Tag: Margaret K

Dr. Dog!

The truth of having a dog in your life.

I really should have written having a pet in your life because the following story is about cats and dogs. Plus, it’s been copied from The Guardian Newspaper so I fully expect that it will be taken down fairly soon.

But here goes!

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Sometimes a dog can be better for a patient than hospital

Suffering patients may need to just be asked ‘tell me about your pet’

Photograph: IJdema/Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘I wonder how often doctors are cognisant of the silent distress of patients who are separated from their pets?’

An elderly patient is admitted to hospital after a fall at home. He is stunned after the fall but, thankfully, uninjured. It takes him a few days to recover but as soon as he is able, he wants to go home. The physiotherapist wants to work with him, the social worker wants to examine his support system, but all he wants to do is go home. We feel he is not yet safe. He acknowledges that a worse event could happen but still, he wants to go home. Theories are posited as to why.

Maybe the concussion is worse than we first thought. Maybe he is cognitively impaired and unable to make decisions about his safety, in which case a state-appointed guardian may be needed. Maybe he doesn’t like the other patients, in which case he could be placated by moving him to another room. It is the beginning of a month of medical rounds for me and he is the handover without a plan.

He is sitting out of bed, dressed and sipping his tea. He looks up at a new face with interest.

“I am the specialist taking over your care,” I say.

“Look, love, please just let me go home. I’m begging you.”

Something about his desperation moves me and I am struck by the imbalance of power between me and my patient twice my age.

“I really want to, but help me understand why you’re so eager.”

I expect to hear about the incessant noise in the hospital, the bad food or the lack of clear communication but instead, to my complete surprise, tears start rolling down his face.

“It’s my cat. I want to see my cat.”

The cat is a link to the years he shared with his late wife. Now it snoozes in his wife’s chair and responds to his reminiscences, as if to say it knows he is hurting. In the twilight of his life, when his children are too busy to visit and the residents in his retirement village keep falling sick, his cat is the constant in his life.

“You can’t fix an old man,” he pleads. “But send me back to my cat.”

“I am going to do just that,” I say.

Outside, his story touches a nerve. People band together, set up community services and get him home quickly. In the end, he turns out to be a simple discharge. Reuniting an old man with his cat turns out to be the best medicine, which leaves me wondering how often doctors are cognisant of the silent distress of patients who are separated from their pets. Not often, I suspect.

The very next week, the distress of another patient announces itself loudly and heartbreakingly. She is 50, her dog was 18. She was divorced and lonely. He was old and slow. When her work turned her out and her friends moved on, the dog proved her anchor.

Amid all the shifting circumstances of her life, he never stopped loving her and greeting her with delight every morning. He needed nothing more than a walk and a few biscuits to send him into raptures of delight. Suddenly he fell very ill and the vet suggested the kindest thing to do was to let him go. So she did. Then she came home and took an overdose. How could she face life without her dog?

The postman spotted her through the window and called an ambulance. She was successfully resuscitated and now she is on the medical ward, awaiting psychiatric intervention. When I meet her she is pleasant and remorseful, particularly for being a burden on the overstretched mental-healthcare system.

A psych consult won’t help her, she pleads, another dog will. In fact, she has found just the right one and even thought of a name. She just hopes it won’t be gone before she is cleared. I tell her that all my sympathies still won’t add up to a hasty discharge because she really does need to see the psychiatrist. She begins to sob.

I have an insightful resident with me.

“Tell me about your dog,” she asks brightly. “I love dogs.”

The patient pulls out a photo from under her pillow.

“He is so happy,” I remark as I start jotting some notes.

“He was all I had. I went months without talking to people.”

Her loneliness will need attention but that’s a topic for another day, easy to identify but difficult to fix.

“What was his favourite thing to do?” the resident smiles, leaning forward.

“He loved to walk, even as an old thing.”

We go back and forth, the standard questions about headache, pain and immobility replaced by an interest in a departed dog that was the life of his owner.

It feels intuitively right but somehow misplaced, as if we are breaking some established protocol that says we should be asking about the number of pills she took and whether there was alcohol involved and what she would do if her new dog got sick. We should be checking her vitals, ensuring her bloods are fine, that the drug screen is clear. And watching our every word in case something inopportune brings her grief crashing back and we are to blame.

Except, in that moment, it is clear that while the medical questions have merit, the most important thing for this patient at this time is to cast them all aside and create a common understanding to make her feel less lonely in her experience. I count 10 minutes spent at her bedside. In those 10 minutes, we watch her mood lift and fresh hope enter her tone. There are people who love dogs, she thinks. There are people who understand my grief. Why, they are even interested in my old dog.

Our time is limited, and we must move on apologetically. With dry eyes and genuine gratitude, she says, “Thank you for asking about my dog. It’s the nicest thing anyone has done.”

Really? Could it be this simple?

Amid the trappings of modern medicine, it’s hard to believe that the inexpensive 10 minutes spent at her bedside might have proved to be the most useful and cathartic treatment of all. All her tests turned out fine. A day later, she is deemed safe for discharge and is overjoyed at the reprieve.

The next time we meet an upset patient, I suspect we will be tempted to ask the same question as always, “What’s the problem?”

But with a better history and a little luck, these experiences will shape a more nuanced approach to the suffering of patients. For many of them, the best question may be a request. “Tell me about your pet.”

