Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meow Mix Comes Home

First, thanks for your comments, thoughts and prayers.  It has been an incredibly shitty week and quite the emotional ride for me, personally.  From blaming myself, sweating the money (It cleaned me out.  I'm now overdrawn. Thanks to Mom & Dad for helping out and all my friends for offering to help out) to finding faith to believe that she will be okay.  I am still not quite myself.

Thursday, her tests came back with increased levels in her kidney chem panel.  Fear kicked in.  I cried all evening until I went to see her. They upped her fluids, she took it like a champ, and on Friday...well one test came back clean the other a pretty significant drop, but she still needed to stay a day.  I was overjoyed and filled with tremendous hope that the miracle would happen; that she would be able to flush it all out and in time, recover.  Saturday, her tests came back.  Everything normal but the one that was still a bit high actually went up a bit more.  Nevertheless, they decided that it would be best for her to come home as her behavior did not indicated she felt ill and her chatty personality was entertaining everyone.

Thankfully I have been able to visit her on Thursday and Friday nights.  Thursday I was petting her and talking to a vet tech:

E: "I just turned my back for three minutes...."
VT: "We've all been there"

Everyone's been telling me that "mistakes happen", "we all make mistakes" but I just couldn't get over feeling the blame for it.  For some reason, the way he said it really helped me let go.  I mean, I still have guilt, but I'm not beating myself up like I had been.  No one else had said it quite this way.  Later another vet tech came in singing a song with Meow Mix's real name in it.  Apparently, they all start humming it as soon as they see her.  She is truly special and has a way of making people fall in love with her.  She's part dog, part human and cat physically and when she wants to be.  Meow Mix has always had an unique effect on people.  Even my friends who are allergic to cats jump at the chance to care for her while I'm out of town.

Overall, the doctors have been very positive and I continue to ask for prayers that she will still flush it out with daily fluids under the skin, a special diet, love and prayers.  A girlfriend, who got me into meditation, is going to come by at some point to do a healing on her.  I know it sounds crazy but the first healing I got my allergies cleared up in days instead of weeks.  Sometimes, as Meow Mix's namesake said to me, you just have to "believe".

I am so happy to have her home.  She is acting normal.  Totally into everything and it was nice to have her curl up for a snuggle last night.  This morning she threw up her food.  I was pretty sure it was her IBD acting up - stress with coming home - but called vet anyway, as it can be a sign of kidney problems.  Gave her some pepcid and she's all good.  Going to feed her this afternoon and then fluids.  Here are some pics:

 Tuesday after day at vet - on to 24-hr emergency care

Friday night - loves to lay on you.  My Christmas ham!
 "I'm fine! When can I get the IV out?"  Curious as ever.

 All these barking dogs are exhausting me.

Like nothing happened.  Curious as ever.

 A midday Sunday nap

I, and one of her doctors, are now on a mission to spread the word of Lilies and cats.  There is NO safe part of the flower.  NONE!  I am totally surprised how many people don't know about it.  I may be unable to identify flowers (I thought it was an orchid) but as soon as my gf emailed it was a Stargazer I knew I had to get her in ASAP.  One doctor says they see a lot of cases around Easter - makes sense. So, spread the word.  Don't keep lilies in your house if you have cats.  People need to know!

Needless to say, this has been life changing and pushed me further in the direction I need to go in.  

Pray for the miracle!  I believe it can happen!  


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Prayers for Meow Mix

Sorry I've been a stranger.  Been so busy this month.  Busy enough to make some dumb mistakes.  The last one put my cat in the hospital Tuesday and she was supposed to come home tonight, but her tests came back positive for some kidney damage.  She got into a Lily I stupidly brought into my house. How can I be SO STUPID.  It's all my fault.  I am SO mad at myself for being so thoughtless.  My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying, so please forgive me if I'm off the grid a little longer.  I just can't seem to do anything at the moment.

She is the most incredible cat ever.  So loving, sweet, playful, a charmer, knows commands, follows me everywhere I go, waits at the door when I walk in, loves to snuggle, purrs anytime you start petting her, takes her medicine and nail clipping like it's a spa treatment (she purrs), constantly trying to win an Academy Award for most dramatic stop, drop, and roll for tummy rubs, loves everyone and always makes me laugh.  I really need her here now to make me laugh through the tears.  I'm not ready to lose her yet.

Please say prayers, send good thoughts and energy - - whatever you can do for Meow Mix. 


