Monday, July 23, 2018

Balancing Life, Work and Writing Without a Safety Net #authorlife #vetlife

Hello all!

It's been a long time since I visited with you. Life kicked me in the butt and now I'm at a point where I can breathe again...and write! Being able to put words to the page has brought me such happiness. It's hard for me to explain other than I feel like myself again. For the last two years I've been struggling, really struggling to find my way out of the darkness that nearly took my life. I'm happy to be here and ready to keep fighting to stay. Compassion fatigue and depression are debilitating for me and it's taken a hell of a lot of work to get to where I am now.

From December through March, I had to be the primary caretaker for my husband after he was assaulted in front of our apartment complex. Long story short, his right ankle was shattered and required orthopedic surgery. Multiple pins, plates and screws later, he is back to work and I finally have time for myself again. I'm working over 40 hours a week for my normal gig as veterinarian, but that has changed as well. I'm working in a Fear Free practice and that alone has cut my work related stress in half.

I. Kid. You. Not

Being able to say no to an owner who demands we trim the nails of their attack dog without sedation helps. Educating owners about the fear, anxiety and stress their pets feel traveling to and from the vet and being in the veterinary office itself is an amazing experience. About 80 percent of our clients are receptive to all of it from the start. Others take more time. A slim minority of them refuse to believe their pets are stressed or need special help to adjust.

Those are the folks I choose not to worry about any longer. I've done my part and so have my techs to inform them of the way we can help them and their pets have a less stressful visit with us. It's their CHOICE to not take the advice and it's our choice to part ways with them. No longer do we have to bend over backwards to make these few people happy, terrify their pets and injure ourselves in the process. My staff feels empowered to speak up for our patients when their owners are not aware of what is really happening.

Becoming Fear Free Certified has helped me see my own fears, anxieties and stresses in a new light. I am able to recognize when I'm about to derail and put on the breaks. I take time off and ENJOY it now. Once that happened, my muse returned and pestered me to write again. I'm still doing my crafts and reading for pleasure here and there, but since February, I have been working on multiple writing projects. Yesterday I managed to finally get The Island (Now and Forever 2) back out to the retailers. Siren reversed the rights to me in December of last year. At least it didn't take me two years to get it out like it did with the For the Love of Quinn re-release. Now all of my books are released through my publishing house, Sassy Vixen Publishing.

The new project is a joint venture with my friend, Amber Lea Easton. The shared world series is set in Ouray, Colorado during Million Dollar Fire. Little did we know that our series would release at the same time the real wildfires were racing toward Ouray. Freaky but it made our stories all that more realistic. The first five are out now. I have book six due to release in a couple months that deals with the aftermath of the fire and the final battle between the magical realms and the Fire Queen. If you haven't already guessed, my books tend to lean more toward the paranormal genres. I finally realized that is my true calling. So, look for all the magical creatures to show up with all of my pen names.

The compassion fatigue poetry journal has been a hit so now I have plans to release an expanded version of the poetry as an e-book and print (non-journal) format. It will have the original poems included with the journal, plus several more to round out my journey through it all.

Creative Commons Use
The title of this post reflects how I've felt at times juggling everything I want to do in any given day. As much as people want to say they were there for me all along, I was in too dark of a place to see it. The voices told me I was alone and I would fail no matter what. The voices convinced me the safety net wasn't there even though I could see it. The moment I slowed down and stopped trying to be all things to all people, the voices quieted and the net came into view.

My brain still never shuts off completely. It's always firing off in a hundred different directions. The difference now is that most of those paths are for new stories and scenes for current works in progress. I have started to learn to be able to focus on two or three of them and let the others stand by on vacation if you will. Some are on extended world tours, but they will be back. Then we'll work together to bring another story out to the world. For me, writing and publishing my stories is giving birth to another child. Right now, I'm the mother of twenty-two...yes you read that right...22 books from all of my pen names. It's been one hell of a journey and I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

In that vein, I am working on revamping all of my blogs and websites so if you visit any of them and find them offline, please check back again. I'll have them rolling in no time.

Thank you all for following along with me. Together we'll make it a party!

Until next time,


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Battle Rages On and the Pain Cuts Deep: #SufferInSilence with Compassion Fatigue

Hello my friends. I hope you're all doing well. I come to you today with a heavy heart and soul. As many of you know, I'm a veterinarian in my "real" life. I've been at this job for over 23 years, through many highs and lows. Right now I'm about as low as I can get. 

Working in an emergency veterinary hospital has taken it's toll on me. I thought I'd be able to cope with just two days a week there and the rest with another general practice hospital. It's not working out as I'd envisioned. Over the last two weeks alone, I've had to end the pain and suffering of twenty patients. One shift...yes that's one 12 hour shift SEVEN of them came in at once. All from different families. All for different reasons. It was bad enough that one of the other families in the lobby burst into tears with having to witness the heartache of those who had to say goodbye to their pets.

Take a moment and think about that scene. This family who had no contact with those pets were crushed with the sadness. My techs helped me with those patients. They were able to rotate so not one had to do them all. I was the lone person who had the task to euthanize each and every one. 

I use my poetry as a form of therapy to help me express the emotions swirling around in my mind when I can no longer speak through the tears.

Suffer in Silence

The Noblest of Professions
Calls to those with caring hearts.
No one tells you about the secret
That will tear your soul apart.

