I am a survivor. Over 40 hours in labor? Check. Months of colic? You betcha. Nursing woes, complete with more blood, cracks and blisters than every runner of the New York Marathon combined? Uh-huh. Hormonal issues post-baby that left me weak, nauseous, and scary moody? Yessir. A baby who didn’t sleep through the night until she was 17 months old? Yeppers. I did it. I got through all of this crap, and survived with a smile on my face (at least most, OKAY, some of the time). But recently that smile has turned into a frown. A giant, ugly, pouty face frown. Why, you ask? Because I am trying to wean Baby 1.0, and it is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. (more…)
I am not a weirdo. Let’s just get that out there right away so nobody has this crazy idea the reason I’ve had difficulty locking down a group of close friends is due to overt weirdness. I’m not a sneaky sniffer of armpits on the bus, nor a coffee-breathed close-talker. I don’t chew with my mouth open, or yell colorful obscenities at unsuspecting bystanders. I’m not a drunken nuisance, unless you count the time in college I tried to steal a mechanical Christmas reindeer from someone’s yard, and ended up barfing on their nativity scene. (more…)
What do you do with your grandma’s prothetic leg after she passes? Well if her favorite movie was A Christmas Story, you obviously make it into a leg lamp, sans the fishnet stockings because of all the things Grandma was, she wasn’t a hussy. And just like that, for the first time, maybe ever, I feel like I actually truly belong in my family.
Words are powerful. They have the power to evoke memories and emotions alike. They move us to take action, or calm frazzled nerves. Words unite us or divide us depending on their message. They can fill your soul with love, or, break your heart into a thousand itty bitty pieces. Words are powerful.
Take, for example, the word “moist.”
I’m willing to bet that at least 80% of you just scowled and wrinkled your nose as if you had just smelled a day old poop diaper left in a hot car during a Miami heat wave. It’s not a pretty word, and depending on your personal experiences, probably brings up an unpleasant memory, like the shared gloves in our elementary music class that were used to play the fancy brass bells. Pulling on a cold and moist pair of cotton gloves when it was time to take my turn on the bells was on par with pulling up your wet one-piece after a pee break at the public pool, which is to say exceedingly difficult and gross feeling. Needless to say, my dreams of being a professional bell toller ended around the same time as the ring worm infection I got from the gloves got diagnosed.
While I don’t love the word moist, it doesn’t really skeeve me out too much. I mostly think of cake or muffins. But there is a word that sends spider-in-your-hair type shivers shooting down my spine: Rash.
Yep. Rashes make me irrational. Big time. Without fail, upon seeing a rash, the same thoughts always go through my mind:
2. A RASH! I’m itchy. My eyes itch. I have a rash in my eyes?
3. Well that is profoundly disturbing, and obviously hella contagious.
4. I am itchy. I am itchy all over. My eyebrows itch. I have a rash in my eyebrows?
5. This is ring worm? This is chicken pox? This is measles? This is poison ivy? I will google it.
6. GOOOOOOOOOOOOD GRIEF! I’m NEVER googling again. (Seriously. Never google image search the word rash. And especially never click on this link that shows you THE WORST PICTURE OF A RASH YOU’VE EVER SEEN. Don’t do it.)
Having a toddler in the house, I see my fair share of rashes. Diaper rashes and viral rashes that come after a fever. Nothing that has been contagious, and nothing that has been serious by any stretch of the imagination. But still. Rashes make me itch.
So let’s hear it. What’s your least favorite word out there?
This weekend my brother’s dog had an accident. While romping around his backyard, with his usual goofy-dog flair, he jumped and landed belly first on a fence post. The initial injury didn’t appear to be much, nothing more than a yelp and a bruise, but after a trip to the dog park the next day, his condition became markedly worse. The bruising on his abdomen increased dramatically, and his groin and leg became very swollen. He was taken to the local emergency hospital, where a few days in the ICU and a few thousand dollars of diagnostics later, he was discharged with with a questionable prognosis, and no clear diagnosis.
Having worked in animal hospitals as a vet tech for 10 years, I’ve seen my fair share of illness and injury. I’ve held hands and paws while animals made their final transitions into the peaceful unknown. I’ve celebrated with owners and pets alike when they turn the corner and finally start to recover. I’ve spent countless hours coaching clients through tough decisions, and done my best to patiently explain the whats, hows and whys of what we are doing over and over, until the client felt some sense of comfort and understanding. But even with all of that experience, I still felt extremely frustrated at the lack of answers regarding what was wrong with my brother’s dog.
When something happens to a pet, and we take them to a hospital or a clinic, we put our trust in the veterinary staff. We trust they will have the answers, and will know exactly what to do to fix it. We trust our pets will be handled lovingly and carefully. We trust the staff will treat our case with professionalism and efficiency. We trust attention will be paid to details, and things discussed in the coveted once-daily conversations with the doctor will be followed up on. We trust mistakes won’t be made. Additionally, we hope for the diagnostic process to be straight forward and clear, preferably with a simple fix.
But more often than not, the road to answers isn’t straight forward and clear, and blame is assigned, often unfairly, to the incompetency of the staff, or (not so unfairly) the price of services. While these things, especially finances, do play a role, there are other factors that must be considered.
For one, that’s not how it goes because that’s not how injuries and illness go. They often aren’t straight-forward and clear. They are complicated, confusing, and dynamic. They require diagnostics that need to be run again and again to monitor progress. They require patience and time, and often trial and error, to make themselves fully clear.
