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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.

Product Review: Inappropriate Urination SOLVED!

I've rarely been so excited to write about a new product. It's so top secret, I'I had to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. I've been lucky, heck, honored to be the ONLY BLOGGER TO BE GIVEN BEHIND THE SCENES ACCESS TO THE MOST DAZZLING NEW PET PRODUCT TO COME TO MARKET SINCE CAT LITTER!

I can't even believe I'm going to write this...inappropriate cat urination problems have been SOLVED with the modification of a simple device that's been around since the 1930's.

I give you, Flunette™

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Let’s start with the obvious question: What is this thing? Flunette is a silicone container, a reusable device that collects the urine of female cats rather than allowing it to be released, then collected (by you) as clumped waste in litter pans. The container can be worn continuously for up to 12 hours, including overnight, before it must be emptied. This just means a quick rinse off with their Feelin' Good Feline Wash Liquid and you're ready to go.

The Flunette is based on menstrual cups, which were first used in the 1930's. It was a reusable alternative to tampons and pads that collects the menstrual flow rather than absorbs it. With a slight modification and adjustment downwards to a small size, the Flunette was born.

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There’s a learning curve, for sure. But there’s also a payoff. Flunette is comfortable, well at least that's the theory. Your cat can do everything she normally does – take a nap, eat, play with a mousey toy – but no matter how mad or territorial she may get, the last thing she can do is empty her bladder onto your favorite chair, the wall in your bedroom or even on your kitchen counter! All her urine is safely contained inside the Flunette until YOU empty it.

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Made of silicone, the Flunette (above) is flexible enough to ensure comfortable insertion. Note: I wear kevlar gloves when I insert the device into my cats. I find it's safer for us both if I take that simple precaution.

Insertion is a snap. Just press the sides together to collapse the container area then insert open end first. The tapered tip should face OUT. It's the handle you'll tug on later to remove the Flunette from your cat.

For those of us who suffer, as I do, with cats peeing all over their homes. The Flunette is a lifesaver. Sure, it was difficult to insert the device into my cat's urethra, but I found that if I gave her a bag of treats, she was so busy gobbling them up, she didn't notice what was going on in her back end. Yes, I did get clawed and bitten the first few times, but never so badly I had to be hospitalized and like anything else, persistence pays off.

I can't believe how clean and fresh smelling my home is now that I have Flunettes in all my female cats! Now that they stopped spraying, the males stopped, too and they didn't even need to wear the cup!

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In the big picture, using a urination barrier device is better for the environment since it reduces the need for cat litter! Now Fluffy will only need the litter pan for moving her bowels, though don't tell, but there is a rumor that Flunette will soon have a companion product; Turdtainer.

Think of the money you'll save on cat litter, since a Flunette device can last for several years with proper care. Your back will thank you, too. No more lugging heavy bags of cat waste to the trash!

Flunette is:

Made of 100% medical grade silicone

Hypoallergenic and latex-free

Environmentally friendly

Rinse carefully with soap and water (or Feelin' Good Feline Wash)

As with all of my Product reviews, know I did not receive any payment for my review, only a sample of the product and the wash. My results are simply that, mine! Your results may vary. Also, make sure you have health insurance before you purchase this product.

Ordering information for Flunette is HERE. The Flunette is $12.95 for one and $16.95 for two. The Feelin' Good Feline Wash is $6.95. Both products will be available April 31, 2011 for one day only, so ACT FAST! Please share this post with ALL your fed up, peed upon friends! You'll be glad you did.

WELLNESS CAT FOOD VOLUNTARY RECALL

In a statement dated February 28, 2011, Tim Callahan, the CEO of WellPet, makers of Wellness cat food (which I have heartily recommended to many people over the years) has announced a VOLUNTARY RECALL of certain lots of Wellness Canned Cat food and certain lots of the Chicken & Herring flavor.

The cause of the recall is inadequate Thiamine in their product, which can cause, a reversible deficiency that can be treated if caught promptly.

I just called Dr. Larry. He told me that I'd have had to feed this food to my cats for 6 months or so for there to be a problem. The problem is that CARA and her FAMILY have been getting this food for MONTHS-since they were old enough to be weaned! None of them are showing signs of Thiamine Deficiency, but at such a young age, could this have effected them more acutely?

I am very concerned about their health and with them being chronically sick for months...is this something that added to their problems? Is thiamine the only deficiency or is this the tip of the iceberg?

