Friday, October 31, 2014

yeah, so...

i know.

it's been, what, over three months?

i've been busy.  tired.  ugh.

school.  working full time.  being sick and fatigued from rheumatoid arthritis.

things are going well.  i'm tired but happy -  my brother is getting married today.  i'm excited and already tired.

work is good.  i've been plugging along and am now working evenings with legal clients - people with DWI arrests, CPS involvement.

i'm in school - my last semester.  i'll graduate in january and will have the opportunity to walk in a cap and gown and receive my diploma in may.  i haven't decided if i want to do that yet but i think i do.

and i'm also thinking about masters programs.  i think i might go for an MSW.  amazing, since five years ago i wasn't even thinking about school.

i think it's going to be a rough day.  amazing and fun and exciting, but tiring and missing mom.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

i have a commitment issue.

i can't blog regularly.

i just don't know what my problem is.  i have so much to say, but i just don't write it out.

work has been amazing.  getting paid to help people kick substance abuse is rewarding and frustrating and terrifying and fulfilling.  i don't love watching people pee in cups, i hate being lied to, and i'm learning to identify the master manipulators sooner rather than later.  my background in customer service/admin and having owned my own business mean i'm a pro at the paperwork side of it, even though much of it is on the computer.  actually, that might be why i'm so good at it.  i find it pretty easy to figure out how to do everything on the computer.  much of the stuff is intuitive for me; it makes sense.

i'm only working 19 hours a week and am desperate for more hours.  as it is, i've been working a lot for free.  i work 4 days a week and never take my 30 minute lunch: that's 2 hours of free work a week.  on mondays, i had gotten into the habit of staying up to 2 hours late for free.  during the week it's not uncommon for me to stay at least 30 minutes late.  and on fridays, well anywhere from 1-2 hours late has been the norm.

have you kept up with that?  that's 7-8 hours of FREE WORK every week.

three or four hours of my time every week is expected to go to supervision or training, leaving me around 15 hours to see 7 or 8 clients (an hour a pop), run two groups (at least 3 hours total), and complete at least two intake assessments (about 5 hours).  if you add it up, it just about works.

if that was all i did.  that doesn't take into account the urine testing i have to do for my clients and other clients.  it doesn't account for extra paperwork, like treatment planning or admission/discharge crap.  it doesn't include time for calling probation officers and waiting for call backs and touching base with other counselors or faxing child protection.... on and on and on.

so, yeah.  i do about 26-27 hours of work a week.  and i know there's a 28 hour position in other locations... we just don't have the budget for it at our location.  damn it.  damn it all.

i've decided i can't get burned out.  i can't be continually taken advantage of.  so i've decided i have to leave closer to my scheduled time.  this week, i actually put my 30 minute lunch on my computer scheduler every day.  i try to stop working; today i managed to take almost 20 minutes looking away from my computer and doing not much work-related crap; i messed around on my phone.  i left 40 minutes late yesterday and about 25 minutes late today.  i took some time to really consider my schedule and see how i can move appointments around to better suit leaving on time.

my thought is that if i ONLY work the 19 (okay, maybe 21) hours a week, i won't be able to tackle any additional 'stuff'; hell, i may barely be able to tackle my stuff.  then they'll see that i either need a smaller caseload (booooo) or more hours (yaaaaaay).

it's strange, sort of.  having a job i love so much that i don't mind working for free.   because that's not it - i don't really mind working for free.  it's just i'd rather they pay me for it.  and if i keep doing it for free, they'll never realize they need to pay me for it.

i've thought about taking another part time job.  i'm not sure that will work very well, but i'd like the extra money.  it would be nice to have a bucketful of money to take to florida next fall.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

how i make my cat food

yup, i make my own cat food now.  piglet won't eat it, of course, and she's probably the one who needs it.  she's in kidney failure and i started making cat food so i could control the ingredients and the phosphorous levels, which is important when cats have kidney failure.  so piglet won't eat it, but jake and samantha love love love it.

please check with your vet.  i am not a vet.  cats have specific nutritional needs and this diet may NOT meet AAFCO standards like commercial pet foods.   this recipe in particular does not have the calcium to phosphorus ratio that commercial pet foods have.  i did this on purpose to try and positively effect piglet's kidneys.  i am confident that it is appropriate for my cats based on their needs.

there are many theories as to why diabetes, obesity, and kidney failure is so common in today's pet cats.  i believe it is because we humans are lazy and feed cats whatever is easiest for us.  kibble is crap.  it's full of bacteria and questionable ingredients and stuff that cats actually cannot digest.  cats do not have the digestive enzymes that help digest vegetables and fruit.  cats have no need for added veggies and fruit.  nor do they need grain carbohydrates like corn, wheat, or rice.  cats are obligate carnivores - all they need is meat.  cats in the wild eat birds and rodents (fur and feathers), often eating the entire carcass EXCEPT for the innards - stomach, intestines, digestive stuffs.  cats eat the bones - they're full of calcium (and phosphorus) and help keep their teeth in good shape.

ingredients - all measurements are raw:

5 to 5.5lbs chicken thighs, boneless (if using skin, remove at least half of the skin - do not trim fat)
4oz chicken livers 
8oz chicken hearts 
3 eggs, whole - cooked 
3 egg whites - cooked 
4000mg taurine - buy capsules 
1/2tsp lite salt - in the spice aisle (morton makes it)
1 capsule jarrow b-right complex - b complex vitamins STINK. jarrow b-right is very low odor and non offensive to my cats.
200iu dry vitamin e - buy capsules
5 1000mg capsules fish oil 
eggshell powder (5-6tsp)

1. cook your chicken bits.  i put all the thighs in one 9x13" pyrex, and i put the livers and hearts into an 8" pyrex.  i put a little bit of water in with the hearts and livers, maybe 1/4 cup.  i use an electric thermometer, which i can set to a specific degree and it beeps so i know my chicken is done.  (i cook to 150º, which should kill the most dangerous bacteria - cats have sturdy digestive tracts and can handle way more bacteria than we can.)  cover your pyrex dishes tightly with foil and pop in a 350º oven.

raw chicken thighs - some had bones in them. i don't recommend doing that. it's annoying.

2.  wait.  the livers and hearts may be a little overcooked.  feel free to take them out after about 15 minutes if you prefer.  i'm lazy and don't care enough.  listen, cats eat this stuff raw, too.  the cooking is mainly because my cats eat slow and you can't leave raw food out for the cats for more than about 30 minutes.  cooked food, i can leave out a bit longer if they're still grazing.

3.  gather your crap.  you'll want to prepare your grinder, the bowl you're grinding stuff into, and get another bowl to mix stuff in.  get all your supplements together.

all my supplements - fish oil, jarrow b-right, taurine dry e, and lite salt.

4.  cook your eggs.  i scramble them.  SAVE THE SHELLS - rinse them out and set them aside for a few.

5.  when your thighs and livers and hearts come out of the oven, remove the meaty parts from the dishes and put them in your bowl in the sink.  run cold water in this bowl over all the meaty parts to stop the cooking (and make them easier to handle in a shorter amount of time).  RESERVE THE LIQUID IN THE PYREX DISHES - you'll need this.

this is after i ran the thighs in cool water to stop the cooking and deboned the thighs. which was really annoying.  leave the skin and fat on - it's good for the cats.

6. when the chicken parts are cool enough to handle, start grinding.  i keep a 7" knife on hand to cut the thighs into pieces small enough to feed through my grinding tube thingy.  every couple of thighs that i grind, i toss in a few hearts, some liver, some scrambled egg (unless i forget, then i mix in the egg at the end).

i use the grinder accessory on my kitchen aid stand mixer, and it handles the chicken parts wonderfully.  it will NOT handle bones, so don't try it.  and my recipe has NO bones in it.

