Friday, September 23, 2016
Friday, June 10, 2016
They called him, though, and he volunteered to come in, and do surgery on Ivan. It was the best option for quickly figuring out what was going on and potentially repairing it. I will forever be grateful to him for coming in when he was feeling so poorly. I have serious trust issues and was falling apart over my baby, and I trust Dr. Mark implicitly. He is the only one who could have given me the comfort and assurance I needed to survive this without second guessing myself for the rest of my life. I'm fine with all the vets at the clinic, but he's been with me through so much for more than twenty years. I can count on one hand the number of people who I trust to that level. He's been with Ivan since the beginning, and even my grouchy Ivan trusted him and allowed him "touch privileges" which were accorded to very few people.
He had been given pain meds, so we had lots of time to snuggle and cuddle before the doctor arrived. I gave him hundreds of kisses on his little face (one of his favorite things since he was a kitten--he'd close his eyes and lean into the kisses; he even used to approach me and make a kiss noise, requesting his face kisses) and left him on the surgical table.
I had convinced myself that Dr. Nelson would repair him--after all he was healthy, with good blood work, and only turned 12 last month. They quickly found the problem. Ivan had colon cancer, and one of the tumors had burst, leaving the colon wall open. There was nothing in the world that could be done to fix my little boy. They did offer to bring him out of anesthetic, so we could say a final goodbye, but I couldn't even consider putting him through that terror, pain, and confusion, only to euthanize him after. While every fiber in my body ached for one more round of snuggles and kisses, it would have been supremely selfish.
I've loved Ivan since the day he was found newborn, abandoned in a driveway, on May 9, 2004. He was my first cat, and the bond we shared was profound. Ivan always kept me in sight. Wherever I was, I could almost always count on finding Ivan somewhere within range--he may be hiding, but he was always close and watching. He had intense needs for cuddles, and if given the option, would be touching me 24 hours a day. As long as he was touching me, he couldn't be happier. He spent most of the rest of the time being grouchy and complaining. He loved his sisters and Mark and was extremely affectionate with them too. Being the center of someone's universe is a huge responsibility and could be exhausting and even frustrating at times. It also means that he was a huge part of every second of my existence, and I'm absolutely lost with him. I look for him 100 times a day and am currently on my third day of a cry-induced migraine.
|He always held my hand while he slept.|
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
The semester is officially wrapped up and done, both for my classes and the high school classes I was working with. I do have one remaining high school student who is "flexing" her semester through the summer to finish up some work and her project. That's only one student, though, so it's not a ton of work for me. I do have to finish up the website my college students started but couldn't find time to finish. It's very needed and for a local non-profit, so I don't want to leave them hanging. Right now, that and gardening are my top priorities. I'll be really glad when that's wrapped up, so I can focus more on the garden, and a couple of classes I purchased but haven't yet had time to take.
We're in the midst of several painting projects in the house, and we have several more large repair projects that we need done over the summer, but are unqualified to do the work. We had a really good guy for a couple of years, but though the quality of his work is still outstanding, he flakes and can't be counted on at all anymore. I'm not sure what happened to him, but it's really a bummer. I have a couple of numbers to call, but I haven't been able to make myself do so yet. I really need these projects done, but I hate phone calls and I hate start out with new people. Every day I try to make myself call, but the last couple I tried didn't turn out well, and it's just so incredibly stressful to interact with new people and to allow new people (non veg.!) in our home. I would pay so much for a reliable vegan carpenter/handyperson! I anticipate this whole situation will be my "fly in the ointment" all summer. It's so annoying to have a long list of jobs (at least three weeks of work), money to pay, and be unable to find appropriate help.
Over my long blogging absence, our Fergus bunny finally succumbed to one of many ailments he was getting pounded with. He was quite old and as often happens with the very aged, he started to get one illness after another. We thought he would pull through the last one like he had all the others, but the little guy was just done. Fiona, his loving partner of 7 years, and I cared for him until the end. He was such a fun little guy and a great partner to Fiona. She lived without a partner, for the first time, for about a month.
