Friday, June 23, 2017

When you're going through H--l

That is the title of what we deemed our theme song during my internship year.  My intern-mates and I learned to just keep plugging away doing our 15-20 hour days of learning how to be veterinarians.  Part of the song says, "keep on trying, you might get out before the devil even knows you're there".  I thought when my son was an infant, it was a suiting theme song for the sleepless nights (and days).  I might just make it the theme of early parenthood though.  Last night was a particularly harsh night in our household.  My skills as a veterinarian actually somewhat interplayed with my motherly skills.

Yesterday during the day, for some strange reason we don't know why, my son had a nosebleed.  He came home with his shirt to be laundered but otherwise no worse for the wear.  My husband and I have been burning the candles at both ends in both our professional and home lives currently so we went to bed early, in an effort to take care of ourselves.  We even were disciplined enough to stop the TV show we were watching so we could get into bed by 10 pm.

At around 12:45, we heard a small, plaintive cry.  I got up and asked my son to stand up and come to his door (I don't like moving around any more than I have to in the middle of the night).  As I approached his room, I could not believe that he had a small cry, his room looked like a scene out of CSI.  When a veterinarian almost feels like passing out from a massive bloody scene, you know it's bad.  I came into hug my son and felt fortunately I was wearing a T-shirt that was circa 1980 (it actually was an old T-shirt of my father's that I love to wear and fortunately, it's color was blue).  My efforts to try to get my son to lay down to help stop the bleeding (using gravity, his favorite physics concept) or to try to put pressure on his nose.  Failed.  Failed miserably.  I then just focused on calming him down and consoling him.  Ok, nosebleeds, in dogs or cats are always horrible and they always appear 100 times more horrible than they actually are.  As I was trying to assess the situation, I must have said something that let my husband know the severity of the situation, so he started asking me questions.  He asked me if I needed gauze.  Gauze?  I need a Costco supply of paper towel I may have exclaimed.  Please, please don't come in here, I told my husband.  He is rather squeamish and I did not want to have two medical cases to attend to.  Apparently being married to a veterinarian has helped my husband get a stronger constitution.  He basically just said, "Tell me whatever I need to do!"  Ice pack!  Paper Towel!  I think I may have even said, "Stat" which is a medical term for "I needed it two minutes ago!"

My son was still not receptive to the icepack or pressure on his nose.  He didn't want to lay down either because he said it would go down his throat.  He was also concerned that he was going to get blood on me, (apparently he takes after his father in this department).  I told him I didn't care and I just needed him to relax.  I had my husband call the pediatrician's emergency hotline because I was really at a loss as to how I was going to stop the spigot, so too speak.

I thought, "if he was a cat or dog, what would I do?"  Darn, I don't have medical supplies in my house, I'd squirt a little epinephrine up his nose.  Baking soda can help sometimes, but I'm pretty sure up the nose is just a recipe for a disaster sneezed all over the place.  No- I can't break open his epi-pen and no, I can't sedate my child.  I just needed to lower his blood pressure.  I snuggled him and though things did not stop, they were slowing down.  I spoke with the pediatrician and she told me to be concerned about the amount of blood loss.  I know that it takes a lot to bleed out the nose- it looks horrible and it goes everywhere but be it a 10 pound cat or a 30 pound human, a nose bleed is typically not fatal.  She also told me I needed to hold him down and apply pressure.  Well, as I said previously, the only thing that did was raise my son's blood pressure and make everyone more of a mess.  I felt bad ignoring the advice of a doctor who I had just woke up in the middle of the night, but I thought clearly this person has not tried to reason with a four year old at 1:00 in the morning....

In order for a blood clot to form, there has to be slow movement of blood.  That's why sometimes blood clots form in places where you don't want them to (the brain, heart, the leg) when people aren't moving around or getting good blood flow.  Try keeping up with a four year old, it's difficult for a blood clot to do.  If an animal (or person) has a wound, pressure needs to be applied or something needs to happen to "plug the flow".  Pressure is normally the best thing to do, but when you're not able to apply pressure, slowing down the movement of the blood helps.  It's kind of like if you have a dam that is about to break, having a spillway helps take the pressure off the dam, thus lowering the blood pressure, slowing the flow, allows more time for the "construction crew" or the blood clot to come in and repair.  Fortunately, mothers have an innate calming effect and can help lower their offspring's blood pressure.

I asked my son if he wanted ice cream.  Ice cream?  Yes, ice cream at 1:30 in the morning.  My husband happily obliged (I think he may have been excited I was sending him away off the battlefield).  My son happily ate ice-cream and the coldness in his mouth was in close enough proximity to his nose that it did help to constrict the vessels and slow the bleeding.  As things were looking better and I was thinking a trip to the hospital may not be imminent, my husband asked what should be done next.  The laundry and crime scene I told him could wait for tomorrow, but I wanted our son to sleep in bed with us so that we could keep a close eye on him and make sure the dam didn't break again.  I don't know why I thought about it at 1:30 AM, but I told my husband, "Don't worry about the laundry, I will do it in the morning, but can you please change our sheets?"  I think initially he wasn't exactly sure where my priorities were, but you have to understand, we just got these wonderful, luxurious sheets for our 5th anniversary, I didn't want them wrecked.

As my son improved and was even starting to reach the Land of Nod.  My husband, the man who couldn't even stand thinking about blood when we were dating had put nice dark blue sheets on our bed.  Even though I told him he could sleep in another room, so he wouldn't be put at risk or a recurrence, we all slept a blissful 4 hours of sleep.  When you're going through H--l, remember principles of physics, and that you might get out before the devil even knows you're there.  Oh and I do now have some epinephrine on hand....

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Anger Management

The other day after my son and I were coming back from an enjoyable adventure at "Book Park" in a part of town we only get to maybe once a year (it's full of bakeries, coffee shops and over-priced stores) my son decided to have a meltdown.  I'm not exactly sure why.  He wanted me to make a left turn onto a bridge that would require me to go the wrong way on a one way street.  Obviously, I couldn't oblige.

As I tried to settle him down, I can't remember exactly how I said it but I said something along the lines of, "I think you have anger management issues".  He then somehow connected that to one of his favorite baseball players.  About a month ago, this player got in a argument with another player (and rightly so, as the other player hurt him) and hit him.  He got thrown out of the next 4 games.  We used the fact that my son heard this on the radio to teach my son that hitting is never ok.  We hadn't talked about it in over a month.  My son told me that he got in trouble like his favorite baseball player did and he didn't use his words.  He made this connection from so long ago.  I kind of laughed to myself thinking that I'm sure that baseball player did use some words, but fortunately not words that my son heard.  He amazes me sometimes how he does actually learn lessons and consequences (anyone who has an active pre-schooler can probably relate that sometimes it feels like you're talking to a brick wall, or to an energetic ball that never stops long enough to actually listen).

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Intervention

This is a plea.

Please, please don't wait to talk to your veterinarian about a behavioral problem until you are so upset about it the only thing you want to do is relinquish your pet.

There are so many resources we have in today's medical world and also in our understanding of behavior.  Inappropriate house soiling in cats is a disease that can be managed and in some cases simply cured.

Kicking the can down the road and thinking a rescue is going to take a cat who has a house soiling problem is unrealistic.  It's cruel to the cat and it's difficult for the veterinarian.  I have actually been in situations where I or a colleague have been asked to euthanize a patient for a problem that could have been treated if the owner had asked for help years or even just months ago.  Trying to "fix" the problem by dumping your cat with a behavioral problem on an already overcrowded shelter is sentencing the cat to death.  I'm sorry I'm being blunt- no- I'm not sorry.  People need to know there isn't an island where abandoned pets go.  No one (or VERY, VERY FEW special people) are going to adopt a cat from a shelter where "reason for relinquishment" is cited as house soiling.

