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!