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You've Got to be Kidding!

I'll Have A Side Order of Rescue with my Rescue, Please

I'm in trouble. A lot of trouble!

I get emails and calls every day about cats needing a new home. Their owners give them up because they are suddenly allergic to them, or they're moving and their new landlord doesn't allow cats (so why MOVE THERE?!) or they've fallen on tough times or they just found the cat on the street. Whatever the reason, they're out there. So many there's no way I could even make much of a dent by saving one cat, but heck, it makes a difference to that cat.

I admit it. I was missing MacGruber and Polly. The house is silent without them running around. Okay, I don't yell much any more either, since the two of them were pretty good at getting into trouble, but I MISS it, you know? Also, my own cat, Blitzen is very sluggish and sad. He has no one even close to his age to play with and he just follows me around the house now.

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©2011 Wei H. Photo from Craigslist Ad.

So I felt weak. I got an email from our local rescue group mailing list. It was a copy of a Craigslist ad for a Free kitten, 2-3 months old. Litterbox traiend. That's it. No other info. Craigslist doesn't allow postings like this so they aren't up for very long-which means, the contact info of the person who wrote the ad, is not valid for more than a day or so. The rescuers try to intercept these ads and get those animals help because the people giving the cats away are giving them away, unvetted, not spayed or neutered!!!, and to just ANYONE, so those cats could be harmed or worse.

Many times these cats are kicked outside to fend for themselves if the ad doesn't work. So, I replied to the ad. Did they need help with the kitten? A few days passed. I got an answer. YES, they needed help.

Oh dear, now I actually have to do something! Okay...my foster room is booked. Phil will be here from Georgia on Saturday. My only other space is my bathroom. I guess that will have to do. If this cat isn't as advertised or is nasty, I might have him here for a long time. It's very tough to take on something without having any idea of the outcome. You're responsible for a LIFE. YOU have to choose, if this cat can be adopted and what the heck to do if it's a mess!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cutie!

In a month, I'll have Amberly's family here, then The Angel Babies, so this little kitten BETTER be adoptable and I better be able to get him neutered in time-knowing that the S/N Clinic near us always books out this time of year-at least a month. Oh boy...well...It's a risk worth taking, I think.

Then there was the family...I have to say dealing with them did not go smoothly at all. First, they blew us off after we went to all the trouble to make a vet appointment, get the room ready, and get ourselves in the car to meet them, then they say they can't be there for 2 more hours! So we re-scheduled and while we were on the road, anyway, we went to Target to buy a new litter pan for the kitten.

Then they didn't want to sign the Surrender form, which would protect us should they ever want the cat back and find we had already adopted him to another family. That was announced in an email I got at 1am this morning. They said NO, we will just not bring the cat if we have to sign the paper.

So bleary-eyed and half asleep I had to try to "nicely" tell him in my reply, not to worry. That it was a common thing to sign off on and that it was just so that WE were not sued if THEY didn't like where the cat went after they gave it to us. At 8 am he wrote me back saying; OK, thanks for explaining. See you at 9:35 AM.” Yes, 9:35 AM, not 9:30 or 10...hmmm...odd.

Sam and I were both sure we would never see the kitten.

We pulled into the Park & Ride off I-84 to wait for the owner, who I didn't know anything about other than he had an Asian name, to bring the kitten. A car was already there waiting even though we were 15 minutes early. There were two Asian ladies in the car, one waved at me. I waved back. Their windows were open. I thought it was strange. I didn't see a cat carrier. I got out of the car and said hello. Turns out they waved at the person in the car BEHIND us and did not have the kitten! Oops. I live in a pretty much “New England Yankee” sort of demographic area so what were the odds we'd see another group fitting the same heritage as the owner of the kitten?

At 9:30 AM, an SUV pulled up. Definitely our guy. He got out of the car and smiled, then went to get the kitten. They had closed him up inside a small, covered CAT LITTER PAN. It was clean, but really? No holes in it to breathe? Sam took the litter pan and got in the car to transfer the kitten into our cat carrier. The guy gave me the paperwork signed and I signed it, too. I asked if there was anything I should know about and he, in a round about way, said the kitten peed on soft things when they first got him. Did they give him a litter pan? I don't know. Then he said he used the litter pan, but was weird about telling me if the cat pees on soft fabric that's on the floor, like a rug or cat bed. May have a litterbox aversion issue. Other than that, he said the kitten was fine.

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©2011 Sam Moore. Meet DoodleBug!

He never told me the cat's name. He didn't give me any of the leftover food, if there was any. I asked him if they fed the cat. His mother said something in Chinese, not sure what, but he nodded at her and said the cat was fed breakfast. That was it. No remorse, no sadness, not even a goodbye to the kitty. No donation to provide for the cat's vet care, which I had asked for a few times. Oh well.

They left just a few minutes after they arrived. I got in the car and looked inside the cat carrier. That was it. I was “done.” What a sweet little face was looking at me from inside the carrier. When we got to Dr Larry's I took him out. He was purring. He was FLUFFY. He has a little white TIP on his stubby black fluffy tail! He didn't mind being held. His fur was very soft.

Sam almost whined at me. He wanted a turn holding the little guy! So we traded. He nibble at Sam's whiskers, then got a bit over excited so we put him back in the cat carrier. Lauren came out and we took the kitten out and put him on the countertop. He calmly explored this new place and I saw his butt. It was just the right amount of FLUFFY. He had that cute little butt-wiggle when he walked. Oh shit, I'm in trouble.

I think I'm in love.

The Petties™ 2011-Covered in Cat Hair, Double-Nominee!

