Friday, August 18, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New School Year Hopes

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Baby Cages and Crate Training...

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Good Neighbors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Garden Help

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Popsicle Days

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Purple Light

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

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Orange Juice Stand and a wet super-hero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Blessings of a 12 hour Car Ride

The title may be strange- but true.

We have endured many a long car ride together as a family, first as a young couple, then with a small child.  It can sometimes be very hard.  It can sometimes be challenging.  It's always humbling when the 4 year old is more patient with traffic than my husband or me.

The Blessings of a long car ride:

1) It's a great time to talk with your spouse.  It's really kind of funny, but the most fruitful, serious and life-changing discussions my husband and I have are normally on long car rides.  We can do our financial planning, scheduling and overall philosophical discussions when we are present to each other for a long time with no other distractions than the road (it especially helps that we have a data plan that makes internet surfing limited on these drives).

2) You get to listen to things you would never listen to otherwise.  The boredom of a long ride makes you creative with what you will listen to.  Books on tape, new radio stations and even a kids science podcast whose title is "The Velocity of Poop."  Yes, I'm not lying and it was actually based on a scientific study.  This last trip my son discovered the "Wow in The World" podcast by NPR and he loves it.  My husband and I actually learn too (when we are not completely grossed out).

3) Life lessons can become obvious.  On a recent trip, it was hot and we had to stop at a McDonalds for a restroom stop.  I decided to treat my son to an ice cream cone.  Then I heard his tantrums and screaming in the bathroom.  He came out and was being completely unreasonable and a not very nice "Human under construction".  I gave his ice cream cone to a little girl with her father waiting for their food.  They were maybe slightly confused by what was happening and my son was very upset.   On the very long trip back, my son asked if we could stop at McDonalds, he then repeated, unprompted, "I'm not going to be a fool this time and do something to lose my ice cream cone".  I'm more appeasing to my son on an airplane ride because there are innocent people on the plane, but when we are taking a car ride, unless my son has good reason for his grumpiness (lack of sleep, discomfort or hunger) my husband and I are not pushovers.

4) You get to laugh at billboards, political differences of regions and how every state has its "Driving vices".  It almost becomes a game for my husband and I to identify the license plate by identifying the bad driving habit first.  I could say what each of the state's habits are, but that could possibly be offensive.  I will let you guess.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Chick Fil-A Dress Like A Cow Day is Tuesday, July 11th

Just in case you haven't heard, Tuesday, July 11th is Chick Fil-A's annual "Dress Like A Cow Day".  If you show up at any Chick Fil-A with any type of cow clothing or a mask or tail anything showing your bovine aptitude, you will receive a free entree.  My son and I did this last year and I remembered to keep our "Moo Masks" safe just for this "holiday".  I made the masks easily with crayons, a papers plate and a disposable fork and crayons.  I'm not a very good artist, but it does the job!

My son has a great time, the place is crowded (but fun).  Everyone's in a pretty good mood because really- who doesn't like free food?  Especially good food from Chick Fil-A?  I might even splurge and purchase one of their lemonades tomorrow (that sugary goodness is sure to make me run 4 extra miles to burn it off, but another not as well known fact about Chick-Fil A is, they refill your drink for free!

I will have to see if my son keeps the book in the Kids Meal that he gets, or if he trades it for an ice cream cone (another not as well known fact- you can trade the toy/book in the kids meal for an ice cream cone).  He always used to pick the book, but with the weather around here in the 90's lately- I think he might go for the ice cream cone.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Yes, it's Friday and I didn't completely forget to post....

In between about a five hour storm last night that played out with lightening penetrating through my eyelids, an early trip to the gym with my Dad, dropping off a car for routine repairs and then taking a trip with my family to see a relative  - at his house - where I haven't been in over twenty years - it has been an engaging day.

I always find it interesting how I need a vacation from my vacation.  I'm pretty sure my son has no recollection that he has an actual bedtime.  Today he tried to convince us he needed to go back to the family cottage to take a bath because the bath tub is just not as cool as muck and a crawfish nibbling on your toes.  Though rest and relaxation rarely happen for parents of a preschooler, it's been a special week and with the toss up of what was normal activity and schedule and not, it has still been refreshing, if not relaxing.  My husband is smart in our scheduling that we have at least a day after coming back from vacation to "re-aclimate",  as if we've been in space or deep under the sea and need to prevent getting the "bends".  But vacations do help to get out of the norm for a little bit and help us remember that in the hustle and bustle of everything, family time is so precious and so important.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July!

This July 4th I'm taking a break to spend some time with family!  Have a great 4th of July and remember all those who came before us to establish our independence and keep us free to Pursue Happiness.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Making Lemonade from Lemons....

