"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo



Monday, November 9, 2015

Eternity in Each Moment

Lots of radio silence here.

Lily had her sutures taken out almost 3 weeks ago. I'm allowed to clean the wound and to ride (my halter bridle doesn't touch the area at all) and things are basically back to normal except for the fact that I continue to bandage her head to protect the head wound as it finishes healing from the inside out. I'm terrified she'll rub it (because healing wounds = itchy) and re-open it. So the bandage continues to go back on in the meantime. Both her and I are completely done with this: Elastikon sticks like a mother but I don't want to ride her with the bandage on because she will sweat under it and then it will stick that much harder. She's starting to become head shy and I don't blame her one bit.


I keep saying "One more week" of bandaging and then the week is done, and it still doesn't look quite as solid as I want it to be before I trust it'll be okay to leave the bandage off. So we continue for another week. And so on and so forth.

Evening bandage check after work.
Seems to be the story of my life these days: one moment at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time.

Charles's work schedule has been all over the place lately so I've been riding alone a lot. For the first time since owning horses in the US, I don't have riding friends. The boarders at this barn are lovely but the people our age aren't the riders: they are the parents. Even then, my riding schedule is completely different from everyone else's so several months into boarding at this barn, I still haven't been able to ride with any of the others. And though I miss having riding buddies, at the same time it's okay. It's not the first time (I rode alone in PR 99.9% of the time and preferred it) nor will it be the last time. And also because I'm living in the moment. I get to the barn, pull the girls from the field, and then decide if and what I'm going to do with them. It's a special kind of relief to not have everything planned down to the millisecond for once in my life.

I am officially not an emergency and critical care veterinary technician anymore, which has been a huge relief emotionally and mentally. After months waiting for this department change, I am now a surgery vet tech, which encompasses the roles of surgical assistant, anesthesiologist,  medical technician and scrub nurse in the human surgical field. I used to think anesthesia was boring. HELL NO IT'S NOT. I don't run anesthesia for spays and neuters: I run anesthesia for complicated orthopedic surgeries, for hemoabdomens, for splenectomies and liver lobectomies, for thoracotomies, laparatomies and joint arthroscopies. There is very little that is "simple" about the surgeries that my doctor does. I know how to use a regular anesthesia machine and an anesthetic ventilator. I set up the OR, select the instruments the surgeon is going to need, calculate the drugs your pet is going to get both pre-op and intra-op, I prepare the fluids, induce your pet, clip and clean him for his surgery and it is my main responsability to keep him alive and pain-free during the controlled death that is anesthesia. When it comes to that line between the life and death of my patients, I am now in the driver's seat instead of at the mercy of Fate.

Photo from the internet, but just so you guys have an idea.
Surgery & anesthesia are to emergency & critical care what dressage is to jumpers. Control and precision vs speed and adrenaline rush.

I like being in control. And my patients certainly manage to keep me on my toes still! And the awesome team of doctors and technicians I get to work with are out of this world. Anesthesia is most definitely feeding into my current living-in-the-moment philosophy. You watch and wait and don't change anything unless something about the patient starts changing first.

Lily has had several arena rides since her return to work and we've also gone out on the trails with company. I think she is happy to have a job again.

"Really??? We're actually going to ride??"


Lily showing Gail's Nimo how to cross train tracks. :)
I've been doing all sorts of stuff with G-Mare: we've gone out solo on the trails, done more groundwork, and even played with a giant horse ball, which she was surprisingly not offended by.






I've also started to do reinless work with Gracie, which involves me draping the reins over the saddle pommel and riding her exclusively off of seat and legs. She is proving to be brilliant at this. I can get her to do a dead halt from a canter simply by sitting up and exhaling. It's magical.

Fall around here is also magical.
She has also been lesson pony twice: one of my coworkers was very interested in the horses so I finally asked him if he'd like to come out. Charles takes all the credit for teaching this mare the patience to deal with newbie riders.