7.  while grinding, feel free to pop your egg shells in a warm oven or toaster oven - we're not really cooking them, just drying them out a bit.  if they start browning, you should turn down the heat.  i leave mine in the toaster at around 200º for maybe 8 minutes.

my toaster oven is old and nasty. i want a new one, but i want a cool color. they don't come in cool colors.

8.  so at this point, you should have a big bowl of ground up thighs, livers, and hearts - oh, and if you didn't feed your scrambled eggs through the grinder already, pop them in the bowl now...

ground mix - thighs, hearts, liver, and i tossed in the lightly scrambled eggs.

9.  now you have an empty bowl that used to hold the cooked meaty bits.  rinse that out and grab a strainer.  strain the liquid from the 9x13" thigh pyrex into this bowl.

chicken drippings. yum.... not really, yuck.

10.  sometimes you can use what's left in the strainer - if it's small, mushy, fatty pieces, feel free to throw them in the ground mixture.  you'll mix your supplements into this liquid - open and empty the taurine, dry e, and b-right capsules into the liquid.  poke holes in the fish oil capsules and squeeze out the oil (if you still have the grinder up, grind the empty gelatin capsules from the fish oil - gelatin is found naturally in bones, so adding it might be good for the cats.  or throw them out.  whatever.).  measure out your lite salt and add that.  stir or whisk, just get everything as combined as you can.

11.  now we have the eggshell powder.  those dried eggshells you had in the oven?  you can put them in a food processor (very, very dusty) or grind them by hand with a mortar and pestle.  that's what i do.  i sit on the couch and watch tv while i do it.

this is my marble mortar and pestle.  i roughly crunch up the eggshells and then spend about ten minutes working them into a finer powder. it's not SUPER fine, but it's better than using the cuisinart because the dust is ridiculous.

12.  the eggshell powder won't dissolve in the liquid.  so you can pour it right into the ground mix bowl, and then pour in the bowl full of liquid.

adding the chicken drippings with the supplements mixed in.

13.  mix well.  i like my cat food to be smushy but not wet.  a bit drier than canned cat food pate.  if it seems a little dry, add in the liquid from the 8" pyrex that we cooked the liver and hearts in.  mix mix mix.  you want everything combined and the eggshell all throughout and the egg mixed in well.

all mixed up and ready to portion out.

14.  section it out.  i use quart size freezer bags and a food scale.  i put 9 ounces of food into each freezer bag, then squish out the air, flatten it, and place it in the freezer.  this feeds jake and samantha for one day; they get about 1.5oz at each of three feedings.  it will take almost 24 hours to defrost in the fridge.  if it seems a bit dry coming out of the freezer, add some warm water to moisten it.  jake and samantha like it as-is without any added water.

i modified this recipe based on recipes i found on the cat site, and i'm comfortable with the nutritional content.  jake and samantha really seem to enjoy it; piglet not so much.  she's been seeming sickly the last week or ten days though... i'm waiting for her most recent blood work results and then we'll see what our next steps are.

if you want to feed your cats a raw or home cooked diet, do the research.  not many vets support it, so it's up to you to do the research.  if you can get a nutritional analysis to show your vet, he or she may be more on board.  or maybe you'll be lucky enough to find a vet who supports home cooked/raw foods and helps you develop a diet.  another option is to use a balanced mix - you supply the meat and buy this premix; once you add it in and mix it all up, it's nutritionally balanced for cats.  a few premixes that are well regarded are TCfelineAlnutrin, and Feline Instincts.  If you're hoping to learn more about why to feed your cats like this, check out where dr. lisa pierson - a vet - shares what she's learned about feeding her cats.

does anyone else feed their cats home cooked or raw?  

Monday, May 26, 2014

memorial day memories

i ran to the store to buy chicken so i can make more cat food for my furry family.  there was a bit of a jam at the light, by the end of our parking lot.  there's a decorative fountain there, as well as a flag pole and apparently an oft-overlooked memorial stone.  the commotion was a group of vets in uniform, laying a wreath at the memorial stone, saluting, and firing off a few rounds into the air.

i haven't thought about my grandfather in years.  he died august of 2001, weeks before the 9/11 attacks.  i remember sitting on our front stoop after 9/11, smoking a cigarette, and talking about how glad i was my grandfather died before 9/11 because it would have broken his heart.  grandpa didn't sit around talking about the action he'd seen fighting overseas in world war II; he didn't often bring out uniforms or medals and talk to me about them.  but he was an active member of his local VFW group, butehorn brothers post 4987, and was a commander for some years.  he was honored by the nassau county american legion as legionnaire of the year 1992-1993.  grandpa was active in his veterans groups and active in his home after the war, bethpage.  he regularly wrote for the local bethpage tribune; i often would page through the paper and find something written by him, or photos he took.

as a young girl, there were many times i'd see myself in that paper.  i didn't realize the importance of memorial day back then.  i remember sitting in my grandparent's den, where grandpa's computer was, and cutting up ribbons to be tied around telephone poles and trees to mark the route of the memorial day parades.  i was active in the local girl scouts, as a brownie and a junior girl scout, and loved marching in the parades.  i would volunteer to hold the american flag, not the girl scout flag or another flag, but the american flag.  i took pride in ensuring that i held it higher than the other flags carried by other girls, because i knew it was important that the american flag always be above other flags.  i would often meet my grandparents at the community park in bethpage where the parades always ended, and would stand with my grandfather, in his VFW hat with pins i didn't understand, as he and his fellow veterans laid wreaths on memorial plaques.  i remember seeing tears in my grandfather's eyes and knowing how important this was, but i didn't understand why.

after i moved away from bethpage, away from the girl scouts and the parades, i grew up.  i became an asshole teenager, was swallowed by my depression, engulfed in drug use, and the subject of an abusive relationship with a parental figure.  my stepfather was a vietnam vet.  he never spoke of his time in vietnam, only once when he got really drunk - he brought out photos of him and his fellow soldiers in vietnam.  he did tell me he lost his teeth over there, he was shot at least twice and had a piece of shrapnel he once invited me to feel under his skin - i think it was in his shoulder; memories of that time of my life are not sharp.  i remember how important it was in the house we rented for him to put up an american flag.  i remember when he added a POW/MIA flag.  i remember how during the summer, for weeks at a time, he would light candles under the flags in our yard.  i once asked him about it, when we were high and getting along.  he said he promised friends that didn't come home from vietnam that he'd remember them.

i remember being so angry at my stepfather; he was often mean to me, verbally and physically abusive.  he'd give me all the pot i wanted but i always ended up paying for it.  we had a tumultuous relationship - unlike the relationships he had with my mom and brother.  as i got older, i realized that he was probably doing the best he could with what he had been through.  does it excuse it?  no, of course not.  but it helps explain it.  my stepfather was a deeply wounded man, a product of his own dysfunctional upbringing and whatever horrors and hell he experienced during his years in vietnam.  and then, to know what he came home to, how the support for the war - and the returning troops - just wasn't there.

who knows what my grandfather and stepfather saw on their respective tours that affected them so deeply.  how many men they may have lost or left behind.  how many times they may have thought they were not going to make it home.  my grandfather came home after world war II a hero; my stepfather returned from vietnam a villain.  they both had their faults - my grandfather may have seemed like a larger-than-life hero when i was a small girl, but age brings wisdom (and family stories), and people's fault lines begin to show.  my stepfather may have seemed like a hurtful, spiteful dick who would turn on a dime and be a caring, supportive parent, but again - age brings wisdom, when people's fault lines become understood.

