Today marks the 32nd day that I have been in isolation after having a possible COVID exposure and signs develop. I have not been able to be tested, so have been told repeatedly to just stay in isolation until I have gone 72 hours without any symptoms (no cough, no low grade fever, etc.). It has been hard, but I realize many people have it much worse than I do. I have some money saved in the bank. I have people that check in on me. I know that I am loved. I know that even though I am isolated, I am not truly alone. I have my people near and far – we are still together (thank you internet!!).

Photo Credit Brian Pasko


A veterinary colleague shared a story from her work today that hit me in the gut. Her patient needed to be euthanized and although the owner couldn’t be physically present for euthanasia due to the current COVID protocols, she let him know he could be present via Facetime or whatever program.

His response broke my heart. He said, “I get it. I’m a respiratory therapist. We’re doing terminal extubations by Zoom right now.”

As a veterinarian, I know I have medical training that would be helpful on the human side (even though humans are the one species I am not licensed to work on). I have signed up to help where I am needed, if and when I am needed. Today, with this conversation, I finally realized what I really want to do on the human health side.

I want to be someone that sits with the COVID patients. Someone that can give general updates to the family (because the doctors and nurses have been so busy it can’t always happen as frequently as families would like). Someone that can just be there for the people so that they are less alone. I know veterinarians snuggle our patients all up when they are hospitalized, but the human side can’t do that. I want to try and help decrease the psychological pain that these people are going through – before and after intubation and extubation. I know that this would also be helpful for non-COVID patients that are hospitalized. Loneliness is real. Hospitalization is scary.

I don’t know if this is possible. I don’t know if someone is already doing this. I know the risk. I know how to maintain proper bio-security measures. I know how to be there.

I don’t know if this is something other people would do. I hope so. I hope that there can be a way to make this happen. If you have contacts, please let me know. Have them contact me.

What would you like to do? What have you done?
How would you like to make a difference? How have you made a difference?

Are you a teacher that is struggling to meet the needs of your students? Have you dropped off their homework or done a car parade? Are you a parent that is now working from home and helping to supervise your children’s’ education while trying to hold it together and still have made masks or treats for others? Are you home alone trying to keep it together; reaching out to your friends and loved ones? Share your stories!

We can’t do this alone. We need to come together, while staying physically distant.

#WeAreTheCavalry #WashYourHands #InThisTogether #YouAreNotAlone #BrianPaskoIsAnAmazingPhotographerAndFriend #BrianPasko

Thanksgiving and Christmas for Easter?

During this time of chaos, many people are home and finding all sorts of things to keep them entertained. A wonderful friend of mine has been going through boxes as they have moved relatively recently (but who has time to get to all of those extra boxes?). Emily came upon this wonderful letter that her son, Jameson wrote many years ago.
Letter from Jameson to Santa

Emily shared on Facebook what this letter means, “Jameson wrote his name in cursive, still believed in Santa and was “checking in” with Santa to encourage him. He never asked for a thing, though he was a sycophant in some ways😊💕 He hopes Santa will get a head start on his work so he doesn’t run out of time and wasn’t depressed, and hoped he was respectful of Mrs. Claus and the elves. He also wanted Santa to know that if he ran out of toys to remember that people “adore you for who you are”…and remember “you get to take at least 5 snack breaks” and to have fun and just be yourself.”

To this day, Jameson, at almost 17 years old, is still wonderful and caring. Helping his younger sister with her schoolwork and tackling yard work without any prompting. An amazing kid has grown into an amazing young man.

We all need to remember to look out for those around us. Let those that we care about know that we care. An old fashioned letter or card is pretty exciting these days (just let it sit for 24 hours before opening it!). Helping a neighbor or friend that can’t get out of the house. It is not just the elderly and immunocompromised that need help. Parents need a lot of it right now. Single parents that can’t go to the store due to only one person being allowed in. Healthcare workers that can’t risk going to the store after working with COVID-19 patients all day. Even Santa Claus needed someone to let him know that he wasn’t alone. It took 7 year old Jameson to teach us that.

Thank you, Jameson.

Remember #WashYourHands #StayAtHome #WeAreTheCavalry

Perspective on September 11

This day, September 11th, always touches my soul in many ways. Since my last post of this kind, I have had so many more things happen in my life. My business has grown, and I am busier than I ever thought I would be. I am a part of saving lives on a daily basis through Not One More Vet, Inc., the non-profit that I am blessed to be a part of, with the goal of preventing suicide in the veterinary profession. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have caused devastation around the Caribbean and the southern USA mainland. My heart is broken for the devastation, especially that in the Virgin Islands where a part of my heart was left behind after working there in 2014 and 2015. I am in preparation now for heading down to help with relief efforts in Texas after Hurricane Harvey, but my heart longs to help in the US VI. Please extend your love of the world to those around you. Offer a piece of yourself and your life to someone else. The only way that we will solve the problems of our world is to extend our hands, ourselves, our supinator.

