Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Allergic to Cottonseed Oil

It's cheap, and therefore it's in everything, even some sodas.

   When Daniel was fairly young, he was diagnosed with multiple food allergies. I felt particular gypped by this as I had done everything right, including breast fed, and introduced solid foods relatively late, as this is felt to be a positive strategy in helping to avoid food allergies in childhood.   I'm sure that Daniel, at least at times, felt more gypped by the food allergies than I did.  I still remember clearly his being allergy tested at five, and screaming his head off as the testing lasted longer than it should have, and for part of it he was loaded into a papoose and secured with giant velcro bands to keep him still.  How ironic that he dies of a supposed arrhythmia seven years later, but he survived and recovered from the trauma of that day's allergy testing, which likely took a few years off the life of my heart as well.
                  Despite having multiple types of food allergies, the one with which we had the most challenges was cottonseed oil. People with cottonseed oil may be allergic to the protein structure of the oil itself.  Those with a cottonseed allergy might also be allergic to walnuts or other tree nuts.  Daniel was also allergic to peanuts.  Even while homeschooling, and sidestepping the available foods, treats and parties they would have had at school,  it was difficult to exclude this from his diet, especially since it seemed to be in more and more foods and medicines.  Even when buying powdered mashed potatoes for a camping trip, in teeny writing, cottonseed oil was included.  The Little Debbie cakes that Daniel so wanted to have, and are a childhood rite of passage for so many, contained cottonseed oil.  It was in salad dressings, any prepared food, any baked goods you don't make yourself, cereals, and breads. It's also in an abundance of chips and popcorn brands. It was almost always in the generic or store brands. It also changed seasonally, so a brand that did not have it last year, might have it this Spring, when they found it was the cheapest oil to use in a particular season.
                  Daniel was lucky in that his reactions were primarily mild asthmatic symptoms with some bronchospasm,  tachycardia as his own body released adrenaline with which to deal with the allergen, and occasionally gastrointestinal symptoms.  His skin was clear, and for this, we were grateful.  Severe hypotension and death can occur in those who ingest cottonseed oil when allergic to it.
                 Originally, food processors used cottonseed oil because it was available in abundance, it was lower in cholesterol than other oils and therefore could be healthier for most Americans, and because it was cheaper. It is also high in some of the Omega fatty acids, which makes it seem, on the surface, a good idea. Many other countries will not use it for food sources. However, over time, more and more people in the US are being allergy tested and are being found to be cottonseed oil allergic.  This problem is compounded by the fact that even a drop of it can cause major difficulties for some allergic persons, and although it must be listed on a label if it is added to a food, it may not be listed if it simply was used as the cooking oil in something.  Even the items you think are without cottonseed, may actually have some in it.
                 From age five and on to ten and twelve the allergist felt that Daniel may have outgrown some of the allergies, although we did not know for certain, as we weren't fond of the idea of repeating allergy testing. We simply avoided the foods for which we believed he was allergic.  He simply didn't wish to add them gradually into his diet, at a rate of one every six weeks, and so we didn't.
                  Daniel's history of food allergy is one reason that when Daniel collapsed and stopped breathing, that as I did CPR I had someone bring me epinephrine, thinking that it was possible that this had been an anaphylactic reactiion.  In all, I delivered two doses of epinephrine that day.  (An epi-pen would do the same thing, but as a nurse, our physicians have issued me the medications and syringes.) The intensive care unit helicopter was on its way.   Neither dose made any difference.
                  On autopsy, labs were drawn to see whether Daniel had elevations in bloodwork which indicated that he had died from anaphylaxis.  He hadn't.   He did not die of a food allergy related issue.
However, today I read that cottonseed oil contains something called gossypol, and that gossypol can drop the potassium level of many people.  Of course, a low potassium level can cause arrhythmia, and some arrhythmias can lead to arrhythmias that are incompatible with life.  It is surmised that Daniel probably died of a rapid onset sudden heart rhythm disturbance, also known as an arrhythmia. 
                 In November it will be five years since the day that the day after Thanksgiving, Daniel ate a quick breakfast and encouraged us to get up and go Christmas shopping.  He died that morning.  That shopping trip was not to be. The rest of his life was not to be.   My setting this aside, is not to be.
                 The truly sad thing is not just that Daniel's life ended at 12 1/2, but that while he was here, he was so heavily restricted from so many foods, and also a number of experiences he might have had.  This was indeed one of the reasons, we were never able to take a vacation, and leave our own kitchen while he was here on Earth.   We miss Daniel more than I can possibly convey in simple words. My heart remains broken.