Sometimes, the willingness to add an extra litter box, to change the litter more frequently or limit the cat's access to certain areas are the only things that need to be done.  There is kitty "prozac" that can be used in more severe cases, but most of the time I don't even need to resort to that.  Most of the time it just involves a conversation.  Sometimes, in difficult cases, you can even consider making the cat an outdoor cat.  If that's what it's going to take to keep the cat from being dumped, the risk of a cat outdoors if it's properly vaccinated and cared for is a lot better than a cat with a death sentence.

Please- whether it's a dog or cat, call up your veterinarian and talk, or schedule an appointment.  We have no problem troubleshooting these situations with owners.  We do have a problem with people having a callous view of pets as property.

In some extreme situations, we do exhaust all options and these are special situations where maybe that cat has a severe anxiety disorder or mental illness, but these cases are really rare, but when both the vet and owner know they did literally everything they could, everyone can sleep ok at night.   Asking a vet to sentence your cat to death because you don't want to add a litterbox?  I will restrain from my vitriol on that one.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pink Guy and Gravity

So a while back, my husband had pink eye.  It was a horrible experience and my husband found out that I'm way more afraid of and grossed out by pink eye than I am of any blood and guts disease.

My son went to a birthday party at a gym place (the same type of place my husband thought he caught the Pink Eye from).  The next day, Sunday he started rubbing at his eye.  I flipped out and started trying to make plans for who could watch him the next day, because there was no way I was going to send my son to school to pass pink eye around.

As sanity returned to me, I took a closer look at his eye and realized, no, it was not pink eye.  His conjunctiva (the inner tissue of the eye) was totally fine, it was just his eyelid he kept rubbing at.  Whew!  I was relieved, but then started talking with my husband, saying that we hoped that when he went to school the next day, they wouldn't think that he had pink eye and try to send him home.  At this point, my son's ear perked up and he said, "Pink Eye".  My husband's look could have killed me.  "Nice job," he said.

I suavely said, "yeah, do you remember the pink guy at the pool?  My son looked at me questioning and then I went on to talk about a guy who was pink at the pool and the conversation flowed on.  He thought he heard pink eye, I clarified it was a pink guy.  The last thing I needed was him to go to school and say, "I have pink eye" or put it in someone's head, so we talked quite a bit about a pink guy.  It all actually brought back some memories from vet school for me- Cattle actually have a form of infectious conjunctivitis.  It was called (they change bacteria names on a frequent basis) Moraxella bovis-  the little thing that helped me remember this was saying, "Max Bovis, Private Eye" that is how I remembered the name of the bacteria and the disease that it caused.  Maybe I should have included Max Bovis in my son's Pink Guy story....  Let's just say I'm relieved his eye looks totally better today so no misunderstandings to worry about.

My son had an interesting comment last night- he told me he wanted to be an astronaut who doesn't go into space.  "Why don't you want to go into space?" his response was, "I like gravity."  "Why do you like gravity?" was my response and then he said, "because I don't want to float- I want to walk on my two feet."  I wonder if he will think the same in another ten years.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My old kitty....

My cat Duchess is getting older.  Whenever I am feeling sorry for her and she is looking particularly decrepit, she manages to get into some type of trouble- knocking a trash can down, getting into a bag of rolls on the counter.  She has a long list of ailments, but nothing that really knocks her down.  As I hear about and witness senile, old arthritic animals on a regular basis, I remember how lucky I am that she has been fairly healthy for as long as she has, and lucky that my biggest gripes with her are her naughtiness.

There are some changes that come with her age- she sleeps all the time and she has an obnoxious "Meoww".  I'm pretty sure she's deaf (the only way to confirm would be taking her to a neurologist for advanced testing, but her diagnosis wouldn't change anything.)  Her "Meoww" is of such a large volume that it could wake the dead.  I'm sure if she heard it, she'd be annoyed at herself.

Duchess still has attitude and if she was a person, I'd imagine she'd be like Sophia on "Golden Girls" or the cranky Hallmark lady.  She's got "Tortitude" which means a Tortie with attitude.  As I was getting frustrated by her losing weight, (she's faked diabetes for me as well as many other diseases that get me stressed out because her initial testing will come back positive and her follow-up will be ok) I called her a "Brat" in front of my son when casually talking to a veterinary staff member.  My four year old immediately said, "but I love Duchess mommy, Duchess is a good girl!"  He then went on insisting that he wanted to carry her carrier out to the car and that he wanted to be the one who let her out of the kennel when we got home.  He showed me just how much he loved her.  Though he is not aware of her many annoying habits and her impact on our pocketbook, he reminded me what a sweet, wonderful kitty she can be and that at this time, she's the only pet my son actually likes (He's not a fan of the large dog because he knocks his toys down).  Sometimes, looking at the world through a four-year old's eyes is
helpful...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

He's already old enough...

This weekend, as we were getting ready to go to Mass, the inevitable fight over wardrobe ensued.  My son probably fights just as much as any fashionista over what to wear.  He's not arguing about dresses or princess costumes, but over which jersey and sports paraphernalia he can wear.  I let him wear sports outfits to pretty much everything, and I even let him wear his astronaut outfit in public (he's cute and it's a functional one-piece).  My husband and I draw the line at Mass.  He doesn't wear exactly what we want him to wear, but we typically give him a choice of 2-3 shirts and 2-3 shorts or pants that we deem appropriate.  This time though, my son screamed "Well, when we were at Mass last week there was a boy who had a nice orange t-shirt with a baseball player on it, if he can wear that, why can't I wear my sports clothes."  Oh no, I thought, it can't be starting already- comparing parenting to others and trying to rationalize why some parents do some things and some parents do others.  Before I launched into, "Well some parents would let their kids run around naked in the streets or run off a cliff."  Fortunately, I caught myself and said, "Well you know how we are going to have a fun day today and go to soccer class and the pool?  Some kids don't get to do that with their parents because every family is different and just as we are able to do some fun things others can't, we have some rules that others don't and that's what makes our family special!"  I'm not sure how well that reasoning worked for him, as he tried to undress himself in multiple ways, but we made it to church and had a good rest of the day.

My son has probably had dreams for a while but just recently started sharing them with us.  I had and still have quite an active dream life that my husband makes fun of (apparently during my pregnancy I woke up in the middle of the night with what I thought was an epiphany of building a "Kitty Superhighway for bad kitties."  I guess this was supposed to be my solution to bad cats was to give them an expressway, not exactly sure of the logic.  Well my son informed us that he had a dream about a shark.  I was concerned that talking about this was going to give him a nightmare, but he told me it was a "fun" dream.  He then told me he reached down to pet the shark (obviously cuing Jaws in my mind) and then when he felt the nose, it felt like Dewey's soft nose (our dog).  Apparently this was really amazing and funny to my son and he keeps talking about it and I'm reluctant to give him a lesson about sharks as if this is going to be a recurring dream, I'd rather have him think it's funny and not scary.  And.... I will plan on letting him watch Jaws before he ever goes swimming in the ocean alone so he doesn't think that petting a shark is a "fun" idea...

Thursday, June 1, 2017

89 bottles of beer and are we there yet?

We took a long trip to see my in-laws over the holiday week.  We are talking 12 hours in the car.  Within the first 5 minutes of the trip, my son started asking, "are we there yet?".  He was actually a really good sport for the trip and thanks to the DVD player from my parents, we all made it through the drive in relatively good shape.

