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While I’ve been gleefully plotting and planning Kay’s birthday surprise with a few of her friends for the last month, some people have done some plotting and planning of their own!

Junior Mints Dinky Dyes Socks

From Sisu

From Sisu I received some of my very favourite American chocolates ever!  Yes you see empty packets in this photo!!  A pair of socks to remind me what my very favourite American chocolates are – Sisu is very thoughtful as she knows how shockingly poor my memory can get 🙂 Finally there is the most gorgeous bookmark chart and floss for me to make up as a memory to Trubs.  You picked well Sisu – the cat in the model even has one ginger hind leg like Trubs did …

Thank you so much Sisu – it is a wonderful parcel full of thoughtful perfect gifts!

 

 

Vickery Collection Carries Threads Inkcircles Scissors Fob

From Rosanne

From Rosanne I received her copy of Mike Vickery’s Celtic Cross Stitch book.  I discussed stitching some of my secret Christmas stitching projects from this book and Rosanne offered to send me her copy.  Not only did she ignore all offers of payment, she also sent me the cutest little scissor fob – a beaded one that Abby hopefully wont focus attention on.  And if that wasn’t enough she also included four skeins of Carries silks, for the Ink Circles chart, Red Square.

Thank you so much, the inclusions were a real surprise, and your letters brought tears to my eyes.  You wouldn’t accept payment for the book, but I’ll figure out something!

 

Chatelaine Debbie

From Debbie

Debbie sent me the kit (minus fabric) for Chatelaine Midi Mystery IV!  Such a generous surprise! I’ve barely finished Midi Mystery I, but as Debbie says I now have no excuses not to finish the set!

Thank you Debbie, your kindness is as usual, overwhelming!  And thank you for the mystery!  Over a week of wondering who this as from!  This is karma for the fun I was plotting for Kay – wasn’t it ….

 

 

Thank you so much my friends – you never cease to amaze me!

I always knew that when Trubs passed on I would have a lot of problems continuing to stitch.  Having her in my lap, purring, was part of the whole meditative experience. The first week after her death I tried stitching without her and found the experience frustrating, depressing and very difficult.

So I sat and thought and turned the problem on its head.  Under what conditions, did I used to stitch without Trubs?

  1. When I didn’t want her there – when stitching items that were going to other people e.g. round robins or model stitch projects
  2. When she didn’t want to be there – when I used an oversized frame that made it uncomfortable for her to be there
  3. When I didn’t notice if she was there or not – when the project excited me that much

I know point three sounds very iffy, but we have been discussing inspiration and passion in one of the groups lately and I have been “in the zone” with a couple of projects so much that I honestly couldn’t remember if Trubs was on my lap or not.

So I looked for a project that fitted at least two of the three criteria. The project I came up with was Midi Mystery 1

  • I had already finished four of the six parts so every time I looked at it I was amazed at the stitches that were already there.
  • Also as I had beaded as I went, I now needed to purchased a set of 17″ q-snaps specifically to continue to stitch this project. 17×11″ q-snap frame is quite unwieldy compared to the 6×6″ hand frame I usually use.
  • The fifth section of this project as mainly cross stitch but with a little mental flexibility required for the hand-dyed fill-in stitches. The level of complexity was perfect for my current mental limitations.

And … it worked!  I’ve managed to stitch on Midi Mystery OK for the better part of a week. I’ve gotten my enthusiasm back and even managed some small meditation during parts of this.  Much happier with this project than the struggle I had the last week.  I’ve already finished all of the cross stitching on Part 5. All I have left to do is fix some mistakes in previous parts I found and then bead Part 5.  Then Part 6 – the final Part!

Chatelaine Midi Mystery 1 - Part 5

So I am going to use this technique for planning my stitching for the rest of the year.  I’m planning:

  • Finish Midi Mystery 1 – hey its working so far
  • Finish Round Robins – these would have had to be kept cat free anyway and both projects inspire me
  • Start Chatelaine Costumes 1 – that project inspires me more than any other has in years and it will definitely need the 17″ q-snaps
  • Stitch some Christmas Presents – stitching some secret presents to give away excites me (yes I’m just a kid at heart) and these would need to have been kept clean.

