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25 January 2009 @ 11:14 pm
Now that I've got a bit of a respite from the asswhupping that was January 2009....  
Yeah. So 2009 did not start off well for me, which is why I haven't been around LJ, or the Internet in general, for that matter, since New Year's.

Cat health fail

This is my 10.5-year-old kitty, Brie (being pursued by Meghan in her Santa costume):

On the afternoon of January 2, while I was taking a nap with Meghan in the living room, I heard Brie vomiting upstairs. (Those of you who have cats know exactly the sound I'm talking about. The noise itself is nauseating.) Barfing isn't unusual for Brie; she often vomits up splashes of water and hairballs. But later, when I went upstairs to find the mess so I could clean it, I discovered three small circles of fine white foam -- as in, that's what she had vomited up. That struck me as really out of the ordinary, so I went ahead and called my vet, who was about to close for the day and told me to go to an emergency vet instead, or else wait for business hours the next day.

I am so glad I didn't wait. I spent most of that night, after we had gotten Brie assessed and left her overnight in the care of the vet, trying to prepare myself for her death. She had gone down from a high of 12 pounds to not much above 7 pounds -- a weight loss I had noticed, but kept dismissing, figuring that she just felt lighter in comparison to Meghan, who of course was getting heavier. The vet gave her a preliminary diagnosis, which turned out to be accurate, of an acute spike of chronic renal failure, and while cats can recover from it and live for a while after that, Brie was not looking good at all. It was also possible that she had a heart condition and some sort of cancer on top of it all. Luckily, that turned out not to be the case.

She spent four nights in the ICU and had to have a central line (an IV through her jugular vein, in her neck), a blood transfusion, hydration therapy, and all sorts of other interventions. They had visiting hours twice a day, and I showed up faithfully to every set of them while she was there, because it killed me to know that she was in a cage, feeling like utter crap. During some of the visits, she really looked like she was at death's door. She was all huddled up, her head in the corner, and she was just so tired and depressed.

And the treatments weren't easy on her. The big therapy for the renal failure is to hydrate the cat as much as possible via IV. However, too much hydration and the heart starts to fail -- and when we brought her in, she had a heart murmur, which further complicated matters. So the vets had to do a balancing act between the two, kidneys vs. heart. She got the blood transfusion because she was horribly anemic; after that, she perked up quite a bit.

I seriously didn't think she was going to make it through all this. She was expected to stay in the ICU for at least a week, but on day 5, she went home, because her heart was reacting too much to the hydration therapy for them to continue it any further. By then, she was much more herself, though, and I was grateful to be bringing her home in her carrier rather than in an urn.

We took her to a cardiologist a couple of days later and got a (surprisingly) clean bill of health on her heart. She still has chronic renal failure, but we're treating it by giving her subcutaneous IV infusions every other day. It's hard for me to do them by myself (which I did manage to do for the first week, because Jack was away), but Jack's an anesthesiologist, and the two of us combined -- me holding her and him doing the needle stuff -- get it done in no time at all.

So all's well that ends well, at least for now. Brie is back to her normal self, so aside from the shaved patch on her neck from when she was in the ICU and the fact that she still has some weight to gain back, she's pretty much her normal self. Here's a freaky-looking picture of her shaved neck:

As I said, thank GOODNESS I didn't wait to take her to the vet. I don't know how much longer she would have lasted. I only wish I had put two and two together earlier. I had noticed a lot of her symptoms (such as weight loss, vomiting splashes of water, increased levels of urination in the litterbox, and loss of interest in food), but in my mommyhead haze (and general ignorance about feline chronic renal failure, because I had never encountered it before), I hadn't put them together or had found reasons to dismiss them or think I had noticed incorrectly. In particular, with respect to her loss of interest in food -- which is a key symptom of major illness in any animal -- I had just thought Jack had finally started filling her food bowl. I was usually the one who did it, but when I noticed that it continued to be full for a week or two without my needing to refill it, I just figured Jack had finally started paying attention and refilling it. Definitely a bad assumption on my part.