We then drove another 4 hours to go to my husband's alma mater for the first time for my son and myself.  Toward the end of that day, my son asked, "Can we please stop driving, I don't want to just drive around in the car."  After getting out and walking (and him falling asleep in the stroller on the trip after he visited all the sports stadiums) we were back in the car.  I was trying to distract him from the fact that we had thrown out his milk from lunch.  "I want my morning milk," he kept repeating.  "Well, your morning milk is now yogurt, or cheese curds or something gross in the trash can."  My logic didn't help.  Instead, I resorted to trying to get him to sing my husband's alma mater fight song.  He did this for a while and then a little later in the trip, he randomly said, "89 bottles of beer on the wall."  I did a 180 with my head.  Where on earth did he learn that song from?  Oh no, with his fascination with numbers, my husband and I could be in for a VERY long ride back home.  Fortunately, he explained to us exactly where he heard it from, Linus and Lucy's brother Rerun on one of his Charlie Brown shows.  Our son also likes rockets and space ships and numbers so much currently that we get him to eat his food by counting backwards from 10.  10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 LIFTOFF!  Who knew eating 10 bites of something could be so exciting!

His other favorite song right now is one he learned at school-  "Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.  Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.  Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars- Going around the Sun.  Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune- Going around the Sun.  And don't forget, little baby blue toad.  Don't forget, little baby blue toad- don't forget, little baby blue toad- Going around the Sun!!!"  This is sung over and over with much energy.  My son must have initially thought that "Pluto" was little baby blue toad and now we repeat this because it's cute and it makes us laugh.  Also- Pluto is no longer considered a planet, so why not Little Baby Blue Toad?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Thanks to our Veterans!

Thank you to our veterans who have fought in foreign wars and to the ones who work hard protecting our country here at home.  The Coast Guard, The Army, The Navy, The Marines and Air Force, thank you all.

Thanks also to our veteran canines and historically more than now, equines and dolphins.  Thanks to those in service to our country from the animal kingdom too.  See my previous post on service and working dogs

Thank you for protecting our country where people can say and do things I disagree with, and I can say and do things others disagree with.  Thank you for making a country safe for my son to know that when the National Anthem comes on, even if you are at home, you take your hat off your head and put your hand on your chest.

Thank you for all the sacrifices, the hard times and probably most difficult of all; dealing with many people's ingratitude.  Thank you.  Help me remember to make every day a little Memorial Day, a day of remembering all there is to be grateful for and all that was done so we can remain the Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Do Your Vet A Favor...

There are a couple of issues that have come up recently that I would like to share to help others not make the same mistakes...

1)  Keep your pet up to date on Rabies vaccine.  This may seem like a simple request, but you'd be amazed how many people don't do this.  Either because of money, or concerns about vaccine reactions (cats and dogs don't get autism and there's no evidence to say humans get it from vaccines, but this train of thought is definitely out there).  Whether your pet goes outside and you have a neighborhood raccoon or not- you should vaccinate your pet.  It's a human health issue.  Indoor-only cats can catch bats inside the house or your nice sweet dog can get in altercation with a raccoon or fox.  When an animal bites a veterinarian or technician that is trying to help them, not only do we have to worry about the pain and discomfort of the bite, but we are legally required to report the bite and may potentially have to get painful and expensive and time-consuming rabies vaccines.  (Did you know that we have to go the human emergency room in order to get rabies vaccines in response to bites?  I have spent over 12 hours of my life waiting in an emergency room just to get a vaccine that makes me feel like I have the flu).  Please, for your sake, your pet's sake and our sake; vaccinate your pet unless it is medically contra-indicated.

2) Realize we don't have a crystal ball...  I actually had a client want me to give a guarantee that treatment would work on her cat when she didn't even allow me to do diagnostic tests to try to find an answer for what was wrong with her pet.  I stood there, trying to understand what she was asking me- "Um, Ma'am- you're telling me your cat is "off".  You aren't giving me specific symptoms and your cat looks ok- I don't know what your cat has- I don't know what treatment to give your cat because I don't know exactly what's wrong."  If I had a crystal ball that told me what a pet has, and how it was going to respond to treatment, I'd have a lot more success than I currently do (and I could have saved a lot of money on veterinary school).  Any medical professional who is going to give you a guarantee of anything should be greeted skeptically.  One of my favorite lines is, "I know enough about medicine to know I don't know anything."  We can give statistics, probabilities, and impressions, this I feel comfortable with- "No, your dog shouldn't die from this", or "most cases I see like this don't go well, but I've seen a couple recover ok."  Guarantees?  No- there are no guarantees in life and there won't be a guarantee in the vet's office except for the one I had to explain to a little old lady one day, "Yes, yes, at some point your dog will die- but it is unlikely it is today."  She asked, "You mean some day she's going to die sometime?"  I looked at the little old lady and didn't really want to get into the fact that some day we all die and just excused myself.

3) If your dog gets into something, see that it doesn't get into it again...  It amazes me that dogs that get into things often get into them again and again.  I knew one labrador who had 7 surgeries to remove socks from his stomach.  7 surgeries!  His owners spent a lot of money and he lost a lot of his intestines in order to remove the socks.  Somehow even with padlocked drawers a determined pet can find what they crave.  Recently, I had a patient that went into the ER to get 5 items removed.  Within hours of it returning home, it got into that same item again!  Please, if your dog likes socks, underwear, or some other object, please once you find out that they will eat it, double lock those doors or get rid of those objects!

4) I had a nice client recently, who first asked if I had time for a story and then went on to tell me a story of a veterinarian's diagnostics skills saving a human life- he used this story to say how much our skills are appreciated and how hard our job must be when our patients don't talk and their owners are sometimes clueless.  His small act of appreciation helped make the day better.  As with any person you work with- you never know how much a small act of appreciation can make up for a hard day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Becoming a Lay Dominican

About 7 years ago, through a Dominican Spiritual Director I met when I was in Arizona (in a land far, far away from the east coast here).  I was introduced to the concept of being a Lay Dominican.  To a woman who was literally days away from joining a convent, the week before I was supposed to start veterinary school, this seemed like a more prudent way to accomplish my goal.  This goal was to grow closer to Jesus and to try to help others on a path to Holiness too.  Turns out I didn't need to dramatically say "No" to family and being a veterinarian, I could choose a path that allowed me to do both.

So 7 years ago, when I began looking at becoming a Lay Dominican, I began going to a group that... hmm... shall we say... didn't exactly follow the magisterium of the Church?  Let's just say the Dominican call to "study" was definitely being followed in trying to study what was right and what was not so much in line with who we are called to be as Catholics.  I'm not one to judge, and I don't know a whole lot, but the Church Fathers, the Catechism and St. John Paul II are good sources of catholocism to follow.

I moved out here to the East Coast.  I hadn't been totally sold on being a Lay Dominican by the last group.  My former spiritual director in Arizona, a priest in the Dominican Order was a good example, let's just say, knowing his virtues and his intellect did not make me paint all the Dominicans with the same brush.  I wasn't exactly completely sold on the idea of becoming a Lay Dominican, but I knew I wanted a Dominican spiritual director.  When I say spiritual director, I simply mean a priest you can go to for regular confession, talk through problems and concerns and get guidance.  It's kind of like having a running partner.  If you know someone else is going to meet you at 5:30 in the morning to go running, you're a lot more likely to get yourself out of bed than if no one holds you accountable.  If you go to the same confessor month after month and your committing the same sins with the same frequency... well, you get the idea...

I found the Dominican House in my area and I contacted a prior about obtaining a spiritual director.  He simply told me to show up at the next Lay Dominican meeting and then he would see about getting me one.  Well, I went to the meeting and after approximately one meeting a month, plus hours of reading and additional times in small groups for instruction and discussion, along with charitable works and other activities, it comes time for me to take my final vows.  As a Lay Dominican (and with most religious orders too) you take a 1 year vow, then a 3 year vow then a final vow.  Well, with my stint in Arizona and some other things I'll get into at another time, here I am, 7 years later, vowing to be a Dominican.  The old joke I've told a couple of people
is, "Live like a Jesuit and die as a Dominican."  Dominicans and Jesuits kind of have a rivalry thing going on.  Jesuits and Dominicans typically both like wine and philosophy, but let's just say the Dominicans perceive the Jesuits to be taking it easy with some disciplines.  Now you want to die as a Dominican, especially if you need a lot of prayers said for you, because the Dominicans are really good as saying prayers for their deceased brethren.

