All posts by amy

Take A Walk On The Wild Side

Just a few short years ago, I NEVER thought I would be one of those crazy people taking a walk with their cat on a leash.  Until one day…I suddenly was.  All of my life, my cats had done so well living inside, never setting a single paw outside of the house after moving in.  When I first got Burger, it was hours after he was diagnosed with FIV.  The couple taking care of him had tried many times to convince him to be an indoor cat, but he would always escape – even going as far as breaking through windows to get out.  With the other stray cats in their neighborhood, it wasn’t fair to let him roam outside, potentially exposing countless other cats to his disease.

A walk

Lucky for me (and for Bug!), after moving in with me, Burger was suddenly content living as an indoor cat.  However, there were times when I would take Oreo out for a walk that Burger would try to sneak out with us.  I couldn’t help but feel a little bad, but the thought of letting him join us outside never crossed my mind.  I couldn’t take the risk of him running off and getting hit by a car, eaten by a bigger animal, or simply just getting lost.

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The first time Burger got really sick after throwing his blood clot, he wasn’t very active at all – all he wanted to do was lay in the window.  I mentioned to a friend that I wondered if he would want to go outside for small amounts of time, just to lay in the sun with his dog.   That friend mentioned that she had a leash and harness from when she used to let her cats go out with her, and she gave it to me to try out.  Burger adjusted to being out on a leash almost immediately, he was soooo happy to be outside!

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I don’t know what it was about being outside, but Burger started recovering pretty quickly after that first time outside with me.  I still didn’t think he’d have very much longer with me, so seeing him perk up so much after his outings, I started taking him out just about daily, we’d lay in the sun after work until the sun would set.  To this day, whenever he isn’t feeling good, I take him outside for a walk on the beach with me, and it provides an immediate boost to his spirits – and to his health!

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I did have one scare with him, back when I was living at my parents’ house.  A super loud car went by and terrified Burger.  He wriggled right out of his harness and took off in (luckily) the opposite direction.  He tried to jump through a fence to get away from the sound but got stuck in the fence instead.  Trying to get him out of a fence in the dark at 3 am was definitely an adventure!  After that, I realized that after his weight loss, I needed to find Burger a harness that fit!  I wound up going with this one after seeing the good reviews it got on Amazon.  Thus far, he hasn’t been able to escape from it.  A lot of the time at my current house, I’ll shut the gates on the fence and let him walk around the yard without a leash on – he stays right by me until he finds the perfect patch of sun to lay on.  I would never try that when he’s out walking the beach with me, though – too many things could go wrong, so he is always in a harness for those trips.

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Part of the reason that I think Burger did so good when he first started going on walks with me is that initially, I would only take him outside when I was taking Oreo out.  Oreo was his best friend and his protector, I think it helped him feel safe and confident.  He would observe as Oreo rolled around in the dirt and the grass, and then mimic him by doing the same thing himself.  When Buddy moved in with me, most of Burgers walks were with him – Buddy moved more slow-paced, which helped Burger meander and explore more things, watch the birds flying overhead, and smell all of the new scents.  Buddy always let Burger dictate the direction they would walk, and the pace at which they would do it.

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It may seem silly, but I really do think that a huge reason Burger keeps fighting off all of his health issues is because of the outdoor time I give him.  He gets to soak up the sights and smells, and I think that it really helps to enrich his life.  What do you guys think?

SUMMER BUCKET LIST

Spending a few hours at the emergency vet with Burger this afternoon had my nerves going into overdrive.  In an attempt to calm myself down, I decided to brainstorm a list of fun ways to spend my summer.  Last year, I spent my only day off every week either drinking away my misery or sleeping until 4 pm and then binge-watching whatever show happened to be on ION.  Yes, I was miserable dealing with my loss of Oreo, but I completely wasted my summer.  Being at the emergency vet made tons of memories flash over me of all the times I spent in various hospitals with Oreo.  One of those memories included the bucket list I made for Oreo.  I had so much fun checking off all of our adventures!  So…in an attempt to recreate that fun and to have a summer full of making memories, I decided to create a summer bucket list for myself.

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Do any of you have things you want to make sure you do this summer?  What are they?  Even more importantly…do any of you want to help me accomplish my to-do list?!

Happy Summer!
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The Best Career Advice You’ve Ever Received

Once upon a time (3 days ago, haha) a coworker said to me that if the idea of leaving your job doesn’t make you sad, you should leave.  That little piece of advice helped me feel more certain about my decision to switch animal hospitals.  I’ve loved my time at Greece, but the idea of leaving to go to a different vet didn’t make me sad…it felt exciting.  I used to HATE change.  I liked being comfortable and wanted everything to stay the same, no matter the cost.  However, life happened.  It made me see that for the most part, change is a good thing.  You have to accept it and embrace it in order to see just how positive it can be.

