sareini: Image of the Bursar from the Discworld universe (Bursar)
Callie coughed up her first hairball this morning. She was quite disturbed by it - it's the first time she's ever ejected anything from her mouth that way (other than the time I found her swallowing 6 inches of yarn like a sword swallower or really extreme snake charmer) and she cowered a bit until I reassured her that it was okay. Frankly I'm surprised it's taken a whole year for her to have a hairball, considering how she grooms sometimes. Also, she helpfully did so on a piece of cardboard so it was easy to clean up (ie. I didn't have to touch it).

As for the planned weekend of playing Secret World Legends... Well, we got set up on Friday, eventually, ending up as an all-Templar group wandering around a New England town beset by zombies, giant lobster people and baby Cthulhus among other interesting landmarks. I ended up playing a version of Talia who's gone Sword/Elementalism, which basically means I have a katana and can set people on fire. I also swear a lot, so I'm having a lot of fun bringing out some of my more... interesting phrases, such as "Jesus fucking Christ on a gas-powered novelty unicycle!" and "Hay, LobsterFace! your mother sleeps with seagulls!" - the latter being used as a taunt for the afore-mentioned giant lobster people.

We were all set to play on Saturday and Sunday too... but play didn't get very far on Saturday before the chat server started hyperventilating and crashing all over the place, meaning there was no way to communicate in the team. I'd like to note at this point that, when the original Secret World game launched in 2013, the chat server had the exact same problem, leaving me to conclude that in four years they never had the idea to actually fix or upgrade the chat servers. So the game announced there was going to be a couple of hours downtime to fix this and some other problems on Sunday.

On Sunday, two hours became three. Then five. Then eight. Which was about the point we all went, "You know what, we'd be better trying this again tomorrow." Eventually this morning, the devs posted about the "extended downtime", explaining that there had been a bug allowing people to duplicate money and so that needed to be fixed pronto before people started dupin rares and the game would be gone to the Americans (that's some vintage CoX humour for you there). There was also a brief mention of the chat/community server being fixed as well... but when I was creating an alt and getting him through the tutorial, I saw the community server crash again. Ah well, at least it reconnected this time. We'll just have to see what the evening holds...
sareini: "Things I am not allowed to do at Hogwarts, No.61" (Cats and Dragons)
Callie weighs a very solid 3.42 kg. Ideally she should be closer to 3kg, but it's not a big problem as I've just switched up their feeding pattern from one big portion once a day to smaller and more frequent portions which should help with that. She's also got a mystery issue of dry coat and skin and dandruff/bald patches which we originally thought was flea allergy-related but as she's not had fleas for months obviously isn't the case. So she's got a supplement of oil stuff (evening primrose, salmon, omega 3 et al) to go in her food every day for a while. Lily will probably end up getting some too with the way they swap bowls, but it might well do her some good as well all things considered. Other than that, Callie is perfectly healthy and was very good at the vet, although I suspect a lot of that was do do with being slightly overawed and in shock from being outside of her comfort zone (ie. the house).

We also got to see a cat on a leash at the vets, although he had to go back into his carrier when a German Shepherd puppy came in. Apparently he was a Bengal cross so he'd been pretty easy to leash-train. When Callie was small I bought a kitten harness in the hopes of training her in the same way, but she just attacked it and tried to eat it whenever I brought it out.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Right now I'm just downloading Secret World Legends in preparations for the headstart in an hour or two and drinking milk. It's a rocking Friday night.
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Firstly, and probably most importantly, Callie will be going to the vets for her yearly vaccinations. Even though both she and Lily are 100% indoor cats (aside from the .5% when she pokes her nose past the front door for a fleeting second) it's important to get the vaccinations because (a) you can never be too careful; and (b) because Lily is on long-term steroids now she can't get her vaccinations, so Callie needs to step up to provide the herd (clowder?) immunity. Callie is significantly easier to get into the carrier than Lily, what with being small enough still to be picked up and held with one arm and her not psychically knowing when it's time to get into the carrier like Lily can somehow sense. Once that part is done it's relatively easy and so routine that even I and my anxiety can't come up with anything to panic about.

Then, later on in the day I will be joining several friends and friends of friends in the headstart for Secret World Legends, the new f2p version of Funcom's The Secret World. It's a new game, so new characters for everyone... and that's been causing me some deep thought and anxiety over the last few days.

You see, I've had a small pool of characters that I play/write about for a very, very long time now - some of them have been around for nearly 30 years at this point. And so with maybe one or two exceptions, I don't like to create new characters; not when I've got these perfectly good characters that I can tweak to that purpose! Over the years I've become aware that these characters are also facets of myself in one way or another - Talia (who over the decades has also been known as Tiffany, Kimberley, Abigail and Rebecca) is how I wish I was; while James is the part of me that identifies as male and (poor thing) gets saddled with my mental illnesses and anxieties (and angst). There's a couple of others, but these are the two that have been with me the longest. When I write, they're the characters who'll turn up in just about everything, carefully shaped to fit the situation. And over the years they've helped me through a lot of things as well - they're not real, of course, but working out what they'd do or say to me in situations when I've had no-one else around to turn to has probably saved my life on at least one occasion.