I'm lucky to have a close friend with a rabbit sanctuary, so Fiona had a series of dates with some dapper rabbits of a variety of ages and sizes, and we were able to find a partner that was a good match. Ferrero was her last of four or five dates, and they definitely had the best chemistry. I think she would have been happy with any of them. She's a very chill rabbit and seems to be quite social with other animals of all species, and I've never seen any sign of aggression from her. However, when the intent is to keep the rabbits in the same room for the rest of their lives, I'd like the rabbits to actually enjoy and not simply tolerate one another.
They both enjoy working on their bunny construction projects--putting doors and windows in very specific arrangements in a series of cardboard boxes and tubes, and then arranging the boxes and tubes in very specific ways that I don't really understand. There is apparently a system, though, because if I move something, they make a point to hop over and rather rudely slam the box back into its designated spot. I swear there's a bit of an eye roll when they do it ("Fucking dumb human. Clearly the Amazon box should be next to the Shark box, not the small box!").
Fiona has always had a raging sweet tooth. They both loved their sweets (fruit and the sweeter veggies). You could use Fiona to accurately rank the glycemic index of a grouping of fruits and veggies. She will eat them always in order of most sweet to least. While Fergus enjoyed his strawberry tops as much as Fi, he would mix up the order a bit--some strawberry tops, some greens, more strawberry tops, more greens, etc. Not Fi. She eats from sweet to bitter--she even eats her mixed greens in this order, picking out the purples first, then moving to spinach, etc. All that is to say that I think she's been a bad influence on Ferrero. When he first came, he ate his greens, then his strawberry tops. I've noticed a gradual change, and the last couple of weeks, he eats all his strawberry tops before the greens now.
He's a sweet little guy, and I love him, but he's still warming up to me. When he arrived, he had been through so much--brought into a shelter as a stray with a host of physical injuries, surgeries, medications, transferring homes--he's had a rough time. He moved into yet another new environment, with a new person, and I had to give him antibiotic injections. He had no trust in me, so it was pretty brutal. He would run and try to hide in the corner, while I had to grab him and inject him between the shoulder blades. He would cower and lean away like I was abusing him. I felt awful. The injections are long since done, but now I have to build trust, as I violated it right off the bat. He likes my feet, and headbutts my feet and legs a lot. I talk to him and and am slowly earning his trust as the food lady. He's not really excited about my hands, yet. We'll get there. Slowly.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Posted by VeganMom at 4/23/2016 04:47:00 PM
Monday, February 08, 2016
Obviously, I've continued to struggle with keeping up my blogging. In the three months since my last post, the husband and I have each had a birthday, we survived another holiday season, one daughter graduated from college, and the other turned 16. I'm on the second day of the new semester and thought I better blog now before the homework starts rolling in and I am snowed under with grading.
Breanna (Brea) the puppy:
|Sophie, Brea, Froggie|
I am trying to train her to use potty bells, as she is able to hold it somewhat, but to a very limited extent. It would be nice if she could let us know when she needs to go, rather than sticking to an schedule of putting her out every 90 minutes or so to try to catch it. She was initially quite afraid of the bells, but after two months, she is no longer afraid, so I'm trying to get her to interact with them. She doesn't really like the idea at this point, but I think she'll catch on eventually.
Dej's graduation was long awaited, and we're very proud of her. She ended college on a very high note--good grades, a strong work ethic, a completed internship, good connections, a love of learning, and a passion for her future career. Now she's working on the very difficult task of finding employment. It's a rough time of year, but she's committed and will find something.
Sadly, we have discussed changing her name on her application materials. We still live in a world in which her (ethnic-sounding) name significantly impacts her ability to find a job. I hate giving in to that, and I'm glad the final decision is hers. I wouldn't want to have to make that decision.
|Dej's boyfriend got her this sweater for Xmas.|
Until she finds a permanent job and knows where she will be geographically, it doesn't make much sense to get her set up somewhere with her dog and four cats, only to have to move again when she gets a job. So, she moved back home right before the holidays. I spent a few months in extreme stress over the chaos of fitting all of her stuff, her animals, and all of our very big personalities and moods into our house. It has turned out so much better than I had anticipated.
