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Catherine Fischer

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Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There! [Sep. 30th, 2004|05:36 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |recumbentrecumbent]
[music |Piper frog chorus, outside.]

Where to begin? I owe you all a month of Sundays in writing, and my life has been far from uneventful! To begin again, at the beginning…

Virgin Gorda, the first week of the break

There was a mix-up at the airport in Tortola (Beef Island Airport – don’t you just love that name?) – Clayton, the nice fellow I’d been dealing with at the Biras Creek Resort front desk gave the ferry operator the wrong time (he obviously didn’t read my email very thoroughly, and gave my departure time from St. Kitts as my arrival time). Not that unexpected, really, in the Caribbean. So after paying for a phone call to Clayton, I was put on the regular North Sound Ferry – Biras Creek was the last stop, and I was the last person on the boat. The sun set in flaming display behind me, the hills shrugged on cloaks of night, the features of the landscape took on mysterious obscurity, the stars came out in brilliant profusion. I arrived about 7:30, and Kara and Laura were waiting, waving in the near-darkness from a grand terrace above the boat dock. The person who met me at the shore in the cart drove me and my luggage straight to the room, which was warmly-lit, beautifully decorated, and inviting, if a bit small for three; Kara and Laura were there straight away, filled with news of this wonderful place and their adventures so far.

It was dinnertime, and I was famished; I did a quick change for the restaurant (the meals came with the whole resort package), and we headed up. About 30 feet from our door, the Atlantic Ocean rolled gently against the shore; its music followed us up through the lantern-lit garden paths, up through the ocean breeze under the canopy of stars, up to the restaurant crowning the hill like a castle, its terracotta walls and terraces blending in with the surrounding hillside, the garden breaking in waves around it. The restaurant was elegant, with a well-stocked wine cellar (including vintages from Santa Cruz!), a wonderful bar, and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Everything was phenomenal – suddenly, all-inclusive became a much better deal. We ate and talked and talked and ate – I ate far too much – until at last, logy with food and drink and the exhaustion of finals and travel, we stumbled down through the garden to the cozy room and the comfortable beds, and I was so tired I didn’t even notice how warm it was when the breeze stopped in the middle of the night (I had a bed in the living room, which wasn’t air conditioned; however, as long as the breeze from the Atlantic made it through the sea-grape trees and through the screen door, it was quite comfortable).

The next morning was bright and warm, and a cacophony of smooth-billed ani woke me early; the shower (through the bedroom which Kara and Laura shared – past two squeaky doors) was open-air, the morning sunlight pouring in over the top, past the waving sea-grape branches. It was splendid. Once Kara and Laura woke, we spent some leisurely time (what bliss!) catching up, hearing some of each others’ stories (Kara and Laura had just spent a week in New York – their first time there – and had much to say about it), creating some reality in the present. It was wonderful to be in the company of two people I love, yet I often felt so estranged from my life before vet school… Now, it seems, my home and comfort zone is here in St. Kitts, at Ross, with about 550 other Rossies…reality redefined.

**(From here, I’ll enter what I wrote in my travel journal at the time.)**

We are 30 feet from the Atlantic. The breeze blows in the screen door across the bed I sleep in, bringing the morning song of the ani and waking me. Ther is no easily accessible reef from here without checking out one of the Boston Whalers and heading past Saba rock, but the private lagoon where the Hobie Cats and sea kayaks and hammocks beneath the palm trees are is filled with the transparent bells of moon jellies, their purple markings like landing signs for alien spacecraft, beating slowly through the water all around me. Laura got stung, which she said was about like a bee-sting, then went away. Kara is creeped out by them and won’t go far in the water. I am thrilled by them.

Blue turbidity
In the nacreous directionless space
Beneath me
Moon jellies pulse
In silent antediluvian rhythm
Long lost to the surface world
And in the face of such slow grace
I am entirely ephemeral:
One moment only of sunlight on the water
Then gone.