I certainly hope that the good folks at Wellness are being honest. They're recalling ALL their canned food with the certain “best by date,” instead of trying to figure out which flavors of which best by dates are effected.

The lots involved in this voluntary recall are:

Wellness Canned Cat (all flavors and sizes) with best by dates from 14APR 13 through 30SEP13

Wellness Canned Cat Chicken & Herring (all sizes) with best by date of 10NOV13 and 17NOV13.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The dreaded cans that are part of the recall.

I found that I had a few cans that were effected by the recall. I decided to go back through my bags of recycling and check those cans. The further back I went, the MORE cans I found that were part of the recall. I can only imagine how many, in reality, I fed. I've been buying Wellness by the CASE-and most of those cans are long gone. In the end, I found 18, 12 oz. cans.

I called WellPet at 1-877-227-9587 to arrange for return of the product and reimbursement. They answer the phone right away and are very accommodating. Gee, are we surprised? Okay, I'm being mean. They were very nice and will take care of this right away.

That said. I'm sitting here with a big stomach ache, wondering if these kittens have been compromised in some way and no coupon or refund is going to fix that.

Foster Cat Journal: It Was Going So Well...

I wrote this yesterday, to post today, because I won't be allowed near a computer until Tuesday (see below to find out why).

It seemed as though Cara was finally out of the woods. Her vomiting stopped on Tuesday and she'd gained 9 ounces in a few days. Her energy level was great. She was bright and shiny.

This morning I gave Cara, what I thought was her usually meal: chicken baby food and canned grain-free chicken food mixed and warmed. Within a few moments I heard the dreaded sound. The gurlging. I saw Cara's sides contracting violently. She vomited up her food. I got it away from her before she could try to eat it back up. A few minutes later, I let her return to the food. She picked at it, but didn't eat heartily. She ran off and played. Eventually she did finish her breakfast and she seemed to keep it all down.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara enjoying a full belly on Saturday night.

I realized I didn't know what baby food I gave Cara-was it the turkey or chicken? It was the turkey and a different brand than I'd fed before. I got another jar of baby food out-this time the same brand and flavor. I warmed it, added a sprinkle of water. Cara vomited this, too.

I also noticed her back end was dirty, not near her rectum, but lower. Her tail was a bit gooey so I cleaned her up. I can't imagine what is going on. She was doing so beautifully!

I am terribly afraid that Cara has PRAA. I'll go back to just feeding watered down baby food to see if that helps. Maybe I added too much canned, too soon? I'm really at a loss.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. She looks so serious!

Yesterday, I ran into Dr. Weisman, Bob's surgeon, at the grocery store. We talked about Cara. She told me why the surgery is so challenging. It's because the band could be dead tissue, which is just trimmed away, or it could be LIVING and blood filled so it has to be removed very carefully as to not harm the heart. It can also attach itself to the esophagus, which is another delicate surgery. This is why not all cats survive the surgery. I started to realize that it's a good thing Cara is growing and gaining weight. If she has to have this done, she'll be a better candidate...that is...if I can get her back to keeping food down.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara and the super chunk have a snuggle.

To top it off, tomorrow I have to go to Jury Duty for the U.S. District Court, State of CT. I'm very scared they will pick me for jurty duty. It would mean that Sam would have to care for the cats on his own. I know he won't be able to spend the time with them that I do and it's alot to ask of someone. I hope I won't have to be gone for more than tomorrow, but now I'm hearing horror stories of people being sequestered for months and who lose their homes over it. I don't think $40/day and parking vouchers are gonna help.

I will be completely cut off from the world tomorrow. No phones or laptops allowed. I'll have to hope that Cara does ok while I'm gone and that I get to come back home to stay!

Foster Cat Journal: Weighing In...

I just got back from the Vet. Five days ago Cara weighed 2.lbs 14 oz.-down from 3.00 pounds the week before.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara (with Polly behind her) and I try to juggle getting a photo with snuggling.

TODAY CARA WEIGHS 3 POUNDS, 7 OUNCES. THIS IS A GAIN OF 9 OUNCES IN FIVE DAYS!!!

THIS IS A LOT OF WEIGHT TO GAIN IN SUCH A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME, but Cara was operating on a big deficit. As you recall, her sister is almost five pounds, so Cara has a lot of catching up to do.

Super-Deb was “speechless” when she saw the weight gain as Cara sat quietly on the baby scale. None of us can put a finger on what was the cause of her being able to keep food down.