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I have to admit that I didn't think we stood a chance at winning even ONE nomination for the Petties 2011 awards, let alone TWO! Last year, we were nominated in the category of Best Cause Related Blog, for which I was greatly honored, but this year I'm simply gobsmacked to be in the Best Cat Blog category AND the Best Social Interaction Blog category! Who knew? Obviously YOU guys knew! The field is so much BIGGER this year, than it was last year. I'm still in shock that we got this far.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO VOTED FOR MY BLOG! I appreciate it VERY MUCH!

Of course there's a TINY bit more to do to get Covered in Cat Hair all the way to the BIG AWARD. You've got to VOTE again! This time you don't have to sign up for anything or give your email address out.

Click HERE to VOTE. It takes about 5 seconds. If you look at the ballot, below, you can see where the arrows are pointing..that's where OUR categories are located. I heard you can VOTE TWICE A DAY so VOTE EARLY AND VOTE OFTEN!

May I also suggest you consider voting for my friend, Ingrid in the Best Overall Pet Blog. She writes the Conscious Cat, and our friends at CatLadyLand, and Paws and Effect need your votes, too!

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If Coveredincathair.com can WIN BOTH categories, it will allow me to take the $1000.00 prize for EACH win and DONATE it to my 501(c)3 Non-Profit Cat Rescue group, Kitten Associates! We REALLY NEED THOSE FUNDS TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE to RESCUE EVEN MORE KITTIES!!! Your vote will help SAVE MORE CATS!!!

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MacGruber is just one of the many cats we've rescued! Help us rescue more with a simple vote!

Please vote today and please DO share this with your cat-loving friends! We need to WIN! We've got two litters of kittens coming in a few weeks! Yes, TWO!

Beauty Break: Blitzen

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful Blitzen at 1 1/2 years old.

While I am over-the-moon-thrilled that Covered in Cat Hair is a FINALIST in the Petties 2011 as the Best Social Integration Blog and BEST CAT Blog, I had to stop celebrating for a moment and pay homage to my own rescue (aka, foster fail) boy, Blitzen.

Isn't he handsome?

swooooon!

Nursing Mama Found, but Where are Her Babies?

Our intrepid foster mama, Maria got up early to hit the local tag sales. It was a hot Saturday just southeast of Atlanta, Georgia. Maria was taking a break from a long work week. Tag sales were an enjoyable adventure since she could save some money and find something fun to bring home while she was at it.

This weekend Maria got far more than she could have expected when she saw a cat LAYING in the middle of the street. Maria stopped her car and got out; worried the cat would be hit by a car. The cat came over to her and rubbed on her leg. She cried to Maria and within a moment, it was obvious that this cat was very thin. Maria, of course, had cat food in her car and offered some to the cat. She gobbled it up right away.

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©2011 Maria. S. A stray cat makes a new friend with Maria.

Maria took a closer look at the cat and saw that the cat's nipples were enlarged, a sure sign the cat was either nursing or pregnant. She sent me a text. It was not even 8AM. She wanted to talk to me, so I got out of bed and went into the foster room so I could talk to her without waking Sam up.

She didn't know what to do and I can't say I blamed her. She didn't know if this was someone's cat, but if it was they weren't taking care of her at all. If the cat had kittens, WHERE WERE THEY?

I encouraged Maria to ask anyone in the neighborhood if they knew the cat. She found one person to tell her he'd seen it before but didn't know where it belonged. I told Maria to get the cat to the Vet. If she did have owners, they didn't deserve this cat, who seemed to have no fear and who kept "talking" at Maria. Too bad she didn't speak cat.

Her tag sale plans disrupted, Maria went to her Vet. They weren't busy and offered to do an ultrasound of the cat FOR FREE. They didn't see anything unusual inside her so either she had already given birth or she was not far along enough for them to see anything. Maria spent her tag sale money to have a "snap test" done to determine if the cat had FIV or Feline Leukemia. She did not. She had some flea dirt on her, as well as two ticks. Her belly fur was bare, possibly from being itchy, they weren't sure. The cat only weighed FIVE POUNDS. They couldn't tell her if the cat had given birth.

Now what?

A few hours had passed since Maria took the cat to the vet. She noticed the cat's mammary glands were more enlarged. I told her to go back to where she got the cat and let her go. See if she would take Maria to where the kittens were located-if there were any. Surely she would need to feed her babies soon.

A severe thunderstorm hit just as Maria arrived at the drop off point. There wasn't much she could do, but wait. She was able to let the mama cat out of the car, but all she did was cry, then run into the street. Maria wasn't going to let this cat get hurt and it was clear the cat wasn't going to feed any kittens-if they even were alive. It was late. Reluctantly, Maria headed for home, the cat crying next to her in the car.

I quickly designed a flyer, hoping against all odds someone would step forward and help us find the kittens and I told Maria to just get the mama to her house and we'd sort it out the next day.

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I don't know much about finding where a mama cat might hide her kittens. I asked all my rescue friends and most of them said that since the mother was only 8-10 months old herself, that odds were she had abandoned the litter and was not going to care for them-IF they were alive. It's hard not to give up hope, but we knew that between the 95°F temperatures, rain, predation and starvation, these kittens might have 24-48 hours left to live.

Maria skipped Father's Day with her stepdad and her day off and got back into her car with the cat she named, Amberly. Amberly had a good night's rest, drank a bowl of water and had some food. She was in much better shape than she was the day before.

Maria let Amberly out of the car and she strutted off into someone's yard. Maria followed and saw the cat go into a storm sewer. Her heart sank. If the kittens were inside it would be very tough to get them out. A moment later, Amerbly returned and decided to look around at another drain. A neighber saw Maria and she told him what was going on. He offered to help her look. Then, Amberly dashed out of sight.

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©2011 Maria. S.

The neighbor called out to Maria. “I see something!”

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©2011 Maria. S.

Maria ran to his side. In the base of a tree, they could barely see Amberly's eyes. Being black let her disappear easily. They walked up to the cat. She didn't move, but something else near her, did.