We're really enjoying having her back home. It was great to have so much time together over the holidays. Integrating the animals hasn't been nearly as painful as I thought it would be either. There have been some spats and a little more territory urination, but it's been shockingly smooth for the most part.
The biggest loss for me has been my workout room. That has been my joy, my sanctuary, and now it's her bedroom. I now work out in the living room. I miss the padded floor, the privacy, the neatly organized weights/videos/etc.--my little sanctuary. It's not the end of the world, though, and when Dej is home (she's spends a lot of time in Michigan with her partner), she works out with me, which is really cool!
Posted by VeganMom at 2/08/2016 03:36:00 PM
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Breanna joined our family on October 2. We met her the Sunday before but needed a little time to get the house puppy ready, so we endured five very long days of anticipation--waiting for her to come home, after meeting and falling in love with her. She's about four and a half months old and weighs around 13 pounds. She's part worm, I think, as she only stops wiggling when she's sleeping. Her mom was a white pitbull (maybe pit/boxer mix?), and we're pretty confident that her dad was a German Shorthaired Pointer.
Puppies are new territory for us. We typically adopt senior dogs, as that's my real passion. I love the seniors and can't abide the thought of these poor older animals being dumped in their golden years. We will continue to adopt seniors going forward. This was a one-time deviation. :) L & Mark have been campaigning for a puppy for years. They love the older dogs, too, but craved the energy and exuberance of a puppy. We've had a lot of losses lately (as you tend to when you adopt senior/special needs animals), and our remaining three dogs are all over ten, so the idea of adopting a dog we wouldn't be losing in the next couple of years held some appeal. I could use a little break from terminal illness and death. M & I are also at an age where we're still young enough (theoretically, anyway) to keep up with a puppy, but probably wouldn't be up for doing so as we get older and don't have any kids at home. All of those factors, coincided with a special needs puppy. I wouldn't take a healthy puppy, because they are easy to place, but a disabled puppy is not so easy, so that seemed quite fortuitous. M was still in England for our initial meeting, but we knew they would love each other and had no concerns there.
Breanna's foster mom brought her, and things went well, except for Froggie's strange inappropriate social skills. He demands that other animals play with him by barking relentless at them, and if they continue to ignore him, he charges them and smashes his flat little face into their flank. It's rather odd. He doesn't mean any harm, but it can be obnoxious and off putting to other animals. It was so obnoxious, I had to repeatedly send L to take him upstairs, so we could talk without his constant interruption. I was anticipating some major work on getting Froggie to socialize in a less offensive way and also anticipating some jealousy issues, since Froggie still thinks he's my conjoined twin.
L & I went to pick her up from her foster home in Rockford the following Friday, with M still in England. She was snuggled up in her blanket in L's lap, when about seven minutes into the car ride, her nervous puppy diarrhea hit. It was a very long, smell, messy ride home. We arrived home, with all three of us covered in shit and stench. We got cleaned up, did laundry, and gave Brea a bath. As soon as she dried, we took the pack for a nice long walk.
After we returned from the walk, the Froggie issue resolved itself perfectly. He decided that he would be her playmate, best friend, and protector from that point forward. He doesn't mind sharing me or his toys with her, so there have been no jealousy issues to navigate. They are the cutest bonded pair! They play and wrestle endlessly, they snuggle up to sleep, and I have to be somewhat alert, because he takes his job of protecting her seriously, and I've seen him get snappish with strangers who try to touch her. We're working on that. I love how they love each other, though. They are the oddest pair. She is quickly getting bigger, so I worry a little bit about my tiny old man, as she continues to play roughly with him. She gets along with all of the other dogs in our family and extended family, but Froggie is clearly "hers". The other dogs are not nearly as playful or tolerant of her roughhousing, so she doesn't find them nearly as interesting.
