So, about eight weeks ago, with a heavy heart, I took Rocky, my beloved lug of a cat, to the vet. Based on symptoms shared over the phone, the vet thought he might be experiencing kidney failure, and I got a nearly immediate appointment at a very busy veterinary practice.
The diagnosis was not kidney failure. The diagnosis was feline diabetes. And I’m writing this post for anyone who might receive a similar diagnosis for his/her pet and, like I did, freak out a bit and start googling for more info.
MOST IMPORTANT THING: Do not freak out. It will be okay.
When I first heard the diagnosis, I cried. Yes, of course, I cried because I was sad he was sick, and I cried from the relief of knowing that I didn’t have to make the toughest decision you make about a pet. But, real-life honesty? I also cried because I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to care for a pet with a chronic illness. The added expenses and the idea of giving shots twice a day (every day of my life for the next 5-10 years) was overwhelming. I cried because I was ashamed that his illness was my fault. And, hardest to admit but true, I cried for being the kind of horrible human being who thought for a moment that it might have been easier if it had been kidney failure.
I want you to know that was a very silly thing to think. So, do not freak out. You can do this.
Here’s what you need to know (and/or this is how it went with my vet; you should follow your own vet’s advice):
- Not that long ago, a cat diagnosed with diabetes was put to sleep, but that is no longer the case. Feline diabetes is very treatable.
- Some people might act as if you’re crazy for deciding to keep a pet with a chronic illness. Avoid that sort of person while you’re in the freaking out stage.
- Remission can occur. It’s not a given, but it can happen.
- Treating feline diabetes is not cheap, but it’s more manageable than it might at first seem.
- The initial visit with tests needed for diagnosis was about $400.
- A bottle of insulin is $125, but, the dosage for a cat is so small, that bottle might last two months. Or longer.
- Syringes are about $30 for a month’s supply.
- Glucose checks are about $30 each. (And you’ll have to go weekly for a bit.)
- The cat will need a high-protein, low-carb food. (The nice folks at PetCo helped me pick out Wellness Core.)
- You’ll give your cat a practice injection before going home. It will seem preposterous. You can do it.
- Giving the shots at home will also seem preposterous for a while. But, trust me, it becomes easy. (Way easier than wrestling a pill into this guy’s mouth, I can tell you.)
In under two weeks, the main symptoms (excessive drinking and urinating) had completely disappeared. Since then, Rocky lost weight and the quality and softness of his coat improved. Today, I took him to the vet (Always Compassionate Vet Care in the South Hills, a truly wonderful life preserver) for another glucose check. There was good news and bad news.
The bad news: We have to go back again in a week for another check because his glucose numbers are still too low.
The good news: She thinks his glucose isn’t regulating correctly because he’s going into remission.
Good boy, Rocky. Good boy!
That would be the best possible news, and I am happily goosebumped at the possibility. But, here’s the important bit: Even if that is not the case, it’s okay.
I’m two months into this now. Giving the shots is nothing more than part of the feeding routine. I’ve had to begin setting an alarm seven days a week to get the timing right, but that hasn’t been as awful as I thought it might be. I’m less nervous about remembering everything. I’m less clumsy with the syringe. Haven’t stabbed myself in weeks. I missed a shot one day because of a client meeting, and the world did not end. Even wrangling Rocky into a carrier for vet visits has become (nearly) routine.
Remission would be absolutely awesome. But, if that’s not the case, I won’t freak out.
Some years ago, I came home from a yard sale with four large Ziploc bags filled with matchbooks which then sat in my garage, untouched ever since, except for the occasional forage when someone needed a light or the power went out.
And all those times I made flambé.
This past week, working on a layout for a client who doesn’t have budget for stock art, I thought of the matches for a graphic idea. I squirmed the bags out of a dark corner of the garage and dumped them out on the floor of my office for a little in-house photo shoot.
I hoped to be able to create an interesting, colorful, free image. But I got a bit more out of those bags than just that. I got to see some vintage design, and I got a lovely rush of nostalgia—that quirky cool you can sense in old things.
And I got a glimpse.
I ended up sprawled on the floor for a lot longer than expected, captivated by a completely unexpected feeling that I was flipping through another person’s scrapbook.
I don’t know exactly who these matchbooks belonged to, but he was from the Pittsburgh area, served in the military, traveled a bit. He was a grown-up in the 50s and 60s and still alive in the 80s.
I imagine he was a good-natured, occasionally gruff old bird who served in the Navy, WWII or maybe Korea. He visited Tokyo, Waikiki, and many other cities, came home, got a job, quietly raised a family. Maybe he was in sales. His wife worked at a department store when the kids were older. They went out to dinner on special occasions and loaded the family into a station wagon to go on driving vacations. Friends would bring him a matchbook when they traveled, too. He had a big laugh and a paneled den. His granddaughter went against current custom and had matches at her wedding reception, just for him. He got a big kick out of that. It was one of the last matchbooks he added to his collection.
