Monday, February 28, 2011

my week off

I have been feeling pretty cruddy this last week and taken a week off of doing much except drinking tea and sleeping when I get home from work. Well besides my normal activities such as working, house sitting and various volunteer work that I still have to do even though I am sick and crippled..  But I promise that this is going to be my last day of absence. Starting tomorrow I will be back to writing my random thoughts down for you all to enjoy. I am feeling much better and my foot has healed up to the point where its not killing me after a days work.  So thanks for understanding and look for new posts to come soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Being eight

I was able to hang out with my little sister yesterday. I had to limp around cause my stupid foot is killing me but I did it cause hanging out with her is worth the pain and suffering. I know I have mentioned Michaela before but let me tell you a little bit about her.  She is a smart fun eight year old who I have been luck enough to know now for over a year and has made my life so much more meaningful. She is super smart she reads beyond what I would expect but I guess I don’t really know what the eight year old reading standards are being that she is the only one I know. She struggles with math and sometimes that makes her feel dumb. I have told her more then once that everyone even the really smart people struggle with some subject or another. She says that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up but in the same breath she says that she doesn’t like to tell people that’s because girls aren’t supposed to want to be scientist. I had a long conversation with her about how she is right at this point in her eight year old life it’s a negative thing and sure she might get made fun of. But I assured her that at some point it’s going to be the most awesome rocking thing ever for her to tell people she wants to be a scientist, especially because she is a girl.  I mean admit it once you hit college what you want is a smart scientist girl. I don’t think she completely believes me but she trusts me enough to pretend she does.


Michaela has a complicated life. At only eight years old she has had a lot of changes. She has attended a different school every year. She has a lot of half brothers and sisters, both with her mom and dad. She has moved three times just in the time I have met her.  She has family that she isn’t close with and family that she can’t be close with because they are out of state. She has a father who isn’t around much and has spent some time in prison; her mother is great but suffers from anxiety and is unable to go out a lot. They are low income and very depended on the system for money, food and care.  Her mother is great and obviously loves her so much and is honestly doing everything in her power to give Michaela the best life ever. It’s just that she had her young and has found her life being just as complicated.  But out of all of this she is just this happy go lucky eight year old who has no clue that life is so chaotic. She is just existing and doing the only thing she can. She has that child eye view of the world where you have no clue about the future yet and the present is all flowers and candy. Well not literally but you know what I’m talking about.  The worry I have with Michaela is that some day it’s going to hit her that her life has been kind of crap. She might meet people and compare growing up and realize that in some regards she got dealt a crappy hand.  She might not have a clue how to handle that and instead act out or do things like drugs and sex and forget that she wants to be a scientist. I can only hope that if that should ever happen she will have me in her life to remind her about what she really wants and to be a stable person she can go to with anything.


I see a lot of myself in eight years old in Michaela. She is funny as heck, super chatty about nothing, but still kind of shy. She would rather hang out with one person then have to talk to a big group. She is very independent; she totally walked up to the counter on her own to order her pizza and later to ask for a glass of water. She is super curious about everything and wants to touch every button and dial just so see what happens. She is determined to do something and she does. She is so creative and it’s obviously that’s her strength.  She wants desperately to be a part of a soccer team but knows that she can’t cause its too expensive. She is happy just playing in the park or at the beach or running around the fountain. She truly finds the joy in simple things.  She comes up with these crazy ideas of things to do at a drop of a hat and I love that about her. She has this freedom and craziness in how her mind works.



I try to think back to what I was like when I was eight. Its hard cause it was a while ago but I remember being really happy. I had a good relationship with my family and my family did a lot of things together, we went lots of places both in town and out. We had a lot of camping trips as a family did a lot of hiking and biking, went to the zoo, museums, and aquarium, basically just enjoyed each other. I was close with my brother; we were close enough in age that he was more of a friend then not. And honestly at eight I think we might have still shared a room. I was involved in swim team and soccer and choir. I had friends who I saw often and had the typical girl dumb fights with where you hate each other one day and love teach other then next, all over something stupid. I was doing well in school still at eight I was smart and well liked by my teachers and worked hard in school. I was a pretty good kid and at that point I was really genuinely happy. I wonder sometimes what I would be like if life hadn’t gotten so complicated later on and I had been able to just stay that course forever


So we went to the kid’s museum yesterday. She said that she had gone once before and we were able to get in for free. It was maybe a tad to young for her and I think the best part was where they let you do art work. Oh and all the reading, she really amazes me with how much she reads and much less understands. She said that she would really like to go to the Science Center because she has never gone. I would love to take her sometime especially because I know how much she loves science so I want to support and feed this desire in whatever way I can.  So we spent the day walking around the museum, eating pizza by the fountain and watching her run around all crazy. It was a blast to be honest.  What’s great about Michaela is that she couldn’t care less about anything about me or my lifestyle or anything; to her I’m just her big sister.  Its simple I know, but to me that’s a really powerful thing. 

 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Last night

I had a rough night last night. It’s always a bad sign when you end your day bleeding all over the dining room.  Today I am waking up with a refreshed mind and body and vowing to have a better day then yesterday. Here is what happened… I have been super busy lately, and so I didn’t even get home for the first time until 8 pm oh and I left the house at 6am that morning. When you haven’t been home for more then 14 hours and your super tired, hungry and it’s your Friday; all you want to do is make some dinner and relax. But see last night one thing I had to do right away was make a new fish tank for my fish. I noticed the night before that the old tank had started to leak slowly from the bottom, so today after work I got them a new tank to move em into. 

I’ll admit that I was probably hurrying along with this project because I was tired and wanted to get all my stuff finished so I could go relax. At some point the light fixture cord got wrapped up in the filter cord and the light fixture started to fall. I didn’t want that to drop and break so I reached for it and none the less put my bare foot directly through the glass part of lid. It was a super dumb and careless move which could have been avoided by me just paying attention and maybe taking a little bit ore time to do this project. So now instead of relaxing, I fall down hard on my shoulder and proceed to bleed all over the dining room carpet from a huge wound on my foot…

Ok so I am not a baby about pain. I figure that because I have had all these random injuries I have become tough.  But this is  really painful and honestly the amount of blood is starting to freak me out. I can’t seem to even be able to see where the cut is on my foot because it’s on the bottom and blood is squirting out all over the place. I hop my way into the kitchen knowing that the linoleum floor will be better to collect my blood then the carpet I have already ruined. I start to call people, of course the one time I actually need my housemate Mike to be here he isn’t. Who knows where he is and when he’ll be back, and since he doesn’t have a phone or email, contacting him is out of the question.  I call my friends who are close, and I get a ton of voice mails. I call the neighbor of my parents, I get her voice-mail. I call my parents in a panic and I get a machine for one and the other answers but the connection is so bad I can’t get her to understand what I need. I need them to give me people’s home numbers because everyone cell is just going right to voice mail.  At this point the blood is pretty bad and I am defiantly thinking that I might need a hospital visit.

Finally I get hold of someone and she tells me that she would be happy to come down and take me to the hospital. She is about 20 minutes away so I say I’ll try one more person who is a little closer first and then call her back. I try this one other person and lucky she is also home and willing to come over saying she’s one her way. Now that I know someone is able to come over and help me I feel this flood of relief.  I finally am calm enough to start to assess the wound. Once I start to clean it up I can see that I have a fairly log cut right along the ball of my foot. It has slowed down with the bleeding so I figure I’ll wrap it up good and hobble into the shower to clean it up well. Afterward I can see that a visit to the hospital won’t be necessary so I call back my friends and tell them thanks so much but you don’t need to rush over anymore. I put my shoes and socks back on and painfully finished doing what I needed to do in the first place, and that was give my fish a new tank. It takes about 30 minutes for me to get that complete. I then take about another half hour to scrub the carpets of my blood and vacuum the floors to make sure all the pieces of glass are gone.  Then I take about a half hour to do the normal feeding rituals for my pets that all need to get fed and taken care of. Then an hour and a half after cutting my foot I am finally able to t this point I pretty much just crash out for the night.