on memorial day, we often wander from barbecue to barbecue.  we may hang out by a pool or at the beach for the first time of the season.  we have a day off from work, we go to the malls to shop the sales or use the excuse to hit home depot and get some work done in the yard.  we use it as an excuse to have fun, drink too much, and see friends and family we haven't connected with since we all holed up for the long new york winter.  i was planning on laundry, cooking cat food, and some cross stitching.

instead, i decided to write.  i haven't thought about my grandfather in so long, and i haven't thought about my stepfather in positive terms in a long time.  but both of them served their countries: when asked to leave their homes for combat overseas, they did not hesitate to do what they were being asked, even knowing that they may not come home.  this is what memorial day is about.  neither my grandfather nor my stepfather died in combat, but they both served their countries.  we have thousands of soldiers who have returned from service and suffer at the hands of a ridiculous veterans administration; suffering from PTSD and undiagnosed illnesses.  we have veterans who are still trying to determine the effects that agent orange may have had on them, and veterans who are still trying to figure out how to return to 'normal life' and reintegrate in society while seeing visions of the horrors they may have witnessed.  and we have veterans who come home less than whole, missing limbs or parts of themselves, parts of their souls.  or veterans who come home draped with an american flag.  veterans who are lost and never come home at all.

remember that.  i'm a big hippy pacifist, most of us know that.  i don't like violence, i don't like guns.  but i don't run this country and i don't run the world.  our armed forces protect us every day, whether it's the coast guard protecting our waterways and boaters, the national guard responding to devastating disasters within our borders, or the branches of the forces that are sent to protect our interests and people overseas.  they do what most of us can't - or won't - and the deserve at least a thought today, a thank you.

thank a serviceman or servicewoman.  check out charity navigator's listing of charities to support our troops.  or click on one of the links below to give back to the veterans who have given us so much.

***please leave a comment if you donate to support our troops and/or veterans - for every reader that donates, i will add $1 to my planned donation to the USO, up to $50***

happy memorial day.

wounded warrior project
homes for our troops
disabled american veterans
veterans of foreign wars foundation
operation gratitude - write letters of thanks to servicemen/servicewomen

Thursday, May 22, 2014

yeah.... no.

that holistic vet that we went to?  rip off.

that $300 nutrition consultation?  the special, customized diet designed specifically for piglet?

it was ONE RECIPE that was made with a premix called balanceIT.  literally.  it was lamb, sweet potato, fish oil, and balanceIT powder.




it was like i paid $300 for a fucking advertisement.

so we didn't do that.  we made a different raw recipe.  i bought all my own supplements - fish oil, taurine, vitamins, all that crap.  i ground up raw chicken thighs, chicken livers, and small chicken hearts.  which was slightly devastating to me.

and the cats like it.  it's nutritionally balanced, it isn't made with a premix, and it didn't cost $300.

i took piglet for her 4th acupuncture appointment today.  it's $62 a session instead of $172.  and it's less than 10 minutes away with traffic, not 40 minutes away.  i'm hoping to get piglet's blood drawn by another vet within the next week or so to see where we're at.  i've decided that i'm basically going to suck it up and just go to a local vet that's not an idiot and refuse to discuss nutrition.

now, the smell of the raw food is making me sick.  literally.  and i'm very nervous about raw chicken and my stupid immune system.  awesome husband @_antgas and i are considering cooking the food next time.  at least it will still be home cooked and i will have control over what's in it.

in other non-cat news, next week is my last week of interning.  i'll be a full fledged alcohol and substance abuse counselor come june 2nd.  i'm super excited.  i've been decorating my office and buying twelve step books and all types of awesome shit.  very exciting.

i've been very tired recently, not sure if it's my RA or if i'm just beating myself up too much.  or working too hard.  or something.  ugh.

at least my cats are healthy.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

update on awesome husband & piglet...

awesome husband @_antgas is no longer sick.  he's all better.  and back to work.  thank goodness.

but now he's got some pinched nerve or something or other.  he wakes up every night in pain now, around his neck and shoulders.  ugh.

now, me on the other hand.  i spent five days fighting with aetna insurance again trying to get my damn humira.  i got it.  damn it.  damn it.

and then my rheumy is leaving.  moving to texas.  so i have to find a new rheumy.  and start over with that relationship.  damn it.  DAMN IT.

i took my humira on saturday.  then sunday, monday, and tuesday nights i had so much trouble sleeping!  i don't remember this happening the first two times i took humira.  but i've been having really shattered sleep, like i keep waking up.  i go to bed at 9pm and sleep until 7am (i stayed up until 10pm last night, barely).  and then i have really vivid, really ridiculous dreams.  mostly drug dreams and sex dreams.  and the most annoying part is that i wake up and think about how stupid crazy the dream is, then roll over to go back to sleep... AND THE DREAM CONTINUES.


piglet did well at her holistic vet appointment.  he handed me a $1200 estimate, including over $600 for X-rays... fucking X-rays.  i paid $300 for a nutritional consult - i filled out some paperwork about what i've fed piglet, what kind of things i want to do (feed raw, home cooked, etc) - and that paperwork goes to a veterinary nutritionist who reviews piglet's most recent vet records and designs a specialized diet for her.  i'm excited about it and hopeful that i can modify some of it to feed samantha and jake that food too.  holistic vet also wants us to give piglet chinese herbs to support renal function and acupuncture.

we believe in acupuncture.  but this holistic vet wanted to charge $95 for acupuncture AND the $77 office visit fee... and it's 35 minutes away and piglet hates the car.  so i did some calling and found a very local veterinary emergency clinic that has an acupuncturist on site that charges around $50 - the only thing i have to do is pay $150 for a one-time consult.  i'll live with that.  piglet will have acupuncture once a week for at least a few months.

and then holistic vet will take blood again and we'll see what piglet's kidneys are doing.  but she seems to be feeling well - piglet eats and drinks and runs and plays and stomps on me with her pretty pointy feet.

love it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

good gravy

so awesome husband @_antgas has been sick.  he wouldn't come home early from work yesterday, but took some cold & sinus crap and felt 'better'.  he came home and snuggled down on the couch.  i made french onion soup and grilled roast beef & cheese sandwiches.  we ate, we watched cartoons, @_antgas napped, we went to bed.  he's had a fever - fluctuating between 99º and 102º for at least 30 hours at this point (he felt very feverish while at work).

awesome husband @_antgas stayed home from work today, stretched out on the couch with cats watching wwe network.  he said he felt a bit better after eating some advil.  i made pasta with butter and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for dinner, figuring it was nice and simple for him (@_antgas ate during the day without issues, but wasn't hungry for anything).

he took two, maybe three bites, and vomited A LOT in the bathroom.  thankfully he made it to the bathroom.

it was surprising, considering he's had this fever for more than a day and ate normally yesterday.  today he had english muffins and berries and a banana and brownie/cookie bars and had no problems.  pasta with butter and BOOM vomit city.


if awesome husband @_antgas gets me sick, i'm going to kick him in the nuts.

piglet's going to a new, holistic vet on saturday.  she needs blood work and i want to talk about putting her back on a raw diet.  perhaps homemade raw this time, where i'd cut or grind raw meat here at home, then add a powder supplement that adds all the necessary vitamins (like taurine).  this vet is western trained, so he practices what most people consider 'normal' veterinary medicine alongside holistic stuff like natural supplements and acupuncture.  here's hoping piglet does well on the drive over and with the new vet!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

my first week of being a paid counselor!

it was good.  i had four days as a paid counselor and one day as an intern.  i supervised about 8 urine tests (awesome, right?) and lead a few groups.  i did some more decorating in my office.  i have two posi vinyl clings on my walls and moved around my desk and rehabbed that $15 craigslist bookcase for my office.  it came out pretty good and i plan on doing a separate post about that.  with photos.  of course.