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Because sharing is caring, I asked my Facebook friends what the best career advice they’ve ever received is.  Here are some of the answers that I received on the post/via DM:

1. “The best advice I ever got was from my dad.  His advice was to make someone smile.  Best advice ever!”  — Ashley

2. “Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut.  My grampa used to tell me this when going into any new situation” — Dawn

3. “Just be your wonderful self” — Belinda

4. “Take feedback seriously, but not personally.”   — Stephanie

5. “Kill with kindness” — Nicole

6. “You can’t let others stand in the way of you succeeding in your career, sometimes you have to move on from a company to expand and grow yourself, and you can’t let someone stop you from doing that.”  — Savannah

7. “Your job does not define you.” — Todd

8. “Fake it till you make it.  Perception is reality”  — Viv

9.  “When looking for a career, find something that you love to do.  Do it for the benefit of someone else, and be sure to get paid your value.”  — John

10.  “Are you hoping for a dream job? Every job is going to just be a job at some point!” It resonated and it’s true!  — Kate

11.  “Be a problem solver.  Get along with your co-workers” — Bernie

12. “Go with your gut. It’s almost always right!”  — Leanne

13. “Provide value first.  Instead of promoting yourself, promote the benefits you can provide for your employer/customer/client.  Time is your most valuable commodity; don’t waste it and don’t let others waste it either.”  — Jake

14. “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.”  — Rachel

15. “Don’t cut corners.  Do the job, finish the job.”  — Dave

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Please tell me in the comments!

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Depression

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The shadow of depression has haunted me for so much of my life.  The first time I remember feeling it was shortly after my grandpa died.  I was 11.  I remember thinking that what I was feeling was so much more than just being sad, but I didn’t have a word for it.  I tried to hang myself from my curtain rod.  The rod broke, and I fell into a heap, so upset because I couldn’t even kill myself without failing.  I don’t believe that I was truly suicidal at that time…I just wanted to see my grandpa again, and I didn’t know how else to make that happen.

That wasn’t the last attempt, unfortunately.  I met with a therapist who was AWFUL and actually made me feel worse instead of better.  I tried countless amount of meds before I finally found one that worked.  I was on that anti-depressant for several years, until it started causing scary side effects.  I started getting really bad thoughts that I couldn’t push out of my head… wondering how fast I’d have to drive into a tree to die, wondering if I drove my car off the bend at the parkway if I would die or if I’d make it to the road underneath safely; things that constantly swirled through my head that really started to scare me.  I eventually took myself off of the meds and was okay for awhile.  One year ago today, my best friend in the entire world, my sweet Oreo, passed away.  The depression that I had been struggling to push away for so long became too much.  I started self-medicating with alcohol as often as I could, learning to function at work every day despite being hungover or having had no sleep from being up crying all night.  I was falling apart.  Eventually, I mentioned it to my doctor, who immediately put me on meds.  She realized that in addition to depression, I was also suffering from anxiety – something that I had never been diagnosed with before. She put me on a combo of Wellbutrin and Sertraline, and I gradually started feeling better.  Slowly I felt myself wanting to get out of bed in the morning (late morning, but morning none the less) instead of sleeping all day my entire day off.  I am even slowly starting to deal with my extreme fear of fire – I used my stove to make an omelet.  That may not seem like a big deal to many, but it was the first time I’ve gotten the guts to use my stove since I moved in 2 years ago.

Hearing that earlier this week Kate Spade died from suicide, and later this week that a young boy from Greece also committed suicide, my heart just broke for them and their families.  It feels more critical than ever to talk openly about mental health. Suicide can seem especially confusing and disorienting when you’re at a young impressionable age.  With Kate Spade, so many people would never see that coming – what could someone so rich possibly have going on in their lives that would drive them to that point?

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
― David Foster Wallace

  Depression is a disease, not a personality trait.  Depression is an ILLNESS. It’s not weakness. It’s not your fault.  Should I say that louder for the people in the back?  For some reason, mental health still seems so taboo to talk about.  Something that I heard a lot when I would mention to someone that I had depression was “Oh, you don’t seem sad”.  I couldn’t seem to explain clearly enough that it wasn’t just that I felt sad…I felt empty.  I felt alone, no matter how many people were around.  When around friends, I always felt like I was invited out because of pity.  When someone would cut me off mid-sentence, or when I was talking and it was clear that no one was listening, my mind would practically scream “SEE?!  They don’t want you here.  No one cares what you have to say.  Why do you even bother?”  I’m in a much better place now, but those voices still creep back in every now and then.  I still can’t help but walk into a room with new people and be convinced that everyone there hates me and doesn’t want me around – even if they have no idea who I even am.

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”
― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Depression isn’t just sadness.  Depression is hopelessness.  As far as you can see, there is no “getting better”.  There is no hope.  Your mind will constantly convince you of that.  There is a huge difference between someone who says that they are “depressed” because they’re going through a divorce, or got fired from their job, or lost too much money at the casino.  Those events can certainly trigger sadness, maybe even hopelessness.  However as each passing day goes by, those people start to feel slightly better, until finally, they are back to their normal selves.  The divorcee is dating again, the person who got fired finds a job in a field that they’d always wanted to work in, the gambler decides to stop wasting money at the casino and start investing.  With depression, you don’t usually have that trigger.  There are no feelings behind those experiences…you are empty, you feel like a shell.  At least that’s how I felt.