So it's difficult for me to just create new characters, because to make the cut as a character they really have to have something that makes me attached to them, otherwise I lose interest very quickly. And I feel awkward about this, because in my past I've had people tell me how wrong this is or mock me for it, to the point where now I expect it from people automatically. Even explaining this here is making me feel weird because I never actually talk about this stuff.

On a related note I should probably get back on with the character backgrounds I've been working on for the versions of them in my current original universe brainworm...
sareini: (hiding)
The continued heat, even at night, has started to cause me another problem: I can't sleep. Last night I tried using Nick's old room fan to cool things off a little, and while Callie was enthralled by it and the very concept of "wind inside a house", it came at a price: I couldn't hear my music over the noise of the fan, which meant I still couldn't sleep. So that, coupled with worried about Lily who's having a flare-up and several personal things getting to me and weighing down on me, left me feeling very depressed this morning. I tried calling my social worker, but even though she's back from her holiday she's now off sick, so I'm still left twisting in the wind and that only made me feel worse.

So, after curling up in bed with Lily who senses when I'm bad like this and came along to purr on me for three hours so I got some sleep, I decided to take quiet day today. Worked on Ross's birthday present, drank raspberry lemonade water and watched random stuff.

One thing I watched was a J-horror mockumentary found footage movie called Noroi The Curse. It's one of those movies that holds your attention for the near two-hour run time, but then when it ends you have to rush off to Wikipedia to work out what you just watched. I enjoyed it greatly - like I said, it held my attention for the whole thing, and was just the right amount of creepy without any overt jump scares - and with notes of Ghostwatch, The Blair Witch Project and a kernel of what would become Paranormal Activity but I also strongly suspect I'd have understood parts better if I had a better understanding of Japanese and Shinto customs.

Now I'm playing League of Legends (because what better thing to do when feeling low than play Abuse Simulator 2017?) and drinking yet more raspberry lemonade water, because that stuff is like crack.
sareini: "Did I mention that my nose was on fire? That I have fifteen wild badgers living in my trousers?" - Babylon 5 (Nose on fire)
28 degrees C! I swear, we British are not equipped to deal with temperatures like this. Well, at the very least *I'm* not.

Lily has come up with the best way to beat the heat - she just climbs into the big cardboard box and goes to sleep in it. It's shady and cool and I wish I could fit in there with her. Callie just lies flat on the upstairs landing, where there are no windows and so it's a little cooler than the rest of the house. Meanwhile I sit and seriously debate the merits of just taking all my clothes off and pulling the blind down in the living room before I remember that still leaves me uncomfortably sticky and I can't go into the kitchen then.

I might have to put ice cubes in the cats' water soon, although whenever I did last year they just looked at me as if to say, "Mummy, why have you made the water lumpy?" Then Callie started trying to play with the floating ice cubes.

I know that others are enjoying the hot weather, and that's great. I just wish air conditioning was a thing in the UK for those of us who don't do well in the heat. If nothing else, it's sapping my concentration for doing stuff as well...
sareini: Bruce Campbell as Elvis from Bubba Ho-Tep (Bubba Ho-Tep)
Yesterday was more interesting than expected.

The original plan was that my brother was coming down to visit; he'd drive Lily and I to the vets for her monthly checkup (Lily is still fine, put on another 300g so now we're having to try to fix that; personally I'm happy because she had been losing a ton of weight before we got this condition under control so as long as she's not losing weight things are still going well); then go to lunch and then the cinema to see Wonder Woman (again).

Then I found out I needed cat food, so a trip to the pet store was added.

Then yesterday morning I went to put some rubbish in the bin in the back yard... and discovered that Marley had killed another pigeon and left it for me. And unfortunately this had happened several days ago, during which time nature had gone and natured all over it.

So when my poor brother arrived I handed him a pair of rubber gloves and several plastic bags and asked if he would be so kind as to help me out before I vomited uncontrollably everywhere. Thankfully he was okay with it.

(I'm trying to work out if Marley is leaving me these pigeons as some sort of offering to me as the human who provides Second Breakfast or if he's just too lazy to drag his kill home. It could go either way, really.)

The rest of the day went pretty much as planned; brother enjoyed Wonder Woman greatly; I came home and was once again shattered from a day being social with people and slept so long Lily started worrying that I wouldn't wake up.

Today is Election Day here in the UK; I went out and did my civic duty (in the rain). I have no illusions about the Tories getting booted out of 10 Downing Street, but I am at least hopeful that neither they nor UKIP get in here and Labour continues to retain. Other than that, the only other thing of note is that I actually finished a story! I'm so very proud of myself. Now I'm just waiting for my volunteer beta readers to look it over and then I might actually dare to post it...

Box Wars

May. 28th, 2017 01:39 pm
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
There are two large cardboard boxes in the office. One is what the cat tree came in; I can't remember what the other one once contained, but it doesn't matter. The boxes now belong to the cats.

