The Joys of Veterinary Medicine: Part I

As Monday is fast approaching, I am trying to mentally prepare myself for what is sure to be another long week of small animal medicine. I do this job, well, because of Zipper. I know, it’s hard to believe that my career path could have been determined by an eight pound fluff ball, but it’s true. Let’s back up a little...
Part one; a plan is set into motion. 
I’m a senior in high school, Mr. Rochester’s english class. Amazing teacher. The assignment: write a letter to ourselves, to be opened at our ten year reunion. In this letter, I was certain that I would either be happily working as a paralegal, or a veterinary technician in ten years. Of course this letter also claimed that I would be married to my first love, high school sweet heart, and partner in crime (for what lasted nearly six years). I would more than likely have children, have traveled some and basically be living the proverbial american dream. House, dog, fence (I know...but are you really ever grown up unless you have a fence?), sensible family car, matching christmas card type sweaters...you get the idea. 
Part two; the plan comes to fruition.
Years passed, and life changed. I started community college after graduation and promptly landed a job as a legal secretary (seeming to be the more sensible of the two career choices) and decided to guide my career down that path. I worked for three separate lawyers, each and every one of them being a very distinct breed of evil. Turns out, “the law”, wasn’t for me. I spent several years working in human medicine, my jobs varying between urgent care, private practices and referral authorization. The medicine, exciting. The people, not so much. I held a variety of jobs over the years in addition to the law and medicine dabbling. Christmas tree farm, jewelry sales, computer sales, retail, tennis pro-shop attendant, nanny (hard to believe, but also true)...the list goes on. During the time of one of my most favorite jobs (unemployed and hanging out with my mom everyday) Zipper came into my life. The specifics of how Zipper and I met, and the circumstances surrounding that meeting can be revisited in a later blog. It’s a sappy story and makes me cry a bit. So, moving forward. I had always wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid (big surprise, I think most kids do at some point). That past desire, combined with the tremendous amount of love I felt for Zipper was paralleled only by my desire to care for her better than anyone had ever cared for a dog in the history of forever. So I began to seek out this new career. I had to really, after all, I had promised my future self that it was potentially my career, and I had already exhausted option A. Before too long I had landed a job as a veterinary receptionist (patient care coordinator, to be exact) and things unfolded quickly from there. 

Part three; the actuality of things. 
Veterinary medicine, like all areas of life, has it’s fair share of weirdo’s. Proving this point, will take more than a single blog. So, let this be the first in a series. It’s a physically and emotionally taxing career. Compassion fatigue is a REAL thing, Google it.  It’s my job to explain to people what is best for their pet, it’s their job to decide what care they receive. I hate that part. As I have learned, most people are not equipped to make that decision. I’m floored daily, after all these years, at the things I hear clients say and do. Which brings me back to the original purpose of this blog (I seemed to have gotten side tracked there for a bit). This blog is nothing more than a rant of sorts. The anxious curiosity of what kind of nonsense will be spoken by this week’s pet owners. The following is a small sample of what I hear on a daily basis:
“I feed Ol’ Roy ONLY. My breeder says that even though it’s one of the cheaper brands...it has the best nutrition, plus, it has no wheat.”
“I’m going to get myself an assessascope, so I can take care of my dogs at home.”
“My breeder says that Weimaraner’s carry their babies in their chest cavity. So I need a chest X-ray to see how many babies there are.”
“My breeder says that my pure breed “wolf dog” can only have feline vaccinations.” 
“No, we don’t give her treats. She is on a very strict diet. She only gets calorie control food, and table scraps.”
“I understand my cat needs to eat only this urinary diet to prevent another surgery. Can I mix friskies canned food into that?”
(Phone call)
“Hey man, check it out. I have a TOTALLY healthy, brand new litter of 9 Pit bull puppies. They don’t have anything wrong with them, and they don’t need any medical attention, but they will not open their eyes! What could be wrong with them?”
“I have a REALLY clean house, we don’t have fleas. She must have gotten them here, we were in the lobby for a while.”
“No, that’s not mastitis that has caused my dogs skin to split wide open from nipple to nipple...it was a scratch from one of the puppies. Plus, it doesn’t even bother her. Look, I can put my whole finger in there...she don’t care.”
“I breed my dog, so I can give the gift of a dapple dachshund, to those people who couldn’t otherwise afford a dog...for free. I’m doing the community a service.”
(Visualize a head wound that splits open the entire head, exposing skull) 
“Can I just hold him still while you stitch it up. He is a really tough dog. He will be perfect as long as I’m holding him.”
“Ha, ha, ha. Atta boy.” 
(As some ass holes dog is practically giving me a gynecological exam while I’m trying to write up the chart...and you don't even try to correct the behavior)
“Oh no, he doesn’t need any vaccines. My breeder vaccinated him when he was six weeks old, he’s good.”
“I want my dog to get to be a mommy before I have her spayded, she should have that opportunity.”
“How old does he have to be before I can schedule his vasectomy.”
“I can’t afford to have my dog heart worm tested or vaccinated today. We are buying a thousand dollar bullmastiff in a week.”
(Phone call) 
“My cat just ate a bunch of stick pins and ribbon from the sewing room. I don’t think she needs to be seen...I just wanted you to know.”
“I fell on my dog last night, and this morning, he peed out a huge piece of his liver.”
“I’m a RN, I’m here today because I know my cat has diabetes. I’m not going to treat him.”
Fast forward nearly fifteen years from the day I wrote the letter, the letter predicting my future, and I am currently working on my ninth year of veterinary medicine. The list of things I thought I would have, has been replaced by a list of things I couldn’t have imagined. Some good, some bad. I get to spend my days surrounded by pets, again, some good...some bad. But the very best part, is when I make a difference. Knowing that I have helped, in some way, give an owner more time with their best friend, makes it all worth it. I love Zipper more than anything. I would do anything for her. I am doing everything in my power to keep us together for as long as possible. And when I can pass that gift along to someone else, everything seems to make sense. Stay tuned for the second blog in this veterinary medicine series, where I may just climb up onto my soapbox...and do a little jig. 
Oh, and my first love...he’s married, to someone else, and is relishing in the joys of being a new father. But I can’t help but wonder if he has a fence...


