• Molecules of Breath

    I have a rotation of podcasts that I listen to, and to be honest, there's enough on my list that I tend to cherry pick and only listen to episodes that sound super interesting. There's a sub category of podcasts that are interesting, but are also good to fall asleep to. One such podcast is called Mysterious Universe, which talks about science things and out there theories and just really random, weird stuff. 

    But the other night, they had an interview with an author who wrote a book called "Caesar's Last Breath". 

    Look, my science lingo isn't up to snuff, so I'm just going to give you the super digested version.

    Apparently, the molecules that come out when we breathe are SUPER resilient, and because we let out so many of them when we breathe, there's a good chance that you're breathing in some of the same molecules that came from Caesar's last breath. 


    Now that's cool enough on it's own, but it made me think of Mikenna. She did an awful lot of breathing in our house. Thinking that those molecules survive and are floating around unseen somehow feels a lot cooler, makes her feel a lot more present, than just having her ashes. 

    Not just that, but if Caesar's molecules are floating around, that means my grandparents' are, too, and other pets and loved ones that are no longer alive. Is it silly? Perhaps. But I thought there was something interesting about it. Maybe you will too. 

  • Gwennie Ear Gel

    So, since the last time I wrote about it, we did in fact get Gwen on the ear gel. 

    Does Gwen like it?

    Not particularly. Her feelings range from apathy to a stink eye, depending on how feisty she's feeling.

    But I think we can both acknowledge that it takes two seconds and is a lot better than sitting around for fifteen minutes trying to coax her to take pills. Plus, now she gets actual cat treats instead of these pill laden fake treats that I tried to pass off on her.

    As with the pills, we have to medicate her twice a day. In the morning, I try to do it while she's still sleeping or has just woken up, because she just doesn't care. I can slip the ear gel into her ear and she'll look up at me and I drop treats onto her pillow/blanket/whatever she's sleeping on. If I wait until she's awake and sunning herself on the perch, that's when she'll give me a stink eye. At night, I give her the broth bowl, and then slip it into her ear once she starts eating. But she's eating a broth bowl so she really doesn't care what's going on. 

    Regardless, it's been a lot better for both of us. Gwen has perked up. She's been a lot more social with all of us (kittens included). She'll let out a trill of approval if I talk to her when I enter the room. She's happy to give me headbutts and the occasional lick on the hand. Her quality of life seems a lot better these days all around.

    I'll have to take her to the vet in a couple of weeks to check on her medical progress. Apparently the ear gel metabolizes differently than the pills, so we have to see how this dose is working for her in ear gel form. Look, whatever man. Just don't make us go back on those pills. 

  • A reflection on a crappy week in November

    Okay, I'm going to be honest. I'm feeling WAY too lazy to actually fix the direction of the picture. Turn your heads.

    Recently, I asked Matt if I could look through the pictures on his phone, because I wanted to look for Mikenna pictures that I didn't have. I found this one. I both love it and hate it. 

    It's from the night we took Mikenna to the emergency vet, the week she died. That was a long night in a long week. It was Wednesday night, and I hadn't been able to keep food down her since Sunday. She'd lost interest in eating, which wasn't uncommon for her when she felt sick, but she'd never felt sick to her stomach that long before. I had a sinking feeling that we were losing her, and I didn't know what to do. I'd made an appointment with our regular vet for Thursday morning, thinking that maybe they could prescribe her some anti-nausea meds or something. 

    But that night, she kept throwing up, and there was nothing that she should have been throwing up, because she hadn't eaten. I spent a lot of that evening sitting on the bed, sobbing, because I felt so helpless. I'm not sure what tipped us over the edge to the emergency room, but I think it was something like being afraid that she wouldn't make it to the morning, and if I didn't try to save her, I couldn't live with it. 

    We got there somewhere around midnight. I was exhausted. They took her for some bloodwork and there we sat in the room, waiting. That's when this picture must have happened. I had hoped that they'd just pump her with an anti-nausea med and let us take her home. I mean, I knew enough to be worried, obviously, but I just didn't know the extent of what was going on. 