We're left with one or a combination of different reasons why Cara is keeping her food down:

1. She was de-wormed with MANY different de-wormers. The last two were Panacur and Albon. Maybe one of them did the trick?

2. She was given 13 days of a 2 week regime of hardcore antibiotics, but the day we stopped, she started to eat again. Either she was sickened by the drugs or the drugs helped. That said, she has been vomiting for much longer than 2 weeks and she's been on different antibiotics for the better part of the last two months.

3. Putting her on a simple diet of chicken baby food, slightly watered down to start, then slowly adding a simple grain-free canned to her food. The ratio of baby food to canned is changing until she is on 100% canned food. So far, so good.

4. She's been given some pro-biotics but not enough to make me think that had a lot to do with this weight gain.

5. She was separated from her family so she would not have to compete for food. This allowed her to eat at her own pace, though, initially she still gobbled her food as fast as she could.

6. No one knows this, but I gave Cara one treatment of a homeopathic remedy the day she stopped vomiting. I think it did something amazing for Cara.

So we will never really know for sure, why Cara was so sick, for so long. She is still NOT OUT OF THE WOODS. If she can't keep 100% solid food down, then we have to look into getting an endoscopy and we have to go back to our fears that Cara DOES have PRAA.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Polly and Chester don't care what Cara weighs as long as they get some good food, too.

Right now I'm simply going to just smile and take comfort in Cara's remarkable improvement and hope the trend continues.

Foster Cat Journal: Down, Then Out.

Cara's spirit is as big as the world. Her green eyes glint with mischief. As I hold her, a deep purr kicks in, celebrating the simple joy of being alive. Her chest rises, quickly falls, then rises again. When her breath leaves her, I can see her ribs. When I pet her back, I can feel her spine. She is so small and underweight, yet her drive to live is so strong, so vital, how can we lose her?

If we can't find the answer to WHY Cara is not able to keep her food down, we WILL lose our little girl.

Stretched out Sleeping.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Cara's ultrasound didn't give us anything to go on. Not a clue. Things seem to be normal. It's not perfect science. It can't detect everything, but so far x-rays and the ultrasound tell us nothing.

After a week at the Vet, I brought Cara home. That night she started to vomit. I tried to be extra careful, only giving her a small amount of food. Some times it would stay down, many times, not. I didn't know if it was because I was giving her too many tiny meals or the wrong food, or I was waiting too long between meals. I just couldn't figure it out.

What did seem to be clear, was that continuing to give her antibiotics was NOT a good idea. She's on a very heavy dose of them to stave off this damn URI she's had since she was barely a few weeks old. She seems clear of the URI and yesterday I stopped giving her some of her meds. With one antibiotic left, even that made her vomit after I gave it to her.

I called East Lake, one of the Vet's I work with in Georgia. They told me that in her records they noted that Cara was having difficulty eating and that they thought she had something STUCK IN HER THROAT! What?!!! And they didn't do more to find out what was going on? At the time, Cara was being syringe fed because she wouldn't eat on her own. Polly and Chester would not eat on their own, either. They were having a tough time being weaned. Maybe that was it? Or maybe not.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I took Cara back to see Dr. Larry this afternoon. The one thing we haven't done is run a blood profile on Cara to see if there's anything going on there. Even if it shows nothing alarming, any future Vet care is probably going to need recent blood work as a prerequisite to treating her.

I told Dr. Larry about what I'd found out in Georiga. He called his partner, Dr. Andrew, to come into the exam room to talk about Cara since Dr. Andrew is also on her case. What I didn't expect was what came next.

On the chair.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

They wanted to talk about what to feed Cara and what else might work for her, since what I've been giving her has made her vomit sometimes. They BOTH said to feed her DRY FOOD! Here it comes, the big talk I've been trying to avoid. Feeding cats a raw diet or even just grain-free canned is like being part of a religion whose followers are persecuted for their beliefs. I felt my blood pressure tick upwards.

ON the exam table R.Olson.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

I'm not the sort of person who does well with conflict. I never know the perfect thing to say to make my case. I tried to be respectful, but here they are, telling me they see cats do great on dry food and here I am, knowing from their OWN LIPS they do NOT get more than a few hours (brought to you buy big industrial pet food manufacturers) nutritional training in Vet school. So who are they to tell me to feed crap to my sick kitten?