awesome husband @_antgas had to travel for work this past week, so it feels like i haven't seen him since last weekend.  he came home on thursday night, we worked on friday, and now today we're thinking of doing some shopping.  it's supposed to be a rainy, icky day for much of the day so we thought being in the mall would be okay.  and maybe we'll spend some time at home just relaxing.  ultimately i have to clean the apartment and do laundry, too, but i have tomorrow as well.

that farm we like to go to is having what they call chick-a-palooza this weekend.  lots of chickens and some vendors and bee keeping talks and stuff like that.  we went last year and are planning on going tomorrow for a couple of hours.

of course, nothing goes as smoothly as we want it to.  up the chain somewhere at work, someone is convinced that i can't do work that we bill medicaid for.  i work for a non-profit where the majority of clients are on medicaid.  like, probably 90% of clients are on medicaid.  so i don't know why someone gave the okay to hire me if i can't do anything billable.  i keep going on all the state websites to find proof from the state that i can do billable work and submitting it to people who should care and they keep not caring.  they're paying me to be an intern at this point.  it's pretty hysterical.

but my supervisor decided to give me two clients yesterday during case conference.  she said that if they still get bitchy about me doing billable work, she'll take them.  but what will probably really happen is that i'll be their 'counselor' and she'll pop in at the end of the sessions so we can bill.  it's just, ugh.  nothing can be easy.

i almost had a breakdown last tuesday because i called my therapist so that i could switch my appointment time from fridays at 10am, since i'll be working, and i was told he had no other availability.  it really threw me because it's hard to find a therapist that i don't hate.  and we've already started working together well; it's been a couple of months.  thankfully one of the other office assistants called me and asked for my availability, juggled some other clients around, and got me tuesdays at 3pm.  i was ridiculously happy.  like you have no idea.  and it's been two weeks since i've seen my therapist and i'm like ugh.  i can't wait until tuesday.

Friday, April 18, 2014

insert witty blog title here

i want to write, but i'm not coming up with anything good to title this random blog of crap.  so tough titties.  apparently i'm not going to be witty today.

piglet seems to be doing better.  she's active, and eating, and stepping on me with her pointy feet, and following me around relentlessly until i tell her to stay put and leave me alone.  so, back to normal.  i'm going pet food shopping today to switch up their food again.  i love love love the grain-free ingredient list of what i'm currently feeding, but the calorie count is really low.  i think i can find something close to as good with minimal grains and more calories.  and she's ready to go back on kibble starting today - which is excellent.  because we've been feeding her nighttime snack wet food on our bedroom floor.  and i don't know if it's a cat-eating-on-carpet thing or a new piglet-has-no-canines thing but she's a messy wet food eater now.  very messy.  i'm hoping to put all three cats on wet food breakfast and midday feeding, then kibbles for nighttime snack before bed.

i'm sad that i haven't been cross stitching recently but i've been doing other things.  i've picked up a few books about recovery and psychology and shit, so i've been reading.  one is about healing your inner child.  it's already very powerful and i think it will be useful, not just for me but in my counseling.  i also got a cute little book of daily affirmation things for recovery.  i'll use that in groups i think.  and i finished my positivity jar the other day!

positivity jar for work.  full of POSITIVITY!
i first collected five pages of positive affirmations.  some are for recovery, some are for self-worth and self-love, all are positive and applicable to anyone.  then i formatted them to be roughly the same size, like a largish return address label.  then i cut pretty scrapbook paper to 8.5x12" and reset the margins, then printed the affirmations one page at a time.  i used that cutting pad and a rotary cutter to cut each affirmation, folded each in half, and tossed them in the jar.  i used one of the scrapbook papers to cover the top part of the mason jar so it's pretty.  i'm considering seeing if any of my crafty friends have a cricut and could be commissioned into making a nice vinyl cling to put on the jar.  i plan on keeping this on my desk and when someone is having a particularly shitty day, they can get some positivity.  another idea is to bring it into group and pass it around, having everyone choose one and discuss it.  

i also bought another mason jar that i'm going to paint black on the inside (maybe with some glitter, who knows?) for negative thoughts.  i found a notepad with neon colored pages about 3"x5" that i'm going to have people write negative crap on, fold it up, and put it in that jar.  when i was in high school, we had a woman who ran the bookstore that we called 'mom'.  she was amazing and empathetic and loving and caring.  she truly cared about each of us, everyone in that school.  some of us gravitated toward her and spent a lot of time with her.  one day mom emptied out the bottom drawer of her desk and started having us write stupid shit that we needed to let go on her cube pad of neon paper.  we'd even draw little pictures sometimes.  then we'd fold it up and dump it in that drawer.  once it was in that drawer, that was it - we had to leave it there and let it go.  we went through that drawer when we were graduating high school, and it was ridiculous the types of shit we were going to hold on to.  i'm hoping to recreate that with this jar.  in recovery, we talk about recognizing what we can and cannot control, and letting go of what we can't control.  this is a tangible exercise in that.  i think.  

awesome husband @_antgas and i went to a local organic farm last weekend to meet baby animals.  i was kind of bummed that there were only a few baby animals - chicks and a lamb - but there were also alpaca.  which were neat.  but distracted.

@_antgas and the alpaca.  who was watching other things.

i pet a lamb! it was completely unconcerned with us and had a one track mind for nibbling.
then we stopped at another farm famous for it's pies.  @_antgas got a peach pie and we got some cookies.  i don't like peach pie, but he enjoyed it.  (not all of it, we shared with his parents and grandma.)

and then a couple of weeks ago i broke down and cooked meat.  i mentioned 'pot roast' once to awesome husband @_antgas and he couldn't get it out of his mind apparently.  i bought a huge pot roast, enough for dinner and lunch for him for the entire week.  i made it and it was fucking delicious and i felt horrible touching and cooking meat.  but it was worth it.  i'm still sticking to my roughly 90% vegetarian lifestyle (i don't like labels and i like freedom to eat whatever the fuck i want) but i haven't had my mom's pot roast in a very, very long time.  the gravy wasn't as thick as i'd have liked, but it's been years since i've tried to make gravy so i was pretty pleased with it all around.

um, yum.
and then i picked up a bookcase from craigslist.  it was $15 and it's not real wood but it was $15.  i'm going to prime it and paint it and use it in my office.  i'm thinking of trying to take the back off and wrap it in fabric or line it with scrapbook paper.  or i might paint the insides one color and the outside another.  or something else i find on pinterest that ruins life for me.

so, life has been good.  i'm going to be a paid counselor as of monday.  the cats are doing well.  i'm feeing okay emotionally.  still in a lot of pain rheumatoid disease wise.  the humira doesn't seem to be helping at all.  yet.  it's only been about 3 weeks, so we'll see.  hopefully it starts to work.  and hopefully it works well and i won't have a lot of pain and i'll be comfortable again.