We're in the midst of potty training, and while she's definitely progressing, we have a long way to go. One of the big unknown factors is how much bladder/sphincter control she will ultimately have, as her back end didn't form properly. She's missing some bones and muscle function back there, but we don't yet know the full extent. She wears diapers in the house, and we do positive reinforcement only. I am planning to add bells and try bell training, so she can ask to go out, but we have some concerns that any bells we put up for the dogs will end up being used as cat toys. We'll see how that goes...
Breanna's foster mom runs the rescue organization, Mending Hearts, and she chose the name, because it meant "strong", and little Brea has already overcome quite a bit of adversity and progressed beyond expectations. Foster mom was advised that Brea should be euthanized. It's not a name we would have chosen, but she came with it, and it works. She knows her name and comes when called (usually--she's in the Terrible Two phase right now), but she most often gets called Brea. We seem to end up with nicknames for all of our animals.
She's curious, energetic, happy, fun, and a little bit naught--all of the things a puppy should be. It's been fun watching her grow and mature just in the 2.5 weeks we've had her. She's learned so much, so quickly, and it's really intriguing to watch her little brain develop. I will be glad/relieved when she gets past the stage of trying to chew and eat absolutely anything that fits into her mouth. She loves to play outside but can't be left unattended for even a minute. I have removed rocks, sticks, wood chips, various plant stems and pieces, countless leaves, poop, and other questionable objects from her mouth, all picked up while I was standing right next to her. She's quick and curious, and requires constant attention.
She's 4.5 months old now, and as soon as she gets a little bigger and stronger, we'll have to take her in to get spayed. I'm pretty sure that's an overnight recovery, so I'm already dreading having to leave my baby.
I can't help but think about how much Damon would have loved her. He would have adored playing with her and Froggie! They would have been the cutest group of best friends. I wish she could have known him.
I finally caught up on grading, which is why I'm finally able to blog. It's been a very busy semester, and I have hard time allowing myself to blog (or do anything else online) when I know I have a queue of student assignments waiting for grades. I have a batch of group projects and presentations that still need to be graded, but those just came in today, so as long as I get those done by the weekend (which I will), they can wait a bit. I'm going to try to get my midterm grades entered tonight (two whole days early!), instead of two hours before the deadline.
Monday, October 05, 2015
So my husband is in England for another week. He has already been gone for three weeks. He's working as an intern at Great Dixter gardens, in southern England. I don't normally share on social media when he (or we) are gone, because it's just not smart. He was gone quite a lot this summer, but I don't generally like to mention it for security reasons. I've asked him more times than I can count if he would refrain from posting on social media until he returns. As he prefers to live update his friends and strangers to every detail of his travel on multiple forms of social media rather than waiting until he returns, there's really no point in me not mentioning it here. I'm not thrilled with his decision to make this trip (he is very aware of this), but he chose to do it, and I have no choice but to accept it.
On the up side, the girls and I have enjoyed lots of spicy food in his absence. We all love hot chilies, but he can't handle that much spice, so I normally cook to his tolerance level. His trip coincided with peak Habanero and Scotch Bonnnet season, and I had a bumper crop in the garden this year, so I've been making everything better by adding roasted Habaneros/Scotch Bonnets to our food. It adds such a rich, smokey flavor. I processed a ton of them this weekend, cleaning, roasting, dicing, and freezing, so I have a good supply to get me through the winter. I'm hoping to harvest another big batch next weekend and make some salsa.
Jezebel and I just returned from the vet, where we had to schedule yet another mass removal (Friday). She is the queen of weird growths on her body and has had several removed. So far, they haven't been malignant, but each time I find a new growth, it's terrifying, and I can't sleep until I get results. This one is weird, according to the vet. He's not sure what to make of it, but is leaning towards a gut feeling that it's benign. I'll take that, as I really need the comfort right now. Poor Jezi will have stitches again! **Update: I started this post over a week ago. Jezi had her mass removed and it was weird but benign. So relieved!
