HAPPY NEW YEAR (and other miracles)


 After the hustle and bustle of Christmas comes the chance to reflect on the season just over.   Did you share the joy?  Did you catch the mystery?  Sometimes we can experience a ‘Post-Christmas’ let-down.  Have you noticed that our animal do not?

 How about a wonderful story to start 2015, which answers the question:  do miracles really happen? 

 Of course they do.  Just ask Fenton.

 Fenton was a typical young lad, full of zest for life and a lover of animals.  Every kind of animal appealed to Fenton, and he was often to be found in the library looking up details of one species or another.  Of course, there was the constant appealing to his parents to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let him have a pet.  His parent’ would have loved to let him too, as he was quite responsible and would no doubt benefit from the companionship of a four-legged friend.  Unfortunately they had found out at an early age that Fenton had allergies to animals.

 These allergies were not the kind you just put up with.  No, Fenton had been to emergency on several occasions because of extreme allergic reactions, and he even needed to carry around with him drugs for us in case of emergency.  Even just going into a house that had a cat could cause his airways to constrict and his lungs fill with fluid, leading to life-threatening breathing problems.  Just walking past a caged bird could be life threatening.  Going to the zoo was too risky, and owning a pet was out of the question.  So Fenton had to fulfill his desire of being with animals with the poor substitute of looking at pictures, and having pet fish.  Fish were nice, but they would not be enough for Fenton.

 One day after school Fenton went over to the house of a new student to play.  Downstairs this boy had something he wanted to show Fenton – a hedgehog!  Fenton was amazed at the quills, the pointy nose, the defense mechanism of snorting and the self-anointing behavior he observed.  It wasn’t until he got home and was telling his parents about the visit that it dawned on all of them at the same time – there was no allergic reaction from the hedgehog!  None at all.

 So it was that Fenton became the proud owner of ‘Perky’, a young female hedgehog.  She was an awesome pet for Fenton; they were so gentle together that she never poked him, never acted afraid.  The next four years were some of the best years of Fenton’s life, a life filled with a sort of companionship he thought could never be his. 

 It came as a shock one day when Fenton noticed Perky’s food was falling out of her mouth.  On closer inspection, he realized that she had actually lost a lot of weight.  And looking into her mouth, horror of horrors, he saw a drop of blood!  Immediately Fenton grabbed his mom who made an appointment at the vet and headed out the door with Fenton and Perky. 

 At the clinic the news was not good.  There was a growth inside Perky’s mouth that looked like it was cancerous.  Perky also had a large burden of mites on her body, probably secondary to a compromised immune system.  In addition, there were signs of a urinary tract infection.  It was with a heavy heart that I sent Fenton and his family out the door after treating Perky for mites and prescribing medication for the urinary tract system, for Perky’s long-term prognosis was poor indeed.  Ideally we would be able to take biopsies of the affected tissue for analysis and hopefully surgically remove the growth, but Fenton’s mom said they probably would not pursue that route due to cost.  So Fenton went home to faithfully give the medication and hope for the best.

 A month later when Fenton came back with Perky he was not looking very happy.  But Perky did.  Her skin was looking much better and it appeared the urinary tract infection was under control.  But the most amazing thing was that on inspection of her mouth, hardly any signs of tumor remained!  There was a slight area of abnormally coloured gums left but none of the large protruding growth that had been there before.  Fenton was overjoyed, to say the least.  While we could not be sure Perky would run into further trouble with the tumor, there also was nothing else for us to do other than to give Perky a much better prognosis that before, giving Fenton a reason to rejoice!  

 To a cynic, this whole episode could look like an inconsequential improvement of a silly little animal that should not be a pet in the first place and who was probably misdiagnosed anyway.  But to Fenton her healing was received as a gift.  And to me, a poignant reminder that if I only open my eyes I might appreciate again that the mundane and the miraculous are really one and the same.

 Which reminds me – do miracles really happen?  Of course they do – all the time.  Just ask Fenton.