The food here is exquisite, to die for. I eat entirely too much each sitting, which bothers me somewhat – I don’t particularly wish to reacquire the weight I’ve been so proud of losing! (and I still want Brent to find me irresistible when he gets back!)

I finally heard from him today (8/15/04) – he made it home safe and sound WITH his luggage, spent all evening until way too late being grilled by his family about me. Hee. For some reason, this makes me insanely happy. His appointment with the ENT was bumped up to tomorrow, too, so hopefully the surgery will happen and he’ll come home sans medical problems. I ache for his pride every time I remind him to put on “snuffy”, every time he imitates himself snoring (he has sleep apnea, due to some conformational problems with his internal nasal choanae and soft palate – he has to use a “c-pap” sleep apnea machine with a mask and hose, which he says makes him look like Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street. He does a pretty amusing impression of this, actually).

I sent him my grades – B+ in both Diagnostic Imaging 2 and Small Animal Surgery – haven’t heard about his, but am still hoping that my reading is accurate and he will get better grades than he previously thought (even if he doesn’t make highest honors at graduation). (Note: his grades were FINE.) I worry about his fit of depression on Friday – I hope that’s a rare thing, born of sleepless exhaustion and the wearing stress of finals. That radiating petulance…I could see myself spending a life bending over backwards attempting to soothe and ameliorate a foul temper, and the vision is unpleasant to contemplate. But for our first “off” day, it wasn’t bad. I suppose I have my moments, too. I know I haven’t been entirely myself this trip, still trying to “wake up” to some sense of reality, get it through to my brain that finals are over.

I will listen, listen to my heart in all things. I will stay on my chosen path, steering toward my own dreams. I’ll set sails of silver, and sail toward the sun…No more convincing myself to gloss over my doubts. I will address them, and hear and see the commitment from Brent in meeting me halfway. He wants this; he’s told me so repeatedly. I want this, too, as long as we’re both still good for each other.

Today after lunch (after snorkeling and a beach bar Painkiller and a nap in the sun and a bad Teva sunburn on my feet), we fed hibiscus blossoms to wild iguanas. I recalled a theatrical production using a fall of hibiscus to represent blood, which I had found beautiful, moving; I could ascribe no meaning to this in current context. I feel myself wanting to slip into metaphorical literary-speak, be subsumed by the aching famished poet crying wilderness within me, but it just isn't appropriate in present circumstances, present company. Three earth signs, we – Taurus, Capricorn and Virgo – and O, the similarities and differences between us! I feel selfish for wanting more of Kara's company. I really love sharing language and a passion for literature with her.

I am studying while Kara and Laura go on a sunset sail; they got it as part of their travel agent’s package, and by the time I found out about it, the cruise was full. I think I will study in the bar after getting ready for dinner, overlooking Leverick Bay (and gross anatomy). In the long silences while Kara writes and Laura reads, sometimes, I wish I were home in Cloud 9, my Castle on the Sea. I feel guilty for thinking so.

**(Back to present day commentary)**

The trip passed in a golden blur: walks through the silent summer garden, reading on the beach, talking in the lavender hush of evening, all suffused with the constant song of the sea surrounding us. Alas, Laura and Kara didn’t get as much out of The Baths as I had hoped – it was one of the great wonders of the area, for me. The sense of being Indiana Jones, the first to explore the water caverns with the Caribbean sea lapping gently under the great stones, the light wrapping around and under, lighting up the angles and wind-carved hollows…the first to leave footprints on the perfect beach at Devil’s Bay. Neither Kara nor Laura stepped foot in the perfect water. (Later, they told me they were still pretty jet-lagged, and tired from waking up so early.) I snorkeled off around the corner while they talked, lying on the beach, not paying attention. I felt like an outsider, a bit, and somewhat resented for dragging them out there that early. The underwater world was, again, spectacular there. Crisp corals, brilliant communities of fish, feeding, the tumble of underwater boulders like the drowned ruins of an ancient city. That impression of ancient ruins is what got the island directly across a short channel from Devil’s Bay its name: Fallen Jerusalem. It is gull-haunted, empty, wind-scoured, surrounded by the perfect gemlike blue of the water. I swam a good way out into the channel, then got uncomfortable at the lack of cover and the potential for sharks, the fact that Kara and Laura were around the point and unaware of where I was. I swam a good ways down, under some giant boulders, on the return trip, feeling lost in another world – the one I dreamed about so very long ago, in early childhood. We all hiked back to the Top of the Baths through the craggy, cactus-filled landscape, mostly in silence.

