New Year’s Blah-g

I feel a lot of pressure today to write my blog because: 1. It is Wednesday, and I always post my blog on Wednesdays (unless I post on Thursday) 2. Tens of people are counting on my Wednesday/Thursday blog and/or being forced to read it because I keep posting it on Twitter and Facebook and 3. Because it is New Year’s Eve and it seems appropriate to write my weekly blog about the New Year. That’s what everyone else who writes a blog or anything is doing today. I am feeling pretty Blah to be writing about the New Year, my resolutions, or a review of 2014. I know that this is a bad way to start a blog, but it is the truth. I am already so sick of hearing about the top moments of 2014. Generally, the moments from January 1st to November 1st do not make the consciousness list of 2014, so the reviews are really just a review of the past 2-3 months and I remember the Sony Hack like it was just last week. Everyone does. Because it was just last week. Also, most of the news stories of 2014 were horrific and it is hard to put a positive New Year’s spin on them. I have heard a few people on the news try to do this by saying that 2014 was the year of everything bubbling to the surface, all of that racial and feminist tension, finally exploding into… not really sure what. A lot of protests and violence and misogyny and misery from what I can tell. Apparently people are pretty tired of getting shot at, raped and groped. And speaking of being groped, it is also amazing to me that CBC radio has put out a review of 2014 pop culture on Q and another satirical review on The Current this week and there was only one small sound bite about Jian Gomeshi-gate. From what I remember, this was big news, in Canada at least. (In the US, no one knows who Jian Gomeshi is or that this is an actual name.) But that was 3 months ago and it is mortifying, so everyone in Canada has moved on. Everyone, except for Jian, his victims and the publicist for the Canadian cinematic release of Fifty Shades of Grey.

I actually like New Year’s Eve more than Christmas, but that is not to say that I love New Year’s Eve. There is a lot of New Year’s Eve pressure to have the most fun-filled night of your life, or at least your year. The best and most memorable New Year’s Eves for me are always the pre-party, where a group of friends gets together before heading out on the town. Maybe it is the anticipation, or the fact that these are your actual friends who you love, but I am always a little sad when the pre-party ends and it is time to head out into the cold to the overpriced NYE event. I would beg everyone just to stay put with me and keep the pre-party going all night, but there is the New Year’s Eve anticipation, and we have all paid fifty bucks or more for a cover charge, a plastic glass of undrinkable champagne, a party hat and a noise maker. You can’t pass that up. The lesson here is, if you are having the time of your life, appreciate it and acknowledge how fleeting these moments with your best friends are. You don’t really learn that until you can’t just snap your fingers and have a room full of people you adore ready to ring in the new year with you. I am not saying that to be pathetic (but realize it sounds a bit pathetic). I am saying it because it is true. When you think that something is too good to last, you are probably right.

I am sticking close to home this year. Mostly because I live in rural North Florida now and I am terrified to be out on the roads after midnight. This area has not really embraced the concept of drinking and driving as a social problem, or a crime, it’s more of a lifestyle. When I say that there are drunk cowboys on the roads, I mean that literally. And when I say that I am spending New Year’s Eve back at the ranch, I mean that literally too.

I wasn’t going to do it, but I have a few resolutions to share. They kind of flowed out of me like an unstoppable New Year’s Eve Force. I have ten. In fact it is (another) top ten list. These are my top ten (meaning that there are actually more but I am only recording ten) New Year’s Resolutions for 2015.

10. Take work email off of smart phone. When I told my friend that I did this (have been doing this off and on for a month, I am making it permanent for 2015!). He gasped. How could you? We all need to unplug. This #digitaladdiction is getting cray. #unplug #NYresolutions2015 #NYE2015

9. Wear more jewelry. This is a vet thing. We need to bedazzle ourselves more. Also I think that I could actually keep this resolution.

8. Write another book. Writing Lucky Dog never felt like work. I really want/need to get my writing mojo back on. Any suggestions are welcome.

7. Stop binge drinking. I actually don’t really do this, (or so I thought) so it should be an easy one to keep. Apparently, if a woman drinks more than 3 drinks in 2 hours, this is defined as binge drinking. I learned this on CBC. I do that sometimes. But not any more.

6a. Run half marathon in February
6b. Train for half marathon in February

5. Do more yoga

4. Try an improv comedy course

3. Enjoy doing nothing sometimes. I just realized what my problem is. This resolution is the antithesis of resolutions #4 through 6 and #8.

2. Stop padding your top ten lists with fluff just to get to ten. Top nine is ok too. Stop being such a perfectionist.

1. Stop being friends with narcissists. Maybe this seems obvious to you, but narcissists are so freaking fun to be around. I find them irresistible. They are hugely entertaining when they are shining their shiny pretty light on you. But it gets really cold and dark when they stop. Best avoided.

