The long goodbye…

A Blackie update
We had an appointment scheduled for Blackie to be euthanized on Friday the 2nd but cancelled it when she started eating Temptations cat treats. It was a hard call at the time because cat treats aren’t exactly sustainable but she seemed a bit perkier and I wondered if it was a step towards eating. I went out on Saturday to look for something more substantial for her to eat. I’d had a suggestion of Temptations cat food but Pet Valu didn’t have them. What they did have were oh my god expensive BFF pouches, all tuna with another meat added. The cashier assured me the pouches contained tiny morsels of meat, small enough to be lapped up, and she was right. Blackie lapped up about half a pouch then sprawled out on my bed to nap. That was the first time in a week that she’d sprawled, until then she’d stayed crouching in a loaf shape, paws tucked underneath her. And, this morning, when it was time for her morning pouch of food, Blackie marched proudly ahead of all the other kitties, her tail high in the air. She’s not eating an awful lot right now but she’s content and comfortable and that’s what matters.
An update on Blackie
She didn’t eat at all yesterday or this morning so I went to the vet to see what our options are. I got a pill that increases appetite and a can of wet cat food that’s supposed to encourage cats to eat. We also talked about euthanasia, which is $212 and way out of our budget. Apparently the Humane Society does compassionate euthanasia so, if it comes to that, I have a place to call.
I went to Pet Valu after that and picked up cat milk as a treat. I got a tin of wet cat food too called Havana BBQ. Apparently it was just chopped tuna, which is a relief. I don’t think any of our cats need anything barbecued.
The pill went down on the first try and Blackie was very unimpressed with me. I waited two hours, like I’d been told, then got her some of the mushy vet food while Angel got the tin of BBQ. Angel immediately glommed onto the mushy food, which Blackie had sniffed then turned away so I switched plates. Blackie immediately dove in and started eating. I was so excited! But then she stopped after about four bites and went to the bathroom door to be let out. I feed them in the bathroom so the hordes don’t overwhelm them.
So we’re still waiting and seeing. Blackie’s still content to rest. She went onto our balcony today and napped on the bench (despite the cold). She’s wanders around the apartment on occasion and loves being petted. But I’ve got a sinking feeling the end is near. She just can’t go without food for that long.
I’ll update more as things happen.
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It was October 2007. I’d taken two weeks off work so I could go to my sister Sue’s wedding and attend my grandfather’s memorial service and interment. All the family came from around the world. We were surrounded by family for two weeks as we viewed waterfalls, walked on the suspension bridge, and just chatted.

I’d already known something was up before our trip. Our cat Pumpkin was six years old and the internet sites claimed he was senior. I clung to that as an answer to what was wrong. He’d wet outside the litter box a few times. Which was something that was fixed by buying him a litter box with a low entrance. And he just seemed off kilter. Then we came home from our vacation and discovered Pumpkin, who had earned the nickname Plumpkin, was nothing but skin and bones. He’d been his usual weight when we left and was skin and bones when we got home. We took a picture right before we left and another when we got home and he didn’t even look like the same cat. I’d had no idea cats could lose weight that fast. The girl who’d been watching the cats was so upset. I assured her it had nothing to do with her and it hadn’t.

We took Pumpkin to the vet, who instantly diagnosed him with fatty liver disease. He could be admitted and tube and IV fed until he gained enough weight but that was expensive and failed more than it succeeded.

I was waiting at the bus stop across the street from work when my cell phone rang. It was the vet office with bad news. The test results showed cancer, likely liver cancer, and there was nothing they could do, he was too far gone. We took him in to get euthanized the next day. We weren’t supposed to go on the bus without a carrier but the driver took one look at our emaciated cat and our tear streaked faces and let us on board without a word.

A month later we all wanted a new cat. Our searching led us to Pet Smart’s adoption centre. I’d told the woman that we were looking for an older cat and she showed us a couple, hiding at the back of their cages. Then Kait cried out, “Look at this cat!”

The lady’s first response was, “That’s not an older cat, those are kittens” and then she saw which kitten it was and her tone changed.

“Oh you want one of our black kitties,” she exclaimed. “Let me get the catch open.”

She nearly tripped herself in her haste to get over there. Then she opened the cage and Blackie fell into our hearts.

Blackie is our snuggler and the licker of noses. When she wanted food she’d march down the hall, turning regularly to make sure I was still following and giving a scolding meow if I wasn’t following quickly enough for her tastes.

