Thursday, March 17, 2011

What would I do if disaster hit?

For the last week I've been glued to the television and internet as I followed the situation in Japan. Much like I was glued to coverage of Katrina a few years ago, I couldn't get enough news stories and videos to quench my thirst for information. The shear size of the tragedy, and the impact it is having on the people who live over there, just baffles my mind. I just can't wrap my head around what they must be going through.

What's different this time around is how I'm viewing the tragedy. Katrina hit while I was in vet school. Sam and I were already married, but we were still somewhat independent. It was just me and Sam (plus the pets). What's different about how I'm looking at the Japan events is that now I'm a mom. I think about the parents who did what they could to gather up their kids in the few minutes they had to escape. I wonder how many of the people who were lost were rushing home to get their families to safety. It breaks my heart to think of the ones who didn't make it. Of the families who aren't whole anymore. The parents without children, the children without parents.

I live with a level of fear in my life now. Ever since my son was born, I've always had a nagging fear in the back of my mind. What if he gets hurt at daycare? What if I get in an accident and leave Sam and Tommy alone? What if Sam and Tommy are in an accident and leave me alone? I don't allow these thoughts to rule my life - I'd be a basket case if I did. But they're always there, somewhere, in the dark places of my brain. I find I'm constantly watching the weather during storm seasons now. Tornadoes have always frightened me. We didn't see them much where I grew up. But now I'm glued to severe weather coverage. Ready at a moment's notice to leave work and drive the 3 minutes to daycare to whisk him to the safety of my grandparents' basement if it's necessary. Ready to pull him from his bed in the middle of the night and head to the safety of our closet with no windows. Willing to be late to work if the weather reporters on the local news say "if you don't need to be on the roads stay home for a little while." Things I never did before I was a mom. Things I thought were overkill before Tommy was the main focus of my life.

Luckily I don't live in an area where a hurricane or tsunami could reach us with that kind of force. Earthquakes are quite small scale here, and don't tend to cause much damage. Tornadoes are a threat, but even those don't happen too often, and we usually have a few hours of warning before the conditions are ripe for a twister. Still, I wonder what I would do if I ever found myself in a situation like the one these Japanese parents found themselves in almost a week ago. I just hope that God would give me the strength and wisdom to do what was best for my family, and that He'd give me the peace to deal with the consequences. In the meantime, I'll continue to pray for all the people impacted by the events in Japan. They may be a world away, but a mother's love is the same here as it is there.

A woman holds her child at a shelter after being evacuated from an area near the Fukushima nuclear power plant 
Photo: AP   Link to original article 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Animal time

Well, I started this blog to talk about my life as a wife, mom, and vet. So I guess it's about time to talk about the work part of my life. I've been working at animal hospitals for about almost 14 years. I started out working kennels and worked my way up to a technician assistant, finally going to vet school and graduating in 2006. I've always loved animals, and I really enjoy working with them and their owners in order to keep them as healthy and happy as possible.

Spring is coming (or may already be here for those of us in the south), and with it comes flea, tick, and mosquito season. I cannot stress enough the need for proper parasite prevention in our pets.

Heartworms are worms that live in the blood vessels between the heart and the lungs. In advanced cases the worms can actually plug the vessels and decrease or stop blood flow. Even in mild cases they cause damage to the vessel walls. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, so even pets who never leave their house or yard are at risk. Heartworms are easy to prevent with monthly medication. Treatment costs around $500, but prevention only costs about $10-12 a month. In warmer states (like mine), we often have days when the temperature rises above 60 degrees even in winter. Because of this I recommend using heartworm prevention every month, just in case the mosquitoes don't know it's supposed to be winter.

Fleas and ticks are just plain nasty! Ticks crawl up blades of grass and just wait for someone to come by so they can hitch a ride. Then they move up the leg and find a nice warm spot to dig in and feed. Many ticks can carry diseases, like lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Fleas like to set up shop inside our homes. The adult flea spends all of its time on your dog or cat. The females lay eggs, which immediately fall off and land wherever your pet is standing/sitting. Then the larvae hatches from the eggs, and they crawl around in whatever carpet, bedding, etc the eggs landed on. Soon these larvae form cocoons where they develop into an adult flea. This part of the life cycle can last for months. They don't hatch out until the conditions are right - temperature, carbon dioxide, and movement are all triggers for them. They are also protected from pesticides while in the cocoon. This long life cycle means that you should never wait until you start seeing fleas to start using flea prevention. Once you're seeing the adults, they've already started laying eggs. Once fleas set up house in your house, it can take 3 months or more to kill all of them, since you have to wait for all the cocoons to hatch before you can get them all. Again, if you live in the south you should probably use flea and tick prevention all year round. If you live somewhere where there is snow on the ground all year, you may be able to get away without using it during the winter. Just remember, it's still warm in your house. If you haven't killed all the fleas that live there, they'll just keep multiplying all winter long.

So, to sum up, please remember to treat your cats and dogs with flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. It's much easier (and cheaper) to prevent these things than to treat your animals once they've been infested/infected. Always buy your prevention from your veterinarian. We keep up to date on the newest research and best products for our areas of the country. Sometimes prevention you can buy at other stores can cause skin irritation or even seizures. When you buy medication over the internet you can't always be sure that it was stored and shipped at the proper temperatures. Because of this many companies won't stand behind their product unless it was sold by a veterinarian.

Keep your pets pest free!