The Gift of Hope

Have you ever had a transcendental experience?  I have.  The first one (which was quite extraordinary) happened after my mother died.  It was a long time before I got up the nerve to even tell anyone about it.  I still am not comfortable taking about it and I don’t ever see myself blogging about that particular experience.   My fear in telling people was that they would think I was crazy.  I was seeing a therapist at the time (who in fact saw me through both of my parents’ deaths).  She was someone I liked, trusted and respected, and though I was a little hesitant to tell her, I was glad in the end that I did.  She’s the one who introduced me to the phrase, “transcendental experience.”  That wasn’t a phrase that was even in my vocabulary until then.  After I confided in her, I told her I had feared she would call the men in white coats to drag me away.  She laughed and said, “Who are these men in white coats?!”  Then she told me she very much believed me and that “you just can’t make that stuff up!”

Something happened this past Christmas morning that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.  I debated on whether I wanted to blog about it.  It’s profoundly personal and it affected me deeply.  Since transcendental experiences are supernatural experiences, I firmly believe there aren’t always words in our fleshy vocabularies to describe these experiences.   Recently, I was reading a copy of a high school graduation speech that a dear friend of mine wrote.  In her speech, she tells the graduates that in this life, great things will happen and terrible things will happen.  One of the pieces of advice she gave to them  was to take notes in the dark and in the hard and broken times, and share those notes with others, because you never know when another person is going through a dark time and would benefit from your notes.  In other words, light a candle to help them through their darkness.  So I guess I’m sharing the notes I took in the dark, last Christmas morning.

Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash

Christmas this past year, thanks to the pandemic, was going to be a quiet one.  I have to admit, I wasn’t too upset about that. If you know me, you know that Christmas is not a favorite time for me like it is for many others.  I despise the hustle and the bustle and the hurrying to get everything done – the shopping, the wrapping, the decorating, etc.  I wish I enjoyed putting up a Christmas tree but I don’t.  I despise how commercialized the whole Christmas season has become.  I find the older I get, I long for quiet, calm and peace.  Christmas was just going to be my husband and me and our oldest son who was here visiting for about 2 weeks.  Our youngest son was spending Christmas with his wife’s family.

My plan was to sleep in on Christmas morning (a first!) and then I would get up and make Christmas breakfast – coffee, a breakfast casserole, sausage balls, hot cinnamon rolls, and spiced tea.  And then after breakfast, we’d open our gifts.

That morning, I awoke and got out of bed.  I walked in the room where my husband was and the first words out of his mouth were: “You’re not going to believe what has happened.”  I casually asked, “What?”  He said, “A bomb has gone off….. possibly a terrorist bomb.”  I asked, “Where?”  My mind was thinking this had happened somewhere far away.  And my jaw almost hit the floor when his reply was, “Downtown Nashville!”  I wrote a blog post (with pictures of the bombing) here.   My brain couldn’t even comprehend this.  Because bombs just don’t go off in my hometown – in downtown Nashville – and bombs certainly don’t go off on Christmas Day!  I went into the den and started watching the nonstop coverage on the  TV and my eyes couldn’t believe the chaos and devastation that I was seeing.  The bomb went off on 2nd Avenue, a beautiful historic area and an area I had walked down many times and where I had dined in restaurants.  I had driven down this road weeks before the bombing.

My anxiety and stress level had been at an all time high all year with the unexpected death of a dear next door neighbor and the same week, an unsettling break-in/burglary at the next door neighbor’s house on the other side of us, a tornado that destroyed entire neighborhoods and schools just a few miles from us, and of course the pandemic.  Pandemics are scary things, but believe me when you have a husband who is an RN who works in a hospital, pandemics are even scarier.  During the pandemic, my husband underwent two major orthopedic surgeries.  A dear friend had surgical complications which left her blind.  My oldest sister developed COVID and was hospitalized with bilateral pneumonia.  My youngest son got COVID, then had a seizure, and had to go via ambulance to the ER.  There was all the political unrest going on and the BLM protests, riots and looting.  So yes, by Christmas, my nerves were frazzled and I was not in a good place mentally or emotionally.

With the news of that bomb, which WAS a suicide bomb set off intentionally on Christmas morning, something deep inside of me broke.  I lost the little bit of hope I had been desperately trying to cling to for almost an entire year.  I can honestly say, I’ve never felt so hopeless in all my life.  I was hanging by a thread and the news of that bomb caused that thread to snap.