Saying Goodbye

I don’t feel like writing at all. Not at all. But, it’s been too long. So, I figured I would write about why I don’t feel like writing...in hopes of breaking out of this funk.
Our family had to recently say goodbye to one of our beloved family members. Snuggle was our family’s 8 year old Pomeranian and Zipper’s sister and only litter mate. She has been slowly declining for the past year, with what several veterinarians have diagnosed as a brain tumor. The details of her illness were ugly and heart breaking. None of which I’ll share here, as I am trying my best to remember her in her prime. 

Snuggle, Snugs, Nugs...the list of our terms of endearment for her goes on and on. She was an amazing girl. Sweet, loving, a little slow, but so very special. She was the best swimming dog ever! She loved to go to the river, and especially loved running on the beach. Snuggle loved being outdoors. In the summer, she would lay in the front yard all day. Eye’s closed, relaxing and letting the breeze blow through her fur is how she preferred life. 
I have close friends, and even family who cannot understand the hurt that comes with losing a pet. It’s tremendous. In my world, there is no such thing as “just a dog” or “just a pet”. The pain of the loss is real. The mourning that is upon the rest of our pets is real. It’s so sad to watch “the pack” grieve for her, and try to re-establish their places in the family. Treats, new toys, car rides...none of it matters. They all just want their Snuggie Bear back. It breaks my heart. 
Snuggle had her best day in months, on the day we had chosen to let her go. She smiled and gave out kisses until the very end. I held her in my arms, a warm breeze flickering the surrounding candlelight, as she exhaled for the last time. I know in my heart that it was the right decision. However, it doesn’t make it any easier. I also know that medically, there was nothing else that we could do for her. Again, it doesn’t make the pain any less painful. I truly believe that sometimes, in some situations...the greatest gift we can give them, is to let them go. 
I’m not sure what happens to our pets when they pass. But, I’m also not certain what happens to us when we die either. I’d like to believe that our souls live on. Somehow, someway. And since I believe that my little tiny dogs have great big souls...perhaps Snuggle is finally OK, and waiting.


