Navy Son- Part 2- How we got here…

My son has been at the Navy training center for about a week now.  He is in quarantine as is the protocol at the moment for new recruits.  We did get word yesterday that a recruit in training tested positive for Covid-19 and had been placed in isolation.  I can’t imagine getting that call as a parent – but it is a reality we have to consider.  The Navy is making changes daily to it’s normal procedures and it can be frustrating but it is understandable that they are dealing with something never conceived of (a world crisis of this magnitude) and they are trying to adjust as best as they can.

As a parent of a Seaman Recruit  (SR) it is not easy when there is so much in flux and all I can do is remind myself that my kid is in good and capable hands. They will care for him if gets ill, they are caring for him now.  Over time I have come to an acceptance of my son’s decision to join the Navy- it didn’t happen overnight. But I have gotten there.

When my son first said he wanted to join the Navy he was a senior in high school that was in 2018.  I was not a fan. Kevin and I both encouraged him to apply to college and maybe do ROTC or apply to the Navy after he graduated.  I think at the time I thought it was an idea that came with not much thought or it was a fantasy of an immature kid. Like when he was little and wanted to be superman. Though he did wear out two pair of superman sneakers over the years! But still I felt that he wasn’t mature enough to make a decision as big as joining  the military.  He also mentioned  that he wanted to be a police officer- which again we suggested he wait on. I think in our parent point of view we thought getting a college degree would be best. 

He did a year in a university  – and never pursued ROTC- but then at the end of his freshman year decided to change to a major (criminal justice) they didn’t have at the university he was attending so he withdrew from there and decided to live at home with us and he began local community college last fall. 

I could tell he was not thrilled going to those classes. And I could tell by the amount of gaming he did that he wasn’t studying. His heart was not into it. I was beginning to realize it was a waste of money if he didn’t have a desire to be in college. That’s when during yet another discussion about drive and motivation and his future he brought up the Navy again. And again I admit I wasn’t a fan. He wondered out loud why I was so against  him joining the military since my stepfather was a career Navy pilot and made it to captain. My son had heard some stories about my stepfathers career – teaching young Navy pilots to fly on and off the carriers at night, fought in two wars.  To me that didn’t extrapolate into my kid enlisting. I wasn’t a Navy kid or considered myself part of a Navy family.  My mom married into one when I was a young adult. So I didn’t feel a pull to have my kids join. Do not get me wrong. I was thankful for my stepfathers service andI am so thankful for all military service men and women. I just wasn’t sure I wanted MY kid to be part of the military. I was scared. And I still am. 

I told him that if he wanted to join the Navy he needed to do all the work himself – because normally he needed my help to figure most things out for him, jobs, banking , school admin issues etc.   I decided that if he was really serious about the Navy he had to do it on his own. I was not going to facilitate it. If he went and hated it later  he only had himself to blame. And I figured since I left it up to him he would not do anything about it.

I was wrong. Within a day he had a meeting with the local recruiter in nearby Frederick, MD. And that morphed into more meetings and once he was told he was eligible he went to officially sign-up. I have to admit I was not a fan still. My anxiety about it ramped up. But since he seemed so excited- and he rarely gets excited by much – I wanted to be excited for him. We looked over the jobs he could choose from based on his testing scores. 

He chose cryptology- but then when he went to our local MEPS (the place where you they do recruit processing) the job wasn’t available. Kind of a bait and switch? But I realized later he could have waited for that job to come open but he wanted to leave sooner than later…so he chose a job in a Sub. Missile tech to be exact. Holy cow this freaked me out because  just the week before he said he didn’t want subs and I was happy with that. Then he picked subs!  He told my husband he did exactly the opposite of what he had said he wasn’t going to do. But he had had options and he could have waited. So I guess this is something he wanted to do. Or he thought he did. Or he was being a teen.  I really lost my cool when I found out he chose subs- first I was mad …then I sobbed- I am sure this was me letting out all the anxiety I had been having over his decision to go to the Navy- I will say I was going through some seasonal effective depression when this all occurred so I think my reaction was more dramatic because of this. But a Sub- 800 ft underwater….why?

I could not speak to him for like two days. I hated myself for this. I read up on subs and saw he could be under the ocean for ten weeks…with no contact. I felt claustrophobic for him. A projection onto him of my issues of enclosed spaces. But I also began reading about subs. I do tend to research things – probably more than my child did.  I am sure I do this as a way to come to terms with things. The more knowledge the better I am able to process things.