Photo by Ian on Unsplash

As I said in the post I wrote previously, I would watch the TV coverage of the bomb on the news and then I’d go to the bathroom and let the tears just flow.  I cupped my hands over my face and I sobbed.  I tried to do this away from my family as I was trying hard not to ruin their Christmas.  At one point, I remember standing in the bathroom praying.  Praying and crying.  I cried out to God for help and I bared my soul to him.  I told Him I couldn’t take this life anymore and I confessed to him that I had lost ALL hope.  I told Him I didn’t see the point in life anymore.  I told Him I felt like life was “just waiting for the next bad thing to happen” or “waiting for the next piece of bad or devastating news.”  And this girl couldn’t take ANY more bad news.  What WAS the point of all the bad things that had happened in the past year?  Yes, the shards of that bomb completely shredded my last ounce of hope.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I don’t profess to hear much from God when I pray.  I’ll admit that I envy others who do seem to hear from Him so often and so clearly.  I remember a lady at my church once who told me one day that she prayed about choosing curtains for her kitchen, and heard clearly from God to go with a pair of yellow curtains.  I have to admit, I was skeptical of her story.  I remember thinking, “Really?”  I drove home from church that day wondering if God really gets involved in what color curtains we should choose for our windows.  I wondered also if we should even be praying about curtain colors.  I wanted badly to believe this woman, for she was someone I loved dearly, she was bright, educated, honest, and had a very strong faith.  But still, I was skeptical.  I’m never sure I’ve completely understood the still small voice of God.  Is it an actual audible voice?  Is it a whisper?  Is it just a knowing?

But that Christmas morning, when I was in the bathroom telling God that I had lost all hope, I heard a clear message.  I can’t say it was an audible voice (and that’s the part that is so difficult to explain), but it was as if a voice was coming from within me.  It said, “I AM YOUR HOPE”  It was SO very clear that it almost startled me.  I walked out of the bathroom and back in the den, almost in a daze, where the TV was still on.  I tried to watch more coverage but I found it hard to concentrate.  I got up to walk out of the room and I felt a strong pull when I exited our den and entered the hall.  It was as if a strong magnetic force was pulling me towards our foyer and I felt a strong sense that I needed to be in that foyer.  It was the strangest feeling.   In my foyer is a marble-topped table and on that table was my nativity set.  My eyes were drawn directly down to that nativity scene which seemed more vivid and brighter than ever before.  And from somewhere deep inside of me, I heard as plain as the nose on my face, “THERE IS YOUR HOPE.”  My hope was there in front of me, lying in a manger.  Nothing was more clearer to me.  I get cold chills even now as I type this.

Hope in a manger

Hope is God’s gift.  Hope is what I so badly needed that Christmas morning, and God spoke peace and hope to my heart.  He eased my fear during my darkest hour and came through for me in a way I never could have imagined!

The enemy had been telling me to give up.  I know God hears my prayers and I know he’s working on my behalf.  He changed my thoughts of discouragement of a most hopeless situation and I knew I needed to believe in Him and rely on Him.  He let me know that He is working out every precious detail of my life.

I’ve spent the entire past year focusing on all my problems.  I only needed help in looking to Him, the source of my hope.  I am thankful I am not left to walk this journey alone.  He has been right there by my side, carrying me through.  I see that now.

God’s Word assures us that He understands our discouragement and He yearns to replace it with hope.  His plans for us are good, although we can’t always see that.  His glorious promise is that in Heaven, all our pain and suffering will be over and we will live an eternal future with Him.

He is the source of our hope.

I purchased my cheap little nativity set many years ago, before my children were born, from a school fundraiser catalog.  I always intended one day to replace it with something nicer.  But over the years, it has become very special to me, symbolizing the way Jesus really did arrive in our world – in a meager little manger surrounded by hay, animals and manure.  A humble entry with no pageantry.  I will never, EVER get rid of this nativity set now.  I’ll never look at it with the same eyes again.

Gail ♥  

Posted in Christmas, Depression, God | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Sunday Glory

Photo by Szabu00f3 Viktor on Pexels.com

“If you allow it, [suffering] can be the means by which God brings you His greatest blessings.”
― Swindoll Charles R.


Gail

Up until now, I have avoided the block editor and found ways to still post using the classic editor.  Today, I discovered that WordPress has taken those options away.  Block editor is WAY too complicated for this simple blogger.  I will flat out state that I HATE the block editor.  It took me over an hour to post this simple quote and photo and that was after pulling half my hair out and feeling like I needed blood pressure medication.  And I still couldn’t do what I was trying to do.  I gave up.  I don’t have that kind of time to spend on one post.  Who does?  So today, I realized it’s time to either say goodbye to blogging or find another blogging platform.  If anyone knows if there is still a way to get to Classic editor, please let me know.  Thanks.    

