When Gallbladders Attack

Two weeks ago Saturday evening I got an attack of acid reflux. A thing that happens periodically to me. It’s painful and awful but not particularly frightening. After taking the acid reducers and tums and walking the floor, I started to dry heave. Not a pleasant thing, but it did shift my gastro distress away from the painful acid reflux and I fell asleep. I woke up with pain and bloating in my upper abdomen radiating down the right slide to where my appendix presumably is.. I just tolerated my way through it all day but as these things do, it got worse at night and I began to consider the possibility that it was appendix.

In the morning it continued and I was going to call off work, but another co-workers son was in the ER and so she was off, so I dragged myself in. I lasted 3 hours, made a complete hash of an invoice and left. I contacted the doctor and got a tele-appointment for the following day and that netted an X Ray order. X-ray came back as possible kink in my intestine? Need CT. Go to the ER. By this time it was Friday afternoon. I fully expected the CT would show them something like a broken rib, but nope.

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Inflamed Gallbladder – Cholecystitis for those who like the technical jargon. It sucks. They admitted me. I assumed to yank that damn organ. But apparently it’s not that simple when the gallbladder is so inflamed and the patient has been sick for a week and is therefore severely dehydrated. They put me in ICU, put a drain in the gallbladder and liver and then waited for the infection to get back into a zone that normal people live in. 8 days in the hospital. It’s painful. Its exhausting and most of all it’s inconvenient. The drain will remain for about 8 weeks and then they will pull the drain and the gallbladder out.

Things to know about this – the bile from your gallbladder is DISGUSTING. Utterly disgusting. I know because I have a bag of it hanging off my belly. It has to be drained and measured on the regular, which is doable. I’m considering starting a side hustle where I charge people to watch me empty the disgusting bile. I honestly bet there is money in it. Probably I could be Tik Tok famous in seconds for it.

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While I was in the hospital my sisters cleaned my apartment from floor to ceiling. Which was a gift beyond measure. I am not ever going to get a good housekeeping award, but I generally keep the chaos at bay, if not the dust. But since the pandemic my apartment has slowly devolved into a small cesspool. When I got sick, it turned into an island in the sewage treatment plant. It was awful. And they braved it and fixed it. They’ve been clucking around like mother hens since I got sick and now that I am home they are, if anything more worried. But I’m fine. It’s a small space and I’m pretty secure on my feet.

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I’m thinking I might be able to work from home the first half of the week and shift to the job mid week? I might be being optimistic. I just want my life to go back to normal. How to deal with the drains in the real world is a question. They are much bigger than the surgical drains I’ve had in the past. My sister is making me a pocket on belt that I hope will answer. Picture a mini apron where the apron is just a pocket for the drains. All my tops are tunics, so I think after that it will be OK? We’ll see. I’m pretty sure they will send me home if anyone catches a glimpse of the bags. It might create an uncomfortable environment for my co-workers wondering if the bile bag explodes does that create a bio-hazard?

The cats, at least, are happy I am home. It was nice to have all of them on the bed with me last night. Although, it is not perhaps very clear that they care in the least that I am also in the bed in this pic, since EVERYONE is studiously ignoring Mom acting stupid with her phone again.

New to Me Laptop is finally here

My cats, lovely beasts generally, killed my previous laptop. It was a long and torturous death made by cracking the hinges by sitting on the closed laptop. Then the case began to split at the seams. And then it began to act a bit…wonky. Eventually it fled to the ether, leaving an unresponsive black screen. They have killed 5 laptops in the last 20 odd years. I am finally fed up. I have purchased a Panasonic ToughBook. They run a bit pricey for my blood, so I got a refurbished one. The government having kindly given me some extra spendable.

It took it’s sweet time arriving and then didn’t work. But the company was very friendly and immediately offered to replace it. So I sent it back and waited another 10 days and it finally arrived on Thursday. I waited out it’s quarantine period and finally opened it today. It’s quite nice. Keyboard is quite a bit smaller than my last one and so it’s taking some getting used to. Still, it feels good to have the thing. And I don’t think the beasts will be able to crack it.

I cannot type on glass. So anything more than 20 words was not offered to anyone in the last month or more. And all of those were painfully wrought. I like keyboards. Indeed I like mechanical keyboards the best. But that’s because I’m old.