In my research I read about some of the scary tests they have to perform in sub school (where he will go after he passes bootcamp).  My kid doesn’t swim well ( I am told they will teach him to be a better swimmer in bootcamp) and they have a test where four of them have to go through a sub hatch in a simulation of a sub escape. They wear air filled plastic bags (I am sure it is more technical than this) over their heads and float to the surface. They have a room flood while they fix equipment, they have fire simulation. Oh Lord!  But the more I read the more I saw that the testing is obviously important  and they want them to pass so they help them to get there. And if there are issue like severe claustrophobia then they will help them move to another job not in a sub.  But most important I read about the camaraderie that builds among the soldiers in subs and on ships, and the sense of pride these seamen have for their Navy, and their country, and themselves. He needed this. 

My son needed a direction, he needed to find something that could build his confidence, and he needs friends.  If he feels that this is the vehicle to him finding himself who cares if it comes before , after or instead of college -and there are many benefits to being in the military as far as schooling goes.  It has taken time for me to wrap my mind around all this. The positives and the negatives, the risks and rewards.  It was never a case of me letting him join the military. If this is what he truly wanted then I wasn’t going to stand in his way. But I know he wanted and needed my approval. He wanted to know I was proud of him.  I have settled into the fact that my kid wants this and he needs it.  I am very proud of him and I have told him that many times.  But it doesn’t mean I am not scared too.  It is very hard not to be during this pandemic. 

My son once told me he rather live a shorter life helping others than a longer life not doing so. That is sobering coming from such a young person.  It may have been a thought of an immature young man not realizing his mortality but it was one of the most authentic and honest things he has ever said to me.  It makes me sad too- because of course I want him to have long beautiful life so his discussing his mortality at all is not easy. But I believe he feels a call to service of others. And if that calling was to join the Navy than I now call myself a proud mom of a Navy recruit. And will try to navigate my own fears as I root him on  -and – I let him go on his life’s journey.

I just miss him.

Navy Son – Part 1

No description needed right?

As my husband brought yet another bag of trash up from my son’s now empty bedroom I realized what made me so mad before he left…his messiness …no his piggyness ..his inability to pick up when asked…his incessant gaming and leaving soda cans in a circle around his chair like the fallen avatars in his games…these annoying things became things I was missing already. Of course I wasn’t the one cleaning them up. So I can wax sad here.

My son is now a Navy Recruit and he left for bootcamp Monday, March 23,

We got the call the at 3:16AM to be precise on Tuesday morning.  I was fumbling for the phone – but was awake anyway just groggy. When I answered I heard my 19 year old son’s voice – telling me in a very scripted tone that he was at Navy boot camp and he was ok, and he would talk to me in two weeks. I am told not to count on that call- it may be more weeks than that. It was a quick call. I got my I love you’s in and  I wasn’t sure I was allowed to say more -and he didn’t offer more-so we hung up. Now moving forward -no contact- (unless I get a that call  he mentioned)-for about ten weeks. This is going to be a tough one on this mom. Well at least I know he is safe.

We dropped him off at a hotel near Fort Meade Sunday night – he would be with other recruits most likley but it still felt so odd leaving him there. I didn’t want to go into the hotel because of the social distancing rules. I didn’t want to make a scene when I said goodbye which means any tear falling from my eyes because it would upset my son. I was sad that we couldn’t go to the base the next day to see him off. It was closed to civilians because of the virus restrictions.

I stood by our truck and hugged him tight. That last hug – watching as he fades into the hotel lobby- my heart falls a bit.

It is hard enough to send your child off to the military – but to do so during  this pandemic is so hard. I haven’t slept well in the days preceding his departure and the insomnia is still hanging on. I have had loads of tears. Tears because I miss him, tears because we can’t talk for a while and tears because I am afraid.

I have so many fears-  some rational and some irrational. I worry he might become ill? They are on a two week quarantine -and my son was very happy because he could bring a handheld gaming device and game for the time he was in isolation. It won’t get old for him – he’s a gamer and its one of the habits he has that I hope the military breaks. But if he gets ill do they even call us? He belongs to the military now so I don’t know what information we can get.

I fear that he won’t make it through bootcamp- he needs this in his life. He has lacked direction and goals – he needs this for his confidence and to mature.  I am so proud of him- yet so sad because he is gone.

I fear he will get hurt during some of the exercises- he has to breath in tear gas! That freaks me out.  He laughs about it!  I fear for him in general because he is not worldly and he is immature. I am told the Navy will change that.