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I am reposting my thoughts from September 11, 2013, because it says the words that still need saying. My life has changed since this day 14 years ago, my life has changed since this day 2 years ago. Fourteen years ago, I was shocked by what had happened while I was focusing on my dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Two years ago, I was in a new job and loving it. One year ago, I was relieved of my position at that job with no warning, no explanation. Today, I am still saddened that our world is filled with so much hatred and anger. I am still hopeful that we will learn the lessons of the supinator muscle – even if it is one person at a time, one life at a time. I am mourning the lives of those that have  been lost – to terrorism, to war, to suicide (this week is Suicide Prevention Week – please pay attention to those that are around you, a kind gesture or words of support could save a life), to disease, to malnutrition. I celebrate my life and business (that change in employment status lead to the development of my own business!). Our lives are never all happiness or all pain. We live in a dichotomy of feelings. Happiness. Sorrow. Pain. Joy. Fearfulness. Confidence. I am amazed at how we can be so many things at one time. Embrace them all as they all are apart of our humanity.

Take time today to hug someone you love. To meet someone new. To stretch your comfort zone, just a bit, to help someone in need of friendship.  Start to build a relationship with someone based on dignity and respect.

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Today is September 11, 2013. It is amazing how different and yet how similar the world is compared to 12 years ago. Where were you and what were you doing 12 years ago today? I was sitting in the anatomy lab at the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Veterinary Medicine dissecting the supinator muscle. I will never forget that muscle and what it does. The supinator allows the front leg (or arm) to rotate the paw (or hand) toward the other paw (or hand). I remember my professor telling us, “The supinator allows the hand to rotate as if you are holding a bowl of soup.” When I think of this position, I think of giving and sharing. It was a contrast of thoughts within my mind – hostility and aggression versus gifts and renewal.

As information came out about what was happening in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, my head was spinning. I was forced to face some of my deepest fears and anxieties. One might ask why as I was thousands of miles away from the destruction on the east coast. I was “safe” in Wisconsin. The planes crashing and the towers falling, shook me to the core. For years, I had struggled with depression and anxiety – specifically anxiety that if someone was even 5 minutes late, then they either hated me and were not going to show up or that they were bleeding to death on the side of the road and I was thinking horrible thoughts about them hating me. The thing about depression and anxiety is that there is rarely rational thought within the mind at the time. I was suddenly imagining that I was the person in the building or the plane that could not get to their family. I was the person that was left wondering, wishing that their loved one would come home, yet never would.

We were given the option of going home, to leave class and do whatever we needed to do. I couldn’t leave, but I couldn’t stay. I decided to walk around the building and a friend offered me a cell phone to call my friends on the east coast to make sure they were alright. While I was walking, I heard the radio announcing the fall of the second tower. I went back into the lab, shared the news, and sat down with my partners. I sat back down to focus on something that I could control, to focus on the supinator – the muscle of giving and sharing.

As our world now struggles with thoughts of Egypt and Syria, of continued unrest in places all over the world, I hope and pray that leaders of all nations learn the lesson of the supinator. To turn away from violence and instead focus on healing, giving, and sharing. To share ideas, thoughts, and feelings. To give food and aid to the people that are down trodden. Every major religion that I have studied shares the same basic tenants – to take care of the poor and the sick. I know that religion sparks many wars and acts of evil, but that is not the intent of any of those religions. I am saddened when the will of man destroys what is beautiful in this world. Please, leaders and followers of our world, stand up and respect each other. Sit down to a bowl of soup, a cup of tea, and learn to love each other, not in spite of, but because of our differences. Your supinator allows you to turn your hand into a hand shake, not into a fist. Let us learn from our supinator.

Are you prepared for an emergency?

As the USA, and other parts of the world, are dealing with storms, flooding, and so much more, are you prepared for an emergency?

If you have seconds or minutes to seek shelter in a tornado or minutes to hours to seek higher ground in floods, do you have a plan?

Is your cat amenable to being grabbed and taken into a storm shelter? Can you get your cat into a carrier or on a harness and leash in under 60 seconds?

Is your dog acclimated to being in large groups? Is your dog reactive to the sight, smell, or sound of other dogs?

Do you have copies of your animal’s vaccine and medical history?

Being prepared is not just knowing where to meet in case of a fire or natural disaster.

Notice she is wearing a harness and leash and in her carrier.

Notice she is wearing a harness and leash and is in her carrier.

What do you need to be prepared for your pets?

  • Have copies of documents:
    • vaccination history, including current rabies certificate
    • medical and surgical history
    • microchip number (make sure your information is up to date and have an out of the area contact number as well)
    • veterinarian’s name, address, and phone number
    • municipality or state license or other identification
    • if your pet is a service animal, have your documentation for that as well
  • Extra food and water in portable containers. Don’t forget the bowls, too!
  • Medications
    • Heartworm and flea/tick prevention
    • Prescription medication
    • Over the counter medications that your veterinarian has recommended (such as for allergic reactions)
    • Don’t forget toothbrush and pet toothpaste (You are brushing your pet’s teeth every day, right?)
  • Easily accessible leashes, carriers/crates, collars or harnesses
  • A plan for a location to go to that accepts pets, and know to locations of veterinarians near-by

What can you do to prepare your pets?

