Sunday, November 19, 2017


It worked! It took most of the week, but I built it and the squirrel came!

People on the neighborhood social media pages had been sharing how their hard work on their craved pumpkins was being destroyed by hungry squirrels, so this week, as I was ready to move on to more winter themed decor, I took our uncarved one, opened her up, and lashed her up in the branches of the backyard tree where, should I attract squirrel diners, I could photograph them. 

I kept checking all week, but my sad little pumpkin in the tree with its squirrel window sat untouched. 

This morning, though, we had our first customer! 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

On Gratitude

I've spent part of this morning reading up on people with disabilities and travelling to Walt Disney World and, I have to say, I have tears in my eyes from a lot of the posts. 

If there was even a single shred of "oh poor me" lingering in the back of my brain, spending more than a few minutes reading what other families have dealt with quickly cleaned all of that attitude right out. 

And these people will immediately squash any of this "oh you're so inspirational" crap. They don't exist and survive and thrive for me to compare my life or pain or problems to theirs and find "gratitude." 

They just get on with their lives and wish you would, too.  

So I say this with as much balance as possible: I am grateful. 

Grateful for the abilities I have. 

Grateful for the opportunity to heal and regain abilities I don't.

Grateful that I can be my own inspiration, even if that's just learning how to get around on crutches better each day. 

Grateful that I have people who love me and want the best for me, but even if I didn't, I would still love me and work for the best for me, regardless. 

Just . . .  grateful. 

and the best part? This feeling is just really, really healthy. 

So, I'm grateful that I feel gratitude, too.

Friday, November 17, 2017

SURPRISE! Your Pelvis is Fractured! What are you doing next? "I'm goin' to Disney World!"

so I snapped this photo yesterday before the MRI on my right hip, mostly because three years ago, when I was having an MRI on my left hip, the scrubs were light blue and they've definitely improved to a more Tori-blue-shade since then. They even match my nail polish!

Little did I know, the MRI was NOT going to show any labral tear, but it would discover the reason I've had all this pain these past two weeks.

Lemme back up. 

Two weeks ago this Friday, the day the house was getting painted, a similar shade of blue in fact, I started having pain around my right hip and pelvis. I tried remembering anything out of the ordinary I might have done. 

Went for the same 2 mile walk with Aidan I take every morning, to the dog park, kicked tennis balls for him to chase, because he doesn't like you throwing them in the air. He wants to chase them along the ground like they are bunnies. 

And I did feel a bit of a twinge on one particularly hard kick. 

But we went on a second two mile walk at lunch and it wasn't really bothering me. 

It was later that afternoon, after sitting at work, that I got up and nearly fell to my knees in pain. 

What the heck?

So I spent all weekend resting and icing and popping ibuprofen, and it felt a bit better.

So, stubborn as I am, I got up Monday morning for our walk. It hurt a bit, but it was do-able.

I've been told I have a really high tolerance for pain. So I was ready to power through it.

By Monday night, I had to get Bob to pull my crutches out of storage from the hip surgery in 2015.  I could not put any weight whatsoever on my right leg without excruciating, bring-you-to-your-knees pain.

Tuesday morning Fisher fell and we knew it was time to call Caring Pathways. 

So I'm on crutches in our last photo together. 

My doc saw me Tuesday, earlier in the day, and referred me back to my ortho who did the hip surgery. He was out sick, but his PA could fit me in Wed. 

So last week just seriously sucked, unable to walk, watching my cat die, taking time off of work to fit in appointments and working late to catch up. 

Wed. the PA takes an xray, doesn't spot anything out of the ordinary, but since I am on crutches, orders an MRI. She says it doesn't sound like a labral tear from the area I'm describing, but worth a look since we know it's only a matter of time before the right hip needs surgery. 

The MRI was a week later, yesterday at this writing, on Thursday. 

Another joyful hour inside a round coffin listening to jackhammers blended with fire alarm beeps. 

Today, the results. 

This whole time I am mystified at what in heck I could have done. I google everything, except fractures, because we did an xray and didn't see any breaks. Nothing fit. 

And I could barely shuffle around the house without ending up in excruciating pain by the evening. 

Oh, and, of course, the 2-year-in-the-planning Disney trip is three weeks away. 

I've gotten 6 people's vacation/work/school schedules cleared to get us all in the same place for a week before Christmas and now I can't walk. 

And, if you didn't know, you walk, A LOT, on a Disney trip. Like, an average of 8-10 miles a day. Even in great shape, you're lame by the end of the week. 

So when another PA came in today and said, "Are you aware your pelvis is fractured?"

it absolutely was just the cherry on top of a really crappy two weeks. 

Reading the MRI results raised a whole host of other "findings" that don't sound terribly hopeful. 

The biggest news: "A nondisplaced right inferior ramus fracture is seen with edematous findings"

"sacral iliac joints and symphysis pubis show mild degenerative findings..."