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©2011 Maria. S. If you look closely, to the left are two kittens.

Maria could see a tiny kitten nursing on her mother, Amberly. It was a miracle. The kitten had been found. Maria let Amberly nurse as the neighbor, who admitted he didn't even like cats, went to get her some gloves so she could dig into the base of the tree to find every kitten that was there. I can't imagine how scared and excited I'd be if I was Maria. I'd be scared to find dead kittens, but excited that some might make it.

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©2011 Maria. S.

Slowly and carefully, she lifted a tiny calico kitten into the sun. The kitten squinted her eyes and let out a small cry. She was alive, not near death, but alive.

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©2011 Maria. S.

Maria looked again and found a second kitten. This one a little gray guy wiht white paws. He wriggled around in her hands, but seems all right, too.

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©2011 Maria. S.

Maria continued to remove kittens from their nest. Another gray and white kitten, then a tortie.

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All said and done, there were FIVE kittens rescued. Each one was alive, but after barely being fed for 24 hours they needed a lot more nourishment.

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©2011 Maria. S.

First things, first-they needed to get to Maria's house, away from all the dangers they faced and into a safe, loving environment. From looking at them, we estimate they're barely 2 weeks old.

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©2011 Maria. S.

There's much to sort out. Names to be given-perhaps something from the Hobbit since they were found under a tree? We'll need to do an emergency fundraiser to provide for their care and get them over to the Vet for a checkup to make sure they're all right. We didn't plan on rescuing any families since funds are tight and foster homes are tough to find, but we'll make it work somehow.

We'll see how the babies do over the next 24 hours. Will Amberly feed them and give them the care they need or were the kittens left alone for too long and Amberly will reject them?

Yesterday we hoped we'd find these precious little ones and thankfully they were found. Maybe, just maybe, the worst of their troubles are over and now the fun can really begin for them all.

And to Maria, who missed going to the tag sales, I'm sorry about that and I know you got more than you bargained for this weekend. I can't express fully how completely over-the-moon-happy I am that you gave up your time and money and kicked ass and rescued those babies. My hat's off to you, Maria. Way to go, baby. Way to go!

A Day with Little Cara

After a long chat with Cara's Internist, instead of going straight to a third endoscopy, we're giving Cara yet another round of Clavamox to treat her high White Blood Cell Count for about 10 days. Cara's also on a special diet, which I pushed back on, (you know how fussy I am about diet)! But after looking at the ingredients and realizing it was only for three weeks, I decided it was all right. Well, feeding her the special diet was ok. That it cost $52 for one case, well, I was not too happy with that!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Little cutie in the tunnel.

Cara's been back home with me and her Mama, Mazie and siblings Polly and Chester after staying with her foster mom for two weeks. Everyone got along well. Mazie licked Cara's face as a way to welcome her back. Cara is still half the size of her family, but I can see that Cara has grown some, too.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara with Mama-Mazie.

Cara still has that big, sad-eyed look and she still shakes her head and licks at her mouth. After being here for a day or so, she vomited again and was a bit lethargic. The next day she was brighter and ate well. She's still not vibrant, in the way her siblings are, but she's starting to explore more of her surroundings now that she can leave her foster room and meet my cats.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. What a face!

Cara doesn't go too far. She'll stay upstairs and nap or sniff around my bedroom. I think the stairs are tough for her because she's still so small. She can't race down the steps the way Polly is accustomed to doing and I think seeing my HUGE cats makes her a bit shy.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I've noticed she's starting to purr more frequently. I think the clavamox might be helping her. In some respects, she is stable, but she is clearly still struggling with something. The constant head shaking and mouth licking must mean she's feeling queasy or her tummy is acting up.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

When it's all said and done, I know in two more weeks, when Cara has completed eating the special diet, we'll have to re-visit getting her spayed and doing endoscopy and biopsy at the same time OR they may say we can't spay her for the time being and just focus on doing further examinations of her digestive tract.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara and Mama.

In a few days it will mark SIX MONTHS since this family first arrived. Six months and they are ALL still here. I try not to beat myself up about how many cats I could have helped if I could have gotten this family out of her faster. I'm devoted to the cats that are in my care. They are all getting to a point where they can be adopted. It would be great to see them get out of here. The price I've had to pay is that my own cats are angry and frustrated having newcomers running around and every day we find a new, horrifying place where one of them has decided to pee.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

We may have more SSSCATS than anyone else in the world. There are Feliway diffusers everywhere. Some of my cats are making friends with the fosters, but even those cats we've caught marking. I know the best solution is to get the fosters OUT and give my own cats a break-especially with Bob having cancer. I think more quiet time would be good for him, too.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

While I wonder when we'll finally get Cara's health issues sorted out and find her a home, something lovely happened. One of the fosters MAY be getting adopted in a few days. I don't want to jinx it, but it's looking very good. I wish I had more adopters like this family. If they go through with the adoption, I'll let you know just how wonderful they are in more detail.

For now, I'll just enjoy the company of the fosters and their crazy antics with a roll of paper towels and odor neutralizer in hand.

We're still trying to raise enough funds to cover Cara's endoscopy in a few weeks. She looks bright and well, but she, like most cats, is very good at masking illness. She weighs just over 4 1/2 pounds. The normal weight for a cat her age is 6 to 8 pounds.

Cara's in Trouble Again.

I keep hoping we're getting to the point where all the foster cats are well enough to be adopted. A few weeks ago, Polly FINALLY got spayed. She made it through the surgery and recovery well, but she's still got a lingering issues with recurring upper respiratory tract infections. She gets sick for a few days, then is miraculously over it. Sadly, her left eye, which has been a problem for her since she first became ill when she was three weeks old, has never resolved its cloudy appearance. I fear Polly has lost some vision in that eye.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Polly Picklepuss.

