Monday, November 19, 2012

Bela's donation page

Orange tabby in a white blanket on blue soft pet bed, with a nasogastric tube, an IV on his right paw, and sad look on his face. A pale hand is under his chin.
My Bela, sometimes known as BubbaCat: GiveForward Page
An update on Bela, part of my furry support system who is seriously ill.  He's still in critical condition and in veterinary ICU.  My partner and I got to see him for about a half an hour, just the three of us.  He was brought in with a plastic cone around his head.  He has an NG tube for feeding and hydration, and an IV in his paw with two ports.  He's on two kinds of antibiotics and something for pain.  He had an ultrasound on his liver and pancreas, but the vet didn't find anything.

His vitals are staying good, but the vets are keeping us in a "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" mindset right now.  We're hoping for a treatable infection instead of cancer.  We're hoping that he keeps breathing well, but have given authorization to do CPR and other life saving measures.  He's young and has been healthy his whole four-ish years of life, but this illness hit pretty hard and we still haven't found out why his white cell count is really high or why is liver is struggling.

Bela let us pet him, dote on him, cry on him (that was me), and tell him how much he loved us.  He seemed to be doing better than when I left for work this morning, but I could tell that he was still in bad shape.  When the ICU nurse came back to get him hooked up again, he perked up, looked back and forth at us as if to say "why can't my parents stay with me?"  I started crying again (as I am now as I write this, so pardon the grammar mistakes).

We've started a GiveForward page for his care.  I put the goal at $3.000 because that was the vet's initial estimate, although I'm afraid we'll probably go over that (I've already paid about $1900).  I think we would be able to manage financially if it was just his medical care (although it would be tight).  The problem is that it intersects with my own health issues, both spine related and birth defect related.  Like I mentioned in the previous post, I can no longer put off spinal fusion but I'm trying to get the rest of my health stuff straightened out before I go under the knife.  So, the GiveForward fundraising page is a combined effort for Bela's immediate health and our long-term health as a family.

Another way to help out is by using my Amazon referral link (for instance, start with this link to Bela's favorite toy mice).  Clicking through my page gets me a little bit of referral money, and every little bit helps (you don't have to buy Bela more was just a way to put the link in).

Thanks to everyone supporting us in whatever ways you are able.  Thank you.

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When your (furry) support system gets seriously ill

 This post is a bit of an emergency post that is taking precedent over several other posts that are in the works.

Orange cat in a beige cat tree, poking his head out of the side of a nook.
Bela in his cat tree
Meet Bela, my younger cat.  He's about four years old and I adopted him when he was a little thing.  My friends found him in a restaurant parking lot and took him in, but their cats weren't thrilled with a kitten in the house.  The funny thing is that we all thought that he was a she, and my friends named the kitten Bella, after a character in Twilight.  I found out that the kitten was a neutered male at the furbaby's first vet visit, but just decided to alter the name by one letter since the kitten responded to his name (besides, there are famous Bela guys in the world, like Bela Lugosi and Bela Karolyi).

This weekend, Bela was just acting a bit off.  We weren't sure what was going on other than he seemed to have more nose & eye mucus than usual and he was lethargic.  He wasn't climbing to the top of his cat tree, and we kept finding him in weird nooks in the house (including the dryer...not one of his usual hidey-holes).  Last night we agreed to call the vet and get him looked at today.  My partner agreed to take him in so I could go to work (I've missed enough work because of my spine as of late, so I really can't afford it with impending surgery).

Orange cat perched on author's back, with author bent over at hips with short hair, glasses, grey long sleeved shirt, and jeans, leaning on desk
Bela perched on my back, photo circa 2009?
We found out that Bela is in critical condition because of a really high white cell count (the highest his vet had ever seen) and liver issues.  He's been transferred from his usual vet to one that can do an ultrasound and provide 24/7 care, but we still don't know what's going on.  We still don't know if it's contagious (meaning that we have to keep an eye on Serenity, my elder cat.  We also don't know how much this is going to cost, other than his care in the past 3 hours has already hit almost $400, the new vet required a $1,500 deposit, and will likely skyrocket with the ultrasound & the more intensive veterinary care.

All I ask is that you keep him in your thoughts, prayers, or however you keep vigil for beloved things in your life.  If financial contribution is an option, I will not turn anything down as this is all happening just days after I found out that I have to have spinal fusion surgery.  I'm going to put referral links at the bottom of this post to help fund if you have online holiday shopping, please consider clicking through the links so I can afford his care.  If financial contributions aren't possible, but still want to help, check the "about me" page for different rewards programs...InboxDollars gives a referral credit just for signing up (and it's a cash credit), and Swagbucks is how I've been getting a cat pheromone diffuser through Amazon.  If anyone knows any other fundraising options, let me know.

