Friday, August 25, 2006

My Two Obsessions - An Update

from Jacqueline

PS: I thought I would add the PS first, to explain todays adventures in cyberspace. In short, I couldn't for the life of me get the correct page to come up so that I could add my blog today. Thinking it was my computer, connection or plain old fault, I whizzed over to my friend Kas (to whom I emailed the text of my blog) so that I could execute the post using her computer. I wanted to execute myself after twenty minutes of not being able to access the page. Now I'm in an hotel again, and let's see if this works. Here's my post for today, if anyone's out there to read it:

The last time I wrote about Sara, my horse, I was about ready to visit her in the equine hospital, where she had – I thought – gone for treatment for a sinus infection. Intuition is a funny thing, sometimes coming out of the blue with a thought so scary that you perhaps try to ignore it, or tell yourself that it’s just ... well, whatever it is. I had a dreadful thought while driving to that hospital, and chilled me to the bone.

As soon as I arrived, clutching my bag of apples and sweet oat treats, I bumped into the veterinary surgeon, who asked me to come to his office. Uh-oh. Banish that thought, I told myself. Then he asked me to sit down on the sofa. Big uh-oh. When anyone in a medical capacity asks you to sit down where it’s comfortable, you know the conversation is going in the opposite direction.

In a nutshell, he told me to have my horse euthanized. That the condition could not be cured, and eventually I would have to have her put down anyway. I asked a few questions, remained calm (thinking, “I can take care of myself later, now I have to take care of Sara”). Eventually I said I needed time to think about it all, and that I would like Sara to be kept as clean and comfortable as possible. Then I went out to see my girl, my breath of southerly wind, as the Bedouin saying goes. And I wept into the soft coat of her neck. I tipped the whole bag of goodies into her feed bin, saying, “There you are, have the lot my love.”

Apart from her, admittedly very bad, sinus infection, Sara was in great health. A shining coat, good muscle, and a work ethic second to none. All she wanted to do was to get back to her pals. I eventually left her and wept all the way home. Then the fighter in me came to the fore, which is just as well, because I have a horse who I knew was up for duking it out with fate and a poor prognosis. My husband said to me, “You’re the research queen, it’s what you do for your books – do it for Sara now.” I brought her home to her ranch the next day, hit the ‘phones and almost broke Google.

Cutting a long story short, since that time Sara has been seen by everyone from a veterinarian who is also an expert in Chinese Traditional Veterinary Medicine, to a Reiki Master. And I spoke to her regular vet, who said to me, “You’re doing the right thing – do your homework, then give Sara your very best shot at a cure.” So, three weeks ago Sara was admitted to one of the best equine hospitals in the country, Alamo Pintado, set in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. There they saw a few things on the x-rays that had been missed – like an infected tooth with a spur right into her sinuses. Following an extraction she’s on the mend, dancing on the spot to be back to work. Any optimism must be cautious, because a horse’s head is almost all sinus, and infections are notoriously hard to fix. But they have some cutting edge therapies there, including a hyperbaric oxygen chamber – oxygen kills infections like Sara’s. It’s an amazing facility and I know she’s in the best place for her best shot at a future. And I want her to have a future more than anything else.

Amid all of this activity, I’ve started my almost three-month book tour, kicking off with an event at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California on August 22nd, which was the publication date for MESSENGER OF TRUTH, my fourth novel. Time rolls around – it seems like only yesterday that MAISIE DOBBS was published. And I still feel so fortunate, so lucky to have been published – not only because there are thousands upon thousands of great writers out there who are still waiting to be published, but because publishing a book really does represent a leap of faith by the publisher – that an investment in a book and its author will at least break even, that the booksellers will like it and choose to stock it, and that the readers will pick it up – especially at a time when there are so many things upon which to spend discretionary income (and for most people, there’s even less of that nowadays).

So I have much to thank the universe for, don’t I? People came out of the woodwork to help me with Sara, pointing me in the right direction, providing special therapies, driving her back and forth to the hospital for me. And here I am with my fourth novel, when I am still getting over the surprise of actually publishing my first.

I’ll be criss-crossing the country in the coming weeks, so if you are able to come to one of the bookstores where I’ll be speaking, I would love to see you there. Go to the following link for details:

And my two obsessions? As if you didn't know - writing and horses.
Have a lovely weekend.


  1. Jackie, so glad to hear that Sara is on the mend. While I was sailing in Maine I met a guy who owns a horse ranch outside of L.A. He teaches riding and has supplied horses to Hollywood for many years. I told him about Sara's illness and the vet's prognosis. He didn't at all agree that it was hopeless and strongly suggested that you get a second opinion. So glad you did!

    As for your gratitude to the cosmos, I feel the same way. Have a great time on your book tour!

  2. Wonderful news about Sara!!! I hope your tour goes magnificently, all around.

  3. from Jacqueline

    Thanks so much, both of you. Yes, I went for the second opinions immediately, from two eminent equine veterinary surgeons, and of course had to wait for them to view the x-rays and look over the notes. There was no way that I was going to let go of my girl without a good old fight. She's been a star all through this, and I cannot wait until she's home and we can begin working together again. And she'll never go back to that first hospital again, that's for sure!

  4. Good for you! I always hate to hear that anyone has euthanised a beloved animal simply because a single vet believes it should be done.

    My way of thinking is, as long as the animal wants to live, they deserve to live. When life becomes a chore for them, then it is time to make that awful decision.

  5. Wonderful news, about both Sara and the fourth book, Jackie.

    I wish you many more years with her, and lots more books to come.


  6. So pleased Sara is doing well! Do you have paypal? Can we help with the bills?

  7. from Jacqueline

    Oh, Katherine, how lovely. The bills will no doubt be huge and breathtaking, but I do have insurance to cover some of it (I hope - it seems to be the job of insurance companies to weasel out of writing checks!). All expenditure on anything else in life is currently on hold pending Sara's full recovery. The truth is that I have refused to think about the money angle, having considered that there will be plenty of time to do that when she's well again.

    I have a day off from the book tour today, and am off to see Sara this morning. I can't wait!

    Again, thank you all for your lovely messages - Sara should get well simply on the good vibes coming her way.

  8. I'll be sending good energy and prayers towards Sara's recovery. I think it's a wonderful thing you did for her, giving her a second chance.

    Good job!

    And good luck on your book tour. How exciting!

  9. Very glad to hear your Sara is fighting hard to get better. And, sorry to have missed your appearance the day your new book came out on August 22. I was across the San Francisco Bay that day on a simple trip to the vet for a rabies shot for my dog. A ten minute trip turned into 2 hours when he snapped a bone in two as someone shut a door on his foot at the vets. Got referred to an outstanding vet hospital nearby for "companion" animals. They have handouts to make you ignore costs with such quotes as this from San Francisco de Assisi himself, "Not to hurt our humble breathren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission - to be of service to them wherever they require it." Very glad you found people to care for your Sara who embody that thought while you have to be away on your book tour.