On some level, the silence was needed, and what I craved – I spent much of my time on Virgin Gorda wrapped in it, in time to think. Certainly, I had much to think about. But it also heightened my sense of being outside my element – of having joined one world at the expense of my membership in the one I came from. Perhaps it was just me, but many times, I felt like a fifth wheel, intruding on Kara’s trip with her mom. The rapport they have is so established, so polished, that I could find no foothold to enter it, though I love them both.

To be fair, I don’t usually vacation the way many others do. Lying around, doing nothing, is seldom what I seek, even though I enjoy relaxing – at least to a certain extent. But adventure, exploration, and new experience are what charge me up – interaction with the world I seldom get to see while I’m in school. Yes, I always need time during the breaks to maintain my inner landscapes. But part of me needs new outer ones, too.

Back home after one final sumptuous breakfast, I manage to keep my mind at least a bit on my studies – it feels like I’ve never left, like nothing has changed, like the semester is still going. Unreality sets back in again. I stay in Right Claw South for the night, as it’s 3 minutes from campus, wake up to my cats howling for breakfast, head in early for the exam. I have gone through the tutorial, have reviewed all I had time to review (leaving the bulk of the material rusty and unused for a few semesters, dusty from the back of my brain), prepared the best I can. Many of my classmates are there, and others from 5th and 7th semester, too. We listen to the overly-precise instructions, file in, hand in our ID, are assigned a computer station. The proctors (several of our own professors, overseen by two members of the NBVME (National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners) circulate throughout the room like sharks – I hate it most when I feel I’m flubbing a question in pharmacology or toxicology with Dr. Shokry behind me, or a question in immunology or virology with Dr. Gyimah behind me. I’m letting my professors down! *Sigh.* How quickly information is forgotten!

During the lunch break, I compare how much I’ve forgotten with other classmates – most of us have adopted a passive, shrugging-the-shoulders sort of approach to the test, as though we’re caught in a current and can do nothing about it now. For the most part, it’s true; it also keeps us from completely freaking out. We finish after 6.5 hours of testing; none of us are particularly able to think anymore. I feel numb. Still, I find out that the person I have occasionally hired for cleaning is available this afternoon – I go pick her up, and we hustle through an initial cleanup at Cloud 9, scrubbing up after Robin (“P.S. Kat – anything I left behind you can toss or keep. Good luck.”), who didn’t bother to clean anything or even throw her junk away. Or even spell my name right. I move the cats in that night, and spend my first night alone in Cloud 9.

The waiting begins. Moving keeps me occupied all day throughout the week, but the nights are lonely, and I’m usually too tired to go out (don’t really know who of my friends and acquaintances are on-island, anyhow). Brent is not a particularly effusive writer, and I begin panicking at his silence (I’m particularly prone to it, these days, it seems). Revisiting how fast I’ve rushed into things, the things I’ve said and done…I know I’m being foolish, needy. Have I always been this way, or is this new? I have no concept of who I was, anymore, and am forming a new understanding of who I now am.

The night Brent is supposed to arrive, his flight is terribly delayed, and he misses his connection from San Juan home. I wait at the airport anyhow; I finally receive word that he didn’t arrive. Go home; there’s a message on the machine from him, from the hotel room he’s stuck in in San Juan (in a crummy hotel, too – the airlines went cheap on him). I call him and talk to him a bit, still feeling like I miss him more than he misses me – feeling sorry for myself. He’s supposed to come in at midday the next day, so I stay up late, watching movies.