Anyone who has ever worn black knows it can hide a multitude of “sins”, plus she still has her round little belly that sways as she walks. It wasn’t until I ran my hand down her back that I realized how much weight she’d lost. She’s a head scratching cat, not a cat that wants long, stroking pets. I have no real idea of how long she’s been losing weight. I’m leaning towards very quickly though. And, if that wasn’t enough, she started sneezing.

BlackieColin and I took her to the vet last week where she got weighed and checked out. She had a cold and the beginnings of fatty liver syndrome. The vet could do more tests but, since she’s 11, it would cost $260 for a senior’s bloodwork… on top of the check up fees. That was about $260 more than we had. So we got antibiotics and a brief mention of euthanizing. The antibiotics are done but the wheeze continues. Thankfully it’s in her nose and not her lungs. Her nose means a cold, while her lungs are so much more serious. But this cold is kicking her butt.

She’s currently curled up on my bed and she looks peculiar lying there, like half of her is missing. Which it is, she’s gone from 20lbs down to nine. She’s so tiny now, with bird thin bones. I can even feel her collar bones.

One of my Facebook friends suggested heating her food, which I tried with her leftovers last night. I was so hopeful that this would be the solution she needed. I heated her wet cat food this morning in hopes she’d scarf it down again. She followed me to the bathroom then refused to eat. She threw up green foamy bile instead, which, according to Google means her tummy is empty.

I’m hoping she’ll live longer. Long enough to lie in the sunshine on our balcony, while the air wafts delightful smells around her nose. Long enough to gain back some weight, enough to cover her collar bones and spine. Long enough to, once again, lead the parade to the food bowls. But I’m realistic enough to know that’s likely not going to happen.

We’ve had her for ten and a half years so far and that’s not nearly long enough. She’ll be sorely missed when she’s gone. And, as for now, I plan on making the remainder of her life warm, safe, and comfortable.

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How do you let go?

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I settled down for bed tonight with an Ativan, dim lights, and some quiet surfing on Facebook until I was drowsy. Then I snuggled into bed with BunBun, one of the kittens, and some quiet music; hoping this time I’d drift off peacefully. It’s been a busy day filled with grocery shopping, swimming, taking the kittens for a walk, writing, and phone calls… by all rights I should be tired. My eyes fluttered shut and I thought, “L never found out about the kittens and now he’ll never know. I won’t ever be able to tell him how sweet Jeremy is with Lara… how Smudge tries to nurse off my stuffed animals as she goes to sleep.”

No one ever taught me how to go on living around the empty space in my heart. No one ever explained how to encourage it to close. There’s surgery for physical holes, what do you do for the emotional ones?

L and I talked every day… all day… for years. Every time messenger chimes, I think it’s him. We talked about everything from meals to philosophy to his hopes and fears about transitioning to my hopes and fears about writing. And we weren’t scared to get downright weird with each other. We were each other’s soul dragons… and then we weren’t. And it hurts so much.

Dear L,

It’s been almost two months since we talked. It seems like almost a lifetime. I’ve bought new (to us) living room furniture and two adorable kittens. You’d love the kittens. Not so much the furniture but, then again, they aren’t really my style either. They are comfy though.

I’ve worked on my novel, scrapbooked, camped, and organized a trip to Niagara Falls for Jeremy and myself. Just 18 more days until we leave. It’s a trip you would love, complete with a tour behind the falls and a trip to a butterfly conservatory. I remember how you talked about your trip to Ontario. If we were still talking, I’d buy you a surprise from the Hershey’s chocolate store. I still have stamps left over for all the cards I knew I’d write to you.

Jeremy’s furious with you but they’re the one who got to see the aftermath of us breaking up and me being blocked. I don’t know what they did with the stuffed cat you gave me. I’m pretty sure they simply hid it but I haven’t asked. They’ve changed pronouns too, which makes a kind of sense since they were your pronouns first. You were the first man they’d trusted in a long time so I guess their anger is understandable. I know you were happy when they put you down as stepfather on Facebook. It was a huge step for them. You were mad at me in June. Did you think of them? I guess they were probably just collateral damage in a war none of us wanted.

It’s so hot these days here. You’d hate it. Forty degrees with the humidex and 30 degrees before that. It’s humid enough that I was carrying cold drinks home in a plastic bag and condensation was forming on the outside of the bag to drip on the ground. Kind of like my own personal rain cloud but smaller and less pretty. Everything feels sticky and uncomfortable. I have to peel myself off chairs and I’m pretty sure falling outside on the pavement would result in 3rd degree burns.