The only way to resolve this for her is to get her to a specialist. Perhaps there's something we haven't done that could help her? Her brother, Chester is doing great, for the most part, but he has a chronic runny eye. He should see the specialist, as well. These kittens have cost a fortune to care for. I'm very grateful they are so very sweet natured and loving. It makes seem even more worthwhile to make sure they get whatever they need.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Chester is a knock out! You can see the stained fur near his right eye.

Polly has been spending more and more of each day with my own cats. She gets along GREAT with them and I'm constantly hearing her making trilling sounds as she races through the house-most often with MacGruber on her tail. She's come a VERY long way from the kitten I thought we were going to lose late last year. You can see a before and after photo of her HERE.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara waiting for Dr. Larry.

Then there's Cara. Cara! What am I going to do with you, girl? Cara has been doing okay-ish, not great. She gained just five ounces over the past month. To me, that is not enough. She's still under five pounds while her siblings are easily over six pounds, each! Cara has episodes of vomiting every two weeks or so. The volume of what she outputs is frightening. It seems as though it must have come out of a much larger animal, there's so much fluid.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I've been in regular contact with Cara's Internist, Dr. K. and her assistant, Laura. I was hoping that we could get Cara spayed and while the spay was being done, Dr. K. was going to look at Cara's esophagus. Cara's been scoped twice now for strictures in her esophagus. If you're not familiar with her story, you can read more HERE and HERE (or use “Cara” in the Search field on the top, left of this page to read all the stories about Cara and her family)

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Dr. Larry listening to Cara's lungs and heart.

Cara's been struggling for a very long time. I thought it was a good idea for her to go to a new foster home so she could have “alone time” and a chance to flower without her big brother and sister there to push her out of the food bowl or away from the toys. Cara has been in another home for about two weeks and was doing fairly well. Then, the vomiting started again and Cara became withdrawn.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Yesterday I brought Cara to Dr. Larry for blood work. We discussed seeing her shake her head and lick her mouth. She is nauseous, clearly. She's quiet. Not a bouncy, crazy kitten. She's alert. She eats well, but...something is wrong. I brought her home with me so I can keep an eye on her.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Last night I got the results of the blood work. Cara has a SCREAMING high white blood count-AGAIN. It's 28,000, when a high normal is about 19,000. Dr. Larry is worried Cara has aspirated some of her vomit into her lungs and that is the reason for the high count. Cara's in trouble and needs to go back to the Specialist, Dr. K., as soon as we can work it out. I put Cara on clavamox last night, to start knocking out the infection, but Cara is going to need another endoscopy, no doubt.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sweet Cara.

This morning, Cara was bright and ate well for me. When I look in her eyes, I see a frail little kitty. She's far too thin and struggling to be well. I'm glad she's a fighter, but she can't fix what is wrong and neither can I—not without some help.

Our resources are depleted and we need to do yet another fundraiser for Cara, Polly and Chester. I don't know exactly how much we'll need for Cara, but I do know some of the cost. I'm going to estimate what we need, then adjust it up or down as soon as I have more information. Anything we don't use will go into the General Fund of my Non-Profit Rescue: Kitten Associates, Inc., to provide food and basic Vet care for any of the cats in our Program.

If you have the resources to help out, we are deeply appreciative. Your donation IS Tax Deductible, which is always a good thing!

If you can't help with a donation, if you would kindly help us spread the word, that would be terrific. We need to get the donations put together BEFORE we can go to the Vet, so we gotta make this happen fast if we can.

Thank you to the many folks who have jumped in to help Cara along this difficult journey. I hope you can help again, for Cara and her family.

Not on Warren's Watch: Punch Drunk Love

I'm so proud and choked up that my eyes are burning and tears will be rolling down my cheeks any time now. When I started writing my blog in 2006 I had no idea of how meaningful the connections I've made with some of my readers would become. Many of you are near and dear to me. One such person, is Warren Royal.

Doing any kind of animal rescue is heartbreaking. Being willing to take a stand, even for one animal, takes a great deal of courage, as well as a few resources. It's difficult to put yourself on the line and take responsibility for an animal you may end up having to later euthanize. This is not for the faint of heart, but it is for the “big of heart.”

I've never met Warren or his wife, Terri, but I've come to know them through their love and devotion to cats. They started by accident, one night getting a pizza with mushrooms. A tiny stray cat begged for a morsel to eat. They were hooked. They had to help cats in need. The tiny stray came home with them.

Terri cares for the family's five cats, but she also feeds SIX feral colonies and does TNR (trap, neuter, return). That she does this in Georgia, makes her a Saint. Though there are MANY dedicated rescuers in Georgia, there aren't enough. Their shelters are bursting at the seams year round. Cats (and dogs) are often treated as no better than garbage. Terri stands up for them.

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Buddy is Punch Drunk, he's so in Love!

Warren, has a huge, compassionate heart. He is also generous. When he decided to take in a stray cat from a local church, he never backed down, even though the cat he named, Buddy, needed a lot of costly veterinary care because he is FIV+. [Read about Buddy's background HERE and HERE] Warren just kept on giving Buddy the best. Knowing he could not give Buddy a forever home, he found a fantastic placement at Humane Society of Forsyth County, where Buddy had his OWN ROOM, a special place for FIV+ cats.

Warren visited Buddy often, but was sad to see him there alone. One day, Buddy was joined by another cat named Aslan whose owner had a terminal illness and was forced to give up her beloved FIV+ cat. Fate must have guided their caregivers to put these two cats together because they became fast friends.

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BFFs: Buddy and Aslan.

We knew it would take a long time for Buddy to find a home, but we also took joy knowing he was safe. Then, just yesterday, after only a few short weeks of waiting, something amazing happening. We got the news that Buddy had been adopted!

