The actual night shift

To be clear, this is a night shift. A full on, 14+ hour overnight shift. Not a “late” shift. Not a twilight shift. This is a 3 o’clock in the morning-people-screaming-at-you type shift. A 4 o’clock in the morning c-section-on-a-Frenchie type of shift. A 6 o’clock can’t-feel-your-lips, feel-like-you’re-drunk type, is-this-even-real-life type of shit. **shift

Why there isn’t a TV series on the veterinary night shift I cannot tell you but what I do know is that it would make for absolutely great TV – if you have a thick stomach. Literal tears, sweat and a lot of blood.

Why? You may question. What can be so entertaining about this job? You might wonder. Let me explain.

We start our shift at 7pm…6pm in some clinics. And finish at 9am. Before the shift we have to psych ourselves up. This means that all day, you are worried, stressed, nervous about what is going to happen that night at work. Will you have enough staff? Probably not. Will you get a break to eat? Probably not. Will you have a nervous breakdown? Probably.

Will you get the dreaded complaint that ends your career? The career that has taken literally your entire life to build? Maybe you’ll get the complaint that just pushes you off that cliff you’ve been dangling your feet over as you sit on the edge…contemplating. Will you make a mistake because you’re only human and absolutely exhausted , overworked and feeling incredibly under appreciated? Well, hopefully not. And this is where adrenaline comes in handy. But even adrenaline runs dry sometimes after you’ve been doing emergency consults for 5 hours, dealing with clients, making plans in 0.5 seconds for every patient because you’re expected to calculate CRIs and perform ultrasound and x-rays and devise a pristine plan for each and every patient …fast… because the dog bleeding into his abdomen needs surgery 5 hours ago. Fast, fast, fast. But not too fast because a client might complain that you didn’t spend enough time looking at their non-emergency patient. But the client with the actual emergency patient will complain that you weren’t quick enough and ultimately killed their dog because everything is always your fault. You, the vet.

The vet who is female. Who is not white. Who is not English. The vet who you ask “are you old enough to be a vet”… and question “are you even equipped to perform this…”

People forget their best selves at home when they come to the vet clinic. They save that facade for doctors and dentists. We get the raging, ungrateful bits that people forget they have. I’m yet to understand why… because don’t they realise that we have spent 8 years studying so that we can take care of their pets? Actually we are still studying ALL of the time. And we have no choice but to study. Even if you were to find a vet that didn’t want to study (which does not exist) … we have to do 35 hours per year of continuing education to remain registered to practice in the UK. Most of us do a lot more than this. How much do you do, for your job?

So this, the vet who is so money hungry and only cares about profit despite making probably much much less than you regardless of what you do to make money… will always be the bad one. We will always be mistreated and under appreciated and complained about. But will we? Vets are actually going extinct … this means that in years to come with the ever growing population of pets… that one day you might not have a vet to go to. You might have mistreated so many vets that no one wants to see you. And there won’t be many of us left. So think about this. The last time you took your precious pet to the vet, were you kind? Did you call your vet the C word? Refuse to pay? Did you forget your best self at home? Ruin someone’s career? If so then you might want to think long and hard about it. Because one day you might genuinely really need that vet, the one you cursed at because you were stressed. Maybe then, when that vet sees you again despite taking your mistreatment or abuse last time… will you realise our value and our love for your pet. For all the pets. Maybe then you’ll have respect for us.

Until then I ask that you be kind. That you assume good intent. That you show basic respect for the people who are awake for 14 hours taking care of your animals, exhausted, hungry, holding in a wee, trying not to have a nervous breakdown because they have 10 in-patients’ plus 2 seizuring, 6 waiting to be seen, 2 surgeries and a whole lot of angry clients yelling or refusing to pay. Please bring your best selves to the vet clinic. Please do not curse us. Please don’t push us off the cliffs many of us dangle over. Please. If you can’t do that please stay home.

Rant over. Phew that felt good.

I wrote the above about a year ago when I was at the end of my tether. I had been shouted at too many times, disrespected too many times and I was absolutely sickly exhausted. I had headaches constantly. Nausea constantly. Extreme stress.

So I left my night job. The company that I loved so much. The people who were like family. I left. And I tried something new. Something in the day time, something that normal people do… everyone else does it so must be fine. Nope. Wasn’t fine. I missed my beloved in-patients. My over-nighters. I missed seeing the extremely ill transition to the bright survivor because of our hard work. I missed the team. Because everyone knows that night shift teams are a different kind of folk.

And so I went back tail between my legs asking for my old job back. Pretty pretty please with a cherry on top. And they said yes. After changing around our rotas to make life more manageable for everyone. I’m back where I belong. 💩

Assume good intent.

This one is for the vets.

We’ve all had the question whether at a formal interview or on an awkward first date “So, why did you want to become a vet” …and then proceed to give our well rehearsed answer… “Well, since I was young – .” The conversation inevitably brings reactions of either shock or respect after explaining the 8 year process. Sometimes it leads to judgement that we weren’t human doctors instead, but we don’t care. We have all been there a million times. All of us, vets. I say “us” as though it’s obvious that we would be a unit, one profession. Buddies, confidants, mentors, students – of one another depending on the day and topic – however it is often and unfortunately, quite the opposite.

Now I am not sure whether it’s normal for competitive professions or those consisting mainly of “Type A personalities” to be this harsh on each other but in the veterinary world it can seem that if you slip up the crocs will catch you. Unless you’re wearing crocs in which case you can’t actually slip but I digress. You might be called out on your treatment plan during ward rounds or shouted at by a colleague. You never can tell what’s going to happen next.

Of course I have worked with many, many incredible people in the veterinary industry including vets, nurses etc however the invisible presence of discomfort where you tremble inside during ward rounds and try to stop your voice from showing it but you actually can’t do that so you just sound unconfident – is there lurking. All of the time.

Why is that? And is it just me?

During my final year of vet school we were finally given the hard earned right to be mentored in the University’s small animal hospital. This was the 8th year of studying towards my veterinary degree so no one can argue that I didn’t earn this privilege. The university fees also can’t argue that point – we paid to be there. However what we didn’t pay for was the ability to learn in a healthy environment. This is not entirely anyone’s fault. It was a combination of things. Some professors can be very hard on you and being called out in front of a group of colleagues is not only embarrassing but it creates a discomfort that is not conducive to learning. When the colleagues are less than forgiving about you making a mistake, this piles on top of the embarrassment and to top it all off we have the anxiety of a young stressed vet student – worried about exams, worried about forgetting to ask something in a consult with strangers while being tested by your professor plus 4 other students. There is nothing healthy about this combination – in my little humble opinion.

When I started practicing as a vet I was shouted at by my mentor, got no training as no one seemed to have the time despite working for a company that promised a 3 month teaching programme and felt unsupported by my peers. Why?

Is everyone just too stressed? Too tired and can’t be bothered to reach out? Worried about competition for promotions? What’s the reason for this lack of support? We, the team, should be lifting each other up. We should be reaching out to one another. Times are hard and the world has been going through a tough time. We have all been going through a tough time, together. So let’s get out of it together. We, us, the team. Let’s pick each other up. Let’s be kind to one another. Let’s talk, let’s share ideas and opinions. Let’s be friendly.

A very amazing vet said in a talk a few years back to “Always assume good intent.” I am sure that we all have similar answers to the very boring question “Why did you want to become a vet?” We have all worked very hard to be here and we all deserve each others respect and care. Let’s take care of each other. Let us work together as one profession in this crazy exciting veterinary world of ours! Let’s assume good intent and get on with it.

Never off

Do you ever feel like life is panning out exactly the way it was supposed to…like all your ducks are in a row…like things are just going your way? Like you just feel on top of the world?

I don’t. I wonder, are there people who do feel like that? And are they within their right to feel like this or is it delusional because really no one can ever truly have their shit together and they should stop pretending?

Do some people lay in bed to go to sleep and then just fall asleep? Guess I should be more specific – are there any women who can lay in bed and fall asleep? I write this as my husband snores next to me. It’s like a slap in the face. He’s deep in dreamland while my brain is a battlefield. He basically fell asleep a few hours before he actually even lay in bed. I can see it in his face, he falls asleep even though physically he’s up. And 3 seconds into laying in bed, I ask him a random question that emerged from the depths of my brain and I don’t get a reply because low and behold…his body has caught up with his mind and now they are both asleep. Love him so much.

Doesn’t he have worries? Questions about life? Concerns about what might happen to the world in 20 years? Fears about what the future holds? Should we get chickens for the garden? What if the world has no eggs left? But then what if they attract rats? Or foxes get them? Can’t be having dead chickens out there. Flashes of baffling celebrity news that our mere mortal brains can’t comprehend …why brangelina didn’t work out …. don’t ask me why or how these things crop up because I don’t follow famous people (all the ones I love have died – shout out to Freddie, MJ, you know who you are )… yet still… why did Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie not work out? And why am I thinking about this before bed? Do I care? Of course not. But then why is this in my brain?

And why does my husband not have any concerns about the volcanoes that are erupting in Hawaii? Or the plane that crashed in Nepal where the copilot was a woman who lost her husband in a plane crash years before when he was the copilot of that plane and all of this inspired her to become a pilot in the first place … why, why is life so unfair? Maybe I should delete the BBC app.

Why is my heart pounding and my brain going haywire in the middle of the night? It must be when male differentiation occurs in the womb …It must switch off the worrying gene in the male brains. Wish I could pause mine just between 10pm-12am so that I could fall asleep then my brain can dream all the wildness that it desires but at least my body will be asleep. Please God can I have that as a very early birthday present.

Just want some brain peace! Tried sleepy tea, doesn’t work. Tried nyquil, works like a charm but obvs unhealthy and not good for you so that’s a no. Don’t do drugs and too afraid to mess up hormones and take melatonin. So what’s the solution? Prayers. Reading a book. No clue. Only when the exhaustion of the day and laying here for 3 hours with the brain on overdrive kicks in… will I then have some peace.

Did I give the correct dose of meds to that dog? Was I grumpy at work? Should I have repeated bloods on the in-patient?

Okay maybe if I put the phone down … 🤯😴

Twenty twenty how much?

Never dreamt about walking down an aisle on any “big day”. It’s not on my bucket list. And nothing makes me feel more nauseous than thinking of myself in a wedding dress, walking down an aisle, with far too many eyeballs [the “Trini watch”…eyelash to boob to stomach to bum to fingernail to split end to lipstick shade to toenail to the comments “ooh gooood like ya put on weight Darlin, doh mine”] rolling up and down, to sit through speeches about the bride and groom growing up (cringe) and then have people drunkenly fling my dress up and down while “brown girl in the ring” plays. I cannot…I WILL not do this. Also, I will die before anyone puts me in a circle and sings about me being brown or in a ring. Sorry mum and dad. Is there something wrong with me?

Yes, I paid a witness. I paid someone to come and sign some documents for us while we got married. This is the level of private I wanted this day to be. The day before, we were still looking for a second witness and by some miracle a very great friend came to the rescue the night before – else I would have literally rolled someone off the street. I enforced a strict no-pictures policy and the ceremony was short and cute and got to the point. In and out in half an hour – no stress, no paparazzi, no facebook or instagram pictures circulating, no dress, no worries. A few weeks later though, we got a framed picture delivered to our flat. It was a SNUCK picture of us saying our “vows” where you can kind of see small pieces of our faces lol… what a friend 🙂 A candid, genuine snapshot of that absolute crazy shit we did after knowing each other for a year. Covid brain?