Jeremy’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which explains their rages and depressions. Their medication is helping so much. Jeremy bought me the laptop I’m typing on and we’ve both applied for subsidized one bedroom apartments. It will take a few years before we each move and they’re hoping we move into the same building so we can hang out regularly. They talk about it every day.

I don’t know how you could promise to love me forever and change your mind. I don’t know how you could promise to be my friend then block me for asking for the friendship back. I guess I’ll never know and that’s one of the hard things. There’s no closure, no way to say goodbye.

I wish our friendship could have gone on forever. That I could be there to listen to your voice deepen and watch as you grow your first beard. That we could joke about trash pandas and dream about a trip under the northern lights. That we were still swapping good night pictures and counting down for a visit this October. I found the perfect birthday card for you too. The reminder’s off my phone to get you a double chocolate doughnut before I leave.

I hope you’re doing well and have finally gotten reimbursed for your travel expenses. I hope your kitties are treating you kindly and your back is doing better. I hope you’re happy.

Love always, me

p.s. How do I learn how to let go, especially since you’ve already walked away

Saying goodbye to 2015…

“Is it the new year yet Mom?” Jeremy asked.

I flipped over the last of the fries and put the tray back in the oven. “It depends on what year you’re talking about,” I mused as I started the timer. “It’s the new year compared to 2014 but then 2016 starts in a couple more days.”

“Oh,” zie sighed. “I wanted it to be the new year now. Everything I ordered off Amazon comes next year. How about now? Is it 2016 yet?”

According to the timer, about 25 seconds had elapsed. I sent zir out to buy a fuse and pizza dough after the fourth “how about now” question. We don’t need the pizza dough until tomorrow but I need a bit of quiet writing time and zie needs some fresh air (and a chance to redirect zir thoughts to something other than parcel delivery times).

I figured this would be a year of change and it has definitely lived up to that title. Within the first month of 2015, I had a friend walk out of my life; a friend I thought would be there for life. The second month had me almost lose my Dad to an unknown infection. And to put it as vaguely as possible, living with my daughter Emma for four months caused a huge setback for our relationship. Then I found out that a friend of mine died suddenly… or not so suddenly considering she’d been dealing with medical issues for a while that had been ignored with the advice to “lose some weight”. She shows up in my Facebook memories regularly and it’s a blow to the heart each time.

Depression permeated my life for most of the year and I’m still slowly digging myself back out. I realized this summer that I had stopped reading, which was horribly shocking since I’m the person who couldn’t make it a day without reading something. I’m working on incorporating books back into my life and even bought myself two new novels the day before yesterday.

I posted a brief bit of information about my family history on my personal Facebook account, along with a plea for people to not vote for Stephen Harper, and lost one of my uncles (who declared me to be the rudest, most arrogant person he’s ever met) and my sister Amy. She responded to my yearly, family Christmas card with “fuck off” and a request to never speak to her again. Love was written at the bottom in quotation marks. My uncle didn’t respond at all.

On the flip side, Jeremy had an amazing birthday celebration with one of zir good friends and we both had an incredible time at our Unitarian Universalist campground. We painted our rooms this year and love how they turn out; now we both have a safe place. And we went on some amazing walks. Never underestimate the power of a good walk.

I found two labels that fit me after years of feeling like I simply didn’t fit in anywhere; asexual and autistic. Asexual doesn’t need anything more than a self diagnosis. Hopefully I can find someone who can help me sort out the autism puzzle. I’m on a wait list for a psychiatrist and, presumably, he can help.

This year I took a chance and accepted a whole lot of friend requests with the end result of several new good friends. They make me smile every time I see their posts and I enjoy chatting with them.

And, just when I figured that 2015 was going to end with more bad times than good, my best friend L asked me if I wanted to be in a relationship with him. That definitely pulled 2015 up into the positive 🙂 Jeremy really likes him too.