So it was a horrible, horrible roller coaster ride for that first week of January. I'm not ready to lose her yet. "Brie" was Meghan's first word, and she often wakes up going, "Brie! Brie!" She loves that kitty, and so do I. I'm incredibly thankful she's still with us.

Oh yeah, and the vet bill, including followup visits, is about $6,000. OUCH. I'm just grateful that we are lucky enough to be able to afford it, because it would have KILLED me to say, "Well, I don't have the money, so we're going to have to put Brie to sleep." Even if we didn't have the money, I would have put it all on credit cards, sold off my entire BPAL collection...ANYTHING to be able to pay for it. But some people don't even have that sort of option, and I'm thankful that I did. You can't put a price on life, you know?

Grandma health fail

Three days after Brie came home, my family came to my house for dinner. Right before we started to eat, my 92-year-old grandmother tripped over Meghan's highchair tray and broke her hip (technically, her femur). It wasn't catastrophic as far as emergency situations go; there was no crying or screaming -- which is an even more remarkable fact if you know my grandmother, who, despite being extremely spry and healthy for her age, is a terrible hypochondriac and will moan and groan about small bruises and other minor injuries in order to seek sympathy. It's a phenomenon I call "Jaj, szegény-kem," which means "Oh, you poor thing" in Hungarian, which is what my grandmother speaks. She's basically looking for people to say that phrase to her.

But this time, she really rose to the occasion. In fact, we had thought she had probably just bruised herself badly because of how well she was taking it. After my mom and dad helped her back into her chair, she managed to eat dinner, and while she definitely was saying she was in pain, it didn't seem all that bad. But she couldn't get up from the chair, so we had to call the paramedics to take her to the hospital, where they did X-rays and found out that she had indeed broken a bone. A day later, she had surgery to put a rod in the leg, and several days after that, she was transferred to a rehab facility for the elderly, where she is right now. She'll probably be there for another week or two.

So far, she's doing really really well. She already is able to get herself into a wheelchair and out of it, use the bathroom and dress on her own, and use a walker to cruise the halls of the facility. Within a couple of weeks, she should be rid of the walker and able to go back to the things she was doing before, including climbing stairs. I'm just so impressed at how well she's taken all of this. She faithfully does her rehab exercises; on the first day, she even did 50 reps of some exercise when the therapist had told her to do just 20! That's motivation for ya! She's probably the oldest person in that facility, but she looks way younger and is far more with it than anyone else there. Go Grandma! Here's a picture of the four generations of women in my family (Grandma, my mom, me, and Meghan -- and remember, Grandma is 92 years old!!!):

So yeah, visiting her nearly every day has also kept me very busy and preoccupied.

Single-mother fail

Man, props to all the single moms out there. Jack went off to work at a hospital a couple of hours away for 10 days during his vacation from his regular job so that he could pull in extra money, which turned out to be a really good thing given our monstrous vet bill from Brie's health crisis. It wasn't as though we actually had an extra $6,000 sitting around, so it was really good that he was able to earn extra money during his vacation. And I constantly reminded myself of this while he was gone, because DAMN, it sucks to be on your own with a very demanding, very active child. It was just tiring. There was no Jack to deal with Meghan in the morning while I tried to get a couple of hours of sleep to make up for all of the nightly wakeups. (I'm still dealing with at least one, and often three, wakeups per night. *sigh*) There was no Jack to clean up after dinner while I nursed Meghan to sleep; I had to do all the cleaning, the trash taking out, the subcutaneous infusing (for Brie), etc., after Meghan went to bed -- and it wasn't as though I could let it wait until the next day, because I often have literally ZERO Meghan-free time during the day to do things that require the use of both of my hands. Meghan often doesn't nap at all (one day, she went from 9 am to I think it was 8 pm with just two 10-minute naps, and that was because we had two 10-minute car trips!!!), and she hates being put down in anything enclosed like a playpen when she is awake. Of course, there is a decent amount of time during which she plays by herself on the floor, but it's not like I can leave the room for more than a few seconds when she's doing that; it's just not safe.