Today I am able to walk around with just minimal pain. I have a bit of a limp and my shoulder hurts when I touch it, but other wise I’m fine. I’m glad about that because I have a very busy day and will have to be on my feet all day today regardless of weather it hurts or not, I figure that I’ll take a few aspirins and be fine.  This is the downside of living alone, when something does happen and you really do need someone to help ya out, its harder to find that someone to do it. Last night made me feel kind of lonely.  But like I said earlier today I am starting out with a renewed mind and body. So screw those feeling that won’t get me anything good.  Today I am going to have a great day, do great things and just be great.

Update.... I did end up heading the the ER the next day and everything checked out OK. I managed to take a few photos of my sad little inch long gash causing me all this trouble.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

26 super random things about me.

I hope you enjoy learning a few quirky little tidbits of me some I have mentioned some I have not.

1. The aquarium is my favorite pace in the entire world and I would love make it my life long goal to visit every one in the world before I die. But I wish I could spend the rest of my life on the beach. I think that if I were on the beach I would never have the urge to leave.

2. I bite my nails and always have since I was little even thought I hate it and wish I could stop. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until it’s too late.

3. I have visited more places in the first 15 years of my life then in the last 15 years of my life.

4. I am deathly afraid of slugs. I mean deathly

5. I hate the month of October… And if I could I would have it just erased from the calendar.

6. I wish my super power was to be able to push people off the planet.

7. I miss seeing the night sky be dark. Because where I am right now it never gets dark it kind hovers around a weird orange, brownish, gray color.

8. I am more afraid of living then I am of dying.

9. I have 17 pets… Oh my god I have 17 pets!!! OK so like 4 of them are fish but still that’s a ton…

10. I couldn’t imagine my live being even half as full with out my 17 pets.

11. I love seeing animals out in nature. Especially when you come across them totally by accident. It is the true testament to how great our world is seeing things in the most raw and natural form.

12. I have a bad problem with finding things in food that are not supposed to be there. I have found everything from: Small more common things like hair, rocks, and rubber bands. To extreme things like rubber gloves, condoms (so yuck), even a car key with remote clicker in a taco.

13. At least once a day someone speaks to me in Spanish. Even thought I am half black you would never know by looking at me so I am commonly mistaken as Hispanic.  i think the name Martha doesn't help with the being Latina either.

14. I wish I knew Spanish. So when people spoke to me in it, I could have a clue what they are saying.

14 1/2. My eyeball hurts. I have something in my eye as I'm writing this. unfortunately this is a common and frequent occurrence.

15. I hate shopping for shoes. I have size 11 wide feet and even if I see something cute it never fits, and the stuff that fits is never cute.

16. I am addicted to The People’s Court. I have been for the last ten plus years. I freak out when I can’t watch it, so I started to record it so I would never miss a show. I have not missed one in the last five years. And I have hours and hours of recorded episodes.

17. I have have now twice in my life invited a homeless guy to move in my house with me. The first time went badly this time not so much. 

18. I am 32 and I have only had two real boyfriends. But I have lots and lots of people who never made it passed dating.

19. I still miss my father everyday. Even thought he has been dead longer then he was alive during my life.

20. I once worked 13 days in a row had one day off, worked 10 more in a row, had one more day
off, and worked 7 more days straight. Let me tell ya my paycheck rocked that month.

21. I hate pudding.. But its just because of the texture. Its a weird between where I either want it to be more like custard or yogurt . Just not the weird between soft and firm pudding mush.

22. I call my mom everyday just to talk. I tell her everything all the good, bad, and in between.

23, I can’t eat Popsicles. It’s something about the texture that freaks me out. I don’t know why but once it get in my mouth its a bad thing.

24. I love eating sushi. I wish I could eat it 24/7 for the rest of my life.

25. My favorite animal is the crocodile followed very closely by the alligator. I don’t know why but I just find something so cute about them.

26. I fall down a lot. I am pretty much a walking disaster. I trip, stumble, and drop things at least daily. But most days it like every time I go out something happens.



OK so yes I realize this was a little bit of weird post. I just am finding that with the millions of other things going on in my life; Its hard to always find the time, much less have things to write about. So from now on I am  just going to write when ever I find the time and about whatever ideas come to me, regardless of the day of the week or how long its been between posts. I am really happy with how this blog has turned out and I am so thankful for everyone who reads it. I think that this will just help make it evolve even better.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

working hard

Never underestimate the good feelings of working hard. I mean the kind of work where once you’re done your whole body aches and you’re so tired that all you can think about is taking a nap when you get home. Now imagine that kind of work and not getting paid for it. That is what volunteering at the wild life place is like. Today I was all alone, well not alone but the only wildlife care giver, both the two rehabbers and the two vets were there.  Maureen I my fellow Tuesday morning wildlife caregiver is going to be gone for three weeks while she has to cover for a co-worker’s vacation.  It was kind of lame having to be all alone, and everything basically fell onto me. But I am now experienced enough to know exactly what I am to be doing and how to do it independently. Too bad for me that we had a million random patients to take care of today.

First off it was sad to learn that our songbird aviary as been attacked by a respiratory virus and the 8 birds in it are now in quarantine. They have all become ill and hopefully they will recover. See this is the downside of rehab work. Sometimes you do everything right but one bad bird brings something horrible in and all your hard work goes to hell. But hopefully all 8 birds will recover  quick and able to be released soon.  Next off we had 8 birds to tube feed. We currently have 4 seagulls with various issues hanging out. Two have broken wings, one was found oiled, and one is ataxic with some sort of neurological issue. They are now in a run all together and so far doing pretty good. If you do not know it seagull poop is by far the grosses stuff on the planet. It’s really thick and smelly and seeps into your pores, hair, and clothing lingering with you all day. I got to do the tube feeding on these seagulls today. They were not being very cooperative and bit me multiple times as I tried to pry the beak open but I got the job done.

the aviary

one of the birds here.

Pigeon just hanging out

Next I went to clean the mallard duck that has been hanging out since last week.  He was brought in being hit by a car along with his mate. He wasn’t able to stand up when he first arrived but now is doing better and able to waddle along in his cage. His mate ran away unscathed which is kind of sad cause mallards ducks are life long maters and so now she is all lost out in the world with out her male counterpart.  Hopefully he will be able to be released and find her again, but the likely hood of that is doubtful. We also had a lone adult opossum in the ward. He or she was also hit by a car last night and seems to have a few scrapes but otherwise doing OK. Since it was the daytime I didn’t have to do very much with it, because it was trying to sleep.  Sometime tonight it will get its treatments and food because we want to try to keep these animals on as much of their regular schedule as possible.   We also had a Canadian goose that was also covered in oil. I and two other rehabbers got to give it a bath. It seemed to like that part and only hissed and bit at us rarely.  When he was done he got to move outside and seemed much happier out of the cramped kennel. He will likely stay a few days for observation and then get released.
  
sleepy opossum
after his bath (they let me take this picture)

Outside on the hill there were the same things as there was last week. A bird or two that were not in the aviary with the disease, the squirrels (some still hibernating some not), and those super cute baby pigeons.  They were just talking today about how the baby pigeons are starting to become a little bit too friendly and they are worried that they are walking that line of too much human intervention and not enough wild instincts. So one of the things I had to do today was to set up an outside run where they get to have real trees, perches, and try to get them back to a more natural habitat and see if it helps. If not they can always release them into Pioneer Square where it might benefit them to be people friendly because then more bums will feed em.
 
the babies move so much its hard to get good pictures
they are so ugly they are kinda cute.