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ham in My Pants

Well, no surprise.  Somehow those 10 L.B.S. I was supposed to concentrate on losing over the summer turned in to 10 L.B.S. EARNED!  Really, it's my fault.  I wasn't motivated or just a little lazy this year.  (Trust me, if you need an excuse to not work out I've got about 1000 of them).  So, with one of my best friend's wedding encroaching in just a mere few days, I decided it was time to do something.  Nothing like waiting until the last possible hour of desperation to drop some weight. 

I recently purchased a pair of those Champion Stride 'n Tones from one of my secret places to buy shoes.  No, don't ask me where.  I won't tell you.  If I told you it WOULDN'T be a SECRET, now would it?  Bribe me all you want...well, depends on how good the bribe is...but...I digress.  I got the shoes for a steal, really a steal, because who wants to spend $75+ on a pair of shoes that may or may not give me the rockin' ass and legs I see on the TV model, who clearly hasn't worked to be fit her entire life.  Seriously, a trial is needed before serious investment.

Monday I took them for a stroll.  I was kind of stressed (don't act surprised) and decided to close up biz at 4:30 and go for a four+ mile walk to the lakefront, down and back.  At first I thought that two hams were fighting for possession of my ass with each step.  Then I realized, sigh, that it was really the fact that I had a full ham attached to each ass cheek and they bumped up and down as I walked - it's even worse when you're a fast walker like myself.  Still, I kept the faith that these shoes would indeed do what the marketing ploy says they will (Damn marketers!  Wait that's me)  So, I turned up the mp3 and just kept going hoping that no one would catch site of the delicatessen I was packing in my pants.  If only they were spiral hams and just fell apart as I walked....yeah, this is what I was thinking as I walked.

Believe it or not, after a while I started to feel the muscles in my quads and butt tighten a bit.  Even think my sad pathetic excuse for a core was positively effected as well.  I also noticed that the hams on my ass felt tighter as well - less flagrant bouncing up and down and more like they'd finally managed to be tamed.  OMG, my shoes are the ASS WHISPERER!

Since then I've attempted to make sure they're on my feet at all times, sans professional meetings downtown.  Slip on, slip off.  While like all things in life, there is no magic bullet to getting in shape, it takes, ugh, work, I am feeling rather good about my odds in the next couple of months.  If I don't take this off it's going to suddenly double over the winter months when all you can do in Chicago is eat and watch movies.  Baby, it's cold outside!

Maybe the BFF is right.  I should have just Lip Slutted my way to the flu and not eaten for a week!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Perspective: I Am Truly Blessed

After a cold shower this morning I called the gas company to see what was going on with the hot water heater, as I cook breakfast just fine.  They said they'd send someone out.  And she arrived in a jiffy.  Impressive for the gas company!  I never got her name, but she gave me a dose of perspective that I needed, and you do too, probably.  She reminded me how truly blessed I am and that a woman is strong enough to do it all on her own.

My dad is a talker and I don't mean he just likes to talk, he will trap you, if you're not careful, unless you can come up with a creative way to depart without hurting his feelings.  This morning, Gas Gal, well, I think she just needed someone to listen.  So, after my near death experience with Angry Smelly Homeless Man, I felt God was reminding me....

Gas Gal hasn't had an easy life in her 60+ years (yes, she spilled her entire story to me).  She isn't a pretty woman but I could see in her powder blue eyes the years of hard work, suffering and yet, still, hope. 

After cheating on her, for what she thinks was years, her husband left her with a four and eight year old.  This was nearly 30 years ago, because she mentioned her daughter is now 37.  Her douche bag husband canceled insurance for her and her children and she came to work for the gas company - hey, utilities pay well and have great bennies plus pension (although State of Illinois owes millions and millions to people).  Smart gal - she raised her children on her own, one with autism and now in assisted living, and later met a man who would be her boyfriend for 21 years.  He passed away four years ago.

Since his passing she was rear-ended in a car accident leaving her with a back injury.  The gas company put her on painting duties - meaning she paints gas meters, and such.  Turns out Gas Gal was allergic to the fumes but after several months of exposure  the damage was done and she now suffers from a major respiratory problem.  The steroids leave her bloated and she was no doubt winded climbing to my attic to look at the water heater.  If that wasn't enough, the poor gal had four, count them FOUR abscessed teeth in the next year (I've had ONE and that was enough for me), leaving her with a few holes in her sweet smile.  Still, she laughed through the recount of her personal trials.  It was a cacophony of tragedy.  Every time I felt it couldn't get worse, it did. 

