The Shadow

It has been 10 days since my last confession. A lot has happened in those 10 days.

But let’s back up for a minute. I very briefly hinted at a new addition to our family in a post about a month ago. It’s a bit of an involved story.

Veruca and I had seen a little black cat up for adoption at our local pet store. Its name was Raven. She was adorable. The information card on her cage explained that her one eye “gets goopy” sometimes, but it “doesn’t affect her health.” I wondered about it as we left the store and V was begging me to put in an application. I had reservations about it, especially about the eye. Long story short – eventually we did.

The day I picked her up, the staff there wasn’t expecting me. They had to call someone to verify, and then they rifled through a file for her paperwork. When I saw it I told them it wasn’t the right one, although it fit her description, because this paper was for a male cat. He IS a male, they said. I was sure he was a she, because everyone including the guy who handles the adoptions referred to her that way. A few minutes and a short physical examination later, we confirmed that he was, in fact, a he.

So he came home. The kids were ecstatic. Oliver, not so much. At barely seven pounds, he moved through the house like a ninja. One minute he was there, and the next – gone. So we named him Shadow. He was not fond of being held – like a toddler who has just learned to walk. Opac was the first to draw him in. He laid on the floor until Shadow came up to him and allowed himself to be loved on.

His eye would occasionally get “watery” and he’d blink a lot. The adoption guy told me that it was “congenital” and that as long as it didn’t become pus-y or mucus-y, that he was fine. I made an appointment with our vet to follow up after he seemed to develop something resembling a cold.

She put him on antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection, ointment for his eye for conjunctivitis, and drops for his ears because he had ear mites. And he was not a good patient. He defined fighting “tooth and nail.” We double-teamed him on the antibiotic – one of us wrapping him tightly in a towel and the other squirting the dropper down his throat, all in less than 20 seconds.

But Shadow kept getting worse. He breathed loudly, like he was congested, and he snored when he slept. He sounded terrible when he ate, like he couldn’t breathe through his nose. Worried, I called the vet. We took him the next day and she took a closer look. His blood studies from the first visit were normal. His x-ray showed clear lungs. She suspected a polyp in his nasal passage, but she was reluctant to let it go and sent us to the emergency hospital a half hour away.

Animal ERs are just as busy and the wait just as long as human ERs. Veruca and I arrived about 8 p.m. and we didn’t leave until 1 a.m. Shadow was examined and x-rayed in more detail under a sedative, and placed in an oxygen tank to allow him to breathe better. The vet on duty told me the estimated costs associated with removing the suspected polyp – around $2600 – and I damn near fainted. Money I don’t have and can’t afford. The alternative was euthanasia, and I started to cry. V didn’t know what that was and after I explained it to her, she started to cry. I opted, come hell or high water, I was not putting this cat down. I would find a way to pay for it. They started the procedure and she couldn’t find the “stem” of the polyp, she said, and he would need to have surgery the next day with an internist.

We requested to see him before we left. He was lying on his side in the oxygen cage, still sedated, his one little paw taped up with an IV attached, and a soft blanket over him. He looked every bit the baby who stole our hearts just weeks ago. I reached out and stroked his soft head and back, trying to hold back the tears that had already washed my mascara away hours before. V pet him too, and together we walked out to the car, feeling relieved that he’d be fixed in the morning and would be able to come home later. It was the last time we saw him.

 

 

Where I’ve Been – February/March 2017

I have a confession to make. I’ve been on the lam. Avoiding writing, reading, and general responsibility. Although the latter seems to catch up with me every time.

In the last two weeks or so, I’ve been to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) four times, gave Todd a homemade Valentine’s gift, attended Baltimore County’s wrestling tournament (aka, “counties”), submitted 3 resumes, had one job interview, got an x-ray, took care of one sick child for 5 days, upgraded our cable service, got in a heated telephone discussion with the electric company, adopted a kitten, worked 2 very busy Saturday nights, and got my every-two-years eye exam. Oh – and I managed to kill another plant.

There. That’s it. If you’re pressed for time, you can stop reading now. If you want details that will deliver more than April the giraffe, read on.

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The Details.

#1. Veruca had her quarterly endo check-in, and all is well and her A1c is still 6.1, which – translated – means her average blood sugar is around 146. That was CHOP visit number one. Number three was a sick visit to primary care for a sore throat and 3 days of fever. Yes – she was my sick kid for 5 days, and home for every single one of them. No strep, however. She has made a full recovery.

#2. CHOP visits two and four have nothing to do with V, and are actually job-related, and that’s all I’m saying about that right now.

#3. You don’t really want to know about Todd’s homemade Valentine’s gift, do you? Details, stolen from Pinterest: take a glass jar with a lid and fill with little notes, three-different colors– which I made heart-shaped, because I was trying to be a little craftier than throwing scraps of paper in a jar and calling it romance. White for a song lyric, pink for a memory, and red for what-I-love-about-you. Original idea called for one for each day of the coming year – which – do the math – is THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE.  Since I was pressed for time and didn’t have six months to produce all these “things,” I stopped at 100. And, by some miracle, when I did the math for that – February 14th is exactly 100 days from our legal anniversary. What luck!

#4. Counties. Nephtoo was wrestling his final tournaments of his high school career. I was very proud to be there, in spite of a hot gymnasium filled wall to concrete wall with sweaty boys and their cheering families… for seven hours. Including one guy who briefly sat next to SIL, screaming his bloody head off at his son on the mat, waving his arms around and any one of us risking becoming collateral damage by sheer default of being too close. Meanwhile, Todd made friends with a dad from another school who never stopped talking for a minute, which was shocking that someone had literally shut down my ever-talkative husband.

#5. Side note: Neph was there too, against his better judgement because I’m convinced all of his symptoms screamed !!!FLU!!!. But he went to support his brother, which I thought was wonderful and sweet. By phone from across the gym, he told me he’d stay away, but I made him walk over anyway. He was supposed to visit us two days later, but obviously that didn’t happen.

#6. I got an x-ray of my left knee, where I have been experiencing recurring sharp pain when I run. I gave up road-running and took on the treadmill, and the pain disappeared. Until now. It’s been several weeks, and I’m feeling that sharp pain even when I’m walking on it though it’s not constant – more like chronic. If that makes any sense. The NP I saw said I have degenerative joint disease/mild arthritis in the left knee and said she’d call in a r/x for Celebrex. Well, guess what? That’s not good enough. I’m seeing our orthopedist.

#7. Biggest news – our new addition. Veruca and I have been going around and around this discussion about adopting a cat, and the final decision hinged on my readiness and a little negotiation with Todd that wasn’t meant to be taken seriously but here we are. We saw one for adoption at the pet store where we buy our dog food. Her name was Raven and she was solid black, with a small tuft of white on her chest. I finally put in an application and waited. The day to bring her home finally came 10 days ago. I went to pick her up and the ladies in the store weren’t expecting me (someone didn’t tell them I was coming) and so had to go looking through the file for her papers. They pulled out a sheet and , as I’m reading over it, I tell them this isn’t hers because this is for a male cat. A male cat that fit her description, but male all the same. They said she IS a male. I said, what? Now they’re confused, and so they pulled her out to check, and lo and ballsacks… it’s a boy! The card on the outside of her cage actually never did mention her gender, but I just assumed by the name that he was a she. Nevertheless, after a long period of laughter – from me, whereby the ladies were beginning to wonder if it was alright – HE came home with me.

More to come.