I-pads.  We already fast on Fridays, and try to stay meatless.  We decided to continue our fasting on the weekends.  On Saturdays and Sundays we decided, dependent on the schedule and also the temptations to fast either from dessert, vegetating in front of the TV or getting lost in electronics.  While our nation is still in turmoil and our special intention has not occurred, we continue to reap benefits from the fasting.

Our fasting has brought us closer together as a couple, taken a little bit of weight off of us and have allowed for some organizing time, communication time and just time to remember that we don't have to be zombies in front of the TV to relax.

So the "giving up" has a actually been an additive gift.  Not only are my husband and I closer, but it has brought us closer in our faith.

Advent is coming up and that's a perfect time for fasting.

Friday, November 3, 2017


For some reason, this subject keeps popping in my head lately.  I used to be very competitive.  You pretty much can't be a veterinarian without any competitive drive.  I've had more than one of my own "human" doctors say they would have been a veterinarian, but didn't get in.  I also worked with a veterinary neurology specialist who did spinal surgery on people before he did it on dogs- not kidding.  But more recently I've found myself getting annoyed with competition.

I also was a competitive college athlete.  I don't know if part of my competitive nature is due to having a sister who was just 18 months older than me- I think the fact that I never wanted to miss out on what she was doing helped drive me to excel (she didn't like me being in her "advanced 5th grade reading and math" when I was still in 4th grade.  She's very smart, but I think she didn't appreciate her "little sister" being in the same class with her.  Sisterly competition also got me to be a runner- which I still am today (I was going to quit track and field but when she told me she thought I should quit, I showed her- and beat her personal record for the 800 meter dash).

I think between twice being told I might not make it by doctors (once when I was 21 and then again prior to having my son) and just growing up and maturing I have lost a lot of my competitive drive.  There's just something sobering about having your doctors pray before doing surgery on you.  You realize there's something more to life than competition.  There's peace.  For the most part I've lost my competitive edge.

I realized the other day, when I found out there's a possibility I might be elected as President of my Lay Dominican Chapter that I have absolutely no desire for elected office (yes- this coming from the girl who ran for everything in school and college).  I wouldn't put myself up for election, but I found out that the Dominican way is that you can't take yourself out of the running unless you have a terminal illness and I was told by someone they already knew they were voting for me.   Hmm.  Maybe they should have told me this before I took my lifetime promises.  Just kidding.  Hopefully the Holy Spirit will persuade my fellow chapter members that I'm not the best person for the job.  It's kind of rough pressure to realize that you can't defer from office, it seems a little like a papal election...  I realized that I've come a long way from where I used to be with competitiveness- people who are competitive actually annoy me now.  I guess I have to realize that's where I once was.

The other thing that brought competition to my mind was that as my son approaches kindergarten, we found that there were a very limited number of spots for incoming students at the school of our choice.  I've been active in our parish since we started going there, but I stepped it up about 2 years ago, have been doing everything I can to volunteer, including baking cookies for a school my son doesn't go to yet.  Yep- I'm for real.  Apparently when the Mother Bear in me comes out that competitive nature rages again.  Hopefully I can refocus though so my son can realize that peace is more important than competition (But it doesn't hurt to occasionally really step it up when it really matters or when your team or kid is depending on you).

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Holy Monsignor

Yesterday, my son and I attended a funeral of a holy man.  He was the retired Monsignor at our parish.  In his 90th year of life, I had seen him shopping at the grocery store just months ago.  He was going strong until the end.  At the funeral, there was a cardinal and four bishops and more priests than my son could even count.  Apparently when planning his funeral, he had joked with his priest friends, "I'm 90 years old- who's going to come to my funeral?  Everyone I know is dead."

Let's just say that the school was closed and parking was at a premium.  The elderly, dignified man had touched so many people there wasn't even room to stand within the church.  Someone had written a book about their life, and Monsignor was actually featured in a chapter.  Part of this was read at his funeral, "the dignified Italian man who was an old-school Catholic and his skinny assistant."  This passage took place in 1972.  Monsignor was still dignified and his skinny assistant was now a bishop.