Happy New Year!!

Fuzzy the Cat, a Christmas Story

I was living in Edmonton, AB. It was Christmas, 1998. There were three vets at the small animal practice where I worked. The boss and owner was named Sue, but I’ll call her Schmoo, because that is what I used to call her when I was not speaking directly to her. There was also another associate. Her name is not important. My husband decided to go back to Ontario to be with his family for Christmas right around the time that Schmoo decided that I would be working for the holidays. I was (mostly) okay with this, as I have never been a very Christmassy person. Also, the other two female veterinarians that I worked with had children and you know how it is, people with children always seem to think that they have the right to more time off at Christmas (and evenings and weekends) than people without children. What would a childless person possibly do with their off-time if they are not spending it with offspring? Christmas is basically meaningless if you have not experienced this miracle yourself in a slightly less immaculate fashion.

The set up in this late-nineties practice was that we were closed over the holidays, but there were patients that were boarding with us. I had to check on them once a day and to make sure that nothing happened to them during their stay. We were not on-call for emergencies because there was an emergency clinic in town for this. The sick pets that were at our hospital over the holidays had options. These options included either being transferred to the emergency clinic for continued care or being transferred to Jesus. (Sorry, bad vet humour, but it’s true.) Some people try desperately to get their dying pets to make it through the holidays and then bring them in for their post-Christmas euthanasia. This is not a good plan. Pets are really not that into celebrating the birth of Christ or any other holiday fun. Keeping them alive when they are terminal or suffering in the name of having them for Christmas is something that most people will regret after the fact.

It was the afternoon of December 24th. Every case had been appropriately transferred. I was doing a last check of the boarding patients and working on paperwork. I heard Schmoo on the phone. She was talking about a blocked cat and saying, “Yes, that is fine, you can bring him here”. Actually, she was trying to convince the person on the other end of the phone to bring him here. This was bad. Very bad. Schmoo got off the phone and told me that her sister was bringing her cat in to the hospital. From Calgary. The cat had blocked the day before. This is a condition where male cats develop crystals and sludge in their bladder, likely due to their commercial diet. The crystals and sludge then accumulate and obstruct their extremely small urethra that runs through their extremely small penis. The small penis-size is possibly due to being neutered young. Fuzzy the cat, was doing just fine. The obstruction had been relieved and he was in a veterinary hospital in Calgary, with a urinary catheter in place. It is possible that the vet in Calgary was trying to clean-out the hospital for the holidays, just like I was, and encouraging Fuzzy to find another place to convalesce. Schmoo and this vet convinced her. Fuzzy was en route to Edmonton.

You would think that if you invited your sister’s cat to spend the holidays recuperating at your veterinary hospital as a favor to your sister, that you would be the one taking care of him. So did I. I assumed wrong. Fuzzy became my responsibility over Christmas. Christmas 1998 was a Thursday. I know this because I Googled it, not because I remember. I do not have hyperthymesia (also had to look this word up). So I tucked Fuzzy in for the night with his urinary catheter and his intravenous fluids. Christmas morning, I went in to see him and he was still doing great. He had had the urinary catheter in place for over 48 hours, so I decided to remove it. In retrospect, this was not a great plan, but I couldn’t leave it in until we opened in four days time. I went back to check on him again that afternoon and he was crying and straining in his litter box, with a bladder that felt like a big hard orange. He had reblocked. Treating this obstruction would require general anesthesia to recatheterize and unblock the urethra. There were no technicians on-call to help me because it was Christmas and because normally you would go to a fully staffed emergency clinic if you had a blocked cat on Christmas Day. So I called Schmoo. Partly to ask her to come and help me and partly to let her know that her sister’s cat had a life-threatening urethral obstruction. Schmoo then gave me an earful about how I should be able to anesthetize the cat and unblock him on my own. Blah blah blah twelve people at my house blah blah blah Christmas dinner blah blah blah I can’t help you.