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Congratulations, Buddy!!!!

He got ADOPTED by a Vet Tech! Who better to understand the care Buddy will need and be able to provide it for him? It was sad that he would have to leave Aslan, after just meeting her and luckily the Vet Tech thought the same thing...

She adopted Aslan, too!

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Congratulations, Aslan!

How marvelous and magical, it approaches miracle status! Two senior cats, BOTH with FIV+, placed together. WOW! WOW! WOW!

If it hadn't been for Warren, sticking his neck out, getting into a "discussion" with the members of a church who thought it was fine to let Buddy live outside in a plastic tub and never get any Vet care, Buddy would be on the fast path to death. Between his terrible teeth problems, FIV+ and kidney issues, Buddy didn't stand a chance. Thanks to Warren, Buddy is going to have a fantastic life, a new best feline friend forever, a family to call his own and an endless supply of love he so richly deserves.

This post is dedicated to you, Warren. BRAVO!

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Please note: FIV+ is NOT a death sentence AND it does NOT mean that a cat with FIV+ can't live with non-FIV+ cats. That's just not true. FIV+ and non-FIV+ cats can live together safely. My cat, Bob Dole has FIV+ and he lives in harmony with my zillion other cats. I just don't worry about them getting it. It's only transmitted through a DEEP puncturing bite wound or sexually and if your cats are spayed/neutered, as they SHOULD BE, then no worries!

Cara's in Trouble.

This morning I brought Cara in to see Dr. Larry. Thankfully, they were able to fit her into the schedule for today without an appointment, but it meant I had to leave her there and they'd do x-rays and an exam at some point during the day. I got home and sat in the foster room with Mazie, Chester and Polly. They've been in that room for FOUR MONTHS. Only Mazie can be adopted and no one has been interested in her. Polly STILL has a URI and Chester is dealing with that spot of ringworm on his head. I know that being in a small room, even if it does have one huge window that overlooks the yard and another smaller window that gives them a view of the sky and tree tops, is not enough. Since they can't really catch anything from my cats and vice versa, I let them out into my bedroom once in awhile. There's more room to run around, but they really need a huge space to stretch their legs. I suppose if being bored or not having a lot of space was their biggest problem, I'd be lucky.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. What's next for this poor cat? I'm afraid to find out.

Dr Larry called me early this afternoon. Cara's x-rays did not show any obvious foreign object, but he wanted to do a blood panel to make sure she didn't also have an infection. I wanted to push back and say, no, not to spend the money since Cara seems fine, but I agreed. He told me to meet him at 4pm and by then he'd have the results and I could take Cara home.

Things were busy at Maple Ridge today, so I grabbed a People magazine and looked at it while I waited for Dr. Larry in exam room number 2. I noticed photos of celebrities in their bathing suit, walking on the beach at some exclusive resort. I didn't even know who half the people were. Then, it dawned on me. Why does it matter that I need to see these photos at all? If there were photos of my neighbors walking on the beach, I would be just as uninterested. They're on vacation? So what! What are they doing that's unusual, interesting, important? Maybe People should be renamed; “Photos of people on the beach with really nice bodies, wearing huge sunglasses, but otherwise not really doing anything.” I swear they use the same photo each week, they just photoshop the latest celebrity A-lister face over the body they used the week before.

I was just about to read about why Catherine Zeta-Jones is disclosing she has Bipolar Disorder II and why there is a “II” and what that means? Is it a sequel to Bipolar Disorder I? Maybe it's fancy movie star version of Bipolar disorder? Dr. Larry entered the exam room before I could sort it all out. He sighed. Then he said something about me having too much on my plate. I had a feeling he was about to add more to it and I was right.

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Cara's x-ray. The arrow points to some of the particulate I noticed in her stomach. Her filled up intestines can be seen at the bottom and top of her body, on the left side.

Cara's blood work showed her White Blood Cell Count was VERY HIGH. High-normal is about 20,000. Cara's is 35,000. She's got a raging infection. Her stomach is swollen full of gas. Her intestines are full of stool-almost packed solid. I looked at the x-rays and asked about something I saw in her stomach-some small particulate. Dr. Larry waved it off saying it was the cat food I feed...you know the RAW food with the BONES in it. I balked. Cara does not get raw. She gets canned. So of course it has to be the canned food. It's CANNED FOOD! There aren't BONES in it. Then it hit me. It was the cat litter. It confirmed what I had been suspicious of all along—that Cara has been eating the corn based cat litter. Perhaps the high WBC count is due to her eating out of the litter pan?

It's tough to say what's going on exactly. Dr Larry wanted to have an ultrasound done. The Vet who performs them had a cancellation. It's for tomorrow at 8:30AM. Larry felt we might be able to see if there's still a piece of yarn toy acting as a filter between her stomach and her intestines or if there's any damage to her stomach from eating the toy or ingesting the litter. It would give us some info, but potentially not enough.

Cara may need exploratory surgery or another endoscopy. Dr. Kittral, who's been performing all Cara's endoscopies needs to be included in our decisions. Sadly, she doesn't start her work week until TOMORROW. Dr. Larry wanted to put Cara on antibiotics, which, of course, raised a huge alarm bell in me. We can't give her oral meds or we risk causing her strictures to return. We compromised and Larry gave her an injection that will only last until tomorrow. By then, hopefully we will have more answers and be able to figure out a game plan for Cara.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Cara! You poor baby!

I tried to be brave, but I felt a bit weak in the knees. Cara could be in a very dangerous situation. With her esophagus compromised already and her stomach lining possibly being damaged, we can't try to clear the stool out of her without risking her rupturing somewhere. Anything invasive that needs to be done, has to be carefully considered. Any medications given must be carefully scrutinized. She's been on too many antibiotics. She's been through so much already. I just don't know how we're going to get her over this next hurdle.