It actually came down to a point where I was talking to a fellow Dominican and wanted to make sure my vows were all in order.  They said, "what does it mater?  We all know you are a Dominican and living as a Dominican."  I said, "if I get in an auto accident or something happens to me, I don't care if you think I'm a Dominican.  I want to BE a Dominican!  They understood and no more questions were asked.

To make a long story short (well, not short, but at least not as long), I was kind of procrastinating on becoming a Dominican.  I was talking to a friend about my hesitation to make promises as I wanted to become "better" first.  In a way only a true friend can- she told me, "you're not going to ever be perfect, so don't use that as your excuse."  She also went on to say, "perhaps you should have the faith that when you make your full profession,  God will give you the graces you need to be more disciplined."  The vows we say as we become Lay Dominicans do include, "with God's help."  So I pray that God will give me the graces to rise in Holiness as a Dominican and I know that with Him lifting me up I will get far closer to Him then I would on my own.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Florence Nightingale and Dogs

I don't remember where I first heard about Florence Nightingale and dogs.  The subject is a little random.

What did Florence Nightingale have to do with dogs?  Many people are aware of Florence Nightingale's role in the creation of the nursing profession, and the wonderful work she did in the Crimean War.  Do most people know that if it hadn't been for a dog she never would have embarked on this mission?

The randomness of this topic is maybe not so random.  Dogs play an ever growing role in healthcare and assistance to and compassionate care of disabled people.  While I can't remember where I heard about Florence Nightingale and her canine connection, I did enjoy reading more about it at : Psychology Today Article.  Basically it was in nursing a sweet, injured sheepdog who was an important companion to a shepherd, that she realized that she was called to help heal others.  When I was young we used to love listening to "The Rest of the Story" with Paul Harvey.  Hopefully your interest will be piqued and you will look into the rest of this story.



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Mommy, you should call 911!"

"Mommy, you should call 911!"  That's a phrase no one ever wants to hear.  I didn't even know my son was aware of 911.  As far as teaching him safety, we have taught him his full name, his address and the name of his neighborhood.  We have also taught him if he ever gets separated from his parents or family members, to look for a police officer.  If he can't find a police officer, look for a mommy with kids to ask for help (because most of the time mommy's with kids are fairly responsible and not crazy people).  Also, most moms with kids are unlikely to want to pick up another random kid to add to their brood.


Well, apparently fire safety week at his childcare left a lasting impression on him.  He was calling out, "Mommy call 911!" because he saw a fire/flames in our oven.  That's not a good thing, but in this circumstance, it was because the oven was in cleaning mode and was burning off the grease and pizza dough and who knows what else that was on the bottom of the oven.  Normally I'm a pretty good cook and baker.  I make homemade bread and cinnamon rolls that people ask for the recipes for (see previous posts).  I'm working on pizza dough.  The day in question I somehow got distracted with birthday preparations and didn't realize I let the pizza dough overcook.  I then went on to make his birthday cupcakes and some of the drippings fell down.  My husband smelled the smoke and burning when he got home and I told him, "don't worry, it's a cold, rainy day, it will feel good to have the oven self-clean this evening."  I don't know that I've ever really stood in front of the oven as it self-cleans.  I normally try to do it when I'm in another room so I don't get overheated.  My son did see some pretty large flames and I did immediately locate the fire extinguisher... just in case.

I tried to explain to my son that the oven door was locked and that was so we couldn't "feed" the fire with oxygen.  I told him if we were somehow able to open the door, it would be bad and the fire would spread, but that's why oven doors lock while you have it in self cleaning.  My son was fascinated.  He was possibly more fascinated by watching the oven and the flames than he would be watching a video on TV.  He had a visual and he liked to go up and feel the heat of the oven, I discouraged him from that.  I had checked to make sure the lock was firm on the oven, but didn't want to take any chances.

He danced around the house talking about 911 and fire and how if mommy opened the oven the firetrucks were going to come.  It was amusing and yet a little scary at the same time.  I'm not sure about his full level of understanding of fire safety, but at least I know he knows what numbers to dial.  I think I was thinking about how now when he grows up, he's not going to share with others what a great baker his mommy is, but about that time when he almost needed to call 911...
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

A long week...

I started the weekend sick, not being able to get to my garden or pick up the house for my son's impending birthday party with a small group of his friends.  I thought I had food poisoning and that my family was safe...

Then, my husband got sick.  Then just as he was starting to feel better, my son got sick.  Yep- not food poisoning but a virus...  Thank God for a working laundry machine.  During the chaos, the first time my son vomited, he didn't want to change his baseball player "jersey" (he calls it a jersey when it has a player's name and number on the back).  He also requests that we don't call him by his baptismal game, but by whatever name of the player who he is wearing or feels like today.  I have had to call my three year old Manny Machado and Michael Brantley.  I have a hard enough time not calling him my dog's name or cat's name, especially when they are all getting into trouble together it's even harder to come up with the player of the hour's name.  So as I'm convincing him to get out of the jersey that clearly has vomit on it, he protests, "No, it's clean".  I tell him his other one is in the wash.  I run downstairs and bring it up and it is still wet.  I tell him it needs to go back in the dryer.  Instead, he tears it out of my hands, crumples it up in a little ball and proceeds to take a paper towel and tries to "dry" his scrunched up shirt.  I give him an A+ for creativity.  He then decided he wanted to wear a wet shirt- I decided that's better than a shirt with vomit- so sure, if he has to wear a jersey that badly, he can wear it wet.

The other day I heard a parent say, "The nights are long, but the years are short."  That's so true.  When you are in the difficult, sleep deprived moments of parenting, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  You look forward to the moments when you can go to the bathroom by yourself, or as I told a coworker the other day, "Sometimes I don't mind sitting in an hour and a half of traffic.  It's rough, but I look at it as my own selfish tranquility when I can listen to any music I want, belt out any tune I want and not have to make references to Paw Patrol or sports or help with a potty break for a small piece of my life."  I will miss those moments surely.  Just as I will miss the moment last night where the three of us sickies were all laying in bed and my son said, "I love you Mommy" all on his own as he nuzzled my nose.  I responded, "I love you too!".  He then said, "But I love you three!"  I said what about Daddy, "I love him four!"  We did the love you's up to thirty-one, the number on the back of his "jersey".  It was priceless and worth every long night I ever spend covered in bodily fluids....

While the nights are long and the years are short, my husband and I found ourselves at my son's preschool orientation and can't believe he's going to preschool!  I had a weird Deja Vu moment like I was back on my first day of high school (I moved to a new area for high school and was the new kid in a small school with lots of cliques).  I started to panic about "falling into the wrong crowd" and making friends with the "right parents" and saying the right things.  My husband who had a wonderful high school experience and is a typical guy- couldn't fathom my social anxiety.  I don't know how it's all going to work out, but I did think, "well, most people grow up from that phase- and really- if they haven't grown up from the high school phase- would I want to be friends with them?"  I have to admit the health issues in my family this week didn't give me too much time to focus on anxiety and makes me realize that most of us parents are just trying to make it through the week- and the nights and don't have time to worry about the small stuff...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Forget the Healthcare Debate- a bipartisan way to save money on healthcare

I try to stay away from politics on this website and so I will not even touch what is going on with the current debate.  I just pray that everyone will have affordable healthcare and be taken care of.  I do want to talk about something that I believe would be considered bipartisan;

I still remember the ad back in November and maybe we need to re-watch it in an ever so divisive environment today: A vote for good.  If you don't remember it, or didn't get to see it before, take the time to watch it.  I can try to understand, empathize and reach a common ground with many people.  I'm forced to do it on a daily basis and often, for some reason, people make assumptions that I share their same political and religious or "areligious" views when I take care of their dogs.  Don't ask me how these topics that are not supposed to be discussed in polite society end up being thrust into the vet exam room.  The one thing I do get from these awkward experiences is how people who I share maybe nothing in common with, I do share something basic in common with- the love of the dog.  I can understand people of many different backgrounds and try to reach a common ground- it is those who don't respect and love dogs that I just can't fathom.