    When they came back, they told us that she had pancreatitis, and that her kidney values were extremely high. They wanted to keep her overnight and give her anti-nausea meds and rehydrate her, see if they could get anything to come down. So much, all at once. I agreed to it, but I can't say that I exactly knew what was going on. 

    Something like six hours later, we were back to pick her up. Take her to your regular vet immediately to continue treatment. We weren't able to make any progress with her. My heart started to sink. When they carried her out to us, her ears didn't flick back, and she didn't reach out for me in excitement. She just stared blankly at us. That's when, deep down, I knew she wasn't going to pull through. 

    We took her to our regular vet right away. As we sat in the waiting room with her, Chasing Cars played over the speaker. 

    If I lay here
    If I just lay here
    Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

    The vet told us before they took her that, based on the emergency vet's report, things didn't look good, and to prepare ourselves. As expected, there was nothing they could do for her. Heart failure was weakening her body, her body was having a reaction to the lasix and tearing up her kidneys, and the pancreatitis just tipped it over the edge. They couldn't treat two of those things without making the third worse. 

    Ten months later, here's what I wish I had done differently in all this:

    - Taken her to the emergency vet sooner, or to the regular vet. I don't think it would have changed the outcome - once her body gave out, it just flat gave out. But maybe she could have been a little more comfortable. 

    - Asked our vet if we could pick her up right away once they told us there was nothing they could do. They called us at 2 or 3 in the afternoon and told us we could pick her up at 5:30. I wish I had asked if we could have just gone then. I didn't think there was a real point to keeping her there, and I wanted every minute with her. I wish I had just asked.

    - Asked if I could have held her the day she died. We laid out a blanket for her and everything happened on the little exam table. I was so exhausted (I hadn't had more than a couple hours of sleep at a time in about three days) and so overwhelmed that I just let them go about it. I wish I had asked if I could have held her as she died. I was right there and talking to her and petting her, but still ... I wish she'd been on my lap. I realize it doesn't matter. It doesn't change anything. 

    So, that picture up there isn't a great one. But somehow it feels so fitting to that whole experience. We fought so hard for her, we did the best we could. It was absolutely exhausting, and in the end we lost. But we were there for her all the way through, painful as it was. (and still is)

  • It's hard to be Gwen

    As I write this from my office, there are three cats in here. Gwen is eating some kibble, but stopping every few bites to look around and check on her crowd. Vizzi is casually watching her from across the room. Little dude likes to be where the action is. Aeris is staring creepily from the doorway. After all this time, Aeris still has a creepy preoccupation with Gwen. I had really hoped that having kitten friends would make her chill out already, but apparently not.

    Okay, I was wrong. All four cats. Cuppie was watching Gwen from behind the litter box, which I only clued into when Gwen walked over to the litter box and got this look on her face like, "Well this is awkward." Which it is, I mean, how many people gotta stare at ya while ya use the bathroom?

    Well, bless her. Gwen still peed in the litter box, while growling at Cuppie, who was three inches from her face. In Cuppie's defense, she didn't move. Still. Do you want to make eye contact while peeing?

    Poor Gwen. In trying to be left alone, she makes herself an object of fascination to her siblings. Cuppie and Vizzi are better about it than Aery, as they'll at least watch from afar and for the most part, back off when Gwen gets serious.

    I had to go up to the vet today and talk to them about switching Gwen to the ear gel form of her thyroid meds. I'm pretty sure Gwen caught onto what the twice daily "special treats" were ages ago, but has continued to take them because I'm her person. That said, over the past couple of weeks, I seem to have exhausted all of my karma from being her person and she's had it with this whole pill thing. It's been taking longer and longer for her to take the pills, if she'll attempt to take them at all. Even then, she's figured out how to split the pill from the pill pocket, and once she does that, she will not entertain the idea of a second attempt.

    Gwen is a very good cat. She is also a very stubborn cat, and has her own code. She isn't overly anxious to please you, treats are not particularly rewarding, and her favorite human interaction is head boops. When you interact with her on her terms, and understand her language, she's incredible. But I can understand why most would probably not see beyond her intimidating exterior. Vizzi and Cuppie are cats who are incredibly easy to love. Gwen has a learning curve.

