2014 rushed in like every new year does. They all scurry in overnight and take over, presenting us with a new number in the morning. At our house sadly we met the New Year with one less furry kid and relentless cold weather. Today, our high is the current temperature of – 6º F. Our low will tumble toward -30ºF and tomorrow it will rebound to all of -14ºF.
We have gotten soft in today’s world, or so my spousal unit reminds me. He is one of those northern Minnesota fellows who “walked barefoot” to school in -30º F weather and rode his bike on icy streets. “It was once so cold” he says as he starts yet another tale “that from my schoolroom window I sat watching a man in his car start the engine. As I watched, the driver took off down the street and amazingly the front tires of the car weren’t moving, they were absolutely frozen in place!” What happened at the approaching corner he was never to know but let me tell you if the tires don’t move that is cold. That day the thermometer read -40ºF in Thief River Falls, Minnesota.
These days, in our litigious nation it is impossible to ignore deadly cold weather. Tomorrow, by governor’s decree, all schools have been closed in Minnesota. Even 3M has closed and is telling people to stay home. Hopefully, people will, in fact, stay home because the more people out and about, the more people who have to be out and about governing them. Lastly, I hope everyone, every creature, will be safe and warm over the next couple of days.
There is always a detour
With just one small detour I will get right in to my favorite things of 2013. First though I want to pay tribute to my furry kid, Fitz Hughes. Our 10-year-old “little guy” (a standard poodle who had been a rescue dog) had to be euthanized a week before Christmas. I took him in to “my vet” on Friday December 13th because of recurring diarrhea, and to be honest, a dire feeling that I didn’t have very long to enjoy him.
He had been listless for a few days and I noticed you could see his backbone more than would be considered normal. His appetite had disappeared in the few days of the recurring diarrhea but when we both realized he wasn’t wagging his tail anymore we knew he was in trouble.
He had been seen by a vet a month prior to his fateful visit that Friday and that vet after running blood tests (all came back absolutely normal other than elevated lymphocytes and signs of dehydration) put him on antibiotics and gave him fluids to help with dehydration. She also did utter a warning that sometimes there are tumors that cannot be detected until it is too late (perhaps this was the reason for my feelings of doom). In reality, he wouldn’t let her examine his abdomen, it hurt him, and she shied away. Had she probed a little further she would have felt the tumor.
After that visit, thinking we were dealing with a digestive issue I had put him on digestive enzymes and probiotics. I also limited his diet to a “no grain” kibble that was agreeing with him. In general, I had done what I could to stop the diarrhea but now that it was back I knew it wasn’t just a digestive issue.
I called and made an appointment with “my vet” not just any vet at my clinic. ”My vet” handles my big guy, Sidney, with ease (not an easy thing to do) and seems to relate to me as well (probably not easy either). The minute Matt Winter walked in to the examining room where Fitzy and I sat on the floor together waiting patiently, he walked up to Fitzy, felt of his sides and looked at me in a very concerned manner. In a hesitant voice he said “I think he has an abdominal tumor his sides are distended. Let’s take him in and do an ultrasound.”
Fitzy was so good and let me hold his head and coo in his ear while Matt looked at his abdomen. We looked together as the ultrasound revealed a huge cavitated tumor that filled the entire void that should have been his abdomen. This grotesque growth hadn’t affected any organs (thus his blood tests were okay) but it basically filled what should be an empty area and it was clear our boy was not long for this world no matter his brave face. He was experiencing cancer at its worst.
We went home with pain killers and the hope that we had a few weeks to say our goodbyes. I intended to spoil him rotten with car rides, meaty bones, ice cream, you name it, life was going to be good for Fitzy but I admit I was tortured by the thought that he might suffer. On Sunday, as I talked to my Spousal Unit about my decision to have him home I said “I just need a sign, just any sign to help guide me”.
15 minutes later I walked in to the livingroom and Fitzy tried to stand up from his bed and couldn’t do it. When he finally did his hind legs were somewhat paralyzed and he kind of hopped on them across the room. I gave him a second dose of pain-killer and reassured him I would not let him suffer, I would pay attention to the sign he just gave me. As my daughter said “Our dogs, we ask them to do something and they do as asked.”
We spoiled him terribly for the rest of the day giving him car rides, feeding him big bones and basically letting him do anything he wanted to do. The next day, with both of us by his side, Fitzy crossed the Rainbow Bridge and an end to any pain or anxiety he might have had. When his spirit left that room a little bit of me went with him.
I feel a debt of gratitude to Matt Winter, of Stillwater Veterinary Clinic, for making this sad moment both respectful and humane. Fitzy passed with no fear, filled with biscuits that he cheerfully ate from Matt’s hand. Dr. Winter is a very kind man and his hug as we left our Fitzy behind was a sincere hug of sorrow. I am sure these moments are not the highlight of his career but he handled a difficult moment very well.