The highlight of my morning was that I got to release a robin back to the wild.  It was easy to catch seemed to be fairly comfortable during the ride down to Seattle where I let it go at Matthews Beach. It’s a nice park right on Lake Washington, where I’m sure its going to find some friends and lots to eat.  When you drive down to the release site they ask that you drive slowly, turn off the radio so that there is the least amount of stress on each bird as possible, and make no stops. You have to have some official paperwork in case you get stopped or harassed by anyone at the park, and they want you to find the quietest place possible to open the kennel and let them go.  I kind of snuck into this part that was roped off , opened the box , and he instantly flew away. He perched on a tree right in front of me and started to chirp to the other bird in the area. I watched it for about fifteen minutes, just perched on that branch chirping away,  I guess just figuring out its next move.  I left because it was rainy still and by this time I was really tired.  He never left that perch but I was happy that he had that freedom again. The freedom to go where ever he desires and do whatever he wants.  As I drove away I gave a silent prayer to the universe to take care of him and hope that we never  have to see him again.

hanging out

totally unsuspecting were going to grab him
 
The robin before we caught it.


This isn't the one I released, this from the Internet. but this is how he looked when I left him
 Well after all this hard work I went to the gym. I swam for about 30 minutes and then had an awesome soak in the spa letting my muscles loosen and relax. I am now home, exhausted,  and very ready  for a nap and some food.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Helping people

One of the places that I volunteer at is called Little Bit. They provide equine-assisted therapies for people with disabilities. The mission is to improve the bodies, minds and spirits of children and adults with disabilities through equine-assisted therapy. So basically it allows people to incorporate horse skills into their therapy routine. Through therapeutic riding children, youth and adults with physical and/or developmental disabilities improve physical health, relax tight muscles, increase balance, build muscle strength, sharpen hand/eye coordination, improve social skills, and gain a sense of control and self-confidence as the rider experiences a freedom never felt before. So how does therapeutic riding work? The horse's soothing rhythm, strength, warmth, and three-dimensional movement pattern provides healthy exercise while improving circulation and muscle tone. The discipline associated with working with horses and the social interactions between peers benefit the mind and spirit while raising self-esteem and increasing self-sufficiency through accomplishment. The unconditional love of the horses is proved to reduce anxiety, encourage interaction and offer a haven where riders can feel a sense of empowerment

the barn where all the horses are waiting for the day to begin

There are different types of classes that I am involved in. Adaptive Riding is a one-hour lesson with four other riders similar in either age or ability that focus on increasing individual riding skills while gaining a therapeutic benefit. These benefits include increasing muscle tone and strength, improving hand/eye coordination and balance, improving peer interaction and communication, increasing self-esteem, and developing a sense of control. We create a wide variety of games and exercises designed to increase the student's ability to listen, learn, and communicate. In addition, all riders work on improving their horsemanship skills and a willingness to try new things and attain new goals. Students not only improve their riding skills but are taught how to help groom and tack their horses. Classes include arena riding, trail rides, and group drill activities.

Hippotherapy is an intensive one-on-one therapy session with a licensed physical therapist who utilizes the horse itself as a therapy tool. While walking, the horse moves in a three-dimensional pattern similar to the action of the human pelvis during normal, upright walking. Difficult to duplicate in the traditional clinical setting, the result offers an improved potential for walking and normal hip development in disabled individuals. Upper body benefits include improved hand/eye coordination, posture and balance. Truncal muscles are stimulated by using a variety of movements, allowing speech to come more easily. Interactivity and play are utilized to reach children encouraging and rewarding engagement and reciprocity…

This is a picture I took off the website.

My first rider is a 4 year old and her mom said that before she started riding (less then a year ago) she wasn’t even walking. Now she is moving around like a normal 4 year old would all because of Hippotherapy.  My role as a volunteer is to either lead the horse around and give it commands. The other part I do, is my favorite part and that is being a sidewalker. Being a side walker is where you basically walk on the side of the horse and focus on the rider to ensure their safety, sometimes that means holding onto the rider to either keep them in a certain position or to just keep them on the horse. When you are the side walker your only job is to watch the rider and offer whatever kind of support they will need.

during the lesson

My first rider is named Jane. She is  also the daughter of my very good high school friend.  I didn’t even know she was her mother until one morning before class she caught me walking out of the bathroom and called my name. It was such a shock but what a wonderful thing to know that I have had this connection with her daughter for all these months without ever knowing it.   Jane talks about being a big sister a lot during her classes and so it was funny that I knew all about my friend’s life and kids without knowing that connection.  I am so glad to have the chance to reconnect with this person who I had lost touch with and it reminds me what a small world we are in sometimes.

My next class is my favorite. It’s an adaptive class where everyone has experience and many times they do not even require a horse leader.  My rider is named Alana and she is in a wheelchair with some sort of head injury, but is quite cognitive although she does talk with a predominate slur.  She is the only student in this class that requires a horse leader as well as two side walkers on both side of her, either holding her gait belt at her waist, or performing a thigh hold to keep her balanced and steady as she rides. What is so neat about Alana is that before she was in a wheelchair she used to ride horses professionally. So she has a ton of knowledge and passion for being there and getting on her horse each week. Many times she is the one who plans the different drills and courses that the whole class gets to participate in. The other people in this class are all adults and have also been riding together for some time so everyone knows each others skills and demeanor.  It’s a fun class to be a part off and I think it’s my favorite.

One of the students in that same class is named Kurt. He is 32, I know because his birthday was last week. He works full time at a movie theater,  I know that because he is a talker.  He is able to walk , but does need assistance. He talks, but it takes him longer to form words. He is so kind, sweet, and always had a super positive attitude.  I love seeing Kurt every week. He just reminds me to look beyond the surface of people because sometimes you might have to work harder to find those real gems. Kurt is like that. You might write him off at first if you aren’t paying attention, but with a little bit off time and effort you would discover he is amazing.

 My final rider is named Lily. She is non verbal and probably around 7 years old. This is also a Hippotherapy class and the main challenge is to get her to make eye contact and not put things in her mouth. She is very orally motivated.  She requires a pretty firm ankle hold as she rides and sometimes we will get her to reach for things as she is riding. Almost every week she makes some sort of progress even if it’s just something small, it’s a great thing to be able to be a witness to those small feats.

Lily giving a final horse hug

The thing I love about being a volunteer is that they would not be able to do what they do without the volunteers. They are 100 percent dependent on people like me giving up my free time to help out. I have met a ton of wonderful people, both in other volunteers as well as the riders. Everyone is happy to be there and happy to do it all week after week after week. Just like I have found I am as well.  It’s my Monday morning activity and I will admit that I love it and look forward to going every week.  It’s nice to be able to give something so little and be able to get so much back in return for it. Isn’t it weird how time can sometimes be the most valuable gift ever?

this is Scooter who Jane rides every week

This is Mahan who Lily rides every week.

This is Kyle the horse Alana rides. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

why do I love the aquarium?

