12 September 13

I want to ride my bicycle

Over the course of the last 9 years or so, there have been a few times where I decided that this was the summer where I would ride my bike to work every day. I’m fortunate to live just a few miles from my job, and these few miles can be passed in a 15-minute car ride, a 30-minute bike ride, or a 1 to 1.5 hour train/train/bus ride, depending on traffic and schedules.

However, 9 years ago, at the very beginning of the summer. A friend was killed while riding her bike to work. It was an accident, a true accident. But it was horrifying. And not only was it hard to know that the world was now absent her kindness and brilliance, but to see those closest to her ripped apart emotionally, and knowing they’d never be the same scared me more. I hated the idea that I might be victim to that, more so for how it would affect the people closest to me. But I kept saying that next year I would get over that and ride to work.

Then a few years ago, I decided that I was ready for the challenge again. But a dear friend witnessed another horrifying bike accident that resulted in the loss of a young woman. I didn’t know her, but seeing how witnessing the accident affected my friend, all those fears and thoughts of leaving my loved ones behind came rushing back.

But this year, this year was the year where I decided that I would get past this. At the beginning of summer I got my 14-year-old steel hulk of a bike tuned up (although it is far from perfect) and I obsessed over how I would bike to work and avoid the major arteries, both the traffic kind and those that would pump adrenaline through my body. And I found a route I was comfortable with. In fact, I’ve found a few routes I’m comfortable with. I take the same route to work every morning. It is a 4.5 mile ride. I know where the potholes are, I know which corners tend to be gravelly and should be taken slower, and I know how to avoid all but 2 blocks of major roads.

When I began biking I decided my goals for biking were to: a) get over this fear; b) save money on train fare; c) get some exercise. And I have to admit that the reason I still do it every day (well except for a few days where I just haven’t been able to get up early, or the weather has been bad, or I had an event after work I couldn’t bike to), the reason isn’t because of any of my major goals. Maybe a little of the first one. Getting over that fear. Encountering a couple of scary situations and continuing to ride has made me feel more in control. But riding my bike and feeling my legs become stronger, strong enough to power me up what I call Mount Ridge (which I call it, no one else, because it is funny and makes no sense: Mount Ridge) without having to downshift, without having to stand to pedal, without breathing so hard at the top that I feel my vision blur, is pretty awesome.

Some of the excuses that I used for not riding to work was that it was the only time I had to read during the day, and I would miss that. And part of me does miss that, but now I find myself actually taking a lunch break more often to just eat my sandwich and read, instead of working through lunch at my desk. Winning on two counts, I think. Another excuse is that I kinda enjoyed some of what I call “Crazy Bus Interactions”, even if they happen on a train. The too-loud conversation that you just can’t help but overhear, the wide-eyed kid riding a train for the first time, the people who comment on the book I’m reading, the bus driver I used to call “the grumpy Sikh” until he stopped wearing his head covering after people at a gurdwara were shot. Now I call him “the sad Sikh in disguise.” The woman who doored a city bus. Yeah, really. She opened her driver’s door after a bus was half past her and it caught on the door frame for the back door.

And I miss some of that. But I just have different interactions now. There is an older Korean man who bikes the loop in the park in the morning in orange pants, a safety vest, and the largest bike helmet I’ve ever seen. Everytime we pass each other he waves and he shouts “Bike safe pretty American!” And I chuckle, every time. This happened 3 times this week. At the beginning of summer I was struggling to get up a slight hill at the end of my route and a VSB (Very Serious Biker) flew past me while saying “You can do it! Just keep going.” And I think I found a little strength I didn’t know I had. There was the high school doofus who thought it would be funny to smack me on the bum with his hand as his friend drove past me. I wasn’t hit, he missed me entirely. He thought it was hilarious. And it scared me so much that after the adrenaline subsided I wanted to throw up. But I kept biking, and I’m glad I did, because instead of making nicknames for people on the bus, I now make nicknames for people I see while I’m riding.

