Month: August 2007

The new friend


That didn’t take long! I took glossy 8x10s of the three candidate cats over to Grandma this afternoon. She fretted over which one to take—oh, that one’s so sweet . . . and that one’s so sweet . . . and that one’s so sweet . . . which one should I pick? Oh, oh, oh!

Above is the final choice (and yes, that’s a dreadfully slap-dash Photoshop job; I was in a big hurry and only had a couple of minutes to do it), presently named Pepita, which is about as appropriate as naming a panther Fluffy. NewCat is half Maine Coon, and a good-sized, sturdy girl. She looks a bit like FatCat (at least, she’s a dark tabby; they all tend to look pretty similar) but without the bleached orange nose. But she’s big-boned and has that magnificent Maine Coon fur and plumy tail, ruff around her neck and furry feet.

She was an extremely sweet cat when I met her yesterday and I’m sure Grandma will fall in love with her immediately. I dropped the paperwork off this afternoon and they’ll get her into town later this week. I’ll need to borrow Mogo’s pickup to get my scratching post over there.

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I really expected Grandma to have changed her mind about a new cat today, but she seemed pretty excited. And she misses FatCat terribly. I spent half the day cleaning out a quarter of my roll-top desk *sneeze, hack, choke, sniffle* then went to the Cat Foster Lady’s house and saw three very sweet lap-monster kitties, any one of which I think Grandma would be delighted with *sneeze, hack, choke, sniffle*. I showed her the digital shots on camera and told her I’d take over larger prints tomorrow. She evidently wants a longhair, which gives me more trouble than a shorthair, but hey, it’s not my cat!

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FatCat leaves the fambly

Grandma’s FatCat has been having difficulty for a while, with heavy, labored breathing, though she’s shown no other symptoms. I got an appointment this a.m. for her to see the vet, who took a quick look and whisked her downstairs for oxygen and an X-ray. I’d assumed it was probably bronchitis or pneumonia, even though I couldn’t hear any weirdness in her lungs (probably wouldn’t, without my ‘scope), but no. It was much worse.

Poor kitty had pleural effusion. Lungs are covered with a membrane called the pleura. Between the pleura and the lungs is the pleural space. A little fluid is in here to lubricate things while you breathe. Sometimes, the lining or the space will get inflamed or infected, giving rise to pleurisy or pleural pneumonia (what people erroneously call “plural pneumonia”) or any of several other things.

Some sort of fluid (probably pus [pyothorax] or chyle [chylothorax, not sure I’m spelling the “chyle” right) had been building up in FatCat’s pleural space for heaven knows how long. The space where lungs are is supposed to be black on an X-ray; on a cat, maybe 10 or 12 square inches (the X-ray is two-dimensional). FatCat, poor baby, was working on about three square inches of gray; no black at all. She was drowning.

The X-ray also showed a metal pellet up near her spinal column, so at some point before Grandma adopted her someone had shot her with a pellet gun. It’s conceivable that that had passed by a lung and started the problem, years ago. Or not. Often, nobody knows what causes it in cats. Other times, it’s related to heart disease, tumors, or other things; it’s usually a secondary problem. Cats are notorious for not showing symptoms until they’re really, really sick, and FatCat sure hadn’t.

The vet said that even if everything went well, fixing poor FatKitty would be a long, expensive, harrowing ordeal and that most likely she wouldn’t survive anyway. I sure didn’t want to make that decision for Grandma, so I went back to her place and told her what he’d said; also that we could take her to the emergency clinic where they were equipped to do thoracentesis (draining fluid from the chest), chest tubes for drainage, etc., and could do cytologies and other diagnostics quickly. Long story short, I took FatCat to the emergency clinic, got an estimate for treatment cost from them, then went back to Grandma and explained what they’d have to do. She opted to euthanize, so I had to go back and have that done.

Having to make the decision to take the life of a creature you’ve loved, or that someone you love has loved, is wrenching and painful., even when you’ll be sparing the critter physical agony. If the pet dies on its own, that’s much easier to handle than standing beside it and watching it go from alive to dead in the space of a breath. One second, breathing; the next, not. You can’t take it back or change your mind. No “wait, that wasn’t what I meant to do.”

Grandma insisted she didn’t want another cat. She’d made arrangements for someone to adopt FatCat after she died, and here FatCat dies first, and at only 9 (about middle age for a cat). But she needs a critter. She’s spent her life taking care of people and she really needs something to care for and fuss over.

So I went up to the shelter and told them the story, talked to the lady in charge of fostering cats. They have quite a few who’ve had an elderly owner die, who are accustomed to one person and a lot of lap-sitting. I told Grandma about it and filled out the form for her. Told her I wasn’t going to force her, but that she’d be doing some abandoned cat a favor as well as getting a critter as a companion. She was already missing FatKitty pretty badly, and she’d been trying to keep herself occupied (playing bingo!) most of the afternoon. I had Rob with me and by the time we finished eating and hearing a couple of Rob and the Bus stories, she’d decided maybe another cat wasn’t such a bad idea. Not as a replacement, but as a new friend. I think it’s marvelous that she’s so open to new affections (in people as well as animals) when, at her age, life is mostly loss. She is one tough cookie.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk to the foster cat lady. See there, Northwood and Snaotheus, even if I did have 500 cats in my old age, it might be for a good cause! 😀

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Now they’ve really made me mad

Mildly astonished at getting a same-day appointment to see my doctor, I was, and I walked out with two scrips. One of them was for 60 of a certain variety of pills, which she considered to be a month’s supply.

