Little Brown-eyed Doe

“I love mockingbirds, but I cannot rehab them because they imprint, or bond, or whatever you choose to call it. Young ravens and crows are worse. In their quest for attention and affection, they are akin to domestic dogs. And when you placate young wild animals with a tender human touch, it changes them forever. So rehabbers have to reject the overtures of creatures who attempt to bond, to ensure they retain their wild nature. Some people are good at this. I am not. I have too much of what John Keats called negative capability as well as a close corollary, empathy. When birds arrive at my door lost, broken, and terrified, the distinctions between us fall away, and they are no longer wild animals separate from my humanity. Instead, I am right there with them, sharing their troubles, fear, and pain. I see myself in them and want to protect, love, and reassure them.” 

Terry Masear, Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood

I’m a city girl living in the country for the first time in my life. Sooner or later I was going to see the not so kind side of Mother Nature.

About two weeks ago, we were watching a small herd of deer meander across the empty lot behind our house. As they spread out and went their different ways, we noticed one little doe bringing up the rear. I pointed her out to Michael because her gait was so unusual–like someone had released a rocking horse out into the wild.

As she made her way around the cacti, we realized why she was moving in such an unnatural way. She was not bearing any weight on her left front leg. We were shocked at how badly her leg was injured and heartbroken to see her struggle in order to keep up with her herd. Sadly, we gave her our blessing and watched as she bobbled away. Neither one of thought we’d see her again.

To our amazement our amazing brown-eyed doe has proven us wrong. I’m still unsure if that is a good or a bad thing. Today as I walked to the office to write, she was in the back moseying around with the rest our deer friends. She’s become a teacher as well as an example of pure determination as she makes her way over the very uneven, rocky terrain. I am learning there’s not much I can do for her other than include her in my conversations with God.

Which, when I stop to think about it, is all I can do about just about anything.

Heavenly Father, our human ties with our friends of other species is wonderful and special gift from You. We now ask You to grant our special animal companions your Fatherly care and healing power to take away any suffering they have. Give us, their human friends, new understanding of our responsibilities to these creatures of Yours. They have trust in us as we have in You; our souls and theirs are on this earth together to give one another friendship, affection, and caring. Take our heartfelt prayers and fill Your ill or suffering animals with healing Light and strength to overcome whatever weakness of body they have.

Your goodness is turned upon every living thing and Your grace flows to all Your creatures. From our souls to theirs goodness flows, touching each of us with the reflection of Your love. Grant to our special animal companions long and healthy lives. Give them good relationships with us, and if You see fit to take them from us, help us to understand that they are not gone from us, but only drawing closer to You. Grant our prayer through the intercession of good St. Francis of Assisi, who honored You through all Your creatures. Give him the power to watch over our animal friends until they are safely with You in eternity, where we someday hope to join them in giving You honor forever. Amen.                          Saint Francis of Assisi, for our Animal Friends

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

September 7, 1971

On September 7, 1971, I was one of three young women sitting in a small radiology room at what was then called, St. Francis Hospital. None of us had any idea what that day, much less the next two years, would have in store for us.

The three of us, Michele, Mary, and I, were the new class of radiology students. Michele and I had graduated from the same high school, but we did not know each other well. Mary had completed one year of college at the University of Northern Iowa after graduating the year before from Columbus. She did not know either one of us. After that bit of small talk, we shared our expectations for the day ahead–we all thought we’d be taking x-rays by the end of the day.

I mean, how hard could it be?

Our primary instructor and head of the department, Chuck, came in to take us on the official tour of the x-ray department. The department may have been small but what it lacked in size it made up for in personality.

Pat, a fiery red-head, was the most senior technologist and the person we all tried hard not to make angry for any reason. Bev, small but just as energized, was Chuck’s main go-to person and our positioning instructor. When she was introduced as that, the three of us had NO idea what that meant, but we accepted it, as we did most things, without any questions. Sue, the newest technical person in the department, was hired to work primarily in the newest area of the department, nuclear medicine. Because of that, we would not be working with her much. Chuck was quick to point out to us what nuclear medicine was, “unclear medicine” and left it at that.

Maxine was the department transcriptionist and office secretary. Looking back, I think it was Chuck’s goal to find some politically sensitive joke to tell to one of the docs as Maxine sat taking direct dictation from the radiologist. Social media did not exist so jokes and all types of other off-color stories were shared openly for all ears to hear. Being sensitive and of Polish descent, Maxine must have put in some tough days while working with all of us.

The class ahead of us was now instantly promoted to the senior position. Carolyn and Lynn would be our cheerleaders and our toughest critics–sharing their horror stories while pointing out to us how their first year was so much harder than what we were experiencing.

Tradition is a huge deal in medicine and it was for our radiology department. Incoming and outgoing radiology classes were great examples of a good ol’ boy’s club mixed with some sort of bazaar fraternity hazing ceremony. If you survived certain insane experiences you were in for the long haul. The toughest? Easy answer–call. An experience we had the opportunity to share after we had completed six months of training.

It was one long, brutal ride.

Taking call either made you or broke you. Mary and I survived, but that may have been all due to timing. Michele drew the first nightmare weekend. Working alone she had orders for in patients, ER patients, and a body in the morgue. While processing her morgue films, she walked out of the darkroom with the film bin open–meaning all the film in the bin was exposed. It was, for the most part, unusable. Once she realized this and took into account all the other things happening around her, her decision was clear. This was not the career for her. Mary and I learned about her decision the next day–we lost a classmate.

With Michele gone, we had to cover more–which meant we learned more and were exposed to more. We completed our program and were both asked to stay. Staying on where you trained has its good and bad points–we learned to work around them and we both succeeded. Mary was asked to stay to take over nuclear medicine–you know–“unclear medicine.” I stayed to pick up whatever needed to be done. I needed a job so I was ready to whatever I needed to do. Little did I know that a few years down the road the hospital would recruit a new pediatrician. That pediatrician wanted someone who could do echoes. Little did I know the magnitude of this request–I was volunteered to go to Iowa City where I learned pediatric echocardiography.

Time flew by as we both continued to learn, change, and grow. Mary moved to Cedar Rapids, retiring as the head of Nuclear Medicine just a short time ago. I moved to Denver where I was fortunate enough to do pediatric echo for 30 years.

Neither time or distance has separated us. Mary and I have been close since that first day in room 3. I love you, Mary. Our career and all the twists and turns it took us on has been the wildest of the wildest rides ever imagined. I am grateful and humbled by it all.

In one other stroke of luck, Facebook reunited the two of us with our classmate, Michele. Having Michele back in my little corner of the world gives me such a feeling of coming full circle. Love you, Michele.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love Y’all.

Peace