Not quite spring cleaning

I cleaned up my blog roll a bit today.  There were some deadends on there (I miss you Queen!) and some links to pages that hadn’t been updated in years, so out they went.  I added a new one, Adam Tilted: Thoughts from a Dizzy Dude.  Hi Adam!  Stop by his blog and say hello.

That is the extent of today’s cleaning I think.  Very little actual cleaning will be done here at Chez Dyspatient.  Possibly tidying up the kitten room a bit.  My god he’s a little slob.  Ah and I just (literally just now) discovered that he is slowly eating his cat furniture.  I turned from my desk to see him chewing on the corners of the cat bed part on top of the cat tree, just in time to see a “GULP” swallow of something.  So I went over and found bits of carpeting all over the place, but more alarmingly, long strands of vinyl looking stuff and staples sticking out.  Yep, staples.  One loose even, sitting on the lower tier of the cat tree.  Oh good lord.  Well, hoping he didn’t eat a staple.  My living room now has a delightful lemony smell, due to the lemon wedge I just rubbed all over Mr. Riley Finn’s chewing corners.  Cats are supposed to hate citrus.  Every cat I’ve had has hated citrus.  But Riley just came over to me and rubbed his face all over my lemony hand though, so he may just think of it as seasoning.

Orange and white tabby kitten in a "cat tree".

Riley in his chew toy.

So the holter monitor is done.  And of course while I had it on, I only had little bursts of that pounding thing, not the sustained for a half hour kind that I had last week and earlier this week.  Eh.  I dutifully recorded it all on the crappy paper…ok, actually I used my iPhone’s notes and speech to text utility to make a log that I then transcribed to the paper one the hospital gave me.  Still quicker and more accurate than me whipping out pen, paper, phone to look at time, remember to push the button on the monitor, drop pen, mis-write something horribly and have to cross it out and start over next to it, oops that takes up too much space, just cross it all out and write a new entry on the next line and while I’m doing that I have another palpitation and should I just fold that into this log entry or add a new one?  Did I mention I have a bit of dysgraphia?  Hence personal peeve about the paper log.  It takes me three times as long to put print on paper as it does to make an electronic text notation.  Especially with speech to text capability.  But that’s done and I’m glad.  Now, back to work on Monday.  Woo-frikkin-hoo!

Still trying to see work as something I can do for now and enjoy the parts of that which are enjoyable.  Sometimes it’s tougher than others.  And I’m not sure how well I will be able to work with this heart thing but I’m gonna give it a shot.  It’s all I can do.

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discomfort, hurt, and harm

There is a difference.  I found the tilt table test uncomfortable, but it didn’t hurt or harm me.  I find that most IVs hurt, but usually don’t harm me.  But what about when you’re the one giving the care?  How do you know the difference between when you’ve done something that your patient finds uncomfortable, painful, or harmful?  Does your patient know?  I’m guessing that if you’re lucky, you have a very aware and articulate patient who can distinguish between unpleasant sensations vs. painful sensations and that you know enough as a clinician to be able to discern whether any of those sensations (or signs, like their blood pressure plummeting) means that you are now actually harming someone.

You don’t get all of those potential channels with an animal, and when you’re a pet owner who is trying to take care of your pet, you really are just left guessing based on how your pet is reacting.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  A good friend of mine has two sick, elderly kitties that she’s caring for at home.  Both get oral meds and special diets, but one also gets subcutaneous fluids which my friend has to administer at home.  Her cat grumbles throughout, but towards the end, according to my friend, the cat kicks it up a notch and my friend is horrified, worrying that what she’s doing to the cat has crossed from uncomfortable to painful or harmful.  And so starts the freaking out.

We’ve both been looking on line for information on how to do this procedure on a “difficult” cat.  Not unholy hell beast, not like my cat for example, but on a cat that is not as sedate and chill as all the cats that you find in majority (entirety?) of “how to” videos.  So many of the videos focus on things like how to deal with the infusion set or how to place the needle.  Admittedly, those are important factors but there are also the not trivial issues of “how to calm the cat”, “how to get the cat to sit still”, “how to gauge if your cat is just ‘grousing’ vs. telling you that something is wrong”.