His flight the next day is further delayed. And delayed. And I begin to wonder if he’ll make it back on time, before we fly out to Dominica the next day. But at last he’s there – and when I go to run into his arms, our friend Sven on the Welcoming Committee steps in the way, treats Brent like an incoming new student, until I kick him. So much for flying into his arms! Brent’s weighted down like a pack mule; I try to relieve him of some of his luggage, drag him to the car, chattering the whole way. Once the luggage is loaded, I say “let’s try that again…” and it’s a much nicer, slower, sweeter kiss this time.

Home again… the fancy dinner he didn’t make it to makes a lovely lunch. And in addition to packing for the trip, we still find time to spend the afternoon in each other’s arms. The most romantic vacation of my life begins.

The next day, our neighbor, Audrey, and her visiting wife, Hillary come up for a homemade minestrone lunch, then take us to the airport; we fly out to Dominica, by way (alas) of Antigua. I hate that airport. It’s always crowded, dingy, dirty, full of incomprehensible echoes, has the poorest seating arrangement in the world, where you have to climb over people to get to vacant seats (when there are any), is without air conditioning and is full of jet fumes. The lines are long, the people are rude, transferring passengers (or even continuing passengers who are always forced to get off the plane in Antigua) are required to wait in the long lines to go through security all over again. Utterly hateful. But I read Harry Potter aloud to Brent, a little, and our flight is on time, for once. Flying into Dominica is as green, lush, and tropically beautiful as I remembered, and Brent has his face pressed to the glass to see it, eyes wide in wonder. Dominica is the most beautiful island in the Caribbean, easily, and Brent is as awed and delighted as I am, as I was the first time I laid eyes on it. Getting through customs and getting the rental car is effortless, and we’re away! The drive from the airport to the hotel – Papillote Wilderness Retreat, one of the 7 wonders of the world – is about 2.5 hours, and the sun sets before we arrive, so we arrive in darkness – a pity Brent can’t see the beauty of the place, but we wake up in it the next morning, make love surrounded by the sounds of the garden, run down to breakfast just before it ends. We’ve been given the mermaid room – the mermaid has become my talisman, my guide these days. I take it as a good omen. Water, water everywhere…we spend the next couple of days drowning in each other, wandering the garden like Adam and Eve, making love for hours, talking, crying, sharing everything in this beautiful place, crazy in love. I end up with a kidney infection on the last day at Papillote, unfortunately, but Brent is immensely solicitous, taking wonderful care of me, getting my painful self up to the next place we’re staying, high on the mountain above Papillote: Roxy’s Mountain Lodge, in Laudat. (Papillote closed for the season, to effect renovations and repairs; we wouldn’t have left, otherwise.) Roxy’s is pretty Caribbean: funky, cobbled together oddly, missing amenities one would normally take for granted, like fresh towels, or non-moldy linens, but we’re in the honeymoon suite, with double doors at the foot of the four-poster bed that open onto a balcony overlooking the rooftops of the world – all the lush green rainforested mountains in fantastic display – so we take it as an adventure, and decide to stay. We’re the only guests there, which makes dinner a personal affair (and there’s enough food to feed at least 4 people). The dining area clearly shows the incompleteness of the building, with a second storey no staircase serves, rooms like empty eyes and gaping mouths. It’s somewhat eerie, and gives the place a haunted feel, which we love. And from here, Titou Gorge, that sacred place, is a 5-minute drive, and all the mountain hikes surround us. In the morning, we can hear the wild parrots feeding in the trees; at night, after the locals with their impossibly loud music have gone to bed, we hear only the rain, the wind, and each other. I love the off season.