They said that cats used to be obligate carnivores, but not so much now. That's bull-hit. They wouldn't even accept that feeding grain, an irritant that cats cannot digest, would be bad for a cat with stomach problems.

Then they said that why don't I just try it. Spend $5 on some dry food instead of spending $1000.00 to have Cara 'scoped.

Back at the Vet.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Really? Really? Do they think I'm as close minded as they are to feeding a wholesome diet to cats? I was so offended, I almost walked out. I would feed Cara spaghetti and meatballs if it would help her.

I kept going back to the fact that Cara's been on 8? 9? antibiotics over her 17 weeks of life. She needs to be on NOTHING other than a bland diet. I said to them, would you eat a bowl of cereal after you had a stomach ache or eat something bland? They went back to the dry food debate.

Cara had her blood drawn. I asked them to tell me how much food she needs to eat so I know what the target is. Cara has lost 2 ounces. This is really scary. She now weighs 2.14. Her sister is TWICE her size and Chester is pushing 5 pounds. I just wanted to get OUT of there. Just give me the info-let me leave.

Both Vets tried to be respectful and kind, but they also kept reminding me that they had many years of being in Vet practice-which again, great for diagnosing ailments, not so great at understanding feline nutrition! It left me feeling like I'm just a person who “takes great care of their cats and is the best and they love me and I'm great, BUT...they have all these years on me.” (hey, don't placate me, ok?!). How many years have I been studying and learning about feeding grain-free? FIVE?!! I know that counts for nothing even though I've cured a diabetic, fixed life-long breathing problems, unblocked a blocked up cat, reduced obesity in an overweight cat, greatly improved blood test results in just my cats-not to mention the other cats I've helped with IBD and other chronic conditions. They don't see that. I'm just a lay person on a rant.

I think I need to start looking for a new Vet. Even writing this makes me feel sick. It's akin to me breaking up with Sam after almost two decades of life together. I don't take this feeling lightly, at all, but I can't go somewhere where we part company so seriously. Proper nutrition is the basis for good, lifelong health. Why Vets don't start from this basic point when they do an exam is beyond my comprehension. "What are you feeding your cat?" should be one of the FIRST questions a Vet asks about their patients-not something that's not even considered.

Then, the final straw. Super-Deb, who I trust as if she were my own beloved sister, told me to feed Cara the dry food. Just do it. For her (Super-Deb not Cara). See how it goes.

I left the Vet feeling like I was going to scream and burst into tears (which I did after I left). I drove over to the pet food store and bought Cara some more grain-free canned food and I bought a tiny bag of premium dry cat food. I felt like a Judas.

Dry food.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

When we got home, I gave Cara the dry food. She seemed interested in it, but really only picked at it and left half of the tiny portion on her plate. I don't think she understood it was food. After a few minutes, I let her out of the cat carrier (I lock her in it when she eats so the others don't bother her). She seemed fine. I started to fear she was going to do great on dry food and maybe I was wrong, but I just couldn't face it.

A moment later, Cara jumped off the bed and found a plate that had, literally, a pea-sized, if even that big, bit of raw food on it. A meager leftover part of a full dish that I had just given to her sister. She licked it up. Seemed fine. Then..all of a sudden...the straining, neck twisting and stretching started. The horrible gurgling sound..the vomit. All the dry food, the tiny dot of raw amid mucus and foam came out.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

Was it the dry food that made her sick or the bit of raw? I offered more dry food to her, but she wouldn't eat it. That's my girl. Chester was playing with it. New toy, not nutrition!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

An hour later I gave Cara chicken baby food. She ate it up, purred and laid in the sunshine. No vomiting. I have to trust my gut and my experience. I'm going to give Cara time. I'm not going to do anything else to her for the rest of the week, other than give her baby food, then after a few days, some canned grain-free mixed in and a bit of pro biotic to help her flora balanced...see if she keeps it down.

In the sun.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

For Cara, I will slay dragons, but right now I need a moment for myself. The hours and hours of watching her, cleaning up her vomit, measuring food, worrying, have taken a toll. I thought I was to a place where I could handle these ups and downs, but I think it's cumulative. Between my own cat battling cancer, the sickly kittens and Cara's tender tummy, I hit a wall. I'll get us through this somehow, but I'm not sure what scars will be left behind as a painful souvenir of these difficult days.

On the Wings of...WTF!

So I didn't buy into (much) of the commercialism of Valentine's Day. I got Sam three cards that were silly. One was “from” the cats. He got me three cards, too, and that was it.