When it gets too hot, I often find Lily snoozing in one of them. Callie likes to chew on them (for reasons known only to her; she's a devil for cardboard) or practice shredding things with her claws on them. And today I just got to witness a half-hour game of Box Wars.

The rules of Box Wars seem to be quite simple: there is a box, and both cats want to be in the box. But there is only room for one cat in the box, and so they must fight, beguile, chase and/or trick the cat in the box into coming out of the box. Then they can get into the box, and everything starts again.

Of course, just being a human there's probably a lot of stuff I'm missing (is there a points system? Fouls? Do the rules change depending on the number of cats?), but at the same time there is endless amusement in watching Lily and Callie chasing each other, batting each other, pouncing and rolling and generally having immense fun just so they can sit in a box for a minute or so.
sareini: (hiding)
According to the AccuWeather app on my phone, right now it is 25 degrees Celcius. For most of the day it has been 23 degrees C.

I am not one of those people who enjoys the heat. For one thing, I have severe hay fever that's been a constant companion for all my life (my brother is the same; he was once offered immunotherapy - basically they wanted to inject him with small amounts of pollen daily - for his because we're both so bad with it). It can start as early as March and be with me all the way to October or even November. Eyes itch, twitch, sting and swell shut; nose dries up so badly it bleeds spontaneously and itches, and the roof of my mouth and the back of my throat itch painfully, among other symptoms. So that's one reason to avoid going outside in this weather I am basically allergic to ALL THE POLLEN. ALL OF IT.

Secondly, I am possessed of a skin type that can be best described as "translucent". One of the reasons I don't bother with makeup is that even the palest foundation is usually still a few shades darker than my skin. Which wouldn't be that bad, except that I also don't feel it when I burn. I just go from 0 to lobster without any warning signs. And skin cancer runs in my family (I was 8 or 9 before I discovered that you don't automatically have to have all your moles removed when you reach a certain age. My mother was of the same skin type, and had grown up in the 40s and 50s on a beach in Ireland, back when they didn't know about the dangers of too much sun, so when I was growing up she was usually at the dermatologist clinic every six months or so to have another dodgy mole removed.) so I like to take precautions now. Generally those precautions are, "Don't leave the house in daylight unless you have to."

The cats have been enjoying the sun and the heat though. Lily has been back and forth on my desk in front of a window all day, lying on my keyboard and preventing me from doing very much while she suns herself. So at least someone is enjoying themselves.
sareini: (creative)
The past couple of days have been good for yarn, as I've had two separate packages of the stuff delivered to my door. First off was yesterday's delivery, which consisted of the last ball of yarn I needed to complete the Shawl of Secrets (the shade is called Secluded Lake) and a ball of the new Scheepjes Whirl yarn, which is 1000m of 4ply cotton/acrylic that has long colour changes all the way through it, making it great for shawls, scarves and anything else that you might want that kind of effect with.

Two balls of yarn

The name of the colourway I got this time is Melting Macaron. It's not the kind of colourway I would normally have gotten - I generally prefer darks, or blues and purples - but most of the colourways were out of stock and I wanted to try working with some new colours for once. With the Whirl I'm making a Mandala Cardigan, using a pattern designed specifically for the launch of the yarn, which can be found here. And of course I started it already despite having a ton of other prokects to be getting on with, because I like the instant gratification and playing with new things.

The beginning of a mandala cardigan

Then this morning I got my monthly yarn club delivery from Devon Sun Yarns. they're an indy yarn company who specialise in hand dyed yarns in numerous and striking colours, and I've been in love with them for ages now. They have several yarn clubs but I'm a member of the Sock Yarn Club, which delivers me a skein of 4ply yarn every month to do with as I please - although right now I've got several months' worth sitting waiting to be used because I haven't decided what to make with them, need the time to start them and because Callie bit through my bamboo sock needles (she has a powerful chew on her). This month's colourway is a gorgeous blue-green.

A skein of yarn

So I have plenty to keep me busy for a while.

***

In other news, I finally accepted that my computer chair's hydraulics have died, after only a week of sitting on a chair only 6-8 inches off the floor and developing a constant pain in my left leg from it. So I've swapped out my dead chair for Nick's old computer chair, which involved moving half the stuff in the front room around to move a chair four feet and confused the cats greatly, but right now Callie is sitting behind me in the chair while Lily is boxhopping, so they're happy enough. Hopefully my leg will stop hurting now as well because it was starting to affect my sleep.
sareini: default (Default)
I just got a call from my brother. It's never good when he calls in the daytime so I braced myself. Didn't help.

Sammy, my niece's cat who I just saw at the weekend, got run over by a car this morning. To make things even more perfectly timed, it was her birthday yesterday.

To say we are all upset is an understatement. I'm sitting here crying my eyes out and fighting an onset of magical thinking that this was somehow my fault. When I was 10 I went on a Girl Guide weekend camp. When I came back my father had been taken into hospital and he was dead from cancer a week later. Ever since then I've been terrified of going away anywhere in case it happens again. And each time I think I've gotten over it, something happens to start it up again. And I can't tell them that, especially right now, because things are bad enough without my insanity leaking into everything.