In Roseau, we find the dive shop we’ve had recommended, arrange for a day of diving. On the dive boat, right off the bat, I notice that we’re required to set up everything ourselves, we’re not introduced to anyone, we’re not told where we’ll be diving – it’s like being on a marine Greyhound bus. The first dive, supposed to be a drift dive through the intense current, is entirely fubar – we end up swimming against the current (and losing – it’s STRONG), trying to follow the person we think is our Divemaster (we’re not sure; he wasn’t introduced, and no dive brief was given before we were told to get in the water). We were underweighted, and so had to struggle to get to the bottom – I thought I was going to lose Brent. We weren’t given a bottom time or maximum depth, and ended up – the whole lot of us – at 90 feet. And since Brent uses up his air faster than I do, and we were both fighting the current, we were sharing the last of my air while attempting to ascend slowly…we popped to the surface like two corks. Back on board, the Divemaster (Ryan) apologized profusely, tried to fix the weight problem, promised he’d give us a decent briefing for the next dive. We drove around for a long time, denitrogenating, following a pod of dolphins who played and leapt in our wake and across our bow, then went to Champagne Springs, where Dad and I snorkeled last time! It was, alas, a very shallow dive, and I was still underweighted – eventually gave up and just stayed at the surface. Finally, the Divemaster came up and asked what the problem was, and I was able to convey that I was underweighted – he gave me one of his weights, and I was able to dive! During this dive, we saw two amazingly well-camouflaged frogfish (in deep blue), and a brilliant orange seahorse! It was beautiful, but nothing like Saba, and Dive Dominica was nothing like Sea Saba, either. Worn out from our exertions, Brent and I enjoyed a lunch at Coco Rico (the café Dad and I loved so much, on the waterfront), bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate our trip and some fabulous hazelnut grenache chocolate, and headed back into the rainforest.

One of our days there is spent driving around the island, visiting various attractions. On the way to Emerald Pool, I cannot find the road up into the mountains, which I’ve driven 7 times before, and we end up – twice – in a village known as Massacre. Which acquired its own Monty-Python-esque sort of humor, reading the signs: “Church of Christ Massacre”, “Massacre Union Church”, etc. We did, however, finally get directions after I gave up being stubborn, and made it to Emerald Pool – it’s apparently a popular local spot, as well as a tourist attraction, because there was a lot of graffiti and trash (we picked up the trash). We waited for the pack of local teenagers in the pool to leave before we venture in, as the water was cold and they were busy splashing each other; on the way out of the pool, the girl dumped all of my clothes in the mud (deliberately or accidentally, I don’t know). But after they’re gone, we swim under the falls to the cave at the back of the grotto, and look up through the impossible green of the forest, imagining this place before it was discovered, exploited.

It takes all day to wind through Carib territory (where I bought a couple of great baskets for the Fresh Market), up to the north end of the island (which looks like the Lost World) and Portsmouth, where Ross University School of Medicine is; we take a twilight trip through a rainstorm up the Indian River, paddled by a guide, watching kingfishers work their stretch of water, under the parting sun’s last gift: a rainbow ending in and reflected back in the mirrored surface of the river. We arrive cold and wet for dinner, but the place we’ve had recommended to us is all it was promised to be: 5 feet from the Caribbean sea, and dinner an enormous feast of crayfish, roasted plantains, roasted potatoes, fresh salad, spiced rice, and fresh fruit – served on a banana leaf. Lamenting that we hadn’t packed up all of our stuff, so that we’d be free to stay at Sister’s Sea Lodge (the attached hotel accommodations), we drove home in darkness, tired. Fortunately, the route we took was quick, and we were home in bed before we thought we’d be.