“I can’t believe we did that”…followed by hysterical laughter is the only reference we have towards that day. And that’s all we need. It helped that it was on April fools initially because when we told my parents the night before, they were like “Ha-ha-ha April fools”… and it eased in the…”Um no but really um…we are dong this tomorrow…” and then the “STEFFI MARIE GALT what the !@£$%” that came after.

Of course, similar to the ultrasound situation, nothing stays a “secret” in Trinidad for long. Slowly but surely the news (gossip) spread like covid throughout the family (the ones we want to tell things to…the ones we don’t but we have to because we are family) and then we felt obliged to tell the people we love because “really it’s a positive thing” bla bla bla and now it isn’t a secret anymore so here I am writing about it. My little “muffin cup” (first born human child not to be confused with “Bunbun” who is first born dog child – you will get into a lot of trouble if you mix these up) sat the most still I have ever seen a child sit, and listened to the words that we said to each other that day we got married. He remains the voice of reason when we tell each other off. “Mummy that’s rude do not dare speak to him like that” when I’m being a B -word and “…you will have to go back to Trinidad if you say that again eh” if husband plays up [DAMN STRAIGHT] – which makes everyone laugh and usually ends the argument.

Children are gems. My son for example, is a diamond. He is HARD. So is yours and so is everyone else’s. Whoever says that their kid is anything less hard than a diamond you need to stop lying to yourself. It’s okay, we are all struggling because they are all hard and test our patience secondly (if that’s a word) and make us question things like… “Why didn’t my mother WARN ME PROPERLY before I did this to myself…” and “God why would you do this to me”…but then you find a video they secretly made on your phone singing soca and putting on a Trini accent (because now he sounds a bit Bri-ish mate) with his hair slicked down and hear yourself in that same video screaming like a maniac the background that it is bedtime – and you feel a rush of guilt and love all in one. And this is the crazy that lives in your head forever now.

Twenty twenty WHAT. This is how my son counts… “twentay-one, twentay-two, twentay-three” and it is just so precious. I cannot believe it’s 2022. It’s like Covid wiped two years straight out of our lives – I’m not even sure what happened but let me tell you, England is over it. I can only speak for England because we have been caged here for the entire time and we are all DONE with covid.

The mountains of 2020 and 2021 have ended and scarred some of us for good. Descending 2021 was even harder than getting up 2020. Why? B-U-R-N-O-U-T. The crazy addictive exhilarating nights I have talked about before – being a vet in ECC. Well… I hit the brick wall. I cracked. Burned out. And I cannot do it anymore. One shift, 12 in-patients, 1 GDV, 1 vet, 1 nurse 1 animal care attendant. Another shift, 6 patients waiting, 2 GDVs at the same time, 10 in patients. It is extremely important to have this experience in your career but it is not sustainable in the mental or physical sense. So before the plot gets completely lost and I end up in a big dark hole, I must leave.

Covid brought too many pets for too little staff. Too much stress for too little reward. Too many complaints, too little gratitude. One by one, the team started leaving and I tried and tried to stay. Switched positions, tried something new. But the clinics continue to be relentless, continue to bring too many patients, too little staff. Clients continue to scream F’s and C’s in your face. Continue to disrespect you. People say “Oh, you’re a vet what a lovely job” – if they only knew (!) how hard this profession is, then we would be in a much better position to be a much better respected one. With loads of memories, some funny, most traumatic 🙂 I am officially saying goodbye to ECC and moving onto a new chapter. I hope to instil a culture of psychological safety. Of mutual respect. Of honesty and genuine passion for doing what we love to the new clinic. To the public – STOP abusing vets. You might be the last straw that pulls the trigger for someone going through personal hell. This job is emotional, it’s intellectually and morally challenging, this job is long hours, it’s average pay. This job requires us to know enough about every single topic that there is. Please I beg you, show respect and kindness. We are only doing our best.

Let’s hope that the biggest mountains are behind us. 2022 you can be a savannah, undulating plains, you can be an entire region of hills… but please, please do not be an unclimbable mountain.

We all need a little break this rounds.


A lot has happened in the past year.

The world stopped. Then kind of started back again and then stopped again. Thankfully for us it’s about to be fully opened back soon but for many countries they are now experiencing the worst of it. Poor them.

2020 started off as the best year ever. Home for carnival, finally a break and some help with my child – best time ever. Then we left Trinidad and flew straight into I Am Legend. I couldn’t find pasta for WEEKS. My child who lived on pasta would have starved to death if my mother didn’t send us food from amazon – boxes and boxes of rice and other packaged goods. Truly, how do mothers just always seem to save you from life? Because no groceries had any pasta, rice, pop tarts, nappies, hand wash, canned goods….you know, our essentials. It was WEIRD and scary seeing shelves and shelves of emptiness. Empty streets. I was afraid to go outside because all I could picture were those zombies and prayed that there was a UK Will Smith who’d save us if they did end up hunting us down.

It was scary times. My au pair had to go back to Spain because borders were closing. So I got a new au pair who solemnly declared that she was staying in the UK through the pandemic then after a week also went back to Spain. Liar. So I had no childcare. What did I do? Well what would you have done? I thanked God for my credit card, gave it a kiss and bought a flight for a younger cousin of mine (20 years silly) to come to England to be my au pair. No details required but I cannot describe how badly that turned out and urge anyone who thinks of doing this to never ever do this. But I do have a question- What happened to the younger generations? No but like really… what happened to them? I’ll stop there.

You know when you’re driving and there is traffic so you switch lanes to the obviously faster lane and then suddenly it becomes the much slower lane or even just stops completely? That’s what happened to me with work. I left a really busy out of control clinic because my quality of life was just not cutting it and started at a quiet clinic. The quiet clinic. It was nice for a few months and just as I felt my skills starting to deteriorate, things picked up and we got busier which was great. Then suddenly, likely due to the 3 million pets that were bought in the UK during lockdown, we became absolutely mind blowingly inundated with cases and I realised that what everyone says is true. I am a total shit magnet. I also blame COVID but mainly my shit magnet. It’s probably time to stop blaming COVID for every single thing that annoys us though.

“My dog is overdue his vaccine by 6 years – damn COVID”

“I’ve put on 3 stone – damn COVID”

“I’ve been single for 5 years probably because of social distancing – damn COVID”

…COVID has done a lot of things but it might be time to regain a little bit of self blame. These things are definitely our fault and I have definitely heard people say all of them. Not that COVID deserves anyone’s sympathy.

Anyway, work is exciting and we are all so challenged and stimulated mentally however having 13 in patients, 7 coming in and 5 waiting to be seen at any one point in time doesn’t feel great, feels like you want to run away to a far away land and just stay there. Alone. Forever. But like many PTSD moments (my go-to example is giving birth), the trauma blocks out some of our memory and we skip right back to work after the week of tears and questioning whether we are good enough to even keep doing this. There we go, adrenaline buzzing, excited to see what the night brings and to catch up with our colleagues who we saw only 7 hours ago and are now all on the same menstrual cycles because we spend so much damn time together and are all female and we hope it isn’t “that” time of the month because imagine that. It’s just great lol. Honestly working out of hours brings a whole new perspective to life and people and there is a total lack of ability to describe how outrageous so many situations are for us but that’s the beauty of it. When it’s all over at 9am the night team, looking pale and sick, share a smirk that its over and only your team can understand that joy as you exit the clinic relieved to leave the day team behind – who walk into clean (most of the time) quarters, not knowing that just an hour ago there was blood on the ceiling and the table and the walls and the floor and in our hair and on our shoes and that there was shit on someone’s boob. The unspoken stories of the night shift.

Pubs have been open since April once they have an outdoors bit which has been total and absolute GLORY. Would be even better if you can actually get a booking because everything is booked up forever now. Everyone is out in their best outfits just so HAPPY to be outside. The sun is shining every so often like typical fickle English weather but no one cares because at least they aren’t locked up in their zoos anymore. Poor zoo animals – we should really, really be changing the way zoo’s are constructed but that’s a whole other controversial topic in itself which we won’t get into right now.

Also since coming back into this strange world of COVID, we moved THREE TIMES. Obviously each one of those moves comes with it’s own drama but again I won’t get into it too much. Everything that has happened, did so for a reason and right now I am in a beautiful flat on a beautiful street with a beautiful new family that’s mine-all-mine.

And that’s probably the last thing to report about the past year.

Oh, and I got married. In secret. On April fools ha!

My therapist. Is a dog.

I tried therapy with humans. The first therapist asked whether I wanted to get married to the man I was living with at the time and I told her that I don’t want to get married full stop. She was so flabbergasted that I think she actually shit her pants. Then she drowned us in lectures about ‘living in sin’. People are out there in the world being blown up, dying of starvation and avoidable illnesses, being raped and murdered … yet she was on my case about living in sin? Don’t think I need to say that was the last time we saw her. WWJD?

Then the second therapist told me that my boyfriend cheating on me was my fault because I knew what he was like and still got with him…haha. So she basically told me I was stupid. Which isn’t false. But in my eyes (back then) I saw it as giving people a chance, giving them the benefit of the doubt – I thought that’s what people did for each other. Needless to say, I will never be giving anyone the benefit of the doubt again, lesson learned. This one didn’t try to force us to get married but she also didn’t help our situation whatsoever. Or my own personal situation. She just made me feel like more shit. More insecure. Less worthy of better.

My dog is a much, much better therapist.

Because when I feel like the entire world is full of shitty people. When I feel like everything is just too much to bear. When my son is screaming uncontrollably. When I have not slept in days. When my bank account is empty. When I feel jiggly and gross. When I can’t even talk about any of these things because reliving it is too much so all I can do is cry. When I wonder whether I will be able to trust or love anyone again. My dog is there. He finds me. He comes and he finds me and he puts his paw on my leg and his head in my lap and loves me. And he lets me cry. And he doesn’t tell me I’m stupid and that everything is all my fault (even though it is). He doesn’t call me names or make me feel like I’m not capable of doing absolutely whatever the hell it is that I want to do. He doesn’t judge me for wanting more. For not settling. He just loves me. And sometimes you just need a little love.

And I wonder how people with no pets get by. Worse yet, people with no therapist and no pet. I suppose nature would be the next best thing. Going for walks. Feeling the peace that it brings. Or you can borrow my dog. Or you can message me and we can cry together lol. If you don’t have a pet, consider getting one. Life becomes better.

Before Skyler came into my life there was Hobbes.

Hobbes was a total badass cat. Showed Pestex who is boss as he single handedly obliterated the rat population from Fairways. Also likely contributed to a plummet in the bird, iguana, lizard and agouti populations but his defence… natural selection (ish). He brought unimaginable amounts of joy with the little black spot on his little pink nose and beautiful long fluff which somehow even after his kills, was always pristine. Not his mouth though, his mouth was vile. I got him when a resident came walking around Victoria gardens one random day with a box of kittens to give away (you know who you are, thank you for giving my such an amazing pet). Obviously I took the cutest, sweetest one and snuck him into the downstairs bathroom at home. He was so small and so CUTE. As per usual, the father of the house refused to have a pet but we insisted and validated our points as to why he had to stay forever, why we needed to save him because look at his little nose, how much we love him already and how we would die if we couldn’t have him. And he gave in. Just moments later from said dad, we would hear that all too familiar high pitch pet voice which at first is frightening, shocking and mind exploding as to how he can go higher pitch than his young girl child lol but then SO CUTE and exciting because you knew when that voice was out that he too, was in love. And that your goal was achieved. The cat was now a member of the family. The best one in fact.