I did see a lot of my parents that week, since we were visiting my grandmother in the hospital, and then the rehab facility, every single day, so I wasn't ALONE alone, and being that busy also made the time pass quickly, but it was still very rough.

Now things are finally relatively back to normal, and so it is catch-up-on-LJ time. The good news, however, is that I managed to finish my Harry Potter reread during those crazy weeks. (Obviously, I did have some free time, but between the health crises and dealing with Meghan on my own, I often was way too braindead to open up my laptop; it was a lot easier just to pick up a book and read.) I even read Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Quidditch Through the Ages. I plan to do another reread sometime much later in the year so that I can note down all the things that kept occurring to me as I made my way through the books, but one thing I have to say now is that I liked Deathly Hallows MUCH more the second time around. Maybe it was because I read the other six books right before it (whereas the first time around, a good year and a half had elapsed between my reading of the first six and my reading of DH), or maybe it was because this time around, I savored the prose and thought about the concepts rather than rushing through to the end so as to finish before getting spoiled accidentally.... I don't know, but I just really thought it worked much better this time, and the details clicked much better. Even the epilogue bothered me less, although I still maintain that it was sort of lame. Actually, I think the biggest problem with the epilogue also plagued the interactions from Snape's memories a few chapters before -- namely, stilted kiddie dialogue. It's so strange: JKR wrote amazing dialogue between children in the entire series, but utterly failed at writing kid!Lily, kid!Petunia, and all of the next-genners in the epilogue. I didn't have a problem with the concepts she was putting forward, but the execution just didn't work at all.

Anyway, so now I am recanonified, which is a relief. Names and events are once again fresh in my mind, and I feel ready to get back to ficcing. I'm also going back and reading old theory essays (like over at Red Hen) on my iPhone while I'm nursing Meghan, because those keep me thinking about all of the intricate plot points and help inspire some of my fic.

I'm also reading Harry, A History (you know, the book by Melissa Anelli, webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron). I think fandom itself fascinates me almost as much as canon. I only wish I had discovered fandom earlier, like during the three-year summer, and that the forums over at The Sugar Quill weren't dead.

Well, enough blabbery for now. I've got tons of e-mail to catch up on, as well as weeks worth of flist. Thank goodness you can now backread your flist by date (if you're a paid member). *takes a deep breath and plunges in*
Current Mood: tiredtired
Lucretia my reflection: wacky fun Wash Fireflyagameofthree on January 26th, 2009 04:31 am (UTC)
I was wondering where you were! I was just about to poke you! :)

I'm so sorry to hear about Brie and your grandma, but glad to hear both are doing better! We had almost the exact same scare with Sydney when we were in Hawai'i. That was three years ago, and she's put on all the weight she's lost (and then some ;). Hopefully you'll be saying the same about Brie soon. And your grandma sounds like an amazing woman.

My husband traveled a lot when Boo was Meghan's age, so I feel for you. :( If it's any consolation, it does get easier when they get older. But yeah, I don't know how single moms do it!

Have fun catching up. ;)
Miss Sophia: Hearts - child with heart balloonmiss_sophia on January 26th, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
So Sydney has chronic renal failure, too? Did you have to do subQ fluids as well? I'm hoping that we can eliminate that treatment after a few months -- the vet said it was definitely possible -- but I'm just glad there's something I can do to keep her healthy and with us.

I think things will be easier when Meghan has language...although let me tell you, she knows more than she lets on! I'm starting to think, based on her reactions to some things I've said, that she understands me, but just doesn't say much of anything back, which leads me to misjudge that she didn't understand.

