The Time and In Between

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I love the time and in between
The calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years of
Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out, holding in….

These are song lyrics by another Canadian, Sarah McLachlan.

I’m not entirely sure why they came to mind as I laid in bed a few mornings ago but it struck me that it was, really, the perfect time of day for me.

In between sleep and in between my day unfolding. I gave it some thought.

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This has absolutely nothing to do with the blog but I like the memory from almost a year ago

With Cleo and Sport curled up in bed with me its the time I don’t think about their ages. I don’t see Cleo’s right hind leg slipping out from beneath her on the tile floor. I don’t watch her miss a stair or two more frequently than ever and I’m not thinking about the fact she is at least 14 years old.

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Cleopatra Cassiopeia Carrie Bradshaw Houdini Diamond Fyfe

I watch her sleep soundly in her completely-deaf world up high on her Daddy’s pillow and her breaths are comfortable, peaceful and even. I don’t have to think about her heart murmur, her arthritis, her cognitive dysfunction…

I am not reminded of the fact my beloved Siamese companion who is likely spooned up next to me with my arm draped around him is aging. He will be 19 years old in a few months but I don’t see his fragile frame because he is tight up against my body and his aging blue eyes are closed.

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HRH Sporto Fyfe

It is the time of day I haven’t been to the kitchen yet, where enormous, loud dehumidifiers hum and suck water from the walls that poured snow melt down their beams a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t walked through the wind tunnel created by equally obnoxious fans whirring away to dry out the walls that are wet from the cracked glass that is part of a one-year-plus insurance claim that continues to haunt us.

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my kitchen right now

I haven’t once again faced living with torn-apart walls and debris on my floors because I am lying in our bedroom on the other end of the house- a bedroom we were out of for almost a full year thanks to this claim.

It is a bedroom without a phone (by design) and its far enough away from the phones that when they do ring, we can’t hear them. So it is at this time of day that I don’t suck in my breath every time I hear it ring knowing Alistair is on his hours-long journey from Bismarck to Montana.

He calls at specific intervals, where he has cellular service, knowing I am worrying that day like I do every day, every 2 weeks, as I have done for the past 12 years.

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This guy!

He travels across the frozen plains and through a mountain pass on snowy, windy, often lonely roads and both of us know the length of time it takes to get from Circle to Jordan… from Great Falls to Lincoln… from phone call to phone call.

In that quiet time of day I have not yet caught of glimpse of myself in any mirror.

I haven’t had to look at the woman who is inching closer to 50 and pulling further and further from 40. I haven’t thought about belly fat or the bum knees that don’t allow me to run anymore. I haven’t washed or combed through my thinning, grey hair or wondered when my upper arms became so unattractive. I haven’t tried to squeeze into jeans that I swear fit fine just last year nor have I had to put on my reading glasses yet.

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Yeah. These.

I haven’t had the chance to look out any windows at that time of day to see just how wrong accuweather was the night before. I am blissfully unaware of the inches of snow that fell, or the ones that are still falling and I haven’t had to think about firing Big Red up for a few passes down the driveway.

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Big Red and I last winter

It is the time of day where I definitely haven’t checked my emails or read the texts alerting me to the fact individuals in Hawaii and in Vancouver have been trying to reach me to let me know my stepdaughter was in the ICU after having had an emergency the night prior that led to her requiring 10 units of blood and that things had been harrowing for the surgical team as they struggled to keep her tiny body alive.

I haven’t yet given any thought to the fact we could have lost Whitney and none of us was with her.

I haven’t yet thought about the emotional nightmare she would be going through along with the healing that would have to occur after the arduous ordeal she had survived.

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Just a few months ago on Kauai

I haven’t spent hours on the phone trying to get flights for her father to join her- flights that would take 2 full days and re-route him, if he wasn’t bumped, through San Francisco and Chicago.

I haven’t yet realized, in the time and in between, that I do have those motherly fears and worries and gut-wrenching anguish despite not having had given birth to my step kids.

And then I get up.

And I help Cleo off the bed and I watch Sport use the ottoman to assist himself.

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Miss Cleo, last spring

And I get Cleo her meds (wrapped in cheese) and I change the water dish (always adding ice cubes) and I get Bebe her Greenies because she is meowing at me to do so and I turn the fans off so I can at least think and I look at the calendar to see all of the obligations, responsibilities, meetings and planned events ahead.

I then I start to see the opportunities.

The adventures.