And as the years went by, Hobbes got into all sorts of trouble. He would shit wherever he pleased which led to many phone calls from angry neighbours. One actually threw his poop on my front step and said that she would poison him. I won’t type what I said to her after that but ‘fuck off’ pretty much sums it up. How could people be so sick? These people are particularly horrible though, yucky ew. And he stole food from the counters and I would wake up and he would be sitting on my chest staring at me creepily, but I loved every moment of his existence.

Late last year he was put to sleep and I can’t type what that felt like because I haven’t come to terms with it as yet. When I come home and he isn’t there and there aren’t 1000 things to do every day I will sit down and think about him and about all of our moments and I will hug his ashes. And I will deal with it.

And for now I will love my Skyler and appreciate all of our moments because they are irreplaceable and inconceivably special. Even though sometimes I shout at him because he stares at me and cries all day for attention when I am trying to write an essay, or steals pizza off my plate, or tries to herd children like sheep. Love him.


Charlie: Unzips my onesie and points at my boob. “Look mum, it’s your elbow!”

Me: In stunned silence, mouth hanging slightly open for a moment. “Babe…2 things. 1- You must never, ever unzip someones top like this under any circumstances. (When he hits puberty we can discuss consent and other cringe-worthy topics in more depth, bleuh). 2- This is not an elbow…this is a boob.” Then showed him his elbow.

Charlie: “I like your boo” with the biggest cutest smile on his face.

Me: Zips back up onesie, aware that he has no idea what I was just talking about. “Should…should we go make some breakfast?”

Charlie: “Sounds plan Stan”

Me: Grrrrreat… Because what even…just happened…What do I…

Just, I don’t know. Lol.

It’s not a curse, honey.

I’ve been working in the UK for about 8 months now and I find myself hearing “I’m a single mum” very often, usually when discussing finances (or lack thereof) and usually with a negative connotation.

Then I realised that in the world, people seem to associate being a single mother with some absolutely horrible death-like situation to be in. “I can’t afford this because I’m a single mum” or “too bad you have a child”… umm, excuse me? I don’t hear “single dads” say these things. Hmm, what actually even is a single dad lol I’ve never met one.

Being a “single mum” is not an excuse for lack of work ethic. Nor is it some plague which should be scaring people off. Being a single parent means that things will be harder, yes. It means that perhaps you cannot afford all of the things that some two parent families have, yes. But we must not let ANYONE make us feel pitied. Sorry, but I am doing way better than a lot of people existing right now who have no children. Or even two parent households.

As “single mums” we work extra hard and maybe party extra hard because that one night a month that we get a break needs to count. We may be extra tired because we have to make all of the decisions, do all of the disciplining, all of the groceries, the cooking, the cleaning, the pick-ups and the drop-offs. It’s all just a bit extra. But let me turn that around. I GET to make all of the decisions. I get to see my child as much as I want to and don’t miss a moment. I will never look back at these days and say…I wish I worked less and spent more time with my child…because I get to spend so much time with him now. I feel accomplished. Feel like a badass. Feel like I can do anything.

And if there is one thing that this journey so far has taught me, it’s that I do not NEED anyone. Besides friends who keep me sane of course. And family 🙂 I don’t need a man in my life to come and ‘save me’ from this single parenting dilemma. Because I can do it on my own. And MAN that feels good.

Any man who makes you feel guilty about having a child is not worth your time, whether you believe it or not. If they can’t accept that they will have to share your time with your child, then it’s a great tell tale sign that they will probably be exactly the same with your future child together – so get out before you do that thing. If they need to have 100% of your attention to be happy, end it fast because that is just not feasible and later down the line it will likely just annoy the shit out of you anyway. No one wants a needy partner. We are grown ups. We need to create our own happiness and have our own lives. We need to be happy alone first, before we can be happy with a partner. And as a friend said this weekend, you need to have some degree of independence to have a connection because how can you connect with someone if you always move as one bonded unit? You just can’t. So the next time some man tells me … “too bad you have a child” I will not take offence, I will not get upset. I will just know that this man:

1- is immature

2- is annoying

3- needs to learn how to use dating apps (yes I have a dating app and I’m not in the least bit ashamed about it) because you don’t swipe right if you are not interested in the person lol

4- will one day realise that when you become a parent, it is NOT the end. You don’t feel less worthy of love. You don’t need to make your child 100% of your life. And you don’t need silly people telling you things like “too bad you have a child”

This single parenting job isn’t a curse honey, its proof to the world that you can do anything. It’s proof to yourself that you don’t need anyone. And it is proof to your child that hard work pays off – because they will see you struggle and they might even see you fail at times but they will never see you give up. And people who never give up will always be successful.

The quickies keep us going.

Not those types of quickies, get your mind out of the gutter! Hehe. Quick trips, quick catch ups, quick gym sessions, quick showers. Things need to be quick when you have a child. Well 95% of the things need to be quick and 1 or 2 things you can take your time doing. And now my mind has joined yours in that gutter. I mean technically it’s not our fault. Everyone needs dopamine it’s animal instinct 🤷🏽‍♀️ lots and lots of it too. And that’s enough about that.

Airports. 2 hours sleep. After 4 night shifts in a row. 2 hour drive into Gatwick traffic. Park your car in the overpriced car park, wait for the shuttle bus and cross your fingers it’s not too full which it looks like it is, because boarding starts in 40 mins and you got an update from BA saying that the flight is “very busy”. Aren’t all flights very busy? The slow walkers who travel in packs taking up the entire passageway. The old people who you can’t blame for being slow but you still feel a bit annoyed with anyway. The strollers who stop in the middle of the walkway in duty free to smell perfumes and obviously have nothing else to do if they reached that early for their flight. Or maybe they are just very organised. Those ones really get me. I hope to be them one day though. You rush through the airport cussing every man jack under your breath to find the screen that shows your gate. And somehow they wait until 5 seconds before boarding begins to let you know where the gate actually is so you have to make an informed decision right then and there whether you have time for a coffee and wee or you prioritise one and fly back to the bloody screen which by the time you fly back to… STILL has at least 10 mins to show you the gate. And your bladder starts to burn because you’ve gone and prioritised coffee of course and now you def don’t have time to get to the bathroom before the gate shows up.

Ugh. Just please bladder work with me, don’t spite me I’m sorry next time I’ll pee instead of get coffee (maybe). Because after having a child your bladder has a mind of its own. And I didn’t even push a baby out so imagine the poor ones who did. And it does it’s things at exactly the wrong moments like when you’re on a plane and don’t have any more liners because your carry on was too big so they made you check in your damn bag. Or at the gym when you have to do squats amongst some very good looking people and you should have worn black tights today but instead you wore grey so all you do is worry that you look like you peed yourself. Because maybe you did. You finally speed walk to the gate amongst the stampede, sweating already, slightly smelly, anxious and tired and then you have to stand there and wait until the 100 men in priority have checked in, all of whom forget they have to get their picture taken after scanning their boarding pass and none of whom actually have their boarding passes ready to go in the first place. So you and your bladder wait. Then finally you get onto the plane and it’s so small and rammed out that you can’t get to the bathroom so you sit upright in a very uncomfortable seat inevitably in the middle and of course arriving first. So you have to get up to let the window sitter in. Honestly window sitters should be obliged to get onto the plane first. God forbid they have to pee. And even worse if they are a woman who gave birth vaginally because they will likely have to pee multiple times on that 1 hour flight. But you can sympathise because you’re in the same damn boat. Plane in this case. And you hope for their sake that they have extra liners. And you don’t get annoyed at them. In fact you also go to the bathroom 63 times in that 1 hour flight.

Then the flight begins and you’re on BA so you feel some degree of safety and relief that it’s not Easy Jet but then the pilot sounds like he’s either talking in his sleep, now arising from a very deep power nap or being choked and you lose your faith entirely in any airline. Then the plane sounds like it turns off mid take off and everyone has a sort of confused slash horrified expression as we all look out of the window – don’t really know why because all we can see is down anyway. Unless you are over the wing so that’s all you see and you cross your fingers that a piece of it doesn’t fly off. At least it’s not night time so you don’t have to worry that the light on the end of the wing is actually another plane about to crash into you and have a heart attack until your brother points out what’s actually happening. Has this only happened to me? Anyway over the wing is supposed to be the safest seat right? Wrong. Ain’t no such thing as a safe seat on a plane babygirl.

Then we start going sideways and I wonder if the joystick is broken. They use a joystick right? Like you know when you play Mario Kart and you need to take a small left but somehow end up taking a very hard left and flying off the screen and dying? That’s what was happening I think. He must be a new pilot. Overpushing the joystick. Then we started nosediving I swore it was the end but somehow they got their act together and landed us safely. Again. Gosh it’s just such an emotional cycle, travelling. Hopefully we will always land safely despite what absolute craziness happens in the skies. Well, sky, just one.

Speaking of which, why do the pilots need to constantly update us on how high into the bloody skies we are? All it does is freak people the f out anyway. Does anyone really care that we are 32,000 feet up? I don’t. I feel sick every time they update us about how high we are. The fact is that we are right in the middle of the sky squished up uncomfortably between people who are coughing and sneezing and kicking your seat from behind and it would be really nice to not be bothered with the constant reminder that we are so high up that if anything goes wrong we’re all gonna die. So please pilots can you hold off on the height updates lol. Okay I’m done. Hiiiiii Edinburgh! I’ve missed you. Oh wait it’s over. Siiiiiiigh. (I hate when people type sigh but it was truly how I felt at that moment).

It was amazing being back in Scotland at Vets Now’s head office where we were taught just a few months ago by the cream of the crop to prepare us for this very challenging job. Very, very challenging. But very very very satisfying. So it’s worth it. I love my job and my people! Will miss all of you❤️ time to plan our own reunion. And get back onto another damn flight back home. Sigh (real, true, genuine feeling).

Dear God I’m really sorry that recently, I only pray before flights. I promise that if you get me there safely I will try harder to pray more often and say thanks too. But if the next time you hear from me is just before my next flight, please make it safe again and then re-read this. Thanks in advance. Steffi G- spot. Hahaha kidding I’m a grown up now we don’t say that anymore. Thanks, just Steffi G.


5,300 calories of airport goodness, just in case it was my last ever meal.

Is this PTSD?

Before life hit the fan, crying wasn’t something that I did unless a pet or loved one died. But since then, crying has become almost part of the daily routine. All sorts of cries. Happy cries, sad cries, angry cries, in shock cries, cries about rhino poaching (okay been crying about that one for years and years), annoyed cries, work cries, cries when I thought there was ice cream in the freezer but someone ate it… as I write this I’m really hoping someone else can relate else I may have to delete this post ha. But the list goes on…

Like when I see dads with their babies. How was my judge of character so poor?

When I see my legal fees. Again, how was my judge of character this poor. Self disappointment is almost as bad as parent disappointment. Note to all mothers – do NOT put the sperm donors name on your child’s birth certificate. Especially if you have an inkling that they will only ever be ‘the sperm donor’.

You know, men have the easiest job in the world. Have sex. I mean it’s not a great accomplishment. Even barnacles can do it. And they are much more impressive than humans because obvs they are stuck in one spot so the man barnacle has to get his penis to all the woman barnacles around him which means that ehem he must be a pretty impressive barnacle. Don’t think I really need to explain that men do not need to be impressive in the same way that barnacles do, to impregnate women accidentally. Not. Impressed.