BTW, the BPTP order came in, but true to BPTP, it was all messed up!!! I got your notepad, one of the four Snow white atmosphere sprays I had ordered, and my bottle of Winter Maiden bath oil, along with a note that my Holiday Stress Relief bath oil and my Queen's Croquet Ground atmosphere spray are back ordered and will be sent separately. Nothing was said about my remaining three Snow White sprays or the two Okiya goblin squirts (one for you and one for me) I had requested. So I'm going to e-mail them and find out what's up. I'll definitely let you know when I hear back! So, so far, I've got your notepad and your bath bomb from Lush. Aside from the Okiya goblin squirt, was there something else I was supposed to send you? I feel like there was, but it's not coming to mind. I could look into my Paypal history and see, but I thought I'd ask if you know it offhand first. :)
Lucretia my reflection: bubble tea suck my ballsagameofthree on January 26th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
Sydney was diagnosed with chronic renal failure, but I believe that she actually had anemia from fleas (this was when we first introduced Slobcat into the house, and she got them from her). They said we would have to do the subq fluids, but they also doused her with Frontline (or something) at the same time, and by the next bloodtest, her white cell count was higher and she was gaining weight again. So we never ended up having to do it. It was definitely scary, though, so I know what you're going through!

Do you baby sign? We did it with Boo, which was one way we knew she understood more than she was letting on. Now would definitely be a good time to start introducing basic signs, if you're interested in doing it.

Gah on BPTP. :P I wonder why their orders are always so messed up! Besides the notepad and Oikya squirt (which I paid you for), you were going to send the Lush emotibomb, plus decants of Butter Rum Cookie and Perchta (which I didn't). I've been waiting on a total for the Lush bomb and the decants, and will PP as soon as you add those up. :) You also mentioned sending a partial decant of Eggnog Latte, which I asked if you wanted me to pay you for, too.

I need to get to bed, but let me know the total and I'll send it in the morning. Thanks! :)
Miss Sophia: Cats - Chinese charactermiss_sophia on January 28th, 2009 04:31 am (UTC)
I love that your other cat is named Slobcat. Every time I see that, I crack up. XD

I haven't done any baby signs, no. But maybe I should start. I kind of wanted to do them, but then I got lazy, and then I figured it was just too late. And then I justified it all by deciding that if we did baby signs, it could possibly delay Meghan's speech -- as in, if she signs, she won't be encouraged to speak. Which is probably a crap conclusion to come to, but again, it was total justification. It's also hard for me to identify with all this, because I grew up hearing stories about how I was already talking in simple sentences by 9 months (which sounds like an exaggeration, but my parents assure me that I was just really verbally advanced).

But yeah, you're right, it probably would be a good idea to start associating signs with some of the more important things I want Meghan to be able to communicate with me. I actually know some ASL, but I assume that it doesn't really matter -- you just pick a gesture and go with it.

THANK YOU for the reminder on the BPAL -- I knew there was other stuff. The bath bomb was $4.15 including tax, and the Perchta and Butter Rum Cookie decants are $3.25 each. And no, no payment for the Egg Nog Latte decant is necessary. :)

I did get a reply from Puddin about the BPTP stuff. My e-mail said the following:

Hiya! I'm enclosing in this e-mail a copy of the receipt from a CCNOW order I had placed back in December. I received a few days ago via USPS the Skelly Librarian notepad, one bottle of Snow White atmospheric spray, and one bottle of Winter Maiden bath oil, along with a note saying that the Holiday Stress Relief bath oil and Queen's Croquet Ground atmospheric spray are backordered and will be sent separately; however, this leaves three bottles of Snow White atmospheric spray and two goblin squirts of Okiya atmospheric spray unaccounted for. So I just wanted to make sure I would be receiving those as well. Thanks!

His reply was as follows:

Yes you will, I had one of the BPAL Lab Rats helping me while I was sick last week and he must have missed the “4 “ part.

I will make sure you get the other 3 Snow Whites.