There is one woman I pass frequently at night if I go past the home where she lives. This large hotel-like building seems to house people with a variety of disabilities. I’m not sure what hers are, but she talks about French people every time she sees me. “They got the funniest hats, those French people.” “French people are so rude.” I call her the Anti-Franco-Alliance. Then there is a guy who smokes with one cigarette in each hand. But I don’t think he smokes, I think he just holds them. And he jumps back and forth from one square in the sidewalk to another while singing “1, 2 Freddy’s coming for you.” That’s it, just that line. He is the The Movie Extra With 1 Line. There is the bus driver I’ve only seen a few times. But because I wait behind the bus while he lets kids on (you know, following the law), he’s taken to smiling at me and telling me to “Have a blessed day” when I do pass him. He’s the Nice Bus Driver (not everyone gets a funny name). The older woman who is either sweeping off or housing down the sidewalk in front of her house waves at me while her white dog lounges in the grass. There are the two older Slavic women who sit in the park in lawn chairs, in snap-front house dresses, sandals, and knee-hi socks rolled down to their ankles and drink wine out of green plastic tumblers. I call them The Ladies Who Wine. The don’t even notice me, or anyone else. They’re too busy laughing and talking with each other. But I’ve seen them every day. I envy them, actually. I hope to be them someday.

But all this excitement aside, this isn’t even why I continue to bike to work. I bike because it is fun. There is something amazing about biking down a street that was covered in fresh blacktop just that day and hearing how much quieter fresh blacktop is, how much smoother, how much less effort it takes to roll down the street. Even on the days that have been wicked hot, when I’ve gotten to work and been glad I could shower off and change, even on those days it is fun. (This has only happened 1 time, actually. This summer was too cold.) It’s so much fun, that I fear I’ll miss it when the weather turns cold and inclement. I’m going to keep biking as long as I can stand it. But I’m cranky and whiny when I’m cold, so I don’t have high hopes. But it is fun. Lots of people, too many people, told me I would enjoy it. I doubted them, and I’m sorry. I’m not at the point where I’m making plans to bike across Iowa, or anything crazy like that. But I am thinking it really would be possible to take some longer bike rides. Probably next year due to scheduling issues. And I’ve spent zero time shopping for a new bike, or bike gear, or bike wardrobe, or any of the other things that Very Serious Bikers, and many Biking Is Fun Bikers, get into. And that may change, but for now. I’m just going to give myself a mental fist-bump every time I climb Mount Ridge. Just because I can. Just because it gets more fun every day.

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04 September 13

What am I all about?

I began writing online a very long time ago. July 2001, in fact. 12 years is a long time and I’ve seen a lot of things change with how people interact with personal websites (which is ultimately what this is) and how people use their personal websites.

I began writing online because I’d recently begun a new job and was coming across small facts and trivia bits every day that I found fascinating and intriguing and was emailing them to a few people. Those people got tired of getting my emails about why salmon flesh is “salmon” colored, how George Washington had syphilis, what the Tuskeegee Airmen were all about, etc., and so I started a website where I could share it so they could read it when they wanted to.

But then other people I didn’t know began to read it and I was amazed that anyone would be interested in what I was writing. And then I became amazed at how there were so many people writing stuff that was fascinating and I began looking forward to reading their next post more than I was looking forward to the next episode of Buffy (which is saying a lot). And then I got to meet some of those people and they became IRL (in real life) friends as well as online friends.

And I continued writing and connecting. And then my job got busy and I no longer took a lunch break to read blogs as often. And then I only read blogs on Google’s RSS Reader, which made it hard to read the comments or leave a comment, so I stopped doing that. Then I no longer found myself having the time to even read what was in my RSS feeds. Then I wrote a cookbook and had no desire to write anything again, ever.

And now, here I am, missing those connections that I had with people then. Missing them intensely, and honestly. And I miss having time to share my thoughts. And after reading the work of people I know in person, I realize I missing sharing what I’m thinking. I miss analyzing my day, my thoughts, my interests in a way that helped me make them more tangible and made them more important.