Feel to cry when I see pregnant women, rubbing their tummies and looking sooo content. So excited. Has anyone truly explained to them what is to come? Obviously the answer to that must be no. They probably think that this will be a 50:50 deal…Mom does half the work and dad does half the work. Haha, poor things. Soon they will learn the real deal and I will be there for them if they need to vent, to cry, to talk.

Feel to cry when we see dogs giving birth at work because I feel traumatised all over again and my co-workers give me that look that you have when you’ve just watched a horror movie and you think you see a figure in the corner of the room and you’re trying to convince yourself that is is definitely not a soucouyant but a small piece of you definitely thinks it is. So you just lay there in still terror and remind yourself that if it calls your name DO NOT ANSWER IT. That’s how I think they look at me. Is this PTSD?

When my son pees on my brand new EXPENSIVE mattress, draws with crayons on the wall in the second no one is looking so your dad thinks it’s a great idea to put stain remover on the wall and then accidentally scrubs off all the paint. When my son rolls around on the sidewalk of Clapham Common and refuses to get up for 15 minutes and everyone passing by or parked in their cars is laughing. Then he runs into a tiny book store straight behind the counter to a horrified cashier and I chase after him with poor Skye dragging not far behind, his shoes have flown off, the pram and everything else is left outside and everyone in the whole of Clapham probably thinks I’m a terrible mother but really he doesn’t usually behave this badly. Just the entire time we are ever in London... and…okay fine maybe he does behave like this often. Times like this i can’t even cry just burst into embarrassed, uncontrolled hysterics so now I not only look like a terrible mother, I look like a crazy terrible mother. Sigh. There’s no winning lol.

Feel to cry when a really lovely client finds you on facebook and sends the nicest message thanking you for your help because as vets, we are so accustomed to getting complaints! This is a good sort of crying feeling though. Then you wonder whether you’re just an emotional wreck but really you’re just getting your period soon and it all makes sense now.

BUT DON’T WORRY. It’s not all about feeling to cry though thank Christ. We laugh a lot too.

We laugh when the child bursts out with random words that are 100% British and you know it’s either from nursery (hopefully) or watching too much peppa pig (which we are less hopeful about) so you make a conscious effort to decrease the amount of peppa pig and increase the paw patrol because I’m not even gonna pretend that my child is not living in this world of technology just like the rest of us are. Yes, he still goes outside and plays. Yes, he still reads loads of books. But also yes, he’s starting to sound a little tiny bit like peppa pig.

We laugh at each other’s laughs when there’s a tickle fiesta. When he calls very upset aunties “uncles” which for some reason is just so funny. When he mocks me with his eye rolling and babbling conversations but somehow does sound and look just like me.

We however most certainly do not laugh when a bad word slips out of your mouth because you bumped your head on the car door frame the 3rd time that day while putting them in the car seat and they mimic you so precisely with the exact tone and expression you put into accidentally saying that one stupid little word. And all you can think is, damn it what have I done. So you go into the drivers seat and laugh in silence with your face completely covered because they CANNOT know that it’s remotely funny else this will become a game and I will definitely get a phone call from nursery about it.

BUT the pure joy and love that they bring to your life that you never knew even existed…the love that keeps you going on no sleep and no social life…it’s a love to be cherished. Because it actually is such a blessing to have this little human existence, no matter how much you resisted it at first. No matter how scary it was or how much it has changed your life or how much your life will never ever be the same. It’s a crazy miracle which is impossible to wrap your head around. I’ve studied science. I’ve seen many animal births and I perform c-sections often. Yet I look at my child (and my dog) and I just wonder how such perfection exists. How can these two beings have come from two cells. And it is BEYOND me. There HAS to be a God out there. God of the universe is what I’ll call him or her. And what an amazing being they must be to allow such incredible things to be created out of two tiny cells.

Realising that I’m sounding more and more crazy as this blog progresses. Should I be worried? I feel like yes is the answer. To that question.

These are my angels.

Behind the joy

So, I started this new life in England. I left my sons to do this course so that we can have a fresh start. So that Skye can live in a country where old grumpy women don’t shout at me to take him out of the park, where he can come with me into most stores and his favourite – where he can come to the pubs and never be discriminated against by the speciesist Trinis. As if people are better than animals, pffff. They wish. I made this move so Charlie can grow up in a place that is more open minded, where there are more opportunities, where he can have his own bedroom lol. And last but not least, so that I can feel fulfilment from my job and gain back my independence. Because nothing makes you feel less independent than bunking up with a baby and dog in one bedroom in your parents house.

But we all know that fresh starts are not easy.

Those 10 weeks were tough because I missed my boys who got so confused when we skyped that we had to take breaks for days in between because it was stressing them out too much. But the weeks were also wonderful because I was able to put all of my focus into work, into making friends, into living my own life again. I was afraid to say it at first but I think it’s always better to be honest… it was glorious having a life again. My life. All mine.

Life: SLAP.

Me: Crying on plane.

And that’s where I left off in the last post.

The 10 weeks wasn’t all fun and games, though a lot of it was fun. I came up to England in a relationship and very shortly after arriving, it ended. And I will not go into detail but I will say this. Fellas…women don’t need you. If a woman is with you, it’s because she wants to be with you. So please, don’t get confused. That woman will be perfectly fine after you’re gone just like she was before you arrived on the scene. Okay? Greaaaat.

Finding a house, a car, internet, phone, gas company, registering for council tax, starting a Dartford fricking charge account, getting fines for not paying your charges on time…and the list goes on. Figure out where the hell the grocery is and which one is the best (by best I mean second cheapest, or maybe 3rd cheapest – ASDA styles because the cheapest cheapest I just cannot cope it’s like they just fling things around the place into random piles and that’s okay maybe if you’re trying to find clothes on a very low budget m maybe but not when you’re doing groceries), where the nearest park is with the best playground, bank, train station, parking lot in town, baby store so you can buy pampers in bulk, pharmacy for cal pol and neurofen, hospital because you know someday you will have to end up there for some reason or other. THERE IS JUST SO MUCH TO DO. Furnish your house. All while working and adjusting to night shifts. It was a lot, but I was alone so it was no problem…Now I was on a plane to go home. I cried because I was afraid. So scared that I wasn’t ready for all of it to come. The first part of the move passed so fast and now the really hard part was coming. Also I get anxiety about going home because everyone is so damn out of timing with their comments which yes, you can ignore the first 5 but when it reaches 20 its gets overwhelming…”How you looking magga so?” “You look like you weigh 15 pounds” “Are you sick, you look sick” “You not eating?” “You want some food? You should eat some food.” *Side note did anyone know that’s how to spell ‘magga’? I didn’t*

Because no one cares to ask actual relevant questions like “How was the course? Did you learn a lot? Are you okay, how are you feeling?” Nope, none of that. Just “you look like shit”…thanks everyone. And if I went around telling people that they look fat imagine the bad talk I would get. Steups.

Well Skye cried and cried and Charlie ran up to the car screaming MUMMYYYYYY at the top of his little lungs (which is very loud) and then didn’t let me out of his sight for the next 3 days. He slept on top of me and literally held my hand and sat on my lap just like those new couples who are overly PDA-ing and you know it ain’t gonna last cause this is real life – like that but SO CUTE because it was real true love. I basked in it. And I felt joy. But we had one slight issue which was that Charlie STILL hadn’t gotten his visa back.

The entire week passed and still Charlie had no visa. The stress that it caused I cannot explain. I had to leave him again. But to be honest I wasn’t feeling ready as yet to have him and Skye alone. It gave me an opportunity to come back with Skye, fix up the house properly for when Charlie arrived and sort out my work schedule. It went step by step instead of all at once and it really eased off some of the stress in the end. There truly is a reason for everything.

Almost 2 weeks later my hero of a mother brought him up to England for me. He projectile vomited all over her in the airport. Then all over the back seat of my new car (lol not a big deal but I’ll admit that I was grateful that most of it was in the car seat) and he was so sick, miserable and jet lagged for the first few days. No one slept a wink and I was f-r-e-a-k-i-n-g out that this was just the new way of life. BUT a miracle happened and when we all recovered from the bug that he gave to us, he was even happier than normal. He loved his new bedroom. His own bedroom! A big boy bed, all of his books, his new toys, his new garden, swing, his new home. Mum changed her flight to stay longer because we had been worrying so much about how he would cope without her. But guess what? He did totally fine 🙂 Absolutely incredibly fine. Kids are so adaptable.

My veryyyy close friend from home moved in with me and is helping out with Charlie while she does renovations on her home and I am happy to announce that we are the new brown, hip, young, lesbian couple on our street – according to our neighbours. Someone actually asked us the other day whether we were a “cute little vegan family” to which we replied no only because Charlie was eating sausages and there was smoked salmon on my plate BUT we do feel like a couple haha and it’s wonderful. This is what a couple should be like. SHARED love, shared responsibility. It’s amazing.

Unfortunately though, most relationships with kids is not shared responsibility. It’s mostly the mothers responsibility even though in some cases the man may have wanted kids even more than the woman. It will always be more your responsibility, ladies. And to the single mothers in the world, from the bottom of my heart – You amaze me. No one will ever understand the strength it takes, the amount of tears you cry and just how flipping tired you are. No one. Not your friends, not your baby’s dad who may or may not be trying to also make your life a living hell just for fun, I don’t even think Mary knows because I feel like Jesus was pretty much a grown up right after he was born maybe I’m not sure. But the point is that I see you, and I appreciate you and you are awesome.

And here are a few points I wrote to myself because a distraction was necessary before I started hyperventilating on the train journey from Scotland to England to start the in-clinic block training:

Mum goals:

1- Make things EASIER for yourself – life’s hard enough girl

2- Think about ONE thing at a time – ain’t nobody got time for panic attacks

3- Be PATIENT – it’s very hard though (maybe have a glass of wine? or tequila…)

4- Give THANKS – to whoever/whatever you believe in; if that’s yourself, go you!

5- LOVE – yourself, your family, your pets, other people’s pets, all the pets, your friends

7- Practice MINDFULNESS – what is mindfulness? Well:

Mindfulness is understanding yourself, knowing your limits and taking care of your thoughts. Anxiety and depression can often get the better of us but we can avoid that by practicing mindfulness. You don’t have to sit down on a yoga mat and contort your body to do this. I certainly don’t. When you have a moment of free time (which may only be for about two and a half minutes per day) just take a moment to reflect on the way your brain is processing information. You might sit down for that moment and a sneaky negative thought might try to sabotage your peace. It may tell you that you aren’t enough, that your child is missing out on a proper family. But guess what? As that thought creeps in, you recognise that it is transient. You know that it isn’t true and you watch the thought pass right through your mind. In and out, that’s it. You don’t listen to it or take it personally because you have compassion for yourself – you know that you can accomplish anything. You are a woman, afterall. And don’t forget to breathe.

“When you’ve mastered the art of breathing, you will finally be at peace with yourself and the world” – Quoted by Dr. Danny Pelman in his book ‘The Art of Breathing.’