*siiiiigh* For now, I'm going to assume that he meant to mention the Okiya goblin squirts as well. But if I don't receive them, I'll get on his case.
Lucretia my reflection: Tim Tam and Slobcatagameofthree on January 28th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you can imagine how much I love calling the vet. :P

From the reading I've done and my own experience, I believe that baby signing actually hastens language development, since you're getting them to communicate. Boo's always been really verbal, too, and I think that the signing really helped. If you know a little ALS, I'd use that since you're in effect teaching her another language, but yeah, you can always make them up, too -- and sometimes, they choose their own. :)

I just paypaled you for the decants and Lush bomb, and thank you so much for the EGL frimp! :)

Ugh, that's frustrating about BPTP, but yeah, hopefully he'll remember the goblin squirts! I've never placed a big order from them, but I know a lot of people who have, had had similar problems. Did they give you a time frame on your backordered stuff? I hope you get it soon, especially since I know a lot of it was Christmas gifts!
madame sosostris: Boom Boom the Flemish giantshantih on January 26th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
*quick glomp before running off to sleep*
Miss Sophia: Heart - buttonsmiss_sophia on January 26th, 2009 04:57 am (UTC)
~Lirpa~: Hug Calvin and Hobbskatje0711 on January 26th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
So glad your grandmother and kitty cat are doing well now. {{HUGS}}
Miss Sophia: Hearts - jelly cookiesmiss_sophia on January 28th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
Thank you! I know my mom especially appreciates the support. :)
st_aurafina: Baggins was hatched!st_aurafina on January 26th, 2009 06:32 am (UTC)
Oh, poor Brie! We have a cat with renal insufficiency - we were lucky and caught it early - she's doing really well a year later, though she takes 2 daily medications to support her kidneys and heart, and is on a kidney friendly diet. Something our vet told us to look out for was excess grooming of her claws, and really bad breath - circulation to the gums and nail-beds are affected by a shift in her condition. She's had one relapse since, and it set off a case of gingivitis, and the vet picked it up.

I love your four generations photo! You all look alike, it's gorgeous.
Miss Sophia: Cats - Chinese charactermiss_sophia on January 28th, 2009 04:36 am (UTC)
Ooh, thanks for mentioning the extra symptoms to watch out for. All Brie is on right now is Pepcid (for stomach acid control) and the subQ infusions, as well as a special diet. In some ways, she's doing even better than before she had the health emergency -- for example, she doesn't seem to be having those water-splash throwups any more.

I think tacky gums are also a symptom of acute disease, because it indicates dehydration.

It's definitely reassuring to know there are other people out there whose cats are thriving despite having chronic renal failure. &hearts
The Fizzy Champagne Princesspuredeadthingy on January 26th, 2009 09:27 am (UTC)
*snugs* So glad you can rise above all of this :)
Miss Sophia: Heart - iridescent bubblesmiss_sophia on January 28th, 2009 04:37 am (UTC)
Thank you!!! It was a really shitty start to the year, but I'm just so thankful everyone's still alive and well. <3
automatic door: loveautomaticdoor on January 26th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
*drive-by hugs* Glad to see you again!
Miss Sophia: Candy heart - *HUGS*miss_sophia on January 28th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)
&hearts Thanks! I hope we get to do another meetup in the near future. Perhaps in February or March, I can host! :)
Frankiefrankieb_sq87 on January 28th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Sorry you've had such a rough beginning fo the year! Hopefully you're just getting everything for the year done at once? :-)

I miss Fandom. It's so sad. . . most of the people I was close with online have just dissipated into the ethernet lately, and it's just so sad to see the Quill Forums fall into disuse.
alabastardalabastard on January 29th, 2009 01:20 am (UTC)
Wow, what a time you've had! I am so glad Brie made it through, your dedication is commendable.

I hope things get easier from here on in, looking forward to reading some of your work, and hopefully seeing you at a con or two ... ;-)