I can’t participate…

tornado

Some of you may know that we have had some extreme weather in the Houston area. I live a little north of the main Houston area and on Tuesday evening/Wednesday night we had a tornado just a few miles from our house. I heard the cell phones go off with yet another storm warning (we have had so many recently). I ignored it and the really loud thunder and lightning. The next morning we discovered that a 62 year old woman had been killed in what looked like a pre-fabricated house when a tree fell across her home. I was envious.

I thought, ‘How lovely to die instantaneously with no sickness or problems’. I am 55, so she is hardly much older than me. This is how you feel when you have major depression. My thoughts are filled with death and the longing for it, yet I am not suicidal. I have been unwell for months and my doctor is trying to address it with both an increase and addition in medication. It is working, to some extent, but time is a major factor, as is reducing stress which is out with my capabilities at the moment.

I have a new job and I enjoy it but worry about it incessantly. What if I make a mistake, what if they don’t employ me again? I am trying to be supportive of my husband who is looking for work and setting up a new company but it is as if someone has cut my brain stem. Every so often I come out with a brilliant idea which thrills him but I know I am capable of so much more. Things are beginning to look more positive with the possibility of clients but I don’t care.

My recent cataract surgery has been successful but my chronic dry eye condition has made me feel miserable. I finally went back to the surgeon today and he gave me steroids to help. My husband was with me and thought the surgeon was sympathetic. In my mind, he was saying, “Put your big girl pants on”. This week I got a corporate gratuity from one of the companies I work for (which I suspect everyone got) but I started worrying about how much I had flirted, was it appropriate?

My friends are trying to help me and some are more successful than others. One is constantly giving me encouragement about daring to join the workforce when I feel so ill and others tentatively pace around me. I know that they don’t want to say the wrong thing or upset me but they can’t. My emotions feel deadened and yet raw. I feel as though my life will never be the same again although logically I know it could be even better.

I have been down this path so often that I know I will recover but each time I feel I lose a little bit of myself. I suspect the opposite is true and I evolve into a kinder, more compassionate person after each episode. My blogging is stop/start and then I feel like I am being excluded when that is not the case. When you stop blogging, followers probably think you are busy getting on with life.

I can’t participate right now… but I will join you later.

Zhenny – the crazy cat

ZnK_Sept1

I had such a sad day yesterday. Our beautiful Zhenny’s heart stopped during a routine dental procedure and she is now buried in the garden with Mrs. Stripe who died earlier in the year. She was geriatric and had some cognitive difficulties but it was an unexpected death.  Teddy and I are distraught despite knowing that she didn’t have much longer. She was so funny, loving and crazy, RIP our special girl. This is my original post about her.

I know – she is utterly beautiful. Her eyes are exquisite and she looks like a cat on a pyramid. That’s the problem… I first encountered her at the cat shelter where my husband and I volunteered in Cairo, Egypt. Her owner was moving from an American military base in Cairo to another in Korea and couldn’t take her fur baby. I can only imagine how her owner felt but Zhenny was distraught. She wouldn’t eat anything, despite our endless treats and pleading. The veterinarian put an IV drip in but she thought she was being tortured. We already had Mrs. Stripe and her daughter, Toffee, our garden cats, so we certainly didn’t want another one. We thought that Stripe would attack her anyway as she is so territorial. Then one day it was obvious that Zhenny was dying and I just put her in a crate, took her home so that she could die somewhere nice.

She was so skinny that we bought her a little cat nest with a hood so that she could feel safe and comfortable in her final days. To my surprise, when I introduced Stripe and Toffee to her, I could see them saying, ‘Poor little soul’ and thus she was accepted. The fight for her life went on for about a week with me forcing baby food into her mouth. In desperation I bought some minced beef and cooked it for her. For the first time, she seemed to have an appetite and started eating properly. By that time we were all bonded or used to each other’s scents and it was too late… That was 12 years ago and she was 18 months old. She is still alive but I have saved her life on another occasion when the veterinarian hospital could not look after her. We believe she may have sent someone to ER…

Stripe and Toffee are likely half Mau but completely feral. Zhenny looks like a tabby oriental but may as well be from Planet Zed. Even the vet said that she is just loco. I have looked after many cats but this one is an enigma. Only I can lift her, and only in special circumstances. Her Dad may only kiss her but not stroke her. He is also the only one who is allowed to play with her in a precise OCD way. Mum is just for cuddles and care-giving. The other two cats were utterly silent for years, as feral cats can be, but Zhenny is astonishingly vocal. I will be on the phone with my aunt in Ireland, Zhenny will be three rooms away and she can hear her screaming. After all these years we can tell the difference between her distress and laughter. The vet suggested that we give her Xanax – I looked at him and said, “How precisely should I do that, with a blow-dart, perhaps?”

She can be hysterically funny or drive us to tears. If she is upset she creeps along the floor, sobbing. Have you ever heard a cat sob? All treats have to be thrown like live prey and yet she is not a hunter. We discovered much later that she had kittens before we took her in but still hadn’t been neutered. Shortly after I saved her life in Cairo, she went into heat. Our villa was three houses from the baker’s shop at the end of the street and I could hear her howling inside our house. No wonder our neighbors had some issues with us… One time she was halfway up the stairs, with her head peeping through the balustrade and started ‘in heat howling’. Even she looked astonished at the guttural sound that came out of her mouth and we burst out laughing.

She should not have lived this long but Mummy is just so good at saving her life. Sigh. Our vet looks at me in horror when I say very firmly DO NOT RESUSCITATE! She is so difficult to handle that we know that she would not be able to cope with a chronic illness or disability so it would be a kindness. She has the early stages of kidney dysfunction but I suspect she has at least another year in her. Oh we will miss these beautiful green blue eyes and her funny vocalizations.

Zhenny at 2 years old in Cairo

Zhenny at 2 years old in Cairo

Read more about her in Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan