Tuesday 17 January 2023

It's Been a Minute


Hello, my fellow passengers on this blue orb.

I apologize for just stopping blogging without an explanation. I did write a follow up post on the hurricane we experienced back in September. But I found with each passing day all I wanted to do was forget the dang storm, so I never posted it. 

And I didn't feel like writing about anything else that was happening either. Some of it was private, some of it was depressing, and overall I just felt completely out of energy.

Then December came, and as much as I thought I'd be okay with this, the second year after my husband's death, the memories of the worst of his cancer decline came with it. The weight of those memories crushed me more each day until the anniversary of his death in early January had passed. It felt like I was submerged deep underwater for weeks, only coming up for air now and then, the rest of the time living in a vast roaring silence.

It feels like I am surfacing more often now, and things are getting back to some kind of normal. I'm back to work again, the lonely holidays are behind me, and we in the Northern Hemisphere are that much closer to the end of winter.


Speaking of winter, ours has been very mild so far, with more rain than snow. My mother has had to stay with me only once, and that was for a problem with her power line, not a snowstorm. Those overnight stays are very difficult for me, and I think they are also difficult for her, as much as she enjoys getting out for a bit. A day away from home (for her) and a day of managing dementia behaviors (for me) is too long for both of us.


You might remember that this time last year my Meredith cat was diagnosed as having a cancerous mass in her chest which was pressing on her heart. The vet said she probably had only months left to live. After six months, Meredith's health seemed stable, so I got the vet to run her bloodwork again and do a new X-ray. Her bloodwork again ruled out any obvious medical cause for her water intake or trembling episodes, and the comparison X-ray showed no change at all in the mass.

Now, seven months after that checkup, she is still drinking as much as ever but she's eating well and is as active as ever. The vet and I are wondering if the explanation is in her history. Before we got her, she had been struck by a car and seriously injured. Our vet fixed her up; however, no one ever came to claim her, and she was re-homed with us. The impact may have cracked some bones in her chest and the mass showing on the X-ray is simply the overlay of new bone, and may have been there for years. Also, she has always had some unusual twitching of her face and front paws, perhaps brain damage of some kind. Maybe the obsession with drinking water is caused by further deterioration of the brain. Or maybe she is developing cat dementia as she ages. Anyway, the stone that lived in my stomach for months following her first diagnosis has gone away (for now). If she eats every four to five hours, night and day, it seems to reduce her trembling and the vomiting that often followed. The night feeding coincides perfectly with the time I have to get up to hit the bathroom each night, so that's convenient. Not being able to be away from home for more than five hours is not so convenient, but I manage.





My Lucy cat is doing okay too. Last fall, I took her to the vet because she was limping more than usual with her arthritis, and because she was wheezing more than usual with what had been diagnosed as asthma a number of years ago. The vet felt she should go on some kind of pain medication, but one of the recommended meds would interact with the steroid she was taking for the asthma, and the other pain med came in enormous pills and I could not get Lucy to take them, even disguised in a Pill Pocket or in stinky fishy food or any other way. (Remember, this is the bitey cat, so I didn't even try to give the pills by hand.) I took her back to the vet a couple of months later and explained the problems I was having. It was a different vet this time, and in discussing the need for a steroid she asked me to describe Lucy's wheezing. It turns out that it wasn't wheezing after all, it was something called "reverse sneezing" and cats do it to try to clear irritants from the back of their throat or respiratory passages. So Lucy was able to be weaned off the steroid. At the same time, the vet recommended we try her on a new once-a-month injection of a pain medication called Solensia. It's expensive, but it seems to be helping. There was a chance of a side effect (bothersome itching) but she doesn't appear to have it. The best part of all is that her appetite is less without the steroid driving it up, she has become somewhat more willing to play (she has always been a very serious cat, something I suspect stems from her life before she came to us), and she has lost one whole pound (which is almost 6% of her weight) since dropping the steroid and going on the pain medication. If she can lose another pound, she will qualify for a lower dose shot, which will cost half as much. Yay!





I also have lost weight and I'm very happy about that. It started with the hurricane. I was so stressed out and we had such limited cooler space that I was eating about half of what I usually eat. I was also more active, clearing branches from the yard and fetching for my mother, instead of reading and watching YouTube. The weight fell off, about a pound a day. Not what you'd call healthy, but I really didn't feel like eating. The takeaway for me was that I can indeed lose weight, I just have to ... wait for it ... eat less and move more. Insert slap to the forehead here. I knew the theory, I had just been having trouble putting it into practice. Mind you, I am still having trouble putting it into practice but I now know that it can be done with x calories and x activity and that keeps me going a lot of the time. I feel so much better having lost 7% of my weight so far. Yay again!