3 words: MEN AND HORSES. Sheesh. I wish I could have taken to riding as quickly as almost every guy I've ever put on a horse has...

Her fan club just keeps growing.
She is also a barn favorite here, much more than Lily has ever been.

Yes, he had ridden before a handful of times many, many years ago.
STILL. This was his second time on a horse in recent history. And already cantering like this.

Gracie says, "Come, new friend! I will show you all the trails!"
So, so proud of that mare and everything that she has become.




"Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour." - Walt Whitman




29 comments:

  1. The wound looks like it is healing well! Not too terribly fast, but well. I'll be so happy for you when you don't have to wrap it anymore. And anesthesia always had me on my toes! I worked in a pretty small clinic, but we would get some intense surgeries and procedures. I preferred to scrub in and assist, but the tremors from the Lyme disease took that opportunity away and broke my heart. I am so glad that you are now in surgery and not emergency.

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    1. I remember your vet tech posts! :) And I've thought about you a lot since this department switch: your clinic did some pretty hard-core surgeries for sure! I was so sad for you when you had to leave because of the Lyme: your love for your job came through so very vividly in your posts. *hug*

      The tricky thing about this wound was that Lily basically shaved off part of her periosteum (the very top layer of bone that skin adheres to) at the top of the wound. My vet was worried that the skin flap wouldn't "stick." At suture removal time, it was indeed starting to stick around the edges of the wound and on the surface but she needed to form more of a granulation bed under the skin to ensure that the top of the skin flap would "stick" to the bone. My vet was thrilled with the progress but since it was still at such a tricky phase of healing, I've continued to bandage to make sure it stays this way. And also to provide a little more padding over the spot where her nose was fractured, between the bandage and the fly mask she wears to protect the bandage. I'm guessing by the time I stop bandaging, the bone will hopefully have also healed! We shall see...

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  2. Wow that guy looks fabulous! I don't know that it's necessarily a "man thing" versus an "easy-going fit individual" thing...granted, two traits that men more often have than women!! People who are fit and who are easy-going and aren't bothered by watching eyes of others/the knowledge of being a newbie find such ease with all things. I always watch them slack jawed and tell myself, "You need to be more like that in life, Liz!" It's admirable. Regardless, great job by your little mare on maintaining patience and enjoying herself!!

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    1. Calm Forward Straight had said something very similar in one of her comments on one of the Charles riding posts, which had left me thinking ever since then. Literally of all the guys I've put on horses, be it formal students, significant others or friends, there was only ever one that didn't take to it like water...and he was an asshole. And he also was not fit at all. So when you eliminate those two basic traits (fitness and an easygoing nature) you are absolutely right: it's not necessarily a guy thing at all, it has to do a lot with a person's personality, the ability to laugh at themselves and not take things too seriously, and fitness. Fitness makes such a huge difference! I told you this story but I'll tell it again for reader benefit: my long-time tech school bestie back in FL, Mio, had always wanted to learn to ride. And at one point I finally had the opportunity of teaching her on a lesson pony I had access to. Mio was hard-core fit: we were gym buddies too. The girl could leg-press the equivalent of her own body weight. I put her on that pony to do balance exercises on the lunge and it was not a challenge at all, even at the trot without stirrups. I ended up removing the saddle so that I could isolate the riding-only muscles; we were both laughing at the time. She was not nervous at all because of her own self-confidence and also because she fully trusted me. She still made it seem enviably easy! It was her FIRST TIME on a horse! And she did share the easygoing personality as well.

      Great point, and I totally agree! :D

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    2. Yes! I think it's both.