OK so you know how at like the zoo all the animals are in cages with other types of animals of the same kind? Like the zebras are with other zebras, and monkeys with other monkeys. OK yes you do have some mixing of species, like the giraffes and zebra maybe in a large pasture together. But if there is cross contamination it’s very mild. I mean nobody expects that a lion and monkey would be in the same cage, and able to live in harmony and joy right? I mean that's ludicrous. Well at the aquarium you expect that. You have this huge tank where like 80 different species of life co-exist together and some of them are prey and dangerous and can eat the others. But it’s OK. It’s like one joyous, happy, aquarium family. I know, this is like the dumbest reason, and has this strange naive child like view of a society, that's all peace love and happiness. I know... But it makes me happy to go there and see it. I love when you get to watch other creatures figure out things that has taken us generations to do and in a lot of cases haven't even gotten fully yet. Like all live together in one big happy society. The aquarium just seems perfect. You could go there in the worst of moods, feeling so low and crappy, you'll walk in, see all the bright colors, and happy fishes and corals and then magically whatever you felt going is all gone, and all you feel is happiness. I know this is the longest dorkiest answer on the planet but I can't help it. It’s like the thing for me, you know that thing, and I mean you know right.





It’s funny… I didn't always like the aquarium. So my father was a marine biologist and a large part of my childhood was spent around water. We went to oceans, coasts, beaches, many many tide pools, pretty much anything water related. I think I swam before I could walk. This was my father’s passion. The ocean and I share this is so many ways like I have mentioned before. But to the point about the aquarium, so whenever we went to a new city or country we  always went to the aquarium automatically. The thing is that going was an all day event. My father would know hundreds and hundreds of random facts about every imaginable fish on the planet, and he would tell them to us as we stood there watching them and not be able to move on until he was done. It was annoying for a kid with a very short attention span who" just wanted to see the sea otters" like I was.  Anyways I guess I didn't really start to LOVE the aquarium until after my dad died. I remember I went once with my brother a year or so after he passed away, and we were done in like an hour. It was funny because we had never done an aquarium that fast before and without all these dumb facts it took no time at all. So yeah I guess another big part of why I love the aquarium is because it always reminds me of my dad and it makes me happy to know that I got to have something that he imprinted into my very existence from this day on.




My goal in life is to travel around the world and see all the aquariums. Someday I hope to be able to do that.  You know that they have hotels where your room is under water so it’s truly an aquarium all around you. Yeah I would like to go to one of those places. But until then I always try to take one in where ever I go to a new town.
 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rocky's story

this is not actually Rocky. Just a super cute Chow picture to set the mood.
So here is the story about Rocky as promised. So it was one of my first weeks of working at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital when I was in Denver. Alameda East is one of those places where it’s going to be the very very best care you could ever get. They are a 24 hour hospital that is always on the cutting edge of medicine and technology and only hires the best doctors and staff. They are the place that was highlighted on Animal Planets “Emergency Vets” TV show for years.  Honestly some of the cases they have done and I have been lucky enough to be a part off are truly amazing, things like prosthetic leg implants, lung removals, and transplants. I was thrilled to get a place there and it was there that I found my love for emergency medicine.

One evening when I was working in the ICU we had a couple come in with their Chow Chow dog that has a bloody spot on its side. They said that he’s pretty much is an outdoor dog that stays on a tether in the back yard all day, but they have noticed he had been bleeding for the last few weeks with out its every going away.. The Doctor could immediately smell both alcohol and Marijuana on them as he was doing the exam. Well what was discovered as we started to shave this smallish spot of fur around this bloody spot, is that Rocky was massively infested by maggots. We just kept seeing more and more and more of them until finally we had to shave the entire belly, back, chest and both hind legs, just to expose how much of a problem it was. He was pretty much being eaten alive by them literally.  Millions and millions of maggots were on this poor dog and in all different stages of life. It was amazing that he was being this happy go lucky goof and letting us shave em all off.

See maggots are bad not just because they are eating the flesh, but also because they are depleting its hosts blood supply, causing a huge loss of protein and blood volume to occur. Once the doctor saw how massively chewed apart this poor dog was, we knew that there simple bill for a wound cleaning would suddenly become 20 times that and the chance of saving this dog were grave. The doctor went in to inform the owners about what was going on, and they seemed quite indifferent about it. They did allow us to do some blood work and run IV fluids for the evening but due to their altered state the doctor was wary entering into anything more detailed as far as treatment plans went.

We spend like five hours meticulously picking each and every maggot off this poor dog. His blood work came back with severe Anemia as well and a Plasma protein level that was too low to even read, basically not supportive of life.  It was totally amazing that he was even alive and seriously any second he could have dropped dead. Suddenly his care became way more involved. By morning he was doing ok. Seemed a little brighter and it was time to let the owners know what they were in for as far as his care was concerned. We advised them that he would need multiple blood and plasma transfusions. His skin was so infected that he would need grafts to replace some of the really bad parts. He would need daily wound care like a burn patient when you have to scrub all the dead tissue away in order to promote the new tissue growing. He would need long term inject able antibiotics, pain medication, sedatives, oxygen at times, and IV fluids. He would need lots of repeat bloodwork along the way because you can’t replenish his body too fast. He would have an expected stay in the hospital taking up to a few weeks. And there was a very good chance that he was too far gone to even recover fully and much less weather his skin would be normal or his fur ever grow back. The doctor painted a pretty grave picture about Rocky.  We all figured that after hearing how bad he was, and what his prognosis was, they wouldn’t want to continue forward and would put him to sleep. I mean they were looking at thousands of dollars worth of care for a dog that lived on a chain, got fed once a day, and if he were luck maybe a pat or two.  We all figured that they had made it clear what Rocky’s life had been worth biased on his previous living conditions.

Imagine everyone’s shock when they said that they wanted to move forward and money was no objective. What happened from that point forward was like black and white.  One of these owners would come every day and spend like an hour with Rocky while he was in the hospital. They would watch him suffer, be miserable, they asked tons of questions, they would be excited when he would lift his head enough to eat a few bits, but crushed when he spiked a high fever that we didn’t get to break for five days. They brought him an arsenal of t-shirts to wear, cooked steak and chicken to coax him to eat, and brought him toys and blankets to remind him of home. They were with us every step of the way.  The woman would talk to him and pet him and cry so much. She would tell him how much they loved him and missed him and wanted him to get better so he could go home.  And it’s such an oxymoron because who in their right mind would want to return to the shitty life this dog had before; a life with a chain, some food and no attention? Yeah I bet he was fighting hard to go back to that.  So it was kind of a slap in the face that suddenly these people cared so much. I mean where were you when that very small spot of blood occurred? If you cared so much why didn’t you rush your dog into the vet back then? Why does he have to be in this position suffering and dying to get you guys to give a shit about his life?

But see that’s the thing you can’t do in this field. These people did end up taking home a wonderful dog a week or two later. He was pretty much fully recovered, his skin all looked awesome, his anemia was reversed, his infection under control, his protein all back to normal range, his attitude was amazing, He was a huge love and huger goofball, and everyone was sad to see him go.  He went home to a life of luxury. He got an awesome bed next to the couch, he got to eat in the house with the owners cooking whatever his doggy heart desired, and even better he got as much love as he could ever want. He fought like hell for this life and lucky for him he got it. But how much does it suck that he couldn’t have just had that before. Why is it that he had to almost die for his owners to give a fuck?