This Vet bill, even with a discount, is going to be bad. It could be the beginning of VERY BAD, I don't know how bad just yet. I'm going to open up yet another fundraiser for Cara. Her last two Vet bills came to $1500.00 and with the loan I got, we were able to pay everything off in full, but now we're back to loose change in our pockets to pay for the next Vet bills. I'm guessing that between today and tomorrow it will be $600.00 and counting. I can't give up on Cara even if the timing is the worst, ever. I thought we were over the hump, but now we've been pushed back down the hill like a feline version of Sisyphus.

I also have a lot of guilt about this situation. The past two weeks I just haven't been home much with frequent trips to NYC to care for Sam's mother. I couldn't feed the cats as regularly as usual and I fear that Cara resorted to eating the litter out of desperation and perhaps now has developed a taste for it. I really LIKE the litter and the other cats are fine with it, but I have to stop using it around Cara.

As for Cara; we've just GOT to get her well; for once and for all.

I realize we've had to ask for help more often than I ever imagined to get Cara well. I'm blessed with having devoted and compassionate friends of this Blog. My hope is that not one person has to donate more than $5. If we can all ChipIn, we'll hit our goal in a heartbeat. If you can share this request with your friends, I would appreciate it very much. Your donation IS tax deductible, as the funds go to a Kitten Associates, Inc. foster kitten (Cara).

Foster Cat Journal: Cara Struggles with New Problems

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. I just saw Cara PROJECTILE vomit. I've never seen so much fluid come out of such a small animal, so quickly, in my LIFE. The vomit was mostly water. She'd eaten a good 5 hours before she vomited, so this indicates she was able to digest her food, but why so much water? Clearly something was wrong with her when I sat down to have some play time with the foster kitties around midnight.

Cara licked her mouth—a lot. This is a strong indicator of nausea. I knew she hadn't eaten recently, so I couldn't figure out what was going on. I got her a bowl of fresh water, not really knowing what else to do. I have had some fears she's been eating her corn based cat litter and perhaps that was the culprit? I spread some chunky Yesterday's News over the corn litter to put a “protective coating” over the corn until I could change out the entire pan.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Cara. She's been through so much already.

Meanwhile, Cara was troubled and uncomfortable. I lifted her up to listen to her belly. Was it rumbling? Was her breathing ok? Her heart was racing. I put her down, then moved her inside her cat carrier because if she was going to get sick, she could do it there instead of on the bed (which is why I've had to do a lot of laundry lately.). The past two weeks I've been finding these enormous watery vomits in the foster room. Due to the volume of fluid, I thought it was Mazie or possibly Polly or Chester. They're still twice Cara's size. Certainly it was not her.

Between everything else going on in my life, I just wasn't able to give Cara the close attention I normally can provide. I've had to spend much less time with the fosters.

The biggest reason it's been difficult to be more attentive to the foster cats is Sam's mother. She's having surgery today. I was told to stay home and keep things going here. It's partially due to the reality of having relationship problems with Sam, and possibly moreso that the folks at the hospital don't even know what time or what HOSPITAL she's having the surgery done. After being in the Psych Ward for TWO WEEKS, with little information provided, we only know she's had her meds adjusted for the pain in her hip and now her Orthopedist says, at 82, she's still a good candidate for a hip replacement. So...after her attempting to take her life over the pain she was in and the fear of having to have surgery to repair her hip, now she is fine with the notion of having her hip replaced, which I believe is far simpler and less painful than the corrective surgery she had five years ago. It's rather ironic she's at this place after where she started off, but she's alive and hopefully her surgery will go well and she'll be on to a new, happier chapter of her senior years.

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I'm writing this at 12:30 AM, so as soon as Dr Larry's office opens at 8 AM, I'm going to call to see if they can fit Cara in for an x-ray and an exam. Last week in one of the vomits, I found a length of a knitted curlycue cat toy that was attached to a plastic wand. I caught Polly gnawing on it and figured she had also been the culprit who threw up a piece of it. I made it tough for the cats to get at the toy. I was stupid. I should have thrown it out. I saw Polly chew it again a few days later, so that's when I finally did throw it away.

The problem is-it may not have been Polly eating the toy. In Cara's vomit, there was a 2 INCH long piece of that darn toy! Cara HAD eaten it. Was there MORE in her stomach? If I had saved the remaining cat toy, I would have been able to make a guesstimate, but with that gone, my only choice is to get her x-rayed to see if there's more inside her.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. 2 inches long. I measured it!

Cara's energy has been off and on, but mostly normal. She eats well. Her eyes are bright, yet...after days of wondering who was vomiting, I had to do something to figure out which cat was sick. I crated Cara for two days until she vomited in her crate, proving to me it was her all along. I made an appointment for her to see Dr. Kittral, her Internist, right away. The soonest we can get in is on Wednesday. I know I can't wait that long, so we'll start with x-rays in a few more hours and I've left a message for Dr K for when she starts her week on Tuesday, so she knows what's going on.

I'm terribly worried that after ALL the effort, the two endoscopies, the medications every 6 hours...has it all been UNDONE because Cara ate a cat toy? Are we back to square one? I'm terrified of what this is going to cost, but I'm going to take it one day at a time. We'll do the x-ray and hope for the best. Maybe Cara just popped out the only foreign object inside her? Maybe pigs will fly out of my butt, too?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly (left), Cara (center) and Mama-Mazie (right) settle down on the electric blanket for a nap.

I have to admit, this cat is driving me nuts. She's so sweet and so dear, but I just can't keep up with all her problems! I keep thinking we're over the hump and she's on the road to being 100% healthy, but she just isn't getting there any time soon! Maybe her Internist will adopt her and make my life a lot easier and her's a lot better? Yeah, right...like that's gonna happen.

