Cats: Goodbye Leya May 2004-February 6, 2017

Leya was my “baby girl” for most of her life. She was even Miss Leya for a large part of her life. I adopted her in 2004 (I’m pretty sure that’s right.) when I came to visit Josh in Texas when I still lived in PA. A year or so later I moved to Texas (in June 2005).

Leya flew from Texas to central PA and then she drove from PA to Texas via the eastern half of Tennessee so we could visit family on the way. People on the flight found her utterly adorable. For those not up on their geography, we added a few hours to our trip because Tennessee is very wide. It seemed to take forever. Leya wasn’t named for Princess Leia, she was named for a person. I decided to give her name a different spelling, well because? Once she grew up, she was mini Leya as a kitten because she was so tiny but turned into a fat round cat.


You’ll see she’s laying beside a box of sandwich bags.

She was a crazy little kitten and she’s probably provided me with emotional support all my life. She was always there When I was living alone I would occasionally come home to find that a certain kitten had lots of fun. Like the time she dragged a full paper towel roll down from the kitchen table. She must have chased it all around the kitchen. There was paper towels wrapped around the table legs. Next is the vicious Printer Beast. It’s attack power is judging you. This picture is at least a few years old. In her prime before she grew into an old lady, she was adept at getting somewhere so that you couldn’t ignore her, but she wasn’t aggressive about it compared to some of our other cats.


Leya dealt with a lot too. One of our cats used to chase her about and because of that she stress-ate. She had a period where she freaked out for awhile from something. We think something happened in the apartment complex we were living in at the time when we weren’t home and it was super traumatic for her. She used to hide when people showed up. She was always more comfortable around women than men. When I look back it’s really hard to tell how much she actually liked other cats. She used to run and hide at the first crack of thunder too. You always knew when the storms were gone when Leya emerged from under the bed. She had all her little quirks like any cat but she didn’t have quite as many nicknames. Her best nickname was probably Darth Vader. She had allergies most of her life and eventually developed fluid in her lungs and tried to turn into a bulldog with extra tissue around her mouth. She sounded quite a bit like Darth Vader. When she was older, at some point, she chilled out. Instead of hiding because people were here she searched for pets. She turned into an attention whore. A lot of these pictures are Leya quietly seeking attention.


Leya also had talons because I have never successfully taught a kitten to accept nail trimmings.


I’m sure this was accompanied with lots of purrs.


As you can see, Leya had trouble relaxing too. Based on the couch and the bookshelf arrangements, this picture was probably in the last year or so.

Grumpy looking cat would kill you with her mind. I adore this picture, so very much.

These past few years Leya provided me a lot of important emotional support. Every time I felt like shit there was a cat beside me, not judging, just being present. A purring cat really does have positive effects on your health. She was comfort in so many ways. Anxiety threatening a panic attack? She was there to purr for me. I miss her, deeply. She was here for almost 14 years of my life. Because she spent a lot of time actually with me, I seem to have a lot of pictures of her sleeping, waiting for belly rubs.



Cats are experts at hiding pain but you know how they feel by how they look in the eyes.

Until the last few months she spent 90% of the time that I was in the living room on the couch, on the living room with me. In the end she split her time with me and the heated bed, unless I laid out the other heating pad for her. Then she was happy, mostly. About six months ago we found a large lump on her neck. (However much lump you see on the outside? That’s how much lump is on the inside.) We didn’t know how long it had been there because she was not petted on her neck on a regular daily basis. Initially the lump seemed to be a cyst. I had a bad feeling. Then it was getting bigger, and harder. Around the new year she was getting worse, she had a big visit to the vet for blood work, to try to get the cyst smaller by removing fluids from it – which didn’t really work, and treatment for her UTI – which she’d never had in her life. She was slowly going downhill until the last week or so. In one week she went from not eating dry food to not being able to swallow anything solid. At this point it was beyond obvious that the lump was aggressive cancer and had grown behind her esophagus to the other side and so it meant she could not swallow. Fuck cancer, we lost two cats in six months. One to slow moving cancer, one to fast moving cancer. Fuck cancer. Losing two cats in such a short period has made it even harder for me to cope.