Rocky came back in a lot for the next few months and always did awesome. His owners loved the heck out of him and it was really great to see that he got to have such a wonderful home  I guess if nothing else at least I have the knowledge that from now on any animal these people will get are going to be in the best home ever. They will never be put on a chain in a yard and ignored or neglected. They will never feel unwanted or unloved.  They have Rocky to thank for that.  But to this day its one of the worse cases I’ve had to deal with. Because like I talked about yesterday sometimes really crappy things have to happen (like almost dying because of neglect) in order for a positive to be learned (becoming a great pet owner) and sometimes people really just don’t know what it takes to own a animal. I am so glad that I was able to be a part of Ricky’s life and recovery. His story had taught me so much about this field and how to succeed in it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

the ebb and flow of my work

There is an ebb and a flow to what my job is. Some months are better then others. Sometime people do really horrible unimaginable things that you couldn’t dream of. But then there are other times when people shock you by going above and beyond for something without much cause. Sometimes it super clear right from the start of a case which direction it’s going to head. Will this owner do the unthinkable and save there pet at any cost or will they consider it unimportant and not even try. I have been in the vet world for almost 10 years now, but I have loved animals long before that. I always thought that someday I would open a shelter.  But the more I get into this field; I find that I would never want to have an animal’s life be decided by a budget or profit like so many rescues now days have to. 

The secret to being successful in my job is finding the balance between good and bad cases,  but in reality those numbers never really add up equally. A lot of the time you have to take just one good case to make up for 6 or 7 bad ones. It can get very tiring and emotionally draining. Its part of the job that I both love and hate. You try your hardest not to judge someone. You say to yourself that you would never let that happen to your animal if it was yours, but sometimes people just can’t do what they want to and have to make crappy decisions. And for that you can’t really hate them.

 But what is despicable is when people flat out refuse to care even when they know that it’s cruel to not try.  When they do nothing knowing that the pet will die without some sort of intervention and instead they make it suffer long and painfully until all you hope for is that the pet dies quickly. I have had a few times where all you can do is hope that the animal is lucky enough to die fast. It’s such a wrong thing to be feeling, because when you get into this field you pledge to help not harm things.

 I have a story I’m going to tease about a great dog named Rocky. He was the first case I really truly cried about and remembering this case is what makes me as good at my job as I am. He is what has taught me about finding this balance, and not being judgmental, and remembering that all people are human and have the right to make mistakes and learn from them.  He has also shown me that sometimes really shitty things have to happen to get really awesome results, is that unfair? Yes but unfortunately it happens a lot I think.  . So yeah… that story will be tomorrow. For tonight I just am going to remember how lucky I have been to have mostly healthy pets. The few that have not been I have been lucky that I have great doctors and co-workers who have given me free advice and care and time and anything else I need to make sure I am able to everything in my power for my animals. For this I am grateful.

all three cats eating their  food.

Max, Spooky,  and Clapton enjoying a afternoon nap

Bandit and Morgan before Bandit got put down. Best Buds

Although she misses Bandit, I doubt she's too unhappy by her self.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Change

How come people are so afraid of change? Is it that whole fear of the unknown that scares people or the fact that they realize that from this moment on they will never be the same that bothers em.  I don’t think I have ever been afraid of change, in fact I think I have embraced change. Because I think I understand that without change you will never have growth, they are synonymous with each other, each going hand in hand with the other.   Change is the stepping stone for a growth, and we all know that without growth you pretty much have nothing.  But I guess all change isn’t growth. So what is change exactly?

Change is something that presses us out of our comfort zone. It comes in many forms, destiny-filtered, heart grown, faith built and more.  Change is for the better or for the worst, depending on where you view it. Change has an adjustment period which varies on the individual. It is uncomfortable, because changing from one state to the next upsets our control over outcomes. Change has a ripping effect on those who won’t let go.  Change is needed when all the rules and practices of the past no longer work. Change is not comforted by the statement ‘just hang in there’ but with the statement ‘you can make it’. We don’t change in retreat, but through endurance. Change isn’t fixed by crying, worrying, or stressing. Change is won by victors not victims; and  that choice is only decided each individual.

Change is awkward -- at first. Change is vessel that develops to abundantly enjoy the dynamics of the life set before us. Change calls on strength beyond anyone of us. Change pushes you to do your personal best. Change draws out those poised for a new way. Change isn’t for chickens. Change does have casualties of those defeated. Change is so slow for the reluctant, and yet it is a whirlwind for those who embrace it. Change is more fun to do than to have be done to. Change seeks a better place at the end and is complete when you realize you are different. Change will cause us to grow and to learn.

Change is measured by its impact on all who are connected to it. Change is charged when you are dissatisfied with where you are. Change doesn’t look for a resting-place; just the next launching point. Change is only a waste to those who don’t learn from it. Change happens in the heart before it is proclaimed by our words. Change punishes those moving slower than the change itself.  If you can change before you have to change, there will be less pain. Change can flow or jerk, depending on our resistance to it. Change uses the power of the unseen to reinvent what is seen. Change is like driving in a  heavy fog – you can’t see very far, but you can make the whole trip that way.

Hmmm so what’s growth exactly and how is it different then change? Its not really, it’s basically the result of all this change.   Growth is the process of an individual organism growing organically; a purely biological unfolding of events involved in an organism changing to a more complex level. Growth is the progression from simpler to more complex forms. It’s an increase: the process of becoming larger or longer or more numerous or more important. It’s the gradual beginning or coming forth. Growing is getting stronger, developing, and becoming more mature. So basically I think growth is just one way that you can handle change.  

I have this great magnet on my fridge that sums up my post pretty awesomely.  “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” I have spent a lot of my life growing and much of it is the result of  my many life changes, both good and bad. I think why I have become successful and well adjusted in the world is simply because I embrace these changes and turn each and every one of them into a growth opportunity.  I want to constantly be challenging myself to be a better person, do better things, and keep the past as just that… The past.  So hear is my advice to anyone scared of change.  Don't wait until everything is just right. Because things will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions.  But so what.  you should just get started now; because with each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful. With each step you will see how un-scary  this change really is.

Monday, February 7, 2011

sucky boyfriend number two

Ok so I left off with the disaster of Jeff safely behind me and starting over in a new city. Although I did have a lot of scars from that relationship mainly cause I really did think that is what love was.  I dated unsuccessfully the next few years and honestly my choices of people were not all that great, but you have to remember that my standards were so low. I mean pretty much anyone was better then Jeff. It’s hard to realize that I deserved so much more back then. There was more then once when I actually said to myself something along the lines of “well at least he isn’t trying to kill me that’s a step up” sad huh.

 I spent the next few years not just dating but moving around. I met my second real boyfriend Brannon while I was living in Reno… But I was moving to Denver in less then a month when we met. I was at a bar with some friends and I remember him coming up and asking if he could buy me a drink. He seemed nice and he stayed at the table with us and talked with my friends until we were ready to go. He then asked if I wanted to get breakfast before going home. I of course said sure and off we went. Brannon was a few years older then me and he was working at one of the best steakhouses in the city as an assistant matre D.  I didn’t think he was all the attractive, I mean he wasn’t bad looking either, just not the type I would go for normally. What I was attracted too was the fact that he seemed really put together. And considering that I seemed to have a bunch of chaos in my relationships I was ready for someone put together. 

We had a nice first kiss that night and plan to get together a few days later. I was working overnight at one of the casinos and he was working evening so we fell into spending the mornings together after I got off work and before he went in.  Because I was leaving in a month I wasn’t very committed to my jobs or quite frankly my life anymore at this point. I pretty much started to give Brannon all my time and attention because I figured it would become a great month and then I would move and that would be it. That was pretty much how both of us expected it to go, but somehow as the weeks went by he started to mention maybe trying the long distance thing, and having him help me move out to Denver and get me set up.  I figured that things were going along well enough and I did like him so I said what the heck. Maybe it will be worth trying, so he helped pack me up and together we made the two day drive out to Denver.