I fear he will have the WTF did I do moment where he may regret signing up.  Who am I kidding he will have that…I just hate to know that he will be at a breaking point like that…but I want him to get past it. I know he can do this…but he has to know that too. I want the successes of boot camp to build up this shy, quiet, introverted, sweet, kind young man.  Also I fear he will change too much- will he become hardened – more closed up? None of this is in my control and I know it..it’s just the feelings I feel now. However dumb- I just have to allow myself the time to adjust.

But I am a mom and I know I won’t stop worrying.

I also fear this pandemic as a whole – what will it mean for my son once out of bootcamp? How do they keep them safe – one military man down can mean many down because of the ease of spread in such close quarters.  What if  -God forbid -someone in our family becomes ill enough we would want to contact him- can we?  I have a mild sore throat and stuffy nose and today and I am filled with worry about what it could be.  These aren’t easy times.

These are my own feelings and I never projected these on to my son as he prepared to leave. he deserves a mom who can keep it together while he got ready for the biggest thing in his life thus far. And before he left I kept it together mostly by being in denial that he was going.  I helped him get his new bank account set up and I pestered him about getting his room clean and clothing put away before he left…he made a feeble attempt…I am told the Navy can change the slovenly into much neater humans! Let’s hope for that!

I just never let myself get too close to the feelings of him going until we had that last hug and the string that ties together got longer and longer.

The best thing is that Kevin and I are not alone in all these feelings – we have the experience of others near and far. Last week before my son left, I was told by my son’s Chief at the recruiters that there were facebook pages to join that could be a source of support during this time.  We joined a couple and these pages are already a source of comfort. It is comforting to be among those that are feeling some of what I have felt – and also it is nice to talk to those that have been there done that.

I honestly struggled with my feelings about him joining the military and I will write more on that later. But I am so very proud of my child.  The timing of it all is hard. With so much uncertainty now I feel like I want to have instant contact with my adult children  – just to make sure they are ok. But that isn’t what I have with this son. That will take adjustment —and letting go some.  Not easy for parents. Especially now.

….To be Continued….

 

 

 

 

 

Isolation

img_1325

The fields behind our house. Ever so thankful we have this place to walk.

Right now I am pretty much isolating from other humans aside from my family…what a difference two weeks makes! I was on vacation and now we now have this pandemic upon us –Covid-19. So scary.

The last time I wrote I was on vacation.  We took the trek down south. My laptop broke somewhere during that trip -so I didn’t continue to write. Then we arrived home and literally the world changed – and writing about my trip seems really trite and un-important now.

When we left for the trip I was leery about the virus. At that moment it was isolated in Washington state and maybe a couple other places where people from the cruise ships were being quarantined.  But still I watched the news closely as we went south to Florida and then back up north. I was pretty nervous.

When we got to Orlando – our fifth stop- I was burned out.  I planned the trip with too many stops – too many in and out of hotels or AirBNBs – too much lugging of bags and stuff in and out of rooms. SO in Orlando — which is a sea of humans! – all of Florida is a sea of humans- I am sorry it just too many humans in one place for me- the traffic was awful. I am just a country bumpkin from MD. So I am just complaining. You Floridians are just used it.  Anyway in Orlando we had a great AirBNB – we chilled – we said no to the parks (virus potential) – we sat at the pool on one warm day (we brought cool weather with us)  – and we played some pickleball. Good day. Found a nice dining area with many places to eat. We really took a few days to relax and that was good.

We then travelled north from Orlando with stops in Savannah- nice but I like Charleston better – and then to Virginia Beach-where we saw a very close friend – I am so glad for this visit because it might be a while until I see her again. After Virginia Beach we headed home.

It was within about 48 hours after we got home that things began to get worse with the virus in the US. And that’s when we found out my brother-in-law who was in Spain was ill with the virus. That made things super real. He is recovering and is well cared for in Spain and he and his wife should be home soon-not sure about their ability to get flights home- they are making the best of a very tough situation.

Last weekend- was it last weekend – seems like eons ago now -we were going to head to the beach for the weekend –  I woke the day we were to leave and just had a feeling we should stay home. It was just a gut thing so we decided to postpone the trip. Within the next 48 hours businesses in Maryland began to close and people asked to social distance – work from home – schools were cancelled. I think for most people this was quite a shock.

