Tuesday, November 23, 2004

GRRRRR

I missed two work days last week. Thanks to the company's closing early
tomorrow, I am about to miss two and a half days THIS week (since the
company is closing at noon on Wednesday).

Now I find that they won't even LET me bring home that paperwork to do
over the weekends, the way that person from the other department
sometimes takes work from our department home so she can get OT.

It really burns my biscuits. I wouldn't even GET overtime if I brought
stuff home this weekend -- it'd be clocked at my normal rate because of
the 2.5 days off.

This economy, and all the attendant indignities that go with it, is why
I'm on two prescriptions right now, and it's probably the reason for
the third one (for back spasms) as well. I need to be in a stable work
situation PRONTO and then maybe I'll be able to get off ALL the
prescriptions, or at least take less of them.

Argh. Like I didn't already feel sick today. I really didn't need this.



__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Meet the all-new My Yahoo! - Try it today!
http://my.yahoo.com


Monday, November 22, 2004

My first thought, when I woke up this morning, was, "I have to check
and see if Harmony ate anything". :o(

Of course, that's not the first time I had an, "I have to get used to
the fact that she's not here" moment. That award goes to the moment
when I emptied her water dish yesterday, and reflexively prepared to
fill it with fresh water.

Her food and water dishes are now washed and clean... in the dish rack
in the KITCHEN, which is a strange sight to my eyes. Normally, I washed
her daily-use food dishes in the basement, rather than bringing them up
the steps.

Then there was the moment when Mark and I had the Eagles game on TV
yesterday afternoon. When the camera panned through the crowd, Mark
pointed out a fan wearing an Eagles hat with a battery-operated,
flapping eagle attached to the top. "I'd like to have THAT hat", he
said.

I caught myself right before replying, "Harmony would LOVE that hat".
Then I thought for a moment, and told him what I'd been about to say.
"But it's true, you know. She WOULD have loved that hat."

Kitty TV is off the air -- the miniblinds are closed. And the bird
feeder, Harmony's favorite Kitty TV program, is empty for the moment.
:o(

It's so odd to have her not there. I keep expecting to have her hop up
on the sofa next to me, or give me a drive-by purr on my shins when I'm
sitting at the computer.

For 28 of my 41 years, I've had at least one cat. Being catless just
doesn't feel right.

I miss my little fuzzball.





__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
The all-new My Yahoo! - Get yours free!
http://my.yahoo.com


Sunday, November 21, 2004

Not long after I posted, I fell asleep on the sofa. I was reading posts from a message board, lying on my back with the PDA propped on my tummy. Every now and then, I'd pause to give Harmony a pet on the side, complete with reminding her how beautiful she is and how much I love her. If not for the fact that she was in the cat bed, it'd have been like a million other times when she and I relaxed next to one another on the sofa, in exactly these places, doing just these things.

But sleep, when it arrives, happens abruptly for me since I started taking the prescription a couple years ago. So at some point after midnight, I zonked out right in the middle of reading.

Which I realized some time after 4 AM, when I awoke and realized that I was still reclining on the sofa, with the PDA still logged in and still situated just as I'd left it.

I went to give Harmony a pat. That's when I realized that, sometime while I was sleeping, she passed peacefully in the night.

In the end, the only medicine I could give her was my company.

I'm still in shock that everything happened so fast. But even though it's hard on me, it was easier on her and I'll have to keep reminding myself of that.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

When Mark and I got home from visiting Joe M & Aunt Phyllis (along with Karla, Al, and Joey D), I checked on Harmony.

I thought for a few appalled moments that we'd lost her. She was in her cat bed, where I'd left her, but her head was drooping over the side just about upside-down.

I went to pick her up, and she meowed weakly. This poor cat. I sat on the floor for a while with her in my lap, and it was like having a rag doll or a beanbag -- she was completely limp, not moving at all.

Except her tail. I couldn't help but grin at the sight of her tail moving normally. Tail movements are cats' answer to humans' mood rings, and hers was moving in that slow, relaxed way. Just by watching her tail, no one could guess how sick the cat it's attached to has gotten.

I eventually put her back in the cat bed, since I was concerned that my lap was proving to be an uncomfortable place for her in that limp state.

Then I took her upstairs to the living room. Cat bed and all. One of her favorite nap spots is the extended foot of the recliner on my end of the sofa, particularly if I'm lying down on the sofa. So I put the recliner back, put the cat bed on it, and am now sitting next to her as I type.