The manipulation of breath movement, also known as Pranayama in the yoga world has roots in ancient India and has been reported to reduce heart rate and blood pressure – apparently leading to an almost immediate reduction in stress and anxiety. There are many types of Pranayama but yoga really isn’t my thing, I just like the little science behind slow breathing exercises cause it makes sense. Practicing slow breathing exercises for 5 minutes induces dominance of the parasympathetic nervous system aka rest and digest, calming the body as it takes over from the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response. Parasympathetic dominance in turn allows the mind to calm down and starts your healing. Once you’re healthy this practice is safe and can be done daily or multiple times per day. You can also only do it when you feel like a panic attack is imminent (this is usually when I do it) and it will help you then, too. Take a slow, deep breath in for 4 seconds, pause, then exhale for 4 seconds, pause. Try it…right now 🙂 You can be in the shower, on a train, a plane – you can even do it while your child is rolling around on the floor throwing that tantrum. If you need someone to talk you through it, the lady on has a really nice voice lol.

I promise you that it helps ❤

Sometimes you drive home and park your car to find that thing you had been looking for earlier…


And I was off. Sitting on a plane (praying and holding back the tears of fear as per usual- Jesus when will I get over this) wondering how the hell I am actually going to follow through with this new future I’ve created, wondering whether this was the best decision, wondering whether this was real life…just wondering. I already missed my angels but this was EXCITING so I snapped myself out of it. Wee! I would leave smarter (YAY) so it can never be the wrong choice because there is no better feeling than learning. I touched down in London Town (cue Kanye West), went to an LGBTQ event (woo!) and then went to Scotland to start my 10 week course in Emergency medicine. Am I smart enough? Am I good enough? OhmyGodwhatamIdoing. Breathe, girl you got this. Choke.

We arrived at these stunning little wooden lodges on Loch Leven in Scotland (if you haven’t been to Scotland you NEED to go – it is such a beautiful and unique place to visit, especially in August when it’s fake summer but the festival is popping so no one even cares that they are still in winter jackets). 13 strangers from different countries, ready to learn, ready to make new friends, just ready for it all. Looking back now, the first week was so funny – everyone was a bit awkward and overly studious…until we hosted the first dinner and drinks night at our lodge, 5 days in lol. It always amazes me the magic a little bit of alcohol can create. The ice shattered – suddenly we were besties, going on long amazing walks together, out for coffee, lodge dinners and drinks nights, out on the town in Edinburgh causing mischief lol. Friends for life. Felt like I was in “A Bad Moms Christmas” – literally I was Carla. The course days were long and they were hard BUT they were jam packed full of information and I could feel my brain exercising again, FINALLY. Bye bye mom-brain RIDE OUT. Hope I never see you again.

We got lectured by people I thought I’d never even meet, far less have the privilege of being taught by. I was one hundred percent being a nerdy bird and I’m not even afraid to say it. Glory. We had practicals in ultrasound, anatomy, surgery, CPR…and every step of the way it was fun. I didn’t realise tears of joy were a thing. They are. I wondered every night before bed how I managed to pull this off, how was I so lucky? Usually my life comprises of shit hitting fans more often than not. This was one of those times when you think “I feel blessed” and then your eyes pop open as you have flashbacks of when people write it as captions on their Facebook pics and it makes you absolutely cringe…hashtag tooblessedtobestressed… No, just no. So I slapped that statement out of my head as quickly as it jumped in. I worked hard for this. I deserve this. Aw yea, much better.

There were two girls in charge of taking care of all 13 of us, poor them lol. I am sure that we annoyed the living daylights out of them at the beginning and they would probably say throughout the entire time we were there 😛 But we got so close and we had so much fun with them – I don’t even understand how a company can employ so many amazing people. The last company I worked for was just so awful it still shocks me that this place can have these absolute gems of humans. A-MA-ZING.

We spent 4 weeks in lectures (and exploring, having way too much fun…drinking way too many coronas) and then we went out to work for 4 weeks in our clinics under supervision by our mentors (who were aweeeesome). It was scary, it was hard and it was challenging BUT let me tell you something, after those 15 hour night shifts you want to KISS the floor, hug everyone around you, put your hair in pigtails and SKIP all the way home because YOU ARE SO HAPPY THAT YOU ACTUALLY DID IT. You did it…you saved the animals, you stayed up all night, you did your best and now you are free to go home and sleep. Sometimes you even feel like maybe you should go to Church and thank God for helping you get through the strife, but you don’t. But you should, probably. At some point. Soon, you tell yourself.

And sometimes you get complaints and you feel genuinely upset like someone has just stabbed you through your heart – kind of like when you find out your boyfriend cheated on you – because the people who complain seem so nice to your face but then leave some awful complaint (usually about cost) – and you doubt yourself, feel like maybe you aren’t cut out for this, maybe you’re not strong enough for this line of work… and then you speak to your manager and colleagues and realise that you’re doing a fabulous job and some people are just “unpleaseable” and then you put those pigtails back in that hair and you skip right back to work.

After the in-clinic block of mentoring, we went back to those stunning Scottish lodges for 3 more weeks of glorious lectures. This time around we chose who we wanted to lodge with and BOY oh boy…it’s a lucky thing we weren’t together from the start because it was TOO good. I love my girls so much ❤ From our abs challenges to corona routines… speed dating LOL we bonded and it was wonderful and I’ll never forget those days. We also learned so much from each other too – don’t get me wrong, we worked our butts off.

The last week of the course we moved into a MANSION near by. I have never felt more like a kid (how am I a mother, when I’m actually a kid) – we jumped on the trampoline for far too long, played wii for far too long and giggled and laughed more than I had in years. And I have videos to prove it.

On the last day of the course the company had a little surprise graduation ceremony for us and (I don’t want to say too much more in case anyone reading this is thinking of doing the course we did and I ruin it for them but…) it was the sweetest, loveliest thing that happened and we will never forget how they made us all feel. We felt accomplished. Accepted. Supported. Excited. Excited to work for a company who values their employees. It is NOT easy to find. I want to shout from the hills to anyone considering participating in this course to come and speak to me so I can tell you all about it.

We hugged each other and said goodbye for the time being and all went our separate ways, already planning our next adventure together. Luckily one of the amazing girls on my course came with me and we drove back to England in my new ride (wee!) singing the best songs – it always amazes me how music brings people together, whether English is their first language or not. Alcohol and music…just magical.

I worked for a week and then hopped on a plane back to Trinidad to get my boys. I was so excited to see them, my family, my friends…but I cried all the way home, uncontrollably. I swear it must have broken a record.

Scotland at 6am

Scotland at 7am the same day

A month to go.

Getting the visa somehow marked the end of the turbulence that began two years ago. As Bo hugged me after opening the package my mind flashed back to the day I found out I was pregnant… the turmoil…when I got fired, interrogated, made to leave the UK, got set up with my job in Trinidad. All those tears. But maybe its because I was focusing on the negatives. In any case, for those reasons it was great that I got the visa – a new chapter. There were so many positives too though – family, friends, support, sunshine! This meant that I’d have to start a new life again and leave everyone behind again. But:

“Comfort zones are where dreams go to die.” – Unknown

And I will never let my dreams die. So I decided it’s time to start milking the last few weeks at home before the new reality hits. Really unsure whether to laugh or cry that it was Carnival season and I left THREE DAYS before the absolute bliss of it all – but definitely took advantage of it. The fetes, the music, the pan, the vibe that emanates from the people. The excitement, the joy – it just can’t really be explained. It’s a feeling that you have to experience for yourself to truly understand it. Kind of like how everyone who hasn’t had a baby thinks that they need to do it au natural but those of you who have had a baby just know. USE. THE. DRUGS.

The experience begins from the time the Carnival season starts (December 25th, midnight) and basically this is your life for the next two months, until Carnival actually, finally arrives:

Step 1. Choose carnival fete

This decision is based on: Price, all inclusive/cooler fete, performers (Machel or no Machel), location, weekend/weekday and finally… night/morning fetes.

At this point you have either spent way too much money on an all-inclusive party and know that the rest of the outfit preparation has to be a borrows cause your pocket buss…OR you’re going to a cooler fete in which case you can buy a little (literally) mediocre priced outfit and good alcohol…OR you got a comp in which case you can spend the ticket equivalent on an outfit, wee! There’s some math involved. Or maybe you just have money to burn and you can do whatever you want…and I say props to you.

Step 2. Choose outfit

This decision is based again on who is performing, how much you want to drink and most importantly how badly you plan on behaving. Are you a Machel wine an fling it up hardcore carnival baby or are you more the Kes type? You describe all of this to the sales clerks at the clothes store, show them exactly how you would like to wine, along with a few other imperative details and no doubt they will choose the perfect outfit for you, girlfriend. Sometimes you will get your math wrong and realize you’re now in serious monetary deficit but you offer it up to the Carnival Gods and deal with it later – cause no one needs that negativity in their life.

Now in my opinion, nothing compares to a morning party despite not being a morning person whatsoever. My eyes pop open at 2am excited for what is to come. Wee! From the ponging out of Soca on your phone while you shower to get in the mood, and then quietly wining in the dark singing in your head, so as to not wake up the child, it start. All this as you put on your new top and pum pum shorts that are specifically for Carnival fetes because they just wouldn’t be appropriate in any other setting. Then you have to prepare well by not taking anything important because everything gets stolen, so you designate one person to take a phone, some cash and organize the cooler with the labelled plastic bottles. Because you don’t want to mix up vodka and water. Or maybe you do. Then you stop for ice and chaser on the way to the fete so it’s now 3am, the roads are pumping, and the shop is rammed out full of people heading to the same party. The outfits are totally incredible and I always stare in awe at how some people got these things on, whether they will ever be able to get them back off, what will pop out when they wine… and when they see me staring I smile and they smile back because EVERYONE IS SO HAPPY. Why can’t it always be like this?! Because Carnival is magical.

Step 3. Choose next Carnival Fete.

It’s like a big reunion, you see people you haven’t seen in years, some who you finally get to see again and of course the ones you hoped you’d never see again but that’s Trinidad for you. You can’t escape anything. Not the people, not the rumors, not the terrible driving lol. Anyway! Nadia Batson couldn’t have said it any better in her song “So Long”…she put into words what you would usually feel in a Carnival fete but be unable to express. I guess that’s why she’s a song writer and we are not. Unfortunately I can’t describe too much more of the experience accurately because things begin to get a bit blurred a few hours in, but it literally can be one of the greatest times. So all I will say is to go for it. You won’t regret it once you understand that leaving the fete may bring an overwhelming sadness that can only be topped by the sadness at the end of Carnival Tuesday. Fortunately for me, I missed out on it all which isn’t as bad. Ish.

Anyway – the last month had some feting, lots of rushing and extensive amounts of worrying. Rushing to find flights and trains, rushing to organize my clients before I left, rushing to the bank to deposit tiny sums of cheques which I hoped somehow added up to something useful. Worrying about the future, about my son, about my dog, about whether I’m smart enough for this (mummy brain seems to have lingered on longer than expected). Worrying about lawyers fees because when you’re a single parent that’s an inevitable and very high bill that you will be faced with. But the day came and while I felt sad – sad to leave my kids, sad to leave my family – I finally felt a sense of purpose again.

And that’s what keeps me going.

Before we left, savoring the sun was crucial because of how depressing the weather can be in the UK so we were out and about, going up and down chancellor – which is like the best place to go if you’re ever feeling a little down and out – because guaranteed someone will make you feel good about yourself. There will also be the ones who you hear saying “we can’t let the girl with the pram beat us” in which case you run until your lungs burn to prove them wrong and end up feeling even better about yourself. I’m only competitive when someone else starts it, swear lol. We went to Tobago, watched sunsets on Maracas, explored the Caroni Swamp like some true tourists and had an amazing end to a tumultuous few years. Together 🙂 My dream team.