For us staying isolated was not a hard choice- it may be hard on some days but it is necessary.  My 78 year old mother lives with us and has health issues. She was in the hospital and then rehab over 6 weeks last fall. When she gets ill she gets ill. We have to keep her safe.

In my home the soap, sanitizer and wipes are used all the time. I have always been a hand washer – because living with farm animals requires getting into muck so you wash a lot. But I have really ramped it up more. Yesterday I had to visit a medical office and when I got home I removed my shoes to be washed – washed my hands -and changed clothing  and washed my hands again.  Overkill?  Maybe- but I would rather be safe – for my mother’s sake.

I read an article in The Atlantic this AM that pointed out that this thing we are all doing individually is also a thing we are all doing collectively.  All of us making sacrifices to hopefully save lives. This isn’t an easy thing to stop life as we know it. We Americans are used to our freedoms. We aren’t used to being made to hunker down, to social distance. It has taken some longer than others to get on-board but when you see the increasing numbers of sick and the numbers of deaths each day you realize this is truly for the greater good of our country.

My Nana used to tell me about her brother dying of Pneumonia when he was only about 21 years old. The story was he walked a girl home in the pouring rain in Brooklyn, NY and took sick the next day and never recovered. This was never mentioned to me as the Flu Pandemic of 1918- but later when we talked about Great Uncle Joseph dying my mother said that it was- in fact -during that time.  I just remember how my Nana still hung on to that loss deep inside. The brother that never got to be a man.

Recently I read and article about this Flu Pandemic of 1918, that said “By the time it wound down in 1919, 28% of all Americans were infected and 675,000 had died — 10 times as many as World War I.” (see footnote below).  This is very sobering.

I never thought in my lifetime I would be dealing with a Pandemic. Never. Ever. Who really ever wants to go there and think of that?  But here we are. Its hard for most of us to wrap our minds around it. And harder is keeping up with all the information that comes at us from minute to minute – sometimes second by second. Honestly we are so lucky that we live in this age with info at our fingertips – it is part of what can keep us safe because knowledge is power- quick access to current news was not something they had in 1918.  Also the internet and social media keeps us connected to each other –  but it also can just be too much. Too overwhelming. When it gets too much I have to get away from it. I can’t watch the stock market tumble daily. I can’t read sad story after sad story. I want to keep up on what is going on but sometimes I have to turn it off. And I do.

What do I do? Post photos of my dogs or other animals to hopefully make others smile for a minute – maybe forget what we are facing for a second. I read. I binge watch shows with Kevin. I exercise. I hike in the fields behind my house. We try to help our neighbors. We shop for each other. We watch out for each other. I sit with myself. I pray.

And aside from this virus life goes on. Another brother in law is having a health scare, his roommate has cancer.  My cat has gone missing- yes another one – yet again. We had to order hay for the horses. Buy their feed. My husband continues to work. We have to make meals. Two of my kids remain employed for now- thank goodness. My other son leaves tomorrow to go to basic training for the Navy.  A hard thing to see your kid off in normal times but in these times? Well very hard….more on that soon.

Life just goes on. I hear cars whizzing by my house. Yesterday it seemed like everyone was out in our town shopping- as we were. And I was like people go home – and they were likely thinking the same thing!  I am sure we were all worrying that things might be shut down tighter here in Maryland as the case have increased quite a bit in a couple days. We all were stocking up on food and supplies – no toilet paper anywhere.  We did not hoard. Hoarding = not helpful.

I want to feel normal but yet it doesn’t. Everything has changed. At this point I am taking things one day at a time and I am trying to find smiles in my day and live for the moment. It helps me to cope. We all have to find our things that will help calm our minds.

We are all sacrificing, we are all probably scared, bored, mad…so many things at once.

Let’s just try to be kind, be helpful, be loving — and be safe.

img_1303

The Crew practicing their social distancing.

 

Footnote: Article in The Courier Journal, March 18, 2020

FASTING ON VACAY?

img_1145

Burger from B&D Burger

I decided that Myrtle Beach is the pancake capital of the US.  We began to count the number of pancake houses,..thats how plentiful they are. Sadly we did not eat at any of these places on our visit. It’s not for the lack of love of the pancake- I love me some pancakes.  If they weren’t dog (Rudy – my golden is with us) friendly – then we weren’t going.

 

So oddly and without real reason other than Kevin was doing it- I decided to try intermittent fasting and began it the week before our two week Sweeney South East Tour 2020  (or SSET 2020).  It is so fun to try to fast 16 hours and squeeze meals into our eating window – fancy name- while traveling. Its like a challenge and not at all stupid and stressful! I even have an app to help me track the fasts.  I think it only had to remind me to eat once – my stomach wasn’t forgetting!