Back to some common ground:  A George Mason University Study found that dog ownership saves an estimated $11.7 billion a year in healthcare costs.   There have been many studies that have shown how the human- animal bond can help reduce blood pressure, help with weight loss and many individual variables, but this is the first study that has shown the impact on the US healthcare system. It is thought that the impact of the healthcare benefits of dog ownership is probably much greater than this study was even able to elucidate.  The next step is not mandatory dog ownership, or as much as us veterinarians would like- tax deductible pet expenses (they are considering this in California).  The next step is to share with people that your healthcare may start in your household, before you go to the doctors office (pet owners visit a doctor 0.6 times less than non-pet owners).  Maybe the key to partisan divisiveness is if both sides start walking dogs together.  Naive- yes, but sometimes it's the simple things that can heal the individual and the system.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cats and Public Health

The other day I was at a center for hospice care with my son, bringing cookies to the residents.  This is a place I have volunteered at from time to time, but we haven't visited very often lately due to a hectic schedule (I always feel like my son and I get so much from the visit, though we give so little and we both leave the place with a smile on our face).  They used to have a pet bird, but I didn't always understand that, from the veterinarian's perspective, birds can transmit zoonosis (meaning diseases that can go from animals to people) especially in immunocompromised people.  I don't know the whole story, but the bird was short lived (being a previous bird-owner, it may have been because of the mess they make).

I found out they recently got a cat.  I was excited!  That is a great pet for the residents to interact with and though some people might think they transfer disease, if they are well-cared for, they can actually prevent it.

The Egyptians even recognized this fact thousands of years ago.  They knew then that rats were dirty animals, and I think they knew there was some correlation with rats and disease.  If they had a few more cats during the Black Plague, maybe it wouldn't have spread as much (especially if the cats back then had good flea control like we do today).  I digress.  Cats are good at keeping rodents away.  Not all cats are equally good at this (my parents' cat doesn't have the attention span to chase a mouse, I don't think, but she makes a wonderful cuddle companion).  My cat actually used to catch mice at my parents' house and would put them in a waste basket.  She learned if she caught them alive, she would put them in the basket and then notify us- then she would get her favorite treat.  It was a great exchange and I liked that she left them alive and then I would just take the basket and let the mouse free outside.  I'm pretty sure those mice would never come back again.

Regarding parasites; flea control is a good idea.  Fleas are disgusting and spread disease.  Cats are better equipped than dogs at removing fleas on their own (a healthy cat is a meticulous groomer, so a lot of the time people will never even notice fleas on their cat- but they will on their dog).  They are also good at removing ticks for the same reason.  It only takes one flea or tick to transmit disease or drop off your pet and attach to you, so proper parasite control is strongly recommended.  A product such as selamectin also kills parasites that your cat can ingest if it does decide to eat a rodent (Eww!). I joke with my husband that my cat is cleaner than some people and in some ways this statement could be true.  She's indoor only and to my knowledge has not been catching things around our house... She's on medication to prevent her from getting parasites, eats a cooked food (raw food can transmit food borne disease) and bathes herself multiple times a day.  As long as humans are careful around fecal matter (who wouldn't be?) there is very little chance of disease transmission.

A little obscure fact- do you know that cats almost never get stung by scorpions?  Well, that's true- people and humans definitely get stung by them, but cats are able to hypnotize them and even kill them.  I didn't truly appreciate this fact until I found a scorpion that my cat had killed in my apartment.  I hadn't even known I had a scorpion in my apartment.  Thanks Duchess!  Because of that, she's paid her rent for life.

Monday, May 1, 2017

2 parents, 1 very determined child....

The title of this would probably be the heading of the current chapter of my biography.  Every day is a new discovery in how 2 parents and 1 very determined child try to resolve conflict and strong determination by all parties...

My son was somewhat difficult to potty train in that like everything with him, if it's not his idea, it's not going to happen.  I swear he's a cat.  He is every bit as determined and headstrong as my geriatric feline who has over 17 years of experience of fortitude.  My husband thinks my son and cat have had a secret pact for world domination ever since we saw an ultrasound picture that looked strangely like he was plotting with his fingers... But that's another story.

Mornings at our house are.... shall we say... payback for how I was when I was a child?  (My husband would argue it's how I still am).  My child likes sleep and I can't blame him.  When we aren't on a schedule, I let him sleep to his heart's content.  The rest of his life he's going to have to get up to an alarm clock most of the time, so I'll give him freedom now.  He's determined to sleep, snuggle and procrastinate as long as his willpower can hold.  It's not pretty.  My husband and him need to leave the house by 7:30.  It's tough.  The two toughest hills to fight battle on are getting him to change his clothes and getting him to go to the bathroom.  Eating breakfast is normally not a tough point of negotiation and in a worst case scenario he can eat on the ride to school.  The clothes battle we have mostly dealt with by dressing him in something that is mostly appropriate for school the next day the evening before and modifying as needed for weather, etc..  Pick your battles.  The toughest negotiation is one neither my husband and I can understand.  Going to the bathroom.  For some reason, our child likes to withhold going to the bathroom like Custer's Last Stand.

Last week culminated in a debacle, so we decided there needs to be some changes.  No TV until you go to the bathroom.  Yes, it's nice to eat breakfast in front of Paw Patrol.  No Paw Patrol without the potty!  Most preschoolers would not see this as something to fight over.  My kid is an exception.  This morning, my husband and I found ourselves resorting back to our childhood days (or at least mine).  You know what you did when you were on a long car trip and you wanted to torture your sibling?  We made so many different sound effects and scenarios with water involved- waves, lakes, waterfalls, you name it.  Apparently it worked.  I guess throw logic and reasoning out and when battling a pre-schooler it's time to use a juvenile skill set.  It was kind of funny and I guess because it worked it kind of leaves me with a smile.  Sometimes you have to dig deep in your parenting tool box and sometimes you wade back into the shallows...

Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy Birthday Dewey!

Approximately 8 years ago today, my big, goofy dog was born in an undisclosed backyard in Arizona.  He lived with two other owners and then made it to me at about 5 months of age, never having been inside a house (I didn't realize this until I had him in my house and found out he wasn't house trained, then I read his admission paperwork).

While sometimes I might wonder if the first summer of his life spent in the heat of an Arizona backyard might have melted a couple of his brain cells, he's special in his own way (He's the only dog I have known to run into a parked car).

He saved me from snakes (He was snake-trained, I recently found out his training wore off).  He saved me from dubious people at gas stations and even a break-in.  I'm pretty sure his 70-pound body scared those people off.  As my upstairs neighbors said, "we were kind of worried when we heard all the noise and when it sounded like someone was breaking in to your place.  Then we heard your dog and remembered his size and knew you'd be ok."

He's the only mammal in my house without special medical needs or requirements for medication or rehab.  Other than a sensitive stomach, he's the picture of perfect health (unlike my cat).  I wanted to rename him when I got him, but he's really kind of a dufus- so Dewey the dufus kind of fits him.  He's loyal, he gets excited for attention and he has an internal time clock for treats and waking up that beats my toddler's.  My son's athletic abilities and balance I think are somewhat related to our dog's size and uncontrollable tail.  Any toddler who can survive and learn to balance with a bounding, goofy dog definitely has an edge.