So I did something I’ve never done. I’ve created a list of things I want to write about. I can’t promise my writing will be any good. But I I do think that writing again will give me something I’m missing right now. That head space that helped me put my life into a different and healthier perspective. And I need a different and healthier perspective. So I’m going to write. At first a lot about the business side of this site. I’ve got a lot that I want to share about how that has changed for me, too. I want to, need to, think more in a way that isn’t just thoughts running randomly on a loop through my head. Hence the healthier and different perspective.


02 May 13

Seventeen Years

That’s how long Andrew and I have been together. It’s crazy to think about how long we’ve been a part of each other’s lives. In some ways, 17 seems SO LONG. And yet, in other ways, it is hard to remember a time when he wasn’t a part of my life. It’s not that every day with Andrew has been glowlingly wonderful. Nor was everyday before Andrew awfully dark.

But I have no doubt that Andrew has challenged, inspired, and sometimes dared me to be a better, happier person. I hope I’ve done the same for him. I like myself better with him in my life. I like my life better with him in it. I’d like him even more if he could put more dishes in the dishwasher, but I recognize how lucky I am to even have a dishwasher. (Seriously, we may not have made it 17 years if we didn’t have one. There were so many small bitter arguments over dishes pre-dishwasher.)

A friend asked me a few days ago what our secret was. “How do you get to be together that long? I mean, just HOW?”

And I had no answer for her. And even after thinking about it for a couple of days, I still don’t think I have an answer. But I think it mostly boils down to my recognition that because he is part of my life, I am better for it. He’s far from perfect. He’s got faults that many people I know would leave him for without hesitation. And while I love him despite the faults, it’s mostly recognition that his faults (while annoying) don’t hinder my enjoyment of life more than his presence in my life brings me happiness. That’s an awkward sentence, but what I mean to say is that the unpleasant moments I’ve spent with him have not kept me from enjoying the vast majority of the time we’ve been together.

There have been struggles, and troubles, and tears. There have been pained silences, tight-lips, and heartbreak. But we’ve found a way to grow and change through those times and come out still happy to be with each other. And I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful that he’s worked just as hard as I have (sometimes harder) to get to a point where the bad times can be talked about without causing more tight lips and re-breaking of hearts.

I have no advice on how you can get to be with someone for 17 years and still be happy with them, let alone still love and be in love with them. I think it is luck, honestly. There were so many times where we probably “should have” broken up. So many times where I didn’t think we’d survive a fracture. But we did. And it has been hard work, but we’ve both put forth the work. We’ve both wanted the outcome that we currently have.

But still, man, 17 years! It blows my mind. 17 years!

Next month we’ll have been married for 7 years. Even that seems like a really, really, really long time. And yet, it seems like yesterday.

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27 January 13

Bugs and Julius (and Rocky?)

So Andrew and I have decided that Rocky is not the cat that will be happy living alone. So we set out to see if we could find a pair of kitties that we thought might get along. Instead of getting one cat, friends who have worked for animal shelters suggested two cats to work with Rocky’s “issues”.

Since he is so aggressive, getting one cat would make him the automatic dominant cat and therefore a bully. Having two cats who are pretty confident would make it harder for him to be such a bully and so aggressive as he was with Boos. If he attacks one of the pair, the other would likely stick up for him.

The other thought is that having two cats who have a very playful and non aggressive relationship may make it easier for Rocky to figure out what his limits are and permit him to play but not play so rough.

So we went to a cat shelter today to meet some kitties we saw online. The ones we were hoping to meet were no longer there, but they introduced us to this pair of kitties:


Julius is 4 (about the same age as Rocky) and Bugs is just a little over 1.
Neither cat had any friends at the shelter and didn’t get along well in foster homes with other cats. Bugs was too active for one foster cat’s puppy. (A cat too active for a puppy? That must be a wimpy puppy, eh? Not judging.) So they were both taken to the shelter and ended up in the same room and became fast friends. They adore each other and play very well with each other. They get along well with other cats, which makes us hopeful that they’ll get along well with Rocky, too. They’re also not timid or shy in the least. While Andrew was playing with Bugs, Bugs nipped at him and gave Andrew a very stern face. But we’ve learned the body language of a cat about to bite with Rocky so we think we can handle it.