And I feel so bad for my niece. She loved that cat; she'd had him from a tiny kitten and he was a brilliant cat, and the worst thing is that, if she wanted to get another one a few months down the line, she probably won't be able to because of the Rottweiler.

Today is a failure of a day.
sareini: (tired)
Aaaannnnd I'm back. I didn't take my laptop in the end, because I couldn't fit it in my messenger bag and I couldn't find the charger.

The journey to Merseyside wasn't that bad - there was the part where we had to stop in Crewe, of course - the most depressing train station in existence, where if the architecture doesn't get you the prices will, at £1.99 for a single bottle of Ribena - but I've grown somewhat immune to that over the years and I brought my own water. No, the only problem came when I reached Liverpool, where there was a rail replacement service due to them completely refitting the Wirral Line. So I get off the train, and go ask the nearest staff member where the replacement bus service is picking up. "Oh, just down there," he points, in the general direction of outside. "You'll see a man in a yellow tabard."

Did I fuck.

After wandering around for 20 minutes and not seeing a single yellow tabard (or tabard of any other colour) I admitted defeat and changed my plans. Thankfully I spent years going to and from Liverpool on the buses, so I at least knew my way around to the bus stops that would get me under the river anyway, so I headed there and called my brother to pick me up at a different bus stop than we had planned. Gods only know what would have happened if I hadn't known my way around; I'd probably still be making laps of the station, weakly calling out for aid.

It amused me that, while the basics of Liverpool Lime Street and the bus station hadn't changed much in 20 years, the immediate surrounding area had. I walked past a 5 Guys Burger and Fries joint there, right next to a Nando's and a casino... yet all three were no more than 150 meters from a Poundstretcher. Pretty sure you wouldn't see that anywhere but Liverpool. And they've got sightseeing buses now - the topless kind you usually see in London. My brother pointed out that Liverpool's a major tourist destination now (yet you can only buy London souvenirs in the station shop), so I guess that growing up in the area has just made me unaware of the tourist potential. I just spent my time looking around and going, "Aww, they closed that shop? But I loved that place!"

At my brother's I got to meet his Rottweiler, Rogue. Rogue is about 15 months old and my brother's had him a little over a month. He's a good dog, most of the time... except when he sees other dogs, which he wants to play with, or cyclists, which he wants to chase, and then he shoots off like a rocket and won't come when he's called. They're working on training him out of it. He also likes to lick feet, and desperately wants to be friends with my niece's cat. Said cat is less keen on the idea.

Sammy is the cat, and my niece has had him for a little over a year. A friend of hers found him as a small kitten wandering the streets and took him in, but then asked Rachael to foster him as she already had cat food (for her hedgehog, which died this week). She did so, then fell in love with him and decided to keep him. He's a champion mouser and herds and protects the rabbits in the garden, but so far he's not at all happy with the big dog in his house, and has scratched poor Rogue's nose several times.

Cat standing on sofa with tail in air

Rottweiler sitting on rug

On the Saturday evening Rachael's boyfriend came round and we had a Eurovision mini-party, with cold pizza slices, cheese-and-pineapple/pickled onion sticks, pigs in blankets and traffic light jellies. Eurovision was... interesting this year, what with dancing gorillas, Epic Sax Man, rap and yodeling and a band apparently fronted by that masked guy from Watch Dogs 2. As for Portugal winning... well, I missed the start of the entry because my catsitter called, and when I came back in I thought the singer was female at first and had to be corrected. The song made little to no impression on me, but apparently the rest of Europe liked it so there you go. Personally I would have voted for Hungary or Croatia. Oh, and "Celebrate Diversity!" screams the event that was bursting at the seams with young white men. Well done. /sarcastic clap

We also played Risk: Godstorm, which is a version where you're an ancient civilisation with the associated gods, and your goal is to take over as much of the known world with your gods; help. So a lot like regular Risk, but with far more complicated rules involving faith and miracles and godsbattles. I got put in charge of reading and keeping track of the rules, which might have seemed a good idea, but... I'd had two bottles of raspberry cider by that point, and I'm on medication which shouldn't really be mixed with alcohol. So I was maybe a little drunk at this point, and so it was a rather... confused game at best. But fun.

(Rachael's boyfriend won, and created Party Valhalla, where defeated warriors who defended well got given a Beer Hat.)

And now I'm back home. Lily was waiting for me in the window, and has not left my side since I came back. Callie needed to check I was who I appeared to be, ran around for a bit, then got bored and wandered off. I had a good weekend, but I'm glad to be home. Also tired.
sareini: A quote from the book Good Omens (Good Omens)
I'm setting off to my brother's in about an hour or so, for my niece's birthday/Eurovision party (and to see them, of course). I haven't managed to finish the cardigan, of course, but I'm still taking it with me to (a) prove it exists; and (b) work on it a bit more while I'm there.

I'm only staying the night because I get way too anxious about being away from home and the cats for more than a night. This is despite knowing that the cats will be fine for a day or two as long as they have enough food and water, and having my friend Ross come round this evening to refill food and water bowls and provide medication. Lily absolutely loves Ross and thinks he's the best thing since Brian Kendrick. Callie is far less confident around him because he comes from Outside and is not me, so she will probably just stay upstairs lying flat on the bed.

