The Equine Practice - A ghost town on the plane

Ghost Town

(Above image – the plane showing over half the 1st class seats empty in orange as is the rest of the plane – a ghost town)

Here I am again at 41,000 feet in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner going 600 MPH on the second leg of my travel from Seattle, WA to Newark NJ.  I woke up at 3 am and traveled south on Interstate 405, a usually very crowded interstate.  Today there was only a handful of cars and no one passed me except for one speeding Charger who almost missed his exit.

The attendant at the Avis rental drop off was asleep in his car.  The bus that carries up to 40 packed in travelers to the terminal was empty except for me and one other.  The driver was cordoned off with a rope and a sign for indicating that his safety was protected by a “social isolation zone.”

No one was in line for my baggage check in.  The TSA line was empty except for me and a few others.  The plane was filled and ready to go 30 minutes before its scheduled time because it was about a third full.  My transfer to the second flight in San Francisco was no different – a ghost town.

Now as I travel over the snow capped hills and mountains of Northern California I am witnessing the extremes of dense cities and desolate wilderness. The world is massive and I realize I am stuck in a space between the telescope and the microscope.  On one hand is the infinite vastness of space with countless stars and hundreds of millions of universes beyond our own Milky Way.  On the other hand is the unseen world of bacteria, funguses and viruses all waging a vicious struggle of survival.  All I am is a collection of cells fighting off attacks from nefarious unseen villains while accepting with gratefulness all the good guys that help me survive.

Why I Do This

I was asked this week why I continue to travel across this country visiting horses in light of the risk to my health.  One answer is that every horse shows me gratefulness in one way or another after I remove the sharp enamel points and remove the pain they cause.  A question I will have when I meet my maker is why are horse teeth this way, but for now I only know that they are.  Another answer is that with each day I get to contribute not only to the horse but to the owners.  I love to teach others about horse care.

Almost without exception horse owners are welcoming me onto their farms through this time when social isolation seems to be the normal way of the day.  Thank you for thinking of your horse and your willingness to put them ahead of any risk to yourselves.  You are not alone.  I want to also thank the pilots and flight crews (attendants, mechanics, traffic controllers, baggage handlers, ticketing agents), the shuttle bus driver, the car rental people and the hotel people all of which I could not travel without their help and courage.  Thanks to all restaurants willing to greet me at their door with food, the gas station attendants (no Tesla rentals) and the numerous Port-A-Potties I use as many rest rooms are closed.

I think that having some bit of normalcy in our days is important for our sanity and one of these events is having me come to your farm.  But normalcy is virtually gone for so many of us.  Having children at home, a spouse laid off, uncertainty of income, or being a care giver for a special needs family member is very stressful.  I have fortunately also seen something beautiful these past few days.  In the spring warmth and sunshine so rare in the state of Washington I observed countless scenes of families interacting on local streets and on pathways with bikes.  More people are now walking their dogs.  People are actually outside NOT with their faces buried in their phones but are actually WALKING or jogging because they have nothing more important to do.  

A Silver Lining

If there is a silver lining to all of this it may be that we all actually come together more deeply because of the forced isolation.  We are social beings.  Isolation is not in our DNA and I, as well as many other very credentialed people, believe that the stress of isolation and uncertainty is worse than contracting this disease.  And with stress comes immunosuppression which only favors the virus.

Veterinarians are considered by the Homeland Security Administration as essential people allowed to not remain isolated in locations where isolation has been mandated.  As long as you are willing to have us come to your farm we are willing to go because this helps in creating normalcy.  However if there is an immunosuppressed person at your farm and you do not want us there please don’t hesitate to tell us. The infrastructure to help us get there are filled with brave people willing to risk their health and for them I am very grateful.  I am also very grateful for the health care professionals and first responders who are there on the front lines when the virus gets the better of any of us.

Remember that the best way around this and any disease is 1) 8 hours of solid sleep, 2) low sugar diets, 3) stay hydrated with water and 4) smile and laugh (and stop listening to the news and social media every minute).  Our prayers and thoughts are there for every one of you who are struggling now.  I hope this letter brings a moment of reflection for all the things we are grateful for.  COVID-19 doesn’t stand a chance against gratefulness.  No prescription necessary.  Doc T out.