    So all that said, the last week or so, Gwen's been extra reclusive. Mostly keeping to herself in the closet, really irritable when it comes to her pills. I resigned myself to the idea that I was going to have to talk to the vet, but decided to ride the week out and see if she'd come around. (Thankfully, it takes a little while for her hormone levels to creep back up, so getting half her dosage or so wasn't the end of the world)

    When I stopped begging and pleading and sitting there with the pill inches from her, she got happier again. She started greeting me at the foot of the closet when I walked in with her pill. She'd swish around my feet, chirp at me, and come over for boops and pets if I sat on the floor with her. I started to see my sweet little sasspants that I love so much. That's when I knew I just couldn't keep going with the pills.

    Gwen hates to be made to do something she doesn't want to do. Being made to eat something twice day that didn't interest her (and let's be honest, probably didn't taste all that great even with the pill pocket) was straining our relationship. Gwen already has trust issues, she hates change, and it's become evident that even 'minor' things (like us going away) upsets her in a far different way than Aeris. I want to keep Gwen healthy, but when there are other options available, I need to explore those for the sake of keeping her happy too.

    So I should be able to get the ear gel for her tomorrow, and hopefully that won't be a complete disaster. As is kinda obvious from how I talk about her preferring "boops" to full body pets - her touch tolerance varies. I gave her ear a test rub today, and she liked it. Hopefully she'll still be okay with it when there's a substance involved.

    I wish Gwen knew how special she is. I think the world of her.

  • Cats and Gym

    Gwen finally has normal thyroid levels, after three tries. It's been very tedious to find a way to give her the pills that is reliable, get her to accept the pills, and then find the right dosage. But since her initial number was 17, and she's down to 1.9, this is really good. I think we get to take a break from the bloodwork for a few months too, which should make her happy.

    Speaking of finally, Aeris is not only chilling out as far as the kittens are concerned, she's now also playing with them. She does still hiss at them from time to time, when she feels ganged up on, but she's taking a lot of it in stride. It's nice to see her more relaxed, and to see her actually learning how to communicate and play with other cats. I honestly didn't know if we'd ever see the day. 

    Cuppie and Vizzi are still growing like little weeds. I fluxuate between thinking that they're appropriately sized and terrified that they're part maine coon or something and will end up being enormous. They're a lot of fun, though. Cuppie has discovered the bathroom sink and is currently enamored with it. Vizzi is becoming a total cuddle bug, and likes to sit under our feet in the evening, which means that we have to be extra careful not to squish him when we get up. 

    Lastly on this random update, Matt and I have started trying to utilize our gym membership more. Or, you know, at all. Even though Matt's company is awesome and reemburses us for it, so it's essentially a free gym membership, from time to time Matt gets all guilty feeling if we aren't using it. So, we're typically night people. But here's the thing - going to the gym at night, even with your spouse, is kinda creepy. But I don't like being around people at the gym. (Total fat girl hangup) Matt suggested that we could get up on Saturdays and go early, which sounds good in theory until you remember that I loathe, with every fiber of my being, getting up early. But we tried it, and it worked out well, so somehow this has warped into a plan to get up every day and go to the gym. Early. I'm writing this on a Sunday night, so tomorrow is our first workday trying this out. 
    Why every day, you ask? Because, Gretchen Rubin points out that willpower is exhausting, and that sometimes it's easier to do something every day than to have to use your willpower for it. So if we aim for every day, it's more likely that we'll actually make it than if we aim to go a couple times a week. So we'll see. I'd like to get my legs stronger again, because that lessens the chances that I'll have another double ankle injury. 

    Anyway, the kittens are about ready to tear down the office door to get to Gwen's leftovers, so I'd better go let them in before I have a kitten riot on my hands. 

  • Ten years, we've been rusting...

    So Matt and I celebrated our tenth anniversary on Friday, the 7th. 