The next date Alistair will be coming home.

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Me

And I do see myself in the mirror and despite the odd wonky tooth and the increasingly- Eastern European-bloc eyebrows that I need to trim I’m actually okay with hurtling towards my 50s because I’m having fun being me.

I know the teeth aren’t perfect because I chose summer school skating over braces when I was younger.

I know the laugh lines and wrinkles are there from countless hours spent laughing with Alistair and our friends and our animal companions.

I know the grey hairs are earned after working hard at a few different careers and that I’m not going through puberty in spandex anymore so maybe its okay to buy a pair of jeans a size up.

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Working hard at my latest career on a beautiful summer day!

And I am so thankful that both Gareth and Whitney have pursued healthful lifestyles into their own 30s because Whitney’s physical strength helped her survive what easily could have taken her life. With 10 units of other peoples’ blood running through her to keep her alive her healthy organs kept doing what they needed to do to get her through that first night.

And the next night.

And the night after that.

Her mom was able to join her on Kauai (amazingly she was going there and was able to bump her flight up a few days) and her husband and in-laws surrounded her with love and support and we were able to talk via FaceTime and before we all knew it she was sent home from the hospital one week ago.

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Looking forward to this!

And I’m so thankful to have an amazing, talented, good man who loves me enough to keep driving 10 or 11 hours every 2 weeks to spend time with me. The same man who knows exactly how to make me laugh and who brought me 3 ferrets for Christmas, knowing they are the best present I could ever ask for! He shares my world view and he gets the jokes. We crack each other up quoting lines from Frasier or bringing Spirt of Loki into the conversation.

We cherish cocktails in the snow-surrounded hot tub with the tiki torches blazing and Hawaiian music serenading us from inside the house.

He has let me love him for 25 years this month and I don’t know what I would do without him.

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Best Christmas presents ever!!!

And even though the insurance claim woes continue, I still have a stunningly lovely house in an absolutely incredible part of the world with vaulted ceilings, the coolest bar in town and room for me to be me.

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Early winter in Paradise

I will have to face a world without beloved spirits at some point and as Dr. Mummy I may even have to have a talk with myself somewhere down the road.

But that time isn’t here yet.

And Alistair is back with me in Montana. Plowing snow in Big Red right now!

And we are hoping to FaceTime with Whitney later today and talk about our lives and how she is feeling and how she isn’t going to put taking surfing lessons off anymore because she has learned the truest, most pure value of every given day.

Including the time and in between.

How lucky we all are.

PS- donate blood!

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Earning those laugh lines with great friends

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More great friends

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Last winter with Cleo

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Blue-eyed beauty

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This guy!

 

 

 


 

 

 

Derby Day! (Or, One Eye Watching You…)

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Derby Day!

The 140th running of the Kentucky Derby will sweep me & my imagination away to join the crazy-hatted ladies and mint julep drinkers at Churchill Downs.

I tried to accessorize my hat but it just didn’t pan out:

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We aren’t really connected to the horse racing world but its fun to pretend.

I did a rotation in vet school where we spent a week working with the track horses and their very quirky caretakers.

And we have owned several former racehorses- Blaze, Willow, Daisy and Katie. Katie is the only one of the speedy gang left now but when we brought her home, she and Blaze raced each other up and down the fence line for weeks.

Those two loved to run.

But Derby Day is a different sort of anniversary here on the Fyfe Farm.

It has been two years since I experienced horror, shock, fear, grief and shame on this very day.

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Fright I didn’t know I had in me.

Horror… which is saying something for a veterinarian.

Shock, because this sort of thing just doesn’t happen.

Shame. I carry it with me to this day.

I learned, two years ago, on Derby Day, that not all ferrets get along with all guinea pigs.

Some ferrets want to eat them.

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Enter Calypso, who had just moved in with us a few months prior. He’s an adorable cinnamon ferret who came to end Phillipa’s heartbreak at losing her second boyfriend, Cousteau.

(Yes, these two and their predecessors were French, and, yes, they speak with French accents.)

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Phillipa had been with us for two years already and had never made a move on the Guinea Pigs. Mind you, I generally always kept the door to the pigs’ room closed.

Until that particular Derby Day, when I was thinking of fast horses, sipping wine, missing Alistair, missing Blaze, having a shower to clean up for the run, and letting the ferrets out for a romp.

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I didn’t remember to shut the door.

Guinea Pigs make six recognizable, distinct sounds. That day, I heard a seventh.