So I got to work anesthetizing Fuzzy myself. Yes I could do it alone, but you can’t monitor anesthesia and unblock a cat at the same time, so patient safety is severely compromised and I was not keen to be responsible for the anesthetic death of my bosses’ sister’s cat. I was working on trying to catheterize him when Schmoo showed up. Pissed off at I don’t know what and coming to help, only at this point I didn’t need her help anymore. I think she was just breezing in to improve the optics of the situation and to try to relieve her guilt for being such a bitch to me on Christmas. Too late. The cat was anesthetized, lying on his stomach, cat-butt hanging off the table and I was kneeling on the floor behind him, trying to get the catheter back in his urethra. Schmoo came over and palpated his abdomen, which was unnecessary and offensive because it suggests that I might now know how to diagnose a blocked cat and that this might all be some sort of elaborate Christmas practical joke that I was playing. She was squeezing his bladder at the exact same time that I was able to pass the catheter through his urethra into his bladder. She then said something like, “Oh, I can’t really feel his bladder any more.” It wasn’t really apparent if this was because his obstruction had been relieved or if something had happened to his bladder. Then she turned to leave and said, “Well, it looks like you have it under control. I have to go, there are twelve people at my house, waiting for Christmas dinner.” and she left. I got some urine out of his bladder, but not as much as I thought I would get. I think that Schmoo might have ruptured Fuzzy’s bladder and I also think that she knew this because she is the one who was holding his bladder in her hand when she popped it like a water balloon.

If I could redo Christmas 1998, I would have either resigned on the spot (better) or just taken Xrays of the cat right then and there. I didn’t because: I was a relatively new vet; I was doubting what had just happened and I thought that surely she would have stuck around if she thought that she had just ruptured her sister’s cat’s bladder (surely); and, most importantly, I didn’t have anyone to help me take him to surgery anyway, so I wasn’t sure how Xrays diagnosing a ruptured bladder would be useful. Fuzzy did not recover well from his anesthetic. Actually, he never fully woke up. This is likely because of the toxins that were in his system due to his bladder rupture. So I did what so many veterinarians have done before in small towns or before the advent of the big city emergency clinic, I took Fuzzy home for Christmas. I set up a little ICU in my bathroom. I kept his urinary catheter in place to drain his bladder/abdomen of urine and I kept him on fluids. It was like A Weekend at Bernies, Christmas Edition, only Bernie was played by Fuzzy the Cat.

Fuzzy and I had a rough night. I barely slept because I was sick with worry and Fuzzy slept too much because he was suffering from life-threatening azotemia. Boxing Day morning (December 26th for our American Friends), the hospital was still closed, but I started calling around for technicians until I found someone to come in to help me. We used the urinary catheter in his bladder to inject a material that shows up as white on Xray and took Xrays of his abdomen. Instead of remaining in a bladder-shaped bladder, the contrast material was throughout his abdomen. My superb technician started getting Fuzzy ready for surgery. I called Schmoo again and said, “You know how you thought you might have ruptured Fuzzy’s bladder? Well, you did.” She then replied, “Do I have to come in to help you?” I told her that I wasn’t calling her for help, but I thought she might want to let her sister know that Fuzzy was going to have surgery today.

Fuzzy’s surgery was surprisingly uneventful. I closed the large rent in his bladder and we recovered him with intravenous fluids and the catheter stayed in place for the rest of the weekend. On Monday, when the hospital was fully operational again, Schmoo and Schmoo’s sister came in to retrieve Fuzzy. They ran over to his cage and said, “Fuzzy!” That was the only thanks I got. That, and Fuzzy not being dead, for which I am still grateful. They never even acknowledged that I had spent my Christmas trying to save their cat.

Fuzzy the Cat and Christmas 1998 taught me some valuable lessons that I still keep with me today. One is that there is always a disaster case like this, every Christmas. I have one in this hospital right now. There is no fighting it, so you might as well just give in and go with it if you are a veterinarian working over the holidays. Fighting it will just make you miserable (or more miserable). The other lesson is one that has helped me through many difficult times as a veterinarian. Through adverse events, holidays, difficult clients and colleagues, and guilt trips (usually self-imporsed), and that is to always focus on the patient, no matter what else is going on. Doing what is right for your patients medically and ethically will always lead you to the right answer.

Merry Christmas!

On Being a Rule-Follower….

I am learning that I am a bit of a rule follower. This may be because I am Canadian (this is what my American colleagues tell me) or because I am a bit of a nerd (this has also been said before). Either way, I do seem to have a desire to follow rules and to have order in my life. When I travel, the prospect of renting a Bixi bike on a bike share program excites me, until I realize that I don’t have a helmet. I find the bike helmet rule is worth following. I do not really want to have my head cracked open like a melon while I am on holiday. On the other hand, if I find the rule to be inherently unfair, I lose my mind a bit, and I might try to get the rule changed to restore justice to the world. It doesn’t occur to me to just break the rule.

I also do not like to break my self-imposed rules, like my rule that I will post a blog every Wednesday. This week, I am a bit late. I am sorry about that. I also seem to have developed my own rules to live by. I have ten. I realize that in most top 10 lists, there are only 6-8 that are actually good. The rest are fillers. See if you can spot the fillers here.