We didn’t have everything we needed today to go pick them up, so we’re going to go down after work tomorrow to finish the paperwork and bring them home. We’ll have to see how we can do about keeping them apart and getting the new cats to feel comfortable in the space. But thankfully we have a big enough place with enough doors that I think we can keep them apart while we’re gone and give them some interaction when we’re home to make it okay. My hope is that Rocky is so bored and lonely that they’ll become quick friends.

We’re not sure if we’ll keep their names the same. And I’m trying to prepare myself to take them back if Rocky really just hates them and can’t accept them. But this feels hopeful. And the volunteer warned us that both cats were likely to play with us, but not let us pet them. But instead they were happy to get some light scratches and they smelled us. They both rubbed up against both of us while we were standing there. And Bugs only went after Andrew because he was feeling playful. So hopefully these two active but gentle guys can teach Rocky to calm down a bit.

All in all, we got the sense that the people who come to this shelter to adopt cats only want kittens or cats that will just curl up in your lap and not do anything. They were describing Julius “questionable” behavior with a foster mom who said she was getting ready for bed one night and Julius kept enticing her to play and then nipped her when she didn’t play with him. “Not one enough to draw blood, but enough that we have a safery waiver you will need to sign.” Seriously! This is what it takes to have questionable behavior and get some black mark put in your permanent record?

Rocky has NOOOO idea how lucky he is. I realized today that if he had ended up in a shelter and then bitten anyone with half as much vehemence as he bites us, then he’d never be adopted and might be put down for being too aggressive and untrainable. Our dude seriously doesn’t realize how lucky he is. Hopefully these cats teach him some gratitude.


23 January 13

Lonely Guy

The 3 faces of Rocky: 2

Rocky has been an only kitty. He is OMGZ! SO BORED! ARGH! HELP! WAH!

He’s a bit of a dramatic guy. He doesn’t lay down, he lines up sideways with what he wants to lie on and then he flops on it from a standing position. He’s done this since he was a kitten and it hasn’t changed. During mealtime he rolls around on the floor practically grabbing his stomach and wailing “I can’t believe you made me wait so long. I’m DYING!”

He loves just as dramatically. He’s the cat that will try to smother you in your sleep because he needs love NOW and if you don’t wake up he’ll just lie on your face until you move and then he’ll be all “OMGZ! YOU’RE AWAKE! I LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH!”

But the dramatic boredom? It’s getting to be a bit much. There was a bit of hope that maybe we could be a 1-cat household. That maybe Rocky would be happier and less bitier as a single kitty. But he’s not happier. He is less bitier, but that seems to be a fading benefit.

So we’ve done some thinking and some talking and some talking with rescue folks and gathering of opinions and they all seem to point to getting Rocky two cats instead of one. (I have no shame in admitting that I’m one of THOSE people who will be getting my cat a pet. He’s big enough to handle the responsiblity.)

There are 2 main thoughts we’ve been given that resonate:
1. If we get 2 bonded cats, if Rocky tries to attack one of them, the other is very likely to come to the defense. Rocky will likely be able to take just about any single cat we can find. But I’m not sure he can take two.
2. If we get a pair of bonded kitties, there is a chance that Rocky will see them exhibiting healthy limits with each other and he may learn to develop them for himself. Yes, I hope to be able to peer-pressure my cat into behaving better. It seems to make sense to me.

We haven’t chosen a pair. We had a lead on a set that seemed to be exactly what we were looking for, but their foster mother decided to keep them forever. Which is great. There are now 2 fewer cats who need to find a home. Unfortunately the decision to make this move came at a time when I can’t easily get off work to cat shopping and Andrew has a conference and other activities. But on Sunday I think we’re going to go meet cats.

This will mean that I break my very long-held rule that we only have 1 cat per lap so there is no jealousy and no fighting. I’ve been assured by others with 3 cats that 3 is just as easy to deal with as 2 in this regard. So I’m hoping they’re right. If they’re wrong, I’m never talking to them again. (Just kidding. I’ll probably just ask them to clean the litterboxes when they come visit.)