We have been lucky and have found some great places to eat that allowed dogs and I have broken my fasts with bagel sandwiches and coffee twice (Myrtle Beach) and  croissant sandwiches another morning (Mount Pleasant SC)and today we had pies in Saint Augustine, FL.  An Australian vibe restaurant that makes pies of all kinds and they are filled with meats and veggies and eggs – whatever you choose. They were really good. In Fort Lauderdale it was Panera and another just ok Coffee shop. Orlando an awesome small cafe.  I am getting too addicted to coffee again- I usually drink Chai tea – and the crashes I am getting late PM from the caffeine are not pretty!  When I get home I am back to my tea. 

I have really no idea why I am intermittent fasting! I think I was hoping it would spur some weight loss.  I have some stubborn pounds that won’t let go despite my increased activity level. I have not seen that result as yet. Maybe because I am not really watching calories on my trip. I do eat sensibly mostly but geez I am on vacay!

But I do know there are some other good things about fasting – I am a novice- but I do know there are some anti-cancer properties. I do feel maybe less tired in the day. Maybe a bit more energy (or that could be the coffee I reward myself with when I break the fast. At home usually drink Chai. )

So as we weave our way south and back up north I plan to keep to the fasting. Today it was only 14 hours but I am not really going to be a fasting nazi especially on vacation.  I know I am a nutter for trying to stick to that on a trip but Kevin is an inspiration.  But there are pancakes in my future on this trip if I find a place that is dog friendly. Rudy would gladly have some pancakes.

I think there are 1,021 pancake places in Myrtle Beach…I am lying – I lost count at like 40!

—-And it is official – MB is the pancake capital! I have been to 5 cities In SC, GA, and FL, since I began this post and NO city has the number of pancake houses as MB has!

I am not gonna lie I have been eating just fine during my eating window! Last night I had salmon and jasmine rice and Kevin had amazing fish and chips. Tonight in Savannah we ate at a burger place called B&D burgers that had a huge dog friendly patio and Rudy was the prince of the palace there.

img_1142

Rudy Patio Dining

Everyone wants to pet Rudy and he knows it! The food was awesome.  Fried green tomato and pimento cheese sliders for me along with a spinach salad where Rudy had the chicken! Burger for hubby.

I think when I get home I can get more serious about this fasting thing! Well what I eat during the fancy eating window!

Vacation Bonus!

We are on Sweeney South East Tour 2020. (SSET 2020) We headed south for a 14 day action packed work/vacation. Hubby gets to work and I get to vacay!

After driving 7 hours from Maryland to South Carolina we walked into our AirBNB in Myrtle Beach SC  around 7pm and I was hit with the overwhelming smell of plug-in air fresheners.  In my head I was saying oh crap, crap – this could be a problem.  I have an issue with perfumes, strong cleaners, smoke etc. It is a definite chemical sensitivity but it has improved over the last few years. Before I would have done an immediate about face once I smelled the air freshener- but I thought I would give the place a try.

It was a small place- very small. One tiny bedroom, tiny sitting area and bath.  It had three plug-ins (that seemed like too much for such a tiny place- what smells that bad they need to cover it up?) that I could find- I unplugged them all. I opened the windows. We went for a walk around the block. I kept thinking it will be ok- I can do two nights here. But when we got back inside and settled to watch TV , I was trying so hard to be a good sport but I was mouth breathing and I was tasting the smell…I could not get away from it.

I did not want to spend the extra money- airbnb was a no refund deal -but I was not going to be able to deal with the smell. I began to covertly look for a hotel –  on my phones Booking.com app- that might take us and our dog Rudy.  I found a few possibilities.and then I turned to Kevin and told him that this place was a fail and we needed to try to find another place.  He agreed – love him. He then walked to nearby hotels  to check if they would take us because the move would be so easy -no luck – some places are just too picky about the dogs size – discrimination.  Others just did not take dogs at all. But I was able to book a room online not too far away – just not as near the ocean. I just wanted to get there and get settled.

