Thursday, November 19, 2015

Technically advanced, i'm not, but i do what i can

I see the picture I posted in my last entry did not publish. I saw it on Facebook and thought it worth sharing, but they might have some special something or other that prohibits me from sharing it. It was a picture of the Statue of Liberty sitting at the base of the Eiffel Tower, tears flowing down her face while she lay some roses on the ground.

Many states here in the US have decided to close their borders to the Syrian refugees. It's been a pivotal discussion point for many, and there is no middle of the road on this topic, apparently. Otherwise logical, maybe even somewhat mild mannered folks are speaking up with vehemence, both for and against.

We've seen this before in the US, where we say give us your tired, your poor, and then in the next breath, we say the borders aren't open.

I don't think most of us really understand just how desperate one is when one has had to flee one's country with very close to nothing. Where we've seen friends, family members, communities slaughtered in front of our faces.

I just found out Gander in Newfoundland, Canada, is once again opening itself up to welcome those who need a place to land. For those of you who haven't ever heard of this community, I urge you to read, The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland, by Jim DeFede. You may want to have a hanky or two close by as you read it.

In a nutshell, after the attacks on 9/11, the US decided to close all airspace. Some folks were midair when it happened, and could not land in the US as originally planned. Thousands arrived in Gander, and the book chronicles some the events and some of the people who lived there and some who arrived with no place to go.

I live in one of those states where the Governor has decided NOT to allow Syrian refugees. Four generations ago, my people made their way across the Atlantic in hopes of a better life. They weren't refugees in a war-torn area, but they weren't anyone special, either. Just ordinary people looking for a new place to call home. I never knew why they emigrated, only that they did.

At my last location, a friend of mine who worked for the Department of Labor had a young man in her office one day. He couldn't speak much English; he could speak French and an African tongue that was unknown to my friend. She did know about ten words in French, and she worked out that this young man had seen the word "Labor," and figured he could get a job there.

Turns out this young man fled for his life, arrived in the US, in New York City, had a phone number he needed to call as that person would help him. This was back when there were pay phones and very few people had cell phones. The young man dialed the number, but it was disconnected.

He ended up making his way a couple hundred miles south and was staying at a homeless men's shelter. He wanted to find a job, and here he was in front of my friend.

This story really deserves an entry all to itself, but let me just say here that everyone who met this young man wanted to help him. And we helped as we could.

I've worked with new immigrants and refugees in various jobs I've had. Some of these people were living lives not unlike my own, when the political climate changed quickly, and they found themselves running for their lives. Some of these people who were now clearing away dishes or mopping floors had had servants to do such menial tasks in their old life. Others had always worked hard and what little they had was blown up or taken away.

Yes, I understand the risk that there can be posers in a group of refugees, who want to infiltrate and set up a terrorist network. Yes, we already have enough crazy people here, and we read about them in the news every day. But I think it's a risk worth taking. If it were my family, my friends, the refugees with whom I've worked, i'd want someone to help them if they could. So, who am I to do less?

What to do? Why this weighs so heavy on my heart, I cannot say. Perhaps it's because of the young man I met who was fleeing for his life and ended up in my friend's office. Perhaps it's because I lived in Paris for a school year and love her fiercely. Perhaps it's because it's my turn to pay it forward or back.

So, when I heard that Gander was welcoming the Syrian refugees, and because I live in a state where we probably won't have any arrive, I decided that if I can't welcome them to my state, I can help others who are. I googled Gander and found out the phone number for their municipal offices and called. I explained that I lived in the US in a state that was not far from Canada and was NOT welcoming the Syrian refugees. I heard that Gander was, and because of what they did after 9/11–and here my voice broke–I wanted to help in some way. I could send a check (or cheque, since we're talking Canada). Did they have a process set up for that yet? The woman said she wasn't sure, she'd check with the mayor's office (I had dialed a different department), and she'd get back to me. I gave her my phone number and email address, in case one way was more convenient for her than the other.

For those people whose people have been there for millennia, it probably doesn't make sense. For those of us where it's either been a personal experience or recent history, it perhaps strikes a different chord. I feel we must do what we can.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Late but heartfelt all the same

I was away at a conference this past weekend, with no access to my electronic devices, although the sentiment is no less heartfelt.