This will also mean that for the first time in my life I will go out seeking to find a cat. Every other cat I’ve ever lived with (and I’ve lived with a LOT of cats) have found me/us/their person. Every other cat has literally found us, or been found by neighbors who suck other neighbors into taking them into our home and I fall madly in love with them. This time I’ll have to resist the urge to not fall in love with the first cat(s) we see but actively figure out which cat(s) will have the best personality to live forever with our problem child. It’s going to be a challenge. I fall in love with cats the way some people fall in love with cupcakes.

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28 December 12

Boos: August 1997 - December 2012

Ready for his glamour shot

How do you eulogize a cat? I have so many stories about this guy, both good (his sweet breathy meow when I would rub his cheeks just right) and bad (his passive-aggressive refusal to pee in the litter box when he was angry). But how do I choose the right one to give anyone who didn’t know him as I did the ability to understand or care about him. I don’t think I can, even though my desire is high.

He was the most emotionally complicated cat that I have ever had. He was very demanding, but he was also terribly gentle and painfully sweet and loving. I think he truly did love me, or at least the cat-equivalent of love. His favorite time, especially the last several months, was to just be curled up in a ball on my lap, even while I slept. It made both of us happy, even as it occasionally made my legs fall asleep.

I’m going to miss him. We’d been through so much together. And even when we were mad at each other, it was still obvious we cared about each other. It’s a lesson I learned with him that I have been able to carry over to other relationships. I’m grateful for what he taught me about patience, and limits, and acceptance, and even love.

I wish I’d made more time to just sit still with him on my lap or by my side. I wish his last few years hadn’t been haunted by the specter of Rocky the Impossible Kitteh lurking around every corner with rage in his eyes. But he came to tolerate him, and in the end, Rocky came to care for him. He let him eat first, he let him have the catnip, he licked his forehead, he would just check in on him on occasion. It was sweet and heart-warming to see a fondness grow between them, even if it was too little, too late.

But in the end, Boos’s kidneys failed him. He lost all interest in eating and drinking. He grew emaciated and at the end seemed to be in pain. And it was the recognition of his pain that made me make the call for that final vet appointment. I loved him, and I wasn’t ready to lose him, but I also recognized that I had no right to make him live in pain when I had the power and ability to stop that.

At the vet, as we laid him on towel and began petting him, he purred. He’s never purred at the vet. In fact, he had a sticker on his folder that always made the vet tech walk in with falconry gloves. My sweet, gentle guy turned into a whirling dervish of rage that required him to be gassed to have his blood drawn. But at the end, he purred. My human need to emotionalize everything makes me want to think he knew what was going on and he was happy to be ending things. My rational brain thinks that the initial shot to relax him was such a relief that he purred because he was no longer in pain. The first thought makes me happy, the second thought makes me feel guilty for letting him feel any pain at all.

And in the end, that is how the end has been for every pet I’ve had to make this choice for. And it just leaves me with questions. Was there pain? Was I really loved, or was it just a fondness for supplying food and shelter? Is there understanding that the end is coming and what that means? Is my guilt justified? And there are no answers to these questions. Or at least no answers I’ll get in this lifetime. Maybe in the afterlife, or the next life, or whatever awaits us when our body stops working and our minds go dark.

But what I do know is that I still miss him terribly. Falling asleep without him on my lap is hard. Watching Rocky search the house for him and call out for him is hard. Occasionally calling, or hearing Andrew call, Rocky by the wrong name is hard. Thinking about how I can now have floor rugs again, and I don’t have to hide organza or crinkly plastic is even hard.

I’m still mourning and grieving. But I’m fortunate to have had him. He was my friend. He became my grumpy old man. But he started out my shy and skittish kitten with a golf-pencil of a tail who was weaned too early and was far more anxious than I would have liked. I loved him. And I honestly think he knew that.

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11 September 12

Kidney failure, a cat, and a fear of needles


This is Boos. He’s my sweet and yet grumpy old-man cat. We’ve had him since August 17th 1997. I got him when he was around 6 weeks old. He was very, very tiny. He had that chubby, puffy kitten body with a furry golf-pencil for a tail. He was timid and shy and had ear mites and worms. And I think I fell in love with him the first time I picked him up. And I’ve never stopped loving him. Even when he has angered me profusely. He’s not the snuggliest cat. His emotions tend to be very Germanic. Lots more scowls than wide grins. But he’s my buddy.