Bit by bit it eats away at your humanity.
To survive you must shut off your emotions
Or your mind gives up
And crosses over into insanity.

Happy, joyous occasions
Become fewer and farther between.
As our patients grow older,
Their bodies become frail and lean.

Still we’re expected to soldier on,
With a smile on our face. N
Never mind the price we must pay
With each and every case.

By our hands one more life is ended.
Their pain they suffer no more.
But who grieves for us
When yet another is carried through the door?

The Noblest of Professions…
That much is true.
Would anyone want to still be a part of it
If they knew what they’d be asked to do?

Ending another’s suffering comes at a price
That in the end is far too steep.
Could you stand by as the end draws near
And not allow yourself to weep?

Someone must take up the mantle.
Someone must know what to say
To those whose pets suffer so,
Whose broken lives must end today.

The members of the Noblest of Professions
Die a little every day.
We remember each life we’ve held in our hands
The loss of our hearts is the price we must pay.

The Noblest of Professions must carry on
And Suffer in Silence.
To do anything else would make them appear
Self-absorbed, uncaring, and defiant.

Truth of the matter is
We suffer every day.
We carry the burden.
Our compassion is the other price we must pay.

Will you take up the mantle?
Could you die a little every day?
Will you heed the call of the Noblest of Professions
Even knowing the price you must pay?

©Tammy Dennings Maggy June 13, 2016

The hardest part of this job is holding these lives in my hands and letting them go. Yes I know I'm ending their pain and suffering. I know their quality of life is poor and they're no longer enjoying life as a happy, carefree pet. I know this and that's how I'm able to perform the task...

Asking me to do it over and over and over again during the same shift or even within a couple days is more than I can bear. It's more than anyone should have to bear. 

Before you stand up and shout, "It's your job" put yourself in my shoes for one moment. Put yourself in the shoes of the family in the lobby the night so many pets came in for their last goodbyes. The ages of these animals range from very young to ancient. Some have lived long lives filled with love and others have known only sickness and pain in their short lives.

Being their advocate takes compassion, courage, strength and love. Unfortunately there isn't an unlimited well from which we can draw from to keep filled with all we need to help those who cannot speak for themselves. THIS is what wears us down. THIS is why we burn out. THIS is why veterinarians have now surpassed all other medical professions as having the highest suicide rate.

I've battled depression since my pre-teens. This is so much more.

The nightmares are the worst. Tired all the time? That's part of my traveling for work and trying to be all things to all people—or is it?

Looking at that list I'm sure all of us can relate to at least half of the symptoms but how many of you have a job where you have to continue to buck up and soldier on?

I'm not asking for your pity. 
I'm asking you to look after your loved ones who are members of medical professions where they have to deal with life and death on a daily basis. Get them to take time off even for just a weekend away. Find support groups for them and for you so you will know how to help get them through.

Until next time, 

The Fat Chick 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Closing in On the Big Five Oh: #FatChick Zips Through the Last Year of Her Forties

I've had more than a few people ask me if I'm freaked out about turning fifty later this year. They're always shocked to hear my answer...

I. Can't. WAIT!!!!

For me, turning fifty is a huge milestone to be celebrated and not feared. While there are some things I would have done differently in my life, I wouldn't change the overall outcome. My experiences shaped who I am today. Literally and figuratively.

The heartache and pain I've lived through has made me a stronger woman, one who doesn't take anyone's shit. On the other hand, those same experiences have created walls around me. I don't trust people easily. Not anymore. I've found myself in situations where I've placed my love and trust in people who used me for their own gain. They took what I was more than willing to give to them and left me in the cold.

As a result, I no longer take someone at face value. I don't open up  or let anyone into my inner circle right off the bat. They have to earn it. Sorry if that offends anyone, but when you get stomped on, lied to and lied about it's a necessary evil.

At fifty years old, I can finally get around those questions about having kids. I wasn't able to get pregnant after YEARS of trying with my first husband. He refused to go to the doctor to see if he was the problem. It was just one of many things that ended the marriage but another lesson learned on my part.

My current husband is my soul mate. Together we learned having children isn't in the cards for us and we've accepted it. We've talked about adoption but when we looked long and hard at our lives, TOGETHER we decided we don't wish to have children. Now that I'm approaching fifty, I won't have to deal with those who feel I'm being selfish for not having kids. I don't have to deal with the women who pity me for not being able to experience the joy of carrying my own child. At this age, if I were to get pregnant I could put my life and that of my unborn child in danger. Sorry, but going through a high risk pregnancy just so I can join the parenthood club would be the ultimate selfish act. 

I'm in the stage of my life where I can be selfish in other areas. I've worked hard in my career as a veterinarian and now as an author, poet and publisher. This is the time of my life where all the hard work is beginning to pay off.

This is the time where I'm once again taking charge of my health—a never-ending quest to lose weight, keep my diabetes under control, and enjoy all life has to offer. At forty-nine going on fifty, I've actually paid my dues and EARNED the right to slow down and enjoy my life. 

Turning fifty will be the celebration to kick off the next phase of my professional and personal lives. Veterinary medicine will take the back seat to my writing. Both will stand in line behind my plans to see more of this country. There is so much I want to experience and it's all out there. All I have to do is take the leap of faith and have a ball!

Follow your dreams!
~The Fat Chick

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