Friday, April 11, 2014

what a week.

it's just been up and down.

piglet had her surgery tuesday morning and is home recuperating.  her four canine teeth looked like 'swiss cheese' according to the vet dentist, so all four were removed.  two of her premolars have been resorbed.  the vet dentist says piglet does have feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, and it may end up affecting other teeth in the future.  we're waiting for biopsy results from the gum tissue; should have them by monday.

i've had a rough week feelings and pain-level wise.  i'm more swollen than i've ever been, and i'm in as much pain as i've ever been.  the methotrexate (chemo) does not seem to be helping yet, but it's only been two weeks since i've restarted the medication.  and i took my first shot of humira a week and a half ago, with no results as of yet.

it would be nice to not always feel like shit.  i remember when i got my gallbladder out, i was shocked to realize how much it was affecting my digestion and tummy and stuff.  i'm kind of hoping the same thing happens - i wake up one day and my rheumatoid disease is being successfully treated and i'm no longer in this much fucking pain all the time.

we'll see.

have a good weekend :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

life goes on

sorry i've been a bit absent.  i've been a bit busy.

piglet's in the hospital overnight.  she'll be having dental surgery tomorrow.  i went to a veterinary dentist and it was worse than my old vet thought.

i say old vet because i won't be going back there.

on the happy news side, i was offered a job.  the place i've been interning got the approval for me to do billable work and wants me to start working like now.  so i'll be working 19 hours a week as a paid employee and doing about 10 hours a week as an intern.  once my intern hours are done in june, i'll just work the 19 hours a week.  and that's fine by me.

i'll post with more info once i figure everything out.  piglet will be having surgery in the morning and i'll be going to my internship to sign the paperwork to get paid.  lots ob mixed emotions right now.

Friday, March 28, 2014

at least it's friday.... ?

it's been an interesting week.

i'm still off my rheumatoid disease meds - no methotrexate (chemo), no enbrel.  of course, it was time to switch from enbrel to humira anyway.  this last week the pain and fatigue have REALLY caught up with me.  very upsetting.

last friday night was the billy joel concert - so much fun!  awesome husband @_antgas and i had a great time.  billy played some old songs that don't get played that much.  taking a cue from @_antgas, i used my iPhone to note the set list so i'll always remember what i've heard live.  this was my ninth time seeing him though (i think.  it sounds about right) sooooooo there's a lot missing from what i've seen played live.

i took a few photos too.  our seats were right behind the stage in the 300 section, which is this weird bridge thing.  we were in the front row and it was great - no one in front of me.  i was able to sit the entire show and still see, and the sound was still great.

our view of the stage before the concert

yay! billy!

billy's piano spins.

on the train to the city, there were two couples pregaming the billy joel concert on the train (yes, this is long island).  we were going through the valley stream station and one of the girls goes, 'this is where i used to live, valley stream.... suffolk is so white trash'.  if you're from long island, you'll see why this was HYSTERICAL coming from a woman pregaming billy joel on the train drinking miller lite out of a can.... hysterical.

we missed the train on the way home.  damn it.  we caught the first train from penn station into babylon, where we had to transfer, but we missed the transfer by a couple of minutes.  stupid.  so we had an hour to kill at 12:30 in the morning, which meant listening to what i suspect was a homeless woman cough like she was dying while smoking cigarettes and watching drunk people (some of whom were wearing really high heels) run up and down the escalators, since of course they weren't working.

when we got on the train home, a group of kids (probably mid-twenties.  that's how you know you're old, when you refer to 20-somethings as 'kids') stumbled up with the conductor right on their heels yelling at them about delaying the train.  apparently one of the kids leaned out the door to light and smoke a cigarette while we were stopped at a station.... um, really?  once the conductor walked away, the guys were SUCH DOUCHECANOES.  so bad.

i slept late on saturday and we took it pretty easy all weekend.  but i was still tired on monday - fell back asleep and took a nap in the afternoon.  same on wednesday - tuesday and thursday i interned and did alright.  but today i turned off my alarm and fell back asleep - for two hours!  i had to rush to get ready to go to my therapist appointment.  which was emotional enough itself, of course.

piglet's maintaing.  sort of.  it's been about 6 weeks since we noticed piglet's tooth injury.  we knew it would probably have to come out; the vet said it would probably die so i was watching for that.  in early march, her tooth started to look a little worse, so i called the vet to have it extracted.  that's when they found out her kidneys were failing - pre-surgery blood work.  i've been going back and forth and trying to talk through what's happening and what our options are.  that was three weeks ago today, and on wednesday i realized her tooth was looking really bad - it's like it's completely covered by the gums (it's a canine tooth).  shit.  so i called the vet and told them and was like, i can't wait any longer.  we need more bloodwork to see if she's improved at all with her modified diet.  that tooth needs to come out, and we can't do that unless her kidneys improve.  she's been on antibiotics this entire time and her tooth has only gotten worse.  but the vet thought maybe her numbers were so bad because she had a kidney infection - if that was the case, her numbers should have improved... right?  ugh.

oh, and i never did get my tattoo touch up.  i still felt too poorly on my appointment day to go in and get it done.  i'm planning on starting my chemo again tonight or tomorrow and the humira is being delivered tomorrow.  i have to decide when i'm starting that.  hopefully soon because everything hurts.

after the vet tomorrow, we have a pretty relaxing weekend lined up.  hanging out with friends tomorrow night and just cleaning and laundry the rest of the time.  i hope that my meds will start doing their shit soon enough and then i'll feel GREAT!  right? ;)

me and piglet <3 i="">

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

diy post! prettify your stupid old knife block!

it's that time again!  another DIY post.  awesome husband @_antgas and i got married about nine and a half years ago.  ten years ago this spring/summer, we were getting our bridal shower gifts.  i registered for my first set of knives, and they've served me pretty well.  a set of calphalon knives with a useless sharpener and one of those big forks you only use when carving meat.  which i never do any more.  but still.  

it's definitely seen better days.  it has little chips and marks where i stabbed it unceremoniously trying to place a knife back in it's little home slot.  it's been exposed to water and oil and yuck.  while perusing the interwebz looking for ideas for a craft party i'm hosting (yup, that's happening too) i came across painted or refinished or decorated knife blocks.  DING! went the bell in my head.  i can do that and make it SO BRIGHT to fit in my ridiculously colored kitchen.  i made a list of crap i needed and had awesome husband @_antgas on hand for elbow grease (well, hand grease because my hands aren't doing so well) and off i went....

so first i had @_antgas remove this little metal plate thingy on the front of the knife block.  we realized we'd need wood filler for the screw hole thingies, along with sand paper, spray paint, and clear polyurethane.  so off to the craft stores we went... (now i know that i can get the paints cheaper at the home depot or lowes.  which i'll do if i ever spray paint craft again.  which i probably will because it was fun and easy).

you will need:
  1. your old knife block.  or someone's old knife block, preferably with their permission.  or thrift one.  
  2. wood filler if you have teensy holes to fill in.  some people online used spackle too, but i wanted to get wood filler because we have another potential project in mind that will require wood filler.
  3. whatever color spray paint you're interested in using.  i like krylon - we've used it before and have always had good results with it.
  4. clear polyurethane to help seal it and protect it from water and other damage.
  5. sandpaper - we got a packet at the craft store that had three grades.  i threw out the packet, but i think it hat 60, 100, and 150 from roughest to finest.

so this is what my newly cleaned and naked knife block looked like after awesome husband @_antgas removed the calphalon plate on the front.  i wiped it down with a mild solution of water and vinegar to remove all the grease and dirt and whatnot.  

i smushed a bunch of wood filler in the holes and smoothed it as best as i could.  wait until it's safe to sand and paint - the info for that should be on the packaging of whatever wood filler you choose.

sand the entire thing down, starting with the roughest sandpaper.  the 60 grade was perfect for getting off whatever old sealer stuff was on there and helped smooth out the area where the metal plate was.  because my hands and fingers were not cooperating this day, i had @_antgas help sand it all down.  we sanded all the areas we planned to paint and paid special attention to the rounded edges.  i wiped it down with a damp rag between each grade of sand paper to get rid of all the dust.

all sanded down and ready to go!  run your hands over all of it to make sure there aren't any rough spots, hard edges, whatever.  it should be nice and smooth.  be sure it's free of dust before you paint.