My goals for 2016 are simpler…

  1. Focus on the family I have. We had a huge family gathering on Boxing Day and it was wonderful. Then, today, Jeremy came with me to work and walked over to zir grandparents’ house. Jeremy’s cousin specifically asked if zie could hang out today. Family, and I’m including L in this, needs to be treasured.
  2. Relax and get back into writing. I have not written or edited a novel in over a year and I miss it terribly. One thing I’ve stopped doing is carrying around a notebook and I need to get back into that habit; that way I have somewhere to jot ideas and conversations. I found I’d do that on the bus then hurry home to add it in on the computer. And I have the cutest journal for that too.
  3. Take time for myself. I need to scrapbook, read, and take the occasional bubble bath. I can’t see myself lying on my deathbed saying “I should have done more dishes and mopped twice a week”. I’ve picked up a lot more frozen veggies so I can pare down cooking time. Hopefully this will increase my free time.
  4. Encourage Jeremy to find something to do outside of surfing the net and browsing for products. This one is going to be tricky considering Jeremy has very limited interests beyond the computer but I’ll work with zir and see what we can come up with together.

Tomorrow is the very last day of 2015 and then we’re on to a bright, shiny new year. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for us!

Jeremy's rainbow unicorn snail

Jeremy with zir rainbow unicorn snail from Karen

 

Grasping the threads of my life…

We were getting ready to go camping. I went through the motions of getting ready, basically following past patterns. I wrote out vague meal plans, set out clothes for every day, and made sure I had bug spray and sun screen. Then I found myself in the library feeling vaguely puzzled why I was there. It was part of my usual camping routine but it felt odd somehow. That was when I realized I hadn’t picked up a book in about four months.

For some people this might be fairly average. For me it closer to unbelievable. I have rarely gone more than a day without a book. If I didn’t have a new book, I was rereading an older one. The librarians at our previous library knew me by name. I’ve been known to need two bags to carry home my books. When I was younger I used to read while I walked because I couldn’t bear to wait 15 extra minutes to find out what happened next. I felt twitchy when I didn’t read.

Four whole months.

I quickly found several books to read and settled down during out camping trip to do just that, soaking those books up like parched soil in a gentle rainstorm. When we got home, I went right back to the library to get several more books. It was a short time after that when I realized another itch. I wanted to scrapbook.

Digital scrapbooking is my big hobby (verging on an obsession). It calms me down. Even when I have no pictures to work on, I’ll go through my digital stash, mentally (and sometimes physically) categorizing it all. I’ve been known to scrapbook a layout on the day of an event simply because I couldn’t wait to create. The last page I’d worked on was Hallowe’en 2014… and I hadn’t finished it. I’ve been scrapbooking for almost 20 years and had never gone longer than a week or two without making a layout that whole time.

My last obsession is writing. I keep notepads with me to jot down ideas… or at least I used to. I haven’t written anything but blog posts and Facebook messages since before Christmas, probably closer to October. Nothing. I’ve been writing since elementary school.

I’ve been focused on pulling myself out of depression. Making sure I make it through work each day without crying. Making sure we have food and clean clothes and that the chores are done enough to keep our home habitable. I’ve even managed to get outside for walks and, thankfully, kept up with taking photos. My last obsession. I don’t know who I’d be if I’d given up that too.

There have been two days this week where I’ve done almost nothing except read. I didn’t leave our apartment. I didn’t even get out of my pyjamas. But I finished a novel each day. I’d call them wasted days but I know they weren’t. I needed them almost as much as I need breathing.

Jeremy upgraded my netbook to Windows 10 on Friday and transferred my scrapbooking kits over from the desktop. Since then I’ve made two new pages and am working on the third. Each page got a little easier and my heart lightened a tiny bit.

Hopefully soon I’ll start writing again.

Meanwhile I’m dealing with anxiety the best I can; feeling like I’m facing a dragon with a cardboard sword. I cried myself into an asthma attack on Friday, which was all kinds of suckage. An asthma attack on top of an anxiety attack while having a stuffed nose. I’m reasonably sure I’ll have a nightmare about that experience at some point. It will probably involve drowning.

And I made another appointment with our doctor for almost a month from today.

I want the tapestry of my life back.

Saying goodbye…

“Mom! Mom! Something’s wrong with Ben!” Jeremy wailed. “Please, can you help me clean his cage? He needs to have a clean cage to die in!”

It was 2 o’clock on Saturday morning and the quickest I’d woke in years.

“Jeremy, give me your guinea pig and I’ll cuddle him in bed,” I said as reassuringly as I could. Zie handed me a freshly washed, sopping wet piggy and I tucked him under the covers and cradled him beside me. Ben snuffled my hair and started chewing. I’m his food lady but today I arrived empty handed. I guess he figured my hair would be good enough.