About 2 years ago, after he was fighting bladder infections that had been recurring for several years, we got an additional diagnosis of Stage 1 renal failure. This meant that his tender and fragile kitty kidneys were slowing shutting down. We were instructed to put him on wet food and trick him into drinking more water and bring him back in 6 months.

He abhors wet food. My attempts at making food for him from scratch resulted in his attempting to bury it. I tried tricking him by sprinkling water on his food. He announced his displeasure with an upturned nose and a refusal to eat. For days. Thanks to a kind pet store owner, I was able to walk through trying a wide variety of foods until I found something that he would eat and that would be mostly vet-approved. I gave him the food for 6 months, took him back in for another levels test, and we received gleeful word that his numbers hadn’t worsened at all. I felt like we’d found something that worked and I had every intention of sticking with it forever and ever and ever.

But I’m not Cinderella and neither is Boos. So beginning in February of this year, he began having trouble urinating and there was blood in his urine. So we got him to the vet, they tested for crystals (if your cat struggles to pee and is only able to get out a few drops and seems to be in pain, get it to a vet immediately) and he came up clean. We assumed it was an infection. It wasn’t. We had x-rays which came back inconclusive. Our vet assured us this wasn’t necessarily related to his kidneys, and suggested we give him pain killers to permit him to pass urine, valium (the 1950’s house-wife branded kind) to keep him calm, and some medication to lower his blood pressure which might result in better bloodflow through his kidneys.

We received a diagnosis of ideopathic urinary cystitis. This means that he has a tendency to grow cysts somewhere in his urinary tract (most likely his bladder based on the x-ray) and they have no idea what causes it. It’s not common, but it’s not unheard of. And since cats are pretty uncommunicative at the vet (unless you consider growls and hisses a language), it’s hard to figure out what is going on with them. So we embarked on a plan to get him through the rough patch he was in, and find ways to just not stress him out.

And we were doing pretty good until August hit. In August we were out of town for 3 weekends in a row. Even though we have a great cat-sitter, Boos refuses to get close to him and prefers to sleep on his jacket or bag instead. Unfortunately, us leaving is what causes Boos’ main anxiety, so his bloody bladder thing popped up again. To round out the month, Rocky The IMPOSSIBLE Kitteh managed to reach his paw between 2 kitchen cabinet bases and wiggle out a black plastic box that contained rodent poison. Then he managed to wiggle a thin and delicate plastic bag full of pellets out of the box. Then he, and or, Boos managed to consume almost every pellet in the bag.

So we woke up early, rushed to the vet, and spent some time freaking out wondering what was going to happen. It turns out that Vitamin K1 is an antidote for feline beasts who consume rodent poison. So they’re both taking that for the next 4-5 weeks. Thankfully, neither of them have developed a symptom. But when I woke up on Monday morning and found a puddle of urine that was as red as my hair, I grew very worried, convinced myself he was bleeding to death from the inside-out, and cancelled plans with friends so I could spend the last few hours of his life napping with him.

It turns out that it wasn’t poison-related. It turns out that his anxiety worked him up into a tizzy and he got another bladder infection. It turns out, I’m prone to jumping to conclusions and anxiety myself. (At this point Andrew is smirking.) We visited a new vet at the vet office we’ve been visiting for more than 15 years now. (Boos’s file is HUGE, by the way.) This new vet was very calming, clear, and was even able to get Boos, who turns into a growling, spatting, curl of a shrimp when at the vet, to uncurl and let her see his stomach. She assured me he was not affected by the poison. Said she’d run tests on his urine, gave him a steroid shot to help with the inflammed cysts, and said she’d want to give him some fluids. This meant 2 shots and Andrew wasn’t with me to take over.