The Most Important Lesson

It was summer, late August. Exhausted from a twelve-hour work shift, I drove home, just  breathing in sweet summer air with my windows rolled down. It was the kind of driving that I wasn’t really present for. My mind wandered. 
I had only been living in my new place for a few short weeks, and the excitement of coming home each day was still at its peak. I was taking in the landscape of my new territory like a tourist. While passing the grocery store near my apartment, I could have sworn I heard my name being called. Hopeful to see a friend, I turned around and pulled into the store’s parking lot. I could not see anyone I knew. I decided I was just hearing things. I was pulling back out onto the street when I heard the shouting much closer and somewhat familiar sounding. I swerved into the turn lane and made my way into the parking lot from the opposite side. I frantically scanned the parking lot for someone I recognized. 
A man pushed his grocery cart full of belongings, not groceries, right in front of my truck.  I slammed on the brakes just short of his cart. The man staring at me was tall, thin. Very thin. Gaunt even. He had a long beard, graying with age, that matched the tufts of thinning hair hanging out from around his ball cap. He was wearing cutoff jeans, one leg shorter than the other showing the bottom of one pocket. Dingy white socks, pulled up high and showing dusty ribbons where they had once been slouched. Sneakers that had walked more than their fair share of miles. Aged tattoos showed through a blue net fabric shirt. He wore dark wrap-around sunglasses on his face - the kind with the rainbow-mirrored lenses, a pair of reading glasses around his neck, and another pair of sunglasses on top of the ball cap. Back up shades I wondered? He moved with quick rapid motions; a sort of frantic dance to a beat only he could hear. The flesh visible around his beard and dark glasses bore the evidence of a rough life, leather-like...long past it’s supple prime. 
This man was clearly excited that he had found who he was looking for as he whooped and hollered in my direction. The sound of his voice was muffled under the rattle of my truck engine. He walked up to the driver’s side window and my pulse quickened. I clutched the steering wheel tightly. With as much enthusiasm as an excited child he called into my open window, “Well hello darlin’!”  The stagnant odor of alcohol filled my space. Words eluded me. I stared. I knew this man. He pulled off his shades, hooking them into his shirt. The reality of the situation hit me like a wave. An angry, storm-chased wave, crashing on the knife-sharp rocks and muddied brown palette that were the landscape of my heart. 
With a loud metallic thump my truck bobbed beneath the weight of his belongings being tossed into the bed of my truck. For the first time since pressing my brakes to the floor I remembered to breathe. I inhaled so deeply that I could feel each lobe of my lungs, the actual shape of them in full capacity. My entire body expanded and contracted with this breath, causing a silent rush of warm tears to spill from my eyes and down my cheeks. 
The passenger door opened and then slammed, his presence quickly filling the inside with a tangible and sharp electricity. “Woo hooooo, I knew I’d find you!”, he exclaimed. Still silent, I shifted my truck back into gear, eased out of the parking lot and headed for home, my father in the passenger seat. 
My life has been like this, off and on for as long as I can remember. Like a movie I don’t have any desire to see, but I wind up in a theater watching it anyway, I’ve been watching it unfold. 
Its been full of good and bad, but this one particular aspect has been so painful: I’ve forever longed to be a daughter. I’ve pined for the comforting hands of a father. For the love of the man who gave me life. For his affection and attention. For some special father daughter moments, that I could look back on with a warm heart. But all I could find, looking back, was a sad childhood, set to the back drop of a family divided by alcoholism and drug abuse with a father who wasn’t there. If I searched hard, I could find moments of happiness. But they were sparse, too few, like a cupcake with not enough sprinkles. I longed to be loved and protected. I wanted so desperately to be good enough, to be deserving of love, especially from him. I grew up angry and bitter. Ashamed that I was unable to love my father, myself and others enough to fix the feelings of unhappiness and depression that had become my constant companions. I made little to no effort with relationships, for I believed the love I was capable of giving held no value and it was certainly not the kind of love that made people stay. During this time in my life the meaning of joy held no resonance with me and love felt like it wasn’t enough.
In my late twenties, I began to search for myself, the person I felt locked inside. I looked for the me I wanted to create. I needed to make sense of my life. To come to some sort of peace. I had such firm beliefs about who I was and what I was able to accomplish that progress of any kind was difficult at first. My head, heart and body were all on separate paths, fighting each other for the right to lead. Which one would be in charge of our collective whole? I was full of anger and hate. A self-loathing fit for a criminal with a conscience. I was so caught up in the story of my life that I wasn’t fully living it. Circumstantial history and events defined me, who I was and who I had the potential to be. 
Season’s changed and years passed. Desperate to break the vicious cycle of hate and anger controlling me, I began attending some local personal effectiveness seminars. They were brutal. Ten to twelve hour sessions lasting for days on end. Exhausted and swollen-faced from day after day of facing my own demons, I continued to be an active participant. Diligently doing my homework, journaling, participating in group exercises...but somehow still at a distance.
And then it happened. In a moment, literally a moment, everything changed. A cycle was broken, a page turned. I understood that my beliefs about who I was could be altered. That I was actually in control, taking responsibility for my own actions and reactions. That what had happened to me in the past was nothing but story, filler. It did not define my potential or me. In that moment I learned the absolute joy of forgiveness. Of acceptance. The beauty of being set free within my own body and life. I saw that the anger, hate, hostility and sadness of who I was on the inside affected everyone I came into contact with. Ugliness was emanating from within myself and seeping its wounded, acidic energy onto others and the world. The ripple of hate that had surrounded me for so long would no longer capture my unsuspecting self in its deadly undertow. I realized that the love I had longed my entire life to feel, could be and was born from a place of acceptance and forgiveness...of not only my father, but of myself as well. The once illusive joy I had longed for became abundant. I was fully present.
In a recent conversation with my father, I asked him what his favorite memory of my childhood was. And he said, “All of them. Every single one.” He then proceeded to replay his memory of my childhood as it was remembered in his eyes. I heard love in his voice, and I felt it in my heart. I have accepted him, my father, flaws and all. I have chosen to believe that he did the very best he could, and that the rest is left in the past.  Forgiven. I have set down the burdens of anger and of hate and I no longer mourn for the loss of what could have been. I feel light. Loving is so easy, it flows like a beautiful river through me, carrying it’s peaceful energy onto others. Learning to love others and to love myself has encouraged parts of me to bloom, which I didn’t know existed. I am his daughter, and I am loved.