My train tickets are already booked and ready to be picked up, my journey is planned out and I even selected window seats so I can be in my comfort zone. The only real problem is that the final part of my journey will be by replacement bus service, as Merseyrail are in the middle of a huge track upgrade. I'm not very fond of rail replacement buses as they're usually dirty and cramped and not that reliable, but my choices are limited so I'll have to take deep breaths and get through it.

I am taking my laptop with me so I can at least try to blog and chat about Eurovision while I'm there, but my niece wants to play Rift: Godstorm with us all during the show (she does not understand the seriousness of the most camp show in all of Europe). I'll also get to meet Rogue the Rottweiler and give him his pig's ear and dog beer, and see my niece's cat Sammy and let him complain to me about the dog that's taken up residence in his house. I'm also going to take a writing book and pen with me in case I get the time to try to dash something off roughly, but between family, cats, dogs, rabbits and Eurovision I'm not sure that will be too likely.

Otherwise I'll be back tomorrow evening.
sareini: "Things I am not allowed to do at Hogwarts, No.61" (Cats and Dragons)
I think I may have reached the point where I should be getting loyalty points or air miles (vet miles?) for the amount of time Lily and I have now spent at the vets'. She was sick at 6am this morning, so unfortunately for her it was time to take her in to check her out and get her back on the meds. Lily, of course, was not pleased with this course of action at all, especially after I tricked her into coming close with treats so I could get her in the carrier. In the end, the vet checked her out and there's no jaundice and no fluid buildup or swelling in the abdomen so we caught it early enough this time, and we've now got steroids and antibiotics for a whole month so that will be easier on both Lily, myself and my bank balance.

I also got licked by three Staffordshire bull terriers. One in particular was just trying to go from person to person with a waggy tail and a big licky tongue, as if saying, "And you're my best friend, and you're my best friend...!"

***

In other cat news, I leveled up with a local cat today. Way, way back in February, a stray cat took up residence in my shed, and because I'm me I of course started feeding him. I named him Terry, because he was orange. I hoped that I could get him to stay around long enough to get someone from one of the local cat charities to come and pick him up and rehome him (I'd have had him, but two cats is my limit and Lily would have had conniptions), but unfortunately the other local cats took a dislike to him and eventually chased him off. But in the meantime, I was putting out GoCat for him every other day or so in case he came back... but instead one of the local cats, a big black-and-white cat with white markings on his face that give him a big curly moustache, decided he wanted the food for himself. This cat likes to hang around in my yard, and once even killed a wood pigeon in it (and then left it for me to put in the bin). Turns out his name is Marley and he lives only a few doors down from me, and he's a dry food fiend because the other cat he lives with is on a wet-food only diet and Marley misses his biscuits. So, for the past several months (and with Marley's owner's blessing) I've been the source of 2nd Breakfast for a cat that's not mine.

Marley has always been quite cautious around me, which I've been fine with because I worry about cat so friendly that they just wander up to anyone, but today he must have decided that if I've been feeding him for nearly four months now then I'm probably not going to skin him, and so he deigned to let me touch him. Only a brief stroking, mind, as you can't just roll over for anyone who gives you extra food, but just enough to let me know that, yes, I have been given the honour of petting him.

He also sniffed me and pulled a face when he smelt GIRLCAT on me.
sareini: richard goes fwoom! (lfg)
After about 25 hours now of Dragon Age: Inquisition, I have an Inquisitorial Decree: Fuck Bears. Seriously, fuck them and their stupid aggro radius and infinite chasing AI, even if you disengaged before a single shot was fired. And their ability to spawn on top of you in the middle of a fight. Seriously, I think my Inquisition now has a bear bounty. Best part was when I was trying to do a quest where you had to walk three times round a statue to resurrect someone's dead grandmother or something, and all I managed to summon was bears - and once a pack of wardogs when I tried going the other direction. Apparently grandmother was a bear in disguise. Who knew?

In other news, I've recruited the final member of my party - the Hogwarts Sorting Hat as worn by a teenage boy - and finally got to the kissing stage with Dorian. Woo! Now I can go kiss him in the library whenever I want, I believe, while I wait for the trigger for the next part of the relationship to start. Which might not be for a while now, as I think I'm going to have to spend most of the next couple of days doing the last-minute sprint on my niece's cardigan before Saturday. Time to catch up on some TV shows.

***

On the Lily front, her illness continues to perplex me. On a whim on Monday, I gave her the very last steroid tablet left after we stopped them last week. She was sick that night, but not last night, and the last two nights she's been playing with Callie and with her shoe (Lily has a strange affection for one of my formal dress shoes). Does this mean that she needs to go back on the steroids as well, or was the few days' vomiting just a blip or getting the last of the stuff out of her system? I guess tonight will be a deciding night for it - if she's sick again I'll be calling the vets tomorrow; if not then I will cross my fingers and leave it till next week. Part of the problem is the stress and logistics of taking her to the vet - not only do I have to get her in the box and do all that, but I have to try to get myself in a suitable mindset for leaving the house on short notice, without triggering an anxiety attack.