I’ve had that diagnosis confirmed by a teenager in the grocery last week. His sister was pushing the cart while swiping the phone and nearly collided with me. He chastised her for running into the old lady. He was then covered in embarrassment as he remembered that calling a woman old in her hearing is not good manners. I was not offended, having already diagnosed myself with the malady and was more amused by his embarrassment than anything.

I am currently suffering of stomach. Yesterday it was acutely painful acid reflux. This morning it feels like I have a great big pointy lump in my belly. Also just ache. I find I’m more frightened of these kinds of things than I was in my youth. When I was young, I knew that the suffering was temporary and not a reason to even call a doctor. Last night I was convinced I had stomach cancer, hiatal hernia, bleeding ulcers, and that I should consider a trip to the ER. Just as in my youth, the stomach pain has subsided and is merely a whisper of last night. But by god I was frightened by it. Perhaps more so because I’m alone. Suffering alone is more frightening I think.

Anyway, anxiety aside, I’m recovering and will hopefully continue in that vein.

This post is a form of procrastination

I’m being helped with my procrastination.

I need to log into work and actually do my job. Today is the first of the month, which means I should be sending out bills. Tomorrow, Monday, is the only day I’m officially at work next week. I’m taking vacation and having a lovely staycation. But it means that all the tasks in and around the 1st of the month must be done before I go. Which is why I planned to do some of it today.

But here we are. Today. And here I am writing about working instead of actually working.

My anxiety has been in top form for months. Pandemics and Elections have not been conducive to strong mental health. Being short on money is also not helping. I did not lose my job during this nightmare, but I have about 25 percent fewer hours. This has a corresponding effect on my income. For quite awhile now I have been slicing away at the stimulus money that I saved until it is now very low tide in the savings account. Indeed, I’m feeling like a fish caught in a tidal pool at low tide.

My county has a fund from the CARES bill that will help you pay rent. I’m well inside the income requirements, but it seems to be focused on people who are in arrears on their rent and utilities. I am not and mean not to be. Which is why I was considering applying for assistance until I can get my tax refund and replenish my savings. However, I don’t think I will get it as I am current on all bills except medical ones. Trying to avoid getting behind is not as urgent as being behind.

I need to live smaller. I used to make less and survived. But I lived a bit smaller. I need to find that small life again.

“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.”
― Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Stuff that has happened

Why doesn’t anything work anymore?

Anyone else’s notification bell not working? It hasn’t worked for weeks. I click and it thinks – remaining blank while it thinks. So if you replied to a comment I made, I probably didn’t see it.

Don’t even get me started on this new and unimproved editor.

This new goddamn editor doesn’t actually let me fix anything in a post. Instead of defaulting to inserting text, it’s overwriting it. Like this is 1995. What the hell? I actually had to take the paragraph out of the editor put it into Notepad, fix my text and then paste it back into the worst text editor of all time. I have no idea what I did to cause this because every damn thing about this thing is obscure and stupid.

I saw where I could switch to Classic Editor and clicked with glee. It’s not the classic editor. It’s a subdued pop up version of the old perfectly useful and functional editor. I miss it. I do. I’m old. I’m now grouchy about changes. And lauding the old ways.

Anyway – Let’s move on to brighter things – Cats.

FC took a jump off the balcony on Sunday. He had been going out on the balcony and being a well behaved boy for weeks. But Sunday was an especially beautiful day and I think it was more than he could stand to be inside. So he jumped, I heard the spindly tree shake as he caught it and went running downstairs. He was standing proudly at the bottom of the tree, looked me in the eye with defiance, raised his tail and stalked off into the underbrush for a walkabout. So I let him.

I went out at dinner time with some food, and he immediately came up, so instead of putting it down I decided to see if I could get him to walk into the building of his own volition. He did tentatively follow me in and walk up a half flight but got spooked by someone out on the sidewalk and took off out the door. I followed him with the food and we regrouped at the old feeding spot. He was very wary of being caught and so I decided to let him spend the night out. It was going to be a cold night – mid 40s. I decided he might be more amenable after a cold night.

I woke up at 6am and went down in the dark to find my boy, who immediately greeted me and was all kinds of fine with being picked up to come home. We had a lovely cuddle when we got in and he seems to have settled down – not even begging to go out.

I wish I had a way to let him come and go.