I saw something on the local news the week before about a place in Massachusetts where you could enjoy a nice day trip. I checked the map. It was only a two hour drive. Not bad.

They had a special dinner there over this past weekend, but Cara was sick so we had to miss it. I thought if we went on the actual day, Monday, we'd be around fewer people and have a quieter day. I didn't tell Sam about my plans. Oh God, it was another surprise! Haven't I learned from the past? Where is that Time Machine where the me of the future could have stopped the me of the present?! I figured it wasn't a big deal to take PART of a day off, then race back home in time to feed the cats.

To fully appreciate how desperate we are to get away from home. Last year, Sam and I went on ONE (business) trip to Ohio. We drove. It was 10+hours EACH way. If you subtracted the driving time and the business time, we had a vacation of about 12 hours.

The only other time either of us went anywhere was my trip for 36 hrs to visit my friends in PA and attend the Renaissance Festival.

THAT WAS IT. I did NOT go on a VACATION. I have not gone on a vacation for at least three years and even then it was a botched trip to the west, which ended in me spending $3,000.00 to get my car fixed and being broken down in Des Moines, IA for a week. Before that my last real vacation was...I can't remember. Probably a weekend away to Maine or Rhode Island.

Since finances are “that bad,” an overnight trip is not possible-also because of all the cats. We just can't go away.

I told Sam I had a plan for a partial day off. He liked the idea even if he didn't know where we were going. What trust! After I almost killed him so many years ago, he trusted me to plan something nice to do.

The problem was getting OUT of the house.

We were running late. I wanted to be on the road by 9am and it was already 10am. I wasn't angry. I decided to be mellow and just enjoy whatever happened. We put on our winter coats and hats. We loaded up our maps, a camera, Sam's beloved COFFEE. I was a few steps ahead of Sam, my hand about to touch the doorknob, which was connected to the front door, which was connected to FREEDOM, when I heard “OUCH!!!!!! SONOFABITCH!!!”

I dropped everything, turned around and saw Sam holding his foot. He had stepped on something and it had impaled him. He was not happy, to say the least, as he hopped on one foot over to the stairs to sit down. He was yelling about how whatever it was, went through TWO pairs of socks (I don't have the heat on very high, so Sam always bundles up).

I figured it was a tiny splinter, not a big deal. Sam took off one sock, then the other. I could see something in his foot. He tried to pick it out and cried in pain. I offered to get a tweezers and he nodded yes. I lumbered up the stairs around him, still wearing my winter coat, which made getting around very awkward.

I brought him the tweezers and also ended up kicking him in the back, since I was on the stair above him and to get around and down to hand him the tweezers, my foot hit his shoulder. He ignored the kick, took the tweezers and gave a pull. He cried out again and yelled at me to get the hemostat. The tweezers weren't strong enough!

Firstly, I know those are my best tweezers and they can pluck a rouge chin hair in style. Second, what is a hemostat? So I asked. Sam tersely replied; “you know, a “roach clip!”

I realized what he was talking about, as I ran back up the stairs. He had quite a few of those things in the bathroom. Then, as if i had woken a sleeping bear from hibernation, it dawned on me. After living together for so many years, how did I NOT realize what this was? Then I started to worry! Is my boyfriend a Pothead?

So I lumbered back down stairs and kicked Sam, again, in the back. (it was an accident, I swear!!).

I looked over his shoulder. He had a good grip on the splinter. I asked him if he wanted me to pull it out for him and he said, no. He took a deep breath and dramatically pulled hard. I thought he was overdoing it. Then I saw what came out of his foot. My stomach lurched and I nearly fainted!

2011 splinter.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Splinter.

It was a HUGE sliver of wood. Later, Sam was able to determine that it was a piece of the oak FLOOR. Somehow his sock caught the piece, lifted it straight up, then when he put his foot down, WHAM!, right into his foot it went.

I made another trip up and down the stairs to get peroxide and some gauze and yes, another back kick! It was where he was sitting on the steps! Ugh.

I asked him if he could just come upstairs and sit on the bed and I'd bandage him up.

2011 splinter and sam copy.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Sam holding the “hemostat”...ha ha ha...I mean splinter.

I am my Mother's daughter. After I got the bandage on, I had to take a photo. That piece of wood was enormous and it went well into Sam. Once the worst was over, I said to him; “Hey, we almost made it out the door. Do you want to just go to the movies today?”

