Saturday, August 27, 2005

nibbling at the edges

it has been a very bad week.

most of last night was spent pondering whether i should quit my job. which i love. and no, there isn't something i would do instead. this is my calling. but i am starting to wonder if i will ever get back to where i was performance-wise before the accident. the week was insanely tough, my shortest day at the hospital was 12 hours, all running. no sitting, no eating, no peeing. and that doesn't count or consider time mentally working through cases at home or pages through the night.

i missed an error made by someone i was supervising Monday. i never do that and i cannot afford to start.

then Wednesday i had to euthanize a dog. it was the right call. we had done everything we could and were no closer to stabilizing Cindy, and she was starting to enter the realm of potential suffering. Cindy's Mom made the call and i supported her. the euthanasia was very peaceful for both Cindy and her owner.

that said, it was a disaster for me. it is only the third euthanasia i have performed since my return. all have been the same. after, i had a severe fight or flight response-- you know, like when you were just in a car wreck--sick to the stomach, got the shakes, couldn't breathe. this is an unexpected bit of fallout from the spring and, for me, is a big problem. given the severity of disease associated with my specialty, i lose or euthanize a lot of animals. if i am a teary mess beforehand and have to throw up after, how can i do my job?

then there is all the other stuff that piled on this week. stuff i can barely recall now or don't care to recall, but all of which contributed to a horrible horrible week. i haven't been eating, at all really. [Call Nova.] my skin is scratchy on my nerves. my sleep is clouded by demons on good nights.

last night after sitting on the couch for 3 hours, i went walking. walked about 2 hours, cross-tracing the streets of Old Town. the 'kids' are back--university has restarted. watched them swirl and break like foam on the surf. watched a large (~30) caravan of students on bikes, no lights, take a corner without signaling and narrowly avoided losing a member of the group to a SUV. wondered if i ever felt that immortal, that privileged.

spent 30 minutes on a swing, swinging like when i was a kid and was just certain you could spin over the top if only you could go fast enough.

this morning is a little better. just a little. but i still haven't answered any of my questions.

i wonder how i will round the corner to face my sadness and anger, to even see it clearly. i fear i will fail those above me, fail myself, and be forced to let go of this vocation that i love so much. i don't know how to do any more, to do any different. all i can do--can think to do--is walk, drink my lattes, sit quietly and wait, hope, and breathe. hopefully, this nibbling at the edges will eventually be enough.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

good ol' family fun

Sand monster
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
well, we have done it again. another year distinguished by lazy Gulf-side living, the gathering of dear loved ones and general silliness. we were a bit curious about what Oklaloosa Island would offer this year, given the severity of damage reported after last year's hurricane season. many of the condos were closed, one had been razed, and several were in varying stages of repair.

our old standby sustained minimal damage above the ground floor, thanks to hurricane shutters installed after the last big storm season. the unit we stayed in was on the top floor with a glorious view of the gulf and all it had to offer. the weather was unexpectedly spectacular with clear skies, moderate heat and restrained humidity. for the first time in since i have started going to the beach, we had green flags all day every day.

dune dirth
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
the most striking difference from previous years was the decimation of the beach and dunes (black arrows). during our visit, crews made remarkable progress reconstructing the dunes using shop brooms, wheelbarrows, and Bobcats. unfortunately, even with relocation of the sand and aggressive limitation of human disturbance, it will still take many years for the dunes to regrow. i did note with delight the first shoots of neonatal sea oats emerging from the sand, like new blades of grass, tender and fine.

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
the loss of beach was somehow more striking as the distance from condo to Gulf was only 2/3 of what it once had been. unlike the dunes, this loss is probably more permanent. even with dredging the bay, there is no good way to rebuild the ocean edge. i suspect over time as more hurricanes have their way, the island will disappear, the bay will become land and all the condos will crumble.

four friends
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
in the meantime, one arguable upside is the greater ability to spot dolphins from the condo balcony.

the first two nights there was light rain and thunder while i was out walking the beach. it is a fairly short walk from our location to beach deep in the shorefront occupied by the Air Force base. the night is untouched there as no development is allowed on the base. a peculiar and complete peace fills me when i sit in that dark, the lull of waves and coolness of the rain washing over my senses. an experience to savor.

there are so many reflections and stories to share, but this seems a good place to sign off my first report on life at the beach.

