Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ever in my heart

I'm a cat person - there's no doubt about it. There's something about a cat - things go according to their terms - and you have to play by their rules. And those rules are never clear or necessarily logical. But I love cats.

Our cat who we lost yesterday was named Mikaela. We called her "Boo Boo" because when she was younger, she liked to play a semi-hide and seek game - I am even looking at a picture as proof. We never thought she would make it to 15. 4.5 years ago when we were on vacation, she went into acute renal failure, and the vet kept her alive until we drove like heck home to see her. And so these 4.5 years were a gift, but with pets, well, it always seems too soon...

Boo Boo was found by a farmer along the side of the road in Minnesota, where I lived for about 3 years. A woman kept her until the right person came looking for a cat, and that was me. When I first saw her she was hanging out by a stream on the farm. She was only 6 months old and still very much a kitten. She was unique, but so are all cats. I lived in a townhouse and the owner didn't want cats wandering outside, so yes, she got used to being on a leash. She didn't need the leash when we would walk down the street to get the mail together. On her terms we got the mail together - she meandered along, but still was there with me. There was a field next to the townhouses; she would go hide there and I would try to find her (when she was illegally off leash). Later in life she would follow along when I walked the dog, in a cat way, off to the side a bit, but she was fully aware exactly where we were.

She was trained! When I would say "Show me stretchy," she would roll over and extend her long body as far as she could in a stretch. My husband trained her to do this "dolphin" move. You could hold out your hand and she would jump to reach it. She learned to hop on the sink and then request a drink; when she could no longer jump that high she would show up in the bathroom, meow, and announce it was time to lift her up.

She accompanied me on a trip to Colorado from Minnesota. I drove the 14 hours and she sat on my lap through a nasty ice storm in Nebraska. She was the calming force. When I moved back to Colorado, my mom and I were trying to find a hotel and none took pets. So my mom wrapped her in a blanket, climbed the stairs by the office, flung open the door to our room, and flung the cat inside. So back to Colorado went the cat, the goldfish, the plants, and me.

Back in Colorado, I got a tiny 1 bedroom apartment which is where I met my husband, Dave - he lived next door. Denver - apartments - parking lots - eeks! I would let her outside on her leash - she always loved the outside. I find it amazing that, after discovering I put my cat on a leash outside my apartment, Dave still dated me! Animal lovers...

Unlike most cats, Boo Boo didn't mind kids. When we moved into a house, kids would walk by our house on the way home from school. They would see Boo Boo and run toward her. Rather than run away, she would flop on the ground and let them pet her.

She also toured the neighborhood, jumping over fences and sitting on neighbors' porches. She would always return as if, no big deal - she had a cat door.

She adapted to my MS in a way that only a cat could. She "stole" the wheelchair! When it wasn't occupied, she would find it. The cat knew comfort! When I didn't feel well, she would just show up, as if to say, it's time for you to rest and me to sit on your lap and keep warm.

That cat went through a lot - moving from Minnesota to Colorado, then from one apartment to another, then a house, then came a baby, then another house! She traveled! After she was initially sick, she still played. She always loved to be outside. This past summer, when it was really hot, she wanted to spend the whole day outside and Dave and Lori would have to find her at night because she just wanted to stay out.

So there are fond memories of Boo Boo. "The end" is not what I want to remember - it wasn't pretty - she was a fighter. But her final sigh told me it's ok, thank you for being with me, and there are no more needle sticks, no more attempts to get me to eat, no more distress... there is now peace.

I want to remember all the good times... the times when she wasn't sure if she wanted in or out - that quirky nature of a cat. There are so many good memories.

This morning, I went to my weekly physical therapy. This seems odd to me - it seems like I should have stayed in bed. But I went. I walked a half mile on the assisted gait treadmill - that's a first. A half mile when I used to only be able to walk 50 or so feet?

Last Sunday someone said that no matter what the tragedy, we can find good in it. I'm not sure how to connect this to wonderful Boo Boo, but in perhaps that walk was some kind of tribute. A walking tribute, from our trips to the mailbox, our walks with the dog, ... half a mile.

And so Boo Boo, you gave me love, and trust, and joy, and though you are no longer by my side, your gifts remain and I have you ever in my heart.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Blowing the whistle

I've been somewhat paying attention to this whole Penn State thing, although everything is limited for the next 2.5 weeks, until my Masters is finished!