I packed up what little we had unpacked. Rudy – my dog- was probably confused.  What were these humans doing? But he’s a Golden Retriever so he’s always game for anything. We got back in the car and headed to the hotel. We were very tired at this point and probably trying not to snap at each other – so it probably didn’t help my snappy mood when we pulled into the hotels parking lot – Kevin got out of the car and went to check-in- and right then a police car pulls in to the lot with lights flashing and they approached some guy in a red winter coat with his hood on  -and then they frisked him and then began questioning him and another cop was talking to some other person in another part of l the lot.  I began to sing “bad boys bad boys, whatchya gonna do if they come for you” –  (and it turns out this wouldn’t be my last front row seat to police altercations –  we would witness a search and seizure at a GA rest stop days later- the excitement of this trip abounds!).

So as I said Kevin had gone in to check us in as I watched the drama with the cops unfold. I even unrolled my window to try to hear what was going on-  I know- I am so nosey! I really wanted to sing “Bad boys”  out the window but that wan’t in good form so I refrained.  Then Kevin came out and I thought he would hand me the key to the room we reserved ten minutes before (by this time I was not feeling super great about the hotel – but the choices were limited.) Instead Kevin said they are booked up. What? I booked it online…but the hotel blamed it on booking.com glitch and well we had no room, and their sister hotel  nearby had a poundage limit on dogs so no go. Geez. I just want to say that little dogs can do some damage too and they tend to be more barky, D – for dog discrimination!

Oh I was getting pretty freaking pissy. I decided to call the hotel chain 800 number bc I had called them when I was booking the trip – as we are booked to stay in one of these hotels in Florida – and I had been told they had no dog weight limits. So I was complaining. 

But I needn’t have worried….

The nice lady on the other end of the 800 number got us a room- it took her like way too long to arrange it and we did have to drive a bit more north of where we began – but she booked it. I was so happy that I agreed to be transferred to someone after the call so I could get $100 off my next stay….I agreed to be transferred but promptly hung when she did so…I was in NO mood for a sales pitch. But super thankful for the room.

So we finally get to THE ROOM. I am tired. Rudy is stoked bc he’s Rudy and always is stoked and Kevin is stoked because he knows my bitchy self can relax and go to bed —and we opened the door and in I walked and there was the bed -yay! and then as I walked further into the room this little bonus is sitting right in the middle of the room….

Need I say more……

 

Just do it…

I entered this year by walking a 5K with Rudy (Kevin ran)  and then Kevin and I  went plunging into the cold depths of the Atlantic for their New Years Day plunge. It was a 45 degree day in Delaware and the ocean the same temp..surely that would equal out the discomfort and I would feel no cold.  Not true, the water was shockingly cold – it took my breath involuntarily and it seized my stomach and I almost succumbed to a wave- but knew if it took me down I may not be able to use my legs to get up and back out. But I made it. It was intense as I had hoped. Exhilarating as I had hoped but it didn’t shake my funk as I had hoped.

I was in a funk. It was more than a funk truthfully.  The funk was full blown seasonal effective disorder (SAD) and it had begun in early November. Just about the time the cold hit.

A funk for me isn’t unusual and I have had SAD but it usually doesn’t hit me so early. I am fairly certain that the impending loss of my dog Ridley was looming and that and the cold, trying political climate we live in, and my mother coming off a six week illness that had her in the hospital 4 times and PT rehab for three weeks all played a part in this mood.

We lost Ridley about three weeks ago. I have been wanting write about it. But I just couldn’t – I wasn’t ready.  It hit me hard. It was time for that old dog but he didn’t know it. I miss him. I will write about it. Getting the words out usually helps me.

The words…why hasn’t there been more words on paper- the thing that could very well help me shed this mood? I have loads of excuses. I have been so busy! Really that is true. I have my part-time work running our little company which has been struggling and which needs extra massaging to keep it going. My last surgery and months of PT have allowed me to become active once again. I am taking full advantage of this blessing and have begun to get back to some old activities and enjoy learning new ones. I am not pain free and flare but I manage the discomfort with meds and trigger point injections.

Much of this deserves to be written about but I have fallen creatively flat. I can’t seem to make time for much of my creative endeavors. I find it hard to get my words out in the way I want to convey them and I find myself thinking I have no talent for it now – and that makes me sad.  I get overwhelmed.

These old negative feelings are creeping up trying to tell me that I am not good enough. I don’t fit in, I can’t write, I can’t take a good photo – and doesn’t every person in the world take photos now? Why are mine anything special? 

