Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Flowers, a poem, and a fresh start

I am touched and pleased by another kind gesture in response to Hank's recent death: when I got home yesterday, I discovered that Barb had sent flowers! They are now a part of Hank's memorial corner:
Thank you so much, Barb! They're beautiful.
Hank was named after the pseudonym used by Charles Bukowski in his novels, Hank Chinaski. Today, Zac e-mailed me a poem I'd forgotten about: Bukowski's "The History of One Tough Motherfucker," about a horribly abused, "cross-eyed, tailless cat" that he had nursed back from the brink of certain death, a cat that had come to represent everything that refuses to lie down and surrender:
and now sometimes I'm interviewed, they want to hear about
life and literature and I get drunk and hold up my cross-eyed,
shot, runover de-tailed cat and I say,"look, look
at this!"
but they don't understand, they say something like,"you
say you've been influenced by Celine?"
"no," I hold the cat up,"by what happens, by
things like this, by this, by this!"
Read the whole thing here. It's terrific. Zac, thank you for that.
I'm feeling a little better today. Hank is well-represented by his memorial, and I have satisfied my need to look constantly at pictures of him - at least for now. I dug dozens of pictures out of an old box of photos, and at the same time I found all kinds of fun non-Hank photos as well, which I have been scanning and throwing at people on Facebook today. It was fun. And I'm feeling better.
Tonight I'll be gathering with some of my favorite people in the world to ring in the new year, and I can't wait.
See you in 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In memoriam

Hank used to sleep on a blanket in front of the furnace in the living room. The hardest part of losing him has been looking over there, automatically expecting to see him.

Scott set up a little memorial in Hank's old spot. He is represented by a happily burning candle, a stripy little orange wooden cat that is oddly reminiscent of him, and the card Patsy got for me yesterday. Thank you, Patsy, and thank you to everyone who wrote in it. I appreciate it so much.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Goodbye, little Hank

Today, Scott and I made the difficult but necessary decision to let Hank go. At age 17, he was in a lot of arthritis pain, had lost half his weight, had a painful abscess on his belly, and could barely get around. We knew we had to do it. Today, we did it.

At the vet's office, after they took his weight, he just lay down on the scale. The assistant said, "He can stay there, since he seems so comfortable on there," and we couldn't resist snapping a picture. What a pretty little stripy boy.

Not long afterwards, we were there with him as he slipped painlessly away. Not a dry eye in the room, and that includes the vet and the assistant.

We made absolutely the right decision - really the only decision. That makes it easier. He's not in pain any more, and we have 17 years of happy memories to replay in our minds.

This is his last photo, and I plan on digging through old pictures and posting some of his ridiculous kitten pictures from 1991, when he arrived in our lives as a tiny, mischievous fluff-ball.

We're sad. Really, really sad. We will miss him desperately. But we're relieved. We did it for him, and he's out of pain.

Silly little funny Hank!

I will never forget him.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas tree time

These pictures of my mother, snapped by my dad among the Christmas trees for sale in the Copenhagen streets, are too charming to keep to myself.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bad car-ma

I spent all morning fretting about whether I should try to get to work, Winter Storm Warning or none. Finally, I decided that if I'm going to sit around fretting about it, I might as well go in for a half day. So, Little Ms. Responsible climbs into the car next to infinitely patient spouse (who shoveled for an hour) and off we go.

We get a few yards down River Street and realize one of the tires is completely flat. We could have realized this is in the calm, quiet zone of our driveway if I hadn't been all gung ho about getting to work. But no! Go, go, go! Oops. Flat tire in the middle of River Street.

So now the day is a mess. Scott's running around in the whirling snow trying to deal with the car emergency... I guess he's going to borrow Barb's car (thanks, Barb, you're a hero, and thank God you were home and snowed in!) to go hork up all kinds of money for a new tire... then install it and hopefully get the car out of the middle of River Street... arrgh!

Is it just me, or is life simply a series of minor crises? Is there anyone out there saying, "Wow, my life has been one pleasant little surprise after another recently. I hardly know how to handle all these delightful little events that keep happening!"

Well, at least I have a blog to vent at. Thank you, long-suffering blog. To the readers of said blog, my apologies: sometimes I just need to complain. More lolcats soon. ;-)

The moral of all this is: Don't attempt to go to work on Winter Storm Warning days. Stay in pajamas, eat cookies, watch "Law and Order," and don't tempt fate.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wake up, Walmart!