at this point you can prime.  if you have a darker wood or are painting with a light color, priming would be a good idea.  you can buy a spray primer or use a canned primer.  if you use a canned one, i'd apply it with a sponge brush.  after priming you may want to sand it a little more to make sure the brush strokes are not obvious.

set your shit up outside.  spray paint smells A LOT and can be super bad for your lungs.  if you have a well-ventilated garage, feel free to paint in there.  we set up some old magazine stuff on the patio and spray painted out there. i may or may not have gotten a bit of orange on the patio.  i'm sure it will come off..... eventually.

a few things about spray paint:  don't do it when it's too cold or too hot.  don't do it when it's super humid.  this can cause the paint to run or not dry/cure properly.  hold the can 6-8 inches from the item and use short, sweeping motions.  all of this crap is listed right on the back of your can, so, you know.  read it.  i didn't worry too much about spraying IN the slots or holes; you won't see that.  and we didn't paint the bottom for the same (obvious) reason.

read your polyurethane too and make sure the paint is dry enough to seal.  do the same thing - outside, well-ventilated, sweeping motions, etc.

i let mine sit for two days before putting anything back in it to make sure it was cured enough that the knife handles sitting on the wood face wouldn't damage or nick or imprint or anything.

then just this morning, i put all my sharp things back in my knife block and put it back in its home on the counter.  and i love it!  it's so bright and looks great.  the color is krylon bauhaus gold.  it's orange yellow, not too orange but not straight yellow.

i love having bright colors.  i have a yellow mini keurig, poppy red paper towel holder, a red kitchen aid stand mixer, and now this.  i'm already planning on replacing my old and worn toaster oven with something spectacular.

some of the other tutorials i saw online had people putting little decorations or monograms or designs on the knife block.  i couldn't really find a stencil i liked and i didn't want to put something 3d on it.  i figure if i come across something i would like to stencil on, i can do it whenever and just put another coat of polyurethane on it.

if you have done this or do it, share!  let us know how it came out and if you have any other tips or tricks on upcycling stuff from the kitchen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

ahh, wednesday.

i'm finally not really that sick any longer.  it's been two weeks since i started feeling ill and i'm still a little snotty and coughing a bit.  i can't fucking wait until it's all cleared up.  it better be soon.  ugh.

my birthday was last week.  and i was sick.  so, you know.  awesome husband @_antgas and i went to benihana (if you have a local location, join their chef's club and you'll get a $30 certificate for your birthday!) and ate A LOT.  then on my birthday we went over our friends' house and had nathan's for dinner.  it was very nice and nostalgic: when we were younger, my mom would pick up nathan's hot dogs and french fries for a special dinner on our birthdays.  she'd also get this lemony cake for dessert.  i don't know how many years we did it, but i remember it being a thing.  the next night we had greek food and ice cream with my bestie for forever.

my dad's birthday is the week before mine, so we've often done joint birthday things.  on sunday, we went to our favorite steak house with dad, my brother, his fiancee sisterfromanothermister, and my twin half sisters.  it was lots of food and lots of fun.  i had a meat-ful weekend.

so much meat.  so much.

i'm not eating meat until saturday again.  @_antgas' mom is having st. patrick's day.  we didn't do anything for st. paddy's day because i won't cook meat and we don't drink... so, kind of pointless.  but for saturday i'm planning on making scratch irish soda bread - one without raisins because i hate raisins - and i might make my family's cole slaw.

i've been off my meds forever, it feels like.  my joints are screaming.  and the fatigue is coming back. it's like just existing in this much pain causes fatigue.  i'm kind of over it.

i'm getting some tattoo work done on thursday, not too much but a bit.  my rheumy said i should stop taking my meds for a week before and a week after if i want to get tattooed.  i've been off for over two weeks, almost three.  but then i have to wait for another week before i can start humira.  which is the next biologic drug we're trying.  enbrel didn't do shit.  i only hope humira does something.

piglet seems to be.... well, piglet.  her tooth is definitely getting worse, but she's still drinking and eating and peeing and pooping.  of course, every cat vomited everywhere last night.  damn it.  we'll bring piglet back in about two weeks to have another round of blood work and see if anything's changed.  i guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

home with with cats

i'm still so sick.  i'm completely over it.  i had to call into my intership today, which i hate doing.  but it's like every morning i've woken up and felt worse.  i went to urgent care on sunday and got some antibiotics and flonase and whatever.  the doctor said it's an upper respiratory infection and i'm so over it.  i'm going to see my rheumatologist tomorrow to talk about starting a new biologic medication - of course, i won't be able to start until after this stupid plague is done.  humira is most likely next on the list.

samantha has been snuggling with me a lot.  jake has HATED piglet since she came home from the vet on friday with her saddlebag of saline (cats get like a lump area where the fluid collects after received subq fluids.  it gets absorbed over a couple of hours).  every time he saw piglet, jake would just start hissing.  now she can sometimes get close to him, especially at feeding time, before he starts hissing.  i'm not sure what to make of it.  at first, i was like, maybe she smells like the vet or like alcohol - i remember one time when samantha went to the vet, piglet hissed at her for a day or so and sammy had blood drawn, so she smelled a bit like rubbing alcohol.  but it's been like four days, jake, calm the fuck down.

but then i think, what if jake can tell something big is wrong?  what if now he knows that piglet is, like, dying or something and he's scared?  what if her aura has changed and jake is sensitive to that?

or what if jake is just a huge fucking asshole of a cat?

anyway, we have antibiotic pills that we have to give piglet daily.  amoxicillin, 50mg.  it's not easy to pill a cat.  but we're working on it.  i've also done some food research with the help of a friend who owns a pet store and has some friends in the know.  i wanted a kibble that is okay for all of the cats because it's hard to keep them out of each other's kibble - they don't always eat it all at once.  when i feed them wet food, i watch them so it's easier to keep them separated.  we decided on a wellness kibble with high quality protein sources, but it has grain.  i'm not thrilled because jake seemed to be doing very well on grain free.  we'll see what happens there.  as for food, right now sammy and jake are going to finish up some of the freeze dried raw we have and for piglet we have a couple of cans of iams and purina kidney diet.  i'm hoping to order a couple of cans of royal canin's kidney diet too and see which piglet likes.  she's actually eating most of the iams, so that's something.

the problem is breakfast and nighttime snack - we don't always watch them.  so nighttime snack is kibble and for now breakfast is too.  once i'm not sick any longer and am waking up early again, the cats will probably get a quality wet food, not prescription.  i know so many people are like 'but your cat needs prescription food, that's what the vet says'.  and i totally respect the vet's advice.  as intent as i have been feeding raw, it's not good for all cats and i understand that now.  sammy and jake seem to be doing okay on raw, but it's like i don't know what to do.  we fed taylor whatever crap food and he developed kidney failure.  we put him to sleep three years ago last week - on march 8.  piglet was diagnosed march 7.  annoying and kind of creepy.  but i kept him alive for about 5 years on a diet that i figured out, and it did not revolve around prescription foods.  yes, we fed him the iams rx canned food for a few months, but as i learned more i changed what we fed them.  for the last two or three years of his life, he did not eat any rx food.

meanwhile, piglet has had good or premium quality food from the age of 1.  i have always tried to do the best by her.  and she developed kidney failure about two years younger than taylor did.  and her kidney failure is more progressed than his.  based on the numbers i'm seeing and some comparative googling, she's lost like 80% of her kidney function.  taylor's numbers were never this high.  and we got them lower over time by adjusting his diet.  plus let's add in the whole blood and pus in the urine. could that be a raging kidney infection?  sure.  could it be a thousand other things like cancer (that's how we discovered nibbler had lymphoma - blood and pus in the urine)?