Then there is the self loathing too. That self deprecation is an old friend that really never goes away. This is tied to my body image and I can quell it sometimes but lately that voice sits in my ear. I can stare in the mirror and hate what I see. It saddens me. I am 56 now. Shouldn’t I have shed such negative feelings?  Again another thing perhaps getting out on paper whether anyone reads about it or not might help. But then there is that issue I noted above keeping me from putting words down.

But here I am today. I have gotten up early-ish and am setting words to page.  I am making myself write these feelings. There are so many times during a day that I think about writing. I might be doing something “exciting” or something mundane and I think about how I would frame the piece what photo I might use. So the spark is still in there. But it takes work now to get the words out.

Recently, I found out that a friend I met through my creative group some years ago is gravely ill and she is going to pass away soon. This has shaken me. She is young. Too young to die.

I was not a close friend but friend nonetheless and I know she could isolate herself from others. Even when she was present you didn’t always see her. I think she didn’t really want to ask for help from others. Many of us can be the same. It is hard to be vulnerable. Yet she shared herself in her writing…she allowed herself to be vulnerable because putting yourself out there- sending the words into the universe- makes one very vulnerable. 

She wrote (https://susanpopper.wordpress.com/author/slp711/) about many things and did it so well and took lovely photos yet always questioned her talent. I was truly touched by her writing about her childhood and her recent move to upstate New York.

When we were together she made me laugh and I loved her New York directness. She was also kind to me. So supportive during some tough times. I will miss knowing she is here in this world.

So I am sitting here today – writing – in honor of my friend Susan who would probably tell me just to get over it and just write – just do it.  She would tell me I am a good writer and she would make me laugh and I would have felt better for sharing my insecurities and my SAD mood may have lifted some. I wish I had shared this with her and my other creative group friends. So I share this now with anyone reading this. I share this with my creative group. I will write because I am able. Maybe not well but the spark is in there and I should get off my butt and just write- and we only have today. I have words I want to get out of me and into the world.

…..Kevin and I love you Susan….

Horse Dentals – it’s a thing…

Today as I stood  helping to steady each of 1000LB horse’s the vet floated both their teeth I thought “I have to write about this”.   That is the millionth time probably in my life that I have thought this thought. Can you imagine if I could just follow through on those thoughts how many blogs or books I would have written by now? Too bad most of the time I think this thought I later forget the topic I thought I wanted to write about – though I do sometimes write the idea down. Still doesn’t mean I actually write about it. But teeth floating made the grade!

I think I am lucky any time I can make time to sit down and write.  I have had many things lately that have had to come before my need to write -such as animal care and family issues. Like the fact my mother has been in one medical facility another for the last 6 weeks became a priority. But man did I have a lot of  “I need to write about this” moments in those 6 weeks!  But priority and sheer fatigue after spending days in hospital rooms and consulting with this nurse and that doc just kept me from feeling like extending my brain further to form the words that form the stories I want to write. I just couldn’t.

Today was a good day because mom is home now (yay!) and I had the vet coming early this AM and I was ready and excited to spend time with the equines and also to see how teeth floating works.  I put this procedure off for my horse Harley for years. He had been checked regularly and it was never a hard you need to get floating done now – it was more like he’s got a few areas that might need attention (a few years ago) to maybe we should do it next visit(said during last July vaccines). Yukon our guardian horse was on a more regular schedule that I must keep up on as part of my agreement with the rescue. So I scheduled for both of them to be done along with the fall vaccines.

The procedure to me was very interesting. Maybe because in my younger years I worked in a dental office! I am not sure but after feeling the before sharp edges in the horses mouth (they are sharp!) and feeling the much less sharp tooth after- and holding my horses tongue out of the way for part of the time (they have large tongues!) I was further interested and I knew I wanted to know more about floating.

So what is teeth floating? My mother jokingly asked today if they were going to take the teeth out and float them in a glass of liquid or on a cloud.  It is an odd word for sure – and after watching it be done today I wanted to learn more. What I did know was that horses develop sharp points on their teeth that need to be filed down. Upon looking it up online I found that the definition is that basic.

Here is a slideshow of some of the photos I took today:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From Cowboyway.com “Floating a horse’s teeth means to file or rasp their teeth to make the chewing surfaces relatively flat or smooth.” A flat surface is required to allow the horse to properly and fully chew their food. If they can’t chew their food properly this can lead to poor digestion. Our vet Dr. Juress said that digestion in a horse really begins in the mouth. They need to be able to chew well to aid in the best digestion.

