Monday, January 15, 2018

Rolling with the Punches

They weren't kidding about this flu season!  I have been sick twice in the past month. It was all head and upper respiratory grossness.  After the congestion and cough cleared up, my ears are still plugged up and achy. I tried to rally/push through. I've used a month's worth of sick time in 2017 so I'm a little worried that will get me flagged by management.

My new therapist is pretty good and has introduced me to something I had never considered - making my own boundaries as self-care.  I've been going to family get togethers with no planned out for years and have been miserable but at least I kept up appearances. Guess what? I don't have to do that! I can show up and stay until things go south then take out a prepared excuse to leave.  My brother helped me with Christmas, figuring out the smallest amount of time I needed to be around my parents. Perfection!

My father has recovered pretty well from his heart attack and broken hip. He's still nasty to my mother, turns off his hearing aid so he doesn't have to interact with others, and has his recommended daily ounces of booze.  Over the last couple of years my dad has become a functional alcoholic. After the heart attack, he made sure he could still drink. On Christmas, his one task he assigned himself was getting glasses of Riesling ready for the family. His pants fell off as he was shuffling around the house with his walker. His nastiness found me as a new target. Prepared exit excuse deployed.

I'm still sad about Rasputin's death but it's like an undercurrent to my life. My sensory memories of him are fading. I can't remember his meow, his smell, or how it felt when he laid on me. Occasionally, I get sideswiped by remembering putting him to sleep. This is the fun side effect of PTSD - how upsetting memories affect me. I don't just have a hazy memory of something happening, I am back in my own skin while its happening having the same emotions coursing through my body. I'm pretty sure that's why I have developed panic attacks.  My body can't go from mundane daily routine to being flooded with crisis brain chemicals and back to mundane. My doctor has prescribed me Lorazepam to take occasionally.

Work has been not as frustrating lately. My group has gotten into a good groove. I have developed expertise in some key analysis/reporting which we jokingly call "job security".  The biggest annoyance is dealing with other work groups where we wonder how they are able to tie their shoes. When that happens, I have three other analysts and a great boss who I can go to and ask in disbelief "How can they not know this information?"

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Vermont Brewery Weekend

In honor of a friend's 40th birthday, a bunch of us surprised her with a Vermont brewery tour.  It was the first time I've spent time with anyone other than my roommate or family for a weekend.  I was a little nervous!  Exiting New Hampshire on route 89, I started thinking about Rasputin to get it out of the way before I had to socialize.  I kid you not, 103.1 FM started playing "Wildflowers" by Tom Petty - the same song I played before I put Ras to sleep! I started bawling and I took it as a sign as, "It's okay, Mama. Please have fun.  I'm okay."  That helped.

We rented a van to take us from brewery to brewery.  This company was amazing!  Full service, punctual, flexible, and a friendly interactive driver.  We went to Lost Nation first.  The beer was good and the crowd was nice and chatty.  Then we went to Rock Art.  They had my favorite facility and delicious beers.  Next we hit Alchemist Beer.  I tried Heady Topper for the first time - which is their huge hit.  But I actually liked Focal Banger better! Von Trapp Brewing was our next location.  Oh my word, so pretty and the food was great!  They had a couple beers I liked too. I only like a certain kind of hops and tend to gravitate towards stouts. Their Dunkel semi stout was delish.  I also really liked Helles and Vienna.  Our last stop was Prohibition Pig. I loved the location and vibe.  We headed back to the Air BnB afterwards for dinner and board games.  I am pooped people!

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Queen of the Orange Line

November 8 wasn’t a great day anyways with the year anniversary of the downfall of America.  The weather had shifted so every old injury in my body was aching all day.  When I got onto the orange line that evening, I saw an empty seat so I wove my way through the crowd to sit down.  Finally a break in the shittiness of the day for me. The woman sitting to my left muttered, “Well, I guess you need to sit down more than me.” and for absolutely no reason got up in a huff. 

The WTFness of her attitude and the bad day frustrated me so I asked her, “How many stops should I stand to deserve this seat?” She scowled at me. Then I asked, “Do herniated discs and months of physical therapy count while you judge?”  I am sick of people not treating each other as fellow human beings. I sat there wiping tears off my face while Her Highness scowled at every person who bumped or jostled her.  I could not figure out what her deal was but as we pulled away from Mass Ave, I decided to apologize to her because hey she might have been having a bad day as well.  Then she looked me in my eyes and claimed she never said anything to me. Ummm… bitch what? So, fellow commuters enjoy this delusional, judgmental prize who knows better because she is better than all of us.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Bow and the Target

I have not been doing so great. The first morning it dropped into the 40’s, I pulled out a long sleeved shirt and spent the next 15 minutes sobbing because the last time I wore that shirt, Rasputin was alive. My heart has been racing at night while I try to fall asleep. My body hurts all the time.

I’m not going to give birth to my own children, it’s too late for me. I poured all that love and attention into my cats. The enormity of what I’ve lost comes in waves. I cry every day. Since I have been in such a state, I have backed out of socializing. I feel like such a downer and can’t guarantee that I have a handle on crying. If I get sympathy, it’s all over - waterworks central.

I also have a handy bunch of avoidance techniques: drinking and computer games. Designing a house and family in The Sims feels calming and enjoyable. With enough wine, I might be able to grab a full night’s sleep. Going for days with these ultimately makes me feel worse! It’s like they dam up the flood of sadness for a limited time.