 

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Abiding in the Light- Part 2

It’s frustrating having a blog sometimes.  I want to write but then when I actually sit down to do it, I end up staring at a blank screen.  The words just don’t come.  I feel like I have a thousand ideas floating around in my head but actually getting them down is another thing altogether.  I keep a notebook that has list upon list of blogging ideas.  I have a book full of blog prompts.  So what’s the problem?  I remembered just recently that it has been a  while since I visited my Drafts folder so decided I would go there and get refreshed on what there might be to “finish” there.  I came across this unfinished post.  Embarrassingly, I wrote Part one almost four years ago (!) and never got back to finishing Part 2.  So here, almost four years later is Part 2.  Better late than never!!  Here is the link to Part One .

Abiding in the Light-Part 1

Part 2

In Abiding in the Light, part 1, I mentioned that I was listening to a sermon series on The Gospel of John.  It was such a great teaching series that I wanted to share with you what I learned.  The pastor was explaining how many of us choose to “step into the light of Christ,” but many of us don’t stay there or “abide in the light of Christ.”  He says the stepping into the light of Christ is actually not the hard part. It’s STAYING in the light of Christ that is hard. He asks the question of how we are to abide in the light of Christ when “the unexpected” occurs in our world and threatens to shove us out of the light.  The unexpected may be anything that causes pain or suffering.  It might be a death, a divorce, or a doctor handing us or a loved one a difficult diagnosis.

If you read Part 1 of this series, you know that 2013 was a hard year for me—a year full of trials and losses.  That year, I lost a dear childhood friend and a much beloved pet cat among other things.  I felt I was “shoved out of the light” just as this pastor speaks about. The further I read in John’s gospel, the more I found myself moving back towards that light. That’s the honest to God truth and the best way I know to explain what reading and studying this Gospel was like for me.

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In Chapter 9 of The Gospel of John, Jesus heals a man who was born blind.  The disciples ask Jesus, “Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind?  Was it his own or his parents’ sin?”  Jesus tells them it was neither.  It wasn’t his sins and it wasn’t his parents’ sin. Jesus goes on to explain to the disciples that when life doesn’t make any sense, God is still at work in our lives.

God created the universe and everything in it.  He created the sky, the moon, the sun, the stars, the land, the seas, the animals, the plants, and man and woman.  And when He was done, He was very pleased. When He was all done, He said, “It is good.”

There was perfect order to God’s creation and there was harmony.  

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But then sin entered and that sin and rebellion drove a wedge between us and God and it messed up God’s created order.  

We live in a very broken world, and that is why tragedies, pain, and suffering happen to us.  Our world doesn’t work properly and is broken because we as a human race have decided to take things in our own hands and do things our own way.  We rebel.  God doesn’t like it anymore than we do.  Every person on this earth will perish one day.  The pastor used as an example that all of us are walking one step closer to the cliff of our mortality.  Everyday we get closer to the edge of that cliff and many of us are walking in a fog, meaning we are oblivious that we will eventually get to the end.  We have the mindset that we will always have more days on this earth.  But in truth, none of us are promised a tomorrow.  Nobody envisions dying young.  Most people imagine living to a ripe old age and dying peacefully in their sleep surrounded by loved ones.  But it doesn’t always happen like that. Take my friend Laurie for example.  She got up one day, kissed her husband goodbye as she always did before they both went off to work.  She got off work, went to the grocery store, then while on her way home, ran off the road and hit a tree and was killed.  And just like that, her days were over.  I had last seen her 3 weeks before her death and the last thing she said to me was, “Gail, let’s meet for lunch one day soon.” My reply?  “Okay, we’ll do that!”  She got in her car and left and it was the last time I would ever see her alive.  I remember that day feeling an urge to hug her as she turned to get into her car (probably a prompt from the Holy Spirit) but for some reason I didn’t act on that urge and I will live the rest of my lifelong days regretting that and wondering why I didn’t hug my friend.  And we never did meet for that lunch.  I regret that too.

Sometimes things happen in life that make the fog lift a little and we begin to see the edge of our cliff a little more clearly.  It might be a cancer diagnosis that makes us see through the fog.  It might be the death of a loved one (Laurie’s death sure lifted the fog for me), or it might be a natural disaster such as a tornado, hurricane, flood, earthquake or tsunami. We’ve all experienced a global pandemic for about a year now, and I think that pandemic has helped lift the fog for a great many people, both young and old.

Jesus basically tells us in John 9 to stay in the light because we never know when our day will come.