I’m guessing that there aren’t videos on this because the people who make the videos choose the calm cats to (a) show how “easy” it can be and (b) to allow them to focus on the stuff like infusion set and needle placement.  I do wish someone would make some on the other issues though.  Anyone who has had to deliver medicine or care to a feline at home knows that response to your cat’s apparent distress will make a big difference in how successfully you can administer treatment.  My own cat, for example, acts like any constraint is killing her.  She will fight you wildly if you try to hold her down for more than a few seconds.  E.g., this morning we had a nice combing and catnip session, after which I forgot to clean the fuzz out of her comb.  I went back to my desk only to notice a few minute later that she was doing something with the comb…oh crap, she was eating the hairball.  I immediately start trying to startle her away from the comb by making sounds at her, only to realize that it’s too late for this approach when she looks up at me with wide, freaked out eyes and a huge hairball hanging out of her mouth.

I go to her, grab her, and hold her with my forearms while I try to pluck the hairball out of her mouth with my hands.  Not working because she’s writhing and bucking, windmilling her paws at my arms, and snapping her head up and away from my fingers.  “Need some help!” I call to Mr. Patient and present the wriggling cat, still wedged between my elbows to him as he comes over.  The cat greets him with more writhing, bucking, and snapping.  But she’s out of luck.  Mr. Patient grabs her face and picks the hairball off her lip.  I release the cat and she bolts from the room.

brown tabby cat sitting under a coffee table

Try grabbing me now!

She comes back a few minutes later, and this is how I know we have made some progress with this cat.  When we first got her, anything  that startled her was sufficiently traumatic that she would hide for hours after.  Now, she recovers faster.  Although note the pose in the picture to the left.  She’s back, but she’s barricaded herself under the coffeetable.

Admittedly, I would not have approached her like that to give her a medication.  Had I not made the alarming noises at the cat to start with, I might have had an extra second or two between grabbing her and her turning into the hellbeast. But those extra seconds wouldn’t have been worth much if the medication were anything that requires time to administer, like fluids.

For your amusement and edification, I’m sharing this gem I came across in researching how to give fluids to a difficult cat.

I also thought I’d share the following tip, although I haven’t heard back from my friend on whether it worked or not.  I started out by noting that it’s tough to know how to interpret your cat’s “feedback”, so toward that end, I recommended my friend try a “sham” infusion with her cat.  That is, set everything up as if she were going to inject and infuse, but don’t actually place the needle.  Just poke the cat, then keep her still for the time she’d usually have to stay still for the infusion.  If the cat’s grumbling pattern is low and grousy then kicking it up a notch toward the end, we have reasonable evidence to conclude that the escalation in vocalization is not pain or harm but the “discomfort” of running out of patience.

What can you do?

I know some friends and family are hopelessly unhelpful when it comes to supporting someone with a chronic illness, but a great many more are just unaware of what to do.  If you’ve never been there, you don’t know.  And you probably don’t want to seem like you’re imposing, or insulting someone.  And sometimes, your offers are rebuffed for what seems like no good reason.  I’ve been on both sides of this and I know it can be tricky to navigate.  Here are some tips I want to pass on.

Keep in mind that help or support needs to be really and truly freely offered and given.  Take dinner.  Helpful if you know the person’s dietary restrictions and needs and can truly abide by them. Offer, kindly and without strings, to make and bring something that can be refrigerated or frozen.  What is less helpful is an offer to invite yourself over for dinner, or invite your loved one to dinner.  They may not be up for entertaining or being entertained, and if your offer comes with that string attached, they may refuse.

I’ve long wished for a way to give a service like PeaPod as a gift.  For readers outside of the area where you’d know what that is, it’s a service that lets you buy your groceries from a local supermarket online and then arrange to either pick them up bundled and paid for, or have them delivered.  My god I would love the latter.  Probably there is a way to do this, and if anyone figures it out, tell me.  I have a dear friend I’d love to do this for.  Not as a “I’m buying all your groceries forever” kind of gesture, but as a “hey, I set you up with a gift certificate that pays for 4 deliveries of your groceries so you don’t have to use up your resources staggering through the supermarket”.

