Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stumpy - August 2005 to 11 November 2009

We brought Stumpy home on 5 June 2006 as a foster after she had been hit by a car. Her pelvis was fractured with a couple of small breaks, and she had a broken tail which had been amputated.

She rested for 2 1/2 weeks at the shelter, then came home with me, and worked her way into my heart. Despite her injuries she was such a sweet girl, and would always run to greet us at the bedroom door, with her back legs swaying all over the place from her injuries. Keeping her quiet was near impossible.

Over the next 3 1/2 years she showed her impish side, chewing on every cable she could - mostly when she was annoyed at not getting enough attention and would chew on the cable closest to where we were sitting. She would tear around the house like a maniac, leap up walls, climb all over our dining chairs scratching them to no end, and go sliding across our wooden dining table, well and truly leaving her mark. She drove the other cats nuts, because she just wanted to play constantly, and her version of play is like WWF wrestling, whereas Smudge and Lily's version of play is more slap and run. She would get everywhere she wasn't supposed to, and make it clear when she wanted to play. She was such a naughty girl

But she was also the sweetest, most intuitive cat I'd ever met. She was not a lap cat, and hated being picked up. She would follow me around all day at home. Wherever I was, Stumpy was sure to be. Whenever I was sick, she would come and sit by me purring away. When I had my open heart surgery, she would lie by my chest and purr, like she was trying to heal me. After we lost Joshua, anytime I would get upset at home, she would come running from wherever she was in the house, and come and curl up next to me and purr. She just KNEW when something was wrong, and would want to try and fix it. I have never met a cat as intuitive as Stumpy, she was my healer. She also protected me. I hate when Andrew is away, but when he was, she would sleep on the bed with me rather than in her bed by our door. If she heard a funny noise during the day outside, she would run to the front door growling.

Whenever we came home, she would run to her Alpine Scratcher by the front door and scratch on it in greeting. If she wanted a pat, she would walk up to us, and roll over, show us her belly and purrrrrrrrrr until she got a belly rub.

I will miss her so much. She was such a good companion, and she did not deserve to be taken so soon.

Apparently she had a major underlying heart problem - hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which could not have been picked up in her annual check ups or through her blood work, and she would have never have had a long life, despite the fact she looked so healthy. Putting her in the kennel put just enough stress on her little body, and caused her to go into acute heart failure. 24 hours of oxygen therapy and medication were not helping enough, and caused her to also go into kidney failure. She was depressed, and exhausted and hadn't really eaten for almost 6 days by this stage, and not being able to give her the required medication to help her be able to breathe properly due to her kidney failure were enough for Andrew and I to make the very difficult decision to have her euthanised immediately rather than trying to keep her going for another 3 days before one of us could get back from our trip back to Australia.

It was such a shock for such a young, healthy cat to go into such sudden heart failure and not be able to do anything, or be there for her. We were lucky to have an amazing neighbour who brought her home from the kennel and noticed something wasn't right, and got her to the vet ASAP, and was there for her when she crossed the rainbow bridge. Stumpy knew we loved her, and had a good friend to her by her side.

We will miss her crazy antics, and her absence will be greatly felt and greatly missed.

Rest in peace Stumpy, you were such a good friend.

Yes I am still alive!

I can't believe it's been so long since I blogged... I am a bad blogger! (Edit to add: I haven't done a read through to check for typos, I'll do that later if I can be bothered)

So I'll attempt to summarise the last 9 months, and blog more regularly. I blame Facebook - it's much easier to post a sentence there than to write a story here :-) But I do miss not having a record of what's been happening, so here we go.

Last I blogged in February, I was recovering after another staph infection in my scar post-surgery. I had been doing a Certified Nursing Assistant course at the time, and we had just started our prac at an aged care facility, but doing the course with the PICC line in my arm didn't seem safe, and I was pretty exhausted. So I ended up ditching that course, and doing a Fast-Track CNA that started not long after - it was longer hours during the day, which made it a 6 week rather than a 12 weeks course.

As is always the way, it wasn't without drama. My grandmother had been battling leukemia for a while, and was nearing the end of her battle, so I did a quick trip back in April to spend time with her while I could, which ended up being a wonderful time that I will treasure for a long time.

I got back to the US just in time for the start of the new course, which was also halfway through the middle of a busy university semester, so I was kept busy for a while.

I finished the CNA course though, and got my license, and also did fine at university (not good, but acceptable :) )

Late April, I did my crazy cat lady thing and trapped a feral cat who was heavily pregnant. A couple of days later she had a litter of kittens while in the large-ish cage I had her in! She had 6 kittens, and unfortunately they were about half the weight a newborn kitten should be, and 3 of them died in the first 36 hours. The remaining 3 grew like weeds though, and the mother cat turned out to be very receptive to human touch, so she was pretty easy to take care of. She was scared, but loved being patted, and had no problem with us touching her kittens, rubbing her belly, or cleaning out her crate.

In May, we flew up to Vancouver to renew our US visas. It was a really nice trip! We spent the weekend at Vancouver Island where Andrew's cousin lives, and they showed us around Victoria which is a really pretty city. The visa process was very simple which was nice, and we had a nice couple of days pottering around Vancouver, and spent a day driving up to Whistler to have a poke around up there. The drive up itself was gorgeous.

On May 30 my nan passed away, so I flew back to Australia for the funeral. It was a gorgeous service, and I'm glad I could be there for it, so support mum if nothing else.