Happy Birthday Dewey.  You've been through a lot with me, including my single days when you were the best male friend I could have had.  I'm looking forward to as many more birthdays with you as the Good Lord sees fit.  Maybe St. Peter could put in a good word and say that Heaven isn't ready for the massive destruction your tail causes.... just yet.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A nightmare and the boy who called wolf

A while back, my son was crying and crying at night.  He said he had a nightmare.  My husband and I looked at each other and said, "how is that possible, he never went to sleep!"

My son kept telling us he had a nightmare, so he should sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed.  My husband looked at me and said, "what should we do?"  I told him to tell our son the story of the little boy who cried "Wolf".  I could tell my husband hadn't told the story before, if ever at all.  It had his own unique features to it.  My son got the message.  After the story was told, my son said, "No, I didn't have a nightmare- I just wanted to sleep in your bed..."  I told him, "thank you for your honesty and because of your honesty, tonight you can sleep our bed."  From time to time, we have to remind him of the little boy who called wolf, but I'm glad at three years of age he is beginning to see the advantage of telling the truth.  If only the logic of truth-telling was so obvious to all adults too...
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Scars are like tattoos- except with better stories...

I work in a profession where most of us have scars from our work (I fortunately don't have too many, but there's always a story).  I do have a lot of scars from other things though- klutzy things I've done, stories from my past.  Many of the people I work with have tattoos that either hold meaning to the person's current life- or resulted from a whim that is no longer relevant.

Whether it's a human or an animal, I find it fascinating to find out the stories behind scars.  I do think most of them have more in the story and more meaning than a tattoo.  There was the dog that helped save soldiers from an IUD- and got scars in return.  Or dogs who have been hit by bullets, gored by a deer or in one case- snagged on the grill because she was running wildly around a corner.

When I was younger, I never really worried too much about my injuries scarring- I took them as a badge of honor.  The scars I do have on my face, I guess I kind of mind, they don't stick out too much to others, but there are scars from two jaw surgeries and the more pronounced scarring is where I had impetigo when I was just my son's age.  It's kind of interesting that whether it's myself, my dog or my cat, I don't worry too much about scarring.  When it's my 3 1/2 year old, I do.  My dog and cat don't care about their scars, no one will judge them by them (although my husband might debate me about the temporary tattoo I once put on my dog, but that's another story).

I guess this just kind of goes along with how while I know life's not perfect and stuff happens, the Mom in me wants to protect my kid from anything I can.  My son loves to run when he's on his walks and we just got knee pads and elbow pads from Amazon for the new scooter he's going to be getting for his birthday.  For a brief moment, I thought, "maybe he should wear his knee pads and elbow pads when he walks with us because he always seems to trip."  Then I realized the ridiculousness of it.  I remembered how I can't protect him from everything and he is eventually going to have scars- physical and otherwise.  The best thing I can do is teach him to embrace them, to grow from them and try to at least have good stories to go with them.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Does Jesus come on other days than Easter?

That is the question my son asked me.  This was after he decided Easter should happen every day. (It was probably the gifts from the Easter Bunny, the great meal and the Easter Egg Hunt with his best friend that won him over).  I tried to explain to him, Jesus does come every day.  As Catholics, we believe he comes every day in the form of the Eucharist and he is present all around.  I knew this was going to be a hard concept to explain to a three year old, half of adults don't understand this concept very well.

As he was processing, my son said, "does He come even on my birthday?  Even during football season?," he asked excitedly.  Yes, even when our team loses, I thought to myself with a smile.  He pondered this for a while.  "How do I talk to Jesus?"  I showed him the picture of Jesus on our bedroom wall and said, "you can just talk to Him like He's here".  "But He's not here!"  he replied, "That's just a picture."  I thought for a moment and said, "you know how you can talk to your grandparents on FaceTime and they can see and understand you but they aren't right in the room with you?  You can talk to Jesus like that."

At least he's not at the age right now to point out that there's absolutely no reference in the Bible to FaceTime.  I told him, "when Mommy and Daddy receive the Eucharist, we are able to receive Jesus and you will be able to when you are older too!"  I'm not sure how he sorted everything out in his mind, but he went on to pray right in front of me, looking at the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the image my grandmother passed on to me with her devotion.  I had faith that my son would sort it all out some day.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Art appreciation through Histology

My mom was great when I was younger (and as I got older) to expose me to great works of art, music and theater.  When we were little, we would go to musicals and plays and I would often fall asleep (one family friend remembered this many years later and remarked that we always wore "fancy pajamas" because we'd wear cute dresses but fall asleep).

We would go to art museums and see great works of art, my mom was especially a fan of the Impressionists (Monet, Van Gogh, Degas).  I never would have thought that 20 years later, I'd be leaning over a microscope and thinking how that microscopic tissue actually looked like a great work of art.  An appreciation of art and knowledge of science is a actually a great way to integrate beauty.  Histology is the microscopic study of tissues, such as from biopsies.  It can be used as a way to diagnose disease and also to learn more about the function of the body.  To me, it was a reminder that one creator made us all and beauty can transcend function and utilitarianism.

One of my favorite quotes, by St. John Paul II, is, "Science is the How and God is the Why".  Science and religion, right brain and left brain can live in harmony and can be beautiful each in its own way.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I almost didn't post today....

I had one of those days today.  One of those days where everything that could go wrong does.  One of those days where someone was so difficult I wanted them to be escorted out by police.  One of those days where the only way I was able to deal with a difficult person was by pausing to say a "Hail Mary".

Yet there were also gifts in this day...  one of the people I work with who is normally negative, was positive!  A specialist I work with went above and beyond to try to lighten my load.  My husband had a hot dinner for me.  Perhaps I had "one of those days" so I could remember to be thankful for the blessings I do have.  Just a thought.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Lesson for Mommy from her little swimmer

As I've spoken about earlier, I realize how one of the most important and difficult parts of parenting is allowing your child independence and overriding your drive to protect from EVERYTHING.  Sometimes parenthood is anxiety-provoking.  There are definitely things I protect my son from, but it's sometimes a hard decision to know when to step back and when to step in.

A while back, I got a membership at a gym and one of the reasons I picked this gym is they have lots of activities and classes for kids.  This is ideal, so while I get to work out, my son gets to play basketball or soccer or whatever class they have.  The first class there was some confusion and my son ended up in language arts instead of basketball.  He was NOT happy about this and did not want to go back to the "Sports Club".  The next time, I coaxed him to try it out again and tried to stay a while and make sure he got to where he needed to be.  I maxed out the "parent stay time".  I came back to pick him up and told him I couldn't stay in watch so he needed to come with me or I needed to go away.  "Go away," he shouted at me.  I was actually happy about that because I knew what I intended had happened- mommy and son were having fun and getting exercise.  He has subsequently told me to "Go away" even when this is not necessary and I could stay a little and watch his class.  He learned independence is fun and he doesn't want his mommy to pick him up early.

Included in the gym membership were a couple of swim classes for him.  We normally take him to swimming class at our community pool where it's most likely my husband (or occasionally myself) going into the pool with him.  He's not always compliant or thrilled about this.  I wasn't exactly sure how the gym swim classes were going to go because they don't have the parents come in.  I arrived early with my son to the pool and actually played with him for about an hour in the water.  Then he went over to meet his new teacher and I was a little alarmed that they actually put these three year olds in the deeper swim lanes which are well over my sons head.  They put the kids on these underwater platforms and they swim from platform to platform.  I definitely didn't want to leave my kid on that platform.  Everything in my mommy gut says that you don't leave your kid unattended near deep water.

Just as I'm sure the mother goose has to put things in nature's hands and hope that her offspring has the self-preservation skills to learn how to swim, I had to trust that my son would know well enough to not jump off or let go of the platform.  Knowing my son well enough, and knowing he doesn't even like to get his head wet gave me some assurance he wasn't just going to jump off the platform, but it was still nerve-wracking.  As I saw him playing with (and flirting with) the two little girls in his class, I saw him having fun and more importantly I saw he had a good grip.  My son at some point is going to have to learn how to swim, just as he is going to have to learn how to drive and I'm going to have to hope that the way I have raised him and the small increments of independence have taught him his mom is not a ball of anxiety.  I hope he learns the anxiety I do pass on to him is a form of self preservation and protection.