Pet care.  Pets can end up being affected by their owners’ illnesses too.  I myself have forgone having a dog for years now because I know I do not have the energy that it requires to care for one.  Sometimes, you had the pets before you got so sick.  Sometimes, you need the pets for the love and comfort they provide but have a hard time managing to care for them when things get tough.  A good case in point:  I have a good friend who is going through a real upheaval right now.  She’s got a couple of chronic illnesses, endometriosis, migraines, been diagnosed with fibro and frequently struggles with the “fibro fog”, intense fatigue, and chronic pain.  Her husband lost his job about two months ago, just before she started a new full time one.  She had already been worried about whether she would be able to do the schedule this new job demanded, then about a month into it…a month of her husband having no luck looking for jobs locally, her husband got a job one state and over 5 hours away.  Money is incredibly tight and he has to take it.  So he’s moving to be near the job, and will come home on weekends to be with her.  But it leaves her all week with managing their household and her new, already incredibly challenging full time job alone.  Her household consists of three cats, one of whom is seriously ill and needs timed medication including subcutaneous fluid injections; and two energetic labs that they rescued about a year ago after her husband’s dog of many, many years died.  My friend needs to find someone who can help her with the meds and with doggie care during the day, her job keeps her out of the house for 10 hours a day three days a week and you cannot leave energetic dogs alone for that long without big behavior problems.   While she lives far away and I can’t offer to pet sit (and my own schedule and illness wouldn’t allow for it), I can offer to pay for a few days of doggie daycare to give her a break now and then.  It’s about the cost of a good mani-pedi.  So I’ll paint my own damned nails and toes once a month.

Laundry…especially if your loved one has to do laundry at a laundromat.  Offering to come help carry clothes in and out is a huge help, and you can schedule hangout time while you wait for the cycles to run.

Yardwork and snow removal.  When Mr. Patient is out of town, I have images of me wasting away in my home, snowed in.  There is no way in hell I can shovel.  If you have a friend with a chronic illness, offer to clear snow or pay a local kid to do it.  Yeah, your friend might have a capable spouse or family living with them, but if they are supportive, they’re already doing the grocery shopping and the laundry and the cooking dinner…you get the picture.

If you’re a really close friend or family member, you could offer to drive them to a doctor’s appointment now and then.  Doctors’ appointments can sometimes involve painful tests or procedures, and even when they don’t, they can be emotionally draining.  If I had a nickel for every time I have had to pull over and cry while driving myself to or from a doctor’s appointment, well I’d have enough for a cup of coffee at least.  So know that if you offer to drive, you are offering to be moral support too.

The time to pitch in is when you hear of a change.  Is your friend having surgery?  A flare up of symptoms?  Is your friend’s spouse going out of town?  This is when your friend will really need the extra help.  And it’s better than flowers or cards or fruit baskets.

Super max!

photo of orange and white tabby cat in blue soft collar

Super Max! For A and Moush

love

Dear A at Playing the Hand I was Dealt was just dealt a really bad card recently.  Her sweet kitty Moush Moush has had a recurrence of a rare form of cancer.  I know this is not a high traffic blog, but for anyone out there with even a bit of spirituality, good will, love of animals, or just plain old love, send it A’s way for her and her dear Moush Moush.

I’m posting pictures of my kitties.  I grew up in a cat household.  Ok, it was also a crazy house too, but there were cats.  Thank god there were cats.  Of the many cats we had, there was one who was dearest to me.  My cat.  With a silly name that only a 6 year old would give to a cat, Muffin.  Muffin was white with grey saddle markings with faint ringed stripes on his tail and more evident stripes on his knees.  I called them his knee pads.  He had a small grey dot on his face too, a sort of beauty mark.  He was so precious to me, born on my sleeping bag after his mom got herself knocked up shortly after the blizzard of 78 (oh yes, we were aware….the event was held in my backyard in broad daylight and was quite euphemistically referred to as “Rocky’s Wedding”).

old black and white photo of girl watching kittens nursing.

