Friday, January 27, 2012

An amazing person

I met him yesterday, while I was in the process of working in a clinic for relief. He came in because he wasn't sure if he had a day off or if he was supposed to work - so erring on the side of caution, he figured he had to work. When he discovered that he didn't have to work, he still took some time to stop and chat; in the process, he earned my respect with with just 6 words:

"I've been practicing for 60 years."

SIXTY YEARS. You didn't read that wrong - and I didn't hear it wrong. This gentleman is finally getting ready to retire, after 60 YEARS of service to animals and people. Unfathomable to me. Awe- and hope-inspring to me. Here is a man who found what he wanted to do, found his passion, and followed it. Here is a man who has enjoyed an extraordinary career in a field which has evolved faster than most. Here is a man who was lucky enough to not go to work every day, because he enjoyed it so much it wasn't a job.

He graduated from Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College in the early 1950s (before it became Texas A&M University!). He was the first person to go to college in his family, and he graduated from high school at the age of 16. The next day he turned 17, and he got in a year of university studies before being drafted into the Infantry. He spent three years as an Infantryman (a hard life now, harder then, I would imagine). We talked about the horrible food - though I ended up with a greater appreciation for my horrible Army food after hearing his story. Doc said that at one point they were eating C-rations from Australia, and this was before things were really refrigerated. So, they had a ruck march that was going to take them about 3 days - and they received enough of these c-rations to get them through the three days. At the end of the march, he still had two days' worth left, because the food was canned mutton (sheep). Not only was it sheep, but it was rotten sheep! What is good and what is bad is all a matter of perspective.

He left not too long after that yesterday, but we worked together today and I was able to let him talk some more since the clinic was very slow. When Doc started practicing there was but one antibiotic - penicillin. They didn't know about Vibrio, IBR, and the like. They didn't have vaccines for many of the diseases that we read about today but rarely see. They didn't know how to evaluate bulls for breeding potential, so he got together with a group of vets to figure that out. No vet schools had x-ray machines, so when they built the new one and brought in someone to teach the students how to read films, the school took an old Army x-ray machine and installed it and sent the vet to MD Anderson to learn how to read human films. "A bone is a bone, after all," Doc said.

Most of his career was spent in mixed animal practice; I asked him what his favorite species to work on was and he thought for a moment before saying, "I can't that I have a favorite. They're all so interesting and different." His demeanor is quiet, calm, thoughtful, and kind. I can see why he has had such success for so long.

The last story I can relay is this one: he pregnancy checked 100,000 cows in ONE YEAR. He got paid a dollar a cow, but could buy a "good chevy truck for $1250, so I was making pretty good money!" The most cows he checked in one day was 946...in a single day. He was apparently pretty successful, too - as he sat with some cowboys on a lunch break one day, one of the ranchers rode up and told the cowboys that "Doc made me an extra quarter of a million bucks this year!" The cowboys' jaws about dropped to the dirt, and once they recovered they were able to ask the rancher "How?"

The rancher pulled his calf sales record out of his shirt pocket. Handed it to one of the cowboys and said, "How many calves did we sell last year? How many this year? How much profit did we make on those extra calves?" Doc was pretty popular after that! And the rancher had made his point - bringing in a vet had helped the cowboys, not hurt them. A lot of stories, a lot of memories contained in that brain of his. I'm still wrapping my brain around the fact that someone has been doing a job for 60 years. Incredible. And he seems like a good, down-to-earth guy - a guy that has given back as much as he has earned. So I hope you see why I had to write this. Why the words had to be put into e-space. Even my dear friend - who's mentor practiced for 56 (?) years before retiring - was tickled to hear my tale. Couldn't make it up if I tried. Serious kudos to you, Doc! May your retirement be as rich as your career has been. And thanks for sharing - I'm blessed to have known you for even the few hours that I did.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Month!

First off - hi Dave! Good to see you found me again. Hope you are well and the running is feeling great! Next off, hi Hamilton! Thanks for reminding me about this blog. I've been crazy enough this month that I almost forgot about it. But now I remember, so here I am...

