Friday, October 13, 2017

Jurassic Park & Sex Ed.

It really doesn't take much to tie these two subjects together, I promise. Really.

It all began this way...

I came home from work today exhausted from an overly-long shift, but needing to go pick up Hubby. Special Edition, who's down for the weekend, opted to come along.

Middle also asked if she could come, because she "wanted to talk to Daddy."

I was already feeling the burn of aches in both head and right ankle and could not imagine how this wasn't going to help, but I couldn't find a legit reason to say no. So off the three of us went. It was a fairly quiet car ride until Hubby actually got in the car, at which point Middle was full of news and tidbits and stories she was bursting at the seams to share.

Among them was that there is a young boy in her class who is autistic, who did not seem to grasp during a science-class discussion on Jurassic Park that getting eaten by velociraptors was not a fun thing to have happen. Our nephew Mickey is autistic, so it was a bit of a teachable moment regarding this other student—who Middle admitted is cute-like-a-kitten but not boyfriend-cute—and how he compares to her cousin, who she knows a little better.

Middle found herself perplexed about something, though. "I don't understand why I can't watch Jurassic Park."

I was driving still and trying to keep my eyeballs both inside my head and on the road. I remember my father's perceptions of the movie from twenty-some years ago, and it wasn't age-appropriate for a ten-year-old then.

Hubby explained that it was the violence and the gore and the scare factor.

Middle remained unconvinced. "I think it's just stupid. It can't be all that scary."

There was a pause, and then she asked about tree sap turning into amber. "Isn't that how they got the velociraptors?"

Yes, Hubby confirmed, in the movie, scientists extracted dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes and other biting bugs trapped in amber, and cloned the dinosaurs from that DNA.

Middle: Didn't they do that [cloning] with sheep, too?

Hubby: Yes.

Middle: Well, how'd they do it?

I was so glad I was driving and Hubby was having to answer this one.

Hubby: Well, you've learned about cells, right? And the structures inside them?

Middle recited several cell structures for plant cells.

Hubby: There's this stuff called DNA.

Middle: D-what?

Hubby: DNA. It's in your chromosomes. It's the pattern that tells your body how to make you.

Middle: Right.

Hubby: You need both—chromosomes and DNA—to come together to make a dinosaur.

Middle: But how do they get that to get the dinosaur?

Hubby: Well, you know how babies are made, right?

Middle: No.

Poor Hubby. He was banking on Middle at least knowing that it takes a mommy and a daddy whatever to make a baby.

Hubby: Well, the women...the girls...the females have eggs.

Middle: So we're chickens?

I slapped a hand over my mouth and just kept driving, just kept driving, just kept driving...

Hubby: No. [trying desperately not to chuckle] No. These are tiny, tiny eggs.

Middle: I have eggs inside me?

Hubby: Yes, you do. And inside those eggs are your chromosomes.

Middle: Special Edition, you look uncomfortable.

Special Edition: For many reasons.

Hubby: Males also have DNA and chromosomes inside them...

SE: [sighs]

Hubby: ...and you need the chromosomes from the mom and the chromosomes from the dad...

SE: [sighs]

Hubby: ...and you mix them together in order to get a baby.

Middle: And that's what they did to get the dinosaurs?

Hubby: Yes.

Middle: But how did they mix it together? Does he throw up in her mouth or something?

Hubby hooted with laughter. Special Edition could not contain herself and howled.

I sat in the driver's seat and knew I'd missed something important because they were both laughing so hard.

Me: Okay, what did she say? Because I missed it...

SE: [still howling] She asked if he throws up in her mouth...

Middle: Well, I thought maybe it's when they're kissing...

SE: Why am I always here for these conversations?

Hubby chuckled, clearly enjoying Special Edition's discomfort. Middle jumped right on that bandwagon, too.

Middle: So, how do they mix it?

Hubby: Well, you're 10 now. I suppose you should know. You know that boys and girls are different, right?

Middle: I know they have a this and we have a that

I kid you not; that's actually what she said.

Hubby: Did you know that this and that are designed to fit together?

Absolute silence reigned in the car for the next ten seconds, something that hadn't happened in the 28 minutes since we'd picked Hubby up.


Hubby: Maybe we should continue this conversation in the house.

Middle: Can we continue it in your room? And can Special Edition be there too? And do my sisters have to be there? 

As it turned out, Special Edition needed to get a prescription filled at the pharmacy, so we went to go do that while Hubby got to continue discussing velociraptor love.

While we sat and waited, I heard from him...

Middle: Boys have a penis and girls have a Virginia?

All the parenthood win here tonight, folks.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


Today's adventures in parenting:

  • Middle got a HUMONGOUS stuffed animal as a prize at church, who conveniently has a name similar to our oldest cat, thus resulting in a lot of confusion when said cat selectively chooses to hear through his ancient ears.
  • All three nearly out-ate me at lunch.
  • Oldest swallowed a decorative marble, which caused a state of minor emergency, until I called my mother and confirmed that this, too, shall pass. I advise a hefty application of Rule #2 here, but...
  • Dinner is a lather/rinse/repeat of lunch.
  • I sent the kids up to get ready for bed half an hour late, but that's okay, because there's no school tomorrow. I think.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dinner Jeopardy!

Tonight we did a backwards dinner. It's Hubby's birthday, you see, and he had worship team rehearsal this evening. And despite my prior planning, I did not have dinner ready on time. Or even close to it. Erego, so that Hubby could blow out his candles, have cake, and open presents before he needed to leave, we did that first, and then feasted on spicy honey-glazed chicken tenders, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans after he left.

Not to worry. I made sure to save some for him.

I just wish I could have saved the dinner conversation for him, in which Middle admitted to a fourth-grade crush last year.

Middle: Mom, do you know know who Legolas Greenleaf is?

Me: I know who he is.

Middle: Is it Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of the Mirkwood or Prince of the Dirkwood?

Me (regretting my lack of committing full Tolkien titles to memory): I don't think it's that, but I really don't remember.

Middle: I think it's Prince of the Mirkwood. (pause) In fourth grade, I had a really big crush on Legolas Greenleaf.

I schooled my features so that I did not react at this little revelation. I simply kept on eating my chicken, and kept my amusement private that every mention of Legolas included both his first and last name, as if we wouldn't recognize him without his last name.
Still a heartthrob for the fifth-grade set.

Me: Well, you realize, it's not so much the character who is handsome. It's the actor portraying the character.

Middle: Whatever. He's HAWT.

I was really sad their father was missing this.

Middle: I kind of want to know what the actor looks like.

I don't dare say she pretty much already knows.

Me: Well, he doesn't have long blond hair.

Middle (aghast): Crap! That was the attractive part! (pause) I'll bet he doesn't have the pointy ears, either, does he?

Me (not at all sorry): Nope.

Middle: Crap!

For those of you playing along at home, I did confess to a Legolas crush of my own (I found that incarnation of Orlando Bloom to be far more attractive than his Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), but I was far more in the Aragorn camp than anything else as a result of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Middle didn't ask, so I didn't tell. Heh.

How we then shifted conversation to The Dukes of Hazzard TV show from the 80s is still a bit of a mystery to me.

Middle: Hey, Momma. Do you remember Luke Duke? And what was the name of the other one—the blond?

Youngest: Who?!

Disgust your daughter when you can, ladies.
Middle: Luke Duke. From the old TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard. And the other one. The blond. Who was he?