Flamingoes in Caroni Swamp in a very terribly zoomed in pixelated picture.


Children’s brains are incredible. They are like little sponges walking around in their own worlds seemingly not paying attention to you, all the while absorbing every single thing you say… good and bad, don’t forget it. And copying everything you do. You have to be so careful. I see my son babbling on pretend phones which encompass anything he can hold to his ear – a remote control, toy phone, real phone, a biscuit, a coaster – and performing hand gestures just like my mother and I. He starts hysterically fake laughing at various points in between his conversation and I wonder with genuine concern if thats how I look or sound. He’s so funny though, you can’t help but laugh. All of a sudden he’s this little fella…talking, singing, dancing, giving attitude, sweet eye, cut eye, doing this new shy mouth thing when he meets new aunties. Who is this little human man and how did he learn all of these things, and where on earth did he learn to be so naughty? It must be innate. That’s scary.

His ability to focus on performing a task amazes me every time. The precision, the determination of getting the correct blocks into their slots, to color within the pages, to scoop sand into the bucket, to find and collect bottle caps. But nothing, no amount of focus, lasts more than five minutes and before you know it, the coloring book, crayons, 1000 blocks, cars, puzzles, golf clubs…just EVERYTHING…is EVERYWHERE. And as “hurricane C” passes through the house he picks up the picture frames to name each person he sees then tries to put it back but it falls down and the glass shatters. Then he runs to Skye’s food bowl and pours the food out everywhere then he splashes in Skye’s water bowl, leaving water everywhere then grabs a handful of cat food, shoves it in his mouth and gobbles it down before I can get to him. Because I’m still in his wake, cleaning up the blocks and glass.

I sit on the floor feeling defeated and wonder – how did this happen so fast and why is he this destructive?

Why are my clothes in the bin?

Why is the comforter on the roof?

Why is there a diaper in the toilet?


So I kindly ask him to put the toys back, which he calls “Puddaba” and sometimes he helps but most times he doesn’t help and I have to force him and bribe him and he throws tantrums and screams and lays on the floor or jumps out his seat then bumps his head on the edge of the table. And I wonder why this had to happen in the middle of me trying to be a disciplinarian because now I have to comfort him and rub his head so he’s not going to understand that he’s actually in trouble. Then I wonder if he hit his head on purpose. Hmm, probably.

Then I get lost in a daydream as usual, wondering when the destruction will end. Will it ever end? Will he ever want to sit down and read a book or do his homework? Will he ever not want to break everything around him? I try to remember what it was like to be a child – not that far back obviously but from what I do remember, I really was a rude little terror – but didn’t break things. Besides dad’s windshield once with a stone by accident, but I blamed it on my brother so that doesn’t really truly count. And when I drove mum’s car into a wall. But I didn’t do that on purpose either. Okay maybe we all break things when are little. I do remember though, sitting down and making word searches with my friend in primary school haha we were about 10 years old. Christ, do I have to wait 8 more years for him to sit quietly? Please, no. We made so many word searches and mind puzzles and then sold them in St. Andrews to make money to buy food for the animals in the TTSPCA. We probably only made like $50 and the food was probably just donated anyway lol but we felt accomplished and the bags were as big as us so it seemed like a tonne. We were so proud! If your kids are old enough and enjoy word searches, and you need a minute (or an hour if you have a focused child with a good attention span) to sit down and breathe between the tantrums, chaos, exhaustion and total madness of life with a child/children (ohmyGod, props to you if you have more than one and if you have more than 2, you cray), then check out this website, print some of these out and somehow force them to sit and use their brains instead of breaking things lol. Or bribe them with ice cream, whatever works. Check below. Seeing as there’s no such thing as winter in Trinidad, they can learn winter words – so if they go to school abroad to a country with four seasons one day, they won’t mix up Spring and Autumn like I did for so many years haha.

This winter word scramble is the perfect way to keep kids busy this season! Be sure to check out for more great reading activities!

Anyway, the daydream is usually interrupted either by screaming, something breaking or extreme quiet. Because if it’s quiet enough for you to be able to daydream, something is seriously up. The broom for example will be up in the air, while the child tries to knock Grandma’s clay ornament from hanging in her potted plant. Your cell phone will be up in the air for a few seconds before it hits the floor, Skyler’s food never lagging too far behind – crumbs landing all over everything – and you see it happening in slow motion as you let out a sad, long sigh. You also see your child’s reaction in slow motion – that look of pure bliss for being so naughty, hoping that they will get away with it somehow.

Big, bright eyes with that all too familiar wicked little smirk, as he glances at me excitedly to see my reaction. And he thinks he’s won by getting my attention which he certainly now has, but sometimes maniac mummy comes out (kind of often) and puts him in his place which he hates and then the screaming fit begins again. And you wonder how much more of it you can take before all of your hair turns gray and falls out and your face gets all wrinkly from stress.

But you know your kid. You know how to distract them. Mine loves switches and fart sounds. So if he’s hysterical and I take him to a light switch, he is automatically healed. And if I make a fart noise he will guaranteed burst into fits of laughter. So you do these things, anything, to make the screaming stop so that you don’t totally lose your mind, and thankfully it does at some point. And then they are cute again and you love them so much even though they’ve just made a massive mess and tested your patience and given you so much extra work with cleaning up. I never thought in a billion years that fart sounds and light switches would be my saving grace, but there you go. I’ve never felt so thankful for the existence of farts.

You really just never know what life has in store for you.


I drove to DHL because since the package arrived on a Friday it wouldn’t be delivered to me until Monday. And there is no way in hell I was about to wait an extra 2 days, my cortisol was through the roof and my tummy was over it. I handed over my license and caught a glimpse of my photo in the process. Jesus, I look like a criminal. No wonder they rejected me twice before lol, I’d probably reject me too. Then I sat down shaking, waiting to hear my name and receive the package. I jumped out my skin when he said my name. Like when you’re in class and the professor asks a question and you have absolutely no clue what the question even is, far less the answer – so you look down to avoid eye contact, yet still they always call on you.

The bright yellow envelope with my passport inside gave me butterflies and I gently put it to sit next to me in the passenger seat. I promised Bo I’d wait until we were together to open it. My stomach sank and I knew that if the traffic lasted more than 30 minutes I’d have to find some random shop along the highway and beg them to use their bathroom lol. Deep breaths Steffi.

I finally reached to Bo’s house and we made a promise that no matter what this paper said, we would do everything we can to make this work. He opened the envelope while I sat, stifling with anxiety.






I got the visa.

We hugged each other tight and my eyes flooded while a mixture of emotions twisted my now overworked tummy. I looked into his bloodshot eyes and felt the pain but I have confidence that we will figure out a plan that works for us. Because that’s what you do. The best things in life aren’t easily attained but are worth every second of the sacrifices you make to get there.

Now, it’s time to get on with it … one month to sort out MobiVet, book flights, find a new home and find Bo a job!

The waiting game.

So I had already made the decision to move on from life in Trinidad before I lost Luna. Before I met this very special person, who my son calls “Bo”. The reasons were simple – my salary wasn’t matching the quantity of work, the cost of living was too high and I wanted more from the vet world. Most of all though, I really wanted this new job.

It would also be really nice to be able to move out of my parents’ house and to not share a room with a baby. Because MummaMummaMumma… CRASH, BANG while every single thing in the crib gets thrown onto the floor to make extra noise…every time they wake up whether its 2am or 5am – Well there’s only so much of that one can take before you start wondering how much money you think you can sell the child for. Then you start daydreaming about it in Stirling and US and making a mental list of all his attributes and how you’d advertise him. “Very intelligent for a 1 year old. Holds own bottle. Says a few words. Perfect age to learn multiple languages. Does squats on command and falls asleep easily. Oh and very very handsome.” We would leave out the parts about, “Hard to keep asleep for more then 5 hours. Throws tantrums when doesn’t get his way. The smell of his poop is fatal to men. Bites on occasion” Lol. Jokes, I’d never sell him. 

Unless the price was right. Ha ha.

I wanted MRI and CT, access to all of the drugs and toys, the continuing education courses, certificate opportunities, higher caseload, specialist opinions in person without having to call the US and wait and wait for advice or help. Just wanted MORE. I can’t stand mediocrity. So when Bo came along, I tried to resist at first. Ugh, men, who needs them. They always pretend to be nice at the start until they get what they want then they stop trying to be good to you, fall back into their old habits of cheating and lying and expect you to stick around. Then a Facebook status that someone sent me recently pops into my head that says “Having a boyfriend is like having a dumb son” and I crack up because it can be so true – depending on the boyfriend.

But this wasn’t that. We talked about life, about love, about heartbreak and relationships. I felt our minds connect. We shared similar interests and views on life and of course are still quite different in our own ways but the things we had in common were the important things. When you meet a truly thoughtful person… someone who tops up your phone for you when you’re running low on money lol, someone who goes out of their way to make sure that you’re happy, buys you flowers just because they wanted to…you wonder how you were ever with anyone else. And where did this person come from? And how on earth did this even happen? And how am I going to leave him? Is this a trick?

Then the questions start pouring in, along with the comments and it feels overwhelming for a second but then you remember that you live in Trinidad so you take everything with a pinch of salt and appreciate the nice things that people have to say instead of the not-so-nice things. “You move on quickly” being my personal favorite. LOL. Are there rules for that? Anyway, the key with the commenters is to remember that when they make negative remarks it’s usually because they are unhappy with themselves or insecure so don’t take it too personally. It isn’t easy though. For example, my future job entails a 10 week training course in Scotland in Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) before I actually start working in the clinic. That means I can’t take my son with me because I’d be working all day. Where would he go? Who would he stay with? It wouldn’t work, he wouldn’t be happy. So my special, precious, cute, naughty, scrumptious boy will have to stay with my parents in Trinidad until after the training ends in May. I already feel terrible about it but I’m so, so thankful for their help. Then the plan is to come home to collect him and Skyler then head back up to England. And it starts… “How can a mother leave her child for so long?” And then I get a flashback of primary school teachers shouting “Fingers on lips!” And I wish I could say that to these people.

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr Seuss.

And anyway… all of these future movements aren’t just up to me! Our future lies in the hands of UK Visas and Immigration. If they decide they don’t want me back in their country I’ll get that all too familiar letter of rejection any day now in the mail. That visa application process was usual. Mostly because it is so expensive. I guess that’s one way of deterring people. My car is basically worth the cost of the application. Now don’t get me wrong my car isn’t worth much, it’s old like the road, sounds like it’s about to explode, has the odor of dog mixed with child-who-throws-food-everywhere (which isn’t a good combination) and looks like it belongs to a drug dealer – but it’s still a car! That’s how expensive this process is. Then you have to go into the embassy to hand in all your documents on the one day per month that they hold these “interviews” and give your fingerprints and picture. And then, the most painful part of all…you WAIT. And wait, and wait. Even though you paid for 5 day priority service they make sure to say in their email that “it can still take up to 12 weeks” and “you will not be refunded” if its takes longer than the 5 business days. It has been about two weeks now of nervous tummy pain awaiting the arrival of my package to open it and see whether they decided whether this peasant is worthy of a UK visa. Sometimes I feel like I’m begging them to let me back in, which feels a bit sad. Like when you’re the younger sister and all you want to do is lime with your big sister and her cool friends and they are like… “NO.” So you tell your mom and she makes them be nice to you lol. Wish my mum could buff up immigration for me.