I no longer wish for what I know I have.

I am a joyful, authentic and beautiful woman; living gratefully in the moment


Summer Memories

Yesterday afternoon, I picked blackberries for the first time since being a child. I’m amazed at how...almost meditative, it was. I picked for over an hour, letting my mind wander back to my childhood. 
“Why don’t you go pick blackberries?” was often times the response of my mother, concerning the end of summer boredom. I can remember, so clearly, picking blackberries with my little brother Dustin and our cousin Monica. We were close, all two years apart, and we had fun. So much fun. We did what kids were supposed to do. Play outside, fight, argue, get in trouble, build forts and come home dirty just in time for dinner. We would pick and pick, until our fingers were purple, before bringing our loot inside to see if it was enough for a cobbler. Eating just as many as we picked I’m sure. Berry stained and bleeding, we would stand in the kitchen with our humble offerings, hoping that we would hear the sweet words of victory spoken by my mother, “Yep, that’s enough guys. Come back in an hour.” An hour takes forever when you’re that age, but somehow, we managed. Whether it was a water fight, mud pie contest, or a game of hide and seek, we kept busy. And then finally, time to savor the efforts of our labor: the warm, sweet goodness of a blackberry cobbler. My mom would make as many cobblers as we could pick the berries for. Once, three in one day! They were so good. Nothing could beat having fresh blackberry cobbler for dinner while laying in a sea of blankets on the living room floor, the front door open letting the warm breeze blow past. The only light being the comforting red glow of the setting summer sun and the television entertaining us with reruns of Mr. Ed, Lassie and My Three Sons on Nick at Night. 
Those, truly were the days. Not a care in the world. Our only job, having fun. I miss those days. I miss the three of us, being together. 
My blackberry picking has been perfected over the years. A colander works much better than the makeshift bowl of my shirt. And I now have this grown up dexterity that allows me to pick the biggest and ripest berries in one piece, rather than smashing them into a pool of juice and seeds in my hands. My fearless desire to get the best berries, however, has not changed. I did find myself in a pretty precarious situation when one blackberry vine, that I had hooked onto another blackberry vine (to gain access to the previously mentioned best berries of course) sprung loose and tangled up in my hair and tank top. I had to hunker down there, on one knee, bent over at a ninety degree angle (both hands still full of prime berries I was unwilling to drop) until my mom heard me shouting and came to my rescue. Zipper could learn a few things from Lassie, as her nonstop yapping and dancing around didn’t do much to remedy the situation. I didn’t remember picking berries to be this dangerous when I was a kid. I picked for a while longer, feeling the memories of my childhood warm my heart, and allowing a tear of mourning for days gone by to slide down my cheek. 
Finally, colander in hand and again bleeding, I make my way into the kitchen (only this time decades later and alone) to ask my mom if I had enough. 

I had warm blackberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream, with my mom, for breakfast. 


Bad House Sitter

I’m housesitting, hence the title. 
Super place, on a huge orchard. My dog gets to tag along. Hot tub, sauna, gym. Did I mention hot tub, who needs a gym? Sweet dogs, bad cat. Perfectly green, weed free grass, water feature, garden...of the vegetable and flower variety. SUPER sharp kitchen knives that empower me with instant cooking ability and know how, a miracle...since I don’t cook. A shower head that only reaches my collar bone in the guest bathroom (and no, I’m not freakishly tall. A modest 5’8” if I fully inhale and think tall). Oh, and that whole wireless keyboard to your gigantic flat screen TV that has now magically become your computer!?!? WHAT? I need to get out more. 
Anyway, the perfect kind of place for MVAR (motor vehicle accident recovery, of course). Did I mention the hot tub has a recliner? Ok, I’m back. They have a housekeeper, I think she comes about every two weeks. Now, in the past...I have cleaned up the house before the housekeeper arrives. You know, to be polite. Not look like a slob, or to be called out by housekeeping for being the dirty little pig I am. Well, pig might be a smidge harsh. But, you get me. Because this is simply what nice people do.
So here’s the thing: I’m feeling much better post Steve McQueen movie try outs the other day. I’m 100% capable of cleaning up my mess. I could get up, out of bed, right now...if I wanted to, and help out. But I don’t. I just don't feel like doing it. It’s late, I’m tired. The kitchen is ALL the way down the hall. My little dog has already been lulled to sleep with her nightly lullaby of my typing, I’d hate to disturb her doggy slumber. And, I think my leg might be asleep...and it would be unsafe to travel such a distance on a dead leg. I believe these are all REALLY good excuses, but, the single most important factor in my decision: I want to see if it’s fun! I bet it is. Real fun. I’ll keep you posted. 
Oh, AND I drank the last of their PBR tonight! These are great folks!!


A Close Call...REAL Close.