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It’s both a beautiful story and a powerful one. It explains how for many people having a pet in their lives is more than a nice thing, it’s the reason for living.

Wonderful.

Thank you Margaret for sending me the link to this news item.

The End of Ice

Climate disruption at its worst!

Margaret K. recently emailed me a link to a recent Ralph Nader Radio programme.

As I said in my email to her after Jeannie and I had listened to it:

OK. Have listened to it just now.
I don’t know what to say.

Frankly, I’m overwhelmed. I need some time to let it settle down but it’s going to be featured on the blog very soon.
Thank you

Paul

I’m still ‘processing’ it but that doesn’t stop me from sharing it with you.

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Ralph spends the whole hour with independent journalist, Dahr Jamail, author of “The End of Ice,” his first person report on the front lines of the climate crisis.

In late 2003, award-winning journalist, Dahr Jamail, went to the Middle East to report on the Iraq War, where he spent more than a year as one of only a few independent US journalists in the country. Mr. Jamail has also written extensively on veterans’ resistance against US foreign policy. He is now focusing on climate disruption and the environment. His book on that topic is entitled, The End of Ice.

“So much of what we talk about is so dire and so extreme and so scary and also disheartening that I quote Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident writer and statesman. And he reminds us that as he said, ‘Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it turns out.” And that’s where I get into this moral obligation that no matter how dire things look, that we are absolutely morally obliged to do everything we can in our power to try to make this better.”  Dahr Jamail, author of “The End of Ice”

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Now here’s the link to the radio programme: Link

(It’s a download so wait just a short time for it to play.)

Do put an hour to one side and listen to this important and compelling programme.

Please!

Too wonderful for words!

Another very inspiring email from Margaret K.

This is only a short video.

But what it conveys is incredibly inspiring.

Or to put it in Margaret’s own words:

Hi Paul,
I thought that you and Jeannie might like to see this, if you haven’t already done so.
It brought a tear to my eye. Very inspiring – the way the world should be. The best of humanity.
Warm regards
– Margaret K

There are a lot of good people out there!

An introduction to Scientists Warning

The power of networking!

I am indebted to Margaret K. for including a number of videos in her long comment to my post The End Of Ice. They are being watched.

On Monday morning we watched one of them Deep Adaptation. It was a stark message.

It is included below. It’s 39 minutes long.

Please watch it!

Then if you are so minded their website is here. It’s free to join and you will be left with the feeling that you are doing something important. From that website:

The Union of Concerned Citizens of Earth

At some point we realize that humanity has strayed down a rabbit hole from which it cannot seem to emerge.  This quagmire is the belief in the idea of Consumerism, with its cast of advertising executives, bankers and economists, corporate CEOs, politicians, etc.  We have evolved a defective ‘operating system’ that insists on infinite, accelerating economic growth despite the ecological costs – namely the destruction of Nature.  Those who have signed or endorsed the Scientists’ Warning through this website have displayed a clear understanding of what is wrong and how we must head to avoid the worst of ecological destabilization that we have inflicted on Mother Earth.  We are all therefore de facto members of what we are calling the Union of Concerned Citizens of Earth.

“The world will have to start listening to the good scientists and not the ones paid to justify dodgy developments.”
– Greer Hart

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Sixty-Eight

More from Margaret K.

But from a different source.

Once again, I feel as though I should include the introduction:

My name is Kristýna Kvapilová and I’m a dog photographer, traveler and frisbee player from the Czech Republic. I’m 21 years old and I’m the proud owner of a Canon 5D Mark IV.

When I leave my computer-based job, you can often see me somewhere on the road, traveling and exploring the world with my beautiful 7-year-old Australian Shepherd Charlie, who is my personal teacher and also the best and the most faithful model I’ve ever had! He’s a so-called professional dog model who can do many tricks, for example, lick on command.

He truly changed my entire life… I’m a photographer only thanks to him and I’m incredibly glad for that. He’s always been so patient with me and I learned a lot because of him.

In photography, I focus primarily on pets and my goal is to make the photos look somehow more special than basic photos taken in the garden. I want to bring aesthetic elements, memories or a message that can help me to communicate with the outside world. I like to capture the true nature of dogs in my portraits, their personalities.

But what I like more and more is a combination of traveling, dogs, and photography. It’s not only about the photography but also about the experience of an adventure: sleeping in a tent, getting our paws dirty and just walking in the breathtaking nature.

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Brilliant!

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Sixty-Seven

These are just mouth-wateringly beautiful.

Margaret K. from down in Australia sent me the link to these photographs.

I should add the words that precede the photos.

Many people think of Finland as the land of cold weather and darkness. However, Ossi Saarinen (previously here and here), a Finnish photographer, believes that the country is much more than just that, and he shows another surprisingly enchanting side of his motherland.

Ossi brings delightful feelings through his photos of spectacular Finnish nature, especially the untouched forests covering almost three-quarters of the whole country. And within these peaceful and ancient forests, wild animals roam freely and enjoy their lives at their best.

Finnish animals appear to be very mysterious, fascinating and charming just like they’ve stepped out from fairy tales. Ossi does not skip the chances to capture the beauty of Finnish wildlife either. He believes that every encounter between the animals and humans becomes an unforgettably amazing experience (Well, let’s not talk about the encounter with a bear).

Now, let’s enjoy the fairy tale’s atmosphere in his photos

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Oh my! Beautiful beyond words!