He said he wanted to go on the trip. Even though he didn't know where we were going. I told him I was glad it happened to him because I would have been in a really bad mood and ruined the day if it happened to me. Sam had to agree, being a victim to my stormy mood swings. We both laughed and I told him we'd take it easy and could turn back early if needed.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I have a new buddy on my sleeve.

We went to the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. Which appeared to be an old Nursery that must have been converted into a place where butterflies fly around and creep you out because they fly in your face and there are signs everywhere saying not to touch them. Does that include not swatting them if they come after you?

Butterfly 1.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. A butterfly, right?

It was about 100 degrees in the place, too. Finally, Sam was warm. I knew he would enjoy thawing out, the poor guy. The place is small and not very fancy, but with so many butterflies, you really don't pay attention to that. There were a handful of people walking around, all with a camera in hand and not enough kids to ruin the mood by screaming or otherwise being kidlike.

Butterfly 02.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh look! Another one!

As we walked the grounds, careful not to squash anything, we enjoyed the dazzling colors of the butterflies. A few landed on us from time to time. The misery of the earlier part of the day wore away. We finally had some peace. No cats. No worries. No splinters. It was really quite pleasant.

Sam needed to rest his foot, so he sat on a bench while I took a few photos now that my camera had stopped fogging up from them temperature change. I noticed a butterfly on the floor, near Sam's bench. It was very still. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it's wings were tattered. Then, I realized it was dead. I really didn't want to see a dead butterfly, but I know they don't live that long. I wished the butterfly well and said “rest in peace” to it. Being mindful that we're not supposed to touch the butterflies, I left it where it lay.

A moment later I was standing near a flowery shrub, about to take a photo. A large blue butterfly, seemed to drop into the bush right in front of me. I could swear I heard a thud. I took a photo of it, but as I put my camera down, I realized what I had just witnessed. This butterfly, too, had just died.

This is when I knew it was TIME TO GO. ENOUGH FUN FOR ONE DAY. I was sweaty and my stomach was grumbling. I knew I was going to swat at a butterfly if one more buzzed too close to my face. Sam's foot hurt.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Somehow there is just ONE butterfly in this panoramic photo, but there were clouds of them flying around in other areas.

We left without further incident, other than me catching a couple with a new baby start to have a fight over the husband not listening to the wife about how to use the camera (yes, the Valetine's Day glow was everywhere). We found a cute mom & pop place to have lunch. It was nothing fancy, but the food was very good. We were the only ones dining, so it was like our own private dining room. The sun was out and the temps went over 50°F for the first time in many weeks.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Another lovely butterfly.

Sadly, as soon as we got there, it seemed it was time to head back. We'd only really had a few hours away from home. With the traffic waiting for us, we needed to get going.

It wasn't a romantic day, but aside from the blood spilled and the dead butterflies, I guess it was a nice day. It gave us a tiny glimmer of life outside our little home, but made us long for more, a longer trip, a longer break. Something that does not include pain, misery or death!

When one of my friends heard about what happened, she asked me; “Can't you guys ever catch a break?”

The answer is simple: NO!

I Call That, Murder!

I'm so angry right now!

Jennifer wrote to me early today. She needed to find a foster home for a cat named, Martini, who was diabetic and whose family was going to put him down, instead of provide him with proper care.

Of course this cat, like so many others, was in a tough spot. Most shelters won't take diabetic cats and most people don't want to adopt them. The worst thing of all is that Martini was only SIX years old. I'm sure his diet was poor and was most likely the reason for him getting diabetes in the first place!

Jennifer spent all day trying to find out what happened to Martini and if they would let her take him and get him in to temporary foster care, while I would drum up someone to take him long term, until we could get him adopted. The folks at the DCIN were going to cover the costs for treatment. It was all good but I wanted to wait to ask for help until we knew the status of the cat.

Jennifer just wrote me again, with bad news. The family chose to euthanize Martini. They didn't even give him a chance. I do not call this “humanely euthanizing” a sick animal.

I call it MURDER.

And I have VERY STRONG WORDS for the VET who did the deed. He or she murdered Martini-he or she did it for a buck. That Vet could have tried to get help for the cat, too, but did nothing. Just put down a SIX YEAR OLD CAT who was NOT terminally ill! It's VERY likely that Martini could have gone into remission and not been diabetic with a simple diet change.

THIS NEVER HAD TO HAPPEN!