Florida fun

the photos are up and the blog is dragging along. to provide entertainment while i finish wordcraft on the blog, here is the link to the photos. cheers to you all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

off to the beach!

Stormy skies
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
any minute the shuttle will arrive and i will be headed south. like confused migratory birds, every year about now we head to the panhandle in Florida for a week of 'fellowship', food and fun on the cusp of the stormy season. thunderstorms are expected daily but no hurricanes are anticipated this year.

it should be especially exciting this year as it wil be the first time i see my Mom since returning to Colorado in June. she has continued to make a lot of progress on her rehabilitation that i look forward to witnessing in person.

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
every year we endure the threatening experience of birds swarming the wall as fed in the air by the neighbors. it instantaneously conjures flashbacks from The Birds but delights children no end.

Random boy with crab
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.

and every year i engage in creation of a couple large although usually not very artisitic sand sculptures. in most years, i am joined by a random child who has been dragged to the beach without playmates by its parents. these kids are usually overly tan and captivated by my relative 'oldness' and paleness. here is one such kid with a crab we made on 2003.

after a week of long walks, reading and indolent dining, i will return with pictures and stories. be good while i am gone!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Flying Spaghetti Monster

in direct competition against the burgeoning field of Scientific Crustaceanism, the theory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has emerged. please visit this site to read an excellent and humorous rebuke of the Kansas School Board. then click on through to the store to support this noble effort.

ps. if you are having trouble deciding, you could always send me this in green, size large...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

not so confused

in an attempt to clarify their razor-sharp predatory cleverness, the foxes sent an emissary to eat my rabbit. not my personal rabbit. but still...

hmm. maybe that requires further explanation. as many of you know, i am deeply embroiled in a PhD in Clinical Sciences.

'Clinical Sciences? what's that mean?' i hear you mutter.

never mind what it is. focus on the story, alright? okay then.

most of my research revolves around the possibility that we are creating disease by inadvertantly injecting cat proteins into cats along with their vaccines. note i said possibility. unlike the 'scientists' advocating intelligent design, i actually believe in science and the scientific method and not making things up. [this is not to say that i don't believe in the burgeoning field of Scientific Crustaceanism or the all-seeing all-knowing Lobster, but still.] as Bush has yet to outlaw it, i still practice the hard science of science and so am engaged in careful and pedantic study to confirm or refute the possibility of a problem.

anyway. where was i? oh yeah. research.

most of my research focuses on antibody development secondary to vaccination and identification of the proteins involved. to do antibody research, it is important to have antibody of a different species than the target species. to whit, a rabbit. antibody is generated by injecting small doses of the target substance repeatedly over time- a somewhat time-consuming and costly process.

now, it is common practice in laboratory medicine to limit the amount of animals involved by acquiring maximal quantities of the target substance from each individual. serum, as you may or may not know, is a part of blood. so acquiring maximal quantities in this context means

(wait for it... )

humanely bleeding the rabbit to death.

what some of you may not realize is that my boss doesn't like killing things. neither do i. we don't engage in terminal research on cats, and rabbits aren't all that different from cats.


even though we would never see the rabbit, the idea of a dead rabbit made us sad. therefore, it wasn't a hard sell when one of the technicians asked to adopt Rosemary last year. that is the rabbit-Rosemary was her name. Rosemary was adopted out first to the technician and then into a home of devoted rabbit people. the deal was that Rosemary would return as needed to give safe quantities of blood so that research could continue to clarify this issue and maybe even save cats' lives.

as i am now entering serious lab time and the experiments multiply like, well, rabbits about my feet, we need serum. an email was sent out to Rosemary's ma.

but alas and alack. while frolicking about in her heretofore believed to be fox-proof yard enclosure, Rosemary was devoured by a stray fox.

so. here we are. no serum, no rabbit.

tomorrow we will place orders to start growing another rabbit. this, unfortunately, takes several months. after which we will again be faced with the dilemma of harvesting all the sera or adopting out the new rabbit.

originally, in addition of course to feeling sad for little Rosemary and her family, i found it quite a blow. now i find it pleasingly ironic (but still sad).

my boss made a big fuss about the wastefulness of it all. still no rabbit but now no sera as well! but we both know damn well he was grateful someone suggested a home for the rabbit. we also both know damn well that when the time comes we will be looking for another adoptive family.

preferably an urban family,

with really big fences...