Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Feast Of Saint Blaise

One of the happy memories from my trip to Michigan in December was spending time with my siblings and cousins. Every get-together, whether face-to-face or face-to-FaceTime, leaves my cheeks and abs pleasantly sore from laughter.

Hosting an impromptu cocktail party in my crowded Holiday Inn suite, we got on the subject of my maternal grandmother, Sophie. We all have lots of memories because my grandparents had a beautiful cottage on Lake Michigan and our parents liked to ship us off to spend time there.

Grandma was especially devout and many of our days included a trip to church to attend Catholic mass. While my parents were more the Christmas-and-Easter type of Catholics, Sophie was the every-single-Sunday-and-then-some type of Catholic. (This was a continual source of tension between Grandma and Mom, and I think Grandma relished the opportunity to spiritually rescue her heathen grandchildren.)

While reminiscing about our trips to church with Grandma, I asked if anyone remembered Sophie taking us to get our throats blessed. My sibs and my cousins looked at me like I was nuts. As I continued trying to explain my recollections of having a priest press candles against my neck, they all laughed and I began to doubt my own memories. Could I have dreamed up something like this?

I turned to Wikipedia to help defend me from the ridicule. Sure enough, it is a thing:

Blessing of the Throats (Wikipedia)

For this ritual we can thank an Armenian dude named Blaise who was martyred in the 4th century, giving him the golden ticket to sainthood. Blaise was a physician of not only people, but animals too. According to the stories, the forest animals followed him around like Snow White.

How did Saint Doolittle's feast day become associated with the blessing of one specific body part? It seems Saint Blaise once cured a boy who was choking on a fish bone. And what's with the candles? The stories say the imprisoned Saint Blaise was gifted with two candles by a woman grateful to Blaise for saving her pig from a wolf. (He could talk to the animals, remember? "Hey Wolf! Back away from the pig.")

This explains why, on one February 3rd a millennia and a half later, a priest whacked my neck with two long candles.

I guess it is pretty funny.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Rusty Report

At the risk of becoming the new Cat Fancy blog, I'm doing another kitty post.

Rusty is recuperating nicely from his double hip surgery. It's going to take a while for the femurs at the site of the osteotomy to develop the fibrous scar tissue required to form a "pseudojoint". I was told it can take three months or more for this process to occur.

But the stitches have been removed and the cone is no longer required to keep Rusty from licking his incisions. We were so worried about Cosmo wanting to play with Rusty during this time that we kept the poor kitty isolated in the guest room. It turns out that Cosmo was so freaked out by Rusty's blue cone that he kept his distance on his own accord.

Now that the cone is off, Cosmo's attention is providing Rusty with the physical therapy he needs. And for the first time in months, Rusty is actually instigating play time with his brother. Rusty is able to climb up onto the furniture and to the first level of the cat tree. I guess the next milestone will be when he makes his way to the higher levels.

Rusty's also making a sound I hadn't heard in months... he's purring again.

What we saw...

What Cosmo saw.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Rusty Post-FHO, Day 6

When that cone comes off, Rusty's going to be shocked to
realize he's been porky-pigging it for the past week.
Rusty the Cat breezed through his bilateral FHO surgery Monday with no further complications. I was a little nervous picking him up from the vet Tuesday morning, not knowing if I'd do a good job caring for him properly at home. But he's doing all the work, really. What a trooper. Our pets have so much to teach us about strength and attitude.

Rusty was walking gingerly the first day home, although I had to help support him a little when it was time to use the litter box. But by the next day he was using his box on his own. We set up the guest room for him with an electric blanket, a short litter pan, and all the food and water his tiny heart desires. We want to keep him separated from Cosmo until he has the strength to defend himself from his brother's tough love.

So that he doesn't feel isolated, I've been sleeping and pretty much living in there with him. Doing this I've learned an important lesson: my futon is not comfortable. I now feel ashamed for having my guests sleep on it. (Sorry StevieB.)

Last night Rusty surprised me by climbing onto the couch to curl up next to me. He's finished with his pain meds and now his biggest handicap seems to be his cone. I hate watching him bumping around, knocking over his food dish and scooping up kitty litter with it. But he needs to keep it on until his stitches are removed, hopefully early next week.

I want to give a shout out to a couple of bloggers who documented their feline FHO experiences. Your act of sharing helped me, and I'm sure many others, more than you realize. Both in how to prepare and what to expect. Knowing that Rusty will have a normal life – even without normal hip joints – made the decision to invest in this procedure a no-brainer. Thank you very, very much!

Bentley's FHO Experience
Mo's FHO Surgery Progress

Plus all the YouTubers and Instagramers who posted videos and pics of their cats and dogs in the days and weeks after their FHO. (Although Crash the Cat kind of scared me until I realized he was born with Cerebellar Hypoplasia and that was actually very good progress at six weeks. Go Crash! :^)

Thursday, December 31, 2015


As you may recall from my last post, Rusty the Cat's bilateral FHO surgery was scheduled for this past Monday. This was to fix his two fractured femoral necks to hopefully relieve the constant hip pain he surely must be suffering.