But at least there are no bears, I guess.
sareini: (hiding)
Lily has started being sick again every night. Same colour and consistency as before as well.

I don't understand why either. She's still on the antibiotics, and on Thursday at the vets there was no sign of the swelling on her liver/gallbladder and no jaundice whatsoever. Only thing that's changed is that we stopped the steroids, but that was on Thursday and she was sick a day or two before that.

Should I take her back to the vets before next week? I guess I could afford the extra taxi fare, but I don't even know what they can do. Start the steroids up again? Every time before when she started being sick again it was because we stopped the antibiotics - is it really this combination that's the only thing helping?

I'm making myself sick worrying about this and it's not helping either. I just don't know what to do.
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
It's been a busy day for me so far. First off I was up early so I could go to my local PetsAtHome for cat food, cat litter and other cat sundries. PetsAthome also has a selection of small mammals for people to buy as pets - rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, degus and of course, hamsters and gerbils - so I always go and say hello to all of them whenever I'm there as well.

Personally, I'd never even heard of degus before I first saw them, but now I think that, if I didn't have cats, I'd totally have a couple of degus. (Sadly I don't have my niece's talent for getting cats and other small furry animals get along; she might have managed it with her cat and her rabbits - the cat now herds the rabbits and guards them in the outdoor hutch whenever there's another cat about - but my cats, especially Lily, would just think I'd bought them free range organic food.) They look like someone crossed a rat with a chinchilla, which makes some sense when you read the background on the Wiki page, they're very social, and they're very active and clever. Every time I see them they're either all in a big cuddle puddle in their enclosure, or running on the exercise wheel in pairs. I've begun to suspect as well that, because they're relatively new in the world of having pets, people aren't getting them as much as they get rabbits or guinea pigs or the usuals, because the last two or three times I've visited them, one or two of them has run to the glass and peered out at me, almost as if they now recognise my indigo-haired self. I'm probably just imagining it, or putting more weight on behaviour than is needed. But they're still awesome animals.

While I was there I also went looking in the dog treats section. Just under a month or so ago, my brother got himself a new dog, a 14-month-old Rottweiler named Rogue. Provided all goes well I shall be visiting my brother and my niece next weekend (for my niece's birthday) and I wanted to get Rogue a treat the same as I used to do with their other dogs in the past. I was looking primarily for something like a pig's ear - which I got - but the range of stuff you can get for dogs now is astounding. Doggy yogurt (and why there's not a cat version of that I do not know). Stag antlers infused with spearmint oil for chewing. Pig trotters that are labelled as "Serrano ham". And dog beer. It's chicken-flavoured and 0% alcohol, but still - dog beer. So I had to get a bottle of that as well, so Rogue and my brother can have a lads' night in on the sofa together.

An hour or so after getting back from the pet store, I was off out again, this time with Lily for her fortnightly vet checkup. This time I managed to get her while she was sunning herself in the bathroom, so there was no sofa-wrestling involved. While at the vet's we saw an aging chocolate lab, a three legged dog, a friendly bull terrier who wanted to sit in my lap, and a big dog who looked like a one-colour Doberman with a buzzcut. He was pretty excitable but his owner was doing a good job of keeping him under control... till the Jack Russell came in.

This dog was trouble. Not even a minute after he came in, he managed to slip his lead and ran off to greet other dogs. Perhaps thankfully, he ran to the aging lab and the three-legged dog, who were happy to greet him, but after that, when he'd been re-collared and sat down, he started to bark. And bark. And bark. I know Jack Russells are known for their energy, but holy crap he just would not stop. And after a few minutes the other dogs started to get agitated and join in - or in the case of the buzzcut Doberman, jump around the place and try to twist free of his harness. It got so loud we couldn't hear names being called and - eventually - the Jack Russell and his owners were asked to wait outside in the hopes he would calm down. (It didn't work. You could still hear him barking through the window, but at least we could hear other things now as well.) Poor Lily tried to bury herself under her security blanket through all of this.

After all, that, her appointment was a breeze. Liver feels great, all other signs great - eating like a champ, playing with Callie, affectionate and only one vomiting incident - so we're giving her another two weeks and then we're going to try taking her off the antibiotics to see if we've beaten it entirely. Lily will not be happy with yet another visit, but right now she's been mollified with a tuna loin (and her sister's half as well; poor Callie needs to learn to eat quicker or start hiding her food) and has gone back to her sunbathing.

Me, I'm bloody shattered.
sareini: (cat)
I woke up this morning to find Callie licking my closed eyes. Apparently my role in life now is to be a salt lick for a kitten. It's the hay fever, of course; now that it's May and the weather is grudgingly admitting that it's springtime the pollens are really getting started, and of course I was already allergic to all of them even before the news of "super pollens" (pollens that have mixed with diesel fuels to be extra sticky in the mucous membranes) hit last week. Already my nose is getting runnier, my eyes more sore and prone to sticking closed in the morning (cat licks aside) and most annoyingly, the roof of my mouth itches more and more of the time. At least my life as it currently is minimises my contact with random free-floating pollen in the outside world.