I can't do much beyond give her my presence at this point. Every little while I reach over and give her a few pets and talk to her. Oh, and I have a recording of her purring saved on my cell phone. I played that back for her, too.

I had it in the back of my mind since I first brought her to the vet that until we know what's wrong, there are no guarantees that whatever the problem is can be treated. But I never expected her to deteriorate this fast. Between yesterday and today, it's like having two different cats -- and I was extremely concerned about how poorly she was doing *yesterday*.

Now I'm reduced to keeping her, with her cat bed, nearby so she knows that Meowmy is right here and dotes on her.

Why, but why, is that vet's office closed on Sundays? :o( I'm going to have to track down the address of University of PA's emergency vet clinic, just in case of crisis. By which I mean... well, given how far down she's gone, I guess I mean that a crisis is a bout of pain that I can't find a way to alleviate for her. This is unbearable enough to witness, and she's just weak and (apparently) fading. But she doesn't appear to be suffering. As long as she's resting and seems to be comfortable, I'll sit with her.
Sigh. The good news is that I got a full feeding into Harmony last
night once I got home from the Phantoms game. Then I stayed down in the
basement with her, petting her for a long while.

She drooled a bit, which can be a sign of nausea, but I figured that
the anti-nausea med mixed in with the cat food should help rectify
that.

The bad news is that when I went downstairs this morning, so I could
give her the sub-Q fluids, I realized that she was drenched. So was her
cat bed.

She must have drooled all freaking night, or darn near close to it, to
be that wet. Yikes.

She was also so weak this morning that she could barely stand up for
more than a couple of moments. I felt TERRIBLE for her. She was crying
this morning, not indignantly nor in a complaining way, but because of
feeling ill, as far as I could tell.

I can't find any particular place that's causing actual PAIN in her,
though. I've been checking.

I got the fluids into her. I had to hang the IV in the kitchen to do it
-- one of the nails that normally supports the spice rack is at a good
height for me to be able to see how much fluid's come out of the IV
bag, and stil reach the cat with the IV line. Mark helped, though -- he
read the bag as I sat on the floor and administered the IV.

I had SO wanted to get food into her today, but she's so weak and ill
that I figured I'd best tread cautiously on that score.

So, a few hours after the IV, I went downstairs with a syringe bearing
JUST about a teaspoon of food, with meds mixed in. She complained
piteously, but she took it. And drooled afterward.

A couple hours after that, I made up half a syringe of food. She took
THAT, too. And drooled some more.

I have a towel in the cat bed with her, in the hopes that it'll absorb
more of any drooling. I also have dragged out the extra cat bed that we
used to have for her in the computer room. I set them up side by side,
just in case one needs to go in the wash (as the drooled-on one did
today). Then she'll always have at least one cat bed available to sleep
on.

Multiple mini-feedings might be the way to go, for now.

The vet left a message on our voice mail while Mark was on the phone.
The blood tests show that Harmony was dehydrated (no shock there and
the fluids should take care of that problem) and her white blood cell
count is WORSE. Unfortunately, the vet also told me that I could call
back until 4 PM, but when I returned the call at 3:30 PM, I discovered
that both vets had gone home early.

The receptionist asked me to provide the number of my pharmacist, so
the vet can call in a prescription. I gave it. They want to put Harmony
on a different antibiotic. We'll see if I get hold of any of this new
antibiotic over the weekend... if not, then I'll just keep using the
one I've been using until I can speak to a vet on Monday.

GOD please help this poor cat. I feel like I'm watching her slip away,
right before my eyes, even though I'm doing everything the vets said to
do.

I'm GLAD I didn't do the invasive procedure and have her hospitalized.
If her nine lives are about to run out, and if there's nothing we can
do to prevent that, then she should be able to begin her journey to the Rainbow Bridge
from her home, with the people she loves nearby.

The one medicine I CAN give her, that even the vets can't, is the
knowledge that her Meowmy is right here and loves her. Everything else
that the vets would be doing right now, I'm also doing. That's as much
as any human could be doing right now to help Harmony beat whatever
this is.

Keep praying. That's the one OTHER thing that anyone can do.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Yet again -- SIGH.

I got about 1/3 of a can of a/d cat food into Harmony at about 4 PM. She was SO cooperative, it was a blessing. What's more, unlike the last three times I tried to feed her (twice yesterday with the clumps of canned food, plus once today at the vet's when they were teaching me to use the feeding syringe), she did NOT immediately lose at least half of what she ate a minute after I was done.

I chalked it up to the anti-nausea pill working.