Tomatoes, Squirrels and Birds…Oh My

Tomatoes – now it’s me, the squirrel and some damn bird eating the last of the tomatoes. I don’t think I’m going get any of the last ones. Which is fine, honestly. They are hungrier, but… I never did get a decent sized one.

Oh well. Life goes on. Next year, I’m going to ask the landlord if I can put a couple of pots next to the driveway. Then there will be plenty of sun.

Oh. The Disappointment

The 2020 shitshow has extended to my tomato plants.  My harvest is deeply underwhelming.  I ate my first ones this past week.  In September.  Everyone else is getting tomatoes at the end of July.  I get them in September.  

Also – small.  Very small.  All three plants.  And I don’t think it’s just the fact that I’m in a race with the bastard squirrel to harvest them, so I tend to pick as soon as they show any sign of changing color rather than leaving them on the plant to ripen – which would be ideal.  I’ve only got 3 tomatoes of normal size.  Most are slightly bigger than a cherry when they turn red.  Some are cherry size.  None are beefsteak size.  sad tomato harvest

The plants seemed to thrive, despite being in a less than ideal sun location.  Of the three plants, the volunteer definitely did the best.  And honestly has amazeball tasting tomatoes.  It’s too bad I don’t know what it is.  But I will be saving seed.  But even though the plants grew and seem healthy, I think it’s the lack of sufficient sun that is making the harvest so weak.  

Despite all of that, I am honestly delighted in my misfits.  Eating tomatoes you grow yourself is lovely.  They did not live up to my dreams of their harvest, but I have a long record of dreaming one thing and experiencing another, so – not really surprising.  

FC – the new cat

Ferguson Cat, aka FC, relaxed right into being an indoor cat. I’m so grateful that he isn’t miserable about being locked in. I kept him and my existing cats separated for 2 days and then I opened the door. It was vastly under dramatic. I have no idea why I have not done this with every cat melding.

I mean they didn’t get into any kind screaming hissing face offs. They stared at each other from a distance, eventually met close enough for sniffs. If they were caught off guard, there was a small hiss and retreat, but not anything angry or warlike.

We went to the vet yesterday. He was dewormed, given some vaccines and chipped. I expected him to fight that – but nope. He took all the indignities with a stoic calm.

He has looked over the outside balcony with an eye for jumping but responded immediately when I called him back. I think he knows full well that life is much better inside than outside.

Life, Loneliness and Cats

My life has been dragging along. My depression has creeped into the old corners and I’m just dragging about out of necessity. I would prefer to just curl up in a ball and sink to the bottom. Which is an odd thing. Why would I want to just get worse? That’s the crazy part of the depression. It makes you want to feed it instead of fight it. Even while your logical brain knows it’s not a wise plan to do things that will make you even more miserable than you already are. But I have structure in my life now, so I drag about and go to work and feed cats and take walks and keep going.

One of the biggest miseries in my life is relatively new. Loneliness. I’ve always been a loner, but with plenty of friends. I never felt lonely or extremely rarely until I became homeless. Or more specifically until it became clear to me that one of the mental platforms of my personal identity didn’t actually exist. I thought I was deeply connected to my family. That family meant I was never really alone. But actually – no. When my mother died – the connection died. Because my sisters are married and have families of their own. I never married or had kids – so they did not feel the same connection to me as they had their own lives. That was when loneliness arrived. It’s a terrible feeling and I wish deeply to go back to the place where being alone was just fine and enjoyable. The loneliness is much worse when the depression is mobbing my brain.

But. But. Then there are cats. I do not exaggerate when I say that cats are the reason I have not exited this life. They provide a warm and loving companionship. They give me an obligation to do that makes getting up and moving necessary.

And I now have another cat. Or more precisely FC has moved inside. Yesterday I snatched him up, and won a close struggle and now he is inside. Amazingly, he didn’t hide at all. He just complained in the song of his people for many hours. It turns out, he likes to be pet. He no longer minds being picked up – a thing no one would have predicted after seeing his struggle on the way in.

This is where a picture of FC would go except I can’t find that option anymore because wordpress new and unimproved itself.