Leya loved her belly rubs, but only from her people. As she matured, her circle of people grew to also be regular visitors. She also loved her food. She was a sweet girl, even the vet thought so. She didn’t do the whole lap cat thing but one of her favorite things was to lay on the couch between Josh and I through dinner and then watching tv every night we ate at home. If she wasn’t already on the couch, she would show up to sit on the couch with us as soon as Josh sat down. Literally.

This video is actually quite a few years old based on the wall in the background. Regardless it seemed like a great way to end. You might need to turn up your sound.

One last tidbit to leave you with… Leya was very sensitive. If she wanted to join you on the couch and you didn’t invite her on to the couch with you after a few minutes, she would walk away, with her tail down. If you called her back, then she’d come trotting back, with her tail straight up, and join you. It was adorable.

Random cat pictures with some words too

The other day I feel into the rabbit-hole of my Google Photos looking for good pictures of our (MY) cat that we had to put down Monday (cancer sucks for every single living creature) and in that process I discovered some fun random pictures too. For shits and giggles I thought I’d put them here. This is best described as bittersweet so skip the captions/explanations if you can’t deal with that today. Also, I think it’s time to add “crazy cat lady” to my blog tags.


Picture of Tank from at least 4 years old. He died suddenly. He was always cute curled up because he had impossibly long legs. Being half Siamese probably helped?

 


“Human, don’t question why I’m in the dryer. You wouldn’t understand.” Murphy died from cancer but it was slow moving and he was here to be the grumpy old man requesting pets on his schedule for quite a few years.

 


Murphy, Tank, and Leya: top to bottom. They are so closely together because of catnip! We determined this picture is proof that the demon inhabiting Tank’s body was too much and that’s why he died so suddenly and so young. (If you don’t get it, don’t worry. If you do get it, you’ll be amused.) I was struck by this picture because we’ve reached the point in our lives where we now have pictures of multiple cats who aren’t here anymore. Murphy and now Leya died within 6 months.

 


And this picture is like the “Old Guard” and the “New Guard”…. it’s about 4 and a half years old? Murphy, Leya, and Codex, and Parker are all here. The kittens (Codex and Parker) are now almost five. Kittens vibrate, so they are blurry, everyone knows this.

Control

I don’t have a job and cannot have much income at all for the next three years if I want my mountain of student loans to be discharged for disability. I’m not able to fill my days with volunteering since I’m not working because I do not have the physical or mental energy I once had a few years ago. I also have to be aware of what/who I’m in contact with. If I get sick from a sick person, I could be sick for a very long time.

I have to plan out a lot of my activities – usually everything outside of the house – so that I still have energy for anything afterward. There is very little safe and healthy for me to eat outside of food that has been prepared at home. The one thing I know I can get from any convenience store that is safe for me is potato chips…. except right now while this acid reflux is really bad. My diet is very restricted and there are few food or drink “indulgences” that I get to partake in. In the morning, I usually eat so I can take my medicine, not because I’m hungry.

A few weeks ago I received my (first) denial letter for my SSDI application. (Apparently the DoE can discharge over $110,000 in student loan debt easier than Social Security can give out monthly checks.)

I knit, peruse the internet, or play ithing games, almost every day. I feed the cats. I remember my regular meals but sometimes forget to eat in between those times. I have problems with anxiety and depression, in part because of my health problems and in part because of all the bad experiences I’ve had in medical settings….and in part because I feel like I have very little control. On bad days I do little more than stare at my ithing, watch Netflix, eat and nap. On good days I can handle computer games and more than one or two household chores. Sometimes it’ll be two weeks before I leave the house besides for the grocery store or a doctor appointment. Going to the movies is really hard on my body and brain because of sitting still for so long and mentally processing everything from the movie. I think that must be why I like re-watching movies/tv shows.