That’s not how it goes because that’s not always how medicine works. Medicine is an inexact science, with subjective observations made by doctors of all different backgrounds and experience levels playing a role in what steps are taken when.
When a pet gets sick, sometimes everything goes in our favor, and answers are obtained with ease. In these cases we celebrate our vet staff, and thank them for their knowledge, patience, and kindness. We tell the stories of how Dr. Doe saved Bucky and isn’t he a hero? But sometimes, even when everything is done right, we don’t get the answers we so desperately want. In these cases, many animals still manage to make a full recovery, and while owners may wonder what ever really happened to their dog, they still have their dog and can hopefully put the hospital stay in the past. But other times a patient’s condition worsens even as more tests are run- tests that just lead to more questions and speculations about what is actually going on. Sometimes, at the end of this road, you leave the hospital with an empty leash and a bitter hole in your heart.
The hard truth about sick pets is that diagnosing and treating them can be a guessing game, one where at the end, no matter what anyone does, you don’t get an answer. This hurts. This sucks. This instills doubt and frustration into hearts filled with sadness and worry. The hard truth about sick pets is it can bring out the worst in us.
I can say this because the worst part of me came out this weekend when second-guessing everything being done (or not done) by the team of veterinarians and support staff working on my brother’s dog. Although at present his condition appears to be at the very least stable, we don’t have any real answer as to what exactly is going on with him, or what his road to recovery (hopefully) will look like. As my brother drives to the hospital to pick up his beloved dog, I can’t help but feel like somehow someone didn’t do their job right, because otherwise we would know what was wrong with Wyatt.
But deep down I know that isn’t true, because I know first-hand how much love, care, attention and heart the staff at your local animal hospital puts into each patient. I know when they discharge that dog today, they will ache for answers just as much as we do. They will wait, willing and able to respond any time of the day or night, for the call that tells them their services are needed again. They will rejoice at the news of his recovery, or, if things don’t go that way, they will cry at the news of his loss. I know this because I have done this.
The hard truth about sick pets is sometimes we just don’t know. Sometimes all we can do is hope.
This week I came across a post written by one of my favorite bloggers, Surviving A Sleep Thief, where she made the statement “pajamas are the new skinny jeans.” I’ve heard people refer to truth ringing, and let me tell you, this set off more bells than Westminster Abby on Easter. I emailed Emily-Jane and proposed we start a revolution. One where we shirk our ill-fitting skinny jeans, and celebrate all that is soft pants.
Forget stuffing your legs into skinny jeans just to have your pants painted with hummus and boogers. It’s time to don the apparel of the average mom, and celebrate it! Embrace it! Love it! Flaunt it! We don’t have stylists and unlimited budgets. But we have soft pants, and by golly, we look damn good in them.
Pajamas are the new skinny jeans, if we make them the new skinny jeans. So join the revolution! Post a #notskinnyjeanselfie of you in your favorite pair of soft pants on my Facebook or Twitter page, and/or on Surviving A Sleep Thief’s Twitter or Facebook page. Share it with your friends! Join us in celebrating being beautiful in any outfit. Join the revolution!
Super cool “Pajamas Are The New Skinny Jeans” logo created by Emily-Jane from Surviving A Sleep Thief (with her actual pajamas!)
1. You spawned a life. Not to take away from the male, um, contribution, but growing a baby in your stomach, and then surviving their transition to the outside world, seems like pretty convincing street cred supporting your new Superhero status.
2. You can see seconds into the future. You know before anyone else does that your kid is about test the gravitational pull of the earth with their forehead. You are aware of their next move before they are aware of their next move. If you had more time on your hands, you could open up a 1-800 hotline and tell people their (immediate) futures, but let’s be honest. If you had more time on your hands, you’d take a shower and maybe, just maybe, brush your teeth.
3. You have superhuman reflexes that, when coupled with Superhero power #2 mentioned above, allow you to prevent any number of daily disasters. You can catch your kid, mid-fall, and have an uncanny ability to snare anything making the short journey from your kids mouth to their party dress. These same reflexes have saved your toddler AND your iPhone from a watery toilet grave/unwelcome wastewater booty bath. You could probably catch a fly with chopsticks, but then you’d just be showing off.
4. You can survive on minimal sleep for years and somehow not turn into a Supervillain. Usually.
5. Your nutritional needs are somehow met by some combination of eating scraps of small slobbery cracker bits, and sips of pureed food product you squish out of the bottom of packets before throwing them away (and feeling eternally guilty for feeding your kid out of something so wasteful, BUT IT’S THE ONLY THING SHE EATS).
6. You have superhuman hearing. Not only can you hear even the most subtle of midnight whimpers cluing you into an oncoming cold, but you can hear silence, and in a household where toddler’s reside, silence is the most concerning sound of all.
7. While we are on the topic of superhuman senses, you can smell your own child’s feces from across the library. Knowing this, I propose a shift in the old fart saying to “If you smelt it, your child dealt it.”
8. You can multitask like an octopus on speed. Enough said.
9. You can stop an oncoming car in its tracks by using only your eyes. (This has only proved effective when standing on the sidewalk at a crosswalk, which admittedly may play a role. Do not try this at home.)
10. Your heart now resides outside of your body. This was not explained clearly during your hospital discharge, and none of your post-partum appointments addressed this, but somehow your heart now walks two steps ahead of you, skipping through puddles and sniffing flowers on the side of the road. Anything that can survive with their heart on the outside of their bodies HAS to be a Superhero.
So what do you think? Do you have any other super powers I failed to mention?