So hopefully this will keep me calm and happy throughout the rest of 2011, and we will see what happens in 2012.  I know there are some projects I wont be able to get back to for quite some time – but hey I have some WIPs that haven’t seen the light of day for nearly five years for no reason anyway, so there’s no need to stress.

So thoughts? ideas? Am I over thinking again? Making mountains out of sand grains?

Well wishers and concerned friends are asking me daily how I’m going, so I thought it would be best to put up a public post.

I’m actually going better than expected. Having those last few days with Trubs I could see the end coming (even though I wasn’t admitting it) so in some ways I prepared for it; I had the chance to say goodbye.

My regrets were about making her comfortable in her final days and the vets have pretty much talked me through as lot of that this week. The fact that she purred in bed and slept a few hours before the end showed she was where she wanted to be.

A few things still catch me. I have trouble having lunch when mum is not here. For months I arranged my meals around trying to entice Trubs to each more, so I shared my lunches of fish on toast or cheese on toast or roast chicken or GF meat pies with her.  I’m finding I’ve had to completely change my lunch menus or I just dissolve into floods of tears.

Abby has no interest in human food at all, so when I bake salmon for mum and I now, I need to remember not to put in that extra small piece …

Little other things catch me occasionally, such as we were at a farmer’s market on Saturday morning and I saw a stall selling little dog coats.  That had me tearing up because it was one of the last things I was thinking of buying for her.

Other than those occasional the other main issues now are nights and stitching.

Nights are really surprising. Other than the last couple of nights as she was dying, Trubs hasn’t slept with me since we returned to NSW. She had been sleeping near the fireplace.  But on the other hand, she’s slept against my chest for the better part of 17 years, so maybe it’s not that surprising.

I wake during the night up with my pillow clutched against my chest and my head and neck in awkward positions. Needless to say, that’s when I miss her the most and of course the crook neck is not helping the migraines.  I took a Polar bear plushie to bed last night, curled up against my chest, but that didn’t make any difference.  I think this is a “time will heal” issue.  Migraines have been back up in the “stabby stabby kill everyone” range of pain. So not optimal conditions.

I’ve been trying to stitch.  I’ve in fact been struggling to stitch, forcing the issue.  Stitching has always been part of my meditation, so I don’t want to let it go, in case I become like so many others and never pick it back up again.

However, the only way I can stitch, is if I have the laptop on my lap, and mum is conversing with me at the same time. So not quite meditative. Lots of mistakes. Lots of snarls. The silk knots constantly.  I feel I am constantly fighting the piece.

But there is progress.

So any thoughts or advice?

OK my friends probably are probably expecting this post. There’s no-one here today except Abby (sleeping), me and the contents of my head.

So I’m going to let this all out, and get it out of my system so it hopefully stops going round and round in my head and dominating all of my thoughts and paralysing me. There’s no need for comments, there’s no need to even read this post.  I’m only making this public, so that those who care about me know I’ve gone through the process …

Why?
Why didn’t I notice on Friday that it was more than just the arthritis acting up?
Why did I have to leave the house Saturday morning? I’ve been cooped up here for months on end, why did I have to choose day to be out until it was too late?
Why did I have to live rural where the vets shut midday on Saturday? Where a “genuine emergency” only applies to a stud bull or a working dog!
Why didn’t I decide to drive her the hour or so into an emergency clinic in Canberra on Sunday? Why did I wait for the vet I trusted on Monday? Why did I put Trubs through that extra day of pain?
Was the vet right that “nothing could be done” or could she really have been helped if could have gotten her to a vet sooner? I think she would have been in less pain if I had her to a vets sooner – but she may have spent the weekend at a vets instead of at home and still be euthanized on Monday if not on Friday.

I should have noticed earlier – I should have stayed home Saturday – I put her through so much needless pain.