    It's funny, because it both feels like we've been married forever, and not long at all. Ten years sounds like a long time, but it doesn't feel like a long time in a negative way. I don't know how it goes for other people, but it feels like we've hit a nice stride. Worked out the kinks, and we understand ourselves and each other better. Not that things don't happen, but I feel like we're in a nice place.

    As I write this, Aeris is trying to play with the kittens. I'm not sure she's figured out that she's older than they are, and just bodyslammed the wall with such intensity that I asked her if she broke a rib. I think she's fine. 

    I used to wonder where we'd be if we'd made different decisions. I don't these days, and I haven't in a while. I don't know what the difference is, exactly. But I'm happy. If we'd never gotten married, we wouldn't have any of the four legged weirdos that currently live with us. (I'd have had Mikenna, because she came before Matt) There's great friends I'd have never met, adventures I never would have had, and I know I would be a different person without my anime loving husband. 

    I love our little family. If you'd told me when I got married that we'd end up with four cats, I'd have laughed at you. Don't get me wrong, I loved the cats I had growing up. But I didn't think I'd find cats to be the companions that I do now. Aeris has been a good gateway cat. I love that we live near my parents, and that we live in an area where the weather is nice the majority of the time. 

    While I could tell you a thousand things I love about Matt, I'll spare everyone the schmaltzy post. After ten years of marriage, I still hate to be away from him for very long, and I love when he smiles at me. I think that's pretty good. 

  • July Rambling

    So, it's July already. The kittens will be four months old on the 13th, and our 10th anniversary is on the 7th. Gwen has another thyroid test this month - so long as she keeps up with her medicine, I'm cautiously optimistic this time. I think she looks like she's put on weight, which is a good sign in this case. 

    I decided that this month, my goal is to hit my "calorie goal" every day on my apple watch. That's calories burned, not ingested. I was up to a goal of 520 for a while, but it's gone down in the last month to 460. It's a relatively easy way to get that success high, so why not? 

    The kittens are turning into good little cats. Viz in particular is super affectionate with us. He's our little peacemaker. While both kittens want to be friends with the big girls, Viz seems to understand feline diplomacy a little better. On the whole, they are very well behaved. Cuppie likes to chew on things, which is fine as long as I give her appropriate things to chew on. But they both (mostly Cuppie) like to come see us as soon as they wake up ... which is somewhere between 4-7, and increasingly on the earlier side. She likes to groom Matt's face, so he's taken to sleeping with a pillow over his head. Poor guy. Viz seems to enjoy snuggling between us for a few minutes before we go to sleep, and then he goes off on his own. He sleeps better than Cuppie, so he's not typically such an early morning intruder. 

    Aery has had a rough few weeks with her little siblings. She likes them on the whole, and she boops noses with both of them often. But BOY does them playing drive her batty. They are practically bouncing off the walls, running around, tackling each other, having a great time. I don't know why, but Aeris can't stand it, but she won't go somewhere quiet. So that's meant a few weeks of Aeris growling, growling, growling at the kittens whenever they play. She has yet to do anything to them, and they don't seem fazed by it - they still want to sleep near her at naptime. 

    Gwen seems to be improving overall. Her mood is a lot better. She enjoys going in the closet for a time out, but is spending most of her time outside of it, by her choice. I think we'd see more of her in the rest of the house if Aeris would stop trying to run after her every time she sees her. Yes, Aeris is our problem child, we know it, and we love her. She has been taking her pills pretty dilligently, and I hope she keeps that up for the next week. If her numbers finally come back normal, we can switch her to an ear gel rather than the pills, which should take stress off of everybody. (By everybody, I mean me and her. The other cats LOVE pill time, because they all get treats.) I'm convinced we'll have everyone comfortable and happy at some point. 

    I've been taking the kittens up to the humane society for summer camp on Mondays to talk to the kids about cat behaviour and how to take care of cats, stuff like that. I'd like the kittens to be okay (relatively) with car rides and being handled by other people. So far, it seems like a good thing. The kids love them, and the kittens are tolerating it. I won't say that they're excited about getting passed around by kids, but they're being good little kitkats. 