Baby pictures, Muffin and siblings.

old photo of white and grey cat

In his prime.

After Muffin died, I did not think I would want another cat.  I can’t.  too heart broken.  Then this beast came into my life.  Max. I thought he was full grown when I got him but he just kept growing.  He was huge in his prime.  Not fat, just LARGE.

orange and white tabby cat backlit on couch

My beautiful Max.

Max was with me for 16 years.  He died after being ill for a long time.  He was a trooper, purring through being sick.  I learned that from him.  After Max died, I really did not want another cat.  Seeing other cats made me cry, and the thought of getting another felt like a betrayal to his memory.  Then, it was christmas.  And it was going to snow, the weather forecasts called for blizzard conditions with lots of snow and high winds there in my coastal New England hometown.  And there had been this stray who we met when Max and hubby and I had moved into the neighborhood just a couple of months prior….but I hadn’t seen her for a while.  I’d been very absorbed with Max’s illness, and then after I hadn’t been up for going out hunting for the stray.  And she had stayed away.  So on Christmas day, after dinner, my sister and I went out looking around.  I half hoped we wouldn’t find her, that she had already found a home.  Nope.  She came bounding up with her crazy sustained meow while running.  Her hallmark.  How you always knew she was coming before even seeing her, this bouncing “aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhnnnn” that she did.  Hubby and I even had taken to referring to her by this as her name.  “Saw ‘aaaaaaaahhhn’ outside just now.  Gonna go sneak her some food.”  The next day, after she’d spent the night in the basement, then worked her way up into the house, we decided to name her.  We tried out different sounds on her.  She seemed to respond to the ones closest to her hallmark meow, so we called her Anya.

photo of brown tabby cat resting

Very skinny stray, enjoying the crap out of my couch during a Christmas blizzard.

Despite looking calm in the picture above, Anya spent the first few weeks pretty edgy with us.  She started warming up to me after my hysterectomy.  I was home for several weeks, and she had me all to herself.  She’s still jumpy if there are too many humans moving around at once, but she’s becoming quite the little housecat.

None of my cats has replaced the other in my love.  They have each been special in their own way.  I know that when Anya passes, I will get another cat.  We’d like to get another now, because I think it’s good for cats to have friends.  And I think it’s good for people to have cats.  And there are plenty who need homes.  So maybe Anya will get a little brother at some point (if my husband has his way).  I have love to give and I will give it.  It hurts sometimes too, but I won’t let this stop me from looking for the joy I know they bring into my life and the warm and affectionate home I can provide for them.

orange and white tabby cat smiling

Happy Max, Fall 2006

So say a prayer, a spell, a chant for A’s girl Moush Moush.  Wishing her love and healing and time with her mom.

Are you there doc?

It’s me, Dyspatient.

Called the GI doctor’s office today.  Got the cranky staff member – excellent!  She’s a pip this one.  Yes, leaving another message.  “I didn’t take the last one” she tells me.  Um, ok.  I didn’t think you did.  Jeez.  Get over your bad self.

While I was cleaning up bits of debris from my desk I found an  appointment reminder card telling me that I have a follow up appointment with GI doc for May 31, so I guess even GI doc thought we should follow up.  Ah, so at this follow up I wonder if she planned to listen to me discuss the continuing (because the problem is CHRONIC, you know?), then tell me how she did everything she can and there’s nothing else to do.  Why do they schedule these things?  I mean, I’m not planning on letting the appointment go that way, but based on how she’s reacted to my calls, that is likely the script she’s working off.

I do wonder what these people think “follow up” means.  I also wonder what they think their chronically ill patients who they have been unable to help are doing in the times between call, visits, and follow up appointments.  I.e., do they think if they don’t hear from us that everything has resolved?  A trip through some doctors’ notes in my medical records suggest that some do.  I know I’ve read in at least one place where a doctor wrote something like “patient was asymptomatic….until one week ago” or something like that when introducing my presentation in the note on the visit.  It’s unfathomable to me that someone other than a complete idiot would be silly enough to assume that.  It’s distressing to me that someone would adhere to the assumption despite direct statements and/or evidence to the contrary – like “well the diarrhea has been continuing since I saw you in November.  It was reasonably treatable for a few months but since January it’s been getting worse, and this past month it really picked up” or say, that plus weight loss in your patient.