The trip that stands out most vividly in my mind, however, is the visit to Titou Gorge. It is a place of awe and wonder, a pool edging out of a black split in the volcanic stone, canopied in overarching rainforest ferns. The waterfall at the very back of the gorge absolutely radiated power; entering that final chamber felt much like creeping into the temple of a watchful god. I had really wanted to take Brent there, to share the experience, as it was sacred to me, but each day, something didn’t feel right about going, and so I put it off until almost the end. Finally, it felt like time, and we went. As we were walking up, a pack of locals were departing, so the place was quiet when we arrived; the water, cold in the brilliant afternoon sunlight felt good after a moment or two. Breathing out the shock of the water, we swam into the sun-dappled darkness, glorious green light above our heads, silent in amazement. To my dismay, I noticed some locals had scribbled unintelligible words on the stone in the outer chambers – desecration of a place they clearly do not understand. But at the end of the swim, the waterfall flowed rushing into the final chamber, radiant with its own light, resonant with power, and no sign of human trespass showed here – even the vandals must have felt it. And then it hit me. Tethys, my Goddess of the deep blue sea, is also goddess of underground springs and hidden water – this was Her temple! And suddenly, I remembered her gift: the visions I had, sitting on the stone on the cliff face above South Friar’s beach, watching the sun set, when I asked her what was happening to me, what Brent and I could possibly be for each other. She gave me back my sense of self-worth, so that I no longer felt like used and damaged goods, secondhand, a liability to anyone who might want me or trust me. And by showing me a glimpse of the future, without fear, she gave me Brent. I told him this in the penultimate chamber, standing on a stone in a perfect pool of sunlight, and there, in tears of joy and amazement, we vowed our love, our promises for the future, to each other – the Goddess as witness. Before we swam out, I silently thanked Tethys for her astounding generosity.

On our last day there, we walked to Trafalgar Falls, right next to Papillote (now closed); Brent was wearing his swim trunks, and swam in the lovely cold water beneath the Mother Falls, in the pools between the tumbled boulders. On the way out, I drove the Pajaro over the scariest off-road track I’ve ever tackled (mostly boulders washed down by the heavy rains) in order to show Brent the geyser (he’d never seen one before); unfortunately, he had visions of some of the giant geysers in Yellowstone, so the sulfurous bubbling mud-pit I showed him didn’t really impress him that much. It was pretty funny, though. Driving lazily through the mountains to the airport, we stopped at a little restaurant on the side of the road I had noticed the first time I went to Dominica – it was beautiful, overlooking one of the rushing rivers, and served a fabulous giant salad (I really wish we had Dominica’s magnificent produce on St. Kitts). We used up our last few dollars, got to the airport a bit late (and waited in a very long line), made the flight home – through Antigua again. This time, in the airport, Brent wandered into the Columbian Emeralds jewelry store, so he was able to see what Tanzanite looks like (I’d been trying to describe it to him).

And home again, to Cloud 9 and wailing cats. Angela, our friend who had been watching the beasts, picked us up at the airport, which was nice – taxis are so expensive here. A new day, a new semester…


7th semester has really kept me running! I thought, according to the information I got from past semesters, that I’d have plenty of time to see the island, make my farewells, hang out with my friends – it was a lie! I’m on campus from dawn ‘til dusk every day! The only time I have to study is on the weekends…

The semester started with a hurricane warning – welcome back! All of us, tense and nervous, watching satellite images as the monster grew larger, more organized, kept bumping up in category… I’m talking, of course, about Ivan the Terrible. It stayed south. It annihilated Grenada, one of my favorite islands. Sent them back to the stone age. Flattened homes, businesses, infrastructure, the airport, the harbors, the natural beauty of the island. No food, no water, no shelter… the military sent to help ensure the emergency supplies were getting to the needy and keep the peace (the looting went on for days) are apparently keeping all the supplies for themselves, trading for sex, whatever they want. It’s barbarity, utter madness. Some of the St. George’s University students (some of whom I know, having gone there after they flunked out of Ross) haven’t been evacuated yet. It’s an active hurricane year. We have been really lucky. I ache for those who weren’t.