And about learning how to drive- I humored someone last week when I told them I had a plan for assuring that my son does not text when he is driving.  They also were nervous this would be something their child would do- my solution- give him a car with a stick shift.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Great Birthday!

I had one of my best birthdays today, I think.  As mentioned previously, one of my best friends was in town.  She's one of those friends who you can count on to always speak truth to you.  She and I are diametrically opposed on the political and religious spectrum (you know, those two issues that people should never talk about in polite company).  We just get along great and can still talk about those issues, still totally disagree and still totally enjoy a Margarita together.

She helped me on Saturday set up my garden, placing fencing and weed cloth.  Thankfully, she's like a foot taller than me (maybe not quite, but she is definitely 8 inches taller than me).  This is very helpful in placing fence posts and helping reach things in the kitchen.  We made lettuce wraps and Pad Thai on Saturday (two things my boys would not make for me on their own).  We had a great day yesterday hanging out at the pool and going to our favorite Mexican restaurant and today we went into the city for coffee, walking, a good lunch and, then, pedicures.  Lots of chatting, catching up, and supporting each other.  Randomly, someone was handing out chocolate chip cookies on the street, and we got to enjoy those too.  We picked up my son early from daycare and even though he had his pick of plenty of fun places to go to, he picked the park.  We ran and played and then we moved onto the fountain that he calls the "ice cream fountain."  We then met up with my husband and walked over (it was actually nice weather until the very end of the day) to our favorite taco place.  What happened as we walked over to our favorite taco place?  The man who I told you about a while back, the homeless man who is always pleasant and says "God Bless," he was back on his bench.  If you hadn't read an earlier post "Be Positive" you might not know what I'm talking about, but a couple of weeks ago we had found out he had been hit by a truck and hadn't come back to his bench.  Well, I talked with him today and he has a cast on his arm and apparently is recovering ok.  He was happy to see us, say Hi, get a few goodies, and say "God Bless" again.  I really truly did feel blessed today.  With my husband, son, good friend and all the well wishes from all of my family and friends and even people I haven't heard from in a long time, I felt very blessed.  Reminds me of the Martina McBride song, "Blessed." I have been blessed!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

S'mores on Sunday

Last summer, when we were at our family cottage, my son fell in love with S'mores.  I had the idea (the crazy idea according to my husband) to make them at our house.  Have I mentioned we live in a townhouse with a sorry excuse for a yard?

First let me tell you something that I would give as advice to any bride to be.  Pick something out for your registry that's beautiful and your soon-to-be husband would never let you buy.  In our case, I picked out some beautiful crystal candlesticks.  We had some generous family friends who bought them for us and another generous family friend who bought us the "mega" size ones.  We try to light them at most dinners and I keep them on the table year round.  It's good to have beauty in your life around the clock, not just on special occasions.

Well, my crazy idea was to use some of the kabob sticks we have (Jamaican Jerk Chicken Kabobs is a favorite at our house) and to roast our marshmallows over the candlesticks.  We did this once in the fall, and my son and husband had fun.  My husband found the marshmallows and graham crackers fairly recently and said we needed to use them again.  During Lent, my husband and I have given up dessert, but as Sundays are "mini Easters" and a celebration of Jesus' Resurrection, we have dessert.  My husband decided he wanted to have S'mores for his first Sunday of Lent indulgence.  And so it began.  Apparently, our Lenten tradition is going to be S'mores on Sunday where we all sit around the table and slowly enjoy and indulge in the chocolate-marshmallow gooeyness and celebration of family.  I asked my husband as this tradition was developing if he still thought I was crazy.  "Crazy- yes, but kind of cool."  I guess I'll go with that.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Emotional Eating

A wise priest yesterday explained Laetare Sunday, or the 4th Sunday of Lent on the Christian calendar.  It is the only other Sunday of the year, other than Gaudete Sunday, when Roman Catholic priests wear the color rose.  The wise Father said yesterday in colloquial terms, "It's for all of us who haven't been so great at keeping our Lenten promises or who have found that the progress we wanted to make didn't quite happen and the sins that we wanted to overcome still get in our way.  It's for all of us who get bogged down and would give up- it's a reminder that even with all of our weakness, mistakes and recurrent sins, we are still rejoicing because our Savior still rose for us to Redeem us all."  It's a reminder to "Don't Give Up".

As I stared down the box of biscotti I saw today in the kitchen area of the clinic,  I thought of those wise words.  I thought of how we all fall, and get back up.  I thought if I was thinking these thoughts, I should walk away.  Why did I so want that Biscotti, I thought?  For the same reason I enjoy chocolate and Starbucks and all matter of sugar and things that aren't really good for me.  Now, I'm not a health nut- I still enjoy delicious, fatty and sweet food, but I'm trying to train my body to not just eat when I'm having a bad day.  No, chocolate doesn't really make the fact that the day is stinking better.  No, McDonalds doesn't solve the fact that I got scratched or had to deal with a cranky person. I'm not a person with a weight problem per say.  I mean, I'm not a perfect weight, but that's not been important to me and I'm not overweight where I've ever had a doctor give me a lecture.  I don't care about the number on the scale, but I am trying to be more introspective about what I eat and why.

I come from a family and ethnic traditions where food = love.  Let me tell you- my Mom has always been good at showing her love with her cooking.  Cakes, brie cheese, a whole plethora of gourmet wonders have been a part of my life since I was little.  I went to college and ate donuts all the time and other convenience foods on the run.  I also was an athlete, so I could pretty much get away with eating whatever I wanted to eat in whatever quantity I wanted to eat it.  I went to veterinary school and this is where my 5 pound gain with big moments started to begin.  In veterinary school, I sometimes had 20 hour days and was studying a lot, so convenience food and junk food with little exercise (other than wrangling a few cattle and sheep) added some pounds.  Then, I did my internship.  Five pounds in one year.  When you are working a 5 pm - 10 am shift, you find out that the places that are open at 2 am mostly have fried foods.  You also have clients and people bringing donuts, chocolates and other wonders in (this was when I had my first real Cannoli).  Yep- 5 pounds in 1 year.

Then I trained for a marathon.  Well, one would think you would lose weight when you are in the business of running over 15 miles a day.  Apparently, I am not alone in learning that is not the desired effect.  You gain muscle and you gain an insatiable appetite and the feeling, "I just ran 15 miles- I can definitely treat myself to that burger and fries."

Thanks to nausea during most of my pregnancy, I actually lost weight, but quickly made that back up when I started eating on the go and trying to get sugar highs to get me through the late nights with a baby and then toddler.

So you can see how through introspection I have found a theme through my relationship with eating.  I can see this somewhat in my patients and their families' lives as well.  It is interesting to look at weight histories and to see how dogs and cats too go up and down.  Sometimes, its a medical reason, but oftentimes, it's whats going on in their owners lives.  Owners who don't have as much time for them give them more treats.  Owners who are unable to get out and take them for exercise is another example.  Cats that lose a companion and begin eating more (more often it's when a companion who stole all their food passes and they can finally get uninhibited access to the food bowl) is yet another.  Sometimes, pets eat out of boredom.

So while the above may be a conveyance of random thoughts and more than what you want to know about my relationship with food, I think we probably all have something in our lives that we kind of just fall into.  Be it sin, or the easiness of eating chocolate a little more regularly than we should, it's easy to fall into habits.  I'm realizing I fall into my habits when I'm stressed, annoyed or tired.  While it would be better if I wasn't being stressed, annoyed or tired, I realize reality and I realize my weakness.  Today, I had the strength to put that biscotti box back and think, "I will give up those empty calories that really aren't going to make my day go any better and I will celebrate Smore's Sunday with my family (I'll post more Friday about that).  It's Lent after all, it's only 40 days.  May God give you the strength to overcome your weaknesses and find the introspection you need to stare down your own biscotti and when all else fails, remember our Savior who died for all of our sins and failings.