So, it's been a busy past couple of weeks and just when it feels like we are getting control of things, something comes out of the blue to remind you you're not in control..  I guess that's life.  I will look at it though not as the world spinning out of control and anxiety, but as a reminder of the blessings we do have.  There are several stories from the past couple of weeks I could share, but I'll focus on this past week.

I was working at a place that was super busy, but I was fortunate to work with a new graduate veterinarian.  In my line of work, it is fairly rare that I get to work with another veterinarian, because most of the time I am the only veterinarian.  This isn't my first rodeo, so to speak so I can survive ok on my own, but I sometimes find myself longing for a colleague to run my case by, or pick their brain, or just lament with.  The new veterinarian was refreshing for me to work with and reminded me that if it wasn't for the prospect of going back to school, I'd have loved to teach other veterinarians (I got to do this briefly when I was on a Mission trip).  It reminds me of how much I know, how much I have learned and that I've grown in more ways than just my cynicism in the past 10 years.

It's great to work with a new veterinarian because they are fresh out of school and they want to do everything "the right way".  They haven't been jaded by years of dealing with difficult people, too many long days and nights and they still feel like they can change the world and save everyone.  It's refreshing, but it also reminds me of how much I have forgotten since veterinary school.  As the new veterinarian was about to deal with some difficult clients, one of the technicians said, "Talk to Dr. Meg- She's good at dealing with pain in the butt people."  While I think that was a compliment, I told the new vet, "I'm happy to come in with you, but I know you can handle this on your own."  She seemed happy that I had confidence in her.

Ok, now to the lemonade from lemons moment.  The new veterinarian came back to see me to go over a case.  She presented it to me and then asked for validation.  "So, the next step would be a fine needle aspirate and bloodwork right?"  I look at her and say, "yes, ideally, but what does the client want to do?"  I told her I've seen and been involved in many cases where you do diagnostics and then there's no money left for treatment.  The patient was sick and had been sick with possibly cancer for a little bit.  I told the veterinarian, "I know it's not what they teach you in veterinary school, but it's ok to offer her to try to make the patient feel better for a little bit, knowing that won't be a cure.  If the diagnostics aren't going to change what the owner does, it can be better to skip those and just focus on what you can do."  A technician was in the office with us and told the veterinarian, "oh, I remember that client, when she called she expressed that money was a concern".  The veterinarian looked at me and said, "Ok, I'll go talk with her again and present that option."  She came back in and said with a look of enlightenment, "She seemed relieved when I presented the option to just focus on treatment, she was kind of embarrassed that she couldn't pay for the diagnostics and was glad I brought it up."  The new doctor learned just like I had in the past that the things you do in veterinary skill and the things they drill into your head that need to be done in every situation do not really apply to real life all the time.  Sometimes you have to realize you can't cure everything, but you can try to make everyone feel better, at least for a little bit.  You can make lemonade from lemons or at least you can try to.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Starry Night

I love that my four year old lectured me the other night about "staying up too late". We broke his bedtime and took him to the see the starry night in the mountains at a National Park a couple hours away.   He loved it, but said it was "too late" for him to stay up.  Last year, we kept him "out late" to go play mini golf and this year it was taking a drive a couple hours away, waiting for the sun to set (even though the earth rotates away at about 850 miles an hour it feels like it takes forever with an impatient four year old).  As the sun set, there were some astronomers nearby who had telescopes (which I wanted to keep calling microscopes because I look into microscopes on a daily basis to see a different kind of "majesty".

My son got to look through the telescope for the first time and the astronomers even had a step stool for him!  We also all thought it was awesome to be able to see Saturn, complete with rings.  Staring up at the starry sky, something that is not easily done in our urban setting (If you look into the sky you see planes and helicopters).  Initially, my son was reluctant to lean back and look at the sky, he was more fascinated with the flashlight.  I think the telescope kind of roped him in (and his mom and dad as well).  To think that each light that we saw in the sky was another star or celestial feature that could hold even more planets, and even more galaxies outside our galaxy- it was magical.  My son began talking about light years and rockets and all sorts of things from his imagination  Once my son decided to lay down (I think he was worried about getting his hair wet or dirty in the grass) he snuggled up against me and we just whispered and stared at the sky.  I could tell he was getting tired, over two hours past his bedtime after a very busy day with no nap.  I whispered to him, "It's ok to close your eyes and go to sleep beneath the stars".  It was not long after that I heard the snoring begin.  I kind of laughed to myself.  There's this infinite possibility and magical-ness in the universe.  Yet, I think there was also an infinite possibility and magical-ness of the little guy snoring next to me.  I had been tripping up on the words "telescope" and "microscope" the whole night and I realized, one is the forest and one is the trees and both the macrocosm and microcosm are such blessings and fill us with such awe.  All we have to do is step aside from our busy lives and fall asleep beneath the stars occasionally.

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


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

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...