I hope you are all doing as well as can be expected under the current circumstances of a continuing pandemic, accelerating climate change, a horrible global economy, and renewed war in Europe.

Uh oh. I can't leave you on that note. Here are some funnies.


You might need to hit Control+ for the first one.





(Just kidding)


So tell me, how are you all doing? Let me know in the comments.

Is it too late to wish you a Happy New Year? It may be too late for fireworks but it's never too late to tell you I hope 2023 treats you well. Do not despair if it has so far only punched you in the face; there are still 346 days to go.

I will leave you with this thought.



Elephant's Child said...

Welcome back dear friend. You have been missed. Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring continue to flow your way.
Re that last image? Half a percent counts too. Doesn't it?

jabblog said...

I think bank holidays can be very lonely, particularly when linked to deeply personal memories. I'm glad you're feeling more positive. I enjoyed reading your post, very newsy and entertaining, thank you.

Infidel753 said...

Welcome back! Understandable that you didn't feel like posting, with everything that was going on. I hope we'll hear more from you when you feel up to it.

Your vet does seem prone to misdiagnosing your cats. Perhaps a second opinion would be in order for future problems, but at least for now, it sounds like they're doing pretty well.

Losing weight is very difficult, but it really is a matter of using up more calories than one is taking in. It just takes consistency over a long period, which unfortunately humans tend to find rather difficult.

Andrew said...

Funny, I was thinking about you yesterday and wondering if you would ever return. The reason being I stole a funny you posted and renamed it Jenny. I came across it yesterday. I am very pleased to see this post pop up.

Your mother's dementia must be so slow acting.

It sounds like you have spent a lot on cat care.

Compared to what you deal with, the problem with my old blog is minor but I do have a new one.

dinthebeast said...

Hi Jenny, I'm glad to hear that you're doing a bit better. We've been under this atmospheric river thing and I'm glad the house is up the hillside a ways because the water is everywhere. And today it snowed. Like, a foot or so. Tomorrow I was supposed to go to Madera for jury duty and that's just not gonna happen. Yeah, I know I already postponed it once (back before we replaced the crashed car) but that will not, in fact, get the car out of the snowbank the plow pushed off of the road onto it.
Good to hear your cats are doing better, also. Our cat has used his litterbox once today, and just bit the bullet and went outside into the snow for a few minutes. He'll be all right.
The last thought thing is excellent. Small improvements can open the door to abilities you didn't know you had sometimes.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Mike said...

Are you sure you wanted to post this? You could have procrastinated another couple of months. Be careful. You could lose your procrastination club membership.

Cathy said...

We missed you
Take care

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Welcome back. I hope and pray for your over-the-water moments to grow in lenght and frequency. It is so good to hear from you again. I have sent many a thougth and prayer over the waters to Canada these last months.
I love your funnies - that hippo is hilarious.
I'm doing OK, apart from an evil virus (not Corona) and the seasonal grey-induced dampening of spirits. This year I am determined to climb out of the grey hole with the climbing of the sun over the horizon. Today 14 degrees and 7 hours and 44 minutes of day"ligth" (up 3 degrees and 45 minutes). Yup Denmark is this far North (55th parallel). I also plan to move more and eat and drink less (coffee with cream that is ;) as my body is also of the creaking-but-not-glowing variety
Thank you for your encouraging ... there's still 346 days left!

Marie Smith said...

So good to read you again! Life with the cats alone keeps you busy!

I really like that last meme. Talk about positive!

Take care!

Janie Junebug said...

I'm so happy to see you! I've been wondering where you were and planned on trying to track you down. It's never too late to say HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! You've had a lot happening with your kitties. I hope your damage from the hurricane was limited to branches down in the yard. I understand how hard it is to have your mom staying with you. When my mom came to visit, it drove me crazy. Congratulations on the weight loss.


Red said...

Good to se you post again I hope things turn around for you and things look better in your life.

Steve Reed said...

Well hello, and I'm glad you're back in blogland! I'm sorry the last couple of months have been hard but it totally makes sense. Hopefully things will start to look up more and more as the days grow longer and we all get more light. And what encouraging news about Meredith and Lucy! That's uplifting.

