sareini: The Mountains of Madness have many little plateaus of sanity - Discworld (Mountains of Madness)
Tomorrow I'm heading up to spend the weekend with my niece (my brother having managed to plan a week in Wales at the same time so he and the dog won't be there), where we will be going to the Popup Wool Show. I did this last year and everything was fine; we had a great time, I spent far too much on yarn, and my neighbours checked in on the cats. This year Ross is doing the catsitting, which is even better as Lily loves Ross (she sits on his lap, which she won't even do for me), and even though Callie still mostly flees from the sight of him, she does that for everyone and last time she actually came out and sniffed him, and so everything should be fine.

So of course yesterday I had two massive panic attacks over leaving Lily which left me physically sick and nearly fainting, and all because Lily meowed at me once, which to my broken brain apparently translated into, "Lily is going to die this weekend". I'm at least calmer today because I've managed to cram some sense into myself, but I've still got a headache from making myself so worked up yesterday.

I hate the utter randomness that my panic attacks follow, because I can't do anything to counter or prepare for them. Ideas and intrusive thoughts just enter my head out of nowhere and make themselves at home, and the next thing I know I'm lying in bed thinking that the floor is going to collapse under me, or that someone is preparing to break into the house right this very moment - or that the cats will drop dead if I leave the house for more than an hour. And with the current state of my local authority's mental health services, the chances of me getting any sort of treatment (CBT or otherwise) before 2018 at the earliest are slim to none. So I mainly have to figure out coping methods on my own.

One method (technically two) is to distract myself with knitting or crochet. Right now I have a 10-stitch blanket on hand for random panic attacks (I'm making it with a ball of Sirdar Colorwheel because I think the long colour changes of the yarn will work well with the pattern, and it feels really soft), and last night I finally found with a pattern for a skein of yarn I got at last year's Popup Wool Show that's 55% Bluefaced Leicester Superwash and 45% silk - Persephone. I'm probably going to take this one with me this weekend as the pattern is incredibly easy to memorise (and the ball is smaller than the Colorwheel).
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)
Callie caught and ate a spider the other night.

It was about 2am and I was trying to sleep, but Callie was bouncing all over the place, squeak chirp meow, crash bang wallop. So I got up and turned the light on to see what was making her so hyper, and found her fixated on a corner of the room. I looked there and there was a spider - looking quite a bit like a Daddy Longlegs (so I suppose that's what it was) hanging from a web halfway down the wall. Callie was chirping excitedly at it in the way that cats do when they're trying to hunt something and haven't got the stealth tactic down. I wished her luck and got back into bed; two minutes later she leaps up onto the bed with half a thorax and a couple of legs sticking out of her mouth.

I feel slightly guilty for not trying to stop her, but at the same time I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have been possible anyway, for she is a cat and hunting is something they do. Even 100% indoor cats like Callie. She once brought me a fly she'd caught - as in, carried it up the stairs in her mouth and dropped it gently on my foot while I was in bed. It was not only still intact, it was still alive. That's pretty impressive (if also gross).

Lily doesn't bother much with hunting now, although in the past she and Cracker used to double-team spiders in the living room - one on each side of wherever one hid so they had all escapes covered. And the first time Marley killed a pigeon in my back yard, Lily raced to the back door in hopes of being let out to join in the fun. It's interesting to see that the instinct is still there and so strong, even with cats who've never had to hunt their own food even once in their lives.

Mondays.

Jul. 17th, 2017 06:26 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
I'm starting to believe someone recently put a curse on me.

Lily had a vet appointment today. To catch up; Lily has been receiving treatment for a condition known as cholangiohepatitis since the beginning of the year. It's an inflammation of the liver and bile ducts, and unfortunately in Lily's case it is chronic, which means it periodically flares up and can't be really cured, just managed. She's on a mix of antibiotics and steroids for this, and it's improved her condition tremendously - in January she was vomiting daily, severely jaundiced and had lost about 2kg in weight. Now she has periodic bouts of vomiting, but the jaundice is being kept to a minimum and she's put her lost weight back on and more, to the point where I'm having to put her on a diet. We're coping the best we can.

I was just starting to get things ready for the trip to the vets when there was a knock on the door. It turned out to be someone coming to read the gas and electric meters; something I was not expecting, plus I was in the middle of stuff and the front room is such a mess that it's not really possible to get to the gas meter right now anyway. I try to explain this to the meter reader but he just snarls at me, "You said this last time. You just don't want to have your meter read," and stalked off.