“Can you give me something to feed Ben?” I asked and Jeremy promptly handed me a carrot.

“Ben’s front leg isn’t working,” zie cried as Ben happily chewed on his favourite food. “And there’s something wrong with his left eye.” I could only see his right which looked fine to me.

I cuddled with Ben for about ten minutes then changed into a dry nightie and went back to sleep. Luckily Jeremy went to sleep as well. I snuck into the living room yesterday morning fully expecting to find a body. Instead I found a bright eyed piggy happily gnawing on his pepper; his full weight on both front legs. He’d eaten well the night before and looked perfectly fine now. I assured Jeremy all was well and zir geriatric piggy was on the mend. Then we went out for the day. Ben still looked fine when we got home.

I woke this morning and decided to start my day off with a morning hike. I had to pass the guinea pig cage to get my shoes. No squeaks greeted me. Anyone who’s ever had a piggy knows how unusual that is. Ben was curled oddly under some hay in the back corner of his cage and he bit me when I reached in. I grabbed him by the waist instead and lifted while Ben flailed… both right legs hung uselessly. His waist was tiny and his anus protruded alarmingly.

I cradled him in my arm and gently fed him a carrot, which he took eagerly, whimpering for more. Then he stopped wanting the carrot but continued to whimper helplessly. I called the local vet clinic only to find out they were closed. One more day… one last day with Ben.

Of course I needed to tell Jeremy and woke zir as gently as I could. This is zir very own pet, one we’ve had since zie was 10 years old, I knew it wouldn’t go well. I handed the piggy over and headed out for apple sauce and baby asprin. I wasn’t going to have his last day full of pain.

Thankfully I bought a mortar and pestle from Dollarama last month so I was able to grind the tablet down to a fine powder to mix with apple sauce. I found orange flavoured ones too so the bitter taste wouldn’t deter him and managed to spoon feed him the whole pill (after checking weight and dosage for cavies). Twenty minutes later he was groggy and ready to lie down. So was I.

“Mom! Mom! Ben’s doing so much better! His legs are working again and he can walk… see!” Jeremy announced eagerly.

I blinked and rolled over in time to see Jeremy place Ben on the ground. The piggy stood trembling for a second then attempted to take a step with legs that no longer worked properly. He collapsed onto his side, legs twitching frantically in his panic to get back up.

“Hon, pick him up now. Please!” I implored. Jeremy immediately complied.

“See, he’s doing even better than before,” Jeremy said happily. “Once he gets more food in him he’ll be even stronger.”

Zir words felt like a blow. Ben’s unable to walk and can no longer lap water from his water bottle. Instead I’m feeding him water from a dropper. He can’t walk and he’s having massive issues with pooping. And he’s eight years old! His brother and cage mate died on my birthday almost a full year ago. He’s an elderly pig and it’s his time to go.

After dinner I’m bundling Ben up in a dish towel and taking him out for a walk in the woods. He’s enjoying being held and, while in our arms, he can feel the wind and smell the grass, trees, and flowers. Then I’ll dose him up with more pain medication so he can have a pain free night before we say goodbye to him tomorrow.

Hopefully Jeremy will be able to forgive me for letting Ben go.

Ben2

Pink for Leelah…

Edited: It’s funny, I was so sleepy last night but at the same time so determined to get this post up. It had to be up as close to the 6th as possible and the 8th, even though it was only a couple of hours away, was way too far away. Which proves that nothing brings out my inner toddler more than being overtired. I woke up this morning and when I looked at this post, all I could think was, “It’s a wonder I didn’t fall asleep at the keyboard.”

So I’m scrapping what I wrote previously (which was only five lines). Actually, the layout for Leelah is a work in progress too. My main computer is in the shop for at least another week so I have no access to my scrapbooking supplies. The layout was made with what I could download last night and I want this layout to be the best I can do, not the quickest (I will have more elements by the same designers). At some point I’ll post my final version as well, although that won’t be until the end of January.

Emma’s hand is on the left, showing her rocking her hot pink nails, while Jeremy and I are on the right. It was wonderful seeing all the pictures on Facebook yesterday (and on the 6th) of families painting their nails. I hope Leelah’s siblings are able to see the support and love being shown toward their sister and gain some comfort from it.

pink for Leelah

Backgrounds by Designer Digitals
Elements by Shabby Princess