I'll update this post as soon as I can get Cara to Dr. Larry...

Turning 50 & Life Turning Upside Down

WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES A POTENTIALLY UPSETTING TOPIC. PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION. YOU'RE “SAFE” UNTIL THE SECTION AFTER THE UPDATES ON THE FOSTER CATS, NEAR THE END OF THE POST.

I'm very sorry to not have been tending to my Blog over the last week and a half. Every day that passes that I don't write, bothers me a bit more.

Initially, my plans were to talk about the lovely birthday party-a SURPRISE party, that Sam held for me, now over a week ago. He really pulled the wool over my eyes. I had no idea until the very last second-when I hoped, against hope, that maybe even though he had a bad cold, even though he said there could be no birthday this year, even though most of my friends said they were busy that weekend, it would happen.

It was Connie's doing, too. She called me around noon on my birthday, to say her cat, Big O was very sick and could I come over and help her give him a bath? Oh yes and “Happy Birthday.” Big O was covered with poo! She sounded so sad, I realized it didn't matter if it was my birthday, so I got changed, grabbed some things to help with the bath and told Sam I was off. He knew I was hungry so he said he'd come with me and we could go eat afterwards.

Connie lives a mile away. As I started to pull up her driveway, I realized that Sam had asked me to “kill” a half hour before we went to lunch, then Connie called me, it was too much of a coincidence. Maybe something was going on at her house? Surely not. No. I was going to break up with Sam. I was really mad at him. He'd hardly talked to me for weeks. He didn't even notice when I got my hair done (like a porn star-that's what my stylist called it)-and it wasn't just because he didn't give me a birthday party. The near-silent treatment was killing me!

Then I noticed two cars in the driveway, but certainly it couldn't be cars I knew. It must be a...then I saw it...a “Happy 50th Birthday” banner over Connie's front door. There stood Marcia, Super-Deb and Connie, all waving and shouting Happy Birthday and here I am in a t-shirt with a glow-in-the-dark Cheshire Cat on it and crappy pants. Thank God I had a change of clothes with me! I looked over at Sam and was torn between slapping him and kissing him. I never had anyone throw me a surprise party in my life. It was really nice.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

No sooner than we walked in the door, I realized there was no sick cat, so I got changed, then we all left for lunch. As I pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, I saw my dear nephew, Ryan and my sister, Anne! Another suprise, yay! This was going to be a nice day after all.

But then I walked into the dining room at the restaurant. There sat Mary. My other sister. I didn't see anyone else for a moment. My mouth fell open. Mary had LIED to me, first saying she was coming to take me to lunch and there was no way I'd be alone on my birthday, then she begged off saying her cat was sick not 6 hours later. She had been in Baltimore for a book show (Mary is a Writer and Graphic Designer)! Then I realized she must have driven up from there. What a shock!..and there sat her partner, Shelly...and my friends Irene and Jennifer I.! I love those babes! I was literally speechless and it took all my reserve not to burst into happy tears.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nephew Ryan shoots the flames while his mom, Anne watches.

We ate at a Hibachi style restaurant and had TWO chefs taking turns either trying to set fire to the place or tossing food bits at our faces (since most of us couldn't hope to catch the food in our mouth). Everyone was happy and getting along well. I never wanted it to end. I had a nice lunch and lots of lovely gifts. I missed my Mother and Father so much, but they were there, too, in spirit (and later that day, I discovered my Mother had sent me a message, too. More on that, in another post).

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The cake on the left is what I ordered for myself, thinking there would be no celebration of any sort. I cut out the frown and turned it upside down later that day.

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I have a lot to tell you about the cats-especially Bob. The short version is, to me, he seems to have turned a corner and is doing better. He seems to have gained weight. Tomorrow he gets Chemo #9. I'll find out if he gained any weight then. A surprise blessing is that some of his fur is growing back ever so slowly. It's just peach fuzz on his head, but I can see the subtle stripe of his tabby pattern in the fur.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob and the gang on the electric blanket

I took him to a Dermatologist and she confirmed he as a terrible case of ringworm and that only he can really fend it off and with cancer and a bad immune system, the odds aren't great. We give him baths and add a special lotion afterwards. He's lost half of his coat, but I think, just maybe it's slowed down. He seems comfortable and he seems a lot more like his old self.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

The kittens are still struggling with URI's and this and that. Cara has grown some, but one of the kittens has been vomiting. I don't know if it's Cara. We're closer to the day we can call her healed, but we're not there yet. The kittens are as big as their Mom, now. I think Chester will be even bigger. He is the most darling cat in the world. He really is sweet.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara and Chester, bigger and better every day.

MacGruber is still here, too. Got a tiny dot of ringworm on his paw, so he seems to stay here another month and another month...he's a bit like gum stuck on the shoe...but very cute gum.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Okay. I'm suppose to adopt this cat out! Really?

I'm bringing Noelle to Connecticut next week, along with Amelia, another Henry Co. Cat we rescued last year. It's time for them to get their forever homes. I need to write more about that soon.

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The main reason I need to write is I need to tell you what happened and why I haven't been able to write more than this post-we had a family tragedy and I'm struggling to cope with it.

A few days ago, Sam and I were to visit his Mother in Manhattan. We were going to have a belated birthday party for me and Sam's adult daughter, Kate, whose birthday is two days before mine. The day before we left, Sam told me his mother was having trouble walking. The pain from her hip, which she broke six years ago and has long since healed, was back. We worried that if she couldn't stand for a long period of time, that we needed to come up with ways for her to fix meals that didn't require much effort. The plan was to finally buy her a microwave whether she liked it or not. Get her some wholesome meals she could just pop into the microwave and eat without standing over a stove or getting up and down to check on a pot on a burner. We put a lot of time into planning how we'd manage to get all this stuff into her apartment, since we'd have to double park to get the car unloaded. Parking is a bear on the upper West side on a weekend.