In the blink of an eye. In an instant. Before I knew it. All of a sudden (happy Abs?!). I hear people say things like this all the time. Now I’m in the club. I had a really close call this afternoon on my way home from work. Here’s how it went down...

1:15pm, driving home from work, four lane highway. I’m in the left hand lane behind a crappy little tan colored car. I’m doing 55 mph, and am a good distance behind the car ahead of me. The car in front of me throws a bunch of trash, candy wrappers, a paper cup...and handful of junk, out of the window. Rude right?! I mean, you don’t just throw shit out of your car window. This isn’t St. Thomas after all. It’s simply not ok to be that gross. This is beautiful, green Oregon; DON’T LITTER! A few minutes after the trash confetti, this person’s car begins to creep over into the right hand lane. No blinker. It BARELY squeezes in between two vehicles in that lane. So, at this point, I’m convinced that this driver is not only a littering non-recycler, but a really big ass. But he keeps going, onto the shoulder. So now I’m thinking he is having some kind of emergency and is needing to pull over in a hurry. But no, he doesn’t stop. He drives through a shallow ditch and starts back up the other side. At this point I have no idea what the hell is going on, but now I’m worried. I certainly don’t want to see this litter bug wreck right in front of me. I lay on the horn in hopes of, well, I don’t really know what I was hoping. It just seemed like the thing to do. In a split second his car came shooting back out of the ditch and narrowly missed the front of my car. I slammed on the brakes. Litter bugs car goes spinning out of control into the center lane, making two full circles. The car was actually on ONLY two wheels at one point, when it was making the second circle...and I thought for sure it was going to start rolling, across all lanes, into oncoming traffic. It didn’t. The car landed back on all four tires and headed directly for me. Again, I slammed on my brakes and braced myself for what was sure to be a terrible impact. The air was filled with a combination of his black tire smoke and dust still settling from the previous off road excursion. I can feel every muscle in my body tightly, my antilock brakes grabbing and releasing trying to slow my car down. I can see this other driver with crystal clear, slow motion type vision. Young, mid twenties. No shirt, muscular, tan, but with a slight sun burn. Dark hair, shaved in a military style buzz. Our vehicles collided. The front passenger side of his car hit my front drivers side.  Yet the impact felt somehow soft. Cushioned. Like the bumper cars you ride at the fair when you are a kid. I try to get out of my car but can’t as my seat belt has locked up. I looked in my rear view mirror to see if I was about to get hit from behind, and see a handful of cars all braking and swerving to avoid hitting me and each other. I look back out the windshield just in time to see this guy, the other driver, back up AND TAKE OFF! The bastard just drove away! In a hurry! Still unable to get out of my car I drive over onto the shoulder of the road. My seat belt releases, finally, when I turn my car off. I jump out and head further onto the shoulder to start dry heaving. Sorry, graphic I know, but true. There is a white car backing down the highway on the shoulder. It’s the car that was in the rear when this guy drifted through their lane. An older man with a huge red beard starts running down the road towards me, yelling for me to sit down and asking me if I’m ok. I’m shaking something fierce. He says to me, “Look at your car”! “I saw that guy hit you...and LOOK at your car”! I turn around and look at my car for the first time. I almost passed out. BARELY A SCRATCH! Seriously, a teensy sliver of red painted fiberglass, no bigger than a shred of paper is hanging from my bumper. This man’s wife jumps out of the driver side of their car and comes rushing toward me, sobbing hysterically with a handful of tissues pressed to her face, and hugs me tighter than I think I’ve ever been hugged. She is way more upset than I am at this point. She’s talking so fast and frantically that I can barely understand her. She says, “When that guy drifted in front of our car he looked like he was completely asleep or passed out. We watched the whole thing happen and thought for sure you both wouldn’t make it considering how fast your car’s were going when you hit”. She asks me again if I am ok, and then excuses herself saying she needs to go sit down. Her husband, who had been holding me up practically, let go of me to go inspect my car. He checked all the tires and got down on his hands and knees, head shaking in disbelief, as he inspected the lack of damage to my car. He walked back over to me, put his hand on my back and asked me if I was ready to go. I told him no, that I needed a few minutes to calm down, and thanked him for his kindness. He said, that he would stay there with me until I was ready to get back into my car. We stood there for probably two minutes in total silence, him with his arm around me, until I said I thought I was ready to go. He made me wait for all passing traffic, and then helped me into my car, reminding me to drive careful. My car is a wreck on the inside. Not that it was super clean to begin with...but all sorts of things have found their way onto the dash, my purse is wedged up under the glove box on the passenger side, my freshly made green apple smoothie from Dutch Bros splattered across the interior. I put my seat belt on and just sat there for another five minutes. And just like that, it was over. Everyone had left, and I was alone in my car wondering what the hell had just happened. 
It’s crazy how much stuff ones mind is capable of processing in only a few seconds. I mean, this whole event COULDN’T have lasted more than five seconds from the time his car came shooting back out of the ditch and into traffic. No, my life didn’t flash before my eyes. Yet, I remember thinking...I’m going to wreck. This is going to be bad. I wonder how bad it’s going to hurt to get hit in the face with an airbag. Man, my dash is dusty. Why isn’t my car slowing down fast enough? What is that terrible noise? I wonder if my family will sneak Zipper into the hospital to see me? I still owe fifteen thousand dollars on this car! How will my family reach Andrew in Afghanistan to let him know I’ve been in an accident?
So, it’s been nearly ten hours since the accident, and the soreness is starting to set in. My braking leg feels like it ran a marathon on it’s own from pressing so hard on the brakes. Both arms and upper back are killing me from bracing for the impact. And, I have one hell of a migraine from all the instant stress I’m sure. But what’s hurting the most...I feel like no one believes me. I don’t know what I expect necessarily, but an un-ruffled “Oh man, are you serious?” isn’t it. My own father didn’t even want to talk to me about it once he found out that my car wasn’t totaled. “Well, you couldn’t have gotten into a wreck if you’re car isn’t totaled Brandy.” How could I and WHY would I make this up?! I can kind of understand why no one believes me, considering there is practically no damage whatsoever to my car. But I can’t explain it. I’m no accident scene mathematician...but common sense tells me that, considering all the variables, neither one of us should have walked away (let alone drove) from this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful beyond all belief, but I simply don’t understand why this wasn’t worse. I mean, the whole thing happened in an instant...but I’m pretty sure I would have noticed if Edward Cullen himself zipped in to cushion the impact (sorry, I’m a Twilight fan and not afraid to admit it) of our vehicles colliding! 
Call it what you will...divine intervention, luck, a miracle, a super resilient fiberglass bumper from Mazda...or, call me a liar. I don’t know. I’m just grateful to be sitting here on my bed, albeit sore, typing this blog entry. And even more grateful that I didn’t have Zipper with me. What a way to end a shitty week. 