Très desolée.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The shit hit the wall rather than the fan

JoJo is one of those good natured tabbies who take things as they come along. She still allows Phoebe to be top cat, even though with the swipe of her paw, she could knock Phoebe into next week, and believe you me, there are times where I want to knock Phoebe into next week, so I tip my hat to Jo on that.

She was born feral most likely, and found in a bale of hay when the truck driver who was pulling the bale off at one of his delivery stops, noticed a litter of kittens in the one bale. All were dead except one grey one, and he took the kitten over to his mother who worked at the same place I did. He told his mother she needed to do something, they couldn't just let this kitten die, and he had to get back to work. He had stopped at several farms to pick up the hay bales and had help loading them on at each place, so he wasn't sure which farm this particular hay bale had come from. Even if he did finding the mother cat was likely impossible, as the litter was most likely feral.

So, when I first saw her, she could fit in may hand and weighed about 4 ounces/120 g. Something pulled at my heart immediately, and I was in love with her.

Six weeks later, after we had found a foster for her who said she'd take care of her for six weeks, no longer, she came home with me. The old woman who fostered her had an older dog, and they lived with her son and his family who had a younger dog. I don't know what they made of this kitten who stayed with them for a while, but when Jo came to us, she didn't meow. She barked. Grace and Phoebe were none too pleased with the newest addition, and in time, Jo learned to meow and fell in love with Grace.

JoJo can be very sweet, but she is also very headstrong. We found this out, when at four months old, she jumped through the screen so she could be outside with Grace and Phoebe. She is not a fan of the word no.

Phoebe has always been a diva, and with her recent kidney disease diagnosis, I've been catering to her a bit more than usual. Yet, I still wanted to give time to JoJo and let her know that I loved her, too. And so, the day before yesterday was like many that have gone before: after I put the kettle on, Jo jumped on my lap, and I sat on the stool in the kitchen petting her, combing her, and talking to her. She was loathe to get off my lap when the water had boiled, so I waited a few more minutes. She went outside to have a sniff round and relieve herself, again like always. She uses a litter box only when it's late at night or if there's lots and lots of snow on the ground.

I settled down to work, she came in the house and it wasn't until supper time that I realized she hadn't moved from the bed in the guest room. I took her supper in to her, and she didn't show much interest. She also didn't look right, as if she didn't feel well. I decided to see how she was in the morning before taking any action.

I awoke before the alarm went off this morning and made my way downstairs. Phoebe was glad to see that I was up at my usual time, as she's still not reconciled to our being back on standard time and meowed for breakfast.

I went into the guest room and saw Jo hadn't moved. She looked miserable, and she smelled different. She smelled sick. After doing my usual morning routine, I called the vet's office to let them know I was bringing JoJo in. They open at 8:00 a.m., and I was there just after they  had unlocked the doors.

They took Jo in, telling me they would do what they could as soon as possible. The vets were booked for early appointments, although there was one at 9:00. They might be able to take a quick look before the first appointments or at least take vitals.

I know some people get hysterical over trifling things, and that I've done that once or twice myself. I thought about the time I had brought Jo in and ended up having to wait nearly an hour past my appointment time because they'd had an emergency. While I wasn't happy about the wait, I understood that bringing my healthy cat to get a vaccine was not an emergency. And maybe this didn't qualify as a capital E Emergency, but a cat who doesn't eat or drink and stays lethargic for 18 hours does need to be looked at, and in my book preferably sooner rather than later.

At my last location, the cats' vet had a farm. Dr. D was very laid back and usually gave our cats 3-year rabies shots. This worked well for us, as our cats rarely saw the vet for any other reason, and it's always hard to catch them. The vets at the office here don't like to give 3-year rabies shots, they prefer the 1-year because they don't like the mercury load the 3-year shots carry. I did ask if I could get them at least for Jo, as I have a much harder time wrangling her. No, they were adamantly opposed to the 3-year shots.