As time started drawing nearer to the visa-dependent move, the reality of the entire situation began hitting me. I’m going to move to England by myself with my two children. Hmmm. People ask “what are you going to do, how are you going to manage?” With big concerned eyes, “You are going to have no life!” Gee thanks – not helping! I am a grown woman, I can do anything – this is exciting, isn’t it? But then you start having mini panics because maybe they’re right, can I do this on my own?

Because they say it takes a village to raise a child but in my experience – at the very least it takes a country. It takes parents of course, siblings, girlfriends of siblings, aunts, uncles, sisters of uncles, cousins, friends, husbands of friends, friends’ parents, housekeepers, nurseries, camps. People in lines who you ask to keep an eye on the child in the pram while you run to get the thing you forgot while you were shopping. The gasman who you ask to keep an eye on the child in the car while they put gas in for you so you can run across the street to get money out of the ATM – because you are running late for work and owe money to the delivery man from the pharmaceutical company who is coming today to drop your stock and you need it desperately. Cashiers and sales clerks who play with the child while you try on clothes or run to switch an item before paying. Neighbors who make muffins for the child and thank God because that day you were running low on snacks to take to nursery so it came in perfect handy and they don’t even know how much it helped you out. The air hostesses and aunties who aren’t really your aunties but you happen to be on the same flights to Tobago and Barbados and help you hold all the crap and child and distract him to get you through the few hours of travel insanity. And through all of these experiences, although we live in such a messed up world with all of the terrorism, hatred, crime, injustices, corruption and total disaster, sometimes you sit back and think wow. People can be so great sometimes. What happened to the world?

But as usual, I’ve now gone way off topic.

Things escalated with Bo and I.

The zoo was our first public excursion and it took days to prepare myself for it. I felt nervous about whether people would see us. Nervous about what they would say…but why did I care? I was happy. I think its because when you’re a mother people suddenly have different expectations of you. They expect that you stay home with the child instead of going out. They expect that you should put ‘dating’ on the back burner because the child is the most important thing in your life. They expect that you should want to spend all of your time with the child. But that’s not entirely fair. Also, it isn’t expected for men, so I don’t understand why it’s expected of women. If you follow those rules you will end up lonely and potentially resenting your child because they’ve taken away every single piece of your freedom. So I guess I was feeling self conscious about whether people would think I was a bad mother by exposing my son to a new man. But how can it be bad when our first ‘date’ is to the zoo, with my son? Haha. This was already different. So I decided to ignore everyone else and went on my merry way. Soon we progressed to going to the movies promising to walk a few feet apart each time lol. He made it a joke and soon I was over it all. We went to a party together and I could feel the looks of confusion but we were in another zone.

It has been surreal. We feel like a family. Gees I can’t believe I just typed that. Which freaks me out because I don’t want to lose it. It has made the whole parenting experience more fun, more positive… just better. It’s so nice having him there. Every single day I’m shocked at the connection that the four of us share, and I start to panic, but Bo has a special way of calming me down and bringing me back to the earth that I forget exists. He knows how much this job means to me and supports my decision to leave.

Bo, if your’e reading this I hope you know that you are very, very special to me. You’ve shown me what it’s like to be in a supportive, caring relationship. You pick me up on the days I can’t pick myself back up, and when I feel good, you make the good even better. We have been making plans for our future no matter what the outcome of this visa application is – and whatever it is, I’m confident that we will find ways of making it work. I love you.

Andddd… today we find out what the future holds.


Oh, life.

Why is it that just when you think you’re getting your life back into some sort of order… when you’ve made a plan that may actually stick (moving to England) and not explode into a million pieces…some event comes along and throws you totally off track? This event may be a person. And this person may actually throw you off your current track and get you onto an even better one, which you will realize after a bit of denial. And as usual… impeccable timing, life.

It started with a dog. A very beautiful doggie as a matter of fact.

I got an emergency call that she was vomiting masses of green fluid constantly, suddenly not eating and drinking, lethargic – just totally not herself – definitely an emergency case that needed stabilizing – so I met the owners at the clinic. Not like the ones who call you just to have a chat about their pet at 11 pm. We took her into the clinic that evening and put her onto fluids, antibiotics and pain relief until the next morning when I did radiography and ultrasound. The owner was convinced that she had eaten a piece of carpet. But this definitely looked like a cob of corn on the x-ray and on ultrasound I saw the swirling fluids rolling back and forth in the intestine, blocked from flowing through by this stupid piece of corn.

That stupid, stupid corn on the cob.

We performed a full hematology and biochemistry blood test to ensure no concurrent issues and took her straight into surgery. Foreign bodies can be fun to operate on because usually it’s just a small incision into the intestine and you remove the silly thing they ate, put it into a bag to excitedly show the owner, close them up and that’s that. I’ve seen mango seeds, toothbrushes, metal cloths, my friend got a rubber duckie recently… But this case wasn’t that simple. Because it was an entire cob lodged in there, her intestine was compromised (it looked an unhealthy purple colour) which meant that we would have to perform a resection and anastomosis. Remove a portion of the intestine and close back the two healthy ends. This was after much debate and even trying laser therapy to bring the unhealthy tissue back to life – to no avail. We ligated the vessels that fed that portion of intestine, removed it, sutured the healthy ends together, leak tested it and made a beautiful omental wrap. We then moved on to the stomach which was dilated at least 3 times its normal size, made a tiny incision about 3cm long and suctioned over 1000ml of green foul smelling watery fluid out of it. We sutured it closed, double checked all of her abdominal organs and went through (again) the entire length of intestine from stomach to colon to make triple sure that we got everything out and to check the integrity of the sutures, all of which were A-okay. I closed her up and that was that. Or so I thought.

The owners have no idea how she got this piece of corn.

She recovered from surgery really well, started eating little by little and seemed to be doing fine. The first 48 hours are the most critical and I’m a paranoid freak so I kept her in for four days before sending her home. Because the surgery was a biggie, I asked the owner to keep a really close eye on her as there are many potential complications, and they updated me constantly Some complications included shock, leakage, ileus, dehiscence, peritonitis, adhesions, stenosis, recurrence, intussusception, and ultimately death. Gosh it sounded like those adds on TV for drugs that are supposed to help you but actually you’ll die from some other random complication. “Take this pill to lower your cholesterol, but watch out as it may actually make your cholesterol higher and give you a heart attack, cause severe depression and kill you from a blood clot.” And they say it in the happiest voices too, it confuses me every time. The owner said she pooped at home which was like music to my ears, and although she wasn’t back to her normal self as yet, clinically was doing fine. I wasn’t worried. Until the next morning when I got a frantic call that fluid was aggressively leaking out of her incision and she looked like she was dying.

It was Sunday. I flung Charlie into my mum’s arms and flew to the clinic to meet the owners – my stomach sank when I saw her condition. She was very obviously in shock with bloody fluid flowing out of her incision which seemed to have opened up a little bit cranially. Her mucous membranes were pale, she was tachycardic and almost totally unresponsive. I felt sick and I felt my eyes tear up. Get it together Steffi.

At this point there wasn’t much stabilization that could have been done so the vet-on-call and I made a clinical decision to get straight back into surgery. Differentials were now post operative peritonitis from wound dehiscence, DIC secondary to sepsis… We thought that going back into surgery and finding it would at least give her a chance of survival. We couldn’t find a source of bleeding, the intestinal and gastric tissue didn’t look necrotic or dehisced, the abdomen just kept filling up with blood. We removed over 1 litre of bloody abdominal fluid that had no clotting and under the microscope all we saw were red blood cells and the occasional white blood cell. During the surgical exploration her heart stopped and we administered epinephrine and dopram to try to get her back up and running but just couldn’t. My stomach twisted and I was in total shock myself. I stayed for ages looking, searching for a cause of the bleeding to at least have an answer for the owner but I just couldn’t find anything. The vet-on-call spoke to them as I wasn’t in any condition to do it at that moment, and I was so grateful. I spoke to them after a little while of sitting down and trying to figure out what the hell just happened. We took biopsies of every organ and sent samples of fluid from her abdomen to the lab but they were all inconclusive.

You always feel extremely upset when you lose a patient but this was different. I felt a deep sadness and couldn’t figure out whether it was because it was the first case that I had personally lost post-surgery so I felt totally responsible and like a terrible vet. Or if it was because she was just such a lovely sweet beautiful dog or if it was because I’ve known the owner for most of my life. We weren’t ‘friends’, but we knew each other. Probably a combination of all three. I found myself randomly crying about losing her and was feeling waves of guilt intermittently for a few weeks after it all happened. I took the sympathy card along with a photo of her for the owner. It was tragic seeing someone lose a pet that they cherished so much and I kept imagining the mess I’d be in if it was happening to me. I also felt responsible for her death because she was my case and thought, God he must hate me. I hugged him tight.

…and that’s how we started getting to know each other.


Who on earth would have thought that a beautiful relationship would come out of such a heart-breaking situation?


Some troubles are shallow, while others are deep. Just try to stay focused and stand on your feet.

Keep reaching.

And carry on we do, sometimes kicking and screaming…most times trying to stop the child from kicking and screaming…but sometimes there really is nothing you can do to stop them besides maybe give them your car key. But try to avoid that.

As time passed I was juggling two vet jobs (plus a few outside jobs here and there), and it was just becoming all-encompassing. I was starting to feel crazy with the lack of sleep. By the time I got home I’d be too tired to want to play with my son and dog. The goal became to get my son to bed asap. How terrible am I? Not to mention that as a younger vet you tend to take on the weight of each and every case. Each and every complaint. It all comes home with you. I would start doubting my abilities and go to work looking all distressed with my drama-queen self, then co-workers would stop to ask “gyul what happen to you, you only been working here a few weeks”…and for some reason the way that Trinis speak makes you feel instantly better and you can’t help but laugh.

And just when you feel like you can’t endure administering another vaccine and you need something to spice up your life, you get an interesting case. YES. This was a 10 year old Rottweiler who presented in lateral recumbency, body condition score 2 out of 5, paralyzed in his hindlimbs with severe muscle wasting and no deep pain on one side and of course the pressure-sore-turned-maggot-wound in his perineal area. Maggot wounds are about as common as the totally-made-up gossip is in Trinidad. So we see them very often. He had been treated 3 months previously with AmoxyClav for a bite wound on his back from another dog and never fully recovered. He would seem to be walking fine one day and then regress. He was given steroids which always seemed to perk him up but the same cycle would repeat itself. Steroids are like Ben and Jerry’s after a bad break up. It helps in the moment but when the ice cream tub is finished honey, those tears come straight back. Although steroids can obviously be useful in certain cases like severe skin issues or certain types of inflammatory reactions, I avoid them. They trick you into believing that your pet is cured. And no one likes a tricker.

Anyway so the owner of this very lucky dog named Max is a lovely man who just doesn’t know what else to do to help his beloved dog child so he brought him for me to give him one last go. He would come in to feed him delicious rotisserie chicken for lunch and allowed me to do any diagnostics that I felt were necessary to help him. It isn’t often you get a case where the owner gives you that luxury, so I was like a kid in a candy shop. I did radiographs and found that there was some mottling in his lumbar vertebra consistent with osteomyelitis. He got IV fluids for his dehydration and IV antibiotics (Zinacef) for the bone infection, Gabapentin and Tramadol for the pain (we don’t get good opioids easily in Trinidad) and laser therapy along his entire spine twice per day. During his third night of hospitalization I casually checked the cameras to see what he was doing after hours and my “paralyzed” dog had managed to get out of his kennel and drag himself half way across the room! It was extremely exciting. But I did have to go back into work and put him back into his kennel – with great difficulty because he was aggressive and heavy… not without help from my brother and his girlfriend (thank God for them). But it was a fantastic feeling to see some progress.