I have a major fear of needles. I have passed out and been caught as I’m falling off things by very kind nurses who do their best to laugh after they leave the room. I see a needle in a movie on TV and my head starts to get that draining bathtub feeling. I see a needle in person and it’s like a sudden dump of blood and over and out I go. I’ve been at the vet several times when they’ve needed shots so I’ve just done my best to hold the cats head and say cooing things while looking NOT AT THE NEEDLE. And it has mostly worked. I’ve only started to feel pale a few times. This time, the vet decided she would have me help with the cat restraining while she gave a shot. She saw me go pale and immediately called in a tech.

Veterinary Lactated Ringer's Injection USP

Then she turned to me and said “I think you need to administer giving him fluids at home. It’s great that he’s drinking a lot of water, but we can practically double his water intake which means he’ll eat more and gain weight. And it really isn’t that hard. Are you willing to do it?”

I sat down and nodded. To her credit she didn’t have any reaction. She left the room, whispered to the sweetest, most patient vet tech I’ve ever met as I took deep calming breaths and convinced myself I could and would do this because the alternative was having a cat who wasn’t well. And I loved him. I’d want him to get over his fears to help me. (Cats are selfish, I know. I have no allusions this could happen.)

The vet tech came in the room, smiled and said “I’ll help you get through this. It looks scarier than it really is.” She waited for my wan smile before hanging the IV bag up and showing me how to put the IV tube onto the bag. And how to put the needle onto the tube. (Side note: There are so many tiny, plastic parts on these things. It’s worse than a packaged Japanese snack.) She then showed me how to pinch his fur in the right place to get a dimple of skin. She showed me how to slide the needle gently and firmly into his skin. She showed me how to feel that the needle was in his skin as she turned the fluids on.

It took 2-3 minutes of me stroking Boos’s cheeks and chin and making those embarrassingly cutesy cooey voices we make when our furry family isn’t happy. It felt like forever, and I admit to not looking at the needle that was hanging out of his skin. But after 100 mL of fluids had been transferred from the bag to a bubble on the back of his neck, she pulled out the needle. Said “That’s it.” And she smiled the most encouraging smile I’ve seen since learning to ride a bike.

And then I came home the next night. Dread lingering in my belly because I knew what I had to do. So I took a nap first. And I procrastinated. And then I grew resolute and decided I had to do this and so I would. So I conned Boos into getting comfortable on the sofa. And we got the bag out. And I pulled the green cap off the needle. And I pinched his skin to create a dimple, and I slid the needle in and felt it go through his skin and end up between my fingertips. He protested very slightly. And then I made him sit still for the 2 minutes it took for the water to transfer from the bag, to below his skin. And then I removed the needle, put the safety cap back on it, and watch him run away from me.

I have no doubt that the next time I need a shot, or to give blood, I’m going to get pale and pass out, or come close. I have no doubt that the knowledge of needing to have a shot will cause me intense anxiety. I have no doubt that watching needles on screen or at the vet will still cause me to go woozy. But the satisfaction I feel at giving my cat a dreaded medical treatment involving a needle in my hand is intoxicating. I feel a bit invincible, admittedly. I feel good. And my hope, is that with this most recent bout of antibiotics, this oral supplement named Cosequin (the lining of a cat’s bladder is made of the same stuff as the lining of their joints, so the hope is that this reduces inflammation in both), and fluids every 2-3 days will make Boos feel better. I’m not looking for a Forever and Ever ending this time. But more time and less pain seems like a reasonable goal. And I think I can get both of us there thanks to my new-found fear-reducing superpower.

Comment [2]

29 June 12

Unknown Knowns

I have a tendency to always focus on what I don’t know. To always look at all of the things that exist that I know nothing about and feel small and uninformed in comparison to all these things that exist that I want to know and do and experience. So it is refreshing on occasion, to have to step back and help someone who is where I was with a skill years ago. As I prepare to teach them, show them, guide them, it makes me realize how much I’ve learned. How much I’ve picked up and absorbed and has become second nature for me. It makes me realize how much of my own knowledge I take for granted. I’m good at what I do for a living. There is a lot I want to learn and a lot I need to learn since this industry is changing dramatically and will for at least the next few years until some new standards are accepted. It’s intimidating looking at everything that I will need to learn. But it seems less daunting and more exciting after looking at everything I have learned.


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