Mum reminds me that we dosed her up on Metcam most of the time, that she purred that last couple of night in bed with me. That she would have preferred her last days at home, not spent the weekend in a vet clinic.

I still feel like I let Trubs down in her last days – at a time she needed me most.

I think this is just a stage of grief and I think most people go through this. If I could, I would go back and change things. I would take her to the vets on Friday, or hell even Wednesday before we knew about the tongue ulcers.  but I can’t go back. I have to live with what has happened and the decisions I did make whether they were right, wrong or just plain stupid.

So I think it being a bleak cold day here, I might curl up under blanket on the lounge, watch some crap TV and do some Warcraft archaeology for the day.

I can’t stitch – there’s no furry lap warmer shedding all over my fabric …

Trubs lasted through the night.  She purred when I took her to into my bed again, so I know that made her happy.

Unfortunately her condition continued to deteriorate. As well as losing the ability to walk, she lost the ability to stand during the night. This morning I could not get any water down her throat.

I rang the vets and took her in as soon as they opened.

She had numerous tongue ulcers which is why she had trouble eating and drinking and stopped grooming.  However, the ulcers were merely a symptom that she had suffered major organ failure, probably renal.  The vets could put her on a drip to increase her fluids and investigate which organ had failed, but they could not fix the tongue ulcers or reverse organ failure.

So basically we would be keeping her alive, in a veterinary clinic for no long-term improvement in health or happiness.

I was with her while they made the final injection, I was warned that in her condition it could take minutes, but she passed quickly, painlessly and knowing I was with her.

We have buried her little body in her favourite part of the garden and planted a gorgeous flowering shrub to mark her place. Her spirit is now free and in whatever place and manner of her choosing.

She was the first of our Four Cats of the Apocalypse and I believe she was the Last. Farewell my friend. We have been together for 17 years. You outlasted one marriage, one long-term relationship, a number of long distance relationships, one engagement, 4 states, 14 different houses, one cattery (and I am still sorry for that) and three other cats (Abby is still young which I know you hate).

I loved you for all of your life and I will miss you for all of the rest of mine.

Trubs Outside 14 August 2011

Trubs appears to have some sort of trouble with her mouth or tongue or throat.  Yesterday she stopped eating and drinking completely.  She wanted food and water, but had difficulty getting them in her mouth. She was in a lot of distress last night. We gave her a large dose of the metacam and then spent the evening cuddling her, holding her, grooming her, carrying her outside and then back in again trying to calm her down …

Mum said it was like spending time with a colicky baby who was in pain and there was similarly little we could do ….

Trubs spent the night curled up with me in my bed.  We both slept in fits and starts with a couple of trips out for her to try to drink again.

This morning I thought we had a breakthrough – after I struggled to get some water down her throat with a syringe, she stumbled to the water-glass and lapped up at least a half cup of water herself and then lay down again.

Unfortunately that was the last time she could walk unaided.  When she tried to move again an hour later, she couldn’t walk.  Her back legs just wont support her anymore.  I made a slurry out of some tuna and warm water and managed to syringe a tablespoon or so into the back of her mouth before she started spitting it out.

She then laid back down and hasn’t moved since.  That was a couple of hours ago. She hasn’t purred since either.  I don’t think she is going to last until the vets open tomorrow morning  or if she does, it may well be a one way trip.

If what is wrong with her requires surgery or even just anaesthesia, the vets will recommend euthanasia as I had been advised weeks ago that she was already too weak to survive either procedure.

She’s lost another kilo of weight this week, so she’s down under two kilos (4 pounds now). She is literally skin and bones. Her fur sticks out in all directions because her bones do. As of yesterday, she also carries a bad smell with her. That could be from a mouth abscess or it could be from something much worse.  We may find out from the vets tomorrow if we can keep her alive long enough.

Or she may not last that long.

Right now she is quiet on her cushion near the fire. Her ears flicker and her eyes open when we say her name or stroke her, but that’s all the response we get. I don’t know if she comfortable or simply worn out.

Either way THAT decision is no decision at all.