    They definitely know that they're part of our pack now. They 'mark' us with their mouths and swish around our feet, getting their scent all over us. They want to be with us, and will often come running when we come home. It's a sweet experience.

    Speaking of sweet, you know what I found at the grocery store today?

    Oreo O's. 

    I love summer.

  • A year

    It's the end of a long (but good) day. I'm sitting in bed with my chromebook on my lap after having put in a couple Arbonne orders. The kittens are wandering around, looking just a little bit sleepy, so I think they'll find their place to sleep for the night soon. Matt's reading a comic, Aeris and Gwen are both asleep already. But I had to take a minute to acknowledge this day.

    Today marks a year since we found out Koo was sick. 

    It's a hard day in that, in the scheme of things, it marks the beginning of the end for our time with her. I find it hard to believe that just a year ago, she was walking around, panting with her little pink tongue hanging out, completely oblivious to everything the vet told us. Today, I look down at my ring that contains some of her ashes. It's not an easy thing to wrap your head around - she was this and now she is that

    Despite this being the official day of diagnosis, I knew in my heart something was wrong before then. Look, I'm not a shining example of a clear head when it comes to my animals. I fully admit that I once took Mikenna to the vet because she broke a toenail and I wasn't sure what to do and was afraid she'd broken it back too far and it would get infected. I stayed up many nights with her when her stomach didn't feel good, hoping that she was just uneasy and that we weren't looking at something like bloat. (Her breed wasn't predisposed to it, but I never ruled anything out) I walked around the apartment complex for one summer absolutely convinced she had westie lung disease. (Yes, that's a thing)

    This was different. This made all of those other things I'd worried about feel really insignificant. Part of me knew that whatever was wrong, this was the thing. I put off taking her to the vet for it, hoping that she would get better, that I would turn out to be paranoid again. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. It was eating at me. My intuition was screaming at me, and when it's screaming at me WITH anxiety medicine, that's something. 

    I clung onto a little bit of hope that maybe it was allergies. Maybe it was a little respiratory bug. But deep down, I knew it wasn't. I have to admit, I wasn't thinking heart failure right off the bat. But I knew it was something bad. 

    Having gotten her so soon after our dog Max died, and her having been such a heal to my heart, it was never ever far from my mind that someday she would die. I spent her whole life afraid that I would do something to break her. When the time came that she was diagnosed with the thing that would be fatal, part of me felt like it was just the other shoe dropping. This is why I did not want to get another pet soon after losing her. I needed time to feel the grief in all it's horrible heaviness, because I had run from it last time. And you know what? The kittens weren't magical fixes. I still feel grief. I have days where her loss feels unbearably heavy. But having the kittens around restored some of that goofiness and life to the air that we'd lost with Mikenna. So I'd waited long enough - at least for kittens. Even if we didn't have the kittens, I can't fathom another dog right now. Honestly, I don't want one for several years. Any sooner feels dangerously close to a replacement for her, and I won't do that. 

    But that's quite the tangent. 

    Today, a year ago, really stunk. It was the beginning of the longest and shortest four (plus) months of our lives. But I'm still, and will forever be, glad that we had that summer. We got to wander around outside, I freed Mikenna of her leash, intentionally stayed home with her as much as possible, and lavished her with as much attention as she could stand. (and that threshold was quite high) The medicine gave her time where she was quite comfortable and happy, and that was good for all of us. It made it less grim, in a way, to have some good time with her, and yet be cognisant that it was precious. I've tried to hold onto that, moving forward. Whether you see it coming or not, our time with pets, loved ones, friends, all of it, is precious. Savor as much of it as you can, and store up a lifetime's worth of memories. 

    I miss her. If it were possible to have her here and have her healthy, I would wish for that in a heartbeat. But since I can't, I'll spread that love that I had for her around, into Gwen, Aery, Vizzi, Cuppie, and whomever else crosses my path. For a dog who never tempered her affection for us, I think that's the best way to carry her memory on. 

    There's a joke, or saying, or something, that there's only so much weight in the world, and it just redistributes between people. Maybe with Koo gone, there's no less love in the world, it's just spread out a little differently. Weird thought, but hey, it's after midnight. 