Information on Cottonseed Allergy:





Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Does Cardiac Arrest, By Itself, Hurt ?

A Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  This is the only picture of this I could find.  Most people who experience a sudden cardiac arrest due to arrhythmic means fall forward and are therefore found face down.  (Picture www.SCA.org )

    Over the last four and a half years, when I have encountered parents who lost a child to a sudden heart rhythm disturbance, they have often asked, "Do you think it hurt when our son (or daughter) experienced a cardiac arrest" (due to a rhythm disturbance) ?    Physicians tell us no, and I am inclined to agree.   Some years ago, I was the charge nurse of an ICU step down unit. I was not only in charge of the unit between 3pm-11pm,  had my own patients also, but I was certified and responsible to treat arrhythmias using standing orders, on the adjacent unit, which was a cardiac telemetry unit.  One afternoon, after taking report, and checking that all the intravenous admixtures I needed for my own patients were present and accounted for, I made rounds on my own few patients.  Afterward, it was my job to make rounds on each of the telemetry patients on the adjacent unit which I could conceivably treat during the next eight hours. There were about fifteen of them. I went room to room with my clipboard making note of the current rhythm of each patient and talking to each for a short time.   Everyone was stable and it was shaping up to be a warm but pleasant night.  Then I went in to see a very pleasant older, lucid woman, and we spoke for a moment, and while I was there, she was speaking, and in mid-sentence, she fell into asystole.  She sat in cardiac arrest in mid sentence !   Almost instinctively I took my right hand and tapped her midsternally. (This is known as a pre-cordial thump)    Her heart rhythm returned instantly and she completed her sentence !    She had no recollection of her brief cardiac arrest, although our telemetry unit had automatically printed out a rhythm strip for documentation as it had been preset to do.  I calmly explained what had happened and told her that I would be notifying her doctor, and that likely she would be moved from that unit, onto mine.   She had no recollection of it. She had no pain, no discomfort, and was simply "absent from her body" for a very short time.   Later that night her cardiologist did a minimally invasive procedure which inserted a pacemaker.   The following day she was back in her original room on the telemetry unit and she was doing just fine. She was later discharged to home, and according to her cardiologist, did well afterward.
                   I don't expect that those who experience a simple cardiac arrest experience any pain.  What happens afterward, of course is the purview of theologians, and others in terms of the cognitive and spiritual experiences..   I have resuscitated enough people who have described a beautiful and very real world beyond here, so I am in fact, well satisfied of its existence.  After all, scripture tells us inasmuch "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."
                I also recall as the mother of a child I lost before my eyes presumably due to a sudden arrhythmic death despite CPR and epinephrine injection, wondering the same thing.  Did my dear boy suffer ? Did he know I was trying to help him ?   Since he never regained consciousness during CPR by me, by the sheriff, or the use of  the AED and the helicopter emergency crew, he is likely never to have experienced what happened from the perspective of  his earthly body.

II Corinthians 5:6-8
"Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body (the earthly body), we are absent from the Lord (we need the heavenly body to be with him): For we walk by faith, not by sight: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body (the earthly body), and to be present with the Lord."

      So, although there may be discomfort before someone experiences a cardiac arrest, those who spontaneously fall into one, like Daniel, and like many children and teens with Long QT,  Short QT. and similar syndromes may not have any discomfort whatsoever.  They simply departed their bodies.

       I hope this is a comfort to those of you who not only have to deal with the stark reality of your child having departed Earth.  At least you know that the likelihood was that there was no discomfort for your child associated with the arrhythmic event itself.