Me: Bo.

Middle: Right.

She turned to Youngest.

Middle: Not Luke from Jessie.

Youngest: Ohhhh.

Middle: So, Momma, did you ever have a crush on Luke or Bo?

Me: I liked Luke.

Middle (disgusted): Really?

I just nodded.

Alex, I'll take Ways to Show You're Old for $500, thanks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sofaeria Pantheris

Hubby came home in the middle of the day. Forced home, actually, despite saying kitten births weren't a new thing to him and he didn't really have to go home and play feline midwife. But his direct supervisor and a coworker were both cat lovers, and they couldn't contain their own excitement on hearing that our little bundles of fluff were arriving.

He finally capitulated and came home an hour early, just to stop them from pestering him about it.

"How many do we have?" he wanted to know, leaning down to pet the panting and laboring Inoa.

"Three for sure." I crouched down next to the box where I'd placed the kitty condo that Inoa had chosen as her birthing room, the bottom opening of which could barely contain her burgeoning belly. She'd been so wedged in when I discovered her that there had almost been a pop when I'd thought to be helpful and liberated her (and, surprise, a kitten) from it several hours before. "I think there's a fourth, though. She won't let me in to check."

Sure enough, a wee bit of black fluff had arrived and had tucked away in the shadows of the condo.

And her surprise arrival was the last quiet thing about her.
Koa, 3 weeks old

The first of what were ultimately a pair of all-black kittens in the litter, Kitten Four (as she was christened, to avoid name attachment) entered the world determined to make it bow to her mighty will.

Once she learned that mouthy cries at the door resulted in the attention of the pale-faced tall ones, she demanded we be her playthings.

Four and a half weeks old was quite old enough, thank you, for her to start weaning herself, as we discovered the morning she tried to eat her mother's kibble because nursing just wasn't cutting it for her anymore. She wanted noms! (Never mind that her teeth weren't big enough to crunch them down. Wee Miss would have all the noms and the milk bar, too!) It's hard to truly say she hogged the plastic dinner plates we used for the soft kitten food, because when no one else is even trying, it's not hogging. Unless you take up the whole plate.

Which she did.

It was around this same time that I realized both tiny bits of black fluff (her and Kitten Six, last (also a surprise) of the litter) were girl kittens. Hubby had set stipulations on this kitten-fostering. We had four cats. We were not acquiring any more. Mama and babies were all going to good homes. Okay, I agreed...unless a black male was born. I wanted a black male. In my tween years, a black male cat belonging to my neighbors had been my dearest friend. Hubby relented.

I wheedled my case for Kitten Four. In truth, she'd already decided she belonged here. She would throw herself at the baby kitten gate (a piece of modular wire shelving) and try to climb it just to try to get to us. She was first at everything: first to eat solid canned food, first to eat kibble, first to litter train.

I wanted my black kitty, even if she wasn't the nice, easy-going male I was hoping for. (Newsflash: she wasn't.)
"Tiny human, this is for me."

Hubby caved. Twice, in fact, because Kitten Four and her older sister Number Three became permanent parts of the family. (Everyone else did, indeed, find good homes.) Three returned to us as Minouchette, and Four became Koa Umalu.

Loosely translated, Koa means fearless. Courageous. Umalu means shadow. Hubby wanted something in her name that hinted at her color.

And fearless she was.

Having decided upon her goal of world domination, she found in her way one immovable obstacle: Popoki.

Po ruled the house with a gentle but iron paw. Almost three and a half years Koa's senior, she didn't have time for this nonsense, and Koa often found herself abruptly slammed back into her proper place in the feline social hierarchy with a heavy paw smack to her head. (Po had a Gibbs-slap before Gibbs did.)

A Suitable Throne
Koa merely took it upon herself to keep everybody under her in line. As she was still a kitten, this was tolerated with some amusement and the occasional headsmack from the other adult cats.

Like the others before her, we taught her to play fetch. And she would, with just about anything. She just wouldn't play return very well. That didn't stop her from wanting to play. She'd drop whatever her current object was six feet from us, and give us that scathing cat look of, "Aren't you going to go get it for me?" We first. I'm now convinced that the fact we stopped is why she would bring things to us in the middle of the night, yowling at the top of her lungs around whatever she had stuffed in her mouth, and leave whatever in the bed.

She was very proud of her kills that she brought to us, too. There were many.

Milk jug rings. Pens. Pom poms. Pens. Small dolls. Pencils. Plastic silverware. Toy lipstick. Legos. Did I mention pens?

If it could be stepped on in the middle of the night, during the day, or in a sleep-induced haze, Koa was probably the source. She made as many messes as the kids.

She also had at least two extra helpings of attitude, which she would vocally express when life went not according to plan.
Koa's spot on the loveseat

She skipped the line for feline grace to get those. I've never seen a clumsier cat. She fell off a pile of blankets she was sleeping on once.

Koa finally achieved total domination of everything from the shingles down in 2012 after we lost Popoki and Keiki in rapid succession. Nobody else put up a fuss. Well, except Mika. But he didn't fuss. He had seniority, she knew it, and the beat went on. She bossed around everyone but him.

She liked the girls a whole lot more as they grew up than when they first arrived as scary interlopers. But when Special Edition came into our lives, Koa annexed her. I often found the two of them together in her room. If Koa wasn't sleeping on her side of the back of the loveseat where I often worked, she was probably in with Special Edition.
"Human, my bowl is empty."

I often wished Koa had been less of an angry little tyrant, and more of a benevolent despot, because I thought she had it in her, but she never got over getting a little brother in 2003. She did not want a personal trainer in the form of a new kitten, and she nursed that grudge for a decade.

I also think that Koa as benevolent despot would be much less Koa of her, so I suppose it all worked out in the wash. She had a personality three sizes bigger than the body that struggled to contain it all.

I noticed in June that she was losing weight at an astonishing rate. We had just come through the crisis with Mika and his abscess and miraculous recovery. We couldn't afford more vet bills. And Koa had been having other health issues as well. I knew her time was drawing close...closer than any of us wanted to admit.

I will sit here and be cute.
After all, Hubby and I had had Koa her entire life. Longer, really. Those three weeks while she was still in her momma's belly counted, too.

Koa didn't want to do the stairs much, although she did them. Usually to leave unpleasant messes for me to clean up. She didn't want to get back up on the back of the loveseat; the cushion next to me was close enough (and definitely in the way enough) to suit her.

In July, I warned Special Edition. I sent her a picture showing how much Koa had deteriorated. And, I promised, she could be there if and when we made the call.

It was about four weeks after that when Hubby finally admitted that Koa had to be suffering, as she was down to skin and bones. So I called and made the appointment with the vet.

Special Edition was devastated.

So was I. As I'd spent time typing up and polishing an old manuscript, Koa had often kept me company. She'd watched over my shoulder as I added scenes. Koa had been a near-constant companion in my little home office.
She really got herself wedged in there once.

We promised Special Edition, who went with us to the appointment, that we would get information first. We wouldn't just do and make a decision without talking to the vet. Dr. C, who had examined Pa'ani and helped lay him to rest, examined Koa.

Her kidneys had shrunk. Koa was in end-stage renal disease, if not outright failure. She also had a tumor on her thyroid.

"But you can fix it?" Special Edition asked desperately.

