Monday, September 18, 2017

Back from the silence....

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 15, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Kitty football player

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

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

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

My son's first day at a new school.

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 1, 2017

Computer Update and Reason 1001 why to do your research

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

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

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

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