       May God bless you and may you feel Him close to you during this difficult time.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Let's Quantify for a Moment, How Many Young People Have Died


  Middle school students and high school students are not the only people who die during sporting events due to arrhythmic complications of Long or Short QT syndrome.    In this way, Daniel has joined a rather elite club, but one that no one's mother would wish him to be considered a part.   Keeley Dorsey, a 19 year of running back for the University of Florida, died in 2007 from an arrhythmia, the result of Long QT Syndrome.    Marcellis Williamson, 22,  a defensive lineman for Ohio University, died in 2011 of what was said to be a heart attack.  Many young adults don't have heart attacks, but they die of an arrhythmic sudden death.  In 1980, Robert Vorhies died at Virginia Tech during a "punishment drill" which was likely to have caused a fluid and electrolyte imbalance and arrhythmic sudden death.    Defensive tackle, Fred Thompson, died at 19 at Oregon State, of cardiac arrhythmia in 2011.   Chris Cooper, a lineman at the University of New Mexico, died at age 19, in 1990, of a cardiac arrest during a workout.  In 2001, DeVaughn Darling, age 19, a linebacker at Florida State University died of a cardiac arrhythmia which may have been complicated by sickle cell anemia.  Garrett Uekman was a 19 year old tight end at the University of Arkansas who died of a cardiac arrest.   Michael Brown was 24 years old when he died of an unspecified heart condition during practice at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1989. Could this also have been an arrhythmic death ?     Many, many others have died playing amateur and professional soccer, and other demanding sports.  The records are just as full of such deaths in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, yet most of us have never heard of such deaths.
              Despite the fact that I was a critical care RN before teaching college medical courses, I knew that a sudden arrhythmia could cause death.  I knew that a beat in the wrong place of the cardiac cycle (known as r on t phenomenon) could cause arrhythmia and death.  I was taught that these were one in a million cases and exceedingly rare.  I was not only not prepared for my youngest son to collapse and die one Black Friday, when nothing seemed wrong in the time leading up to the event.  I wasn't prepared for my daughter's opthalmologist's nurse to have the same thing happen to her own healthy late teen-aged healthy daughter.  I was not prepared for my own doctor's sister in law to succumb to the same issue with no prior history.  I was not prepared for another prof. of nursing to lose a daughter on the track field to arrhythmia.  I was not prepared for a girl two counties over to also arrest due to arrhythmia.   Why is this issue and deaths from the same not quantified in a regional or national database ?  Why are no true tallies being kept ? Why is this not of public health concern ?  In Daniel's case, our local authorities did not even wish to pay for an autopsy, and so his cause of death might always have been simple speculation, and therefore excluded from any database of cardiac arrhythmias.  It was only because we initially agreed to pay for the autopsy at another facility entirely, that we even have the results of an autopsy.   How many people who could not afford one, have had their child's death excluded from the numbers of sudden cardiac arrhythmic death statistics ?
                 An awful lot of kids who play sports have dropped dead due to arrhythmias.  A lot of kids who don't play sports regularly have too.  When is it time to look at these numbers from a public health standpoint ?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

We Lament a Senseless Loss of Life

Jett Higham

                        Jett Higham was born in Lenox Hill Hospital eighteen years ago..    Education and creativity are valued in his home as both his parents are educators.   Jett attended some very good private schools in Brooklyn.  Most recently Jett was attending the Lower Manhattan Arts Academy.  He needed only one more course for graduation.    Jett's family divides their time between New York and Richmond as Jett's mother is both a Broadway costume designer and a professor of Theatre at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond.
                   Both intelligent and creative, Jett explored a number of areas which caught his interest.  He was an excellent student, a fine photographer, and a lacrosse player, all at only 18. From Jett's internet imprint, he appeared to be a good gamer, as well.
                       Jett had only been in the family's Jackson Ward home for six days when he learned that he could complete his one remaining course for graduation in Richmond.  It would have been interesting to see which college he would have chosen to attend.   On Tuesday, July 2nd, the family ate a late dinner together and then Jett went out walking to get some candy and some soda.  He had four dollars with him. He was targeted by three young black men, and in what police characterize as a robbery gone wrong. He had only been gone from his house for five minutes when he was robbed and when he failed to relinquish his phone and his four dollars quickly enough, he was shot.  He died at the scene.  His parents were notified the next morning, as his parents spent the night texting him to no avail.    How ironic to have lived eighteen years in New York and to have navigated the hazards there, only to pass suddenly within a week of moving to Richmond.   No account of this story attributes his shooting to gang activity.   Jett died in an alley on Marshall St. not far from the First Friday Art Walk that my oldest kids were required to attend, when they attended Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts.  The area surrounding Virginia Commonwealth University is a "gun free zone" as prescribed by Virginia State Law.
                     Shortly thereafter, three arrests were made. Two adults and a juvenile are being held in connection with this murder.
                     Jett was a striking looking young man of six foot three, and the only things we may have left of him now, are the films and television clips in which Jett was a frequent extra.  Like most eighteens, he had big dreams. He thought about following his mother into the creative clothing line, and perhaps being a clothing designer.  However, there was no telling what this creative, engaging and loved young man would have brought to this world in the long term.