Dr. C shook his head slowly. "Her kidneys would be far too scarred."

And so, on a quiet Tuesday afternoon, after more than sixteen years together, we said goodbye to our dear stubborn friend.

She was stubborn to the end, I can tell you. I was there for the passings of Popoki and Minou, and Hubby was there for Keiki and Pa'ani.

Koa held on to that last breath, hanging on, until she finally, peacefully, let go.

Because, by golly, she wasn't going to go gently into that good night. Not if she could help it.

I wouldn't expect anything less.

Koa Umalu
May 4, 2001 ~ August 15, 2017

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Precise Definition

Several weeks ago...

Middle: Mom, what does obstinate mean?

Hubby: Go look in the mirror.

Me: Stubborn and unmoving.

Middle grinned impishly and without apology.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Father's Day Vignettes

Father's Day is difficult for me. It's one of three hard days lumped very closely together—Dad's birthday, Father's Day, and the day of Dad's death. They usually fit into the span of less than a week. This year was no different. Even my mom elected to come join us on Father's Day in an effort to stay busy.

However, we needn't have worried too much. My kids provided all the distraction we needed from the day.

First, they performed their own version of a vaudeville show, singing and dancing to several songs. If you've never heard VeggieTales' Mr. Lunt covering Jars of Clay's "Flood," you haven't lived.

Then we sat down to play a rollicking game of Big Picture Apples to Apples.

In the course of the game, these happened:

Me [picking nail polish remnants off the table surface]: It's nail polish.

Middle: Speaking of nail polish, don't look at Kimo's foot.

I looked at Hubby, who looked at me, and I grabbed my go look at Kimo's foot. (Kimo happened to be conveniently snoozing in the dining room, where we were playing.)

Sure enough...

Blue sparkly nail polish. 

Poor Kimo.

*     *     *

Middle [seeing Koa]: Oh, look, it's a cat. Moo. Oh, wait, I mean, meow.

The rest of us: [Unrestrained laughter]

*     *     *

The cards in play:

Hubby [the judge]: There's all these things...and the armadillo. Somehow, I don't think he's useless.

Mom: When it costs you $700 to remove one, armadillos are useless!

(Mom had armadillo problems down in Florida earlier this year. Not a cheap proposition, as she discovered. I really thought my bendy bench—the card you can't see—should've won. Hubby thought it looked comfortable.)

*     *     *

Hubby [reading card]: Ugly. Not pretty, unpleasant, unattractive.

Middle [with snark]: Like you! [beat] Burn!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ancient History

"Hey, Mom, look at this really old quarter I found!"

I peered at the thing.


I was twelve then.

"I'm older than the quarter!" I exclaimed.

"Whoa," Middle said.

Hubby asked to look at it, and then pointed out it's not so much that it's old as it is beat up.

At least he didn't laugh.

After all, he was older than twelve in 1987.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Amish Summertime

It's that time of year again.

My minions are out of school.

Thus, Amish Summer has come to reign in our house again, and the minions are likely going to be displeased at the changes to this year's regulations.

I realized after I printed the Amish Summer Rules earlier today that my munchkins had used up nearly all tape of every kind (except for my packing tape, which is MINE and is not to be used, under penalty of ... well ... something severe), including all of the blue painter's tape that we buy to keep the short people from ruining our walls with Scotch, Duct, and Packing.

I went to the store.

And I posted the signs (one in the kitchen and one in the den) as soon as I got back.

When I mentioned to a friend on Facebook who was considering a bonfire for her children's electronics that Amish Summer had come, she wanted pictures. Proof. Something. Anything to show what we were doing to cope with the electronics blackout.

I sent her this.

The principles of Amish Summer are pretty simple. We got it from a couple we knew at our last church, who happened to have two teenaged sons who would undoubtedly shrivel up under the flickering glow of the TV and/or games and/or phones without parental interference. The boys were allowed tech up until noon...and then none until the next morning.

So, what you see above is this summer's incarnation. After last summer and allowing chores to be put off until after lunch, and seeing them not get done, that got bumped to before TV time. We are eeeeeeebil parents who will not give our kids their own tablets or phones (hello, you are not-quite-12 and 10.5-times-two; you don't neeeeeeeeed them), so control the TV and that also controls the Wii. And the Atari Throwback.

Also different this summer is the specific TV shutoff time. I left it as a very vague "lunchtime" last year, which didn't work when the kids decided "lunch" would be at 2 p.m. Or whenever.

Don't say it.
Just get an idea out and go.
The 7-a.m. thing is because Oldest is our poptart child and will wake up whenever her body says, "Oh, look, there's sun; it must be morning," even if that hour is before 6.

It is summer vacation. I am not getting up before 7.

Oh. The Jar. You were wondering about that? It's lovely. It keeps me from hearing the three words which are guaranteed to sent me legging it trippingly to crazy faster than anything else. Filled with about 40-odd ideas to un-bored my kids, they consult The Jar to keep them out of mischief and allow me to keep hold of my milligram of sanity. Best thing I did last summer.

We also had a riveting one-sided conversation tonight about exactly what "getting dressed" entails. There has been some confusion, and I wanted to be sure we all understood what has to be worn daily around here.

Our Amish Summer usually lasts until after supper, since the girls are still young. As they get older, we'll get meaner, and the tech ban will persist past bedtime.

We'll see how well this year's iteration of Amish Summer progresses.

I am hopeful.

Possibly also incredibly naive, but hopeful.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In Which We Go Out To Dinner

We got our tax refund back this week, and decided to celebrate a little. Our budget has been so tight that it's squeaked, and little things like dining out have gone the way of the dodo as a result. Well, no longer. At least for tonight.

Hubby and I decided we were all going to go out to dinner!

I was a huge fan of this idea as it meant I did not have to cook, he did not have to cook, and we didn't have to clean up.

Off to the restaurant we went.

We chose one of those buffet-style places, and Hubby immediately regretted ordering an entree because the buffet was jam-packed with good stuff tonight. Oh, well...take the entree home and eat it later; enjoy the buffet now.

Which is what we did.

I made the discovery, at dessert time, that there was peanut butter fudge among the dessert offerings. Now, I love peanut butter fudge, and probably a little too much. My mother-in-law has a great recipe and she makes it every time we come to visit, and even freezing the extra fudge does not keep the short people in this house (I am still taller than the children) from kiping pieces. It melts in your mouth.

Daring to confess to near-blasphemy, I informed Hubby upon my return to the table that the restaurant's peanut butter fudge was just nearly as good as his mother's.

Hubby went to find out for himself.

...And found himself forced to admit that I was right. It was a close second to his mom's.

Meanwhile, after claiming to have pigged out on the buffet, Middle suddenly found more room in a mysterious second "dessert stomach"...

Middle: Daddy, can I have a piece of fudge?

Hubby: Yes.

Middle promptly reached over and swiped the largest piece of fudge from Hubby's plate.

Hubby: Not MY fudge!

Middle [taking a bite]: It's mine now; can't do nothin' about it!

Hubby [grabbing it back]: It's wet!

Middle [gleefully]: I licked it.

These are my people. This is how they behave in public.

I'm glad the sweet old lady who gave Middle $2 because Middle had jumped up and helped the woman clean up a spill had already left and didn't see this part of our evening.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

In Which We Feature Special Edition

Special Edition has been making the circuit between here and home with Mr. Nurse on a fairly regular basis the last few months, and we (quite frankly) have been loving having her around.