So that was asshole #1 to upset me.

So I chased Lily around the house for a bit, got her in the carrier and got the taxi to the vet. There she got checked over - jaundice levels the same as last time, no other problems - but then the vet (who was a locum I'd not seen at the place before) started talking about pancreatic cancer.

If Lily had pancreatic cancer I'm pretty sure we'd have noticed it by now, since she's been seen monthly and at one point fortnightly since January and ultrasounds have shown that the mass around her bile ducts in January reduced in size considerably after a month on the meds (we just can't take her off them because she starts being sick again). But thanks for worrying me unnecessarily there. Then, as I'm closing the carrier up and getting ready to leave, I mention that my goal is really just to get her to 19, as my readings had shown me a 5-year survival rate for cats with this condition, and while I know she's not going to live forever, if I can keep her strong for as long as possible I'll have done my job as cat owner. The vet responds, "Oh, I don't think that will happen."

...I guess I should just not bother then, should I?

Asshole #2 needs to work on his bedside manner.

Add to that the Spanish Plume that's headed our way this week (temperatures up to 28 degrees, then thunderstorms and heavy rain!) and the deaths of George A Romero and Martin Landau, and I'm feeling pretty beaten down today. I think I'm going to spend the evening eating ice cream and crafting. Maybe watching stuff to put my mind on autopilot. Tomorrow will be better.
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)
Last night, Callie had a Mad Half-Hour (which turned into a Mad Two Hours - Lily climbed into her cardboard box, pulled the lid over herself and stayed there for the duration) and during her extended Zoomies she decided that the Suicide Squad poster in the front room had to go.

To be fair, it's partially my fault. I put the cat tree right next to it, within easy reach of over-excited kittens.

She shredded Slipknot and took half of the Joker's face off (ironic, really), before grabbing the piece of poster that she'd removed, squeaking excitedly, and running out of the room with it. I found her later crouched over it like a fresh kill, utterly pleased with herself. I suppose when you're a 100% indoor kitty you have to hunt what you can.

But the event did remind me that I've wanted to put more posters and pictures up in the house for some time - I've just been delayed by forgetting repeatedly and by the cost of a lot of posters. When I finally finish things like the Horror Movie Maniacs cross stitch and do other stuff for myself I'll be putting them up, of course, but that could take some time with the way I work on things and the randomness of my depressive apathy attacks. So that leaves posters in the interim, but they're (a) difficult to find the ones I'd like; and (b) usually very expensive.

I got lucky today though, and found an internet place with a "Today only!" 40% sale going on, and so bought myself a couple of posters. If I had infinite money, I'd have gotten this or this, but the cost to get a decent-sized one, even unframed, was too much for me right now. So I got a couple of more qaffordable posters, and when they arrive I shall stick them to the wall with BluTac or whatever else I can find, and hopefully they'll be in places where certain cats can't reach them.

(Callie appears to have decided just now that tonight Captain Boomerang must fall, while she finishes off the Joker. Maybe I should get her a Catwoman poster.)
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...
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)
I've decided I'm going to try to be somewhat more organised for June. To that end, I've set myself a few goals for the month.

1. Write at least 15k; fiction and movie reviews. Should be pretty easy, right?
2. Publish at least 8 movie reviews; that works out at two a week.
3. Write at least 250 words of fiction a day.
4. Finish at least two stories - perhaps my biggest challenge as I'm great at starting things, but not so good at finishing them as the self-doubt creeps in.
5. Finish the Shawl of Secrets - probably the easiest one as I'm about 90% done as it is. A couple of days sitting mining/watching stuff should do it.
6. Finish Rachael's birthday cardigan and possibly my own (fingers crossed!)

I don't think those goals are too bad or stressful.

I've also started work on my brother's birthday present - his birthday is in August so I figure starting now will give me a good chance of finishing on time. I'm doing him this, as he likes to put up 70s and 80s album covers as art. Also last Christmas I made my niece a cross stitch picture of Harry Potter spells which was remarkably well-received, so I figured I'd continue the trend. (It should be noted that I was stitching that thing up to 11pm on the 23rd December.)