We thought we had it all worked out. We got a bit of a late start, but we got everything done. Sam called his Mom to tell her we wold be there soon. She didn't sound right. She said she might need to go to the ER. Sam pressed her as to why. All she said was, “You'll find out when you get here.”

This was not something his Mother would say. She has always been the most polite and kind person I have ever known. She was raised in the south and that sweetness never faded away even though she's lived in Manhattan most of her life. What was going on?

Sam drove as fast as he could to NYC. We had an hour to go. I texted his daughter. She called her Grandmother and found out that she was asked to get there soon. Clearly something was terribly wrong. Had Sam's 82 year old mother re-broken her hip? Why didn't she call 9-1-1? Why was she waiting?

When we got to the apartment building, I got a txt. Kate was there. I said we would be right up. I stayed with the car, as Sam ran up to her apartment. A neighbor came out and signaled to me to follow him up the block to take his parking spot. As I was about to try to park the car, I saw Sam in my rearview mirror. I got out of the car. Something was wrong-really wrong.

“It's bad up there. It's a mess...you need to be calm about this, but get up there now. I'll park the car.”

“What happened?”

“She slit her wrists. Prepare yourself. She's alive, but it's a mess. Just get up there.

No one had called 9-1-1. I think everyone was in shock. As much as I wanted to help, I had a bad flashback and my heart started racing. Years ago, my Father took his own life. I didn't want to go through this again, but I went upstairs and walked into the apartment filled with dread and absolute fear.

Poor Kate was kneeling on the floor, next to the sofa. She wasn't saying a word. I could see Sam's Mother's white hair on the arm of the sofa. She must be laying down. I walked over to her and tried to be calm. It was very gorey, but she was conscious. I asked her what she did and she told me that the pain was so bad in her hip that she just couldn't take it any more. That she felt so bad she couldn't do anything any more and didn't want to get in the way. I asked to see her wrists. I saw that the blood was congealing. This was good, but she injured both wrists and up her arms. I talked to her for a few minutes. Everyone was calm, almost matter-of-fact. As if nothing terrible had happened at all. It was surreal.

I told her that we all loved her and it would be so terrible if she left us without letting us even say goodbye...that we didn't know she was hurting so much and that we wished she could have told us so we could help her.

Then I did something weird. I'd bought her a hyacinth. It was in bloom and so fragrant. I held it up to her nose and asked her to smell it. She smiled as she smelled the sweet flowers, even though her skin was as pale as a sheet and her robe was crimson. I reminded her that it was finally spring. That even on our worst day, another day will follow and maybe that day we will smell the sweetness of a flower or see the sunny sky and it will remind us to try to get to the next moment, and the next after that. To not give up.

I calmly told her she needed some help and that I was going to get that for her. She said it was ok, if I really thought she needed help I could do that (as if anyone could to STOP me from calling for help!!!) I left the room and called 9-1-1. In less than 5 minutes, 5 NYPD officers were at the door. A few minutes later, the EMS arrived. I had to stay away from them so I could completely fall apart and cry. I felt so bad for Sam and Kate and his Mom. I worried about Kate, who found her Grandmother just moments before we arrived. I was in a bad place, myself. I couldn't believe it. It was not about me, it was about his Mother and getting her help. I pulled myself together and did whatever I could to help until she was ready to be taken to the hospital.

It was about 10 hours before we could get his Mother admitted. We waited in one room after another. She barely was tended to at all. We had to fight and make a fuss for every little thing. No one was “supposed” to make a decision or do what was needed. I never so much “passing the buck” in my life.

She's stable now. She had to be admitted into the Psych ward, though she is the last person on this Earth I would ever think belongs there. I don't know for sure, but I think she just wanted the pain to stop so badly that maybe this was the only way anyone would really hear her? If that's the case there's a big disconnect that needs to be fixed. Between her Doctor putting her off for almost a week, to even our relationship with her. We all need to learn to stop being polite and start getting “real” with each other.

Since Sunday, my life, Sam's life and Kate's have been turned upside down. There is so much to do, so much to try to figure out. Will Sam's mom ever be able to live alone again? How can we get her help? Who can pay for these things? And who is going to clean up the apartment?

The last question, I answered. I cleaned it up. I didn't want Sam or Kate to have to do that. Even though I've known her for almost 20 years, I was still the person most removed from this situation, so I got to work. I just did what I needed to do. I started to clean away more than just the accident scene. I started to clean everything. I wanted to put life back into that apartment. I wanted the space to feel happy again. In a way, it was like cleaning my Mother's house after she died. It was so nice, freshly painted, re-carpeted, sparkling, even. It made me sad she never go to see it. I hope that Sam's Mother gets to see this. Her home, which was dark and sad, will be clean, fresh and even have lots of color and comfortable places to sit. Perhaps the gloom, washed away, will give his Mother something she's needed in addition to being free of pain, maybe it will give her some joy, some delight in her day to day life?

Perhaps this is the start of her new life? Perhaps it's a new start for all of us?

I don't have the answers. I can tell you I had a breakdown the night after I cleaned things up. I couldn't stop crying. Other than my little birthday lunch, it's been one bad thing after another for more than a year. Every time I feel down, I look to the positive. I get myself back up. You guys lift me back up, heck you catapult me back up! But with all of those blessings, that love and generous support, sadly there is a darkness that remains in my heart. The same thing that drove Sam's mother to do what she did, the same thing that drove my Father to do what he did...it's there, waiting. I am terrified one day I will lose this battle to stay in the sunshine, but I am equally determined to not give up and to help Sam's mother do the same.

One of my friends said something to me once in jest; “Life. It's not for everyone.” He couldn't have been more right.

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