One day, these little square signs of a friendlier era and markers of a lifetime of moments were deemed politically incorrect and unwanted. Somebody scooped the collection into Ziploc bags and sent them off to a thrift shop or flea market. I hope this occurred after he died and not while he was aware and forced to acquiesce.
I hope this quite fervently.
Ah, yes, I’m a little weird. But I’ve a brain that creates characters and tells tales. And I am overly susceptible to sentiment. (I get a similar pang when I see people’s family photos at antique stores. Or a single shoe on the highway.)
Truth is, I will never know exactly what his story was. But I do know that I was pleasantly surprised to get something beyond practicality in this yard sale flotsam. I discovered pocket Americana. I rescued these colorful little books that tell the tale of an un-famous, fascinating life.
Does anyone collect matchbooks anymore? (If so, let me know if you’d like to have them. I’m keeping a few just for fun, but there are so many. I’d be very happy to share with someone who collects them.)
Cuter than Dumbledore, more upbeat than Virgil, cooler than a majorette, and way smarter than a lemming, she led the way . . .
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump never helped me toilet paper a house.
Sometimes, in the resurfacing of a memory, you find treasure.
Came across this Facebook post today and thought it worth sharing. (Well said, Melissa. Thank you.)
I sometimes fear the world overall is losing its capacity for common sense, critical thought, and empathy. I hope that is not the case. I hope it is just the nature of social media: that we are exposed to so many millions of people, there are bound to be some really awful ones in the mix. I fear for children growing up in the midst of it, where such behavior could be seen as an example of what is proper, what is okay as a member of society, what is funny. It worries me. But perhaps that is age creeping up on me, for it is, after all, the elders’ job to worry about those coming next — not because we’re better than they are but because we love them so fiercely.
I do not claim perfection, in life or on Facebook. So please know I do not share this to preach at anybody but rather as an important reminder for us all. The human brain is capable of a multitude of thoughts: simultaneous, swarming, soaring, nasty, beautiful, ugly, diverse thoughts. Being a decent human being doesn’t mean you never have a bad thought; it means you have learned what not to share.
Peace & Love.
A month or so ago, I completed a new book, Dare To Be Happy (more on that below). Just before I sent off the final file, I thought it would be fun to include a note sending people to see more at my very own, Big Girl (not just for free blogging) website. And I added a reference to an at-the-time non-existent, domain-name-only website while thinking, It will take a couple of days to create the website. It will be fun.
Other than this blog (which was very simple to set up) I have never created a website on my own, without the aid of people like designers, developers, or IT experts.
Now, this is not me bragging about being brave or smart or talented. This is me trying to explain my absence from blogging. This is me trying to explain a lapse—no, no, not a lapse. This is me trying to explain a full-on, tequila shots, Evil Knievel blindfolded, toddler on the stairs, Cannonball! leap into insanity.
I have not worked so intensely since my 20s or learned so much since grade school. For the past month or so, I’ve been working 72-day weeks, 159 hours a day. Old dog stumbling through new tricks. Dashing down blind allies in search of a pinata. Long walks on short piers. Bit by bit by bit building a website.
It was a labor of love. (As in, that big big love when you fall first-site, head-over-heels with that guy who is so wonderful at first and then starts to mess with your head and treat you like complete crap until you say you’re leaving and then he’s so dang sweet about begging you to stay that, like a fool, you stay and you’re so happy because you think it was a breakthrough moment and things seem great and you realize that you were right about thinking he’s a good guy underneath all the jackassery, and then 5 minutes later you’re miserable again and all your friends tell you he’s not worthy but you keep hoping and you spend a lot of time crying or banging your head off the wall but you survive on the little moments until you finally, finally, say, “This is bullshit!” and walk away.)
Yeah. It was a labor of love. But the process was fun at times. Well, maybe fun isn’t the word. It was cool. (No.) It’s all pretty amazing really. (Nope.) It was satisfying. (Uh, not really.) It was an educational experience. (Zzzzzzzzzz.)
Well, anyway, it’s done. I have the beginning of website that I like. And it functions all right as far as I know.
It is bethaschmidt.com. (I may merge this blog with that site sometime in the future, but, right now, I don’t have a clue how to do that, and I’m taking a little break from the joys of learning.)
Take a peek if you’d like.
The main reason for launching it was as a companion to the new book. So I should probably share some info on that, too:
Dare To Be Happy (Inspiration for Girls Growing Up. And Women Who Don’t Want To.) is now on sale via amazon.
This paperback gift book (8×6, 56 pages, $10) is a collection of quotes, notes, warnings, and wisdom, some from famous people and some from me, including a few excerpts that came from Life Preservers posts.
Cheers, and thanks for reading.