In other news, I managed to be relatively productive around the house today. Did some small amount of tidying, typed up and published a review for the movie blog (The Void, in case you were wondering) and got as far as I currently can with the Shawl of Secrets. I'm now at the point where I have to buy the missing ball of yarn before I can continue, and depending on how things go on Thursday (another vet visit for Lily) will determine whether I can get that this week or at the end of the month. Still, it's a good thing it's not able to distract me right now, as I still have to finish that cardigan for my niece.

Possible Criminal Minds spoilers if you've not seen Season 11 yet )

Knitted shawl in browns, reds, oranges, yellows and greens

On Anxiety

Apr. 25th, 2017 03:40 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
My weekend actually turned out pretty crappy. I ended up spending most of it in the throws of a major anxiety attack, one which left me alternatively just sitting in bed shaking, being physically sick or suffering problems at the other end. Oh, and we can't forget the sleeplessness either. Things didn't really get any better until Monday noontime, when I received something in the mail - but we'll get to that later.

I often find that trying to explain to people what anxiety and/or panic attacks are like is a lot like trying to explain what yellow smells like. The first thing people usually ask is, "Do you know what caused it?" which, on the surface, is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. If you know the cause, you can maybe do something about it. Unfortunately for me, my anxiety attacks are often completely random and with no obvious cause - sometimes I actually wonder if they're triggered by something in my subconscious going, "What? We have nothing to panic about? Let's fix that!" and just panicking for the sake of panicking.

The physical symptoms don't help matters either. Much as with any stressful situation, when you have an anxiety or panic attack your body produces more adrenaline than you really need, to prepare for a "fight or flight" response. And one of the other things adrenaline does is slows down or even stops your digestive system as part of this. But of course, it can't stop forever, which is why I end up backing and forthing to the bathroom with disturbing frequency. And if you're being sick, you can't really get your mind off the anxiety, can you? It's a particularly vicious circle.

So I spent the weekend a panicking mess. I could barely even talk to people, which then started a whole new anxiety loop - "What if they get mad at me? I can't face them after this!" - and on and on it went. Because I can't really explain how bad my anxiety makes me feel, I worry that my friends don't or can't really understand the way I am sometimes; why I disappear randomly, stop replying to them, run away from conversations online - I just randomly reach a level of my ability to cope with things, and the moment things go over that level I'm gone.

But like I said, things got better on Monday. I received a package of yarn for a shawl I've had the pattern for for a while now - the Shawl of Secrets made with Scheepjes Secret Garden yarn. I originally got the pattern several months ago when I was "helping" my niece get free shipping on an order of her own (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and last week I decided that I had the excess money to actually buy the yarn - well, most of it anyway, as one colour was out of stock. So I was able to start work on that and finally I had something I could focus on to bring my anxiety down. And it works up really quickly as well - I'm already on the second colour, which makes me slightly bothered that I'll have to stop rather quickly when I reach the part of the shawl that needs the one colour I couldn't get at the time, as I'll have to wait a week and a half before I can get that last colour (I have to put limits on my yarn buying, or the house would be full and we'd be resorting to eating the stuff). But it's very pretty, and it feels very nice - it's 20% cotton, 20% silk, and 60% polyester, which I realised perhaps too late translates to "Bugger to clean, best not get this dirty". But that's something to deal with when it's finished.

***

In other news, I've temporarily renamed Callie to "Bitey McMoglet" after she's spent the last few days on a renewed assault on my feet while I'm in bed. Perhaps the most amusing thing is that she actually responds to it (although to be fair, she also responds to, "Leave your sister alone," and "What are you doing in that bag?").

Vet Visit

Apr. 20th, 2017 01:01 pm
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
Today Lily went to the vets.

As I mentioned before, Lily has been suffering from cholangiohepatitis for several months now. Basically, it's an inflammation of the liver and bile ducts, and comes in several forms, including acute and chronic. It should also be noted that we (the vets and I) are only 99% sure it's cholangiohepatitis as the only way to be 100% is with a liver biopsy, and with Lily's age (14) we're not comfortable with putting her under. But her symptoms match up exactly and she's responded to the treatment for cholangiohepatitis, hence the 99%.

We've been backing and forthing to the vets for this since November, and it's been quite the terrifying ride of emotions. My mental problems mean that I immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion for everything, whether I want to or not, and things weren't helped when, in January, the vet announced that she could feel a "mass" on Lily's liver. The "C" word wasn't explicitly mentioned (the vets know of my anxiety and panic disorders and so do their best not to freak me out without good reason) but it was hovering about in the exam room. So everyone was surprised when, after an ultrasound and x-ray, the results came back that Lily's liver was fine, and it was her bile ducts that were very swollen. (As an aside, Lily is such a placid and easy-going cat that they didn't have to sedate her for the ultrasound, even though they expected to. She just lay there like a flump and purred, apparently.)