Friday, March 24, 2017

My son made me cry today...

After a difficult day yesterday of taking my son to the dentist (yes, our fears have been realized that he would take after his father and bite the dentist) and saying, "No" to playing T ball on our main floor as well as several other ways I "failed" my son according to him, today he made me cry.

First, I should tell you about our struggle last night.  What started as a fit that I wouldn't let him play T-ball in the middle of the living room/dining room, ended up progressing"Grandma and Grandpa let me!"  (I'm not sure about that, so I won't throw them under the bus).  He was very unhappy about getting a bath and further unhappy about it not being in mommy and daddy's big bathtub.  He didn't want to take his clothes off.   He also informed me he didn't want mommy, he wanted Daddy!

 I locked him in the bathroom with me and sat calmly on the floor.  Time progressed and I still calmly explained how we needed to take a bath.  As I watched my three year old flail on the floor, (which made me think about how it had been a while since it had been scrubbed) I surprised him by showing him how the door stop makes a cool noise and movement.  This temporarily stopped the convulsions.  It's not lost on me that my dog, Dewey long ago would "fake seizures" to try to get out of wearing his special collar, my son practically mimics the movement, but it's not a seizure, but it does have a destructive effect on the environment.

As we both played with our respective door stops
and he calmed down, I pulled one sock off of him.  He was not pleased.  He tried to throw it into the bathtub.  I was not pleased.  He then somehow got it on the top of the towel rack.  I encouraged him to take the other sock off and throw that at the previous sock to try to get it down.  This didn't work for his objective, but as he tried to get his sock back (and got the other one stuck in another place) the encouragement to remove the rest of his clothing to try to get the socks back worked.  I had fun watching him problem solve how he was going to get his clothes back while I smiled inside that I had gotten him to get ready for his bath and to undress without him even realizing it and without an additional tantrum.

Anyways, I knew I wasn't his favorite parent yesterday (especially for the part where I had to hold him down at the dentist).  Today, as we were playing as a family, he found his American Flag and was demanding that I sing the National Anthem.  I told him, "I don't sing on demand".  He then looked at me with that childhood innocence and said, "Please sing beautiful singer!".  Yep, that made me cry.  He may be becoming a bigger boy each day, but he actually sees me as a  "beautiful singer".  He doesn't like when I sing all the time, he pretty much never likes it when my husband sings but apparently he has some respect for my musical ability and for beauty.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mom Hacks

So, I'm not an experienced mom with over twenty years of experience, or a mom of eight kids.  One might say I have no expertise on motherhood.  I'm fine with that.  For those of you who like to learn a little wherever you are (like I do) I will share some things that have made my life and sanity a little bit better.

1) Don't check Pinterest too often.  I try to only check Pinterest and Facebook once a week.  Enough to get cute and creative ideas, but not enough to obsess over the ways I am falling short (I mean, everyone knows that people only put the best of their lives on there- you don't see the warts and the amount of time and tears it took to get to picture perfect).

2) Still have fun doing creative things for your kids, but it's fine to take shortcuts.  On Valentines Day I kept seeing cute pictures of parents making homemade waffles and pancakes for their kids in the shapes of hearts.  So cute and precious!  I knew that with the other things I wanted to get accomplished over Valentines Day, I would have to pick making a wonderful homemade waffle (and the cleanup that goes with it) for my son over delivering valentines to the elderly in a hospice home.  I chose to throw an Eggo in the toaster oven and smack a heart cookie cutter into it.  My son loved it and still prefers his waffles without the crusts. "How mommy made it with a heart," he started insisting to my husband (we have graduated him to a baseball mitt cookie cutter now).  I'm pretty sure when he's older he will remember his mommy made heart waffles, and won't remember that it came out of the freezer.

3) Delegate.  I have come to the place professionally and personally where I am learning to delegate.  Professionally, I'm still pretty Type A (when animals lives are in the balance, I can't help but want to be in control), but when it comes to other stuff, I try to delegate.  I had gotten tired of seeing my son's baby book that I just never seem to have the time to put together.  It's one of those things I want to do for my son, but I know I'm not very artistically talented and my scissor skills are not the best.  I decided to tell my sister the best birthday gift she could give me was to put it together for me.  She's a teacher by training and has awesome scissors and creative skills in that area and just the feeling that I don't have a huge project that I'm probably never going to get to is a weight off my shoulders.

4) NextStep Toilet Seat.  I actually fell upon this little invention when I ended up crashing a friend's Rosary Group (we were supposed to meet for lunch but I got done with what I was doing a little early and she asked her group if my son and I could come over).  It was great to be surrounded by other faithful moms with young children, who don't judge you for saying a "Hail Mary" while wrestling your kid.  It was also cool to see this solution for people who have small spaces.  It is actually a replacement seat that has a smaller seat that goes on top.  The big people in the house don't have to move a dirty little training seat on and off the toilet and the toddler has a nice sturdy seat that just pops right down and magnetizes to the top.  It's pretty cool!

It's kind of funny- though I haven't been a mom for that long (4 years), I feel like some of my experience of being a pet parent and of being a supervisor to young people has kind of prepared me a little bit.  My most important mom hack is remembering- do what feels instinctively right and remember motherhood is composed of many small events- it's what happens overall that matters, don't sweat the small stuff.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Importance of Regular Exams- could save you money in the long run!

I see a lot of patients who only come in for vaccines.  Some dogs only get Rabies and Distemper Vaccines and not Lyme, Lepto, Bordatella and Flu which are also recommended dependent on the pet's lifestyle.  Or people who only bring their cats in for Rabies vaccines every 3 years.  Sometimes these people think the only thing veterinarians are for is for vaccinating their pet and euthanasia at the end of their life.  They really don't understand that just like regular tune-ups for your car, or taking good care of your own health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I have seen patients that come in to get vaccines, but I end up diagnosing serious illness, such as cancer or an immune mediated disease that the owner had no idea about.  When we diagnose these diseases BEFORE they have to go to the Emergency Room, we could help them save thousands of dollars, or give the pets extra time with their owners instead of "suddenly" dying at home.

Every exam I go into, I go into with an open mind.  I do not vaccinate until I examine the eyes, ears, joints, abdomen, heart and lungs.  I sometimes will go into an exam for vaccines and inform an owner that their dog is blind, has a serious ear infection or could benefit from a change in diet or an over the counter medication for allergies or another disorder the owner wasn't even aware of.  If we diagnose these problems early, it can not only improve the pet's quality of life, but also the owners pocketbook.

If 1 year of a dogs life is equivalent to about 3 years of a humans, it's not unreasonable as they get older, that we perform exams and bloodwork annually or semi-annually.  One of the things I appreciate about being a veterinarian is it is not cookie-cutter.  I could go in to vaccinate a dog and instead end up having a wide variety of conversations, putting on my oncologist, dermatologist or cardiologist hat and changing from a general practitioner who vaccinates to a diagnostician that investigates.  In some ways I can be like a detective, telling people things about their dogs they weren't aware of: Do I see salivary stains on the paws? - Allergies;  Do I see areas where the dog or cat is over-grooming or does their dog have a low heart rate and it's just because their athletic?  Sometimes people are astonished at how much I can tell them about THEIR lifestyle from their dog.  Does food = love in their household? - That's always a fun conversation.  Between nutrition advice to behavioral to tricks to keeping your cat from waking you up in the middle night, I can share a wealth of knowledge with you.  Sometimes people just want vaccines, but they don't know what they might be missing out on.