Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

December 23, 2014

The expression, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” most of us know as Murphy’s Law. As I reflect on my recent experiences, Murphy’s Law seems most apt.

I’m currently winding down projects for 2014 and getting ready to head back to the States for the holidays. As I’ve noted in my newsletters and annual report, my travel home for the holidays this year includes taking Wilson, my Springer Spaniel. Traveling with a pet, as some of you know, can be a real challenge. I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a headache arranging for Wilson’s travel has been for me. Little did I know, though, that when things started getting crazy, I was actually just getting started.

I’ll spare you all of the initial details, but suffice it to say that I had several different conversations about pet travel, with several different people, all of whom gave me different information. After many frustrating conversations, I decided on my own game plan and things started looking up.

I returned from a board meeting in Atlanta in November to discover Wilson had a funny red spot on his foot. Not wanting to learn at the last minute that it was something bad that would prevent him from receiving a clean bill of health to travel, I decided to err on the side of caution and took him to the vets. That was a really good thing! It turned out he had a parasitic infection that enters the blood stream through the feet … usually between the toes. So, I had to clean and protect his foot for 10 days (he wore a sock held on with Velcro) and he had to take antibiotics. I was relieved to have been cautious with a vet’s visit.

Following on his foot infection, I noticed that his right eye had some swelling. So, again, not wanting to discover a problem late in the game, which was already getting too close for comfort, we returned to the vet’s. This time, the vet and I had a good laugh. The swelling on his eye lid was an allergic reaction to either a bug bite (of which there are very few in Bogota) or possibly a scratch. Noting my Medic Alert the vet commented “he’s definitely your dog.” In any event, a little antihistamine lotion for a few days was all it took for the swelling to go down.

Finally, our week before travel approached … the fateful week during which Wilson needed to have his physical exam and certification for travel. I had made arrangements to take Wilson to the vet’s office for his official evaluation, review of vaccinations, and ultimately, a documented clean bill of health. We then had a reservation for a taxi to take us to the airport in the afternoon for the final certification of his travel documents (aka, his pet passport). All of this had to be done within a window of 72 hours prior to travel (our tickets were for Sunday night).

You’ll notice I’m using the past tense and today is Tuesday. Last Wednesday Wilson tossed his lunch on my office floor and stopped to go to the bathroom multiple times on the way back to the vet’s office. She did a quick evaluation and deduced that he needed to stay in the hospital overnight … NOT good news for someone wanting travel papers in 2 days. Needless to say, Wilson had an infection. He’s been completely fine and healthy for months … and a month before we need to travel he has 3 different health issues in a row. Go figure! So I had to change our flights, family members had to change their holiday plans, I had to cancel appointments planned for when I’m home, I remade our appointment for Wilson’s physical on Monday, and changed our transportation reservations for getting to the airport.

By now some of you are probably thinking to yourselves, “What a major drag. Ted must be completely frustrated by now.” Ah, but it gets better. In the midst of dealing with Wilson’s issues I received a travel advisory from the U.S. Embassy informing international travelers that there will be travel problems. Colombia’s Immigration Services went on strike last week which has made getting through immigration a nightmare. Just what I needed! … What was it I said earlier? … “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong!”

As it turns out, though, there was something fortuitous about all the travel craziness. My good friend, Padre Jose, had been extremely ill and in intensive care at the hospital for a few weeks. I learned on Sunday afternoon on my way to church that Jose lost his battle and funeral arrangements were being made for Tuesday. Given the changes in my travel plans, I was able to be with my friends and participate in the service.

I suppose now is when I’m supposed to reflect spiritually on all of what I just shared, noting things like “it was meant to be,” and so on. But, frankly, I don’t know yet what to think. I haven’t had time to process, and I’m inclined to think that sometimes things are just what they are … no deep spiritual meaning … no theological significance … just stuff that happens. I’m more inclined to reflect on something more personal. Being from Boston, I’ve lived in a city where everything moves fast and everyone is expected, to a certain extent, to move with it. When life throws you a curve ball, you get miffed and it screws everything up. Things like stress come from getting upset having to deal with the curve balls … the car that breaks down, the person who doesn’t show up on time for a meeting, a major illness in the family, a vacation that turns out to be something less than relaxing, a sick pet, and so forth. While my holiday travel plans haven’t quite gone as intended, one of the things my life in mission has taught me is, “Such is life.” It’s not worth the stress and aggravation of getting upset. When all is said and done, I trust that everything will be fine. Wilson and I will eventually make it home for the holidays, I’ll enjoy spending time with family and friends, and all will be well. Maybe there is something spiritual in there after all … doesn’t that sound a little like the message of Advent?

4 Responses to “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”

  1. Dianne Smith Says:

    SO grateful to hear that Wilson is well, that you are well, and that you were able to participate in the funeral service, Ted. God bless us, every one!

    XO, Dianne


  2. Kathryn Benjamin Says:

    Good reflections for a frantic time of year with lots of travel for lots of people. Glad Wilson is better (3rd time’s the charm?) and that you had a silver lining to be with Padre Jose’s congregation. Peace and joy to you for Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!


  3. Karen Hotte Says:

    Thank you for your philosophical approach to what must still be a completely frustrating set of circumstances. It reminds me to “walk by faith and not by sight”…


  4. Ruthanne Pearson Says:

    Hi Ted, hope you have safe travels and maybe I’ll have a chance to see you when you get together with Maria.


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