  • Take the time to train your cat to wear a harness and leash and to load into a carrier, may mean the difference between life and death or having to leave your fuzzy friend behind.
  • Train your dog to wear a basket muzzle. Some emergency shelters will not allow dogs without a muzzle due to the risk of injury to people and other animals. A basket muzzle, allows the dog to eat, drink, pant, and prevents the dog from biting or eating things that are not meant to be eaten. This is most important for dogs that are reactive to the sight, sound, or smell of other dogs. Remember that even the most mild-mannered dog may snap and bite when in a stressful and chaotic situation.
  • Acclimate your pets to car rides, or be prepared for vocalization, vomiting, and general dislike of the trip for everyone.
  • You may even want to consider getting a life vest flotation device for your dog, and get him or her used to wearing it, especially for short nosed breeds such as pugs, French bulldogs, bulldogs, boxers, etc.

These are just a few ways to help protect yourself and your furry family members in the case of an emergency. Do you have any tips or recommendations to share? A story about an emergency evacuation or natural disaster and how it effected your family?

Why I haven’t changed my Facebook picture to the colors of the French flag

I have not changed my profile picture to include the colors of the French flag, not because my heart is not broken for those killed and injured, but because the pain is so much larger. For those in Beirut, Lebanon that were killed in a bomb blast, for those at a Baghdad funeral that were blown up as well. People going about their lives, just like those in New York on 9/11, some happy, some mourning, all with goals and dreams for another day, suddenly gone.

I do not understand the hate that lives inside of someone that spurs them to commit such horrible acts. I do know that it is not Allah, as Allah is the same God of Abraham that I believe in as a Christian. It is the person that has been brainwashed to believe a distorted view of the world. In the same way that I do not understand the hate and vitriol that is spewed from the mouths speaking and fingers typing that call for more war, for retaliation, and sadly for hatred of all Muslims or anyone of a different ethnicity or skin color or belief system. These horrible words are often spoken in the name of Jesus Christ and His father. This is also a distorted world view.

The Bible does not call for hatred. It calls for love. It calls for caring for the widowed, the orphaned, the lost – guess what!?! That includes refugees and those trying to find peace int he world. Although difficult, it also means caring for those that have perpetrated such horrible crimes as those witnessed in the last week, and to be honest centuries. Taking care of one group of people does not stop anyone from caring for another group. We all have a responsibility to care for others. Everyone. That does not mean that you personally have to hold the hand of every grieving person or anything like that, it means that you have respect for each person as a human being. It means when you come in contact with someone that needs help, you help them. It means not judging people you have never met and finding them lacking.

What does your hatred and misunderstanding teach? It teaches more hatred and misunderstanding. What would happen if instead of bombs and soldiers that kill, we send books and teachers that teach respect, love, reading, and arithmetic? What if in our own homes and towns, we teach respect? This does not mean that you are to be walked all over, it means that you give every person the benefit of the doubt. When respect is given, it is usually returned. When respect is withheld, it is usually withheld. Remember that “Eye for an eye” thing? Yeah, Jesus was the one that switched that up and changed it to, “Turn the other cheek.”

There is always the chance that when you extend respect and love, it will be shot down. That you will be treated with disrespect or even violence. I have been there. I have experienced that. That does not mean that I should react the same way. It means that I have to work that much harder to love when times are hard, and even when times are easy. It does not mean that I cannot get upset. It means that my feelings are real, but I am in control of how I chose to respond to my feelings. I can act with anger and hatred, but once again, what does that teach?

I am forever thankful of the people that have shown me love and kindness when I have not been loving and kind. I am thankful that they remind me what is important. I have been thankful when something goes wrong and I have made a mistake and the person opts to forgive me and show me grace rather than swearing and a lawsuit.

I hope that when I have shown grace and mercy, love and kindness, it is an example to others as well. That they also will feel the respect. That they will decide to move forward with respect as well, that a lesson has been learned. A lesson of peace, forgiveness, and love. Not a lesson of violence, grudges, and hate.

My heart is braking for our entire world. The hungry, the lost, the broken, the abandoned, the sick, and the hated. Also for the brainwashed, the self-righteous, the egotistical, and the angry.

Some people may not appreciate the prayers that I say to my God. They may say that I am brainwashed, lost, self-righteous, egotistical, and unrealistic. Their view of me, does not change who I am. It does not change my faith. It does not change my deep longing for peace.

Do I change as a result of the world around me? Yes, I do. My heart bleeds. My eyes cry. My soul screams in anguish and pain. At the same time when there is goodness, my heart mends, my eyes still often cry with happy tears, my soul laughs with joy.

The world shapes each of us. Molds us into the person we are at any given time. We cannot be apart from the world. We are all one body. We are all interconnected. I will still pray. I will still reach out to help those that I can. Whatever your belief system, whatever your ideology, I ask you to choose love, respect, peace, and life.