Also great news about your own weight and I'm glad your winter has been mild. Ours too. We're having a cold snap now but it's mostly been above freezing.

We're all fine here, plugging along as usual! :)

gz said...

Good to see you back writing again x

jenny_o said...

Elephant's Child: You bet it does :) Anything is better than nothing, and just waking up counts on the very worst days. I feel your caring, with gratitude, and send you mine in return.

jabblog: Holidays are definitely hard for me. I feel more alone than usual. Thank you for your kind description of my over-writing. I did edit it a lot, so it could have been even longer :)

Infidel753: Your thought about the misdiagnoses had crossed my mind, too; unfortunately it is really difficult to get in to a vet here at all. They are usually booked a month in advance for everything except emergencies. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, which seems to be a lot of the time, it's one more thing that I don't cope with very well. That part is on me. And yes to consistency as key to losing weight. Also yes to being a difficult process :)

Andrew: You're right, my mother's dementia seems to be slow to progress, although I can see changes if I compare seasons, eg. last winter she knew how to use the thermostat to keep warm, this winter she is struggling with it, going from full blast to shut off instead of in the middle somewhere to keep a constant temperature. But she is still living by herself. Of course, I check in every day, and she has such good neighbours -- they all keep an eye on her too, which I am so grateful for. PS All my funnies are stolen from elsewhere on the internet, maybe I should say pre-stolen for your convenience :)

Doug: It sounds like you are having an unpredictable winter with a little of everything thrown in. I hear you on the snowplow making things harder, not easier -- they either plow piles of snow into the end of my driveway or don't get close enough to the end of it, so I have to shovel part of the street too (I live on a circular court, so if they leave snow in the street it doesn't affect through traffic, only homeowners). I hope you can get your car dug out soon. I bet your cat is wondering when spring will come :) So, how does jury duty work when the weather keeps a person from reporting in? Do they take weather as an excuse or will you get some kind of fine?

Mike: I feel that I have earned enough procrastination credits over the years that I should probably be awarded an honorary lifetime membership plus a big ol' trophy :) How about you? lol

jenny_o said...

Cathy: Thank you. I'm glad I feel better enough to be back.

Mother Owl: Thank you for your kind thoughts. I hope you feel better soon. You're right, it's so nice to see the days start to lengthen again. I just checked and today we had nine hours and nine seconds of daylight; we are really quite far south here in Nova Scotia compared to you, but it's been so grey and overcast. This is the first year I really minded the lack of daylight but I know for some folks it happens every year. My dad and some of my relatives on his side of the family had SAD every year. It makes for a long winter.

Janie Junebug: I feel guilty that I haven't been around more; I just couldn't muster up the energy. The hurricane damaged my roof, and then we had two more windstorms that damaged it more (I assume the hurricane set the stage for that to happen). I will need the whole roof replaced now. There are temporary repairs done but I need more after the second windstorm and I'm waiting on that to happen. Other than that I was lucky compared to a lot of people. Some people couldn't return to their homes at all, there was so much damage from wind and water. I've been reading about the storms that just went through Alabama and Georgia and feeling so bad for everyone who lost loved ones and homes.

Red: Thank you; I think I'm on an upward trajectory again :)

Steve: I sure hope things are on an upswing now because the downswing really took a lot out of me. But I think the fact that I was able to write a post is a good sign :) I'm glad you're all still plugging along! I've been reading posts here and there but not commenting very much.

Mike said...

I've reached the bronze, silver, and gold procrastination levels. I'm working on the platinum level.

Diane Henders said...

It's nice to hear from you! I'm glad to hear you've made it through the darkest of days and are now finding some light. With so much on your plate (figuratively speaking), I hope you'll be kind to yourself. Wishing you an ever-increasing number of 'non-zero percent' days!

Joanne Noragon said...

Good to hear from you again! Take up blogging at your own pace,, though. Love you.

jenny_o said...

gz: Thank you, I'm glad to be back :)

Mike: ha ha -- Keep up the good work!

Diane: I do feel like things are looking brighter (also figuratively speaking as the weather is definitely gloomy :)) It's a relief not to be in that place so much now.

Joanne: Love you too, my friend. Take care of yourself, eh?

messymimi said...

It's great to hear from you, i still miss your poetry contributions and the funnies you find to share.

That's great news about your cats, i hope they continue to do well.

It's the usual around here, work, and trying to figure out which car will work and get me to work.

River said...