Apparently, it needs to work a little more. Half an hour after I fed the cat, Mark headed to the basement for something and reported that the cat had been sick.

Again, I'd guesstimate she lost maybe half of what I fed her. DRAT DRAT DRAT. :o(

But the good news is... she was sitting and resting on the cellar steps. In other words, she was voluntarily coming upstairs for the first time in several days. She just had to sit and regroup for a bit, because she's not strong enough to climb the stairs all at once.

She even accompanied me the for the final three or four steps up to the first floor, once I'd finished cleaning up the remnants of her little mishap in the basement.

AND even as I type, in the computer room on the second floor, I can hear the bells on her collar as she slowly makes her way up to join me. Good kitty. :o) She must be feeling at least a BIT better if she's seeking out human company again.
----
The time on this post might be 5:06, but I've spent most of the past hour fussing over Miss Harmony. She DID make it all the way to the second floor, so I abandoned my half-written post to spend Quality Time with her. :o)

Now I'm logging off.
This poor cat.

On Thursday (yesterday), I made an appointment for her to go in to the vet on Friday after work, since she's still not eating.

But once I got home from work on Thursday night, I was even LESS satisfied with her condition than I'd been when I made the appointment. So I called to change the appointment to Friday morning. Mark had taken Friday off, since he needs to use up his vacation days, so I figured he could help get us there and back.

To make a long story less long, she's lost even more weight now. She's something like 5.11 lbs now, which is a pretty significant drop from her weight of 6 lbs-something oz from ten days ago.

The most aggressive possible treatment would be to hospitalize her, have her on IV, surgically insert a feeding tube, and have her in there until Monday or Tuesday at the least. But the estimated bill for that was over $1300.

I want to give her EVERY possible chance to pull through this, believe me. But I felt that was an awful lot of invasive treatment when we don't even know what's wrong yet. So the next-most-aggressive treatment involved my learning to administer subcutaneous fluids and feeding her soft, mega-nutrient cat food via a big syringe.

I opted for that instead. I am very leery about doing surgical procedures on her until we know WHAT exactly is causing the problem in the first place. And besides the blood test that they're doing today, and will have some answers for me by tomorrow, we really can't find out the source of the issue until she gets an ultrasound on December 1.

Argh.

They gave me some anti-nausea meds for Harmony, which is good because she's had trouble keeping anything down for the past couple days. :o( And they taught me how to do the Sub-Q fluid, which seems to be a straightforward process. And I took part in the first of the syringe feedings (of which she only kept down about half the food we gave her).

I'm exhausted and so is Harmony.

Keep praying that whatever this is, it's correctable. My fear is that it could turn out to be something untreatable, which would be heartbreaking. Of course, so is all THIS that's been going on for the past couple weeks, but it's a different kind of heartbreak. Right now, since we don't know what's wrong, there's still that potential that it's treatable.

OK, I'm rambling now. I'd better just send this.

My spirit is tired.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Miss Harmony's still not eating.

She also still needs an ultrasound. I get paid today, though, so that
should make it easier to arrange the appointment.

Yesterday, as I was home from work to attend the Schoolday Phantoms
game (which we won in a shootout, 2-1 -- GREAT game!), I manually fed
her every few hours. I got about 1/3 of a can into her that way.

She's definitely more vigorous about objecting to the feedings. She'll
also stay on the first floor for a while if I bring her up and park her
in front of one of the hot air vents while the heater's running.

But she's still walking like she's drunk and she's still in a mode
where she prefers to curl up in her cat bed in the basement above all
else.

Oh, good news -- she did drink some water, in my presence, a couple of
times this morning.

But bad news -- I dosed her with the appetite stimulant and a bit more
food, and she got sick almost right away. I'm not sure if she kept the
pill, or any of the food I gave her this morning, down when she got
that "refund". At this point, the appetite stimulant is the least of my
worries. At least she kept the antibiotic down last night (I give that
one to her in the evening).

Sigh. How I hate seeing her like this. Maybe the vet can recommend an
alternate appetite med, since this one's not making an appreciable
difference in her food consumption.



__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
The all-new My Yahoo! - Get yours free!
http://my.yahoo.com


Monday, November 15, 2004

On Saturday afternoon, I gave up on waiting for the appetite stimulant to start inspiring Harmony to eat, and took matters into my own hands. Literally. I picked her up and started feeding her, by hand, little clumps of canned cat food. Since eating on her own is still not something she's interested in doing, this means that I'm treating the food almost as though it was a pill, and PUTTING it in her mouth for her to swallow.