      Confidence + easygoing attitude AND physiology. After working with a bio-mechanics trainer for a while, I suspect the male pelvis / hip arrangement may be more conducive to having a relaxed seat from the get go - despite the equipment differences. jmho ;D

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    3. Totally agree re: male pelvis/hip arrangement too! And lol @ "equipment differences"...hahaha

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  3. Sounds like a good switch! Just thinking about working emergency makes me cringe. I don't know how people do it. Emotional exhaustion. Glad you found your way into a different specialty:)

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    1. I never thought I'd get tired of emergency/critical care work because I loved the variety and unexpectedness of it all. The learning curve to get where I was at was enormous and I might not have left if the work environment had been different: a 180-degree change occurred of which I cannot go into the details of. But let's just say that stressing over my dying patient is hard enough when I'm also second-guessing everything my doctor is telling me to do. As a tech you are allowed and expected to bring up concerns about orders, but if a doctor insists that they are correct, you are obligated to do as they say. I could have moved on to a different hospital but it would have meant going back to doing *both* ER and critical care (ICU level care of hospitalized patients) which is monumentally stressful to do together and patient care suffers greatly. It's hard to run a busy ER + try to stay on top of treatments on very sick animals. ICU alone is also tremendously tough physical work. Pet owners don't realize that it's usually one 130-lb tech single-handedly sling-walking their 180-lb post-op bloat Great Dane for his potty breaks outside. Or having to deal with an aggressive animal that is unable to stand up without pain, and having to figure out a way to change their bedding every 5 minutes because they are having nonstop diarrhea. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Emotional exhaustion is the correct term.

      I had job offers for other places but I just didn't want to do ECC anymore. I couldn't do it. So when the opportunity to move into my hospital's Surgery department was offered to me, I jumped at the chance! It's the one specialty I hadn't truly dabbled in yet. I received excellent training in anesthesia in school though, and everything I'm learning is matching up with what I already knew. It's been a really fun learning adventure.

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  4. Glad to see an update on you and the rest of the family/herd (: There is something immensely rewarding about living in the moment- it sounds like things are moving along as they should be!

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    1. Thanks Grace! :) It's nice to not have to plan anything in advance right now!

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  5. I laughed outloud at myself. When you said you were riding without reins, I didn't picture you putting the reins down . . . .I thought you just opted not to put a bridle on her.

    Did she play with the ball?

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    1. She was really funny about the ball. I thought she would play with it because she is such a curious horse but she decided to be very silly about it. She would touch it with her nose if I was standing next to it, and chased it with me at liberty if I was running between the ball and her, which cracked me up. But she wouldn't approach it of her own accord. At one point she was standing at the opposite end of the big arena and I kicked the ball in her general direction. She allowed it to come to a stop next to her, gave it the one-eye, one-ear look, then flagged her tail and did her big dragon-snorting prancing trot over to me, which made me burst out laughing: I am her safe zone! :) She came to a stop next to me and turned to stare at the ball, giving a big blasting snort. Her whole demeanor said, "Mom, what *is* that?"

      The round pen session was on a second day: someone had put the ball in the round pen and I didn't feel like moving it elsewhere in order to work with Gracie so I left it there. She completely ignored the ball initially. I worked her as if it wasn't there and once she was warmed up, I would randomly push the ball in her general direction. The goal was for her to continue working as if the ball hadn't moved. She would pause every time the ball moved and I'd ask her to keep going. The ball would always stop about 3' from the wall and Gracie would then swerve to the inside of the pen to avoid it...and then eventually choose to go between the ball and the round pen wall! She was praised every time she made this decision. Eventually I'd kick the ball towards her then have her change direction *towards* the ball. It was a great exercise for her brain and a great desensitizing session for her that was completely unplanned! One of the things I enjoy the most with her is figuring out what she's going to bring to the table on a given day, and molding the work to her state of mind. She's so much fun to work with.

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  6. wow congrats on the new job change! sounds like a whole new pace and rhythm, and perhaps a very welcome change. also glad to hear Lily's wound is doing well, even if she's taking her sweet time about healing. good luck and hang in there - we never remember how loooonnnngg things take once it's all wrapped up and over :)

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    1. "We never remember how loooonnnngg things take once it's all wrapped up and over" -> This is soooo true!!!