Horses chew in a circular like motion so that can get the food thourougly ground up. So with this motion, sharp edged teeth can rub the cheeks and create sores and ulcerations. This can make the horse try to chew more quickly and to drop feed – and not grind the food up correctly.   In the case of my horse Harley , I was told today that he did have some ulceration in his mouth.  I knew he needed floating done as lately he was fussing with the bit when I rode him – this and his occasional dropping feed from his mouth – let me know it was time for sure.

Of course we had to have a cold snowy day in which to have this procedure performed. I was not looking forward to just standing in the cold barn, but what I quickly learned was that it is a pretty physical procedure.  I warmed up pretty fast- shedding my jacket early on. Since my husband was going out of town I enlisted the help of my son who is a strong 19 year old. I was pretty sure that with my nerve damage issues my assistance alone would not be enough for the vet and I was right. It is quite a workout- and even more for the vet performing the floating!

The vet first lightly sedates the horses. This makes them just list a bit back and forth. My horse Harley listed more than Yukon.  My job was to steady him if he seemed to be listing too far one way. We try to back them into the stall corner where they can get more stability. My son helped by keeping the head on the stand that she uses to hold their head up. She inserts a speculum which keeps the mouth open and then takes the motorized file and begins the tasks of etching of the hooks and sharp edges. This doesn’t hurt the horse and sometimes no sedation is used. But with unpredictable animals that weigh 1000 Lbs I can see why the safer bet is to use it.

The vet or practitioner (floating can be done by a non-vet) will not make the surface smooth- that makes chewing harder actually – the surface still needs to be rough so they can properly grind feed and forage. This is definitely a procedure you want done by someone who has studied it and is skilled at it. Our vet became an expert in it because she loves doing it. Some vet practices don’t have this option and refer you out to equine dentists ( there are those) or some people use their farriers for floating.  Just make sure your practitioner comes with good references.

So what about horses in the wild?  What happens to their teeth?  I was curious and of course when you google that and also “teeth floating” their are tons of websites where one can find varying opinions on the topic. But I read that the horses in the wild will develop the areas with sharp edges and hooks – but the horses in the wild are in grassy and wooded areas 24/7. They use their jaws 24/7 to chew.  They are chewing not only grass – which likely will have silica in it which can help grind down teeth, they also eat woody plants that can further help their tooth surfaces stay relatively flat.  So in essence they are their own dentists.

Of course there are jaws of deceased wild horses that do show the hooks and sharp edges – I am sure each horse will be have their own specific biology and some will have worse teeth than others – same as in humans.  Sadly in the wild horse world bad teeth could lead to malnutrition and weakness and even death- but again that is in the wild where there is natural selection and survival of the fittest and all that. In general horses in the wild will chew more times a day – because of their access to 24/7 forage -than our companion horses. All we can is is try to navigate the right health procedures for our own horses – and even then the topic of teeth floating can become more complicated.

There are many opinions on whether a horses teeth need to be floated at all, or as often as recommended by the practitioners that perform the procedures, under sedation or wide awake, with manual files or motorized. I read an interesting article (here) that discusses whether in our modern world whether we interfere too much with a horses teeth. I think this is an opinion to consider. I think there is always a balance. In our horses situation maybe Yukon could have gone more time before he had it done. But in Harley’s case he had some ulcerations in his mouth which Dr. Juress could see once she was able to get a good look with a light inside Harley’s mouth – he really needed it done.  I think he will be more comfortable now for sure.

If we will do this yearly for Harley – I can’t say as yet. He went a good while without it. But he is older and has other health issues that can effect his weight. So I think making sure his teeth are in good working order is important. As for sedation…I am not against it..because I know that the amount given is very small- and for me safety for the human is key when working with horses. They are big animals. I know my horse Harley would not tolerate this procedure fully awake even with manual tools, no speculum and head down. Or he wouldn’t have today anyway because it took longer because he had more issues. Maybe if he had only a few areas that needed to be done he could have tolerated it without sedation. Not sure.

I do intend on reading more about the subject and looking at all the opinions. I think the best way each horse owner can approach the choices when it comes to equine teeth floating is to read as much as you can. Ask your vet, your farrier, other horse experts and then garner your own opinion.

There is so much to learn about equines and there care- I have been back into the horse world now for 15 plus years and I will never ever run out of things to learn. It is amazing and overwhelming. I am pretty sure that most horse owners want to do what we think is best for our companion horses to keep them comfortable and healthy. Today for us it was learning more about floating teeth. Next week it will be something else I am sure- and I will probably want to write about it- hopefully I will!