We met Breanna (her foster mom named her) yesterday, and have been missing her since she left. We will pick her up Friday night and bring her home for good. Between now and then, I have to get the house put back together (from some construction/repair projects that are wrapping up), puppy-proof for her safety, and work on making some modifications so she can get around easier. Her back legs didn't form properly, nor did her sphincter muscle, so she has some problems with her back end and mobility. She is able to walk and run (though it's a decidedly unique gait), but is more prone to slipping, falling, and having her legs give out. I need to configure the house so she can tear around like a little maniac (she was awesomely high energy yesterday, running around and exploring) without worrying about her injuring herself.
We will have to potty train her, though she may still have issues due to her deformity. I've ordered some washable diapers for her. I hope she is able to not have to wear them for long, or at least not full time, but I don't know how that will play out in the future. We will figure it out together. It will be quite an adventure, and Friday feels way too far away.
Saturday, September 12, 2015
|On the way home from Manitowoc Humane Society|
We didn't really sleep that night, but he seemed okay--just tired. Monday morning went well, so we were pretty encouraged that it was a one-time thing. Then it happened again Monday afternoon. We scheduled a vet appointment immediately and took him in. This time it was a little worse--he was out a little longer, and wasn't able to get up as quickly. We got bad news at the vet. He had a small tumor on his heart that started bleeding. The fluid/blood around the heart wasn't allowing it to have an effective ejection fraction, causing syncopy. The tumor couldn't be removed, and there was no way to fix the heart, so his doctor put him on a beta blocker to try to help with the fast, irregular heartbeats in hopes of minimizing the syncopy. He wasn't in pain or feeling unwell, so though it was devastating news, we thought we'd have weeks to months left with him at that point.
|Adoption day - still on the way home|
Tuesday was rough. He was determined to conduct life as usual, but was progressively getting worse and was unable to get up and do anything on his own without passing out. We called the vet, begging for hope that it might get better or improve---perhaps we could up the beta blockers? Anything? Anything at all to buy some time? We brought him in to check, just to confirm that things were indeed worse and that nothing in the world would improve things for him. By this time, his heart was working really hard, causing him to pant and become low on oxygen at times. There's no way we could justify dragging this out until he felt miserable. He was just starting to get uncomfortable physically, but his mind was still active, alert, energetic and puppy-like. He couldn't accept that his body wasn't allowing him to jump up and greet everyone who entered the room. It was time to let him go.
We had prepared for that likelihood when we brought him in, so the family had already said their goodbyes--we spent almost 24 hour wonderful hours with him, and we had packed a bag of his favorite treats and brought his cushy bed along. I almost lost my courage, because he rallied when we brought him in. For the first time since Monday morning, he was up, active, jumping around, and didn't pass out. He didn't drop once from the time we told him he was going to the vet til the time we got into the room for the exam. I again convinced myself that he improved and things had miraculously resolved themselves. His heart exam indicated otherwise, though. It was a lot worse than it had been the day before. The tumor was leaking aggressively, and the fluid was really putting pressure on the heart. He LOVED going to the vet, and it was probably just adrenaline and excitement and luck that allowed him to make that trip without dropping. The vet was very honest about his condition and reiterated that this would only continue to get worse, and it was time. He was totally right. As hard as it was to let him go when he was still so happy and seemed a little better, it was infinitely better than waiting until he felt in utter misery and completely lost his dignity (he truly would rather die than potty in the house--he was such a good boy!).
|He has THREE toys in his mouth!|
We had a little over a year with our big boy. It wasn't nearly long enough! He was such a smart, fun dog. He came with so many quirks, which I will never know the source of, and was fairly high maintenance. He was totally worth it, though. He was so kind and gentle--there was not a single moment he showed any signs of being crabby, aggressive, impatient. He was happy and sweet to every single creature he encountered. He was playful and had a zest for life, refusing to slow down even when his arthritic body had to be in pain. He enriched every moment of every day that we got to spend with him. He made us laugh every single day of his life. He brought warmth and affection into all of our lives, every single day that we had him. The dogs and cats in the house universally loved him, leaned on him, lay across him, and groomed him. He's left a huge, gaping hole in our family, and we will feel that pain and emptiness for a long time. Every member of this family is better as a result of loving Damon.