By the time we were in the attic, she announced that she has nine cats - six she found on the streets while working for the gas company and three she's been helping care for since a friend had to move in with her mother and the landlord won't allow them to stay.  She's had them for two years.  So, of course, because of Meow Mix we bonded.  As she slowly bent to her knees on the floor to look at the water heater, she starts talking about Dewey Readmore Books - the famous Iowa library cat for which their is a need-a-box-of-kleenex-to-read-book about.  It's fabulous.  Trust me.  Sniffle, sniffle (thanks to my cat-loving friend and namesake of Meow Mix*).

At that point, Gas Gal just started talking, and talking and talking.

As we made our way back down from the attic, I was somewhat annoyed and thinking I have so much to do today, and then I sensed that she just needed someone to listen.  I praised her for being such a strong woman, for taking a man's job, earning her way, fighting for equal pay, working hard and taking care of her children.  She told me her daughter married a buffoon but had his baby, anyway, at 37 and that there's more than enough years and opportunity for me (love her!).  Apparently this buffoon, aka beloved douche bag, with a British accent (how many times have woman been swayed by less?) had a criminal record for which he never told his wife and mother of his child.  He's apparently stuck in England because Canada rejected his visa after learning of drugs and the small incident of chasing his sister out a window while high as a kite and, after dangling for a moment by her legs, left her to fall two stories below.  Gas Gal, of course, took her in for convalescence.  Douche bag then threatened Gas Gal with her life if his sister wasn't returned to his family.  Wow!

From there it was an ever flowing cascade of children, grandchildren, great nieces and nephews, and cats, for which Gas Gal recounted each place she found them, their names (courtesy of her autistic, but brilliant son who managed to come up with first and middle names that roll off your tongue with a smooth perfection; like a song) and how she nursed them all back to health.  Her loss and hopes for retirement.  Fear of moving and having to release some of her beloved cats to rescue organizations and somberness thinking about her many trials. 

At one point, as she told me that she lost her boyfriend of over two decades four years ago, I felt tears and emotion rising in her.  She told me that she's been lost in mourning and a little depressed since the loss.  Oh, how I related to her in feeling lost!  Mine seems quite trivial after meeting Gas Gal.  Those who know me know that I was compelled to give her a hug, but I didn't.  Instead I told her that good things and many more blessings would be on their way, and that she is in my prayers.  I felt bad inching away from her to end the conversation, so I did and then stayed and listened a little bit longer to her story. What I heard was a woman, whose life has been full of so many, unexpected tragedies, find joy and happiness in her children, family and cats (like children).  We all have to find those things, those reasons to pull through.

Finally, she wished me well and apologized for taking up my time.  I said "You're not taking up any one's time.  It's been such a pleasure to meet you.  Have a wonderful day and enjoy this beautiful weather!"  With that, we parted.  I back into my apartment (which I now know has a load of violations against it!  Another reason to leave), and she into her gas van.

As a journalist, and a wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve-kind-of-gal, I've long believed that every single person alive or passed has a story.  One that will make you laugh; one to make you get up and sing; one that will make you pause and think; one that will cause you take action and one that will break your heart.  No matter the story they are all interesting and important.  They are our stories and lives, and they are all valuable.

So, Gas Gal, I saw you today.  I heard you and your story today and I will pray that you receive all the blessings that God, the universe, whatever you want to call it, so rightly wants to bring to you.  For me, you reminded me that my compassion isn't maybe as compassionate as I'd like to think.  That I, too, am guilty of not wanting to be bothered by anything that doesn't effect me directly or take the time to really hear someone.  You've reminded me that aside of my personal struggles and worries, that my life is all too blessed.  That the little things are what matter, next to family, and that through it all we have to keep on truckin' through life to get to that place of peace and grace of which we're being led. 

More importantly, you reminded me that it's important that we all take a moment to stop, look and listen to someone.  My father always says that one smile, one hello can change the outcome of someone's day.  Go do it, be it, and pass it on.


My Heroes: Chicagoans

Have you missed me?  I've missed all of you!  Things have been a little nutty around here and to keep my head from spinning and turning into Medusa I've been really concentrating on getting some things off my plate.  But now....I'm back and what a way to come back....

Now, let me preface this all by saying that I've worked for and on behalf of the homeless for almost 20 years.  I've served meals, helped to raise money and awareness. Through this I've learned a lot about the homeless.  For instance, I know that many, if not a majority of homeless (including teenage runaway), choose to be homeless. Sounds weird, right, but it's not.  It makes them.  These people don't want to, or can't, handle the responsibilities of life. They don't want a job or pay rent, etc.  Then there are others who are mentally ill.  No one is looking for them because they don't know who they are let alone where they are.  Then there are those who simply fall on hard times and use every resource available to them to get back on their feet. The one thing almost all of them have in common is panhandling.  It's just that each group has a different approach.