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You’ve heard the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  You’ve probably asked it yourself.  I sure have.  The pastor explains that the unexamined premise behind this question is the assumption that God owes us all a comfortable life. But he doesn’t. And that’s a hard truth to hear.

Sometimes we place certain idols at the center of our lives where God should be.  These idols might be our spouses, our children, our careers, our money, or our health.  These things all make inferior gods but we’ve placed them in the very center of our lives and we feel God “owes” them to us.  They’re false idols.   If these things get taken away from us unexpectedly, then our world falls apart and we become despondent.  We replace God with these false idols by putting them at the center of our lives, where God should be.  We feel God owes them to us but he doesn’t.  They’re blessings in our lives.  I must admit, I felt so convicted when I came to this part in the bible study.  I am guilty of putting my husband and kids at the center of my life where God should be.  Most of my prayers are prayers to protect them from harm and to keep them safe.  I’m guilty of laying in bed and worrying about their safety and especially about their safety in an automobile.  Maybe that’s due to the fact that I’ve had two very close friends who have died in traumatic car crashes from hitting trees and I worry about it happening again to someone I love.  I tell myself I’m not so sure I could survive if they were to perish in that way.  If we build our whole world around these false idols, then we are susceptible to despair if they are taken from us by death or estrangement.

God is who we should have at the center of our lives, not false idols. 

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Romans 3 says, “Nobody is righteous, no one understands, no one seeks God, no
one is good, not even one.”

Many people ask themselves after a tragedy if God causes bad things to happen to us as a way of punishing us for our sins.  God is not up in Heaven giving out pay-back for each of our individual sins.  He’s not up there on any particular day saying, “Well, okay, let’s see… Gail has sinned and messed up four times today, so okay, I’m going to cause a big ole sinkhole to form in her yard, then I’m going to have her trip and fall down the basement steps, and I’m going to cause her good friend to crash into a tree, and then, oh, yes, I’ll cause her cat to die from cancer, and that should even us up!”  It just doesn’t work that way!

To think that, is to misunderstand the true meaning of the Gospel.

The Gospel says that all of our punishment fell upon Jesus on the cross.  All. of. it.  Yes, there is pain and suffering in the world, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care about our pain and suffering.  God doesn’t punish us for our sins through personal pain and suffering because Jesus already paid for our sins on the cross. We want God to remove our pain and suffering and we often pray for him to do this very thing, when what we should be praying for is for him to walk with us through it.

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God will always do what is right even though it might not make sense to us.  His ways are not our ways.  He will always make things right because He is a just and righteous God.

God desires to refine our hearts and to prepare our hearts to live with him for a life of eternity with the holy God.  He’s more interested in refining our character for eternity with Him than He is in preventing us from having a life free of pain.  He’s refining us and removing our impurities.

Satan will always disillusion us by trying to tell us that God doesn’t care. Don’t buy into that lie.  We’re all the casualties of our sins but God says He will make it right.  And He will.  There will be pain and suffering in our lives but God will walk us through it.  He will never leave us.

It’s been almost eight years since I lost my friend in that tragic car crash.  Time has helped to heal me somewhat and I no longer feel anger towards God over her death.  I guess you can say I’ve come to accept it.  God has never left my side throughout my grief.  He’s continued to walk by my side and the times I needed him to carry me, he did.  A part of me will still always wonder WHY she hit that tree but I don’t dwell on that like I used to because I know it doesn’t matter.  I focus on the happy memories I have of her  and the blessings her friendship brought to my life and I feel very thankful for those blessings and fondest of memories.  I know deep in my heart that God didn’t take her a minute too soon or a minute too late.  It was all part of his perfect timing.

Gail

Posted in Christianity, God, Grief | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Things I’m Loving These Days

I hope you all are doing well and staying safe.  I can’t believe we are already at the end of February!  That doesn’t seem possible.  We just thawed out from both an ice and a snow storm and now we’re having temperatures in the 60s.  I’ve always said, “Only in Tennessee can you have temperatures in the teens one day and then in the 50s or 60s the next day!  I’m still staying in.  I only get out to the grocery store about once a month, to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription or to go through a drive through pick up for a meal.   I haven’t had a hair cut in 8 months and I’m so ready for one but probably won’t even do that until I have at least one vaccine.  I thought I’d do a “Things I’m Loving These Days” post since I haven’t done one in a while.

We finally got snow!  