So we've been treating her for the last few months with antibiotics and a low dose of steroids (so sadly Lily can't compete in the Cat Olympics, which is a shame as she'd have gotten gold in the "Sleeping Like a Cushion" event) and they've been a tremendous help. The daily vomiting stopped, her appetite came back (and brought a friend!), her jaundice completely cleared up, the "mass" shrunk to almost nothing and her mood increased tenfold. The only problem is that, whenever she stopped taking the antibiotics, the vomiting and depression would start coming back after a few days. Apparently with cholangiohepatitis it can take an antibiotic course of up to three months, and I think on and off we're approaching that time period now.

Last time we were at the vets she'd been off the antibiotics for a week and had started vomiting again just the night before, so we got another two weeks' worth of antibiotics which ran out yesterday. During that time Lily wasn't sick once, which I thought was pretty good evidence that it was the antibiotics doing most of the work. The question was, where do we go from here?

Going to the vets is very stressful for both me and (in this case) Lily - moreso for me although I'm sure Lily would argue otherwise. There's the whole leaving the house and having to interact with others issue, although I've learned to deal with that by basically pre-planning what I want to say to the vet and by talking to people's animals rather than them if someone in the waiting room starts up a conversation. There's worry over whether the taxi driver will be one of the ones that claims it's "extra" to take pets (it isn't) or tries to insist I put Lily, in her unsecured carrier, in a closed car boot while he takes corners at speed. I worry about my shopping in car boots; do you really think I'm putting my cat in one? Then there's the ever-present fear that I'll be there and the vet will tell me that there's nothing that can be done; or I've done something terribly wrong and Lily will be taken off me or put to sleep. It's not at all likely, I know, but that's irrational anxiety and paranoia for you. That last one usually starts a couple of days before the actual appointment too, so I'm operating on little to no sleep by the time the actual visit comes around.

Lily, on the other hand, has to go in a box, be taken somewhere strange, and then have a strange person poke, prod and squeeze her. Sometimes they violate her with a thermometer, and sometimes big dogs stick their noses up against the door of her box to see what she is. So it's hardly fun for her either, although she has become more fond of the box since she got given a blanket to go in it by one of the receptionists. I've even caught her sleeping in it sometimes...

Today I can say for sure that Lily was feeling fine, as she twigged to the fact that a vet visit was coming before I'd even called the taxi and went and hid behind the sofa. We then had a five-minute wrestling match where she tried to bring the sofa with her before I finally got her in the box and she glared daggers at me for the entire trip down. Thankfully it was pretty quiet there today - just a couple with a very happy, friendly black lab (who I thought was a male with a scrotum the size of a softball, but who turned out to be female and so whatever that was must have been uncomfortable) and an elderly couple with an equally elderly dog with an injured leg. Lily even tolerated the elderly dog, probably realizing there wasn't much it could do even if it wanted to.

The checkup revealed that Lily's jaundice is still at a minimum, as is the swelling around her liver and bile ducts. With that in mind and the evidence that the antibiotics have a much better effect on her than anything else she's been on, we're committing to a long-term dose with checkups every two or so weeks. Which are stressful but worth it to know that Lily's continuing to do fine.

As for Lily, she forgave me when we got home because she got more treats (and meds wrapped up in a Pill Pocket). I, on the other hand, am exhausted.
sareini: A Procrastinator's work is never done! (Procrastination)
Today I have been mostly crocheting. Well, apart from the past hour or so, when I took a break to transfer some inactive icons from lj to here, because after four hours of crochet the little finger on my right hand had seized up rather painfully. My evening will be filled with more of the same.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with my niece and my brother and the topic of her upcoming birthday came up. And, long story short, I volunteered to make her a cardigan.

Let me be clear, it's not that I don't want to make her a cardigan. It's that, at the best of time, my ability to focus on one task for a protracted period of time is somewhat limited, because the depression/anhedonia makes me lose interest because I either get sad, or something else catches my eye and I want to start that instead, thinking at the time that surely this will cheer me up. At the time, I was about three-quarters of the way through a cardigan for myself, with just the sleeves left to do, and the fact that I'd gotten that far was impressive in itself. But of course I've now put that on hold to make my niece's cardigan for her birthday in mid-May. And the focus problem is starting to raise its head. There's a couple of scarves I was working on I'd like to go back to. There's a cross-stitch piece I'd like to go back to. There's a whole bunch of other projects lying about the house that I should get finished at some point that suddenly all want attention. But I have to finish this cardigan before I can touch anything else. I have to.

It helps to watch stuff while I'm working on it. I had planned to watch an episode of the new MST3K this afternoon as I crocheted, but instead I got drawn into a True Crime Lists channel on YouTube that - for the most part - manages to stay away from all the usual cases that nearly every other channel ends up covering, often in inaccurate detail. No doubt I'll end up creeping myself out by the end of the night (possibly ending up watching old Crimewatch episodes as well for added unease) but for now it's okay. Mainly because it's daylight out.

Oh, and Callie is helping with the crochet as well. By "helping" I mean she keeps trying to eat the cotton yarn, then curls up on my legs and goes to sleep, leaving me unable to properly move my legs for hours until the cramping gets too much and I have to tip her off. Then she bites the yarn again in protest and we start all over again.


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