 I went to Denver to go to school, so I knew that I was moving this direction with my life, where I was trying to become more stable and less floaty. We spent a great first week in Denver together and had a tearful goodbye at the airport as he flew away. I was excited about my new life in school and in this city that I actually really really loved.  I thrived in school and made friends and was happy. Me and Brannon would talk,  he would tell me how much he missed me, and I would say honestly that I wasn’t feeling this same amount of missing him, I am nothing if not honest.  A month or so later I got a call from him asking me to come pick him up at the train station. It was late I remember and he wasn’t supposed to be there and it was a school night so I told him no. I told him to take the bus that would go right up to my house. He said that he couldn’t get on the bus because he had all his stuff with him. See he quit his job and was going to move to Denver to be with me. Needless to say I was shocked, and honestly I was kind of pissed. I mean what right did he get to move here and then to try to make it like he was doing it for our relationship. What relationship? I knew him for a month and yes I did like him,  but I was moving forward and starting to get my own life and was ok with him not being in that new life. Now he was forcing this relationship on me. Brannon was pissed cause I told him that he could only stay with me a week until he had to find his own place. I really do think that he was just expecting me to be all excited that he would live with me.

 I’ll skip the rest of the parts and move to the end. Yes Brannon and I continued to date. He proposed to me super fast and I told him No. He wanted to move in and I said no. See one of the  major issues I had was that he ended up being this super co-dependant person who all of the sudden gave up his stable life and now was floating around looking for me to give him some direction. Where I was finally figuring out what the direction I wanted my own life to take for the first time as an adult. I wasn’t interested in figuring that out for him and expected him to do it for himself.  He wasn’t strong and put together, he was a child… He held zero responsibility for his actions and constantly tried to make up for these insecurities by being fake. He did that thing where he would go to a restaurant early so that he could leave me a card so it would be at the table when we arrived. I know that sounds like a super sweet thing. But I hated it. I am a person who has issues with being the center of attention and struggle with feelings of worthlessness and is socially inept. These gestures would make me be the center of the attention for all those servers and I would be so uncomfortable I couldn’t even enjoy my night. But he did it all the time regardless because see he wasn’t doing to be this sweet boyfriend; he just wanted everyone else to believe that he was being a sweet boyfriend. Get it…. I don’t think I explained that very well but hopefully you see the point. Needless to say I kind of tolerated this relationship because figured once again that I wouldn’t get much better and heck at least he was better then Jeff.


We did eventually move into together and right around this time I finally sought out a little therapy for my worthlessness issues. It helped me tremendously I discovered. About this same time I found out the Brannon was embezzling money from his company. He had taken about 20,000 dollars had been given the ultimatum for either going to jail or paying it back. Needless to say I was pissed and disappointed and felt pretty betrayed. But I still stayed with him. I even ended up giving him the money so that he could pay off the debt and we struck a deal that he would work his ass off to pay me back by not just working one job but two.  Are you surprised to learn that he didn’t do any of that? He pretty much stole from me and remained in my lifelike a slug and refused to move out of my house.  Finally I had to have someone else intervene to get him to move out for good.  To this day I have gotten so little of my money back even though I have taken him to court and have a legal contract he should be upholding. I honestly don’t even care about the stupid money. I am just glad he isn’t in my life any more.

 But see here is my dilemma. I mean I look back on these two relationships and can see that they were super fucked up. I mean I know that I deserved so much better then they were able to give me and that I didn’t deserved people who would do things this horrible to me in the first place. It’s taken me a long time to realize that though. So now I am moving forward with trying to date. I am so scared of doing it though, because I don’t want to end up in another situation where I am allowing people to treat me like crap, but at the same hand it’s so easy for me to let them do it in the first place. I honestly don’t even think that I believe in healthy relationships. I mean I truly have just become this bitter person who is waiting for the next bad date or shitty thing to happen. It’s become a vicious cycle and honestly who can really blame me.  I don’t understand why I am this way. Well I guess I do,  I guess it is because my standards are so low, because I do feel so worthless, and because I have such little social skills, that I don’t expect anything better to happen to me.  It’s pathetic honestly, but something I am trying to break out of and change this cycle. 

I don’t want you all to feel sorry for my or anything. Because this last year and a half has been really great I think as far as the dating has gone. I have really grown up and have become a heck of a lot less tolerant of people and their actions. I am starting to understand that part of this process is forcing myself to go out into the world and be honest with people about my past and to stop settling for the first thing that comes along.  I have dated some pretty cool people and the reasons it didn’t work out were honest and just. I have also walked away from some pretty crappy situations that in the past I might not have been able to walk out of, because I knew that it wasn’t something that would bring me anything positive.  I am still out in the world looking for someone awesome and I do unfortunately date a lot.  But I guess for the first time in a long time I am getting that I can just be someone awesome and still be alone.  I hope that’s not the case, but I’m trying to make peace with it in case it is.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

sucky boyfriend number one

 We had this work meeting the other day because there is all this chaos going on between out small team. One of the things that our boss said during that meeting really made an impact on me. She was going on about how you have to not use our co-workers to vent our frustrations… “talk to you partner, spouse, pets, go to the gym, whatever you have to do to get it out, but you cant go to another person who works here and use them as your sounding board.” well I put that in quotes but I don’t think she said it like that word for word but whatever you get the point right?

As I was driving home it hit me why that made such an impact one me. You see I don’t have anyone to go to when I have a super crappy day and need to vent. That is what I miss the most about being in a relationship. I mean yeah physical stuff is nice, sex is great, dates and all is awesome. But really what I miss the most is having that person who you call when something great happens and who you can cry too when something bad happens. I honestly don’t know if I’m ever going to have that relationship.  I really really really want it but I am loosing a lot of faith that it is in my cards for me to get to have it.

I will admit that I have not had the greatest history with dating.   I wasn’t that girl who had to have boyfriends in elementary school or middle school. By high school I knew that I was defective because I still hadn’t had my first kiss while some of my friends were doing much much worse. I finally got that first kiss when I had an awkward double date with a friend and some random guys we met in the mall. It somehow ended up with us doing much more then just a first kiss,  and afterward I was promptly told that he wanted nothing to do with me, and then  he proceeded to date my friend who was also on the date only with his best friend.  It was awesome for my sixteen year old self to go through that.

My first real boyfriend was named Jeff. I met him about a year later when I was 16 almost 17.   What was sad about my relationship (ok well a lot was sad about that relationship) but what I think started it of on the wrong foot is that I never even really liked him. See the whole first day he had this huge crush on my best friend at the time Jessica. So much so that he hung out with her all day without me and they went sledding and stuff. I think she either had a boyfriend or had just gotten out of a serious relationship, but Jeff didn’t seem to let that deter him from making all these comments about how pretty and cute and sweet she was. Yeah he was totally flirty with her. I didn’t care really cause like I said I wasn’t interested in him. So you ask how did I become interested and why does it turn so sad? Well see one night a few days later we met him again and that time he still tried to get with Jess. But after she fell asleep or passed out (I’m pretty sure beer and pot may have been  involved  for her that night) Jeff and I proceeded to spend the whole rest of the night talking and laughing. By the morning we shared a very sweet first kiss and he bought me (and only me) a slice of pizza as we walked hand in hand back down town. From that day forth he stopped calling anyone but me. It is sad because I was so fueled by the fact that he picked me over my awesome best friend that I ran with it. I allowed myself to get so wrapped up in him,  and for the first time in a while during that phase of my life,  someone gave me some worth when I was feeling super worthless (like I have mentioned in prior blog posts) Suddenly all that mattered was the fact that he could have had Jessica but he picked me instead.