Of course, he started getting urinary tract infections because he was immobile and he wasn’t able to urinate properly – it would just leak out at random times. Kind of like those men you see at random times in random inappropriate places, just peeing. So we had to express his bladder multiple times throughout the day (up to 1200ml at any given time) which wasn’t helping my prognosis. If he couldn’t control his bladder on top of his inability to walk, his quality of life wasn’t high enough on my scale to keep going. It wouldn’t have been fair to him. Doctors are allowed to try everything under the sun to keep their patients alive…Vets on the other hand are usually restricted by cost concerns and frequently have to put animals to sleep for various reasons. Ending an animals life, even when they are suffering isn’t easy. It sticks with you. I always feel so guilty, like a murderer, and to be remembered as the vet-who-put-your-pet-to-sleep isn’t the best feeling. But sometimes it does feel good to end an animal’s suffering. That’s what keeps us from getting too depressed about euthanasias. At least it does for me.

A week of tossing and turning trying to figure out what I’m missing, what else can I do for him – and my Max was still not walking, although he did sit up fully on his forelimbs and was able to drag himself around. Progress, but not nearly good enough. He needed to walk again. I started questioning my judgement…should I not have put him through all of this? Should I have recommended euthanasia? Am I making a poor clinical decision? Jesus this bill is high. I filled out my trusty quality of life form daily and it reassured me that he was still well enough to keep trying, although the people around me also seemed to be questioning my judgement. Gotta go with your gut.

Another week later while outside trying to get Max to weewee, he WALKED. He took a few steps. It was miraculous and amazing and I wanted to cry of joy. The next day, the lady who had brought him into the clinic initially, came back to pick him up. She brought the stretcher inside and asked us to help her put him onto it. The look on her face when I told her we didn’t need the stretcher went from confusion to tears when I brought him out, walking. She hugged me tight and we celebrated quietly in that moment. And these are the cases that reignite my love for the job.

Meanwhile, I had been chatting with a recruitment agent from a very well known and respected Veterinary company in the UK. Since Charlie was 3 months old I had been in touch with her about working for them as a vet. I told her my entire life story (because I think being open is key) and she was so supportive and kind through it all…it shocked me. Especially because of my previous, scarring experience working for a big company in England. Charlie was now a year and 4 months old. Or as some mothers like to say, 16 months…which, who the hell knows what that means? It always baffled me why people say that and I thought maybe when I’m a mother I’ll understand. Nope, don’t understand. 

“Hi Steffi, how old are you?”

“354 months”

…it’s just weird, man.

Anyway, now that Charlie was over a year old and I felt confident that I can keep him alive all on my own, I decided to go for it. Apply for the job, it can’t hurt. So I did. Then I had to do a timed test online before getting an interview. The day after the interview they called to say that I got the job which starts on March 4th. Which we all know is…DUN DUN DUN. Carnival Monday. Naturally.

I was elated, ecstatic, smiled all day, felt euphoric and was so excited to tell my parents. Dad congratulated me and was so happy and excited for this next step.

Mum said…”What job?” The one I had to do the test for, the one I’ve been telling you about all year, the one I had the Skype interview for yesterday, mom. Then she cried. Lol.

I was given a choice of clinics based on location and went up to England the month after I got the job to scope them out – see which one seemed most doable with a baby and dog on my own. I chose one… and I felt my life change a little. Of course this was after I was detained in the airport for 2 hours for questioning. Every single pocket, paper in my diary, piece of clothing, dollar bill… was searched, taken for inspection and then brought back to me. Literally all they didn’t do was ask to have a peek inside my you-know-what. Then a Trini angel appeared. An officer strolled up to me casually in true Trini fashion with the biggest smile on his face exposing a gap where a tooth once lived. “You from Trinidad?” He asked. Yes, I am. “Ey me too!” And the conversation started. I thanked my lucky stars for Calvin that day who managed to take the devil out of the immigration officer and make him human again. The officer apologized for how he treated me explaining that it was just part of his job, while his trainee who couldn’t get the gloves on over her long stuck-on sparkly nails apologized for searching my bag so thoroughly after Calvin told them that I’m from a “rich” part of Trinidad. LOL. This isn’t true whatsoever but I needed to get the hell out of that airport and go for a drink so I entertained the silliness, accepted the apologies and off I went.

Max sitting up for the first time, 3 days into hospitalisation

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” 
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

VetMom first tip

  1. Do not ever give the child your car key.

This may result in finding your key in a totally inappropriate place, like a garbage bin, along with other items like shoes, and shampoo. Worse yet, it can result in your child locking themselves and your dog in the car as they bite the alarm button…click …lock ….click …lock…. Because somehow they will never bite on the unlock button. Only on the lock button. Your mother will get hysterical and want to break the window but you will remain calm yet very concerned for the safety of your dog because he has long fur and the car is obviously too hot for him to cope. The baby will be fine as they think it’s a game. Hopefully you are able to talk your dad into going home and bringing the spare key before your mother who is almost hyperventilating breaks the glass – and then all will be okay. But you would have learned an invaluable lesson which is to NEVER GIVE YOUR BABY THE CAR KEYS.

Although sometimes I give in, to distract him for a second, but then I remember the incident and usually take it back. Depends on how desperately you need the distraction. Screaming fits in public usually warrant giving them the bloody keys.

The child will also suck the alarm so much that you may as well have just dropped it in a bucket of water. It becomes totally submerged in spit over time since their existence. Soon, you will see the light on the key alarm start to fade. You will notice that you have to click it an average of 3 times for it to work. You ignore all the signs because you forget about it once it actually works. But it catches up on you and one day it stops working totally. And you feel grief. A deep sadness because now you have to walk all the way around the car, stick the damn key into the car while holding the child, bag, lunch kit… and turn it over and over until you do it the right way to mean OPEN which again usually takes 3 tries… and then walk back around the car to put the child into the seat.

Then the seatbelt gets stuck and you look ridiculous sticking your bottom out of the door for ever and ever, as you have to put the seat belt all the way back to the top so it releases, then you can pull and wrap it around the car seat after it sticks 10 times and buckle it into the furthest away possible buckle because the child undoes it while driving and escapes. Then you go back and sit in the car and cannot find the keys for a few minutes until something tells you to check the car door. So you have to get back out of the car to get the key because you cannot reach it if you stay sitting (even though you try to every single time). And THEN when you finally get it you can turn your car on and go about your day. And approximately 2 seconds later you forget that whole episode even happened… and that entire cycle reoccurs. 

I have been doing this shit for a good few weeks now. I really must get the battery changed. But where even sells those little round weird batteries for car key alarms? I wonder how much they cost? It’s fine surely I dont even really need it anyway… I mean, this is what they did in the olden days, not so? Small thing. Don’t need it. 

Then you hop out of the car and have to walk around it to get the child back out then walk around to the front again with the baby, bag, bottle and snack, stop to pick up the shoe that just fell off…somehow manage to stick the friggin key into the friggin hole and turn it 3 times then triple check that the door is locked while the baby is falling out of your arms but doesn’t actually fall out….and then you cuss and cuss because WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST BUY THE DAMN BATTERY.

Tomorrow for sure, you say to yourself.


Sinful expectations.

Being in Trinidad can sometimes feel like being in a very bad soap opera. Like The Young and The Restless, for example – it lasts your whole entire lifetime, people don’t seem to grow up or out of the dramas, there’s no getting away from it, the bacchanal is both unimaginably silly and  totally hysterical, and people get away with murder …literally.

Oh and gossip spreads like wildfire.

And the gossip although a lot of the time has 0.5% truth to it…a lot of the time also has 0% truth to it. I think this is what happens when there are lots of bored people all in one place.

Because sometimes it seems as though everyone is waiting for you to make a mistake, have a slip-up, do something, anything that they can talk about. As if you aren’t under enough pressure as it is to stay fit and look sexy, work hard but not too hard, always have a waxed vagina and a mani-pedi, make plenty money, play punkie-val (eh ehm, I mean Carnival), go out every weekend, go to Miami to shop every few months, get engaged and have a massive expensive wedding, have kids…and stay married whether you’re happy, horning or otherwise. What?

And why are there so many expectations?

As a mother you are expected to be the carer, cook, cleaner, bread-winner, nurse, diaper changer, entertainer, night shifter, never-shouting-always-soft-gentle-and-loving MILF – but such a person does not exist. Although my mum is pretty close. And we know this yet we still feel guilty. Guilty that we aren’t doing enough, guilty to take a break, guilty to take time for yourself, guilty for eating McFlurrys a few times a week. What does it even mean to take care of yourself and not be selfish? This is another battle you must learn how to balance, which I haven’t learned yet either. Am I being selfish by going out? Or by wanting alone time? By spending money on myself? It’s not just mine anymore…I own a whole human now. And he’s very, very expensive. But I’m losing my shit. Must. Go. Out. Must. Have. Drink.

And as if this isn’t enough to make you lose the plot…your responsibilities as a vet are just as plentiful.

As a vet you are expected to be a miracle worker, free laborer, therapist, dog trainer, surgeon, imager, anesthetist, dentist, pathologist, available at all seconds of the days and nights…oh and perfect. Because we aren’t allowed to make mistakes!

And then a lightbulb goes off in my overworked, overthinking brain. With all of these expectations pinned on me, I can see a little more clearly – how could I have expected people in the past to have lived up to my expectations? They weren’t big ones mind you, they were actually quite simple. I expected honesty and faithfulness. But as my therapist said that time, I have to take some blame for what happened, and now I understand where she was coming from (I think).

“Expectations are premeditated resentments” – Dawn Sinnott.

Anyway enough of that – now close your eyes and imagine now that you have a screaming baby and two emergency calls coming in at 11pm and 10 WhatsApp messages about pets and a few from some friends…where do you even begin! I always get buffed for taking ages to get back to people and I feel so guilty but messages get lost along the way between running around like a headless chicken, trying to sleep for a few hours a night, working always, bathing occasionally (just kidding, I bathe each and every day) and trying to keep an entire human being alive (it’s hard, they do a lot of silly things like free fall down the stairs or eat a stone). Sometimes I feel dizzy and overwhelmed and I just want to sit down in a dark room by myself for a while. Or run away. Far, far away.

But that would be the easy way out. And what’s wrong with the easy way out, you may ask yourself. Well I’m not sure yet but my dad says that no one has it easy and that everything will pay off and be totally fine one day and lots of other people have it a lot worse. Yes, I know this –  we all know this. But when you’re being irrational you aren’t really thinking of anyone else are you? And that’s the problem right there! When we are being irrational, we might be being a little bit selfish by thinking that we have it the worst and that no one understands what we are going through, and that your whole entire world is ending. And though that may seem to be true at that moment, that’s just life. So we pick ourselves up, we keep calm and we carry on. Or we remain totally off our heads and carry on (yours truly). But the point is that we carry on, and that’s the most important thing. We can do this. We are women, we can do anything.

And this is the conversation that I have with myself daily. 

And then I wonder if maybe I have a lesion in my brain because this cannot be normal behavior.