Harmony was NOT amused. She meowed, growled, and complained. But every time I opened her mouth and dropped food in, she swallowed it instead of spitting it out.

I was hoping that the actual act of eating would remind her of the smell, taste, and feel of actual food. I hoped it'd generate a response akin to, "Oh, yeah. I used to LIKE doing this", so she'd eat on her own. But that first feeding didn't have that effect on her. So I did the same thing on Saturday night, and several times on Sunday. I tried not to give her too much food at one sitting, since cats don't normally eat large amounts at any one time. I figured it'd be easier on her if I gave her moderate amounts (say, a teaspoon) each time, and fed her every few hours.

She's gotten sick once so far. But she's kept down more food than she lost. She's also looking better than she was before -- more alert and more willing to complain and sulk when I give her a feeding.

I'm still medicating her with the appetite stimulant (would it PLEASE create an appetite so I can just GIVE her food and have her decide to eat it?) and antibiotics. And I'll keep doing so until the vet says otherwise. But at least she's getting some food in her system now, so I can relax on that score.

More later about the fundraiser I took part in on Saturday. I had a great time and the upshot was that about $2500 was raised for the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge. So that was fabulous news. :o)

Right now, I need to medicate ME. I was so concerned about getting Harmony's meds and food into her, I forgot to take the darn med for my back spasms. My back is starting to raise an objection to this oversight. I'll post more tomorrow. (Well, later today.)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I can't believe this. I'm almost ready to laugh.

I found a job listing on craigslist.org for a COBOL programmer. It
shocked the living daylights out of me to see it there, as COBOL jobs
are extremely hard to come by.

I looked it over. How do you like that... they want 10 years'
experience on one of the systems I worked on when I was at The Bank,
prior to being downsized. It was a secondary system for me, compared to
the one I worked on primarily, but nonetheless I worked on it and I
have a pretty decent idea of its ins and outs. Enough that I'd be able
to hit the ground at least jogging, if not running, if I saw it again.

So I sent a resume. I got a callback from the recruiter.

And what do you know? Guess what company it is that's looking for a
COBOL programmer?

How about "my former employer"?

How about "my former DEPARTMENT", though it's under a different manager
than I was working for?

How about "my ex-salary is distinctly less than the range that was
being promoted in this job ad"?

What can I say? I told them to go ahead and send my name in for the
opening. What have I got to lose?

And where in heck does my former employer think they're going to track
down people with 10 years' experience on the system they're enquiring
about? On THEIR VERSION of it, no less, since they've customized the
living daylights out of it?

If not me, who? If not now, when?

I actually do hope this works out. I never wanted to leave that former
job in the first darn place. Stupid downsizing. But we'll see what happens.



__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Check out the new Yahoo! Front Page.
www.yahoo.com


Plenty has been going on lately. Unfortunately, too much of it has to
do with doctors' visits.

The upshot: my BP meds have been increased, and Harmony's fighting an
as-yet-undiagnosed problem that has caused her appetite to drop off to
nothing and her white blood cell count to go way up.

She's on an appetite stimulant as of Tuesday night, but so far she's
still not eating much and I'm not happy about it. If I don't see
improvement by the time I get home tonight, the vet gets another call
tomorrow.

She also needs an ultrasound. Reasons why a cat's white blood cells
count could elevate include an infection (which, if there is one, it
hasn't been located yet) and cancer. SIGH. I know she's 14, and
symptoms start cropping up as pets age, but still. I hate to see her
feeling ill like this, especially when I'm still waiting for the
remedies to really kick in and start working. Poor cat.

More stories later. Minus all this health stuff (the cat's illness and
my BP and back spasms), the weekend was really enjoyable.

But crud on illness. Crud on back pain, too. And I pray I see an empty
cat-food dish when I get home, because that'll mean Harmony's eating again.

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com

Saturday, November 06, 2004

As it happens, going out for lunch would've been a problem for me today anyway.

I've had back spasms since Wednesday night, and have been applying a
microwave heat pad to my back since yesterday.

I've also been dealing with two things that are side effects of the
blood pressure medication: shall we just call it "unwanted types of
output from both ends of the digestive tract", and leave it at that?

But the fact that my(?) whole department OTHER than me went out to
lunch at a Mexican restaurant, to celebrate one of the underwriters'
birthdays, still stings. I've been here a year and they don't even ASK
me if I want to go? I didn't even get to sign a group card, if there
was one.

BTW, it's *my* birthday on Monday and not one person here (besides
myself and Karla) knows it. So I DEFINITELY know not to expect a group
card for that, never mind a lunchtime outing.