Shrieking like I had never heard. Screaming from the tops of their tiny lungs with absolute, unmistakable, blood-curdling fear.

As the ponies were running for the roses I ran into that bathroom to find cute, pleasant, petite Phillipa holding onto Marmalade, who had puncture wounds on her little orange head.

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I grabbed Phillipa as quickly as I could, figuring she was trying to kill the little piggy and locked her back in the ferret den (aka “Quebec”).

I ran back to the bathroom to check on The Girls. That’s when my heart really sank and I started to freak out.

Our cute, chocolate, caramel and white piggy, Cadbury, was in her little ‘house’… the interior of which was covered in blood.

So was Cadbury. Shivering, quivering, shaking, burbling, bleeding Cadbury.

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And her right eyeball was hanging out.

Yeah, its gross, but there you have it.

I started saying, “No, no, no” over and over. I was shaking, realizing I was unequipped to deal with the situation.

I’m a veterinarian but I am not an exotics specialist who knows how to deal with a Guinea Pig in shock with massive blood loss and a hanging-out-eyeball.

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Guinea Pigs have a ‘venous plexus’ (lots of blood vessels) in their eye socket. I guess that’s where Calypso chomped down. He also chomped her in other areas, leading to a broken nose and many wounds all over her chubby little body.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do.

I held her. For a long time.

I told Cadbury that I loved her and that I would do whatever I needed to do. (Marmalade was moving around and not bleeding anywhere, much less injured than her sister.)

At some point during all of this, Calypso sheepishly sauntered into the bathroom, his chin, chest, abdomen and paws also covered in blood. Not his, of course.

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“Oh, my,” he exclaimed, “I have no clue what happened in here.”

Yeah, right. Asshole.

(I will add now that I absolutely love ferrets and this blog is in no way suggesting that you shouldn’t own one because you should! You just shouldn’t let them out when you forget to shut the door to the piggies.)

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As luck would have it, my new textbook on Exotic Animal medicine had arrived a few days prior. Talk about an upturn in my exotic animal learning curve.

Cadbury wouldn’t let me touch the, er… eyeball, which, to be honest, was fine. It creeped me out.

I cleaned their wounds and whipped into town to my clinic to grab some piggy-appropriate antibiotics (go, Baytril!) and anti-inflammatories (yay, Metacam!)

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I called the emergency vets in Missoula who admitted to having as much knowledge as I had.

So I winged it.

I hand-fed Cadbury, making sure she was eating her veggies- lettuce, parsley, carrots, and cucumbers. Sitting in my lap she would reach for and eagerly take each piece, one by one, which gave me hope.

I drove home at lunch every day for a week, telling nobody other than Alistair and my staff what had happened.

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Morning and night I syringed the medications into both of them (no small feat- those mouths are tiny!)

I hand fed. I told them I loved them.

I could never get a hold of that dangling black, dry, horrific-looking, deflated eyeball but the other wounds all began to heal.

Alistair made it back from ND the following week. He was upset to see our little girls so chewed up. He was amazed they were alive.

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And then, one morning, Cadbury was chirping again. Whistling and scooting around their little pen, much more active than she’d been since the attack.

Her eyeball had fallen off!

And she was excited!

Not something I wanted to post on facebook, you understand, but I, too, was ecstatic!

Now my little one-eyed wonder is back to normal with her red-headed buddy. They whistle, they chirp, they say ‘booda booda’ and ‘voot voot’. They call to me when they hear me open the refrigerator if its around the time of day they get their fresh veggies. They call to me when I walk past their bathroom, differentiating my walk from everyone else’s.

I talk with them all of the time, just like I did this morning, sharing that I would be sharing their story and the significance of the Kentucky Derby.

Guinea Pigs aren’t the most interactive pets but our girls certainly have a relationship with me.

I’ve never blamed the ferrets. The whole thing was my fault.

I live with that better than I might have because Cadbury lived.

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Calypso learned all about karma himself but that’s for another time.

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Where there is life, there is hope.

Like with blind Loki, I wasn’t going to give up on Cadbury.

Even with the dangling eyeball.

For today, I will clean up for the run at Churchill Downs and hope for fast, healthy horses and solid ground.

And maybe tonight, my whistling, tweeting, one- and two-eyed Guinea Pigs will get an extra piece of celery and a few more sprigs of parsley.

And I will tell them I love them.

Which I think they know, but its always nice to hear.

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