                    When my two eldest kids were at VCU, the young man who shared a neighboring art studio with one of my kids was shot to death one night also in a botched robbery in Monroe Park near the tennis courts.. Tyler Binstead hailed from the Shenendoah Valley. We often think of his twin brother and of his family, and certainly of Tyler's girlfriend who witnessed the robbery that night,  and Tyler's killing also.       Jonny Dorey, a VCU exchange student from the British Isles region island of Guernsey disappeared in March of 2010, never to be heard from again.  He has never been found and  his bicycle has never  been located.  Some theorize that he was robbed in the vicinity of Rockett's Landing.

                      As the parent of a child who died suddenly of non-violent means, I can only imagine the bewilderment and sorrow of Jett's father, his mother, and his sister.   Jett also has relatives who live in Australia.  Their remaining time on Earth will be spent without seeing the great heights this promising young man could have reached.   Of the people we really need on Earth to help to solve all of our complex problems here, Jett was so clearly one of those..  Tonight our thoughts and our prayers are with them.  The loss of a parent takes one's past. The loss of a spouse takes one's present, but a loss of a child, steals the future.
                   We lament the loss of this young man, and we pray for his family and friends for whom the journey of loss has just begun.

Jett Higham sculpting

Jett's family, his father, sister Cosima, and mother on the right.  (Photo: The Richmond Times Dispatch)



About Jett:



About Tyler Binstead:



For those who would like to sign the online guest book for Jett's family with your condolences:

Jett Higham's Legacy Guest Book

This is a statement from Jett's mother:

“We are eternally grateful to Graham Moomaw of the Richmond Times-Dispatch for coming to our home to interview us about who our son really was in this world. Our anguish at this senseless act was compounded by reading reports of “Man Found Dead in Downtown Richmond Alley”. I wrote an email to put a face on our child, who was not yet a man but a vibrant, sometime knuckle headed, a boy of 18, 6’3 and one of the most gorgeous young black men on the planet, not just another nameless, faceless young black male gunned down by other young black males. I am glad that we were able to let everyone know that he was loved and a son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend. Every child lost, whatever the circumstances and who they are, has the same. The short thrift the media gives the countless, seemly endless, deaths of young black males and woman is abominable. That we have been able have our son’s story told is of some comfort to us. I thank every who has so kindly and loving supported us in our grief and letting us vent on FB. We will survive for the only way we can honor our son is to keep living. Your support and outpourings of love is a tremendous help. Love your families and I’d appreciate it if your keep us in your prayers. We have a long road ahead. "

This is a tribute to Jett, by his sister Cosima:

         And of course, Jett's mother, his father, his sister and their extended family are in our prayers, most especially this year, and forever after.

Another wonderful tribute to Jett

"Remember Me" Mark Schultz with background vocals by Ginny Owens

This is a link to a scholarship program in Jett's memory, created by his family.

Jett and his mom

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Today the Past Shone Brightly

This is a scene I remember well.

    Today, I had occasion to spend some time at the Amtrak Train Station in Charlottesville, Virginia.   When we first moved to this area, this was simply a very small Amtrak station befitting a town in the South.  In point of fact, this is a train station not far from the University of Virginia, and the highly rated University of Virginia Medical Center.  Soon after, townhomes began to be constructed within view of the train, parking became tight, and boutiques and specialty restaurants appeared.   My father who lived in another city used to come to the station every so often, and I would pick him up and bring him to our home for a few days.  It was funny that Dad had traveled all over the world all of his life, and he always avoided flying. He much preferred trains. When he visited us via train, he never stayed all that long, but all the kids and I have very special cherished memories of these visits.  I remember one Summer day waiting at the train station while Dad's train was extremely delayed.  We were thrilled when he arrived and whisked him home.  That was the visit in which we took Dad to our favorite Asian restaurant in Charlottesville.   Daniel loved Chinese food, and I remember my husband and I , my father and all the kids eating in silence because the food was so good.  We all talked late into the might afterward.   He enjoyed how we had created our first farm.  He loved the alpacas, and I think he was proud of the way we take such good care of our dogs, just as he always did.
                         I picked up and returned Dad to the train station a number of times there, and the memories for the most part are happy ones.  I remember clearly my Dad's last visit to us.  My husband and I that final time dropped him off at the bus station nearby the train station.  That last visit there was a particular reason he wished to avoid the train.  When the bus finally sped away, I cried all the way home with my husband driving.  I knew somehow that this would be the last time I would ever see my Dad the way I have always remembered him.  Oh, how I am thankful that all the kids got to know him on those visits.   There was one more time when my Dad asked to come, but we asked him to delay that visit as we were building a new farm elsewhere and the guest room was not quite ready.  We never did get the chance to have that final visit at our home. I suppose if you really love someone, the time you have with them here on Earth just never seems enough.