and of course, now piglet's tooth has to stay put.  no idea what it actually is - the vet won't say it's feline odontoclastic resorption, but also mentioned that it looked like it could be something worse and wanted to biopsy it.  piglet is still hungry and purry and snuggles with me a bit - but she seems lethargic.  her breath is horrible - worse than normal cat breath.  and it's not like i don't think piglet is worth spending money, but i think there's a limit.  especially now that i know she's in kidney failure.  is it worth extracting the tooth for her comfort?  of course.  is it worth doing a biopsy on the gum to see if it's cancer or something?  maybe not.  it's a couple hundred dollars and it doesn't fucking matter - she. is. in. kidney. failure.  taking out the tooth isn't going to fix this.

there is no cure for this, only treatment.  only ways to try and help her kidneys function as best as possible for as long as possible.  this could easily include subq fluids at home.  how long is piglet going to like that?  how are we supposed to know when enough is enough?  it's so hard.  i don't want to seem like one of those people who just randomly puts cats to sleep because they cost too much - far from it.  i am one of those people who randomly puts animals to sleep when their quality of life declines to a point.  i called around to numerous vets when we were moving to florida to put a dwarf hamster with a tumor down.  the stress of the drive alone would have been enough to give a dwarf hamster a heart attack (literally, not figuratively).  i finally found one who was willing to try since there's no like vet-approved amount of sleepytime drug to put a dwarf hamster down.

cats are notorious for not letting people know things.  like when they hurt.  taylor could have been in pain for days, weeks even, before the day he went downhill quickly.  cats don't just purr when they're happy - they purr when they're in pain to comfort themselves.

i have this love/hate relationship with the web.  it helped me learn about feline kidney failure and helped me find new things to try.  it helped me discover feline herpes and enabled me to work with my vet at the time to treat it.  but it also shows me a list of things that say 'your cat is sicker than you think'.  piglet has numerous signs that put her at last stage 3 or possibly stage 4 kidney failure.  most vets recommend euthanizing cats in stage 4.  can piglet afford to wait a month on this food without subq fluids to see if her numbers stabilize?  how much more aggressive should we be?  so many questions with no good answers.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

feline chronic kidney whatever

some people call it 'kidney failure'.  some 'kidney disease'.  the practical upshot of all of it is that piglet's kidneys are not functioning as the cat goddess intended.

the cat goddess is probably bastet.  she's probably in charge of all cat-related things.

piglet has had a tooth issue for a few weeks now.  when we took her to the vet about a month ago, it looked like her tooth had been chipped.  there was a spot with no enamel and the dentin was exposed.  it seemed painful to her.  we put her on a round of antibiotics and the vet said the tooth may die and have to be extracted.  so i kept an eye on the tooth.  it's had a bit of a growth on it, like the gum is growing over it, and it comes and goes.  but it hadn't been looking like it was dying or that it was bothering her that much.  i was considering finding a vet dental specialist.

a few days ago, piglet started getting a bit lethargic.  her tooth had no change, she was still eating and peeing and pooping, she was still purring and snuggling and playing as normal, but she just seemed a bit run down.  i decided we needed to take the tooth out now because it seemed to be bothering her.  the vet wanted to take a look at it first and since it's a far drive, we decided to bring her in just before appointments started to ensure removing it was the best thing, then she could stay there and have the procedure or i could take her home if we decided against it.

i brought her in.  three of the four vets were in house yesterday; as a family, we've been dealing with the two oldest ones since the early '90s and i trust them both - and they both agreed the tooth needed to come out.  they said they'd take blood to make sure everything was good to go, take out the tooth, biopsy the growth thingy near the gum just in case, and handed me a RIDICULOUS estimate that made me cringe.  but it's my baby.

about an hour after i got home, one of the older vets called about piglet's blood work.  her kidneys were not functioning well.  her levels were, well, bad.  like two to three times higher than the high end of 'normal'.  i asked the vet if we'd call this early stage kidney failure and she said no, it's worse than that.  we kept our oldest cat taylor alive in early stage kidney failure for over five years with diet.  this would be like late stage three kidney failure; piglet's kidneys have probably lost about 80% of their function.

the tooth has to stay in for now.  we got a bit of info this morning about her urine - it's filled with blood and pus, but that *could* mean that she just has a really bad infection.  maybe a bit of a diet tweak and some antibiotics can fix this.  could it be related to the tooth?  could she have cancer?  could she be dying?  i try not to think about it, but i think it's something i have to think about.  i mean, let's get real - how much do i want to put piglet through?  our rottie nibbler was peeing blood and that turned out to be lymphoma.  with diet and subcutaneous fluids, we could probably keep piglet's kidneys functioning at or around 20% for at least a year or two.  maybe longer.  she's only nine and a half.

but she has other issues.  piglet has herpes, feline calcivirus.  she already has a kind of shitty immune system.  she hates getting medication.  she'll probably hate subq fluids if we end up having to do that at home.  this is treatable, yes, but not curable.  i love piglet, and i'll do what i can until she's no longer comfortable - the same we did with nibbler, the same i did with taylor, the same i'll do with any animal who trusts me to take care of them.

then i think about the supposedly positive diet changes i made for them - raw food and grain free.  samantha and jake seem to be doing well.  jake even lost weight and is a healthy weight now.  but now piglet is in kidney failure.  it's like, what did i do?  we fed taylor bullshit food for the first 11 years of his life (i was not in charge of that) and he went into kidney failure at age 11.  better food choices kept his kidneys functioning well enough for years.  i feed piglet the best food i can find for her as i learn more - at first she was on purina, then it moved to iams, then it moved to wellness, now nature's variety and raw foods - and she goes into kidney failure before age 10.  i know it's not my fault, i know it.  i know it happens, it's really pretty common in cats.  but what do i do?  what am i supposed to do?

i read all the ingredients and think about what they'd eat in the wild.  obviously we're not recreating that very well as humans.  feeding crap diets of kibble and low quality canned gives cats diabetes and makes them obese.  jake seems to gain weight on foods full of grains.  but grain free diets will be too protein rich for piglet.  the special kidney diets are filled with the type of crap i no longer wanted to feed my cats, but now it might be the best option for piglet.  i feel like no matter what i do, it's not good enough for my cats.

so here i am, again trying to determine a diet that will be best for all my cats.  trying to figure out where the money is coming from for all these tests and procedures and shit.  trying to decide what is the best course of action; how much we're willing to put piglet through; what we're willing to treat without the option of curing.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

ups and downs

it's been an interesting few weeks.

my rheumatoid disease activity has been up.  pain levels are increasing.  drugs are not helping.  about two weeks ago i was trying not to hate my life.  i've started being more creative - cross stitching and cooking as much as i can.  or as much as i feel like.  it keeps snowing.  and it's cold.

ah, february.  it's been a month of ups and downs.

next week i go the the rheumatologist again.  she's probably going to discontinue my enbrel and start the process to get me on humira.  it's the same kind of fucking ridiculous drug with a disgusting laundry list of possible side effects: serious infections, nervous system problems, blood problems, heart failure, immune system reactions, liver problems.  oh, and of course a heightened risk of cancer, including a rare kind of lymphoma.

maybe this one will help.

i finally went through all the hoops to get a temporary handicapped parking permit.  i hate that i have it, but it really helps with the walking.  if i go to the mall or try to go shopping, 30 minutes is my limit.  it makes it hard to go shopping other than food shopping.  and at school it will help a lot - the student parking lot is faaaar from the buildings.  i also bought a cane that i still won't use.  it's leopard print, obvs.