Not the least of which is because we have some ... interesting ... conversations when we do.

Take, for instance, the latest craze to hit Facebook sponsored posts:


I would not have known there was such a thing, as I have a lovely add-on to my browser that takes care of the Things I'd Rather Not Have To See, but one of my college buddies (known to be a class-A weird one, bless 'im, and the reason he's my friend) was tagged in a post about Romphims as a potential candidate for wearing them.

I could see him doing it. Totally.

But I digress.

I mentioned this tomfoolery of fashion to Special Edition when it was just her and me in the car, and the conversation exploded from there.

Mind you, neither of us could fathom why these were suddenly haute couture.

Nor could Mr. Nurse, and I was advised I should most definitely not ask him for his thoughts on the fashionable matter.

"I think you have to ask yourself," Special Edition opined, "'Would Richard Simmons wear this?' If the answer is yes, then you shouldn't. Unless, of course, you're Richard Simmons."

Wise words, my girl. Wise words.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Vocabulary Lesson

Middle dashed through the kitchen, collapsing in faux exhaustion at the foot of the stairs, gripping the end of the railing.

"I just ran 300 miles!" she gasped.

I looked at her dubiously. "You did not just run 300 miles." I walked up the stairs past her.

She followed me up to the foyer and turned to continue further up, pausing on the second stair. "Hyperbole. Have you heard of it?"

"Yes, I've heard of it."

But I'm a little surprised that you have.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Tail of Two Miracle Kitties

Mika, birthday boy
Today is kind of a big deal for me. You see this guy? He's 18 today. That's a whole lotta hash marks for a kitty. To put it in human terms, he's 88. And, I have to tell you, all things considered, he's in really great shape for being so old. Even his vet is surprised at how well he's doing.

Especially since we came frighteningly close to losing him a couple weeks ago...

We didn't, obviously, or I wouldn't be posting about his birthday. Or about how glad I am that he's still here. Or about how shocked and pleased his vet is.

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself, because this particular tale, tail... doesn't start with Mika.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

I had been concerned most of the morning, knowing that my dear close friend Waffle had taken her cat Monkey to the vet that morning. Monkey is a year younger than Mika, and had been displaying some really concerning symptoms: lack of appetite, lethargy, weakness, decreased everything. At his checkup a few weeks before, Waffle had learned that Monkey was now 90% blind due to retinal detachment, something that could have been caused by any number of conditions, from high blood pressure to hyperthyroidism or diabetes or even scarier diseases. Monkey had gotten a combo booster vaccine, and all of the trouble seemed to have followed after that, so there was initial suspicion that perhaps the shot was faulty, but he wasn't quite sick enough for that...but he was very, very sick.

Waffle called right after the vet appointment with an update, and asked if I was familiar with a local clinic right here in town where I live. She explained that, because of Monkey's recent heart murmur, he was being referred there and needed to be there for constant monitoring. She was on her way to me. I told her to just come straight to my house; I knew right where the clinic was and I'd take her there.

As it turned out, the local clinic here shares the same name with an emergency 24-hour animal hospital 40 miles to the south, in the next state. There's apparently a lot of confusion about that. The local vet at the clinic here looked at Monkey's records, which his regular vet had faxed to them, and recommended we proceed directly to the correct hospital, after I had called and gotten her to come in and meet us. So I told Waffle to relinquish the driver's seat, and I drove the three of us—Waffle holding a surprisingly (and worrisome-ly) noncombatant Monkey—south to the emergency clinic.
Sleeping on the exam table.

Once there, we got ushered into an exam room, where it was determined that Monkey needed intensive help right away: he was dehydrated and underweight (well, yes, we knew that), and lab work was needed, to determine Monkey's treatment plan. But he definitely needed IV fluids and labs, so that was the first priority.

Waffle and I sat and waited while they ran tests and Monkey was disturbingly boring. (That was the number one symptom that something was not right.)

Monkey's white blood cell count, the vet came back and explained to us, was alarmingly high: 25k. It needed to go down. He would be started on broad-spectrum antibiotics, and he needed to be sedated mildly just in case his personality came back as he started to feel better. The vet gently (ish) stated her suspicion of cancer rather than infection, with nothing else to go on but a high WBC count. Monkey would be admitted overnight.

I drove us back to my house in a mix of something of a terrified silence and reassurances that we were going to do whatever we needed to for him. And then, after a brief conversation with Hubby, I packed a bag and drove us to Waffle's house for the night.

January 8, 2017

Sunday morning, we called to check on Monkey, who was starting to act more like himself. After collecting a few things, I got behind the wheel again and drove us the many miles down to the emergency hospital where he was.

We spent the better part of an hour and a half with him, trying to entice him to eat. He's a food snob, you see. He knows what he likes and he doesn't like anything else. Waffle had desperately hoped to
"How do I get into the out?"
bribe him with his favorite snacks and his normal food, since he was refusing to eat what the hospital offered. No soap. Despite having been removed from sedation before our visit, he still seemed so out of it...he was aware of Waffle and who she was, but it took a good twenty minutes for him to recognize her and really "wake up." After that, his priority was jailbreak. Using his cone as radar, Monkey scoped out the room, and spent the bulk of the time trying to figure out an escape plan.

It was a frustrating visit. Monkey wouldn't eat. He would come for skritches with the comb Waffle brought, but he wouldn't eat, not even his favorite snacks. We got to spend a lot of time with him, yes. That part was good. But we could still see how sick he was, and the hope that we'd be able to take him home that night sank like a stone as the minutes ticked by and he continued to ignore the food completely. We also waited (im)patiently for the vet to come and talk to us about the latest numbers and information and whatever else they had to tell us about Monkey and what was going on.

That never happened.

We got to spend so much time with Monkey because several emergencies happened at once, and the hospital's doctors were not free to come speak with us. Disappointed, we left a bag of Monkey supplies behind with him, thanked the techs who were doing so much to make Monkey as comfortable as possible (including giving him the cushiest blankets they had), and headed out.

Waffle had us stop to fill up before we left the state because gas was cheaper, and then she called her boss before I got us on the road again. Madame was surprisingly kind, given the situation, and all but ordered Waffle to take the next two days off, and possibly Wednesday. Madame would worry about making HR happy. Waffle was to only worry about Monkey.

Since my house was closer to the hospital than Waffle's, we made camp there. I made us tea, waving away her protests that I should not let her use my really good raspberry vanilla tea bags when she might not drink the whole cup. If ever there was a time for pampering, this was it, and that is some fabulous-for-pampering tea.

"I am not taking you home tonight," I informed her quietly. "You're staying here. I'll keep the kids out of your way in the morning. But you need to not be home alone tonight. You're staying here."

I made up the hide-a-bed sofa in the guest bedroom, and we sat quietly and prayed fervently for Monkey and his health, banishing and binding and casting out every nasty thing we could imagine. Still, Waffle was shaken when the vet called late that evening and reported that Monkey's WBC count was elevated even more, to 33k, and the vet kept pushing for Waffle to accept a cancer diagnosis without any real proof. Waffle might truly want to consider if all this was the best option for Monkey, or if she should just let him go. It could be his time, the vet said.

Waffle was overwhelmed.

I was so glad I'd told her to pack what she might need for an overnight...and then I took a few moments to discuss the next few days with Hubby.