I know I've shared some of these pictures before, but they are among my favorites, and are how I want to remember him.
So... my normal semester-starting excitement was dulled a little by the emotional and physical exhaustion of the previous couple of days and the loss. I was sleep deprived and struggling to keep it together. I refuse to cry in front of a class--especially the first class! I have another great group of students, some of whom I'm excited to see again, and some of whom I'm looking forward to getting to know.
It's a little somber on campus this semester, with the current political climate and bloody budget cuts, our campus feels somewhat like a war zone. We've lost some really good, really vital "soldiers", and there are many more on the chopping block. Those are haven't yet lost their jobs are exhausted from picking up the slack (the work still needs to be done, though there are so many fewer bodies to do it) and looking fairly shell-shocked from losing so many compatriots. It's quite devastating. We were already a skeleton staff operating on a shoe-string budget, and now we've lost staff and money. We are a small, tired, somewhat discouraged team, but we will stick together, prop each other up, and keep going. We have to. What we do is far too important to let some education-hating, oligarchs destroy it. That's exactly their goal. Affordable education for the non-elite is a terrible threat to their long-term vision, and as much as they are determined to permanently destroy us, I speak for the majority of us on our campus when I say we are willing to die keeping our institute the same high-quality educational opportunity that is has always been.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Though I thought I was done with the high school web development curriculum, I was not, and I've been working on that and trying to catch up in the garden, before returning to work this coming week. The course was supposed to be a one-semester course, but it was erroneously published as a year-long course. By the time we noticed it, students had already planned schedules around the class. So...I'm adding some material to the end to extend the course. We'll get to cover some fun topics I didn't think we would have time for (objects and cookies, along with others), and I'm enjoying that. I would liked to have had the time to do something fun though. I like to name my summers. Previous summers include "Summer of the broken wrist", "Summer of the heart crap", "Summer of Dej & Laree's drug exploration". This summer gets to be called "Summer of drudgery".
I had a long, productive cooking day, getting ready for the work week. The first couple of weeks are always so difficult, intense, and hard to get back into the swing of things, that I try to have as much done ahead as I can to take a little stress off. I still need to make a batch of hummus, but I have everything done, cleaned up and put away, and I'm having a hard time convincing myself to get back in the kitchen. The hummus may have to wait until Tuesday. So far I've made:
- Roasted Red Pepper Sauce - I've never tried this before. I'm serving with pasta and
- Roasted broccoli (harvested from our garden today), cauliflower, and eggplant (also from our garden)
- Stewed seitan and potatoes in miso gravy served over
- Peeled and prepped 2 bulbs of garlic (I use a lot of garlic)
- Chocolate "ice cream" (and chopped and froze another big bunch of bananas for the next batch of ice cream)
- A giant fruit salad, because we go through buckets of fresh fruit
Froggie loves the idea of going for walks with us, but struggles, and I have to carry him for at least half the walk. Pugs have issues with breathing and overheat easily, and he's an old man with much shorter legs than anyone else. He loves to look around and be carried while we walk. We walk four or five (we watch Sophie--Dej's dog a lot) dogs, and carrying one isn't particularly easy. I gave in and got a doggie backpack carrier for him. He loved it! He relaxed against me, looked around, and was a very happy boy. His face said, "What took you so long to figure this out." He gets a ridiculous amount of exercise following me around the house everywhere. I walk fast, so he runs, and I go up and down the steps dozens of times a day. I'm not worried about his exercise level, so the backpack seems to be a good solution for us for now.