I'm sure I'd feel less cranky if my back wasn't kiilling me.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Ugh. I feel flat-out sick today.

For once, I KNOW it's psychosomatic, and not stemming from an oncoming
migraine.

All I can think of is an excerpt from 1776, from a song that's
on the soundtrack, but is usually edited out when the movie is aired on
television. The song is "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men", and it's sung at
a point in time when the conservative members of the Continental
Congress are grouped together by themselves in the chamber.

Actually, the portion of the scene I have on my mind is a bit of spoken
dialogue that occurs between verses of said song. John Dickinson is
trying to convince John Hancock, who supports declaring independence
from England, to change his allegiance and support reconciling with the
King, stating that "History will brand Mr. Adams and his followers as
traitors".

"Traitors, Mr. Dickinson? To what? The British Crown, or the British
half-crown?"

"Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the
possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. And
that's why they will follow us..."

[all resume singing]
"... To the right,
ever to the right,
never to the left,
forever to the right
And we'll hold
To our gold,
Tradition that is old,
Reluctance to be bold...".

That's pretty much what happened during the election last night... so
many of those states that are colored in with red today are populated
by people who think just like that smacked backside they voted for:
changing direction shows weakness, rather than learning from mistakes.
Stay the course, and who cares if the course is leading straight into
quicksand, because staying the course means we're strong.

They'd rather protect the "possibility" of becoming rich, because
they're apparently sated when the good economic news for Halliburton
stockholders comes through. It means that the economy is turning
around. Meanwhile their jobs are being shipped overseas, their
companies are going bankrupt, they're not seeing one freaking red cent
of the economic turnaround unless they were already part of that cool,
cool, considerate affluent minority, and they don't even REALIZE it.
Because they're proud of themselves for staying the course, you know.
It showed strength.

I hope we all have enough strength to deal with four more years of
continued unemployment woes, a national deficit that's enough to make a
sane person vomit, unmitigated envoronmental destruction, and an
ever-climbing death toll for our military and civilians in this morass
we caused by invading a sovreign nation.





Tuesday, November 02, 2004

'Splain to me why I should be happy when the company I'm temping for
sends out a company-wide email celebrating the fact that they exceeded
the budget for October by more than $2M dollars... when they insist
that they don't want to increase the number of employees. My salary for
the YEAR is a fraction of a fraction of a percent of that.

Ditto for the other month when they exceeded the budget, April. That
time, my ANNUAL pay worked out to less than one-half of one percent of
the company's budget excess for that month. In other words, they
could have hired two hundred people at my pay rate for the YEAR and had
excess income left over. Well, they could bring on a lot more than two
hundred people at my annual pay rate and have money to spare
from last month's overage, you can be certain of that.

Tell me again why I'm supposed to be happy to see this, in other words.
As I spend the morning filing the paperwork from my department that
people from OTHER DEPARTMENTS did over the weekend, and earned OVERTIME
for... they can pay people OT every freakin' week for stuff they don't
even have to do, but can't justify making me a permanent employee.
Maybe they feel they need that OT, but I feel I need a JOB. I think my
need trumps theirs when push comes to shove, but apparently I'm the
only one who feels that way. This "OT for doing other departments'
work" thing doesn't appear to be even registering on the radar of the
people who make financial decisions. But it sure as blazes registers on
MINE.

I've made a mental note of the MINIMUM number of resumes I intend to
send out per day. This situation is turning into a depression trigger,
and I have more than enough of THOSE as it is. I really like this place
and I wish I was a permanent employee here, but if the company doesn't
want to do that, I can't keep banging my head against the wall.
---
In other news. We went to my sister-in-law's house yesterday, to see
how my nephew decorated for Halloween. Dang, he goes all out! :o) The
funniest part of a multi-item lawn display is the skeleton sitting on a
(real) toilet, with its jeans down around its ankles.

There was a family that actually drove several miles from a neighboring
town to take a group picture with said skeleton. Frankie saw them out
on the lawn. They said they stop by every year and that his display is
"award-winning". Frankie wants to know what awards that would be, since
he hasn't been notified of having won anything, but I think he got a
big kick out of it anyway.

The latest addition is a life-sized Frankenstein monster on a table,
with a loop of the soundtrack from said movie playing when Dr.
Frankenstein goes off on his "It's alive! It's alive!" speech and a fog
generator.

I'm so mad at myself for forgetting my freakin' camera. NEXT year I'm
bringing it.

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com