So, Nick, (I was testing him on all this medical verbiage): "The design of the symphysis is similar to the intervertebral discs of the spine, having a central disc of fibrocartilage that cushions against compressive loads, provides shock absorption and contributes to passive stabilisation."

So my shock absorber in my pelvis is wearing out. And I'm unstable. (Well, we KNEW that...)

"there are developing traction osteophytes for age" (those are bone spurs!) PRETTY!!

And on and on it goes. 

Mild grade 2 reticular cartilage signal at the cephalad portion of the acetabular margin is seen without obvious chondral labral delamination . . . synovitis or intra-articular body suspected"

Acetabular labrum shows a small linear rent without complete detachment. Small para labral cysts are evident at the anterior acetabular margin. 

Fibrous edematous changes at the gluteus medius tendon component, insertions onto the trochanters are seen without peelback lesions.  . . . Edematous inflitration of the right adductor compartment muscles is seen related to the inferior ramus nondiplaced fracture."

All of that to say, I got bad hips (and pelvis) with a bunch of spots where the muscles are pulling away, which likely may have caused the fracture on the bone. The right hip will likely have to have the same surgery as the left thanks to these findings. 

But first, the pelvis has to heal. 

As Nick reminded me, at least I'm not Meredith from The Office in her pelvic cast!

So I am researching options for wheelchair rentals while we're at Disney World, as well as how to get my handy dandy crutches to Florida and back, and cursing Disney for not allowing me to make changes to my room reservation requests without having to call them. Because now I need a wheelchair accessible room. 

It wasn't enough to finally have all six of us together for a Disney trip. I needed to make it even MORE special, huh?

Oh well, onward we roll.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Farewell Fisher 1999 - 2017

A Meandering Eulogy for Fisher

In the summer of 1999, Nicholas (who had not yet become "Nick") was 6 and Sammi had not yet turned 4. We visited Blinn to pick up my part-time paycheck and then drove over to the Bryan animal shelter to find a pair of kittens to bring home.  

This had been something I'd wanted to do since we had taken a mama and her litter of kittens to the shelter back in 1994. She had shown up in our garage, given birth, and we couldn't house them all. But the one little orange tabby of the litter who walked out in a rainstorm to potty in the front yard instead of the garage got to stay. Nicholas, not yet 2, had a limited vocabulary and decided his name as "Meow." But when we tried to get Meow to come inside and be an indoor kitty, he would have none of it. 


This was his space, all outside, all the time.

Then baby Sammi came along, and I put the idea of an indoor kitty (or two, remembering how happy Calvin and Hobbes were together) on hold for a few years. 

Fast forward to 1999. This is a few months before we adopted Fisher, for reference:

Fisher knew them way back when.

Two little boy kitties sat in a cage looking for attention and we arranged to have them neutered so we could take them home. If you didn't live in the county where you were adopting, they had to be fixed before they could leave. 

So a few days later, I picked them up from a nearby vet and home we went.

But Hunter never quite settled. He would beat up Fisher mercilessly. 

One day, Fisher caught a mouse in the house. Bonus points for Fish-kitty. 

After a couple of months, we found a new home for Hunter, out in the country where he could be a barn cat and have roam of the place, instead of cooped up in the house where he took his energy out on his brother. 

Fisher became an only-cat, much happier to just have Ian around, who never paid him much mind. 

A year after Fisher came home, we changed homes. She moved from our rental to our first purchased home, a mile away. (We tried relocating Meow, but nothing doing.)

Fisher in her typical "everywhere's a bed" fashion.

We adopted Katy from the same shelter as Fisher in 2001 for Sammi's 6th birthday. Ian taught Katy the ropes and she was a sweet dog. As Ian got older, Katy helped us round him up from the backyard when he'd have his back to us and had gone deaf. 

Katy rounding up old man Ian from his favorite shady spot under the trampoline.

But Katy was much more attentive to cats, much to Fisher's chagrin

And she never became a cuddly cat.

So, as Sam got older, she began lobbying harder to adopt a cuddly cat. 

We tried bringing home Fluffy, who would cuddle but who missed her prior home. 


And her prior owner missed her. So back she went. 

Then from that same friend, we took home a kitten, Tinkerbell, who filled the cuddle quotient and Fisher didn't seem to mind her. 

Then Tinkerbell in her kittenhood sprang out of a corner and latched on to old, deaf, partially blind Ian's lame arthritic leg and in one swoop, he'd grabbed her off of him, shook her, and thrown her to the ground. I scooped up her seizing, thrashing little body and raced her to the vet, but nothing could be done. 

Fisher was declared the only cat in our house as long as Ian was alive. 

Ian passed in August 2006. 

In September 2006, Sammi lobbied again for a cat for her 11th birthday.

If this sounds like we've entirely gotten off the point of eulogizing Fisher, it's because throughout this entire saga, Fisher was the patient, if not cuddle-able animal who never caused any problems. Fisher was just the constant presence in the house. 