Comments 15

  1. Stay safe..it is not a normal time..I hope this situation helps a bunch of folks learn life skills they would usually take for granted done by someone else. Learn to reduce consumption, savor the small things in life. It’s just beginning, we have a long ways to go.

  2. Absolutely lovely, Geoff …

    As I settle in here, in NC, I am constantly amazed at how people are pulling together – moving forward towards that a new and better world we always knew was there; but, the pressures of ordinary days had made us forget. Catching up with friends, spending time on the phone, the way it used to be.

    Yesterday, I started to post birthday wishes on a friend’s FB page. She is Chelsea Green Publishing, in VT, and I came across a post by an author, Martin Shaw, she had just published a book for, “Courting the Wild Twin”, for him. I also found his corona virus post. Enjoy:

    “KEEPING THE SMOKE HOLE OPEN:
    Seek Vigil Not Isolation
    In Siberian myth, when you want to hurt someone, you crawl into their tent and close the smoke hole.
    That way God can’t see them.
    Close the smoke hole and you break connection to the divine world.
    Mountains, rivers, trees.
    Close the smoke hole and we become mad.
    Close the smoke hole and we are possessed by ourselves and only ourselves.
    Close the smoke hole and you have only your neurosis for company.

    Well, enough of that. Really, c’mon. We’re grown ups. Let’s take a breath.
    We may have to seek some solitude, but let’s not isolate from the marvellous.
    High alert is the nature of the moment, and rightly so, but I do not intend to lose the reality that as a culture
    we are entering deeply mythic ground.
    I am forgetting business as usual. No great story begins like that.

    What needs to change? Deepen? What kindness in me have I so abandoned that I could seek relationship with again?
    It is useful to inspect my ruin.
    Could I strike up an old relationship with my soul again?
    You don’t need me to tell you how to keep the smoke hole open.
    You have a myriad of ways.

    We are awash with the power of words – virus, isolate, pandemic – and they are pointing towards very real things.
    To some degree we need the organizational harassment of them.
    But do they grow corn on your tongue when you speak them?
    Where is the beauty-making in all this?
    That is part – part – of the correct response. The absolute heft of grief may well be the weave to such a prayer mat.

    Before we burn the whole world down in the wider rage of Climate Emergency,
    of which this current moment is just a hint, could we collectively seek vigil in this moment?
    Cry for a vision?
    It’s what we’ve always done.
    We need to do it now.

    Lots of love,
    Martin”

    Thanks … and XO
    Judy

    1. Post
      Author
  3. As always, you inspire me and this time you have comforted me as well. We cane home faster than expected from Hawaii with 3 grandchildren and our daughter in tow on a packed flight off the island to our little haven on the farm. Her husband will join us as soon as the DOD lifts the no travel can for military. our routines are becoming established, the kids are playing like any normal day and we are well – both in body and mind. This will pass and we will remember tgst it did affect us in ways we never imagined but all mostly good. The togetherness is essential and – yes! – low sugar, good fresh foods and the inventiveness that comes from our own making without technology to foul it up will make all us stronger. Stay healthy, my friend.

    1. Post
      Author
  4. Excellent, level-headed view of the world today. My horse care professionals (farriers and vets alike) have not hesitated to come to my farm. I am truly grateful!

  5. Thanks for being so honest, positive and brave Doc. We love and value all you are and so graciously offer us and our beloved four leggeds. Air hug…

  6. You are a beautiful writer, Doc. Thank you for your recent visit to my farm. I am enjoying your posted writing and blogs. Keep on serving the bigger vision. You are changing lives. Dr Julie

  7. You “get” what you put your attention on. Put your attention on productivity, healthy pursuits, laughter, and happiness! Thanks for the blog! Kaye Harris – and Molly would have said the same

    1. Post
      Author

      For those who don’t know about Molly, she lost one front limb and was fitted with a prosthesis. She lived for years helping people cope with their problems by showing them her positive attitude despite her struggles. It was a team effort with Kaye helping Molly to help others. Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/mollythe3leggedpony/

    1. Post
      Author

Your thoughts are important for all to hear and may help others to learn from your experiences. Take the time to add to the discussion. However due to time limitations I will probably not answer direct questions to me. Thanks, Doc T

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.