Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Message From The Universe

A few months ago I was working a temp job, cleaning a house with a crew of three other gals (it was a big house, 8000 sq ft!). I heard a blood curdling scream come from the level beneath me and bolted to the top of the stairs to shout down and see if everyone was okay. After a second, but less terrifying scream, I trotted down the stairs fearing she had fallen or otherwise injured herself. I got to the doorway of a guest room and found my co-worker in obvious distress. When I asked if she was okay, her response was muffled by her hands covering her mouth but no, she was not okay. Our supervisor was further into the room looking around, and I heard a rattling sound coming from a corner of the room. The cause of all this ruckus was a tiny brown field mouse, stuck to a glue trap and scrambling desperately to get away from all the commotion. Since I was the only one in the house with any experience dealing with animals, my supervisor turned to me for a solution. It was simple although not necessarily kind, "Call the property manager and he can come kill it." It was uncomfortable to watch him struggle and I stood there debating in my head if I had the guts to break his neck but the answer was a resounding no. However my opinion that the rodent was in need of a swift death was not appreciated. "You're a vet tech", my supervisor pleaded. "You have to help me save him." The idea was ridiculous to me. My brain was running a ticker tape of thoughts as to why I should not save the poor thing: mice can carry disease, who knows how long he'd been stuck on that trap, surely he was near death anyway... but my attempts at reasoning were ignored as I watched the woman pick the trap up and carry it away, and I figured I should at least make sure no one was hurt in this process.

I couldn't believe it, but a quick Google search on my iPhone (How did we ever survive before this technology?) revealed animals can be removed from these traps simply by applying cooking oil. We placed the trap inside a box we found and I sprayed the critter's legs and glue coated abdomen with PAM spray. I kept thinking I cannot believe I'm doing this! but miraculously, after a few minutes the mouse was freeing himself from the adhesive. I'll admit it felt good, to have helped him, even though I still thought it was a bizarre thing to be doing. I stood watching him for a few minutes, and I had this perfectly clear thought of The Universe is telling me I'm supposed to be helping animals. When my co-workers came to check on things and saw the mouse was off the trap, they cheered! Then they insisted on giving him pieces of cinnamon roll and fruit, which he was eager to devour and soon he was looking like a normal, be it greasy, mouse again. One of the girls put him in a smaller box and took him home with her that evening to release in the fields behind her house.

As we rode home in the company van that afternoon, my supervisor credited me with saving the creature's life and thanked me many times. Even though I thought the whole thing was risky, I did it anyway because she felt so strongly that the little life should be spared.

Later that evening, I relayed the story to my boyfriend. He was surprised by the strong desire to save the mouse but not so much by my role in it. He was also proud to hear I'd educated everyone on rabies virus and hantavirus in the process! I told him about my feeling that The Universe was letting me know it was time to think about going back to veterinary medicine. I'd sworn it off last year, after losing my dog and quitting a job that was crushing my soul every day. I thought I was done with the field for good, or at least a long time, but I'd recently started to realize I missed it. Although the temp jobs were a welcome change of pace, I felt a bit lost without using the veterinary skills I'd honed over the last 15+ years working in clinics. I wasn't exactly sure what I was ready for but I figured something would present itself when the time was right.

The very next day I took my dogs to get vaccinations. I'd been to see this veterinarian several times, most recently taking the puppy in for his series of injections and neuter. Each time, she'd asked me if I was ready to return to the veterinary field and each time I replied that I wasn't quite yet but would let her know if I ever was. It's funny, I'd never met her before I started taking my dogs to her clinic, after I'd quit my full time job, so I was always baffled by her willingness to give me a job. I guess she could sense something about me that told her I'd be a good fit there. So on this particular day in early March when she entered the exam room, her hands were in a prayer position and she asked with a smile "Are you ready yet?". I smiled in response and said "Actually, I think I am".

I went in for an interview two days later. I spent the morning before hand making lists of all the reasons I was hesitant to return to life as a veterinary technician and all the reasons I wanted to. I made sure I was clear with the doctor during my interview as to what I was looking for in a job, mainly that I use my skills and have my hands on animals all day and then go home. I'm not looking for a management role or a ton of responsibility. When she gave me a tour of the clinic, I knew I wanted to work there. It has nothing to do with the facility itself, or any of the equipment or anything like that. It was the smells and the sounds of a busy animal hospital. It was the medical terminology the doctor used when she explained to me the case of the kitty meowing in a cage in the treatment area. I had missed those things and they're all a part of who I am.

I started the job three days later and it's been over two months since then. I haven't worked in a clinic in a strictly technician role (no management role) for seven years. When I swore off veterinary medicine last year, I had forgotten that and I forgot how much I love it. It's definitely not always easy or fun but it's so damn rewarding.

This week marks a year since I quit my job last spring. I never would have imagined I'd be working at a clinic again, let alone one that is less than a mile from my house and only working 20 hours a week. Sometimes I can't believe I had to go through everything I did to realize there was a way to do this job and be happy! There's a saying that goes something like "life is what happens when you're making other plans". I never used to understand that because I'm a planner! I like to know what's going to happen, be prepared for it and then have it happen exactly as I imagined. I'm not sure why it took me til my mid thirties to figure out that planning usually doesn't work that way. I guess it took something happening that I never planned for, the death of my dog, to make me realize that I have got to start going with the freaking flow or I am always going to be anxious and miserable! The changes I've made of the past year, and this job in particular, are steps in the right direction.


  1. Another beautifully written and well stated article.
    I love how well things play out and how they give you material to write about them in a "here's how that story unfolds" kind of way.
    I find myself smiling while I read your articles.
    The whole way thru.
    You're such a good person with excellent story telling abilities--and you're SO honest with all that you pour into your work.
    I love it!
    I'm SO HAPPY you've found peace and contentment in your new job. Wishing you many more successful months traveling down this path.
    XO my friend.

  2. go with the flow, indeed.. ;-)

  3. Such a great story, and I'm so glad you're happy in your work.

  4. I love reading your stories, Mo! Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad you're happy.