Even toward the final months of his life, he tried to remember every kid's name who attended the school.  Apparently, even in his final days he schooled a non-Catholic doctor that, "No- those are not worry beads, that is a rosary and this is how you say it..."

Below is what I wrote about him over a year ago....

Monsignor is an 89 year old priest who regularly does daily Mass and is frequent on the weekends too.  As far as I can tell, he does a close to equal amount of pastoral work as the other priests and especially for his age.  He's "retired," but I don't think he knows what that word means.  He was inspired by and an acquaintance of Father Aloysius Schwartz, who is on his way to canonization.  It's not too often you know of someone who knew a potential Saint.  He's also a wonderful priest.  I love going to children's Masses where he presides.  I still remember one where he quizzed the children, "Who is the Bishop? Who is the Pope?  Who was the Pope before that?  All the elementary schoolers eagerly raise their hands and try to get his attention.  Happy with how many elementary schoolers knew the answer, he asked a tough one, "Who was the Pope when I was your age?"  Without losing a beat, one of the elementary schoolers said, "Peter".  Monsignor said "Peter?", and the student said, "The First Pope."  Monsignor laughed as the whole congregation got a little smile that morning.

I had told my husband a little while back that I didn't want to go to Confession with Monsignor, as unfortunately, his hearing is not very good.  I informed my husband, "Even though I'm a repentant sinner, I don't need the whole church to hear my confession."  A couple days later, we found out that Monsignor had a stroke during Mass.  He was rushed to the hospital.  As we talked with others in the Parish, we assumed he would be out of commission for a while to recover.  Even at a younger age, it takes a lot of time to recover.  I also thought, "if that was me, I think I might just say, I'll take a little recover time, read some books and take it easy for a while."  Were we surprised to see him, that next Sunday, just a week later, celebrating Sunday morning Mass.  Wow!  At 89, to recover and just have the willpower to get back to work, we were both amazed.  We are very happy he can share his gifts with us still.  He showed us a true love of God and his vocation.

Rest In Peace,


Friday, October 27, 2017

Breakfast Baseball and Pumpkin Patch

I found out I had been unknowingly volunteered for my son's "Fall Festival"on a day I was scheduled to work.  I was fortunately able to schedule my day today so that I could go in late to work.  I'm not sure that my employer was thrilled but this was one of those incidences of setting your priorities straight.

I offered my son a special treat because he didn't have to go to before care this morning.  I offered that we could go out to breakfast.  What was his choice?  Taking a pumpkin pop tart to the local baseball field and hitting a few balls.  It was cold and not what I'd ever want to do at 8:30 in the morning but I felt privileged to help him make this memory.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mommy, I love your Body..

"Mommy, I love your Body."  Yep, that's what my son said.  And after a pause, where I reminded myself that my four year old is not a Freudian, I added, "I love it too!"

In an era of body image problems and never being "perfect enough," I thought it was pretty good that my son just had a straightforward look at things.  "Do you love any particular part," I asked.  "Nope- I just love you all.  Your body is good."  I was wondering if this was somehow a lesson at school that came up or where this all was coming from.  Then I remembered how he says I'm the best snuggler and cuddler.  Last week I was at a meeting late and almost missed his bedtime.  My husband suggested that he could cuddle with my son and my son said, "Daddy- that would give me a sad face."

I'm happy that my son is having an appreciation of the gift of the body.  The gift of snuggles, cuddles and tickles is a wonderful gift I was given by my family and am happy to pass on to my son.  In a world where I worry about what body images and inappropriate things my son will potentially encounter, it's a good start if he knows our bodies are good and gifts of God.  I've tried to slowly instill this in him and I've taught him the words, "Respect my parts."  Sometimes he says it just to be a stinker and get out of much deserved tickles, but I respect him none the less.  If he can learn the simple lesson of respecting his parts and respecting other peoples parts, I have to imagine he's off to a halfway decent start.

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...