We dropped our little trooper off bright and early Monday morning with instructions to return Tuesday to pick him up. On the way out of the office I stopped at the desk to pay a sum I'm too embarrassed to share. Suffice it to say I won't be going on vacation anytime soon.

At 10am I received a call from the doctor; there had been a complication. My heart sank into my stomach. While putting Rusty under, he had a reaction to the anesthesia. Rusty was going to be okay but the doctor decided to postpone the procedure a week.

So after all that trauma, Rusty's still no closer to getting better. And he now has two shaved bands where they had his IVs hooked up. Now that I know how white he is under his black fur, I'm kind of afraid what he's gonna look like with his ass shaved. :^)

It's bad enough his back legs don't work, but now
his front legs just look ridiculous.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ephemeral, Defemoral

Sit, stand, kneel, repeat.
I can't believe it's December 23 already. This Christmas sure snuck up on me. I only just returned home from nearly a week in Michigan. My aunt and godmother's funeral was a sad occasion, but it was very nice to reconnect with family and friends I haven't seen in years.

I'd forgotten how Catholic my upbringing was until we were back in tiny St. Patrick's church. Listening to the priest berate the assembled mourners who were only there to pay their respects to a woman they loved reminded me why I'm no longer religious.

I returned home last Saturday to find that my poor kitty's limp had gotten worse. I'd taken Rusty to the vet a few weeks ago and while she couldn't find anything specifically wrong with his leg, she suggested I bring him back for x-rays if he doesn't get any better. While I was away my little buddy seemed to go from playful kitten to grumpy old man, so back to the vet we went on Monday.

He's got JB's hips
and my tail.
Four hours and five hundred dollars later we were told Rusty has two fractured hips! Evidently this type of hip problem is common in male cats who get neutered while still very young. Something about the femoral growth plates not getting the hormones they need to develop completely. Cats with this condition typically begin showing signs of hip problems at around 18 months of age.

There wasn't really any question that JB and I would opt for surgical repair. After all, when JB's hip went bad I didn't put him to sleep; we got it fixed. So Monday morning at 8:30am Rusty is going in for double FHO surgery. Femoral Head Ostectomy is a procedure where they remove the femoral head and neck, which is the ball part of the hip joint.

This is your cat on
pain killers.
I learned that because cats are small and light, they can get by without a complete hip joint as the bone heals and their muscles learn to compensate. The prognosis is excellent as, in most cases, these cats regain full use of their hind legs and return to their normal activity levels.

Of course, this will take several months of recovery. It's going to be an interesting new year.

Monday, December 14, 2015

One Step Forward...

I'm still trying to get up to speed for the holidays. The condo renovations are approximately 95% complete. That's down from a high of 99% on November 30th before I discovered a leak from my clogged air conditioner condensation drain soaked about 100 square feet of my brand new hardwood.

The good news is that it looks like we'll be able to save the flooring, however the baseboards ripped up by the remediation crew in order to dry inside the walls still need to be replaced. The damage extended to two storage closets, so all the items which are usually kept out of sight are now piled high in my blogging den.

Since all the noisy fans and dehumidifiers have finally been taken away, we were able to get the tree up this weekend. Then I got the sad news that my godmother passed away so I'll be spending several days this week in Michigan.

This doesn't give me much time for my usual pre-Christmas tasks of shopping, baking and crafting but I'll do my best. I got all the ingredients for a gingerbread project, although I'm still not sure what I'm going to construct. It's going to be hard to beat last year's edible tableau of StevieB topping an anonymous trick behind an Eagle dumpster. Any ideas?

Again this year I'm relying on The Crafty Lumberjacks for holiday inspiration. I really liked their idea of lighting the Charlie Brown themed shipping box which is being offered by the US Postal Service this year. While the exact box those hunky lumberjacks used was easy to find, the most difficult and frustrating part of the entire project was the 30 minutes waiting in the post office line to buy the damn thing.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Metaphoric Christmas

I read with great enjoyment Stevie B's blog post about picking out a Christmas tree. (Go read "Christmas Tree".) One of the things I love about Stevie's writing is the layers of symbolism he weaves throughout anecdotal tales of his day-to-day life. In this case it isn't hard to see the plastic tree that never changes from one year to the next, eventually becoming a begrudged chore to deal with, as representing his life in his previous relationship.

By way of contrast, Stevie's new life is represented by a genuine, living evergreen. This experience is shared with Stevie's roommate, who is also out of a long-term relationship and who is also hot (and available), and Stevie's new romantic partner who (by cultural happenstance and not extreme youth) is experiencing this holiday ritual for the very first time. Through his boyfriend's eyes, Stevie gets to relive happy memories while viewing his current reality with a fresh, child-like perspective.

Trekking up a mounting to stand in the cold and mud is Stevie's acknowledgement that the process of ending a long-term relationship and building a new life can't be undertaken without some amount of pain and messiness. Sometimes our fear of this discomfort can keep us fluffing the same plastic tree a year or two longer than we should.

Another brilliantly crafted post, Stevie B. Bravo!