Friday, September 29, 2017

Kitty Asteroid?

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 25, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes.  Awkward.

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

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cancer Warriors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Back from the silence....

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 15, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Kitty football player

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

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

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

My son's first day at a new school.

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 1, 2017

Computer Update and Reason 1001 why to do your research

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

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

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

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