I know the name, address and phone number of the people that did this and I am more than tempted to SHARE that information with all of you. These people are vile, reprehensible, selfish monsters. They do NOT deserve to EVER have another cat. If I didn't know I'd get myself into a world of legal trouble, I'd tell all of you to call them and tell them what you think about what they did.

And this guy is a fire fighter. Aren't they supposed to SAVE lives?

Rest in Peace, dear Martini. I hope you have a noble re-birth and come back as a human so you can KICK THIS FAMILY IN THE ASS for what they did to you.

Bob's Battle with Lymphoma: The Good, The Bad, The Fugly

I took photos in case no one would believe all the crap going on with Bob. My poor baby. I don't even want to write about it. It's enough already that Bob has FIV+, a URI, one or TWO kinds of cancer and now this...

We visited Dr. Larry and Super Deb today. I have to find out what is on Bob's head. Is it ringworm? Is it a fungal infection, but NOT ringworm? Of course it's #@#@!! ringworm, who am I kidding? How many times have I seen this in the past year? We did a DTM culture to see if it's positive, but since I know I have ringworm in the house, DUH, that's what Bob has. The culture can begin to show signs of being positive in a few days to a week, but we really don't know for TWO WEEKS.

Meanwhile, Itraconazole which is an anti-fungal, is really toxic so we can't give it to Bob. Okay, I won't give it to Bob and neither will Dr. Larry. We CAN treat it topically and I already started that, BUT the treatment duration is a month.

Bobs Ringworm with Blitz.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob's head was shaved here and there to slow down the spread of #$@$!! ringworm.

We don't HAVE a month to do this treatment. Bob MUST get back to Chemo, but if we put him on another dose, the ringworm will spread like wildfire, then guess what? ALL of my cats could get it and Sam and I could get it, too. This really SUCKS and it's a very tough decision to make. We either have a cat who looks awful but is alive or a cat full of cancer and who's going to die very soon.

Bobs Ringworm with Blitz b.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bob won't pose for the camera and neither will Blitzen. Hmpf!

So we wait for Dr. Larry to talk to Dr. I and we see how it goes. Maybe we wait one week...get Bob loaded up with Conofite lotion and hopefully, at least have stopped it from spreading.

But wait...the title of this post says, “GOOD” in it!

According to Super Deb, the only way to tell if Bob gained weight is to weigh him on the SAME scale every time. That's why I can't be TOO excited that Bab's weight, at Dr. Larry's, was up 3 oz in one week from the weigh-in at Dr. I's office. He could actually weigh more, less or the same. We won't know for sure until Bob goes back for chemo. and is weighed at Dr. I's office. That said, Bob appears to be less shrunken in, less skeletal. He's certainly eating like a champ!

Bobs Ringworm.jpg
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. My poor sweetie. Mama will make it better somehow.

The other news that truly IS good is that Bob's liver function blood test came back at 475. Normal is about 100, BUT...his last ALT was 1265 so this is a BIG improvement! It proves that the surgery to remove 1/2 of his liver WAS a good choice...yeah, 'cause the liver lobe that was removed was CANCEROUS, too.

But it doesn't end there. Of course there's the FUGLY: last night, I went out to buy..ha ha ha...MORE CAT FOOD. I met Jennifer and we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for a chat and a snack. Okay, it was the only place near the pet store that wasn't awful. Anyway, we had a nice visit. Jennifer BLASTED off to get back home. I started my car. Started right up. Tried to turn the wheel. NO GO. You would have to be Hurcules to turn that steering wheel! Of COURSE my car is busted. Is it the Power Steering Pump? Fluid? A hose? I have to call AAA for a tow. It's 28°F outside. Nice. Why do I feel lke the car repair is going to cost exactly how much money we just raised towards Bob's Vet Bill? It never ends, I swear.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. By Bye Car! You're only 11 years old! Why did you break?

I guess the good thing is that I didn't get stuck tonight. We're supposed to get TWO FEET of SNOW and we already have more than that on the ground. I would have waited a week for a tow with that going on! My car is at the shop now. I guess I won't be seeing it any time soon since they're overrun with folks trying to get their cars fixed before the storm hits.

I'm not complaining, really. I'm just a bit amazed at how much crap has hit the fan. Hopefully it will be dealt with and we'll get through it okay-as long as the power stays on, I have cat food, and cookies (for me); we should get through this all right.[crossing fingers! anti-jinx]

But I did forget to buy marshmallows.

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