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  7. Sounds like a great job change! Excited for you. And I hope she continues to heal well!

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  8. Congrats on the new responsibilities!!

    After following your blog for a while, I'm sure a job requiring good judgement, calmly dealing with pressure, and doing the right thing in a timely manner is right up your alley. Glad Lily is healing. I hope your vet emergency skills will be utilized at the workplace only for a while. :D

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  9. Congrats on your promotion/role change! That sounds like it has a lot of advantages :)

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  10. It's really not fair how much easier guys have it when it comes to riding.

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  11. I didn't know you were changing jobs but the new one sounds just PERFECT. What a great thing that you were able to do that! I hope it included a pay raise because seriously, I'm blown away at all you do... many things that I thought the vet her/himself did.

    Having seen what happened when I put my son and my daughter on horses for the first time, I agree with what others have said. I think my son did well because a) he expected to b) he's a good athlete and c) he didn't really care what other people thought. My daughter was nervous, worried and convinced she's not athletic (which isn't the case but sadly became more "baked in" by modern culture. Plus, she cared about how she looked.

    I have, however, seen men that were crap in the saddle. See: many polo players. Yes, they can stay on board but they waterski on the reins, flump around like a sack of potatoes and have atrocious seats. I'm referring to men who took up polo in middle age, because they wanted to play polo, not life-long horsemen. There are plenty of THEM in polo, too, and they are amazing riders. I'm just saying I've seen bad ones in particular on the polo field. They get the job done (and can play the game, which is extremely hard) but the horse part is a means to an end and might as well have a motor.

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    1. Oh no, I'm not saying they are better riders in general. I know what you mean about polo! It is huge in South FL. Lily almost ended up a polo pony herself before she became mine: the guy that tried her out decided her temperament was wrong for the sport, which was an accurate assessment, IMO. I can also bring up some FEI endurance riders who literally ride their horses into the ground out in the Middle East: the individuals in question are all men. It's the reason why AERC has been talking about separating from FEI for years now. And some upper level dressage dressage riders who are well-known internationally who ride their horses with their chins on their chests... And also in the Paso world back on the island. I saw so much horse abuse at the hands of men specifically, especially given that I was only one of two female boarders at my 24-stall barn over there. People couldn't believe the stuff I was able to do with my horses without having to resort to violence. In fact, my second Paso, Indio, was a sales project owned by my barn trainer (who was a man). I was helping him with his horses and I asked for Indio specifically. He was so terrified that it took 3 big men holding his head just so I could get on him the first time: he had been taught to bolt the second someone's butt touched the saddle. He responded so well to kindness and gentleness that within just 3 months of working with him, he was a completely different horse. *I* ultimately bought him because I didn't want him to ever have to be that terrified again.

      So yeah: I totally get your point of view! :)

      It's just amazing though, what a difference that initial attitude and added athleticism can make in how quickly a person takes to riding or not! :)

      Re: department change: YES! And yup, there was a raise involved. :D It's nice because I got to stay at this hospital, which I love, while getting to learn an entirely new type of medicine with a truly awesome team.

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  12. Definitely congrats on the role change :D

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  13. I can't believe that with all the talking we did on Sunday that we didn't even touch on your job! I'm so glad it's working out, especially with all the Lily stuff:)

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    1. Hahaha no worries! Thank you Gail! And yeah: the department switch was a big contributing factor in me *not* having a meltdown over the latest Lily stuff!

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  14. Congrats on the department change at work. You sound happier and less stressed out than I've heard you in a long time.

    G-mare is turning out to be such an awesome partner and family member, and I love hearing your updates on her.

    And I totally agree with you about MEN AND HORSES. Something about their center of gravity or something. I don't know, but I've noticed the same trend.

    Sending lots of healing vibes for Lily and hoping she's back to 100% soon. It looks like her wound is healing well. I know the bandaging is a bitch, but I think you're right to play it safe, given her history!

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