Snow is not something we see much here in the southeast anymore.  We get more ice than snow here.  I have such happy memories of playing in the snow as a child (back in the days when we DID get deep snows here instead of just the dustings we get now) and I do miss it.  Last week (on Valentine’s Day) we got an ice storm.  It made driveways, sidewalks, and roads very treacherous as everything was covered in a thick glaze of ice.  We got so much ice that it looked like snow.  It sounded like shards of glass falling and I stood out on my porch just listening to it for quite a while.  After the ice storm, we got a good 4 or more inches of snow.  My northern friends probably think I’m crazy for wishing for snow and loving winter like I do.  But I do welcome winter every year and a break from our heat and humidity.  The ice can stay away but the snow is welcome!   I love the bare trees of winter, breathing the cold, crisp air, smelling wood burning stoves and smoke from fireplace chimneys filling the air on my afternoon walks.  To experience the quiet calm and smells of a winter day or a walk in the woods are a joy to me.  I won’t say the long successive gray days of winter don’t get to me sometimes, but give me a pretty snow and I’m ready for a moonlight walk! I love the sense I have knowing that everything is resting and it seems just calm and quiet.  The trees are shed bare and certain animals are hibernating.  This “rest of nature” is all necessary for newer things to happen in a few weeks time.

Even my cats love it (it is something they don’t get to experience much in these parts here) and both were planted by windows when it was coming down hard.

Dakota watching it snow from a bedroom window

Giraffe Cams!

Oh boy, where do I start?  At one point a few weeks ago, I was watching four different giraffe cams!  Yes, I probably need to be committed!!!  There were three pregnant giraffes I was watching.  There was Nasha, the pregnant Masai giraffe at the Nashville Zoo who was to be a first time mother.  I watched her labor one night and knew she was close and then bam, the cameras went down.  Turns out, Nasha was not progressing well and the veterinary team had to intervene.  It was a sad ending and Nasha’s calf didn’t make it.  There was some speculation that she might have stepped on the calf.

Did you know that about 25% of calves in captivity don’t survive?  Many of them die during birth or shortly after.  It gets worse in the wild, and up to 50% of calves don’t survive (mainly because they’re so vulnerable to predators).

And then there is Autumn, a Masai giraffe at Greenville Zoo in South Carolina.  Autumn gave birth to a precious baby girl three days ago who stands at 6 ft. tall and weighed 148.5 lbs.  I watched Autumn labor and give birth live and it was such a treat.  If you missed it, here it is.

I’m also watching a giraffe at Animal Adventure Park in New York who is due anytime now.  Her name is Johari (Joh for short) and she mated with Oliver (Ollie) who was also the sire of April the giraffe’s last two calves.  April is now in retirement and is residing in barn #2.  I watch her and her son occasionally on a live cam too.  April is doing well but is aging and has arthritis and she recently got a new state of the art padded floor to make her more comfortable in her geriatric years.  I had to laugh because the zoo went live on the cam the day they installed April’s floor.  At one point, there were 3900+ people watching the floor installation.  Even my hubby, who has absolutely no interest in watching pregnant giraffes on a live cam, watched it and said it was quite interesting.  There were at the same time, 1700 people  watching the live cam of Johari the pregnant giraffe.  So yes, more people were watching April’s floor getting installed!  I just thought that was so funny… but it is a testament of how much our April girl is so loved.  She is such a gentle giant.  Giraffe watching is so peaceful to me.

Black Beauty– by Anna Sewell

I’m 61 years old and I’m just getting around to reading the children’s book, Black Beauty.  I’ve never been much of a “horse person” and never had much of an interest to read horse books when I was younger.  But this book was on our shelf because it was on a reading list for my youngest son when he was in middle school (he’s 28 now).  I remember back when he was reading the book, he said, “Mom, I think you’d like this book!”  Several weeks ago I was up late flipping channels and the movie, Black Beauty, was on (the 1946 film).  I watched most of it and liked it.  So the other day I saw the book on our book shelf, and I thought, why not?  And so I’m reading Black Beauty.  I never knew the book was told from the horse’s standpoint, which makes it all the more interesting.  I have to say, I’m enjoying it.  It’s always fun to go back and read a good children’s book, isn’t it?

These Tealights

I love lighting candles and tealights all throughout the year but especially during the winter.  I discovered these on Amazon.

I love the box they come in for storing them.  They are so pretty when lit and they burn well and burn seven hours (I’ve had some burn even longer)!  When I ordered a box just before Christmas, there were some red ones too!  Considering you get 96 in a box, the price is good.

Bath and Body Works Wallflower Plug-in Paris Cafe Scent 

I ordered this scent recently and loved it.  It smells just like coffee brewing with a light scent of sweet pastries.  I have it in the room where I’m typing now and the first night I plugged it in, I kept thinking my husband was brewing coffee (which was strange since he doesn’t like coffee).  I think this might be a retired scent but if I find it again, I’ll definitely buy it!