So imagine my anger when I learned at my pharmacist’s that my insurance company says 60 is just silly, I only need 14 pills for a month and that’s all they’ll pay for.

Now, when did my doctor, who is a very young woman and was very much alive a half hour before I got to the pharmacy, die and put the insurance company in charge of making decisions about my medications? When did Regence’s bureaucrats get a medical degree and learn about my history and talk to me about the problem, so they’d have the background to make such a decision? Just who the hell do they think they are, putting some petty bureaucrat whose knowledge of medicine doubtless is much smaller than mine, even, in charge of deciding what my doctor can and can’t prescribe?!?!?

Of course, I can buy the rest of the 46 remaining pills for the month if I want—at $4 a pop (high end; $1 a pill low end, which still means a minimum of $46)!!!!

Bastards! They’re going to get a blistering phone call and a more blistering letter, which will also go to every other outfit I can think of that might embarrass the insurance people. And I’m going to get more strident about single-payer health care.


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Casting a wide net

Holy sluggards, Batperson! Can’t believe I’ve not posted for nearly a month. Well, yes I can, too. Been a busy period.

Northwood was here for a week and did all kinds of things to earn Good Son honors—cleaning out the gutters, power-washing the roof and scrubbing moss off it (moss! I’ve tried to keep an eye out for it and didn’t know it was there!), power-washing the driveway upstairs and the stairs and front deck, hauling all kinds of junk to the trash and Goodwill stuff to the garage, fixing things, putting out dirt to fill up the south part of the yard, all kinds of stuff. I know it makes for a boring week for him, but I appreciate it so much! I did feed him some good food (including a turkey and his traditional Akroteri‘s chicken caesar) and we went up to Mt. Baker and played in the snow.

KrisDi and Snaotheus came up the first weekend (he earned Good Son points, too, fixing computer and electrical thingies) and we were going to go to Canada to play, but when we got to the border the line was backed up more than half a mile before the crossing. That’s at least a three- or four-hour wait; not worth it. Instead, we found a one-block street fair in Blaine. I tried to get them all to take advantage of having a designated driver along (me), but I couldn’t get them to get drunk. Darn. Would’ve been funny.

The next weekend, I had to go to DC, so Northwood and I drove down to stay at S&K’s Thursday night. Friday a.m. was the first day of a major closure on I-5, so S&K found a surface-road route for us to take to the airport. Unfortunately, it involved a closed road… eventually, we figured out an alternate and got there, only about half an hour later than planned. The security line filled up the entire security area and stretched clear back to the end of the building… but went faster than I anticipated, so I got through that in about half an hour. Out at the terminal, no sooner had I sat down than the United people announced that they were likely going to cancel the flight. Great chaos and tribulation ensued, which I will spare you; eventually, they fixed the problem (a toilet!!) and the flight took off an hour or two late.

Of course, it got into DC late, too, which meant the guy who was there to pick me up had to wait an extra hour or so. Although he met me with a sign with my name on it. Since that’s never happened before, I felt very important. 🙂 Then leaving the airport, we of course got the parking / processing machine that was broken, so there went another 45 minutes. And hot! AWFUL! 104 deg with at least 99% humidity, and I didn’t have my inhaler with me. Nasty place.

The show was fun, though, and I got a quill cutter (mine is not ivory!), something I’ve wanted since before Son #1 was born. Since I figured TSA would take it away from me if I tried to board the plane with it (it had a 1.5″ blade), I asked a friend to mail it to me, so I don’t have it yet. The neatest thing about DC was getting to meet a bunch of people I’ve “known” via pen listservs for more than 10 years. That was great.

Since then, I’ve been putzing along trying to finish cleaning things up and putting things away. It’s never-ending, I’m sure. Great-grandma’s pie safe started out in what I think was supposed to be the dining room, where it was singularly unuseful; so I moved it up to what’s supposed to be the breakfast nook, where it wouldn’t fit conveniently anywhere I could use it with any sort of convenience; so yesterday I pulled it (still on its towel, to make it easier to use) back into the kitchen and propped it up against the end of the counter by the living room. I still don’t know if it’s going to work there, so the towel is still under it. We’ll see.

I spent several hours scrubbing the old recliner, too, with my little carpet spot cleaner. It seems to have broken, so although the chair seems to be clean, I can’t rinse the shampooey stuff off it. That’s annoying.

Northwood seems to have put the Fear of Wrath into the nasty invader Eastern gray squirrels. One keeps trying to get to the bird feeder every afternoon, but every time I clap my hands or make a “SSSSSSSSSS” noise, he scrambles like mad to get away. I went outside with the blowgun and he took off like a rocket.

Grandma’s still having a terrible time. I think she’s still trying not to take some of her painkillers, which is kind of defeating the purpose. I’m not having much luck trying to find alternative things, either. This really sucks.

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