When I was a grad student I wanted to make my life into something meaningful. I wanted to be able to help people by working in a non-profit organization. I can’t do that. It’s not possible. Someone/something/the universe/the fates/a higher power/my genes took that away from me. What I live now doesn’t feel very meaningful.

Somehow I need to find a way to focus on the little things I do have control over and one big thing I do have control. I choose to continue to fight to the dark thoughts that tell me it would be easier just to give up and stop it all. Except, that living shouldn’t be a battle.

Chronically sick and grieving

Apparently, I’ve been grieving for awhile. I didn’t get the memo.

Grief can occur in many different situations. It’s not something that happens only when you lose someone whether it be death or the end of a relationship.  Grief also occurs when being diagnosed with a life changing disease, the death of a pet, the loss of a job. A lot of people probably understand grief as something that occurs in stages. Culture is full of such references. Those five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. However, there is also thinking that grief does not occur in stages but rather in a cycle.  Here’s a great explanation of grief with possible causes, the stages, and how it can also be described as a roller coaster. I like the roller coaster idea better than a cycle. Regardless of which you prefer, I like “cycle” or “roller coaster” better because they are more fluid and have more motion than what you get from the word “stage”.

Where am I going with all this? Because of the counseling I’ve been doing for the last few months, I’ve realized I have a lot of grief in my life. I’ve lost access to foods, social events, hobbies and other fun activities, as well as easily completely tasks or chores because of my health. There’s a list of things I can no longer do because of all of my different health problems. I don’t want to go into listing all of them here. There’s also a list of things I’m grasping onto because I don’t want to lose them – like reading books regularly. My cognitive problems make reading harder than it used to be. One such example would be learning – the “hard way” – that I cannot complete light yard work without having something to protect myself from dust, pollen, irritants beyond antihistamines. This is on top of the restrictions I already need to deal with like not being able to work outside when it’s warm.

This realization that I’ve been grieving over the things I’ve lost in my life makes me think I’ve been self-absorbed these past few months. I understand, at least on a logical level, that this is because I’ve been doing a lot of internal processing. That kind of thing takes time and energy. Especially since I’ve been sick on top of my regular chronic sick life. I’m writing this on my fourth day of taking 50 mg of benadryl every 6 hours. (That includes setting alarms the last two nights to continue at the 6 hour intervals.

I don’t know how to cope with this realization that grief has invaded my life other than thinking I need to do something more than what I’m already doing. I knit almost daily and that helps me. At this point I think knitting is a form of meditation that works for me. To add something else for coping and processing makes me think that writing will help. I enjoy the act of writing. I liked writing papers in school, even though I hated starting writing said papers. This blog seems like a great way to start but I’m not sure of the details yet. I’d like to post about things beyond my health, emotions, or random crap. More book reviews perhaps? Writing prompts? I don’t know.

So far, I only know this. I feel like I’ve lost control of my overall life and that this is causing me to feel grief, anxiety, anger, and fear. This emotional stress is also hurting my physical health. I need to do something about it.

 

Asking the cards

I’m (again) having questions of identity. Americans like to base their identity on their job/career. I don’t have a job or career. I want to write in a way that lets me share my thoughts with other people. Ultimately I want to write a book. I want to publish said book. Maybe I want to write more than one book. But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to write a series. I want to write different books about different things.

Today a question popped in my head out of the blue – in a my subconscious must be working on this way – “How do you refind yourself?”

So, I stopped what I was doing and decided that was a good time to lay out the tarot cards.

The first card, the one to represent me? The fool. I was sort of amused to see it. Before I was finishing with laying out all the cards one of the cats came over and purred in my face too.

 

 

I guess, ultimately, you refind, or redefine yourself one day – one action – at a time.

It’s Official

Today I saw the neurologist again. All my test results are in and some last MRIs are being ordered.

Treatment is going to be started. Things have been set in motion. How fast they go are also up to the bean counting pencil pushers at the health insurance company.

I’m officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. (When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia I cried.)

This time has been different. I know it hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’ve had more time to get used to the idea  but still I’ve cried about the injustice of it all, more than once, in fact.

I wonder how long it’s going to take to actually sink in.