But Faith's entrance into the home brought the biggest surprise of our lives concerning Fisher. Since Fisher never left the house, we had not worried about regular vet visits. But with a new cat coming in, I decided as much as Fisher would rail and scratch and yowl about getting crated up and taken to the vet, it was necessary since the new cat was coming from a place filled with other cats, and I wanted to make sure she didn't bring any sickness in with her to Fisher who would have no immunity. 

I dropped Fisher off at the vet who had never met him before and went to work. I called mid-day to check on "him" and when I went to pick him up, using this pronoun in all my conversations, the vet tech stopped me and said, "Um, you know Fisher's a girl, right?"

This was 2006. We had been erroneously informed of the "male" kittens gender in 1999, and with fluffy butts, you just don't check that sort of thing. 

Fisher was a she. 

It took us a very long time to work out the pronoun switch, but it finally clicked. 

So Faith came home to be the cuddle cat and Fisher put up with yet another interloper in her space.

But her space was about to change. 

Six months after Faith moved in, we all moved out. To Bob and Nell's house. Our house sold inside of a month and we were sticking around until the end of the school year before heading for Colorado. 

Fisher spent most of her time hiding under my bed in the guest room for those next four months. 

Then, June 1, 2007, with the aid of drugs from the vet, Bob Sr. and I had the joy of getting her crated for a 17 hour single day journey to her final home. 

Bob Sr. still chuckles remembering the way she seemed to grow four more legs in our struggle to crate her.

Once in Colorado, she seemed to know this was the place to relax and the second half of her life she grew more and more cuddly, although always on her terms.  Bruiser's entrance to her home in 2011 was only slightly annoying to her. She already put up with Faith and Katy and Evan, so what was one more?

In Colorado, we allowed her out on the back deck to sun. 

And she remained a phenomenal hunter. In seconds, she could have a baby bunny hanging from her mouth. We had to stop the outdoor visits to save the bunnies when the new bunny batches would arrive in the spring and wait until mid-summer when they were large enough to evade her.

6/19/17 under the mistaken impression the bunnies were big enough and Fisher was now slow enough, she made her last kill, much to Aidan's interest. 

She'd decided her favorite places were in the front room and on the dining table. She was more irritated when the other animals invaded that space than when she was anywhere else in the house. Half the photos I have of her are on that table.

anything left on the table was clearly an invitation for her to lay on it

And the best way to offer pets was just to let her come to me.

She only returned to hang out upstairs during the months that Nick had moved home after graduation, job hunting. She adopted his room while he was here and was happy that he was all hers.

And she began to come into my bathroom each evening, waiting for me to come in, sit on the floor and pet on her until she'd had enough. She'd always love the pets, until she didn't. Then she'd swing around and swat at me, saying, "No more!" I got used to it. 

And in her last year, she developed this strange obsession with the toilet, especially the one on the main floor near the laundry room (and the litter box). If you left the lid up, she would almost bathe in it,  leaving muddy little paw prints all over the seat and then track them all around the kitchen and dining room floor. It was maddening.


But that was her only vice, and at the grand old age of 17, it wasn't a bad one. 

In the past months, though, she wasn't keeping her food down all the time and would howl as if in agony just a bit after eating. But only if I wasn't there. If I came in to check on her, she'd stop and look at me like I was interrupting. At first, I wondered if it was just her deafness that was causing this very loud sound, as if to attempt to hear herself.  But it began to happen without fail, less food kept down, and her back end started to get more and more wobbly.  I was also feeding her almost hourly this past week. She was skin and bones, not absorbing it when she kept it down. 

The morning she fell off the kitchen table, Tuesday, was the day I finally admitted she was not going to curl up in one of her soft beds and go peacefully to sleep forever. 

nope. Too easy.

Caring Pathways came Tuesday night. I loved on her and petted and brushed her one last time. 

While we talked to the vet, she curled up in her bed, tail over her face, as if bracing for the inevitable.  

 The vet wrapped a towel around her in her bed and we helped hold her still. The anesthesia shot caused her to howl once, in a way I'd never heard, which the vet had warned us might be the case. 

She was a little worried she hadn't gotten enough injected, but by the time she got another syringe, Fisher was completely out, eyes open, but deeply asleep, so that even touching her eyeball elicited no response. We arranged her peacefully in her bed and the vet gave her the final euthanasia drug into her kidney. She slipped away almost immediately, in peaceful repose. 

We used to joke there must be a portrait of a decrepit ancient cat in the attic ala Dorian Gray that kept her looking so beautiful for so long. 

Her passing, much like Katy's, was anticipated, but still painful. So many changes over the years, Fisher was always a constant. And now, her absence is large. I still look for her as I come down the stairs before I catch myself and lose her all over again. I look at all the little white saucers that are no longer needed for the constant plates of food. When I emptied them from the dishwasher this last time, I cried. The little things take on such meaning. 

But I know I loved her the best way I could, and gave her her the best life for 18 years. 

Rest in peace my fluffy orange fishface. Give those bunnies a running start.