I find something interesting - the person who initially saw this illegal thing happen should have blown the whistle and called the police (say many people apparently) and now this person is getting death threats. I'm told he was a grad student then and called his dad who called or talked to someone else who talked to someone else who... it seems to go on and on and nothing is done.

And that person at the very bottom who saw this horrible thing, has and will carry it with him forever.

Regardless of what the thing is, and whether it's illegal or not, and whether that (legality) is questionable - when at the bottom of everything, it's a bit different, and I wonder if all these people judging the person at the bottom have ever been there.

I wonder how many people have been at the bottom and wondered what to do, and not known, and carry this with them. I bet there are a bunch of us. So now you know I, along with many, carry something. It's not to the same degree at all, but I live with it each day, as has that person, for years.

Something happened to me and I told a person of more authority who I trusted. This sounds similar. And that person said we'll address this, but let's just keep this here and not get too many people involved. Hmmm... sounding similar. The person of trust - we kept it small - and it follows me, a lot, though I did hand that over to God in the mountains over Labor Day weekend so it's not as bad.

But the fact is, even though it's nothing illegal, I went somewhere after the whole thing occurred and I was told by someone who knew nothing about my story, a person who was giving general advice - she said, "if someone says to keep this here and not get too many people involved, then that's a big red flag to get someone involved." Gulp. Oops? It's so difficult - on the bottom of the totem pole, told something will be addressed --> it isn't. At the bottom of the totem pole, does one just skip to another entity? No - it's frightening. Even when told about the red flag, it seems too late.

And so I have this with me forever. Something happened. It probably has happened to others. It will happen to others, because it was kept so small. And these others - my heart breaks for them.

If anything does ever happen, where am I? Will I be blamed?

And my little scenerio is not dealing with the law, although maybe it is.

So that person at the bottom at Penn State, I think he did what he could, at his age, his level of authority. He's carried this in silence and now will carry it while being criticized, forever.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When it rains, it pours

Sure, I can take anything. I made it through the hottest August ever. I haven't been sick in forever... Sure, certain parts of life have been hard, but I have "the Ampyra effect" going on, so I can handle anything, right? That is quite the attitude!

I was headed into the final weekend before the big draft of my capstone was due (yesterday). In 3 weeks, I plan to be done!

On Friday as part of my capstone project, I pretended to revert back to a programmer and programmed and programmed and programmed until I showed the data that I could handle it! Back in my programming days, I was very good. I think people thought I was better than I really was, but so be it. On Friday, I was in charge. There were 2.5 more days to bring everything together, somewhat (it's still a draft).

Then came Saturday. Surely, when I woke up hot and was slow it was due to the fuzzy red top being too much. Where were my feet? I couldn't really feel them although it felt like a bit of a fire where I thought they were. I started to work. Then one hand got cold and then I couldn't really feel either one. It's really hard to type with one cold hand and both numb.

And then everything came to the same temperature. I somewhat felt my feet. My hands were numb, but I was very warm. And then I was cold. Then I settled with warm and decided to stand to get a Cherry Coke. I got up, but then proceeded to almost do the splits in not staying up, and at my age with no flexibility - ouch!

Reality - I had a fever. I finally figured it out. And I was not in charge.

And yet, I still needed to do a few things. When on the floor, getting into my wheelchair, normally no big deal, was hard and I felt like I was sweating profusely. Everything was a battle. I finally settled on the couch, my husband brought me soup, something was on TV, and I was semi-awake.

Somehow the draft was finished by the due date (but I was just looking at it and there are plenty of typos).

On Sunday I could at least get up. I could do the basics of moving.

On Monday, I was almost back, but I had to watch my energy.

And so, I was reminded that I'm not in charge, that rest is essential. It's strange because instead of listening to the call to rest, I wanted to be in charge - this is my life!

Now I remember what it's like to have a fever with MS. It's horrible. Even a small fever like that takes me and flings me to the ground, daring me to try to get up, to sit, to attempt to stand, when I cannot.

I really dislike when people seem to think it's the same as when they, without MS, get a fever. It's not. It's throw me down, leave me on the floor, dangerous stuff where I could land in a hospital. I don't think people realize that's how it really is.

I now remember the MS fever, and am so thankful it didn't last long. But when these things happen, wouldn't it help to let go of control, to hand things to God, to let go of how the paper would get done, to rest?

Because of course, God is there, and there is...