In the beginning of our time here, the station was sparse and quiet, not at all the bustling place it became for my father's visits.

                      With my father having passed and Daniel gone now too I can't help but feel sometimes, in those melancholy moments, that the best parts of my life are over also.  I try to live in the present and spend each day wisely and in a manner that would please God and  Dad and Daniel also.  This is not easy because the days of the past shine so brightly that the days of the present cannot help but pale in comparison.  It's simply not the fault of the days of the present.
                     Today in the rain as I walked along the train station with the son we adopted long after the passings of Dad and Daniel, I could not help but feel sad.  Some of the people from my life in the present will never know some of the people I love most during this time on Earth. As I headed back to the car, I heard  both Dad and Daniel in the wind.

Blue Train                                Linda Ronstadt  (with additional vocals:  Emmylou Harris)

This is the extended version of a song which should always have had more recognition.


I was able to locate the original from Scotland, but the embed feature has been disabled.
You can listen to the haunting original at:


performed by:  Maura O' Connell,  with James Grant and Nanci Griffith.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Modern Day Miracles

A shetland pony


   Miracles do occasionally happy in the present day.  I have been a witness to many of them over my lifetime myself.    Some are of the dramatic variety. A person is admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and the trauma surgeon has told the family that the patient has only a five percent chance of survival, but a week later, the person is sitting up, complaining about all night lighting in the ICU and is transferred to a regular hospital floor a week later. He will not only survive, but will recover much more rapidly than was anticipated.  Most miracles in our lives are much smaller less dramatic events, but they are there, if we pay attention, nonetheless.  I think some of them simply occur because God is telling us that our lives are not meaningless and that He does care about our challenges and sorrows.  Sometimes, there are miracles which confirm our direction in our lives.
                 This is a small miracle I have chosen to tell you about here.  When Daniel was four and five and for a few years after that, our entire family used to travel quite a distance to attend the annual "Celtic Festival".   Both my husband and I have some Scottish, English and some Irish ancestry, and we thought this would be an excellent way for our children, especially as homeschoolers to learn something of this ancestry. It was an expensive trip for a family of six.  Parking, entry fees, and then additional charges to eat, and do some of the additional activities were large for six, but we would budget for this well in advance.  The entire family would dress in Scottish gear, including all of boys in kilts.   We would watch the Irish dancing, sword demonstrations, musical performances by Celtic artists etc.  We would eat fish and chips and homemade lemonade.  We would shop for British groceries and sweets and visit with friends who had stalls there.   It was during one of these days that Daniel and Matthew had a chance, in kilts to ride some ponies.  I remember well the chocolate colored young Shetland who would rather have been grazing, but who begrudgingly carried Daniel in his kilt and a turtleneck down the length of a field while being led by a teen girl with a giant rope.  I remember the wind blowing on that November day, blowing both the mane on the horse, and Daniel's hair as well.    Matthew followed on a taller horse, also being led in similar fashion.  We took photographs and these became special memories to me.
                 Over time, the Celtic Festival changed locations and became even more expensive. The younger boys also didn't want to dress us in kilts again and there came many other interests.  Eventually, our older kids went together when they got driver's licenses, but my husband and I, and Matthew and Daniel never went again.
                Of course, as you know, this November, Daniel will have been gone from the Earth five years.  He came, enjoyed his time on Earth and his studies, and then passed at 12 1/2.  There were many things I wish he'd stayed longer to do.  I am therefore very grateful for the things he did have a chance to do, and for the pictures that help us remember them.