Blessings come in all sizes and shapes, you see, and that week, his schedule had just so happened to be such that I could be gone for several days, and his work responsibilities would not conflict with the kids being home from school. I could take Monday and Tuesday, even Wednesday, if I was needed, and everything would be covered. "Is it going to be okay if I go?" I asked, even though I was 99% sure of the answer.

"Of course," Hubby said with a gentle smile that bordered on serious. "I know that someday you're going to need her when it comes time, with Mika. I'm just not going to be able to be there as much."

I nodded. I don't like thinking about losing Mika...I'd much rather enjoy the time we have now than obsess over the fact that the days we have ahead of us are far fewer than the ones behind us. "But I don't think of it as a debt to be repaid."

"I know you don't. Just go, and keep me posted."

January 9, 2017

I got up in the morning and got the kids off to school, keeping my promise to not allow them to pester Waffle. I also packed a go-bag (yes, I watch too much NCIS and Criminal Minds) for when we left later, since I was pretty confident I'd need it. Then I knocked on Waffle's door. She was up, and ready for tea.

We decided our plan of attack would be to first go fetch the Monkey and get what information we could, and then we would go take him back to see his normal vet, who knows him and knows what he's like. Waffle felt she could trust Dr. Paul more than she could the emergency vets who were trying to give Monkey cancer and her a heart attack. I then informed her I had a bag packed for the next two days and I was ready to go. Tears filled her eyes. "Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure. Hubby and I already talked. Let's go jailbreak a Monkey."

I hopped behind the wheel and we sojourned back to the emergency hospital, where we talked with the one vet there who made the most sense, one of the managing partners. He was not convinced of the cancer diagnosis, but he did think that Monkey probably had a vicious infection. Monkey's WBC numbers were beginning to trend downward, which is the way we wanted them to go. We felt encouraged, to be sure, but there was still a lot of scary...he still wasn't eating, he still was non-combative (with the exception of growling so loudly he nearly burst this vet's eardrums that morning when the poor man tried to listen to Monkey's heartbeat), and he was still lethargic, all of it without any conclusive explanation other than one single kidney value that was slightly elevated. The hospital was not equipped to run the diagnostic testing that the vet felt was needed to determine if the numbers were just scary-looking or actually scary. Ultrasounds were needed. He recommended that Monkey get those tests, but he understood Waffle wanting to take Monkey back to see his own vet first. He did say he didn't see what had the first vet on Saturday saying what she had regarding the WBC counts, for the tests had been run too close together to have any meaning. That vet, he implied, had lost the proper connection between her cheese and her cracker.

Back in the car, Waffle held Monkey while I drove back to her home, where I tried in vain to get Monkey to eat some cheesy dibbles (what she calls his favorite snack) and Monkey tried to radio outer space for directions around the apartment while Waffle packed for a couple of days herself. And then we were off, heading for Waffle's old stomping grounds and Monkey's regular vet. The Piano Guys' Uncharted played on a loop, with Monkey having a small fit if we tried to skip the "Jungle Book/Sarabande" track. Once again, Waffle held him as I drove. Monkey didn't even try to convince her (or me) to share when I insisted we stop at Wendy's for lunch. Waffle's concern was so great that she couldn't eat much.

Dr. Paul's associate was the one who ended up seeing us, and recommended a nearby emergency hospital after Waffle shot down euthanasia in emphatic terms as soon as it was brought up. By now, Waffle's mom had joined us. Monkey was once again admitted, this time at the hospital closest to Dr. Paul's office, and both Waffle and I immediately liked the ER admitting vet who spoke to us, who agreed that this was not quite what the vets down at the first emergency clinic seemed to be insisting. He also posited the idea of a raging infection. A tech who billed herself as the cat whisperer took us back and said she could get Monkey to eat even if no one else could, and took charge of the Monkey Bag with his food. Monkey was scheduled for a kidney ultrasound the next day once he was transferred to Internal Medicine.

We were both relieved when we left this hospital and headed for Waffle's parents'. Not that we doubted the competence of the vets at the first hospital—cough—but there was something about this place that put all of us, Waffle's mom included, at ease. Plus, they were not out for an arm, nose, leg, and whatever brains they could pull out the nasal sinuses in the way of payment.


At Waffle's parents', I got a quick tour of the house and met Tiny, the kitten Waffle had gotten her mom for Christmas. A bouncy little thing of about 13 weeks old, he was in nonstop motion until he wore himself out. After dinner, we played with him until we were all exhausted from the day.

January 10, 2017

To pass the time, Waffle and I watched a movie, and then called the hospital late morning for a Monkey update. Due to emergencies, Monkey had been admitted to Internal Medicine but had not been taken for his ultrasound yet. We discovered Tiny had a not-tiny doppelganger outside along the small pond along her parents' property line. I touched base with Hubby and told him the latest news. We tried to break Tiny of his bathroom-living habit. After lunch, Waffle and I watched yet another movie, followed by another call to the vet.

Still no ultrasound.

As we realized this might stretch into Wednesday, I decided I had better make a tourist trip to the largest Walmart in the state to pick up a few select articles of clothing for the following day. I sent Hubby a text to let him know I'd be one more day, but home by the time the kids got home from school (give or take), and Waffle and I headed to the Walmart so large you needed two cellular signals to reach the front and the back.

As we browsed for the things I needed as well as what Waffle's mom asked us to get for dinner, Waffle's phone rang. It was the vet. We moved closer to the front of the store to maintain connection. I couldn't tell much from Waffle's end of the conversation, but I could see from her face that this was much more than we'd hoped for.

"They sedated him for the ultrasound," Waffle reported. "And when they did, they thought they might as well try to get his blood pressure too. It was astronomical." She laughed. "He needs blood pressure meds!"

Suddenly it all made sense: the lethargy, the lack of appetite, the disappearance of purrsonality, even the retinal detachment, which the vet had said previously could have been due to high blood pressure. I'm on medication for high blood pressure myself, and there was one night when my blood pressure exceeded the limits of my meds. I felt horrible—nauseated and light-headed and off-balance and just off. I explained how I could understand everything about the way Monkey was acting on the basis of that one diagnosis.

Waffle went on, "The ultrasound shows that he basically has old man kidneys, and the one doctor still thinks he needs to see the ophthalmologist on staff to make sure the retinal detachment is due to the blood pressure being through several roofs and not some weird sarcoma, but his white blood cell count is still trending down, and they think that still might be an infection. She's still saying she can't rule out cancer, but it's not impossible for it to not be part of it. Monkey can be released tomorrow! And it's possible he could regain his vision!"

We went home for dinner with happy news.

January 11, 2017

We picked up Monkey, and headed for home once again, new medications in hand: a different antibiotic, blood pressure medication, and a recommendation for him to take folic acid to help with his woes. I had a pill-popper at the house from when Minou needed to be medicated for something, and I told Waffle she was welcome to borrow it. So we stopped at my house to both drop me off and to have me do a trial run with the pill popper and an angry Monkey, and I promised I would be out the following Monday to poke the Monkey with his new injections that were part of the treatment to get him out of anemic state and back to glorious health.

In the following weeks...