Update – as I was about to hit send on this post, Trubs did struggle to sit up, so I took her outside into the sun for a half hour or so to warm her bones.  I took the above photo at that time.  She seemed to enjoy her time out there, but I could not coax any purr out of her 🙁

We thought with the warmer weather that Trubs would perk up now and we would be fine until next winter.  At this stage, although she is 17 and skin and bones it is only the arthritis that is a major health concern.

Unfortunately, even though the weather is warming up, she is still moving quite stiffly and has mostly lost the strength in her back legs.  She can’t walk in a straight line any more. She doesn’t jump, she uses her front paws to pull herself up and onto or over whatever she needs.

Then yesterday we couldn’t tempt her into eating and she stopped grooming around her face. We both lavished attention on her and I cleaned her face a number of times for her throughout the day.

However this morning I was woken at 6:30am by a very imperious yowl to open to back door.  Apparently the freshly cleaned and changed litter trays from yesterday weren’t good enough and madam decided she needed to go out into the fog and hard frost this morning to do her business.

Abby poked her nose outside the back door, only her nose mind you, turned and headed straight for the litter tray and then straight back to bed.

Trubs is now back inside, on my lap, warm and purring as I type this.  I suspect she’ll be with us for a while longer.  I just have to be aware that just because her bones are warmer, she’s still going to have troubles.

We have her on daily joint and arthritis supplements (that she loves to eat), a joint health dry kibble formula (when she eats kibble) and monthly cartrophan injections.  I also give her metacam whenever the pain is obviously bad. There’s not much more we can do ….

6:30am Abby wakes me up the fastest way she knows how – by shredding a cardboard box in my bedroom.  We aren’t sure how this evolved, but I suspect any librarian wakes upon the sound of shredding paper the way a mother wakes to the sound of a screaming baby.

I had a late night last night, so I didn’t really want to be woken at 6:30am … I really really didn’t.  After ignoring her for almost a minute I threw the covers back, picked Abby up, put her outside the back door and shuffled blearily off to the loo.

While still in the loo and still mostly asleep, Trubs visits and starts yowling. I finish my ablutions, shuffle off to the lounge room, turn on the lights – BRIGHT LIGHTS – and add some wood to the fire.

Waking enough to feel thirsty I move off into the kitchen to fill my water bottle before contemplating a return to bed. Trubs follows me in and yowls loudly.  I empty and refill her water bowl too.

Trubs yowls again staring at her food bowl so I give her some of her treats.  She jumps up to Abby’s food bowl and yowls again.  “Eat your own first” I tell her.

As I’m standing there, taking that first sip of water it finally dawns on me – its raining outside.  I open the back door and poor Abby runs straight inside.

I am now fully awake and have a bored Abby running amok inside the house because it’s too wet to play outside.  I’ve thrown jangly balls, I ‘ve dangled mice and I’ve had my left arms shredded …

Trubs on the hand, is sitting by the fire staring at us both in undisguised disgust …

Final Note: The photos above were not taken this morning. I am far too tired to be let near a camera right now.

Yep this is what happens when I try to take photos of my latest bout of stitching!

Unfortunately the flash batteries are going and they were NOT kind to poor Trubs.  What’s more unfortunate, is that her photos were taken first!

 

Trouble sitting on cross stitch

 

Abby sitting on Cross Stitch

Abby

… due to the cold  weather.

At -4C a détente can be reached it seems 🙂

We’re about back to normal around here. Abby and Trubs are back to their usual spots inside the house and both are back to being happy inside the house (although the above mentioned night-time temperatures might be a significant factor in this).

There have been some changes in the cat hierarchy.  Abby now seems to have control of the upper levels of a room while Trubs now has the floor.  Feeding time now goes much more smoothly when we feed Abby on top of an unopened packing box and Trubs on the floor.  Trubs doesn’t monster Abby because she can’t get up there and Abby being the beta cat doesn’t monster Trubs – so feeding time is peaceful.