A few nights later in the midst of my grief Fitzy came to me in a dream to let me know all was well on the other side of the “bridge”. He came to my side and did his favorite Downward Facing Dog pose, I itched his back and he ran cheerfully on his way, his little tail wagging again. RIP Fitz Hughes we loved you and miss you terribly but the “Big Guy” is doing his best to keep us entertained.
That detour was a bit longer than expected. Thank you for indulging me. Now having shared a bit of Fitzy with you all I can move on and mention a few favorite things from the year 2013. My readers will know that I am a huge energy medicine person. I believe in the healing energy of the body, mind and spirit. I know I have mentioned it before but homeopathy and my homeopathic doctor, Dr. Kim Lane has done wonders for me. I am not sure, for the scientific types, that I can quantify the positive side effects but people are noticing and mentioning the good changes in me.
As an example of how a homeopathic doctor can help when I lost Fitzy I thought I was becoming depressed. The grief of losing Fitzy simply felt overwhelming, so I made an appointment with Dr. Lane. It was a phone appointment (which she will do now and then) and we talked for 30 minutes. In the end, she prescribed the remedy Ignatia to help me through this grieving period but she also reassured me that from a medical standpoint I was experiencing all the stages of grief and it was perfectly normal. The remedy simply helped me cope with all my human grief but my appointment with this gentle woman helped me smile again.
I also had been having trouble with my right arm, so being a medical doctor as well I mentioned my achy arm to her. She asked me to describe the pain, what caused it, what made it feel better. She thought it was an issue that would pass and advised me to “breathe in to the pain”, so I have given it my best as I don’t take pain relievers. It is somewhat better but I am comforted by the fact that the symptoms didn’t seem to point to anything too significant. I am hoping a tincture of time will do the trick.
I cannot prescribe anything to my readers as I am not a medical professional but I can tell you that Dr. Lane combines allopathic medicine with energy medicine very successfully and I highly recommend her. You can find her website by clicking on her name in the fourth sentence of the first paragraph.
I think you can call this a supplement but in any case it is another “favorite thing”. It is a product for females only and it was recommended by Dr. Lane. It is a product to be used by those who may have vaginal dryness and is called Yoni’s Bliss. If you are embarrassed by the mere mention of such things read no further. For others who have this issue and it is interfering with your sex life or just making you dry and uncomfortable this product is wonderful. It is “all natural, water based, infused with love, pH balanced soothing and non-sticky” and can be used daily as a tissue tonic. I personally find it just makes me more comfortable on a day-to-day basis. Menopause is a challenge for some of us and any product that can improve one’s quality of life is a “favorite thing” in my book.
Recipes, recipes and more recipes
I am trying to think of what I have made more than anything else in the last year and it has to be the One Pan Taco entrée. It is so simple you don’t need a recipe. All you need is the following:
- One pound of ground meat of your choice or some vegan/vegetarian option, my very favorite is ground turkey
- Spices of your choice. I like cumin, chili powder, ground coriander, ground turmeric, salt and pepper.
- Onion, diced
- Green or red pepper diced
- Broth or water
- Cheddar cheese, shredded
- Taco or chili topping of your choice. I like tomato, green onion, avocado, oil cured black olives, medium taco sauce.
Put a bit of lard in a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients and serve your family at the table. Brown your ground meat, chopped onion and pepper in the lard until it is cooked to your satisfaction. Swirl in your spices and cook for a few minutes to brown the spices slightly. Add some broth and cook down to a thick sauce. Turn off the heat, and add the cheese. Cover the pan and let the residual heat melt the cheese.
Bring the pan to the table with either the toppings in separate bowls to be added by each person or just throw the toppings on top and serve. Each person can serve themselves. It is yummy with tortilla chips but vegetable slices would serve as a fine vehicle to get the mixture to your mouth. I like to just put a big helping in my bowl and eat it as is but it could be served over shredded lettuce or cabbage as well. Anyway you do it, it is tasty, easy and healthier than any fast food you could bring home in a bag.
Whatever your life challenges you with in any given year always remember life is for living. Living as defined by Wikipedia is “a condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and DEAD organisms”. Living is not always easy nor are all of its experiences welcome but every second we live we become stronger, more insightful and better human beings.
“Living” means experiencing all the joy and sadness that life offers. Every morning that I wake up, that I am not a dead organism, is another great day of living and I try to take the time to be grateful for that ray of sunshine on my face or that “snowflake that stays on my nose and eyelashes”. I will deal with the sadness and pain of living to experience the heart melting joy of life.
My wish for all my readers is that in 2014 you have the pleasure of living with all that encompasses.