still, everything hurts.  my elbows still seem to be the only main joints not involved.  my very low spine hurts.  my hips.  my shoulders.  my knees.  and of course, my wrists, fingers, ankles, and toes.  my toes have been horrible this week.  my left heel is a problem as well.

interning is going so well.  i have three of my own groups - one is every other week and is a health & nutrition group.  i have an orientation group once a week for new clients and an opioid recovery group once a week.  and i'm still co-leading the women's group once a week.  that's my favorite - i'm really learning a lot by leading it with a more seasoned counselor.

and i did my first mostly solo assessment.  i took the lead with the entire thing and wrote up all the notes and filled out all the online stuff about it to be reviewed by the counselor who sat with me.  she didn't interject much at all but gave me good guidance.

then today my supervisor/mentor spent a solid ten minutes gushing over how great i am.  she kept talking about how big of a help i've been with her workload, and how much she wants me to be able to have my own caseload.  she told me they're pushing her to hire a part time counselor who is fully credentialed, which i won't be for at least another two years - i'll have a trainee certification in june and will have to do 2000+ hours of work that is reviewed by other qualified health professionals.  but she's keeping me in the loop on that so i can prepare to present myself as an integral part of the team when my internship is over and hopefully get some kind of job there.  i want to stay where i am.  i love the other counselors, i love the clients, the location isn't horrible - not too far - i mean, come on.  and i learned here - i know how to do everything the way THEY want people to do things.  i'm hopeful and confident, but i don't want to be cocky about it.

and piglet has a tooth injury.  i don't know how much i went into it already - if at all - but she'll most likely have to have one of her canines removed this friday.  she's almost 10 but she still feels too young for this to happen to.  i'm just hoping it's not one of the tooth things that cats get that will end up affecting like all of her teeth.  we'll see.

so february ends and we enter march.  we still have snow, my birthday is coming up, and spring will hopefully spring sooner rather than later.  the clocks go ahead this weekend so it will be lighter later at night.  hopefully i'll keep practicing positivity and be a happy camper too!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

diy natural laundry soap

yes!  diy time again!  i've been making my own laundry soap for over a year now.  it's biodegradable, nasty chemical free, and good for my sensitive skin.  we also stopped using fabric softener or dryer sheets for some time - all they do is coat your clothes with chemicals.  white vinegar makes a nice softener - just put it in the rinse cycle.  static cling has been an issue.  some people swear by tin foil balls in the dryer, but that doesn't seem okay to me.  the wool dryer balls i made really do help, but they don't eliminate all the static.  i just purchased seventh generation dryer sheets that are all natural and whatnot.  i'm going to try cutting them in thirds to see if that helps.

the one thing that really ruins my all natural laundry smorgasbord is awesome husband @_antgas and his love of the smell of gain.  i buy those gain scent boosters when they go on sale and sprinkle some in with the sheets and towels.  i don't love the ingredients, but it's not as bad as the way we used to do laundry.  and it's a lot cheaper!  i use a 40oz canister to hold my laundry detergent.  i'm not good at measuring or counting.  so there.

so here's the breakdown for how much this shit costs me:
1 bar of dr. bronner's soap (i use almond): $4.09
arm & hammer washing soda, 55oz: $3.69 (only .067¢ an ounce)
borax, 76oz: $4.49 (it's in the big container.  i threw out the box.  it costs .059¢ an ounce)
oxybrite 32oz: $5.99 (.187¢ an ounce)

oxybrite is basically all natural oxy clean.  i've found it at natural/health food stores and some walgreens carry it.  borax and washing soda will be on the bottom shelf in the laundry aisle.  you can use any castile soap you like - nothing too perfumey or filled with chemicals or moisturizers, like don't use dove.

1.  grate your soap.  if you use the smaller, finer side of the grater, it will take FOREVER OMG SERIOUSLY FOREVER.  i use the larger side (the side we use for cheese) and it makes adorable little soap curls...

2.  get a food processor.  if you don't use one, the soap will not get to a powdery consistency and may not dissolve well in warm/cold water washes.  

3.  i put in 1/2 cup of soap curls, 1/2 cup of borax, and 1/2 cup of washing soap.  if you're using oxybrite, add a scoop to each batch in the food processor.  i don't smush the soap curls in either, i loosely fill the cup.  don't pack them in like you're measuring brown sugar.  if you're keeping track, i have about a cup and a half of dry ingredients in here.  i have a teensy cuisinart; if you have a larger one, you can probably put more in at a time.  ALSO feel free to add a tablespoon or two of baking soda if it makes you feel better.  it makes me feel better.

7.  pulse the heck out of it.  if you have fucking stones of borax, either crush them by hand or pick them out and throw them at people.  DO NOT try to powder the soap without washing soda or borax. they help the soap get like powdery.  without other dry ingredients, the soap will just smush up and break your blender, which is why you will have to use a food processor.  this may or may not have happened to me.  

5.  pour your powdery soapy stuff into your laundry detergent container.  repeat until you're out of soap curls.  

6.  TADA!  you have laundry soap.  find a scoop, buy a scoop, whatever.  i have a cute little scoop that i stole from one of @_antgas' old workout powder supplement crap things.  i use the double and triple loaders in the laundromat and use 2 tablespoons per load.  i'd estimate those are extra large loads; if you do smaller loads or have a medium-largeish home washer, you can probably use a bit less.  maybe 1.5tbsp.

now, i think i used about 14 ounces each of borax and washing soda, and maybe a 1/4 cup of oxybrite and baking soda.  like i said, i don't measure.  i'm assuming this is how much i used because it's a 40 ounce container.  so i might have used a bit less than this, but whatever.  here's the breakdown for one 40oz container of my laundry soap...

1 bar of dr. bronner's soap (i use almond): $4.09
arm & hammer washing soda, appx. 14oz: $0.94
borax, appx. 14oz: $0.83
oxybrite, appx. 2oz: $0.37

a grand total of $6.23!  two tablespoons is about an ounce, so you should be able to do around 40 loads of laundry with this.  that works out to 16¢ a load!!  i know you can get tide or all or whatever on sale and spend about 20¢ a load - doesn't seem like a great savings, right?  BUT IT'S ALL NATURAL.  it's safe for HE machines, it doesn't have a fuckton of chemicals, it's safe for septic systems and the water table, and works well on @_antgas' mechanic dirty clothes.  does it take out all the diesel fuel stains and shit?  no, but neither did ANY of the other detergents we've used.

so there you have it.  my natural, easy to make laundry soap.  it takes me about 20 minutes to make from start to finish.  it makes me feel better about what's soaking into our clothes, what's draining into the water supply, and doesn't make my clothes smell funny or itch or anything like that. you can find tons of different recipes for laundry soap.  some call for different types of soap, like fels naptha laundry soap.  it's supposed to be excellent on grease stains, but it contains animal fats so i don't use it.  some recipes call for one bar of soap and only one cup each of borax and washing soda.  some call for two parts EACH of borax and washing soda to one part bar soap.  this is the recipe i've been using and i love it.

it will not make suds.  like not at all.  if you've ever washed with dr. bronner's or other natural castile soaps, you may be familiar with the low sudsing of these soaps.  that's what makes this safe for HE machines - low suds.  i do all of our laundry at a laundromat and never see suds in our wash.  and if you're wondering about white vinegar in the rinse cycle as a softener, it does help.  it helps rinse out any residual soap in the clothes.  and it's so cheap.  i use white vinegar for everything now - fabric softener/rinse aid in the laundry, rinse aid in the dishwasher, household cleaning, clearing slow drains (when mixed with baking soda).  it's natural, it's easy, and it's cheap.

let me know if you try my laundry soap, and let me know what you think!