Two weeks ago, my class received their surgery animals – a ram and a jack per surgery group. My surgery group is the same as it was last semester, which I’m grateful for: Elise and Stephanie are great. Elise picked out our sheep, who I named Winslow (he’s very cute, and LOVES me, because I feed him carrots); Stephanie fell in love with the one-eared donkey, who I named Vincent (Van Gogh). They’re willing, pliant, gentle-natured animals; I’m enjoying spoiling them. We need to fill out a SOAP on each of them twice per day, checking vital signs, checking progress in healing from surgical episodes. Last week, I was anesthetist on Winslow as we did a skin mass resection (the surgical technique is called an “H-plasty”) – ruminants are a nightmare to put under general anesthesia! My god! First, although it had been repeated many times in many classes that ruminants salivate copiously as part of the digestive process, none of this really sank in until I tried to intubate Winslow. He aspirated a pretty good quantity of saliva while I was struggling to get the tube through his larynx and down his trachea, which I was paranoid was going to turn into aspiration pneumonia (usually fatal). (To my great relief, it resolved after a couple of days – he didn’t aspirate any stomach contents, thank god. Rumen bacteria are DEATH to lungs.) next, after getting him on the table and hooked up to all the monitoring devices, he began to regurgitate – as the copious quantities of saliva continued to drip, drip, drip, splat on the floor. I went and got a spare surgical “gut bucket” – he filled it. That’s about 2 gallons of spit. Slimy, green, foul-smelling spit. It dripped down his breathing circuit. It dripped down my esophageal stethoscope. It dripped down the esophageal temperature probe. And his blood pressure tanked, so I turned up the flow of fluids… the spit flowed faster. Arrgh! I turned down the percentage of anesthetic gas he was inhaling, to try to raise his blood pressure – he started waking up. I turned it up again – his blood pressure dropped dangerously low again. Finally, Dr. Yvorchuk, the professor helping our table with anesthesia, hit him with more ketamine (a controlled substance which we are only given a limited quantity of), gave him a lidocaine block over the incision site – and he stayed asleep, his blood pressure finally rising to within safe levels. But then he went apneic – stopped breathing. So I breathed for him, using the anesthetic breathing bag…finally, he took over breathing, my partners finished suturing, and Winslow woke up in the grass, in the sun. And immediately started grazing. Amazing.

This last Tuesday, we performed a castration procedure on Vincent – but getting him down was really, really difficult (the surgery went without a hitch). He hated the mat – wanted to fall anywhere but on it – fell on me. And I felt all the scar tissue in my back, which I’ve so carefully cultivated over the last 3 years, let go. By the end of the surgery, I was fighting to keep from passing out. Lay on the concrete (we did the surgery outside, in the pavilion), trying not to cry. I knew better than to try to wrestle with a donkey; my partners knew I was injured. But I couldn’t seem to do what I knew I should, and let one of the techs assist…until it was too late. Dammit. Today I’m home, flat on my back, Stephanie recording the lectures for me, working the small animal clinic rotation by herself. Yesterday, I tried hobbling through the day, but the opioids and ibuprofen I’m on left me sleepy, logy – I slept in the nurse’s office through the entire lecture hour that Dr. Torbeck was reviewing theriogenology for our exam, and slept between classes, and slept through the lunch hour, and still broke down completely with the pain at the end of the day. Brent, the saint, has been taking fantastic care of me – says he loves doing so. “How can you possibly, when I’m such a rotten patient?” I asked him. He just laughed, amused. It’s true, though – I love being taken care of, but am a stubborn, independent, awful patient. I HATE feeling useless, a burden. So I defeat the purpose of being cared for by doing things I shouldn’t…

To end on a positive note two bits of Really Cool:

I heard back from PAVE (the Program for Assessment of Veterinary Equivalence – a required exam for me to practice medicine in the U.S. – remember that 6.5 hour exam I was blathering about?) – I PASSED! Hurray! One more hurdle out of the way…

And the other night, driving home from school, Brent and I drove straight toward the rising Harvest Moon, full and with a thin pennant of cloud crossing it…and to the right of it, brilliant, prismatic, and perfect, was a Moon Dog. (Have you heard of Sun Dogs? They’re far more common. Thin, high cloud layer, especially with ice crystals, projects sunlight in a prismatic display at an angle to the real thing…they usually flank the setting sun. I have never in my life seen one in attendance upon the moon. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.) I am the connoiseusse of clouds, and meteorologic phenomena…

My love to you all; thanks for your patience in waiting for this update.