Mourning The Loss

Last week was what any veterinary professional would refer to as typical. Business was feast or famine...depending on the day. There were a few of the usual no money, super sick pet cases, the kind where you get blamed for the pets illness and their lack of ability to pay. The super sensitive middle aged female owner of an out of control seven month old dog, who equated my delicately worded statement on pursuing additional training as animal abuse (clearly she NEVER watches Animal Planet if she thinks constructive conversation qualifies as abuse) and made sure a fellow coworker knew she did not think my skills were a “good fit”. A pair of story problem owners, where it takes a calculator, dry erase board and a visual mind mapping scenario to explain to them that the cost of a forty dollar bag of cat food every two months is MUCH less expensive than twice yearly visits to the veterinary hospital to remove bladder stones...not to mention the pain and suffering of said feline. I don’t care how much he LOVES Friskies ma’am...HE COULD DIE! A surgery or two, a few dental cleanings, plenty of vaccinations, a staff meeting, and an adequate number of puppies, kittens and super friendly and adorable patients to keep it all balanced. Oh, and I had to fish my glasses out of the toilet; it’s a long story. 
The real shattering moment (literally) came first thing on Friday morning, when while trying to be helpful, I broke one of my bosses most prized possessions. Sigh. I opened a cupboard in the break room, to assist a fellow coworker with her morning kick start of Ibuprofen. From the very top shelf, a huge stack of paper plates saw an opportunity to escape and came barreling down onto the counter. Well, they didn’t hit the counter, they hit an empty coffee cup; sending it to its demise on the cement floor. No big deal right? It’s just a coffee cup, and as it was turning over and over in slow motion on its way to the floor I noticed it had a credit union logo on it, so I’m thinking, “Great, nobody has a special credit union mug”. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Having heard the explosion, and trust me it was, my boss walks around the corner from her office and fixes her gaze upon the pile of ceramic dust that was once a coffee cup. She turned a pale shade of grey in the face. I bend down to pick up half of the handle and a bottom piece of the cup (the only two sizable pieces left) and by the time I stand up the rest of the staff has gathered around the freshly cremated coffee cup. While I glance around at the crowd I have drawn, my boss utters these words; “That was the most expensive coffee cup I have ever bought”. I lose it...with hysterical laughter. It was just a credit union mug after all, and I’m certain she is being overly dramatic just to see me panic. She then says, “No really, it was. Seven years ago when I did the hospital remodel and addition, I was given that cup from my loan officer. Its a (was) half million dollar coffee cup”. Still laughing, I look at her face and quickly realize that she is quite serious...and not laughing, at all. Shit. I glance around one more time at my fellow coworkers, practice manager, boss, bosses dog and resident cat who have also joined the makeshift circle of remembrance, and realize that I am all the sudden in the middle of what is best described as an impromptu funeral. The solemn expressions of a group united to mourn the loss of something dear sends a shiver of panic down my spine and I am nauseated with the following thought; I haven’t even passed my ninety day new hire probationary period yet! My boss silently helped me remove the carnage from the accident scene, and tried to make me feel better by acknowledging that it was “just a cup”. A tremendously sentimental cup that once held the promise of prosperity, now just a painful memory. 
As I see it, the only form of repentance I have at this point is to find an identical replacement. Mission nearly impossible. The dark blue, gold embossed coffee mug replacement eluded me this weekend...but not for long. I don’t care if I have to personally visit every credit union, Goodwill and garage sale within a two hundred mile radius, I have to find this cup!! On the plus side, yep...I found one, this unfortunate event did inspire some creative energy within, and I was able to come close to capturing the sorrow with the photographic equivalent of this weeks loss. 