I thought on this as I waited. I heard JoJo's loud meow of protestation through the closed doors. So did everyone else in the waiting room. I wasn't happy Jo wasn't happy, but that loud meow was music to my ears. She had a lot of fight left. Dr. L came out to the waiting room to talk to me. They determined that Jo had a fever, they couldn't find an abscess, they didn't see bite marks anywhere, and he went on to explain that it could be a "fever of unknown origin." In those cases, they usually give a broad antibiotic and see if that fixes things. He also wanted to know what I could tell him. I couldn't tell him much, the day before she was fine in the morning, although this morning, she didn't smell right. He looked at me quizzically. I explained that she didn't smell like herself, she smelled sick. I then returned to the recent history: I didn't see or hear any animal fights, felt no abscesses when she sat on my lap, felt no wounds. I did ask that since she was here could she at least get her rabies shot, as she was overdue. I felt guilty about that because she does spend a lot of time outside, and I do want to keep her as safe as I can. There's been a fox snooping around, as I told the vet, and he looked a bit mangy. I saw some scat by the clothesline that I think was his, and the two days ago, I saw stools that look like Jo's but they were on the path to the back door, and that isn't a usual place for her to leave anything. So I don't know if she was marking territory or if something else was.

He said he doesn't normally give vaccines when animals are unwell, but if the fever came down enough, he'd consider it. I said I know he's not a fan of the 3-year rabies shots, but it would make things easier for me if he'd consider it in her case.

And then he asked about bowel movements. I said I didn't think she had moved at all from the bed until I tried to put her in the carrier, and that took me several tries. When I was finally successful I looked at the wall to see wet diarrhoea stuck to it. So the shit had hit the wall rather than the fan.

He said that she'd released a large puddle of urine when she was being examined, so they were able to get a good urine sample. They were testing now, and it would be best if I could leave her there for the day. They hoped her fever would break, and I could pick her up at the end of the day.

I thanked him, they confirmed my phone number, and I came home.

He called an hour later to confirm everything was normal. He talked about giving her injections of antibiotics as that seemed a better course than oral antibiotics, so with two injections---
and here I cut him off.

"Wait--i'll have to give her injections?"

"No. We'll do it here. My original thought was to give her oral antibiotics twice a day, but I see that's not going to work, so we went with the injections. I think giving her oral antibiotics twice a day would be nearly impossible."

Was this his way of realizing when I said she was headstrong, I wasn't exaggerating?

"I haven't had to do it often, but the few times I've had to do it, it's been quite challenging."

"If her temperature drops enough, I can give her a 3-year rabies shot. We don't normally do 3-year shots..."
"Yes, I know, and you explained why you don't like to do them. I appreciate that you are thinking of considering it in this case. She was born feral, and while she's domesticated and can be quite sweet and loving, there's a part of her that's always stayed wild." I didn't want to belabor the point, so I changed the subject a bit. "So, if the fever breaks, I can pick her up this afternoon. What if it doesn't break? Does she need to stay overnight?"

That could be an option, yes. Or I could take her home and bring her back for more observation as needed. And before he could quite finish his sentence he said, "I'm guessing she'll be hard to catch."

"And you'd be guessing right. This was the easiest time I've ever had catching her, and even so it took four tries."

"Then overnight would be best. We are set up for that and can do it if need be."

I told him I know Jo's a hard patient, and i'm sorry about that. And again I so much appreciated all he and his staff were doing for her.

I arrived promptly at 4:00 p.m. to collect her. Her fever had gone down a couple degrees, and if they were successful in measuring her temperature once more, they might be able to give her a rabies shot. He looked harried. She's not an easy patient, and my guess was that as her temperature went down, she was more adamant about expressing her disdain. He explained she refused to eat, which didn't surprise me. At her last visit to the vet, she was good and angry afterwards. I had opened the carrier to let her out in the yard, and she refused to come in the house for a while. She sulked and stormed off, to return within the hour, killing two mice and a rat. That's my girl.

I was to monitor her, to see if she ate or drank anything. Also, probably best to keep her inside until tomorrow morning if at all possible. I nodded thinking that might be possible.

She was quiet in her carrier. Her eyes looked brighter and she looked to be in less pain. She was quiet on the ride home, and slowly emerged from the carrier when I opened it inside the house.

Phoebe was curious, caught the vet office smell, and smelled the carrier. She gave Jo space.

It had been much quieter without Jo in the house. I was glad she was back home, and she looked to be, too. She sat and groomed herself in the dining room. She wasn't interested in supper, but it was so soon after our return. She made her way slowly to the rocking chair in the living room and jumped up on it. I gave her a pat on the head, told her I was glad she was home, and she didn't seem to bear me any ill will. She's now sleeping comfortably, and I think I shall soon be there myself.