MJ Wixsom: Time losing meaning in pandemic

Published 1:55 am Sunday, August 23, 2020

Some days, it feels like it still should be May. Sometimes, it feels like it should be 2021 or maybe 2022.
Even practiced introverts like me are starting to feel the stress of social distancing, uncomfortable masks and this parking lot thing we have called curbside service.

I noticed this week that some careless errors were starting to happen. (Nobody is perfect, but we strive to be and look at every mistake as an opportunity to improve.)

Meds were not gotten up for a patient’s refill until people were in the parking lot. Bills were not put in for treatments that were done (as in the entire treatment and hospitalization bill was forgotten!)

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Little things that are important. Big things like patient care gets adrenaline and focus.

Guardian Animal staff know how much I demand proper patient care. But clients were upset and one particular instance these minor things cost me a fair amount of money. To say that I was upset is somewhat of an understatement!

While I was discussing the instance with a friend, they pointed out that everyone is stressed right now and many are not making great decisions all the time.

I thought about that and it is true. I think the whole world needs to dial it back a few notches.

This is a time that we really need to do things to manage our stress levels. Working out, eating right and getting enough sleep are at the top de-stress list for everyone who lives with stress. Everyone knows that and yet most of us are lacking because all of those things are easier said than done. We had a whole staff meeting on positivity and gratitude.

For many folks, meditation is something they can do and it helps. Unfortunately, many people with emotional trauma and/or PTSD cannot force themselves to meditate.

I read that because we do not feel comfortable in our own skin, we cannot let our minds take over to meditate.

For me, the other form of meditation or mindfulness is a great help. That means that you are doing something that requires 100 percent of your attention. It means you cannot think about the stressful things.

Surgery is one of those things for me. Attention to the procedure, attention to the anesthesia and attention to the patient means I have full focus.

Yes, I can carry on a conversation, but the instant that something is not absolutely normal, I stop in mid-word without even realizing there is a world other than my surgery and patient.

I have two friends that do this with woodworking and project building.

Some people do it with crafts. I can do crafts, but I generally have to be doing something else also, like Netflix, a video game or a conversation.

The difference is that I will stop the craft because of the game or conversation.

Petting a dog or a cat has been proven to reduce blood pressure and stress.

Sometimes we need something that gets us out of our routine. I think that might be why I bought out a quail farm. We now have dozens of quail in pens to produce eggs and more quail. We have a fair amount of wildlife that has to eat whole prey and I am not into raising and killing rodents and buying them is quite expensive. Quail seem to be a good compromise. And they are so much fun. The males make a trilling sound and the females lay eggs in the midafternoon.

So, you can hear their happy sounds all day and also look forward to the egg “score” for each pen. Doing chores for something that requires your attention gets you up and moving and out and doing.

That is good for stress.

I have a fair amount of experience with chickens, pigeons, dove and pet birds, but I had never done anything with quail other than see them in the wild. That has meant that I have purchase three books on raising quail, joined a quail Facebook group and made a few calls. Learning something new is a great stress reducer. I lived on a chicken hatchery farm as a child, but the incubation process is very new to me. Baby quail are just darn cute. Little peeps on long tiny legs run every which way!

Learning is a form of joy. There is so much to learn in science and nature.

The quail also require new systems. A gravity fed waterer will mean that I pay for less labor and have to do less myself.

It also means we can clean more and work less. But a system takes both work and thought. Baby quail must be at the right temp. Odor and poop must be controlled here to a much better way than on a farm. Working and thinking outside my normal workday is good for me.

Another interesting note, small and tiny things require more care than big things. That might have something to do with why I got some new praying mantis. I have four regular ones and a ghost mantis A ghost mantis or Phyllocrania paradoxa, comes from Africa.

It is small and has a leaf-like body. It looks like a group of dry weathered leaves put together.

Apparently, the community living aspect of this species was lost on my two when one ate the other as the common ones are known to do.

There is wonder in all things.

In addition to the mantis, I have added some herptiles to my collection.

On the way are Brown Anoles, Cuban Tree Frogs, Green Pacman Frog, Red and Black Walking Frog, Baby Savannah Monitor, Sulcata Tortoises, and Florida Softshell Turtles. It is important to get good stock from a reputable place and try to get captive bred animals. I am also getting a trio of millipedes (they are fun) and a new type of fruit fly pod (to raise for the mantids). I am also going to try to raise mealworm for the quail. Apparently, quail love them and it is a form of enrichment for them.

I do want all of my animals to be happy.

Animals provide a fair amount of stress relief for all of us. COVID-19 has seen a spike in puppy and kitten sales and pet adoptions.

While it is true that I adopted a fifth Labrador Retriever, I have already found it a wonderful home.

Too many pets are not good. Hoarding is a real mental disorder and these people need help.

At this time in my life, we have the right number of dogs and cats.

I don’t care to help a pet out from time to time, but I cannot keep up with the same amount that I used to; however, my staff and I have enjoyed learning about some new animals and caring for them.

And we are grateful we are allowed to still see patients, even if it is in the parking lot.

MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. GuardianAnimal.com 606-928-6566