Monkey's WBC numbers continued to drop. They had peaked at nearly 50k, frightening Waffle and me, but we never stopped believing in the miracle that God had shown us was going to ultimately come. I went out for five weeks in a row to lend my expertise in sticking cats with needles (having given Po injections for nearly seven and a half years for her diabetes) and to help with forcing folic acid, antibiotics, and blood pressure meds down Monkey's gullet. Waffle called me in happy tears after his checkup on February 11th to report that Monkey's white blood cell count was now just shy of 13k (for those of you playing along at home, we would learn six weeks later at Mika's first appointment what a normal WBC count is for kitties, and Monkey had soared past that), and that was the moment Waffle knew for sure that she'd truly gotten her miracle. Cancer was completely off the table. Monkey's blood pressure was even at a high normal, once the vet adjusted for Monkey's severe, so-mad-he-pooped-himself, got-a-full-facial-party-hat temper tantrum. So... No cancer, nothing lurking, just Monkey and his random weirdness.
Faceplant mope.

Monkey's not exactly happy about his new life as an old man, where he's got to take a cabinet of pills at night, and so he's found a way to protest what he feels is an unfair lot. But once Waffle found out that she can get his blood pressure medication in a transdermal pen, the world rejoiced, because now Monkey only needs to have the folic acid forced on him with the pill popper. The rest gets smeared on his ear flap.

At his follow-up with the ophthalmologist and the internist a week after his misadventures in the hospital near Waffle's parents, there was no indications of cancer causing the vision loss. In fact, his retinas were showing signs of re-attaching. Further visits showed that Monkey was recovering nicely. His most recent vet visit was last week, and he's gained three-quarters of a pound (a feat his vet thought impossible)...and doesn't need to be seen again for three months.

All of this huge long story is to say...Waffle and I asked God for a miracle for her 17-year-old cat. Who says God doesn't listen to the little things? He answered us in a huge way.

Which turned out to be a very important thing...

Saturday, April 1, 2017

I bent down to pet Mika before getting ready for bed, and noticed a spot under his chin. Well, now. That's weird. That wasn't there earlier. I picked Mika up—Has he lost weight?—to get a closer look. Yuuuuuuck. Whatever the spot was, it stunk to high heaven. I carried Mika along with me as I went to find Hubby.

"Look at this. He has this scabby, smelly thing on his neck." I pointed it out. "It's new. I don't know what to do, but this can't be good. I'm afraid it might be a tumor that's come through the skin."

Hubby's sad eyes gazed back at me. "It might be." He scratched under Mika's chin to get him to tip his head up. "You can always put some antibiotic ointment on it to help keep it clean."

That's what I ended up doing...and, for good measure, I took a couple of pictures, just in case.

I went to bed tired, scared, and worried that my bold words to my counselor—"I think Mika is gonna make it to 18"—were nothing but hot air and false bravado.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

I checked Mika's neck as I came downstairs. To my dismay, the antibiotic ointment had not done anything to help overnight. The spot had doubled in size.

So had my terror.

I was definitely not ready to lose my baby. I couldn't even fathom it.

I couldn't eat lunch.

Waffle called. I talked to her. She reminded me of how Monkey had not told her it was his time. I needed to let Mika tell me if it was his time, but that we could also pray. We'd ask God for another miracle. The definition of testimony, she said, was to simply ask God to "do it again." God had healed her kitty. He would heal mine.

I finally felt well enough to eat something, and got a bowl of ice cream. I knew the realities of an 18-year-old cat...or nearly so. The odds were not good.

Special Edition was visiting for the weekend, and I went in to break the news to her that this could spell disaster for her much-beloved friend. I held her and we both cried, for neither of us could handle the idea of saying goodbye to Mika, my baby and her confidante. I think Mika knows more secrets than anyone else in this house.

I begged Hubby to make chicken tortilla soup for dinner that night, as Mozart and BusLady were coming over after too long a time between our normal monthly get-togethers. BusLady had been pre-vet for awhile and I wanted her opinion. Mika let me hold him—unnatural behavior for him—when they arrived, and she took a look at his neck. BusLady sadly shook her head and cautioned me to prepare for the worst.

The girls had been sent up to get ready for bed, and Hubby, Mozart, BusLady, Special Edition, and I were still in the dining room talking. Mika walked by in the hallway, and Special Edition noted, "Momma, I think Mika pooped in the hallway."

It sure smelled like it when I went to clean things up, but when I found him upstairs in Special Edition's room, I found that the nasty discharge was coming from Mika's neck! "Hubby, I need you!" I screamed.

Well, this brought everyone. Nearby paper napkins were grabbed and Hubby held them under Mika's chin, to his neck, and sat on the couch, holding him. I sat on the floor. "Honey, do you want to hold him?" Hubby asked.

I nodded, and Mika was transferred into my arms.

"I don't want you to look at how much is coming out," Hubby instructed gently. "I just want you to hold your baby."

"There's no vet open that's close enough," I sobbed. There was no way I was taking him to that emergency hospital where Monkey had gone.

"Honey." I looked from Mika to Hubby. "There's not going to be time." Hubby's face was so sad. "We're going to lose him here." Then he called to the girls to come say goodbye.

BusLady sat on the floor behind me on one side, Special Edition on the other, and Mozart stood in the doorway. I just cried and tried to let Mika know it was okay to go home, not watching to see if he was still discharging fluid, but seeing that his eyes were glazing over.

Waffle had messaged just as the crisis hit, and I had shot back a quick reply that we thought Mika was bleeding out in the living room, and so she called me. I quickly became incoherent, and she ordered me to hand the phone to Hubby.

And then...Mika began to perk up. The glaze left his eyes and they no longer looked quite so sunken in to his skull.

Together, Hubby and Waffle arranged for her to take Monday off, so that she could come down and support me. She would be available to take me to whatever vet appointment I would be able to arrange for Mika, one that I was growing more and more confident that he would be able to make.

BusLady and Mozart took their leave, asking us to keep them posted about Mika's condition.

To keep him safe, Special Edition, Hubby, and I set things up in the den so that Mika had food, water, and potty available, and then cooped him up in there for the night.

April 3, 2017

After I got the kids off to school, I called the vet's office and left a message. After waiting an hour and a half to have them call me back, I got impatient and called them again, since Waffle was waiting to hear from me about an appointment time. My second call was successful and I wrangled an appointment for 2:40.

Now I just had to wait.

To quote that famous Spanish philosopher, Inigo Montoya, "I hate waiting."

Waffle came down, and she, Special Edition, and I had lunch in the kitchen before we gathered the small cat carrier (which we ultimately didn't need), my towel from Sunday's shower (because it smelled like me), and Mika, who consented to let me hold him for the duration of the 25-minute ride to the vet's—a heretofore unthinkable feat. Mika hates car rides. He's terrified of them. But he sat tranquilly in my arms, looked around, and just let me hold him. Overnight, as I'd stayed with him in the den, I'd come to a peaceful acceptance of whatever the day held, but this strange behavior was unnerving.

Hubby met us at the vet's (his boss is great and let him leave a little early, just in case), and the bunch of us—Hubby, Special Edition, Waffle, Mika, and me—waited in the exam room for the vet. I was worried about the loss of nearly 3 pounds since the last time I'd weighed Mika, which was around last August, when I'd weighed everyone, including a dying Minou. The tech got Mika on the scale and confirmed my findings, that Mika had indeed lost that much weight. Youch.

Dr. Eckert came and and examined my poor boy. Within minutes, my fears of cancer decreased as she proclaimed that Mika had an abscess. Had being the operative word. As we described the drainage episode from last night, she interrupted. "Looked a bit like tomato soup? Smelled foul?" Hubby nodded. "Yeah, sounds exactly like an abscess."