Gail

Posted in Things I'm Loving These Days | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Duck, a Mouse, and a Confused Veterinarian

I think diagnostics was always what I loved most about veterinary medicine.  While I am NOT a competitive person at all, and never have been, I found that I liked the challenge of arriving at a correct diagnosis.  People often say that pediatricians and veterinarians have a lot in common in that their patients can’t talk to them or tell them how they are feeling or what they feel, or where it hurts.  That’s true, and it makes diagnosing cases even more challenging.

To me, diagnosing cases was like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.  Sometimes that puzzle was very easy and straightforward and other times it seemed like I was putting together a 1000 piece puzzle with multiple pieces missing.  Yes, it could be frustrating.  It was especially rewarding though to find all those pieces and arrive at a correct diagnosis.  The veterinarian I went to work for was my mentor and I learned a lot from him about diagnostics over the years.  As a young veterinarian just out of school, I remember something he told me that always stuck with me.  He told me that if things aren’t adding up and the pieces of that puzzle just aren’t fitting together, start thinking cancer.  I can’t tell you how helpful that was to me and how many times he ended up being right about that.  But I digress as that has nothing to do with the case I’m about to tell you about.  There’s not a doctor or a veterinarian around who hasn’t missed a diagnosis at some point in their career.  After all, we’re human, and as the saying goes, we’re practitioners…. we practice throughout our entire careers.  We’re not perfect, although many people think we should be, and hold us accountable when we aren’t.

I am often asked what my most interesting case or most unusual case was while in practice.  I smile when this happens because when I was a child, I used to love to ask my uncle (who was also a veterinarian) that same question.

When I’m asked that question, my thoughts always go to a white American Pekin duck patient brought in as an emergency one night to our clinic.

American Pekin duck
Photo by Hanbo Wang from Pexels

The very excited client said she heard a commotion outdoors and heard the sound of a dog barking and growling and an obviously alarmed duck quacking and went outside just as a large dog chased this poor white Pekin duck underneath a deck.  She ran after the two, somehow managed to run the dog off and away from the duck, and then picked the poor frightened duck up in her arms and brought him in to our clinic.  The duck was in obvious distress and showing rapid breathing (tachypnea).  It was lethargic.  The feathers were ruffled in places and upon exam, I noticed severe bruising in the skin around the base of the feathers on several places on the duck’s back.  Dark reddish purple ecchymotic bruising and hemorrhaging was present all over the duck’s body.

I thought the diagnosis was pretty straight forward.  The duck had been attacked by the dog, was banged around and traumatized, hence the bruising and the shock-like symptoms.   He had taken a good beating.  I began shock treatment and admitted the duck for hospitalization and observation.  We put the duck in a cage with a towel covering the door so as to let it calm down as it was extremely stressed.  It stood in the cage and even drank some water. And then it settled down and closed it eyes.  We checked on the duck every 10-15 minutes and found it resting.

About an hour after the duck’s arrival, I went down to check on the duck.  I pulled back the towel from the cage and was hit by a sight I did not expect to see.  The duck was lying there dead as a door nail on it’s side with it’s mouth open and a dead, obviously regurgitated, soggy, and quite large dark gray slimy mouse was lying  next to the duck’s mouth.  I stood there puzzled, literally shaking my head and doing a double take.  I was so confused!  My first literal thought was, “WHAT THE HELL????  WHERE DID THIS MOUSE COME FROM?” HOW DID THIS DUCK SWALLOW THIS LARGE MOUSE?  WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?”

And then the missing pieces started coming in.  The client confirmed there had been d-con rodenticide poisoning under the deck.

photo from e-Bay

The mouse had eaten the d-con and was poisoned and the duck gobbled up the mouse, which then poisoned the duck.  This is called secondary poisoning.  Did you know ducks love to gobble up mice and eat them quite often?  I didn’t!  D-con contains warfarin or other anticoagulants that decrease Vitamin K levels interfering with blood clotting.   The duck had internal hemorrhaging.  When I picked his little deceased body up to remove him from the cage, blood came pouring from his nostrils.  I don’t think I could have saved the duck with Vit K treatment.  It usually takes 3-7 days for death to occur after a duck eats a poisoned mouse.  The stress from the dog incident probably speeded up the process a little.

So a sad ending for a poor little duck and a poor little mouse.  And a most unusual case that taught this young veterinarian that things are not always as they seem.  I actually learned after I experienced this very strange case, that secondary d-con poisoning is actually very common in poultry and also birds of prey.  In 2014/15, there were some Federal Restrictions placed on d-con and 12 of its products were banned.