No Vacancy

Thrilled to finally be working again, and making regular bank deposits, it’s time I start looking for my own place. My parents have been gracious about me (and my dog and two cats) crashing with them...but I feel like the flashing “no vacancy” sign is about to get flipped on. Fair enough. I’ve been home for just over four months, it’s go time. So, here is what I own. Three pets, one chair, a random assortment of kitchen items, a shower curtain, a bed frame (no mattress) and six full bottles of Cruzan rum from the Caribbean. Oh, and a string of rope lights. So, I think I’m set! I had more belongings when I moved away from home at 17 just out of high school. Sigh. Oh well, this was all part of the process. The controlled loss of selling everything I owned to facilitate my big move to St. Thomas. The good news, I get to get all new stuff...eventually. 
So what am I looking for? Grass. Someplace with grass for Zipper. I feel like it’s time to forego the apartment listings...and look for something a little bigger. Well, maybe not bigger, but more separate. While I think kids are great, well, that’s not true. Most kids. Nope, not there yet, SOME kids are great...I would prefer to not have them and their training wheels squeaking past my windows in a continuous back and forth pattern until way past their bed time. I need a place where twenty-five plus neighbors don’t know that I have set off my smoke alarm for the third time in a week trying to make dinner. A place that may entice me to stay a while. 
So, that’s my mission. End of September is the deadline. Perhaps, along with perfect planetary alignment, I can make this possible. Because I have to be honest, living with the rents, out of suitcases, in my half room (along with three pets) is not super conducive to dating. Well, that...and the current circumference of my waist. Three jobless months really took it’s toll on the thinner, more tan Brandy that arrived in Oregon a short while ago. Again, sigh. 
Since making my first post, I’ve been considering something that was reaffirmed by a good friend of mine and I think he’s right. I think we create ourselves, not find ourselves.  So on with the creating! Tomorrow that is. The rest of this evening will be spent with an ice cold Mr. Pibb, fresh out of the dryer sheets, Van Damme’s Kickboxer (digitally remastered on Blu-Ray of course) on the lap top and Zipper...squeaking her crab at the foot of the bed. I know right?! But it’s true...no blog affectation here...I simply am that cool. 