We’ve found a local vet who has a cat vet on staff (I have found some rural vets concentrate on stock and working animals thus consider pet dogs a necessary evil and cats a nuisance).  We’ve gotten Trubs’ arthritis shots up to date, and will continue them monthly.  In June/July we can have them fortnightly if they beneficial.  This vet also gave us a sample multivitamin/joint relief treat food called “sea flex”.  This is the first supplement that Trubs eats up and goes looking for more so this is encouraging!  Abby who wont eat anything that isn’t in her bowl or she caught herself even came nosing over to see what it was, so they both get a treat every evening now.

We have feeding time at 5:30pm on the dot. Sort of a hypothetical home from work/current sundown/gives cats time to eat before we go into the kitchen to prepare our own food time.   Since we started that, Abby has actually been coming into the house somewhere between 5-5:30 on her own volition – so no more panicking by stressed-out cat-mum here. Thanks so much Jules for advice on this one!

We still have Abby prowling around after dinner trying to get back out of the house but mum or I play with her for a while and she will then calm down and curl up for the evening.  The other day it was a warm sunny day and we were packing Abby’s toys away (and making jokes about Abby being like the grandkids) when Trubs walked past.  I flicked the long ribbon at her, and she actually put a paw out to snag it.  She only played for a minute or so, but she actually played with us for a little while.  So the cartophen, or the sea flex, or the warmth or something is helping her.  And the less pain she is in, the happier the household is.

Most nights, Trubs spends in front of the fire and Abby spends on either Mum or my bed. She chooses.  A couple of really cold nights, Abby spent in the lounge room on her chair.  No quarrels from Trubs.

In fact the only two issues we have are the vomiting and the peeing.  The vomiting is not going to go away.  It’s an older cat issue.  Most times Trubs gets to the kitchen floor and I can clean it up of the lino floor easily enough.  Some mornings though, we find patches on the lounge chairs where she had slept the night before.  If I put a towel of the lounge chair, then she will sleep on the floor and vomit on the carpet.

The peeing is our last current issue.  We now have two litter trays down.  We’re still working on optimal placement :/ If Abby uses the tray first then Trubs wont, so some mornings when we wake up, we find both trays used, and a puddle on the floor.  At least its a puddle on the floor of the bathroom and no longer in the kitchen.  We’re pretty much resigned at this point, to putting down a towel each night to “catch” the third use and washing all the mats, towels and floor every day or two – unless anyone has any other suggestions.  We can’t put a third tray in.  There’s just no room – there’s not enough room for a second tray, but we’re trying to make it fit, because it does work on the nights Trubs does her business before Abby.

Oh there is one last issue, but its one I hope we will grow out of.  A side effect of taking the knock-out drugs the Perth quack (and yes I use that term derisively this time) put me on, is that I slept the night through.  Abby isn’t used to night-time bathroom visits.  So when mum or I do the 2am toilet visit, Abby thinks it’s wake-up/get-up time and demands to be let outside so she can start her day.  When the other of us does our bleary shuffle at say 4am the scenario repeats itself.  Abby is slowly understanding that wake-up/get-up coincides with the shower running not with a loo break.  But all three of us are losing sleep while this learning process goes on.

For those of you who are wondering, I do move a lot, and I have lived in places that have an actual cat curfew, where it is illegal for a cat to be outdoors from dusk to dawn, so I try to train all of my cats to be inside dusk to dawn from kitten.  Also Australia has a very high proportion of native fauna that are nocturnal and susceptible to cats.  Again I live semi-rurally and thus my cats have access to many small native animals and birds that really should just be living their lives cat-free.

Finally, no Abby is not trying to get out at 2am or 4am to do her business.  At -4C she or even at 4C she will come inside and use the litter tray thank you very much.  I have been a very mean cat-mum and been shutting the bathroom door during warm sunny days to force them to find places outside to do their business to try to wean them off the litter tray.

So for the tl;dr crowd – situation normal for someone living with an aging cat and two cats that don’t get along.  Nothing drastic, no-one dying, no-one panicking, just a couple of issues.

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