***

In other news, Lily is much better today. No vomiting and her mood has perked up considerably. I'm going to keep an eye on her for now but no longer feeling the need to rush her to the vet when there would be very little they could do other than tweak her meds and hope that worked. I am looking at making her diet more strict to see if a blander diet might help - duck, turkey, chicken; occasional treats of tuna loin and scrambled eggs (made with water). Thankfully that's all stuff Lily already loves, so she'll just have to get used to not getting bits of grated cheese or the cream from doughnuts any more...

*sigh*

May. 31st, 2017 03:58 pm
sareini: (hiding)
Anxiety levels are through the roof again today.

Lily has been sick twice (so far) today, out of nowhere. She did get into my dinner last night which was a Three Cheese Pasta Melt, so maybe the fatty greasy food upset her stomach a little. Or maybe the dosage of her meds needs adjusting. Either way I have to wait till tomorrow to see how she is before deciding whether to take her to the vets' again, so in the meantime my body works itself into a state of high anxiety. She's up on the desk with me right now and she was playing with Callie a little earlier, but I still can't stop myself from panicking. I thought we had finally gotten a hold on things (again) but it seems that every time I dare to think that things go wrong again instead.

Meanwhile, it took me all of two days to decide to reactivate my main character in EVE and apply to rejoin Karmafleet. Got back in with no problems, but due to my general streak of luck with regards to tech, I didn't get access to the forums and Mumble comms back till last night. So now I have Mumble on, and I'm sitting in the comms... but I can't bring myself to speak. I don't know anyone in comms, and so whenever I try to say something my voice just dries up with terror and I can't do it. And it doesn't help that my headset mic is several inches from my mouth and can't be moved because it's set in molded plastic, so I have to fiddle with volume settings to even try to be heard.

So yeah. Not enjoying today.

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: "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.

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.

Cat Talk

Apr. 16th, 2017 02:41 pm
sareini: following my fish (delirium)
When I came back from the local shop a few minutes ago (highlight of the trip: three young boys giggling as I passed and then one of them being dared to shout, "Hi Beard Lady!" at me as I reached my front door; I thought about waving back but I didn't want to give them heart attacks) the cats were waiting for me at the door.

Since the last time I posted about the cats - last year - things have changed somewhat. Lily is still here, minus several teeth and recovering from a bout of cholangiohepatitis that's lasted for about six months now, but sadly Cracker had to be put to sleep last year after suffering a major stroke that left her blind and unable to walk properly. A couple of months after that, my niece called me up and said, basically, "Hey, do you still want a new cat? Because I've found a free one." And that's where Callie - short for Calliope Tulip Shodan - came in.

When Callie arrived here in the first week of June she was a tiny tuxedo kitten who was equal parts fascinated by and terrified of everything. Lily took one look at her and, despite being at least four times bigger than her, immediately developed a case of bottlebrush tail and started growling at her. Callie barely seemed aware of her though, because new smells! and things to climb on! and oh hey, what's this food doing lying unattended on the floor? So after that initial introduction Callie got to spend a few days in a room of her own, where she terrified the life out of me by climbing up onto high objects and leaping about like a mountain goat.

Lily is actually a very easy-going cat, and once she was assured that she wasn't going anywhere she started taking an interest in Callie; sitting outside the door to Callie's room and sniffing; occasionally calling to her through the door. Their first few supervised visits still ended in growls, hissing and at least one cat puffing themselves up, but it actually only took a couple of weeks before the two of them could be trusted to wander the house freely without the risk of fur flying everywhere. There were still spats - while Lily still likes to play despite her senior years (she was always a bit sad that Cracker would always flee rather than play with her), she didn't have the energy or tolerance for the sheer amount of time Callie wanted to play, so there were still growls and paw smackdowns. And while she was at her illest with the cholangiohepatitis, she wanted to play even less, and my feet suffered during that time as Callie would take out her frustrations by biting anything that moved. But now?

Well, yesterday Callie spent over a minute trying to scruff Lily, who was lying on her back in the traditional "cat belly trap" pose", so she could drag her across the room for reasons known only to her. Callie's still not nearly as big as Lily, nor will she ever be, of course, so she was getting absolutely nowhere. Lily put up with this for a while, then reached out and gave a single whap to Callie with a paw, got up and ambled away. Two minutes later they were rolling across the floor together like a furry tumbleweed.

I'd say they're getting on.


A small black and white cat sitting in a slow cooker. (not plugged in)


A large ginger cat lying on a platform of a cat tree after ingesting catnip

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