God I was such a mess back then. Jeff crawled into my brain and it was like a parasite I couldn’t get out. I constantly thought about him, even after he did some truly unforgivable things. Such as stealing all my shit after he moved into my basement. Sleep with my underage neighbor after moving out of my house and into her crazy ass party house hippy place. Oh yeah and she was 13... He was 23. He crashed my car with a bunch of his stoned friends and then took off running leaving a very upset me to deal with the consequences. Honestly he tried to kill me and a friend one night in a drunken rage with a hammer. We were only saved by me begging and pleading literally for the life of my friend until he calmed down enough so we could go home. Yeah those events should have been it, but see I then reconnected with him again a year or so after the hammer incident. And I had another  even worse one involving some gasoline, a lighter,  and him trying to control me. And even more suckwas a few months after that,  I randomly saw him in the supermarket clean and sober for the first time ever. And we started right back up again like nothing had ever happened before. He moved into my place and shockingly  it ended with me locking him out throwing all his shit out and many a screaming phone call at my place of work.  He had some pretty serious issues and I wish that I could have not been so fueled up by this whole having him pick me over my awesome friend stuff. Because then maybe the fact that he lied about being 23 would have been the red flag that it should have been for a 16 year old.  I mean heck, the fact that he honest to goodness lived in a dumpster, oh sorry newspaper recycling bin, should have been a fucking red flag! But I couldn’t get past this whole him picking me over Jess thing to see anything beside the face that he gave me worth. He gave me worth when I was desperately without it and it became my drug.  It fucked me up super bad and I spent years trying to just stop driving by places looking for that brief glimpse of him in town. Even still I sometimes see someone walking on the side of the road and I check to make sure it’s not him.  What the heck I would say to him today I have no clue.  It took me a long ass time to realize that what we had wasn’t love. Fuck what we had wasn’t even respect. What we had was nothing but badness. is it sad that we spend off and on almost 3 years together. 

I didn’t date for a long time after Jeff. I’ll admit that he was a huge part of why I eventually left the Seattle area. I was 20 when  moved away.  In Los Angeles I had my first post Jeff date with a guy named Kenny who I met a work and who flirted heavy with me for a night or two.   Sadly we had a few dates, had some quick sex and afterword I never heard from him again. I was 22 by then.  OK wow, yeah somehow I got really really off track with this post. So since this has gone for long enough, maybe I’ll break it into two parts. I was going to name this post something like when the work place goes bad… But now I think I’ll change it to sucky boyfriend number one. Stay tuned for sucky boyfriend number two  posted sometime tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fostering.....

I never really wanted kids. No I take that back. I guess honestly I just didn’t ever really know if I wanted kids.  I never felt that overwhelming urge when I was in my twenties like so many of my friends did. I didn’t dislike kids, I just was kind of indifferent. One thing that was very clear to me was that if I were to have kids I was going to adopt them. I didn’t remember exactly when adoption became important, but once I learned about it I never felt that having kids another way wouldnt be right for me. I can honestly say that if I ever did get pregnant I would feel so guilty about my child, because I allowed it to be born and not adopted it. That’s how strongly I feel about it. Even with the adoption knowledge I still couldn’t ever really say 100 percent that I even wanted kids. I always found a way to make excuses for them. Like I didn’t want kids without a good paying job, so that I could provide for them and give em the life like I had growing up. Or I didn’t want to have to be a single parent so I would have kids when I got in the relationship or got married. Like I said I was able to excuse them pretty easily.

My best friend was the exact opposite. She knew she wanted kids like right away, and as soon as she and her now husband then fiance got serious… they started the process to make one.  My mom was the same way, she knew she wanted kids and had them on her list of important life things that she needed to have in order to feel complete. My other friend is the opposite; she knows without a doubt that kids are not going to be a part of her future. So I have always been kinda confused on why I couldn’t feel good about picking a side to go with. Do I want them or not?  Once I got into my thirties I started to feel a lot more like kids could be something I could do, and started to get my duck in a row to see about what it takes to adopt one. I knew that I wanted to adopt from foster care, and not some international or privet agency. I also knew that I wanted to adopt a 2-6 year old instead of an infant.  I started to realize that yes it would suck to be a single mother, but now days not impossible. Yes it’s going to suck to have very little money, but luckily I am not ashamed to take part in low cost and free events or actives in my area, and what I do have is the ability to give a lot of time and love instead.. No I am not going to be able to provide for my kids tons of classes or lessons or clothes and junk. But what I can be a super kick ass single parent who loves em, values them, and raises them to be kind and generous and sensitive little people that are nice and have strong core values.  Being able to be a hands on parent will go far now a day and I think that will be enough for me.  

I called my local DCFS office and asked to sit down and talk with someone about adoption. This is where I met Susan a case worker. She told me that the state of Washington is very pro adoption. They have very few laws and requirements in place; such as salary, home, or marital status like many other states do. They understand that a parent is someone who wants to be involved in a kid and that is enough for them. She said that I could easily start the process to get in the system by taking an orientation and some mandatory parenting classes that are required.  Then she told me the one thing that I was really shocked by. She said that if I was really serious about adopting in the 2-6 age group, it would be very hard if I did not first become a foster parent. Because this is the age group that the start of Washington does the absolute most work to try to keep in their  biological homes. She said that the easiest thing to adopt in the state of Washington were infants and teenagers.  The two groups I feel least amount of desire to adopt from.

I had never even really given a thought about foster parenting.  I mean isn’t that when kids get bounced around from home to home and become damaged and bitter and mean? Isn’t it where all the bad kids end up that can’t be adopted or are sick or disabled? Or the ones that are just pulled out from their houses that are in too much shock to interact? I mean think that it would be hard to become attached to something and then have it taken away a few days later and how is that even parenting? What I know now is that I had no idea what foster parenting  really was back then.  I decided to contact the foster parenting lady that Susan gave me and talk to her about fostering... Ironically her name was also Susan.  I learned that there are actually 6 different types of foster parenting, and what she thinks would be the best in my situation is to do a foster to adopt case. This is where I would become a foster parent first and have the child on a foster parent basis while the state is trying to make her legally free. Then since I would be in the child’s life as her foster mom, I would be the first in line to adopt her after that happens. Susan says that this process usually takes 2-3 years, and unfortunately not all the kids get to become legally free to adopt, so I might have to go through the process with 2-3 kids before I am adopting one. I was a little scared to hear that because I couldn’t imagine at that time having something in your life for such a long time and working so hard with it then having it get taken away. After she explained the reasons why this program would work best for me I did end up seeing the benefits and asked what I needed to do next. 

The next step was an orientation.  It was a ton of info and pretty over whelming, but I did see that all those original things I thought I knew about the foster care system were very incorrect. Those are the common misconceptions out there but not the reality of most cases. I was told to ignore those stories; because although it is not a perfect system, and yes there are still some flaws, it is a positive system and you rarely hear about the good cases or situations that do come out of it. I left orientation thinking that maybe this is what I should do, I should try for a foster to adopt child. The next step was to enroll into parenting classes. I had to take 44 hours of them and they were all held at times and places that didn’t work out with my work schedule. I finally found classes out in Mount Vernon on mostly Mondays with only one Thursday class requiring a day off of work. I signed up and waited the next few weeks till they started. 

I won’t lie, THESE CLASSES WERE INTENSE!! I mean imagine 8-9 hours of listening to some of the worst case situations ever imaginable and how to deal with them. I mean the first few hours were like the instructor telling us all the horrible stuff that can happen. But then somewhere along the line it changed to how there is a system in place to prevent all these horrible things, and what we are able to do in case they do occur. I ended up loving every minute of them and eagerly looked forward to the next weeks class. It was a blend of real cases, real foster parents, the laws, the process, the problems, movies, speakers, some really hard topics, some happier ones, and what I started to feel in all of this was that I totally found my place.