A few things to report, then I must off to teach a class on gut bugs on my birthday. Yes, it IS my birthday - at least according to the dentist that aged me when I first arrived here in these great United States. I claim the whole month, really, because the only person who knows the exact date of my birth is unknown to me - so they really did have to tell my birth date by my teeth. Therefore, I have a rightful claim to the month of January, no? Anyway, I started off the morning of my 39th year with a dreadmill run - it was supposed to be a stationary bike ride, but someone already occupied the bike. And it was (and still is) raining outside, and cold. After my White Rock experience, I choose NOT to run in that weather, so dreadmill it was! An easy 4 miles followed by a few minutes of core. A good way to start off my new year.

In the meantime, I am still trying to decide which 100-mile race to sign up for and tackle. Perhaps I'll chicken out (help me here, Hamilton!), but we shall see. I am leaning toward Lean Horse in August, but that means I'll have to forego Pike's Peak Half. Oh! Decisions! But I do know if I don't do it this year I'll likely chicken out altogether so there you have it.

I keep hoping that the next 5 weeks won't be as bad as they look on my calendar, and so far so good. It's probably a good sign that I need to find a way to stop doing clinical work when I groan every time I see it on my schedule...or at least stop doing clinical work the way I am doing it. Unfortunately for now, unless I'm willing to live off student loans again (which I'm not), it's the only way I can pay my bills. Unless....my department chair gives me a guarantee of teaching at least once class each semester. But that might not happen any time really soon. So I'll just have to hang in there in the meantime.

OK. Enough whining! Life is good. I'm healthy, happy, and still young. I have great friends, my running is going well (I'm practically off my orthotiocs altogether - and loving it!), and learning a TON. I may still be deciding what I want to do when I grow up - actually, I know what I want to do when I grow up. The job just doesn't exist right now. Guess I'll have to keep chugging and figure out a way to make one....but the real point is, I'm still plugging. Hope I continue to have the wherewithal to get there.

Have a great day, everyone - it's my birthday, and since I'm having a fabulous day, you should, too!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And we're back!

On New Year's Eve, henceforth referred to as "NYE." It's a little past 7am as my darn internal clock didn't let me sleep much past the dawning of light through the tiny cracks in my new vertical blinds...it's a new place to live and so far I'm loving it (except for the VERY thin walls. But that's apartment living!). My sis is in the next room, having flown in last night, and after we talked until almost 2 in the morning (a dress rehearsal for tonight - tho I may need a nap before if I'm actually going to make it to midnight!), I am awake. The mark of a true morning person, I suppose...

So, I AM in the new apartment. I went on a bit of shopping spree yesterday, as a dear friend helped me out by giving me a very useable washer and dryer, thus saving me over a thousand bucks. Which, of course, isn't really going to be saved. I've spent some of it already - I am now the proud owner of an espresso machine, a very nice blender, and a crock pot. All sitting out on my counter, all in stainless steel finish, and I STILL have enough room to make a pie crust. You have NO idea how happy this makes me. Oh how I've missed having a lovely kitchen! (electric, but I'll settle for that with all the space).

A few boxes yet to be unpacked. Mostly books - was waiting for my sis to come help me with arranging things. Much harder to move a bookshelf when it's full of books. Yeah, I know. I'm queen of stating the obvious. Anyway, she's got a great eye for getting things put in just the right spot. AND we get to go pick more stuff out together. GOOD stuff, for a change. Might as well go whole hog. After all, it's looking more and more like I'll be here for the next three years or so; better settle in and be happy for the duration! So far, so good. My sis is here to celebrate the New Year with me by helping me decorate and make this place a home, I'm happily single (have a serious crush, but it's just a crush. And sometimes crushes are super fun!), and looking forward to a VERY busy year!

OK. My stomach is grumbling and once my sis is awake we'll be off on a run. Short, but enough to burn some calories and therefore enjoy the rest of the day guilt. Also, we're going to buy lottery tickets today - one ticket for each lotto drawing. Why not? It's cheap, it goes towards the schools, and we have as good a chance as any if we buy a ticket. Besides, it's fun to dream about what we'd do if we ever actually did win. Nothing wrong with a little daydreaming!

OK. Up and at 'em. I'm off to start my day. If I fall back asleep, I'd be here way too long. Then I'd be robbed of the pleasure of taking a nap later on. Now, how are we going to find the time to get in a pedicure? I desperately need/want one....