She went on to say that she wanted to run some labs and she also wanted to shave back some fur to see what all they were dealing with, but she was confident we were dealing with an abscess. She couldn't positively rule out cancer yet, however. But an abscess seemed the most likely cause for the symptoms that Mika was displaying. Ultimately, based on the ages of our felines in our home, she speculated that the fault for the abscess lay with one of the younger cats being a bit too aggressive in play with poor old Mika, and a play bite had broken the skin and gone amok.

Then Waffle stood up. "I'd like you to run a blood panel and a CBC," she requested. I swallowed and looked back at her. "I'll pay for it. But you need to know where he's at and that he's okay. " Cancer was still a possible option on the table at this point, and Waffle really wanted to rule that out.

Dr. Eckert suggested that we go get a coffee and hang for about 45 minutes, and then come back for results. We opted for soft drinks at the fast-food joint next door, only to wait another 45 minutes upon returning to be squeezed back in between patients. Dr. Eckert met us with a smile.

"He was such a good boy for everything that we did to him," she reported. "There was still a little bit of junk left in the abscess, so we drained that. But he definitely had one." She showed us pictures on her iPad.

Waffle stepped back. "I definitely shouldn't have looked," she said with a rueful chuckle.

Dr. Eckert continued. "He's going to need some antibiotics and some topical cleaner for his skin, and he'll need to be quarantined, but he should heal right up. His white blood cell count is 25k; normal is around 17k. I'm comfortable calling that increase due to the obvious infection of the abscess. I did not feel any discrete tumor underneath. His bloodwork looks like what I'd expect from a cat his age, although he does have one elevated kidney function number that's of concern. He also has a high-normal thyroid number that I want to consult with our lab about. But he is 100% worth treating and 100% recoverable." She gestured to a spot on one of the photographs. "We may still lose some of this tissue here, but if he does, that means it's necrotic, and so it's okay for him to lose that. I want to see you back Friday, or Monday, as long as you email me pictures on Friday to update me. Call if you have any questions or concerns."

Waffle looked at me and grinned. "You got your miracle."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

He adapted to cone life pretty quickly.
Mika was scratching at his neck. Not only was he scratching, he was scratching stuff off his neck. Specifically, he was going after the piece of tissue that Dr. Eckert had warned us about. I made the gross discovery that whatever it was remained attached only because it was matted fur and removed it, and called the vet's office to ask what we should do. Dr. Eckert personally returned my call as I was going to pick Hubby up from work. She recommended that we go in and have one of the techs fit Mika for a cone. Then, she said, she wanted us to add a cream medication to our wound care regimen.  She also said that she thought Mika might benefit from laser treatment to help stimulate tissue regrowth. And she'd see us Monday.

Hubby and I stopped at the local pet store to see if we could find something there, but I was hesitant, and so we went the route of the vet's office. I was glad we did; the cone was so much cheaper! It did, however, take three people to get a conehead Mika back into the small cat carrier we'd used to bring him down.

Friday, April 7, 2017

I emailed photographs of Mika's neck to Dr. Eckert, to show Mika's progress. I'm avoiding showing them here because, well, they're pretty gross. When I say that Mika had open wounds on his neck, I'm not kidding. I could see things! Mika had one large, gaping wound track in the center of his neck, which had caused the run to the vet's office to be fitted for the cone, and then the smaller hole where the abscess had drained from. But Dr. Eckert was very pleased with his progress, and said that, if there was a granular tissue bed forming, we could discuss laser treatment on Monday.

Because I am my mother's daughter, I went and Googled images of granular tissue. (I don't recommend this for the squeamish.) But at least I knew what the goal was for his neck to look like by Monday!

Monday, April 10, 2017

I do not want to come out.
Waffle, Special Edition, and I wrangled Mr. Satellite Dish into the larger carrier that we have, after determining that trying to get Mika back into the smaller one was an exercise in futility. In that morning's wound care, I was confident that I'd seen a good solid granular tissue bed on both wounds. The medications seemed to be doing their jobs. I told Waffle that the smaller hole was closing up nicely.

"You mean his smoker's stoma?" She grinned.

I chuckled. "Yeah."

We got back into the exam room, and the first thing they did was get Mika on the scale. He'd gained back an entire pound! That's huge! I was so happy. I suspect that the sheer size of the abscess (I was speculating fluid sizes, but Waffle stopped me from translating mL into measurements she could understand) was compressing his esophagus and thus inhibiting his ability to eat. I was refilling his bowl twice a day sometimes. And he was starting to fight the antibiotic more. "That's a good sign, I'm sorry to say," the vet tech told us. Oh, I know. I was happy to have him fight me. I knew it meant he was getting better.

Dr. Eckert was thrilled with his progress. They took him back to do a little wound care of their own, and when she brought him back, she said she wanted him to stay on antibiotics for another week, but she thought he'd progressed so much during the week that he didn't even need the laser treatments we'd talked about. Mika was doing great for such an old dude! She said she had done a free consult with the lab that does their testing about Mika's thyroid numbers, and the lab didn't feel his results there were of major concern. The biggest issue was the one kidney number. She wanted him to try a kidney food diet, to help with his old-man kidneys, and said we should keep doing what we were doing, and she'd see us back in a week.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I sent several pictures to Dr. Eckert to update her, and to ask if what I was seeing on the wound track was the right kind of healing results or if it was more of the kind of stuff she'd said could be gently cleaned away during wound care. Nope, these were genuine scabs, and I should leave them alone!

Friday, April 14, 2017

I meant to email Dr. Eckert more pictures, but I didn't get a chance to. I was satisfied with the midweek update. However, there was cause for great excitement: the smaller hole, where all the drainage had come from that Sunday night, which had caused so much panic, had completely healed over! There was nothing now but a small scar.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Special Edition and I collected Mika and took him down for this week's checkup appointment. Mika's weight remained the same, which we were all pleased about, and he seemed to like the kidney food. Dr. Eckert was blown away when I told her the one wound had completely scarred and was healed. I felt it was a matter of days before the other would be fully healed as well. She probed a little at his neck and proclaimed him an incredible healer for such an old boy. In two weeks, he had gone from gaping wounds to brand-new flesh. Amazing. She wanted us to finish up the antibiotic we had and keep doing the wound care, but she pronounced Mika in astonishing recovery and good health for his age and said he didn't need any more antibiotics, just the wound care until he was healed and lots of love.

We headed for home that afternoon without having to schedule a follow-up appointment (Dr. Eckert just wanted to see updated pictures by email).

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I was doing routine wound care on Mika, who was now much more feisty during these times. I probed a little at the scab remaining on the longer wound, because it was all flaky around the edges. To my surprise, it came off, except for one tiny spot. There was brand-new scar tissue underneath! I immediately emailed pictures to Dr. Eckert.

Friday, April 21, 2017

*cue musical intro*




I took his cone off when I got home from work, and he was so happy that I got neck-nuzzles and purrs and lots of love. He was delighted to lose his satellite dish.

I could have taken it off on Thursday, but I wanted to give all that new skin time to strengthen before I let him have free run of the house again.

Dr. Eckert finally caught up with Wednesday's email and said she was thrilled with the progress and glad he was doing so well.