I got back to the US to one of my feral kittens not walking properly - turns out he had some sort of spinal defect, and his spinal cord was outgrowing the spinal column itself which was causing paralysis :( There was no cure, and it was high enough up for it to at some point stop him from being able to go to the toilet and move his back end, and given how fast he'd gone downhill, that wasn't too far away, so we made the decision to euthanise him which was heartbreaking, we was a really sweet, handsome guy.

The rest of June saw my end of semester exams, continuing the socialisation of my feral kitty Gigi and her two remaining kittens Sun and Kate. The 3 kitties were confined to our spare room to keep them away from our cats, and they were doing great. The kittens were happy, sociable girls, and Gigi was really settling down to life as a house cat.

In July I started a phlebotomy (blood drawing) course. Given my fear of needles, Andrew found this highly amusing - until I needed volunteers to come in and be stuck as well :-) I got poked many times over the class, and now I'm pretty much over my fear of needles. Andrew was impressed with how well I drew his blood too.

The kittens also reached an adoptable age, so they and Gigi were all spayed, vaccinated, microchipped and put up for adoption. Sun and Kate went to an absolutely wonderful home together, and have thrived since. I still get regular updates, and they are happy, sociable, lovable kittens, and have 2 doggy sisters who they adore as well. This litter was hard since we had 4 of the 6 kittens die, but they wouldn't have had any more luck in the wild, and at least two of the kittens got wonderful homes. Gigi went to one of Andrew's co-workers, and seemed to be settling in ok, but unfortunately managed to escape his apartment after a couple of weeks and hasn't been seen since :-( She has lived life outside though, so we hope that she is doing ok.

We also celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary in July, with a lovely dinner at Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco, followed by seeing Wicked, the musical, which we both loved.

In August we embarked on a crazy roadtrip to Atlanta, Georgia. Our neighbours who are like family to us were moving there, so we drove on of their cars and made a road trip out of it so we could see some of the US countryside. We went through California and Arizona, and onto Roswell, New Mexico to see some aliens, then through to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with a stop in Amarillo, Texas on the way where we had a very tasty dinner. We saw the memorial from the Oklahoma City bombing which was quite moving and had a quick look around the city. From there we drove through Arkansas and through to Memphis, Tennessee. We had high hopes for Memphis, but it was a bit of a shit hole... I'm sure there's nice parts to it, but everything we saw was dingy, run down, abandoned, and we had a horrible time finding somewhere half decent to stay, and finding somewhere half decent to eat. I thought Beale St would be really cool, but it was just filled with divey bars. So rather than spending the next day there, we decided our few hours in the evening was enough, and got out of town in the morning, and kept on driving. We drove through Mississippi, and decided to push through to Atlanta that day, so kept on driving through Alabama, and onto Georgia. We LOVED driving through Alabama in particular. The couple of places we stopped, people were SO lovely, and southern style houses were so beautiful, and everything was just so "quaint"! We'd love to go back and spend more time there.

We made it through to Atlanta, and spent a fun couple of days there checking out Stone Mountain, and the Georgia Aquarium and spending time with our friends. We really liked Atlanta as a city. We're going back there for Christmas, which we're looking forward to. Andrew has a better account of our roadtrip here.

August also saw the start of my short-lived career as a tv extra :-) NBC was filming a new show Trauma, and were looking for extras with medical experience to give the show a better sense of reality, so I signed up. I did 3 episodes - one as "tourist with camera", one as "Halloween partygoer", and one as "patient". It was great fun though being part of it and seeing how they film a biggish budget tv show. The first episode I filmed I got put into a good spot, and so when it was finally on tv, you actually got to see me a bunch of times in the scene, and they were pretty clear shots of me too, so that was exciting. I believe the series has been cancelled though, so no more fame and stardom for me :-)

September was a pretty quiet month. September 4 was the 2 year anniversary since we lost Joshua, so that was a pretty sad day. University was back in full swing, and I was struggling a bit to keep up the motivation.

But on the upside, I had one big piece of good news - I found out I was pregnant :-)

I was pretty nauseous throughout the first trimester and spent the end of September and all October really struggling with nausea and exhaustion, and struggling to function properly. I was supposed to do my phlebotomy externship in late September so I could get my license, but I wasn't up to 4 weeks of 40 hour weeks being on my feet. I lost about 4kg in about a 3 week period from being so sick, and still haven't gained any of it back.

October I just kept struggling with the pregnancy, but we did get an ultrasound showing the baby's heartbeat which was wonderful to see. University was hard because I kept feeling so sick and tired, but I struggled on.

November I finished my end of semester exams, and we flew back to Australia. My family was doing the scattering of my nan's ashes, and my mum wanted to fly me back for it, and Andrew came too since he hadn't been back in a while. We had a lovely time, and the actual ash scattering was a lovely ceremony. The trip was a bit crazy though. First of all I was incredibly nauseous the entire time, and I had thrown up on the plane on the way over. I threw up a couple of times while we were there and was generally pretty nauseous. The flight home, I threw up everything that went into my mouth, and spend pretty much the entire flight nauseous and miserable, and throwing up a bunch of times.

The worst thing about the trip home was that our beautiful kitty Stumpy passed away :( I'll do a new blog post about that though.

So our year has been about as crazy as usual - ups, downs, lots of travel, and weird and wonderful events. I'm now almost 15 weeks pregnant, and just keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well with the pregnancy. I'm feeling pretty good about it, but I'm much more aware of everything that can and does go wrong with pregnancies - between my and my friends experiences, I have learnt nothing is a given, and you need a whole lot of luck, and just to cherish every moment.

My heart is going fine though, and they don't expect any problems to occur throughout the pregnancy, so while I'll be monitored closely by a high risk obstetrician again, it should all be ok, and I should be able to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).

Now I promise to update more regularly :-)