Stella has become a very needy affectionate kitty. Of course there’s still the biting and apologetic licks (she’s still a tortoiseshell). She hates being picked up and held but lately she tolerates it for me, it seems. Rasputin was a huge snuggler - he’d climb up my body and just lie under my chin. I miss that so much, I’m considering getting a 14 lb bag and covering it with fur material so I can at least get the tactile comfort.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Numb Shuffle

The mornings have gotten easier. The pain in my heart is not as oppressive.  We have downsized the feeding area and I’ve washed all the drool stained items.  One shirt is completely ruined but I’m keeping it because I could not stop sobbing seeing it.  I have packed up Rasputin’s special grooming gear and toys for storage.  I had a couple decent days Sunday and MondayWednesday morning, I was in bed when I had a panic attack or when my heart decided to try a gallop.  I was half asleep thinking “Well, this isn’t a bad way to go” On top of that, I broke out in hives on my arms and legs. So I took a sick day to get some rest and do some cathartic wailing. My theory is that my body rebelled against my push to feel better.

Stella figured out Rasputin isn’t coming back around Sunday and she has been very sad – sleeping away from us.  When I find her snoozing, she wakes up with a faraway blank look.  I pet her and talk about Rasputin to her.  Shanna has been extra affectionate with me, which I don’t mind at all.  Those two are not getting along any better.  In fact, Stella has been extra hissy. We all grieve in our own ways, right?

I have been very impatient with myself.  Sadness is such a sucking void of energy and I hate feeling like I’m wallowing.  My therapist has told me it’s important to honor my feelings and let them happen.  With my shitty childhood, finding value in how I feel is a struggle.  I wasn’t allowed to express strong emotions without punishment. I was “sensitive” or “dramatic”. I just get impatient or angry at myself for being sad over Rasputin’s death then eventually I am able to tell myself that it’s okay to feel what I feel.  Basically, not only am I grieving, I am also unpacking a lot of psychological baggage plus self-parenting.  Sweet baby Jesus, I am pooped!

A couple things have been helping my spirits. I enjoy playing the Sims game. I’m on the third generation of my main family. The house building is a ton of fun too. I have been researching local Maine Coon breeders and have enjoyed looking at pictures of their kittens.  It is way too soon for me but eventually I’d like to get a kitten.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Nineteen Days

Thursday October 12 at 8:50 pm, I put Rasputin to sleep. He didn't move all day and was very lethargic.  His left eye was almost swollen shut. I got home from work, took a look at him, petted and tried to get him to drink water.  Then I went out to the living room and discussed putting him to sleep with my roommate through tears.  The two home euthanasia services I had picked didn't have any availability.  My brother had already planned on swinging by after work so I alerted him that this could be IT.  He was really awesome.  He brought us dinner. For the second time ever, Rasputin jumped in his lap.  Our other two cats knew something has been up this past week.  My roommate told me that Shanna walked in the room where Ras hadn't moved all day, looked at him, gave him a long blink, and Rasputin blinked back.  Aw!

My brother drove us to Angell.  They were incredibly lovely.  The waiting/euthanasia room was a small lounge with sofas where we could hold Rasputin comfortably.  The vet was kind and empathetic who explained everything clearly. After some cuddling time, the vet took Ras and inserted a catheter in his leg and brought him back.  Then we had more cuddle time.  This is when I played Tom Petty's "Wildflowers" song. We said our goodbyes. While I was still holding him, he got the injection to sedate him.  Then he got the one that stopped his heart.  The vet checked his heart with her stethoscope and told me quietly, "He's gone."  Then this terrible wail came out of my body. I was doubled over rocking him. My brother and roommate were on either side of me rubbing my back. I really thought I could feel him purring so I kept gasping, "He's purring! He's purring!" like a lunatic.  Then I moved onto crying, "Why?" and "My baby boy" over and over. I tried to remember the Hebrew of Oseh Shalom. Depleted, I finally quieted down muttering that I'm exhausted and want to sleep for a week.  My roommate reminded me that I have another kitty, Stella, to take care of.  Then my DNA emerged in classic dark humor as I replied, "Oh yeah, I have a spare."  That dark humor has gotten us through wars and tragedies.

Angell provided a clay paw print and a cardboard box for transporting him to his grave.  We buried him in my parent's backyard next to our old family cat, Max.  We have two other family cats back there buried on the other side of the yard - Miklos and KC. The ride to my parents was fairly lighthearted - which I know is part of the lovely mourning emotional roller coaster. Thank goodness I had a therapy appointment Thursday morning!  She told me its important to be present and feel all my  feelings when he passes. Rasputin was wrapped in a warm blanket he loved, I tucked his collar and a letter I wrote and we buried him in 40 degree weather by flashlight. My parents are pretty great in a crisis.

My roommate and I got home around 10:30. Stella, who is a touchy tortoiseshell, let me hold her and hug her without any squirming or hissing. I saved a clipping of Rasputin's fur and when I smelled it, I started weeping.  He always smelled like honeysuckle.  Trying to fall asleep was not really working. I googled pet cloning - which is totally out of my tax bracket. Plus, the clone will probably have the fibrosarcoma gene.  Can I just say fuck cancer? It took a little over two weeks since the tumor emerged to debilitate my baby. I popped a Melatonin and it took forever to work. I unearthed my old teddy bear. I had already called off of work Friday.

I woke up after five hours of sleep.  Stella was sleeping at the foot of my bed.  Then I remembered. It felt like a kick in my stomach and a shaking sob of "Nooo!" came out of me. I lay in bed sobbing for a little while. I know I"m going to be okay and the way he passed was surrounded by love and painless. I told my roommate that the pain in my heart feels clean like it will heal healthy not festering - eventually.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Longest Shortest Two Weeks

Rasputin's tumor is growing too fast. If he had surgery, they would need to take his left eye and left jaws. Radiation/chemo can't shrink the tumor fast enough. I got the news this afternoon after rushing him to Angell hospital Monday night. I am absolutely gutted. I brought him home today and the plan is to eventually put him to sleep at home. My heart isn't there yet.