So nice to read you again, your cats are beautiful and I hope they are as well as can be soon. Yourself also. Congratulations on the weightloss. I need to try harder on that myself. I've got the less eating part down, but don't seem to be able to muster the energy for more walking.

37paddington said...

Dear Jenny, I’ve been thinking about you, wondering how you’re doing, so it’s good to see you here and know you’re surfacing. I’m not surprised the holidays were hard, grief is the price of love and all that, so yes, you miss him and feel pain. Big kudos on the weight loss birthday mate, I know how hard that can feel to accomplish for us, so good for you. I send so much love to you, and hope those you love are doing as well as can be hoped. Sending love to you my dear friend. And thanks for that last link in particular. That’s about where I am in this moment. But I will do that dish.

baili said...

my precious fried Jenny "i missed you" won't say all i felt while you were not blogging as to be honest i was only concerned that if your sadder part dominated you more and feeling much low may not cause you some serious issue .i know that winters are cruel specially for people having any kind of stress or sad feeling and it made me think about you more ,i tried hard to not bother you with my constant visit and query my friend!

i came here last night ,i read you twice but could not comment because of cold i was feeling in living room . i am here again . i loved how you started with glob image and similar phrase .i think this is so real way to greet because it liberate us from all manmade chains and leave us with only important identity that matters most as co existent :)

i am glad you felt like blogging again .Hope you will stay on surface so we all readers can share you spirit as well :)
your first pet story reminded me story of my mother when she started her long diagnostic journey in late 80s . At her very first day to a famous hospital in Islamabad a lady doctor suddenly told her that she has tuberculosis and last stage . I wonder what kind of human being that doctor was who gave this news to old woman in such bad manner and without any encouraging positive note . mom came home devastated and sad though she kept repeating how it is possible as i did not notice any symptoms nor any other doctor who sees me or go through blood test and x-rays said this.

question was not to me that mom was sick as seriously or not but the behavior of doctor . mom was diagnosed tuberculosis in another hospital many years after that incident which was early staged and treatable with hardly half year course i believe .
this is relief that your both pets are recovering and feeling active and healthy as well ,as owner i can imagine how satisfactory this is for you dear Jenny!

this is good that you have lost some weight though i hope that not eating properly for long time is not effecting your health negatively !
keep taking great care in all means!

i really enjoyed the funnies specially last one lol i think it is same about me lol
and i totally agree with last quote because once we start with little change paves it's way to us slowly :) hugs and blessings!

jenny_o said...

Mimi: You are one of the hardest workers I have ever known, and I've known a few, my friend. That, and your thankful posts, are an inspiration to me. I was also thinking about poetry writing just the other day. I don't think I'm ready yet, but maybe soon ...

River: Maybe it will be encouraging to you to know that the food part is the one that counts the most, because a person can eat lots of calories in a short time but it takes a very long time to burn them off through exercise. So you've got the most important part of that equation under control :) I always find it harder to exercise in the summer because of the heat and humidity, so I hear you on that :)

37paddington: When I read that last meme, it struck me how often I give up rather than do a reduced amount. It's the all-or-nothing mindset and it does not serve anyone to think like that, does it? Hang in there, my friend :)

baili: It is never a bother to know one's friends are concerned; I only felt guilty that people might be worrying! I loved your comment on my opening picture, you are so right that being an Earthling is the only identity that matters. Your mom's misdiagnosis must have been a heavy burden for her to carry for a long time. Doctors need to be aware of how much a careless attitude affects their patients. I think they are getting better at having empathy overall as time goes by, although there are still too many who are not. Hugs to you, my friend :)

kylie said...

We've missed you and we are happy for whatever post you make, so long as you're ok (okayish?)
It's such a bonus to still have little Meredith although I'm sure you could have done without the anticipatory grief.
Keep swimming, friend, keep. on. swimming.

jenny_o said...

kylie: I'm okayish and getting to more okayish :) Thank you for your encouragement and I hope you are doing well.

John M said...

For some unknown reason I also haven't posted for a while.

LL Cool Joe said...

I haven't been around either but I'm glad to see you back and blogging again. Here in the UK we are having a much colder winter than normal, very little snow but really cold. Even with the heating on the house is cold.

Well done for the weight loss. A pound a day is amazing. I wish I could lose that. Oh wait I have to eat less and exercise more? That's where I'm going wrong.

I was wondering how your mother is doing.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Ohmyword, I've missed you! I'm so glad your kitties have you! Someone who cares!
Great funnies! Snort...