I just added a banner over there on the right side of my blog that spells out some pretty nasty truths about Walmart. Very illuminating. Click and learn!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas songs in uncertain times

Scott and I wrote the first two lines of a Christmas song last night:

Said the autoworker to the union man:

Do you fear what I fear…?

Clever, huh? Anyone want to help me finish it?

Or maybe we can’t until we know how the story ends…!

Just as an unrelated addendum to what could be seen as a rather serious post, I’d like to share my most recent favorite lolcat:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Asthma Schmasthma!

Well, I had a second attack Sunday night, so this means asthma, and this means war. No more wait-and-see. We waited and saw! I spent all night Saturday and much of yesterday gasping for breath, and then went to see the doctor, who basically rolled up his sleeves and said let's get this thing.

He prescribed me a thousand different drugs. Okay, five different drugs, but that's a lot. Including two inhalers! I never thought I'd be trucking around with multiple inhalers. And more steroids.

The scariest part of yesterday was going to the CVS pharmacy to fill the prescriptions. By the time I had walked to the back of the store, I was so out of breath I had to sit down, panting and wheezing, for several minutes before I could approach the counter! All I can say is, it's a good thing I don't fill my prescriptions at Meijer!

Anyway, this blog has become quite the bore. It's all about medications and doctor visits at this point. Let's hope this business wraps up soon. My plan is to keep doing all the right things: avoiding smoke and cold, taking it easy, drinking water, etc.! Otherwise, I'm going to just live my life.

This past week, living my life involved helping to decorate Barb's big, fabulous Christmas tree; enjoying the company holiday party at Pizza House, which involved an open bar and lots of happy people; and acquiring and decorating my first artificial tree, which I must say looks charming! I will post a picture as soon as I can find the plug thingy that connects the camera to the computer. Saturday night was Vikki's holiday/engagement party, which was great - thanks, Vikki, and congratulations. It was particularly fun to see four book-club significant others gathered together in one room! That doesn't happen very often!

Okay, time to do something a little weird. I'm going to actually call a taxi to take me to work. Yep, that's weird. But Scott's teaching and my car pool is at home awaiting a handyman to install a bathroom sink... and while normally I would take a bus without a thought, I'm just too wary of setting anything off this morning to do that. It's not the bus part, it's the walking to and from the bus in the freezing cold part. I'll get back to that after a few days of meds. Meanwhile - caution is king!

Once more into the breach, my friends, once more!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Life-changing day from hell

Well, I spent all of Saturday night and all of yesterday literally gasping for breath, and it only got worse. For an entire day I tried every congestion medicine in the book: Primatene worked best, but the effects only lasted about 20 minutes before each breath was a rasping, wheezy croak again. By late evening, I really was at the point where I could barely breathe. I kept holding out, saying, "Maybe this will work... maybe that will work... let's try some more tea... gasp... wheeze..." until finally Scott insisted, "You're going to pass out soon -- you have to go to the hospital!" He was right: I felt lightheaded, and my lips and eyelids were turning slightly purple. Terrifying. So at 10 p.m. or so, we went to the E.R., where they hurried me in, called it "acute bronchospasm," and gave me a couple of tanks of weird vaporous gas to huff on until I could breathe again.

The whole thing was completely terrifying. I have never been so terrified! There's nothing like being unable to breathe!! If you can't get the next breath in, then what? And you can't sleep because you start to choke! Horrible.

The episode originated from the lingering bronchitis, yes, but they didn't want to get into further diagnostic details with me, since their job is merely to stabilize: they want me to make an appointment with my own doctor for anything else. They gave me Prednisone, a steroid to help build up my lungs. My hippie doctor is not going to like the steroid, but you know what? I think maybe I'm done with my hippie doctor anyway. I'll go see him about this because they already faxed him my records, but I will also go see someone else: I have a few suggestions from Suky for good doctors in the area, regular doctors who don't just prescribe nettle tea for every ailment! And if I like the new doctor, I'll switch to him or her instead.

When I got home, it wasn't half a minute between hitting the pillow and being asleep. I was so worn out. And now every normal breath I take is an absolute blessing! I am sitting here just breathing and being grateful for breathing.

No more emergency-room visits for me! I have a whole list of resolutions: clean up the apartment so it's not so dusty; only go to non-smoking places when I go out; be sure I'm bundled up properly outside; follow the doctor's recommendations, whatever they may turn out to be, to the letter. I realize that that may entail (yecch) exercise, but whatever. I will do anything to avoid anything like this again.

This was a life-changer.