And he destroyed the window blind. Yeah. He sits on the window sill, but last night I put the blind down, because I’m not fond of the world seeing into my apartment at night. At first he was fine with that. But at some point while I was asleep he decided he wanted to be on the window sill and even tiny cats will break a shitty window blind. And he did. Very thoroughly. Between him and Tim I will not be getting my deposit back. Tim has ruined the carpet in the bedroom by pulling out the yarns. Apparently that is fun?

Anyway. FC is in. Tim and Bijou are locked in the bedroom and FC has the rest of the apartment. Maybe this afternoon or evening I will bring one of them out to meet FC. I want them to get along – and I’m not sure how long stretch this separation to make the meet and greet easiest. We’ll see.

Covid-19, The Souvenir

The week after July 4th weekend, several of my coworkers went away to the beach on vacation. Apparently they decided that if they pretended hard enough the whole pandemic thing didn’t apply to them, it just wouldn’t.

The company required all of them to be tested when they returned but didn’t stop them from coming back into work while they waited for the results.

On Thursday, one of them announced that one of the people he and his father (both work for us) were on vacation with tested positive. They were still waiting for their results but they were sent home immediately.

Unfortunately that was after I had extensive contact with one of their phones and computer. I’m an idiot too.

Yesterday one of them was told he was positive and one was negative. Happily the one whose workspace I was in, was negative, but…

I went to get tested today. The drive through line was a literal mile long. But they are VERY efficient. I was done in less than an hour. But if I have this virus because these two idiots HAD TO GO TO FLORIDA, I am going to have to exercise a whole lot of anger management.

Is it impossible to sacrifice a vacation for the well being of your community? I just don’t understand.

Ferguson Cat – the gift of happiness

FC was not around when I arrived home to feed him yesterday.  I had an extremely bad day, that had been the nadir of several bad weeks.  And when he didn’t trot out to meet me or come when I called, I decided he was dead.  And the tears that had been falling down my face fairly consistently all day, started again.  Welcome to my broken brain – always focusing on the worst outlook.

As I leaned over to put his food down, I caught sight of him.  Under the truck – eating a chipmunk.  And he was not even considering the fine Fancy Feast cat food I was offering him.  He clearly prefers fresh to canned.

I was soo relieved.  On all levels.  Not just because he was alive and well, but because he is clearly able to hunt well and feed himself.  And while I don’t plan to stop feeding him, it’s just a comfort somehow.  He’s a wild being.

This morning he came trotting up to me to lead me to his dining area so he could have his breakfast.  He’s too wise to ignore a gift of food.

 

FC – Ferguson Cat

He’s been given a proper name, so now he is not FC – Feral Cat.  He is FC Ferguson Cat.

FC is getting closer to making full on friends with me.

It used to be that he was only there 1 in 4 times when I went to feed.  Then it was once a day.  Now it’s everytime.  I put out food 2x a day.

It used to be that when I showed up, he would run to the spot under the truck where he knew I would place the food.  Now he runs toward me and then proudly leads me to his spot under the truck, with his tail high.

It used to be I didn’t know his gender because I never saw his tail up in the air.  Now it’s a happy flag pole when I arrive.

On Saturday I put the food out in the open, in front of where I was standing.  And he walked right over and ate, without showing signs of anxiety.

I have not made any attempt to touch him.Since he is no longer hurt, I feel no need to hurry this process.  I want him to feel completely unpressured to be my friend.

This is his spot under the truck.

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I don’t keep the water under the truck because black flaky yuck ends up falling into the water.  So it sits just outside the truck on the ground.  It gets plant debris in it, but I’m not as worried that plant leaves are going to give him some form of cancer.  Who knows what sort of horrors are lining the bottom of that truck.  They certainly shouldn’t be ingested.

I’d like to move the food to a different spot, but it’s problematic about where to move it.

I’ve been giving serious thought to moving to the empty apartment below me.  Most of my worries about this cat would disappear if I did.  He can come and go from that balcony with ease. But I really do like my apartment.  Which is just slightly larger and also more private because it’s on the second floor.  And also – moving!  Yuck.  Yuck.  yuck. sigh.

But all of that is kind of selfish of me.

The alternative is a cat house.  Like this one.  I’d have to get permission from my landlord to place it against the building in the backyard.  But would it be enough?  And would he even go in?  Both my indoor cats were trapped ferals.  Neither will even sit in a shoe box and absolutely abhor the cat carrier.  I’m wondering if FC will go into anything that resembles a cage.  I wish I knew.