               A couple of months ago, I noticed that local papers, Craigslist,  Freecycle, and other sources have an abundance of really wonderful horses available for relatively low prices.  Many people who like horses take on a greater number than they can afford, or find over time that between feed, hay, veterinary care, shelter, farrier care, boarding if you don't have room at home or are zoned for such, becomes expensive.  Consequently, there are Freisians, Thoroughbreds, Clydesdales, Arabians, miniature horses, Welsh ponies, and Shetland ponies all for sale.  I have always wanted a horse here on the farm and so I read them carefully.  I decided to buy a miniature horse who needed a home, in part because I was concerned I would be injured as my accomplished horsemen paternal family were, and also because I thought a mini would be a great place for me to learn.   I saw an ad without a picture for a miniature horse being sold by a woman who does horse rescue.   I went to see the horse right away.   I liked this beautifully proportioned bay gelding very much despite the fact that he could use some training and some handling. His original owner had become ill and was unable to care for him. Consequently, he was skittish and quick to spook and needed a lot of handling.  It also took me no time to see how bonded he was to another horse who was housed with him.  The horse housed with him was a chocolate Shetland pony who was muscular and stocky and had a long tuft of fetlock hair which curled.  He looked familiar.  I made no promises that first visit and told the owner I would need to go home to discuss the purchase with my husband.
              It took me several days to convince my husband who didn't remember telling me that I could get a horse if I did 100% of its care. During this time I also felt guilty about removing the miniature horse from his friend the Shetland, to whom he was bonded.   Animals are never happy on a farm being the only one of their species.  When I spoke to the woman again, I asked her how much she would charge for both the miniature and the Shetland.  She told me that the Shetland would be more money as he'd had a career giving rides to children at birthday parties, bank openings, and festivals etc.  Finally, she settled on a price, I paid it, and she delivered "the boys" to the farm.
            The first few weeks were challenging as I learned to muck stalls, and led them out to graze.  We had an equine veterinarian out a couple of times.  He taught me how to identify landmarks in order to do all the immunizations myself in future.  The vet determined the age of both horses based on their teeth.  The sweet miniature bay gelding is about seven, and the Shetland gelding is about nineteen.  Not long after, the farrier came, and I could see that both horses enjoyed having their hooves trimmed and were very cooperative.
            Within several weeks both horses were very gentle, easily cared for, loving. and since I feed them, are thrilled to see me, each time I make my way to the stables.  They are indeed bonded and play with one another in the corral.  They play a version of what looks a good deal like tag.
             This week, with much of the horse chores being done and the hot weather here, I have worked on some indoor chores.  I wanted to clear some space downstairs so that I could better access some of the many albums of pictures of the kids when they were younger.  Thank Heaven, I thought, that we took so many pictures of Daniel when we did things.  They are so important especially since he has passed.  We are lucky that we have so much to remember, and so many pictures also.  I decided to look through some of the photograph albums from about 2000.    There was Daniel in a turtleneck and kilt as a boy of four riding a horse that looked just like my nineteen year old Shetland pony !    It can't be, I thought.  I studied the pictures carefully.  It did look just like our Shetland, but his mane and tail were slightly lighter in color than the horse I have now.  It can't be, I thought.
             This morning I was looking up something unrelated with regard to horse care and I came upon some information I did not know prior.  Apparently, many times, chocolate colored horses, particularly Shetlands have manes and tails which darken as they age.  My Shetland is nineteen.  If he were the horse that Daniel is riding then he would have been about five years old at the time.  I now remember commenting to the young woman who told us about the horses as Matt and Daniel rode, that Daniel was the same age as his horse.
            I truly believe that the chocolate Shetland pony that Daniel rode at the Celtic festival in 2000, is indeed the Shetland pony that we quite accidentally acquired this year !    What are the chances that we accidentally purchased simply as a companion to another horse, the horse that Daniel rode ?   What are the chances that this horse would be made available to us when he simply needed a home now ?  So many things had to line up perfectly in order for this to have happened.
            Perhaps placing the horse Daniel rode is God's way of ensuring this older Shetland gets excellent care as he ages.  Perhaps this is God's way of telling us that He and Daniel have not forgotten all the incredible times we spent together.  Perhaps this little miracle is Daniel's way of saying hello, and that he knows of things that happen here on Earth, and on the farm.
            Both horses are happy and healthy, and are a great joy to me, whether I have met the older of the two before, or not.

Update:  About six weeks after getting these first two ponies, we rescued another two horses who are true miniature horses.  Thus far, they are all getting along nicely and seem to appreciate being in a herd of smaller horses.