See what I didn’t know then but know now is, that I really wanted to be a foster Parent. That’s it.  I got it now why I was so unsure about the whole kid or no kid thing. Because I really want to be a temporary parent.  If I end up having that one kid that I get to adopt then fine, but how much more awesome would it be if I have 200+ foster kids get to walk away from my life knowing that I was a positive, caring, kind,  awesome person who made a huge impact on their life. Isn’t that even better than being that to one person is  being that to 200+?  Did you know that DCFH took 70,000 calls about child abuse and neglect in the state of Washington in 2009, over half of those got investigated by a social worker, over 10,000 kids got removed from their parent’s home as of the result of that investigation, and 7000 are still in the foster care system today?  This is just in Washington state and in one year!  So when the world focuses on that one bad family or one person writes about how the system sucks and fucked them up. You have to remember that you never hear about the 9,999 other kids who its being a positive experience for. I want to be one of those 9,999 people. I want to make a difference in a child’s life even if for a day, or an hour... I want to be a strong, positive, and trusting place where that child can feel love and trust and hope. I want them to leave knowing that they became better person from knowing me, and know that I thought them the absolute best I could in the time we had together.  

 Foster children need lots of patience and time, TLC and acceptance. You have to be relaxed and calm, have a good sense of humor, able to cope with chaos, be around strong emotions without taking it personally. A good sense of self worth that is not bent by outside forces, because if you are insecure, it is hard to foster others.  You need to have a thick skin, and be willing to advocate, even if it pisses off the professionals. You need to be willing to go toe to toe with people who do not know that child as well as you do, or even people who may not have their best interests at heart, and really make yourself a pain in their butts. These kids need strong advocates and someone looking out for their interests 100% of the time. Kindness is a huge asset, you need to be able to see the good in every kid, even when they are hurting and lashing out at you and know that they are hurting and are reacting normally to very abnormal situations. It sounds tough huh? It will be. I know that it’s going to be a ton of work... I know that it’s going to be exhausting... I know that I’m going to hate it sometimes... I know that I will have to defends this decision to a lot of people... I know that I will be a part of a group of people who do not get the kinda recognition they deserve. I know it’s going to be really really hard. But I also know that this is my calling if I’ve ever had one…I don’t know how else to explain it except say that it feels so much like what I am supposed to be doing with myself.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

the sadness of rehab

 I was at the wildlife place today and it turned out to be kind of a bummer.  When I arrived we had a whole ward of animals that had come in over the prior 24 hours.  The very first thing you have to do is make food for everyone. Each kind of animal has its own special dietary need so you sometimes end up with 12 different batches of food needing to be made.  A lot of the animals especially the birds need to be tube fed so they also may need various kinds of slurry made in addition. After preparing all the food you deliver it to the prospective places. They have a ward where most of the birds are, a nursery which tends to be mostly small mammals, and then the basement is where all the babies will end up when spring hits and the craziness starts, but right now the basement is home to the feeder rat cages.   They also have the area called the hill where there are many different cages and animals that hang out sometimes for 10 days and sometimes for years depending on their needs.

After you have your dishes made with each patients food. You next need to get weights on them all and then transfer everyone into clean cages to perform all treatments required. Today we had a bunch of birds in the ward that needed care. One was a juvenile gull with a broken wing. He had to be tube fed and wasn’t all that nice about it. We also had a crow that wasn’t doing so great. He had a head tilt and also wasn’t eating well on his own so we were tube feeding him and he also needed antibiotics and subcutaneous fluids. It was my first time giving SQ fluids to a bird and I have to admit not nearly the same as a cat or dog. There were some baby pigeons that were all in various stages of growing so all four also needed to be tube fed. And then a bunch of random other birds to be weighed and cleaned. It took about an hour and a half to get all the ward animals taken care off.

Next we (I and Maureen my fellow volunteer) moved to the nursery. All that was in the nursery was an adult squirrel that was attacked by a dog and not using its hand legs. Something I have learned since starting there is that adult squirrels are mean little buggers, and when they are injured and unable to move their hind end, it seems to bring out that meanness in spades.   Anyways despite him hissing and slapping at me I was able to get him wrapped up in a towel and weighed and the medications given. . After doing the basement feeder rats, oh and the feeder rats are the only animal you can talk to or cuddle but they are also wild and so they will bite ya if you try.  Next I headed outside and do all the hill animals. At this time of year we don’t have any animals out on the hill. There is one aviary with four pigeons hanging out trying to get a little more fattened up till they get released, there is another aviary with five song birds that are all also working to get more body weight on em till they also can be released, there are a few super cute squirrels that are in partial hibernation since its so cold that you just have to check on and make sure they haven’t died, and a  lone raccoon with an eye infection. Man raccoons are so cute… The nice thing about the hill animals is that they are healthy enough and all eating on their own so no one needs the daily weights or medications like the inside animals do. It makes it much easier.
 
this is not the injured one but a healthy on up on the hill

 Once you have everything all feed and cleaned you start doing all the boring cleaning tasks and at his time the vet and the rehabilitaters go around to every animal and they get an assessment plan made for the day.  See a lot of times this is the first time these animals get examined by a vet and also this is the time that many of them get the decision that there injuries are too extreme to be saved. Unfortunately this was the decision made for the adult squirrel this morning.  I know that I have mentioned the differences in wild life rehab verses clinic work in the past but today was another day when it really showed how extreme those differences really are.  See I was doing laundry and part of that is to restock the cabinets in the ward and nursery with clean laundry. I went back into the nursery where the squirrel was a few hours before and all of the sudden his cage was empty. There was no announcement of his death given. He just wasn’t there any longer and you know that is the only reason why he would be gone. Going into the ward restocking the laundry there was also how I  learned that the gull and the crow had the same unfortunate fate.

this is another one that is healthy and doing great.


This is the part that I find so sad. I mean I get it, I really do. But see in my clinic we sometimes go out the way to make sure everyone knows an animal got put down. The owners get to be around for as much or as little as they want. And everyone takes the time to just give a few little strokes to the animal both as its happening and even afterwords. We try to handle the deceased with extremely gentle care and placing them in the freezer in as nice a position as possible.  In animal rehab there is none of that. Its not that nobody cares, because we do, but it’s a much more emotionless process. I left this afternoon after my shift was over and as I got into my car I couldn’t help but bawl my eyes out for the poor crow and gull and squirrel. I felt bad that their last hours were spent being tube fed, manhandled and poked… I was sad that I never got to say goodbye, or wish them well, or heck even say a little player into the world for em.  It makes me sad that none of them had an owner who would now be missing them. And it makes me sadder that they had to die alone.  I hope that none of them had little animal families waiting for them to come  back home to them.  I know you are not supposed to think of it that way but it’s hard not too.

This is not a picture of the crow today just a cool picture I found online that I thought fit.


I know that what we do is good and I understand that this is a huge part of the process. I can accept and appreciate this.  But some days its harder then others especially when your as sensitive as I am. I hate this part, the part where you have to deem an animal unsavable.  I get it I really do, but I still cry for them all. I just hope that that the crow understands how much I appreciated being able to learn how to give SQ fluids on him today. If nothing else I hope he is proud that his life allowed me to learn a new skill and for that I am forever grateful.  If I would have known that they were going to die a few hours after we had handled them maybe I could have done something to make its last few hours better, like a gentle pet, a calming touch,  or a kind word,. All things that you cannot do in rehab but you do all the time in veterinary medicine and it kind of sucks. Today I wish I could have been more of a vet tech instead of just a wildlife caretaker.