I’ll never, ever forgot that case.

Gail 

 

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Virtual Coffee #8

Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

I haven’t been writing much lately so I thought I’d try to get the ball rolling with a virtual coffee post.

How is everybody?  Winter of 2020/21 has been very different hasn’t it?

If we were having coffee today,  I’d tell you that all this staying home doesn’t really bother me.  I’m somewhat of a homebody anyway (hubby and I are so much alike in that way).  I can always find something to do or clean – a drawer to declutter, a closet to clean, cabinets to reorganize.  I’m slowly going through my kitchen cabinets now and getting rid of some things and reorganizing.  I’ve found things I didn’t even remember having!

It’s now been about a year since hubby and I have eaten out in a restaurant and we’re thinking it’s probably going to be at least another year until we do eat out again.  I’m not taking any chances and still mostly staying home, only going out for essential errands and the occasional doctor’s visit.  We do mostly Walmart curbside pick up for groceries and have been very happy with that.  I occasionally go to Publix about once every 4-5 weeks for the things we can’t get at Walmart.  I double mask when I do go out and always have, since the beginning of this pandemic.

Christmas during a pandemic was sure different.  If you know me, you know that Christmas is not my most favorite time of the year and I’m generally relieved when all the hustle and bustle is over.  I did 100% of my shopping online this year and it all went pretty smoothly.  This year, I felt I needed to be surrounded by the beauty of my Christmas lights for just a little longer.  So instead of taking my little 3 ft. table top tree with the white lights and gold trim down on Epiphany, I left it and my two ceramic Christmas trees up until January 31st.  These little trees give me such happy memories of the 1970s when they were so popular.  Don’t you just love them?

If we were having coffee today,  I’d probably tell you about my husband and that he had yet another major orthopedic surgery at the end of 2020.  He had a hip replacement in May and has done quite well with that and had just gone back to work at the hospital (he’s a rehab nurse).  On October 13th, he was lifting a paraplegic patient from a wheelchair to the bed and he suddenly felt and heard a loud pop and felt a burst of pain in his right elbow.  He gently lowered the patient back down in the wheelchair and at that point he said he had the feeling that something bad had happened.  And it had.  A trip to the ER and then to an orthopedist for an MRI confirmed he had ripped the distal biceps tendon right off the radial tuberosity of the radius bone!  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that nursing isn’t a physically demanding job.  He had surgery on November 4th and he was told it will be a long recovery – 4-6 months.  He was in a splint for about 6 weeks with a lot of restrictions.  But he has done well and he’s under good care with a great orthopedist and a good therapy team.  He sees an Occupational therapist twice weekly and he’s now doing resistance training and strength training.  He is a therapist’s dream come true as he follows their directions to a tee and he’s a big believer in physical therapy/occupational therapy.  He’s back at work but not doing much patient care at this point as he still has a lifting restriction of about 5 lbs. So they’ve mostly had him clerking at the desk and also doing some COVID screenings.

If we were having coffee, I’d probably ask you if you plan to take the COVID vaccine.  Hubby, being a nurse, has had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and did well with both.  He had a little of a sore arm and that was the extent of his reaction.  I plan to get it as soon as it’s available and that won’t come soon enough.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I saw my doctor for an annual physical in mid December and we were talking about what else…. COVID-19.   Two days earlier, I’d lost someone very dear to me from COVID and I was grieving and just so darn sad and weepy.  I needed to talk to my doctor about my out of control anxiety and my insomnia, which is about as bad as I’ve ever experienced.  I felt almost guilty when I broke down right there in the exam room telling my doctor I’m just so tired of all of it, because I know he’s heard it all.  My sister had a bad case of COVID in August and she spent 10 days in the hospital on oxygen and here it is 6 months later and she’s still suffering some ill effects (hair loss).  My youngest son had COVID at the end of October/first of November and at the end of November  he suffered a seizure and got rushed to the ER.  He’s 28 and had never had a seizure before so I’ll always wonder if it was COVID related.  They discovered he was a diabetic that night with blood sugars close to 400 and a very high A1c.  Just six months earlier, his blood work had shown a normal fasting blood sugar and a normal A1c.  And now I’m reading that research is showing that COVID can attack the pancreas and cause diabetes!  Yeah, this is a bad news virus.  I would think by this point, just about everyone has known someone who has been sick with COVID or even known someone who has died from it.  I’ll never understand why more people aren’t taking it seriously.  I’m still in disbelief to see how many people don’t wear masks, if not for their own protection, then for the the protection of their fellow human beings.  And I’ll never understand how the wearing of masks somehow turned into a political issue.  I’ll never get that as long as I live.