Time For A Change

Ok, here it goes. My first ever blog post. The mere thought of this has kept me paralyzed with fear for weeks. Funny, considering there is absolutely nothing riding on this. Nothing. I’ll be buying my one faithful follower a latte for her review, other than that, it’s just a novel starting place for a new journal. So, for this first post, I’d like to start by giving a smidge of information about me and what brought me to this point. 
I’m 30 (all right...almost 32), single, freshly relocated back to Oregon...and most fun of all...a bit crazy. I’ve had more than my fair share of jobs, everything from tree farm worker to nanny. Sales to retail, and have even occupied my own three walled cubicle in a matrix of other worker bees. Currently, I’m a certified veterinary technician. I’ve been in Veterinary medicine for the past eight years, but couldn’t make any promises as to this being my final career. 
In summary, this is just the beginning. The beginning of the journey to find myself. And I think you sometimes have to take a good look back and around...to really figure out where you are today and where you are headed. A promise of Pulitzer prize winning writing...is one I cannot make. But I can promise an eventful, at times hysterical-albeit with laughter or tears, look at what it takes to truly discover yourself and the world around you at thirty (something).
July of last year I decided to make a radical change. Embark on the solo right of passage known to many as “finding themselves”. I had awoken one day to find my current situation quite drab, uneventful and stagnate at best. It was most definitely time for a change, time to hit the reset button on my environment, employment, attitude, company I kept and my perspective. I had a gut feeling that change was not optional, but required, a feeling so strong I had to choice but to follow it. I had plans of grandeur, I’d write a new chapter of seismic proportion...this plan didn’t include barely surviving the apocalyptic nightmare it turned out to be. Anyway, by October of that year, I was exiting a tiny plane into the hot, humid air of the Caribbean. Feeling the heat of the tarmac through my shoes and the scorch of a sun so close on my face. With legs trembling from excitement, fear and jet lag; I made my way into the Cyril E. King airport of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands with Zipper, my tiny best friend and canine travel companion in tow. I had accepted a position as a veterinary technician with one of the three small animal clinics on island, and was ready to start advocating for pets and focusing on my larger goals all the while surrounded by palm trees, white sandy beaches and the neon blue ocean. Ready to find myself, I was full of optimism and thought this island would be a great place to do it. 
What I didn’t know, is that St. Thomas wouldn’t BE the chapter as much as it would be a catapult. A starting place for this journey of self discovery. While I knew veterinary medicine would be different in the Caribbean, sub par to all I have known, I made sure to keep an open mind. Believing that they would practice the best medicine with the tools, technology and staff that was available. What I didn’t know, is that I had just accepted employment with quite possibly the worlds most cantankerous and crusty veterinarian still in practice. Time moved painfully slow as I quickly discovered that the only real duties I was entrusted with were re-sterilizing syringes that must have been decades old and picking freshly boiled chicken off the carcass for the in hospital patients. Day after day drug by while I dodged the vulgar verbal bullets of my new employer. Realizing this job was not conducive to my goals, let alone sanity, I jumped ship in hopes of less abusive employment. The cruel and unusual punishment of this job lasted just over two months, and I went on to make my island living with several other part time jobs. But, more on St. Trauma (I mean St. Thomas) later, for now let me get you up to speed. Said catapult landed me right back where I started, nearly seven months later, in Oregon. Only this time, I was jobless, hopeless, tired, beat down...a veritable grab bag of emotions. However, I was remarkably tan (for a pacific northwestern Irish girl that is). I had literally sold everything I owned, winter coats included, to make this pivotal move to the Caribbean. So upon my reentry into the real world, I had nothing. Nothing but an ever faithful pooch, three suitcases full of sand covered and salt water stained clothing, two or three friends that anticipated my return, a chest full of heart ache and broken dreams and thankfully, a set of parents who graciously accepted me with open arms...and approximately half of a spare bedroom.
So the real chapter writing starts here. Now I have no plan, I have to improv. Most importantly, I need to come up with something constructive and witty to say to people when they ask me what my plan is! Something that says, “I am totally in control of this situation”. That...was too much work. I stayed in bed. For a long time. I had one veterinary interview that held potential, but unfortunately it also had a creepy  air about the place. I passed. And so did the weeks. Weeks and weeks of nothing...and the Lifetime Movie Network. Finally, a hit. I turned on my parents DVR (to record all the Lifetime Movies I was about to miss of course) and took a short break to “work” for a convicted felon (unbeknownst to me I assure you) selling fake wellness plans to veterinary clinics. That lasted less than two weeks before I had to call it quits. This boss was quickly turning out to be as crazy as my last. Shady and secretive about the details of his company, but a smooth talker. So smooth in fact, that he had me absolutely convinced this “job” was a real deal...and all I had to do was “sell, sell, sell”. The details that I was asking for would come later, he said. “Two more days”, his most famous line. Obviously later, after my resignation, I found out about the above mentioned details concerning his character and work ethics. Thank god I never actually made any wellness plan sales, I tremor at the thought of the mess I would have been into. All that said, it was quite hysterical to see his mug shot on a popular veterinary website, calling him out on his unethical behaviors, several weeks after I quit.
So back to the couch I went. Depression compounded by yet another failure. HGTV was my poison of choice this time around. Although a permanent indentation of my ass still occupies my parents sofa directly across, front and center, from the television...I’m confident that I can create my entire next apartment out of tin foil, used egg cartons, a few great Goodwill finds and one can of spray paint. My resume would take me two weeks to revamp. I figure I rewrote it at the rate of approximately two sentences per day. Why rush? I wanted it to be perfect. And then, it started to rain. Two job offers, immediately after the republication of my work history. Perfect! But, wait...now I had a choice. I have never had a choice before. This was hard. Way more difficult that I thought it would be. Two veterinary practices on opposite ends of the spectrum. In the city; in the county. High tech; modest. Thirty plus employees; three. How was I going to decide? I wasn’t, my gut was. Even after the St. Thomas fiasco, I still had enough trust in instinct to go with my gut. So I did. I bought a Carhartt travel coffee mug and took the job in the country. 
I couldn’t be more happy that I did! I honestly didn’t know veterinary medicine could feel like this following my most recent experience. Maybe I’m just looking at things through a fresh set of eyes, after witnessing the atrocity of veterinary medicine on the island. I’m not sure. But either way, it’s amazing. My boss is one of the sweetest women I have ever met. I have seen her kiss every one of her patients (except for a bouncy boxer or a disgruntled declawed cat) on the head and tell them she loves them during their physical exam. And you know what, I believe her. I can see it on her face. In the way she cares for these pets and speaks with their owners. It’s amazing, and so heartwarming. When I returned home, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to continue with veterinary medicine, but I am so glad that I gave it another chance. My passion for the field has been restored. I feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself, and am contributing to the greater good. I’m back in business, saving the world...one dog (and cat) at a time!