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.

Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”
― Stephen Fry

Talking openly about depression and mental health does help reduce the stigma–little by little.  Sadly, the cost of excellent mental health treatment is rarely covered by insurance. The very best practitioners are private-pay, which means that only the very wealthy can afford the best care.  How is that fair?  Another example of how the world revolves around money, I suppose.

“When you’re surrounded by all these people, it can be lonelier than when you’re by yourself. You can be in a huge crowd, but if you don’t feel like you can trust anyone or talk to anybody, you feel like you’re really alone.”
― Fiona Apple

People who attempt suicide don’t do it because they want to escape their family, friends or their lives. They do it when their need to escape the excruciating pain and anguish is so extreme, so overwhelming, they can no longer see any other rational options.  What makes it even more difficult is that no two people are affected the same way by depression and there is no “one-size-fits-all” for treatment. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you.  It made me feel so broken when I’d get put on a medication that friends had told me worked wonders for them…and I felt nothing.  Or when it was suggested that I try meditation to clear my mind of the negative thoughts, and the exact opposite happened…being left alone to dig through my mind brought out the worst thoughts.

Sending so much love to anyone who needs it today. You are not alone. Things can get better. <3

If you’re suffering, please call 1800-273-8255, and someone will be glad to talk to you. Or text TALK to 741-741, if you prefer texting.

Wake Up Face and a HUGE Update!

This is the look I get when I wake up Burger so I can snap a cute pic of him.  I guess that I would probably give the same look if someone woke me up with a camera in my face.   He looks way cuter than I would, though.  Cats are always camera ready, aren’t they?  No fair!

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Anyway, a couple of updates.

First, on Burger.  He’s still hanging in there, having some really good days (like today) where he’ll eat and drink and play like normal, and some really bad days where he just lays around, eating very little, and sleeps the entire day.  I know he’s getting tired, and I know I’m probably going to have to make this call for him sooner rather than later.  But…there’s a huge part of me that expects him to kick this kidney diseases’ ass.  He’s fought back from everything else he’s been through – FIV, likely being hit by a car (pelvic bone looks like it was broken and healed improperly), getting shot by a BB gun leaving a BB in his ribs, surviving a blood clot, surviving his so many deobstipations…I’m sure there’s even more that I’m forgetting about.  My point being…he’s a fighter.  If anyone can fight this, it’s him.  And I am terrified of giving up on him if he’s not done fighting.  That being said, I would rather let him go a week too early than a day too late; so I’m playing it by ear at this point.  I’ll let him tell me when he’s ready.

Now for the BIG news…

After 9 years, this is going to be my last week working at Greece Animal Hospital.  I have officially accepted a position at Hilton Veterinary Hospital.  This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make.  GAH has been my family.  The clients, patients, coworkers…they have all become my family.  The vets there I have trusted with my pets lives for so many years now, and I have never been let down.  I told my mom today that when it’s Burger’s time, even if I’m working at Hilton I may still have GAH’s hospital director be the one to put him down.  She has cared for him like her own kitty, given him so much TLC and is pretty much the sole reason he has survived as long as he has.  She is the reason that I didn’t put him down a week ago.  She saw more fight in his eyes even when I didn’t.  And since then, he’s had more good days than bad; I am so thankful for each extra minute I have with him, each morning that I wake up to him curled up by my side.

Accepting the position at Hilton was one that I had thought about for awhile.  Ultimately, they made me an offer that was too good to pass up.  It will (hopefully!) allow me to provide for my kitties as I have been, only without going further into debt.  There are also several new things for me to learn at Hilton, which is exciting.  I’m the type of person who loves learning (although was never any good at test taking!) – if money were not an issue, I would take one class every semester for my entire life.  Hilton works a lot in the reproductive field, which I have no real experience with.  They also have a certified dog trainer on staff, and are adding in a therapy/rehab department.  All of those are things that will require a lot of learning on my end, along with any new medications or preventatives they may carry.  Thinking about all there is to learn about is a little overwhelming, but I’m excited for the chance to grow even further in my veterinary field as well.

Friday is my last day at GAH…the day is going to be so bittersweet.  I have grown so close to so many patients, watching them grow older and developing such strong bonds with them and their families…I am going to miss them so much.  My coworkers have been my family, and starting over with a whole new staff is going to be so strange – I don’t even remember what it feels like to be “the new girl”, but I can’t imagine it’s very fun 😛  Luckily, I know a handful of people who work there, so I won’t be completely alone those first few days, haha.

I think that’s about it for today.  A parting word of advice – GET THE SHINGLES VACCINE!  This shit is NOT fun!

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