My top 10 list of rules:

  1. Don’t eat at restaurants with the name of a meat or an animal in it. (This is a vegetarian rule. These restaurants seldom work out for me.)
  1. If you have two friends that are in a long-term relationship that break up, don’t try to stay friends with both of them. Just pick one and move on.
  1. If you have two friends in a long-term relationship that bicker all the time, they are probably going to break up soon and/or are miserable. I used to think that this was just “their way” of communicating. I was wrong. (see rule #9)
  1. If you have a friend that either gains or loses a lot of weight suddenly, something is probably wrong with them. Don’t try to pretend that you didn’t notice. Talk to them.
  1. Try to get to 10 when you make a top 10 list, even if one or two of the items on your list are clearly filler.
  1. Only stay at a B&B if is run by a gay couple.
  1. Do not compare someone to a famous person unless that person is hot. I do not want to hear that I look like someone that is famously ugly, thank you very much.
  1. If you can take something someone says two ways, always take it as a complement. Even if it was not intended that way, it will make you feel better and an insult doesn’t work as well if you are too obtuse to be offended.
  1. If you are working in any service industry (including veterinary medicine) tell clients that you are doing your best when they seem unsatisfied or if they are on the verge of becoming unsatisfied. It is not possible to do any more than your best and this will make the conversation end.
  1. Your hair and your glasses (and/or sunglasses) are your most consistent and best accessories. Spend money on them.

Next week I am going to blog about another rule that is too big for a list, why I have never declawed a cat.

Until next week,

Sarah out.

Miami Mini-Break

In the spirit of the three-day work week, we are off on another mini-break! Love the mini-break! This time to SoBe for Art Basel. Pretty excited because I get to meet up with members of our Guelph urban family for their annual Miami trip. I think that this annual trip started as their romantic getaway, but now we are crashing the party every year. Friends, food, beach, art and Miami coolness. Love Miami! Miami takes cool to a whole new level. It will mess with your sense of style and your sense of self. When you pack for Miami, you need to bring out your hottest outfits. The ones that you have nowhere else to wear because they are just that fierce. Even then, the items that you thought were so risque, will usually result in the feeling that you look like a frumpy schoolmarm when you compare yourself to the shiney leggy ladies wearing skirts (I guess I’ll call them that) that just go past their naughty parts and seem to never ride up. (How? Why?)

This feeling that you have nothing to wear in Miami may cause a sudden urge to shop for Miami-appropriate attire, which will then lead to some predictably bad decisions. Friends don’t let friends buy Miami-based outfits. My friend purchased a pair of acid-whipped jeans in Miami. It seemed normal for him to buy and wear these when he was surrounded by acid-whipped denim and men that could pull this look off. And why not take a piece of this coolness back home? Unfortunately, the acid-whipped self-assurance did not translate to the streets of Guelph, Ontario and the extortionate outrageous denim stayed in the closet, pining for South Beach. I also got lulled into the idea that a pair of gold-sequinned short-short cut-offs (actually not short-shorts by Miami standards, but short-shorts by all other standards) would be an excellent choice for me in Miami and beyond. I thought they would be great to wear for a night out in Miami, but I quickly realized that these shorts are what the women in Miami where to the grocery store or to walk the dog. I seem to have a sequin purchasing problem that is exacerbated by both Miami and the holidays. I currently own a pair of sequinned shorts, two sequinned skirts, two pairs of sequinned pants and several sequinned dresses (four). I have nowhere to wear these sparkly items because: 1) I live on a farm, 2) I am veterinarian and 3) my lounge singer career has not really taken off. But I will continue to buy sequinned items, especially at this time of year. I just can’t help myself. It’s so pretty.

Miami Beach itself is a lot like the women who inhabit it, who start out with natural beauty and an ultra-cool sense of personal style. Enter men, with money, who want a piece of her. She never feels quite glam enough or sexy enough in the endless parade of competition. The ante keeps getting upped. That’s when the plastic surgery starts. Fake boobs, Botox, nose job and lip injections for starters. Not to mention working out, tanning and waxing and lasers to achieve a divine state of hairlessness. She is wearing so little that nothing is left to the imagination and she keeps on dancing to the ubiquitous house music because it is all so sexy. Never resting, sleeping or reflecting. If you saw a picture of Miami Beach before she started all the construction, you would never recognize her. Her natural beauty is gone and she just looks like everyone else.

So I am heading with Miami, armed with a lot of cash (easier to just accept that drinks cost $15 and move forward). I am also going to concede that coolness, hotness and wealth are all relative and in Miami, I fall down in all three categories. But I’m waxed up and my sequins are packed, ready for a mini get-way.