God did something amazing again; there is no doubt in my mind. So many things could have gone so badly here. Instead, God took an 18-year-old cat and defied the odds. He went beyond that and made an old cat heal better and faster than anyone expected. Mika is pretty much back to his old self. He's vocalizing again. He's begging for cheese again. He's going all the way upstairs.

And I am so grateful for an Abba who looks at my life, at the life of my friend Waffle, at two small cats, and decides that they are important enough for him to act, because of how important those cats are to the lives and hearts of us, his children. Some might laugh these two fluffy miracles off as being no more important than a finding-of-lost-car-keys miracle.

Waffle and I? We know better.

Our God sees.

Our God knows.

Our God heals...even stubborn kitties.

He is Jehovah Rapha.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Middle's Mental Meanderings, Part 247

Last week, Middle brought up the subject of blindness in people. Now, this is not something that has never been discussed before, because my best friend JJ is blind due to an incurable disease, and the girls have all met her and her Seeing Eye dog (Aussie, at that time). The discussion did come up out of the blue, but that's nothing out of the ordinary for Middle...

"Hey, Momma. I have a question. How do people get blind?"

Middle caught me off guard and I only half-heard her question. "How do people get what?"

"How do people get blind?"

"What do you mean?"

"Can they be born blind? Does something make them blind? How does it happen?"

"Yes, some people are born blind. Sometimes it happens because of a disease. My friend JJ has something called retinitis pigmentosa that causes her blindness. Sometimes, like in the case of Helen Keller, really high fevers can cause blindness."

"So Helen Keller was a real person?"

"Yes, she was. She got very sick and ran a fever so high that she lost her sight."

"What about JJ?"

"Well," I paused to think about how to explain RP, "the back of your eye has something called the retina, which is what we see against. Hers is going away, so she can't see because there's nothing for her to see against."

Middle chomped on a bite of cereal. "So how do blind people get around? Do they just automatically get a dog?"

I stifled a chuckle. "No. There are three ways that the visually impaired get around. They have a special cane they use that helps them find and avoid objects"—I used a pen to demonstrate—"or they use another human, or they have a dog guide."

"So if I was blind, how would I get a human?"

Good heavens, girl, we are not dealing black-market humans! "You don't get a human," I choked out. "What I meant by that is there's usually another person in the blind person's life who helps them navigate, who drives them places, who guides them around. Family and friends both help out."

I went on to explain that, in order to qualify for a canine guide, most schools require an application and several weeks of training.

She nodded, and that seemed to satisfy her questions for the time being.

Get a human.

Oh. My. Word.

This girl...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Non-Bucket List

I didn't realize there was such a thing as a Non-Bucket List until the day I got my #1 entry for it...the day I watched Middle pass out in front of me in the back of an ambulance.

Allow me to say here that Middle is fine and ultimately none the worse for wear.

To be honest, if I'd had to hazard a guess which of my girls would get an ambulance ride first, I would have guessed Middle. I just didn't guess it was going to be for this.

The whole thing started as a normal Saturday a couple weeks ago, except that it was the first really nice spring Saturday with beautiful weather instead of rain, and so the kids had all rushed outside to play. I started laundry and puttered around before looking at the clock and giving serious consideration to a rather late breakfast now that it was 11:30. (Oops.)

Youngest came in to tattle that Oldest had left the yard. The girls all know they're not supposed to leave without permission, or ride off on their bikes without telling me, so I went out to check. Sure enough, Oldest had ridden off, as I saw her ride into her carpool buddy's driveway. I decided I'd give her five minutes to come back before I texted her friend's mom to have her sent home, since she did have permission to ride her bike that far.

Back in the house, I checked on the laundry I'd started. Funny. That sounds like screaming.

Turns out there was good reason for that.

Middle burst into the house with the kind of screams that most parents say their kids should only be emitting if blood is involved.

And there was blood.

Middle clutched her right temple, the source of the blood. Youngest trailed behind her.

"What happened!" I tried to pry Middle's fingers away from her scalp.

Between gasped and tears, Middle screamed, "Youngest hit me with her scooter!"

"She what?!"

"I was swinging my scooter around and it hit her."


I made Youngest go outside to put away her scooter, then yelled for her to hurry up and get back in the house. I tore off clean paper towels and tried to clean up Middle's head wound. Blood had trickled down through her hair. My child, who had the fortitude to endure a vicious strain of strep for four days before telling us her throat hurt, saw the faint smears of blood on her hands and whimpered. Head wounds bleed a lot. "It's okay, honey."

What I found as I wiped away the blood in Middle's riot of curls was barely more than a scrape. I gave her a fresh paper towel to press against her head since it was still oozing blood. When Middle couldn't follow my finger as I moved it back and forth and up and down, weaving a little as she tried, I had her sit on the den couch. A quick search on my phone brought up the symptoms of a concussion, and a few pointed questions gave me enough concern that I called Mitzi and asked for a ride.

Because, after all, traumatic head injury hadn't been on my day planner and Hubby had taken the car to work.

Mitzi drove us to the urgent care here in town, and said she'd pick us up if they punted us to the ER.

We got in fairly quickly as there was no one else in the waiting room. The doctor examined Middle and said he had enough concerns about her having a concussion, despite no loss of consciousness, that he wanted us to take her down to the ER for a CT scan. He offered to have the ambulance called to take us down, but since Middle seemed to be fine, I called Mitzi to come get us.

As we walked down the hall to leave the clinic and wait for Mitzi in the main waiting area out front, Middle stumbled. I got her settled in a chair and watched her nervously. Behind my sunglasses—she was very sensitive to the bright lights—her eyelids fluttered. "I'm trying so hard to stay awake."

"What do you mean?"

"I feel like I'm going to pass out."

"Pass out? Did you before?"

"Yeah, when I first got hit." Her head lolled, and she fought to keep it upright. "I got hit, and I blacked out, and then the pain hit."

"How long did you black out?"

Middle's hand flopped weakly. "I don't know. Maybe about ten seconds."

After a very short mental debate, I hustled back to the receptionist's desk and asked her to call the squad. Then I called Mitzi and explained why I was having medical professionals transport us to the hospital.

The squad arrived within minutes, and I quickly told the EMT that Middle's behavior was not normal. They strapped her into the gurney...

And that's when Middle passed out.

The EMT told her partner we were all going for a ride, and we were going back to the station to pick up the paramedic for the run.

On the two-minute trip between the urgent care and the emergency services building, I came very close to panicking as Middle's eyes rolled back in her head and she lost consciousness again.

The paramedic kept close tabs on Middle during the ride down, making her answer questions and remember things. Middle had difficulty with recall and her responses came at a fraction of her normal speed.
Flat TV.

I called Hubby once we arrived at the hospital and he came over right away. The bunch of us clogged a room in the ER while we waited for Middle to get her CT scan. She got to wear a nifty C-collar until the results came back and confirmed no fractures and had to watch TV lying flat on her back.

The ultimate good news is that the CT did in fact show no fractures, as well as no traumatic brain injury. The scans were clear. We just needed to watch her for any worsening symptoms. They gave us a prescription for some nausea medication to help with the dizziness and upset stomach. We followed up with her doctor later in the week, and she extended the gym excuse for another week, just to be on the safe side, as Middle still showed some residual effects from her push-scooter collision.

Middle is on the mend and seems to have completely recovered from everything. I may have lost a year off my life.