What are they thinking?  Seriously.  It’s basic object permanence.  Just because the stimulus is hidden from your view doesn’t mean it has ceased to exist.  Good lord, even my cat shows better mastery of this basic cognitive skill, at least when it comes to treats, nip, and toys.  Maybe I need doctor nip.  Or a toy (yes, I am now imagining using a laser pointer with my GI doctor).

I think that maybe I need to adopt of a policy of making it clear to my doctors that just because they haven’t seen me in x many months does not mean that I’ve been all better and symptom free for that time.

For my chronic friends out there:  has this issue come up with you?  The “out of sight out of mind” thing where your doctor assumes that not hearing from you means you’ve been healthy/symptom free/cured?  If so, how have you dealt with it?

on my own

Anticipating that this week would be tough and I would not be up for much, when my husband’s siblings suggested a trip down to visit them this weekend to celebrate their birthday cluster (starts in mid-February and ends in mid-March), I had indicated I probably wouldn’t be up for it.  Husband has gone though, I don’t resent his wanting to see them.  And I don’t resent his going.  I do have some ambivalence about the siblings though, because I know my absence will not be seen for what it is and will instead be seen as some slight.  I’d like to think people don’t misperceive like this and that they don’t “keep score” but interactions with my own family, with his family, with my ex’s family, and with various friends informs my knowledge that it is otherwise.

On the “plus” side, well, sort of plus, I am correct.  Last night, I just sort of fell apart.  Systolic blood pressure in the mid to low 80s?  Check.  balloon animal gut any time I eat?  Check.  Burning sore roof of the mouth that looks bruised?  Check.  Swelling burning hands and feet?  Ringing ears and stabbing headaches?  “Swooning” even when I’m laying down?  Check, Check, and Check.

I got through the week, the busy week, but I am taxed.  Working through two days of migraines from the weather, sleeplessness, and stress took a lot out of me.  The stress comes from continuing staffing problems with a coworker who I am asked to effectively supervise but over whom I have no actual supervisory authority; an impromptu meeting with my boss yesterday to tell me that he was penalized in terms of his job security for advocating for an accommodation for me; and a handful of rotten encounters with various just plain old rotten people.  Did  I mention it was busy anyhow?  Just normal job busy.  But then there was all this crap on top of it and it made for busy + bullshit, which = all used up.

And so it is with chronic illness – my “wealth” of energy has been spent on things both necessary and unnecessary (bullshit), and therefore is not here for me now.

I wish there were a way to convey the validity of this experience to people who have the luxury of distance from it.  Knowing that I am going to be judged negatively makes staying in and nursing myself on this beautiful sunny Saturday more difficult than it already is.  If I were a less responsible person, I would go. Or I would at least go out and do something.  E.g., my nails could use a once over.  I could meet up with old friends who would want to go out to dinner or to a bar.  It is tempting.  But I know what it’s like to pass out in public, or to get acutely unwell and need to drive myself home in a nausea, pain, or scrambled head induced stupor, to stagger in and lay on the couch or the bed bargaining with my bastard-body, “Just don’t puke, don’t pass out, ride it out, it’ll be ok…shhhh…I’ll hold really still and it’ll stop….shhhhh….shhhhh”.  And I feel that if I know this is likely, it is completely irresponsible of me to fail to seek to avoid it.

Oh, and as much as it sucks to have this happen when I’m alone, the jury’s out on whether it may actually suck more to have it happen with an audience.  You want to think that people would step up and take care of you when something like that happens, but truly, as well intentioned as they may be (and that is sometimes questionable), my experience is that they usually fail to act or fail to appropriately act.  From my little brother reacting with embarrassment when I passed out in the plane seat next to him on a school trip to Europe, to a nurse friend leaving me sitting at a table alone while she called 911 when I passed out while out in a restaurant, to my most recent ex acting like a blood sugar noob when I had a bad hypoglycemic attack at a party (despite his being a carefully controlled insulin dependent diabetic for almost 20 years at that point) – I have found that a very large number of people cannot take care of someone who is acutely and (apparently) rather spectacularly ill.

color photo of a brown tabby cat sitting next to open sunny window and looking up at camera

can we go outside?