If we were having coffee, I’d probably ask you what you’re reading and if you’ve read any good books recently.   I read far less this past year than in “normal” years which I contribute to anxiety.  It’s really, really hard to focus on books, even now, almost a year into this global pandemic.  For the same reason, I haven’t been blogging much.  I’ve tried to continue on with devotional readings and that’s probably what’s saved me from complete and utter insanity.  I only read 17 books last year and five of those were rereads.  In 2020, I read:

  1. Heaven by Randy Alcorn (LOVED this book and found it very comforting).
  2. Uncovering the Love of Jesus: A Lent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu
  3. The Grapes of Wrath– by John Steinbeck (this was a reread.  I read it the first time in college).
  4. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail– by Bill Bryson (the first part of this book made me literally laugh out loud and I enjoyed it so much. But I have to say the second half of the book disappointed me).
  5. Bathed in Prayer: Father Tim’s Prayers, Sermons and Reflections from the Mitford Series– by Jan Karon (if you haven’t read the Mitford Series, I highly recommend them!  I’ve read them all as has any good Episcopalian girl… they’re my favorite go-to feel-good books)!
  6. Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare– by Charles Spurgeon (this is an anthology which actually includes six of Spurgeon’s books on prayer.  It took me a while to get through this one and parts of it were grueling, but I liked it and am glad I read it).
  7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn– by Betty Smith (an all time favorite and a reread…. I think I’ve read this book 4-5 times and find a new gem in it every single time).
  8. Before We Were Yours– by Lisa Wingate
  9. And Then There Were None– by Agatha Christie (this was a reread and I first read it as a teenager.  I honestly did not remember much of it or who the killer even was)!
  10. Humility– by Andrew Murray
  11. Simple– by Robert J. Morgan (this was a reread and I wrote a post about this book here.  I love any book written by Robert Morgan).
  12. The Tattooist of Auschwitz– by Heather Morris
  13. Change Your Words, Change Your Life: Understanding the Power of Every Word You Speak– by Joyce Meyer (this was yet another reread.  This book is so full of truth and it’s one I need to go to again and again).
  14. Prairie Tale– by Melissa Gilbert (I was watching the entire Little House on the Prairie series on DVD during the pandemic and out of curiosity, decided I wanted to read Melissa Gilbert’s memoir.  In all honesty, I wish it contained more about the series and less of  her sexual escapades).
  15. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man– by Mary L. Trump
  16. Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump– by Michael Cohen (this book, and the previous book by Mary Trump, were loaned to me by a friend who suggested I read them.  This one left me slack-jawed so many times.  It was difficult for me to get through this one due to the anger I felt while reading it).
  17. Searching for Certainty: Finding God in the Disruptions of Life– by Shelly Miller  (This was one of the year’s favorite reads for me and I highly recommend it.  I LOVED this book and it’s a fitting book to read for the times we’re going through.  I have followed the author’s blog for many, many years and love her writing so much.  Shelly received a terminal cancer diagnosis while writing this book and I was devastated to learn that she died about two weeks after the book released).

Right now, I’m slowly reading Frederick Buechner’s four memoirs.  But I’m still finding it hard to concentrate and focus on reading and blogging but I’m making a conscientious effort to do better at both.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I can hardly believe my niece will be graduating from veterinary school in May!!  These past four years have seemed to sure go by fast to me (but probably not to her)!  Recently, she was home and did two different three-week externships.  The first was in a general small animal practice and the second was in a feline only specialty practice.  She’ll be doing a preceptorship towards the end of her clinical year and she’s very excited about that.  I’m both proud of her and excited for her future.  She’s had an unprecedented clinical year with COVID-19 bringing on a lot of changes to how a veterinary education is carried out.  Vet school is challenging enough and COVID brought even more challenges!

My niece with a Budweiser Clydesdale

Yep, this is how they roll….

A once in a lifetime adventure in veterinary school.
Swimming with dolphins!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you I bought my cats the best Christmas present ever this year.  A Flippity fish!  It’s rechargeable and it really does resemble a flopping fish.  It has been entertaining to watch them and both Nugget and Dakota learned very quickly how to activate it.

Whoever thought of this toy is a genius!  Watch the video below…. cats love it!

Well, I could sit and chat forever, but I’ll end here.  I hope you enjoyed our coffee chat.  Please stay safe and well!

Gail

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Sunday Glory

With every good deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see.

–Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Presiding Bishop Michael Curry- Call to Prayer for the Nation

Amen.

Gail

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A Prayer for Our Country

For Our Country.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Book of Common Prayer

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Sunday Glory

Gail

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