In Chicago, there are even food voucher programs by where one can buy vouchers and give them to someone in need who can in turn use them to purchase food. This is just one of many ways that people are helping each day.  One organization, I'm on the board of directors of, seeks out those in true need on the streets, providing housing, food, clothing, psychological help, medications, living assistance and much more.  So, with that said I am a compassionate and understanding person when it comes to the homeless, but I also know that taxpayers provide services to help these people get back up on their feet.  If they want it, they can get help. I will not give money to the homeless, but if said man below approached me outside the restaurant, I would have bought a bagel for him....I am not completely heartless....

This morning after a coffee meeting I sat down at the bus stop to check CTA Bustracker on my phone (brilliant by the way!  Tells you how long before your bus arrives) when a man walks up to me:

Man: Excuse me, can you help me out?
E: No, I'm sorry, sir, I can't help you.
Homeless Man: Look, I'm homeless and just woke up in the alley.  I'm hungry
E: (Yes, you smell like you just woke up in the alley) Well, I can't help you but there are plenty of places you can go for help.  You can flag down any police officer and they have to take you to a place where you can get food and shelter.
Homeless Smelly Man: PO-LICE! Don't you go talkin' to me about no PO-LICE!  All I want is some damn money to get something to eat!
E: (I stand up and begin to step out of the bus shelter) Sir, I'm sorry I can't help you.  I work with and know of several organizations that can help you get what you need.  I only mention the police because they are required, when asked, to take you to a shelter.
Angry Smelly Homeless Man:  (approaching me) Just give me some DAMN money so I can get something to eat!  I'm homeless and hungry.
E: (Walking backwards towards the building, people are now walking by me...mostly men and as I look at them for help)
ASHMan:  (approaching me again, rambling) Don't be talkin' to me about no PO-LICE.  I did time in a penitentiary and I don't want to see no police ever again.  Do you know what it's like there?  I ain't goin' back!
E: (Great, the penitentiary.  I'm going to die and none of these fuckers walking by me, seeing me retreating from this man yelling in my face are doing a damn thing about it.  Here I am on a busy street corner, fuckers walking by like nothing is happening, fuckers sitting RIGHT THERE waiting for the light to change not doing a thing and I'm going to die and Angry Smelly Homeless Man is going to run off with my free refill of Panera coffee - half-caff, of course)
ASHMan: (approaching me still) I just woke up in the fucking alley, do you understand? And I'm hungry just give me some money to eat something. 
E: (I really wanted to yell at the man, but didn't want to increase the odds that he would kill me right there and then...AND trying to make an effort to get some fucker walking past me to intervene...) Sir, I'm sorry I can't help you.  I told you that there are people who can help you.  You're making me extremely uncomfortable (my back now pressed up against the building and people walking in between us on the sidewalk - HELLO!  DOES ANYONE FUCKING CARE THAT I WILL BE KILLED?)
ASHMan: I'm making YOU uncomfortable?  Just give me some damn money and I'll go away.
E: Seriously, sir, you're making me very uncomfortable and I will not help you.

ASHM finally walks off to bother other people down the street and I am left, back against a wall with fucking Chicagoans who won't do a damn thing walking by me.  I am completely jolted, stunned and unsteady.  Seriously?  Not ONE person, not ONE man could or would stop to help a woman from being pestered by a a clearly unstable angry homeless man?  I will tell you this one thing: this would not happen in Kansas or back home in the Southern Plains states.  No way, no how would ANY man allow a woman to be put in such a situation without coming to her rescue.

Chicago has certainly changed over the years.  Where once it was the "BIG" city that Midwesterners flocked too, it's now a true melting pot of people who only flocked here after gentrification, after it became so pretty and nice.  Clearly none of them are from the Midwest and none give a rat's ass about anyone but themselves, and that breaks my heart.  Chicago is no longer a Midwestern city.  It has gone the way of other booming metropolises.  I'm so disappointed.  I love my city, but the people....I wonder, if this man had attacked me if anyone would have done a damn thing about it.

And so this is the first step in the slow process of breaking up with the city of Chicago; the best relationship I've ever had.  She was always new, exciting, passionate, sexy, and there when I needed her, but now things have changed.  I've changed.  I need more.