Happy healing thoughts of r'fuah shlemah for my little guy are also helpful.  He's been my little emotional support cat through all of my spine-related travails, from cuddling up by the the fracture in bed to laying on my hip snuggling with me through pain spikes.  I can't imagine life without him.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Psoas I see my body

For those of you who don't get the anatomy pun, the psoas is a muscle that connects the lumbar area of the spine to the pelvis.  It's pronounced "so-as."
Author laying onfloor with a slim scimitar balanced on her head.  Hair is auburn and drapes over her shoulders, baby dragon tattoo on arm, hands folded under chin with legs crossed in the background. Costume is turquoise with bedlah bra, belt, and chiffon pants
Troupe photo taken in 2008

I've stepped up my deep tissue massage routine because my partner moved in with me several months ago and I can more easily afford to give it the "old college try."  I've been seeing a specific massage therapist at Hand & Stone Massage biweekly for the past two or so months in hopes that I can be the most functional person I can be.  Sometimes that means that she works the kinks out of my shoulders from the combination of office job plus schoolwork plus wheeling plus cane usage.  Sometimes it means that means she wants to try a different technique to see if I can get any sort of relief from the messed up spine joint.  It started out with just getting near the fracture then progressed to glute and outer hip work.

On my second-to-last appointment, she suggested trying to loosen the psoas and asked if I'd ever had this done.  I replied yes and told her how I'd had it worked on when I was bellydancing as it's a persnickety muscle that can get wonky with various shimmies and other lower torso movements.  I told her that I was fine trying it again, even though I knew it involved uncovering my abdomen and having her dig near my pelvis.  This is definitely a sign that I trust my massage therapist.

So when I saw her on Thursday, she asked if I wanted to try the psoas work.  I let her know that as long as she wasn't neglecting some part of my upper body I was willing to try it.  I'd rather know that my shoulders are able to handle my mobility needs and my scholarly work, even though some of my work is going slowly due to the new fracture.

The majority of the massage goes as usual, although laying on my stomach hurts worse than usual because of the increase in spine instability.  She has me roll over, gets to the front of my shoulders and arms, and asks again about the psoas work.  She gets me properly draped to work on my abdomen. 

I quickly realize that I'm a bit nervous about having my belly touched.  When my belly is uncovered, I unconsciously sucked in a bit then had to keep telling myself to stay relaxed.  Every time she moves her hands off the psoas I relax, and every time she puts her hand back I try to pull myself in, then remind myself to stay loose.  It happens every time she moves, and it feels like this is the longest part of the massage (even though I know it's not).  I try to laugh it off with the therapist, apologizing for trying to suck in my stomach.  She laughs in that way that tells me "no worries" (one of the many reasons why she's the person I go to).

Ever since that appointment, I keep thinking about how my relationship to my body has changed as my level of disability has increased.  I've gained some weight recently, although I'm not sure how much of that is due to a decrease in my ability to exercise, if it's a side effect of the various medications I'm on to deal with the pain, or if it's moreso related to my birth defect.  I've never actually been a thin person, and only flirted with being what the BMI considers to be a "normal" weight when I flirted with eating disordered behaviors in high school.  When I was a triathlete, I was still fat enough to be considered a candidate for gastric bypass.  I've never been a small person, and never will be.  I don't have the genetics or the physiology for it, and I'm usually ok with it.

I admit, I'm struggling with my weight.  By that, I mean that I'm struggling with the meaning of my weight.  This is where it's murky and tied to issues of internalized ableism and internalized sizeism, and it's hard to admit as someone who studies both fat and dis/ability in physical activity & sport.  Gaining weight, for most adult people, is considered to be a moral failing.  I had a neurologist, while otherwise awesome (particularly awesome because he treated my education level as a perk not a hassle), start talking to me about calories in/calories out and how weight can contribute to spine pain (correlation =/= causation, as I'm pretty sure I'm in pain because MY SPINE IS BROKEN).  I'm struggling with how people look at my body in motion, how my legs rub when I limp, or how my wide hips fill up my wheelchair when I roll.  In an ideal world (or maybe just my ideal mental world), I would just be another body, getting around however my body-at-that-time gets around.

Ideally, that's how it would work.  That's how I became a fat athlete.  I was just another body in a sea of bodies.  I wasn't the culmination of several markers of Otherness.  I was just a person, doing person-things.  I hope to one day find that happy point where I'm just another body, an albeit fat crippled body, moving around as just another body. 

It's hard when everything is bound up with pain though.  Pain is raw.  Pain is all-encompassing.  Pain is distress.  Pain makes a person take notice to the exemption of whatever else is going on.  Pain makes my thoughts derail, and makes for some long & rambling blog posts.

P/so/as the massage didn't make a difference in my pain, I think it brought to light a discomfort I've been having in my body that was intangible.  There will be more experiences that I'll have that will show me my body in different ways (and you all will get a chance to see the results soon, with photographic evidence).