So I stay home, and try not to be bitter.  I’ll pay my bills.  I’ll eat my salty food and drink my gatorade and water.  I’ll watch stupid things on Netflix and Hulu, read, play solitaire, play with the cat, read some more, and maybe I’ll pull it together enough to make one trip out to do an errand – the preparation for which will be more like planning a 2 day road trip.  Pharmacy?  Nail salon?  Or (gasp) both!?

I know this sounds all deep dark and despairing.  It sort of is and sort of isn’t.  I see the deep dark despair there, and while I’m acknowledging it, I’m not exactly welcoming it in.  I’m here, it’s here, it’ll go away again and I’ll remain.  So it goes.

Vacation

I have done very little on my winter vacation.  I have watched movies, cooked and baked, entertained a few guests, had a manicure and a massage, and mostly…

photo of a woman on a couch with a tabby cat

...relaxed

oh brother

First off, let me say that I hope the holiday season finds you better than not.  It’s a stressful time of year – lots to do whether you’re traveling or hosting:  navigating practical details and the expectations (and biases) of family and friends, both tending to be difficult for people whose resources are already pretty much taken up by the smaller spheres of our lives with chronic illness.

My holiday celebrations have grown quite minimal, and I am realizing that the more circumscribed they get, the less I hate christmas – so that’s a pro.  We had a tree, we have an anniversary – our current kitty came in from a snow storm on christmas day of last year (spent the night in our basement and we didn’t have a tree last year so this was her first “real” christmas with me and my husband).  She got a stuffed animal/bird that chirps.  A lovely red robin.  So far all she’s done with it is rub her face on its beak.  photo of a small christmas tree with a cat walking in front of it.

I made cookies.  That was my one nod to the ghost of manic christmas past.  I called them “christmas bribes”, most of them going to my primary care doctor since the guy and his nurses have been pretty damned good this year.  The admin staff, well, I am not super happy with them but it seemed like too much to write “merry christmas to everyone but that bitch who gave me such a hard time about my workplace accommodation forms at thanksgiving…”  It’s the thought that counts, right?

Christmas day we had my brother over.  For dinner.  “I’ll be there at two” turned into “I’m running an hour late,” and then into a text message at 3:30 saying he was running a bit more late and would be here at 4:00.  I’ll spare you the suspense of the entire phone and text saga and just jump to the punchline:  he was here at 6:30.    When he got here, I could tell he was spinning a yarn about what held him up.  I have no idea what the real story is and wasn’t in the mood to ask.  I’d spent the two previous days fighting a stubborn migraine and just wanted to eat before it was so late that I’d be up all night with heartburn.  Plus, my sister and I are still not talking and I try to keep it to one catastrophic familial estrangement per calendar year.  So I let it go.  Merry Christmas little brother – my silence was a big part of your present this year.   He stayed late today but spent the last two hours of his visit half-way out the door, packed up and ready to go when he finished ranting about work.  It truly is a stressful job.  He works with surgeons at the granddaddy of all B.A.T.H.s.  Ranting done, he used the bathroom one last time…and clogged the toilet and flooded the bathroom.  “Where’s your f***king plunger!?” he said as he burst out of the bathroom doing up his pants.  He proceeded to berate (in a “don’t take this seriously, I’m just kidding, sort of” way) me and my husband for our too-soft/too-thick toilet paper, clearly the reason why the toilet clogged.  And this, dear readers, is why I feel TWO bathrooms are a necessity for more than two adults in a home.

This week, I am off.  We are having a chunk of my husband’s sibling set up to visit.  His half sister, his brother, and his brother’s wife.  In the negotiations of this visit, we said we could go down there to visit or offered to have them up.  Brother said it was fine either way, and then said if we came down we could go do this and that and that and the other thing with all these friends from college that are always dropping by at his place.  Ugh.  And one bathroom.  No thanks, so we decided that we’d rather have them up here if it was all the same to everyone.  Which they’d said it was.  And then it wasn’t.  I.e., after agreeing to come up, brother in law tells my husband that he and his wife might rent a hotel room since our cigarette smoke bothers them sometimes.  Between my husband and me, we smoke about one pack a day, less when company’s over.

Ok.  No mention that the last time brother in law was up he stunk up my place with cigars.  Nope.

Husband says ok, his brother asks him about close-by hotels (they’ve stayed at one before when we were living in our tiny first apartment in this area).  Husband tells him the closest is the one they stayed at before.  And that’s the end of it, until two days later when my husband is talking to his brother and his brother tells him that they found a cute looking place up in XXX, which according to Google maps is only 26 minutes away.  Now, XXX is on the other side of the major city of which our city is a suburb.  We are to the south, XXX is to the northwest.  It is congested.  It is NOT 26 minutes away, not by a long shot.  It’s 40 minutes in good traffic.  Keep in mind, this is a quick one night visit, so brother in law and wife staying so far away is going to eat into a significant portion of visit time.  My husband was pissed.  See, there’s a history of his brother doing what we call “add on” visits.  As in “Sure, we can get together.  (Wife) and I have plans to see 5 different sets of friends from college who happen to live in the same state as you and I have a work meeting up there next week so we can squeeze you in!”  Yeah.  You can’t win with these guys.  Either you go stay with them and you’re living in what is sort of like a nicer, more grown up frat house or you have them up and you’re the intermission in a much more exciting and high priority set of social engagements.

Tis the season to be…irritated.

My husband suspects his brother and sister in law chose their hotel based on some other plans they tacked on to the visit.    If they did, I’m sort of done with them.  Not like I won’t speak to them again but like I’m not going to feel bad about asserting my priorities and not going to knock myself out to find ways to compromise for their priorities.  If their social commitments are ranked so high in group plan making, then why would I ever feel bad about ranking my health and physical conveniences as important factors for me?

christmas day – a visitor

My sister was over christmas eve.  As usual, she asked about the little “caramel colored kitty” who lives outside my neighbor’s house.  “I haven’t seen her since about a week before Max died” I told her.  I’d made a few trips up the driveway behind my neighbor’s house to see if the kitty was around and asked about her to the woman who lived in that building.  I saw no sign of the cat, but the neighbor assured me that she and several other cats were living back there under the porch.  “Oh it’s so sad!” the neighbor lamented.  This neighbor had previously tried to convince me to take in the kitty but back then, Max was still very much alive, and Max didn’t like other cats one bit.  I told her this.

So on christmas day, after not seeing the caramel colored kitty (she’s a black and brown tiger with a lovely warm, light brown coloring on her belly and legs), we found her.  She greeted me with her usual running, long meow “maa-aaaa-aaa-aaa!” as she trotted along, tail up and green eyes shining.

By Christmas evening, she was set up on our glassed in front porch.  By late Christmas night, she was in the much warmer basement with a makeshift litter box (which, to my delight she more or less knows how to use), a can of cat food, and a little bowl of water.  Also, a box with bedding in it which she chose not to sleep in, opting instead for the orange cloth suitcase perched atop a waist high stack of folded moving boxes.  That’s where I found her sleeping this morning.

small brown and black tabby cat on a chair.

Anya, getting comfy in her new home.

And so today, my husband and I plan to brave the swirling, developing blizzard to go get some flea and tick drops so we can let her in to our home for more than a few minute, highly monitored visit.  I’m deathly afraid of ticks, having caught lyme disease in 2002 from sitting outside patting a quasi-stray cat at my old apartment in the New England Outback.

The cat has a tentative name:  Anya, after a character in the Buffy TV series.  It seems to fit.  I’m going to try to get her in to a vet this week, I’m off work for the week and I think I should be able to manage this.  We’re hoping she’s healthy – she seems to be but until we get her checked out, I won’t feel comfortable fully letting down my guard and bonding with her.  She is quite cute.  I hope this works out!