  • Games, Played and Unplayed

    Matt's been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV lately. At least, I think that's the one he's been playing. It's the mmo that isn't XI. I do like MMOs, but something about seeing them on the TV, I just can't get into. It looks too cluttered to me, and is confusing. I know that makes no sense, because it's the same game on the computer, and a smaller screen at that. But there's something in my brain that likes console games to be simple and uncluttered. 

    When I can wrestle the controller away from him, I've been playing Kingdom Hearts. I played through the original, and now I'm a good portion of the way into Chain of Memories. I don't know that I've been this diligent about playing a game since I was couchbound after my double ankle sprain and sunk many hours into Oblivion. I'm not very good at finishing console games, actually. Truth be told, I had the original Kingdom Hearts for PS2, and never saw the end until Matt played through it for me a few years later. I got to Hollow Bastion, it felt "too hard", and so I just never went back to it. 

    I like games that I feel like I understand, or have a pre-existing connection to. I think that's why Star Wars games (KotOR, SWTOR) have been big hits for me, and why the original Mass Effect sat in plastic forever - but once I played it, I burned through 2 and 3 quickly. I haven't been able to finish (or play much of) Dragon Age: Inquisition, because it feels like SUCH a different game from the previous two that it severed that connection for me. It doesn't feel like the same world, so I've had a hard time getting into it.

    Same vague problem with Skyrim for me. I loved Oblivion, but Skyrim felt JUST different enough that I couldn't really get into it. So now I've played through Oblivion and all the expansions at least once more since then and still haven't played Skyrim. 

    At least playing Kingdom Hearts was the same game that I've more-or-less seen twice, just prettier graphics. Same goes for Chain of Memories - I understand the concept of the game, and I've seen it played before, so it feels familiar. I'm not sure how I'll do with Birth By Sleep, Dream Drop Distance, or whatever else comes between 1 and 2, because neither of us have played those. They're unfamiliar

    But, it's been kind of nice to play a game. It's one of those things that feels like a core part of myself, and when I don't play anything for a while, it's weird. Last time I had this feeling, I spent a couple weeks engrossed in Zuma - so at least this is an upgrade. 

    I picked up Sims 4 around Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I played it once or twice. It's not that it wasn't good, I just have to have the 'bug' for it. Plus, I heard that they introduced toddlers into the game, and I don't know if that's *optional*, so I've been too chicken to check. (Toddlers in Sims are just obnoxious, imo)

    I had started playing SWTOR again shortly before Mikenna died - it was a good mental break, something just for ME. Then I had the worst week of my life, and I've had a hard time getting back into it. They've since released an expansion and some content, so naturally, when I signed back in, everything looked different again. :SIGH: It's frustrating (to me) to sign into a game that I know, and feel like I know nothing all over again. I need to either bite the bullet and cancel or actually sit down and play it. 

    I meant to charge my DS something over a month ago, and haven't done that yet. Before that, I was playing quite a bit of Hyrule Warriors. That game is an excellent time sink. 

    Well, Cuppie has come along and is scampering across my legs. I think that means it's time to go give the kittens some attention. 

  • Butchered Nicknames, Kitten edition

    As I've no doubt explained before, I am terrible with nicknames. I give them out freely and with little regard as to whether they make sense. I don't really do this to people, but animals, oh dear...I'm sorry. 

    Of course, Buttercup and Vizzi have not been immune to my nicknamery. Here are some of the things they've been called over the last several weeks:

    Cuppie Jo (Cuppa Joe)
    Cuppie Josephine
    Cuppie Coo
    Cuppie Cat
    Cuppie Buppie
    Cuppie Lou

    Vizzer do
    Fizzy boy
    Mister Vizzi
    Vizzi Dude
    Vizzi Buddy

    It's really just a matter of time before I come up with something worse. After all, Aeris is regularly referred to as some variation of Bean, and Gwen is BooChinSki. (Or just Boo)

    I'm sorry, kittens. If you wanted actual, sensible names, you let the wrong person bring you home.