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Friday, November 03, 2000

Pepper bled this morning while she ate. Last night, she had a small amount of a burger patty. I don't know if that irritated her mouth or what. It's harder and harder for her to look up. I guess it's painful for her. She did look up a little this morning and I saw into her mouth. I think it was the cancer I saw, what it's doing inside. *tears* She *is* still eating and being very affectionate, but I don't think she will be here much longer. It's hard. It's so hard. I thought I was becoming accustomed to the idea of her passing, but I'm in tears right now. It's not the same as the other times. I was frightened then. Now, it's a sort of resignation. I know it's going to happen and I know it's going to be soon. I know we've had at least a month longer with her than the vet thought we would. I know she'll be in a better place. I just don't know when. *sigh* She laid next to me on the couch last night and I stayed with her. My arm around her, her small warm body next to mine, she purring, me gently snoring, a duet so sweet and loving. For lunch today, I had a croissant deli sandwich from CostCo and it was large. I couldn't finish and I broke up the turkey into small bitesized pieces. She's eating it, with appetite. It's good to see. But when I fed her the regular catfood a little while later, processed to a gruel, she ate very little. Maybe because she already had the turkey in her. I can hope that's why. But she's grooming herself right now, which is good. This is such a roller coaster. I took out a package of frozen hamburger last night and I'll cook it up for both her and Lola. Lola likes hamburger, too.

Okay, Lola had her final chemotherapy treatment yesterday. When I called at three to see if she was ready to come home, I was informed that the vet had given her fluids and a vitamin B shot. It seems, she had a little constipation. *sigh* I haven't seen her go yet, but she's acting much more relaxed than she had been. I thought the problem was her bladder infection. Guess I was wrong. Anyway, she's on vetasyl now and I'm to keep her on it until she poops. She had lost an ounce. But she's done with chemo. She has a week off, then I have to go in next Thursday and get her medications. But she gets to stay home. She slept on my pillow again last night. I left Pepper on the couch about one this morning and went to bed. Lola was under the covers, next to hubby. But sometime during the night, she came back to my pillow and purred for me. She hadn't done that in a couple of nights, so I know she was feeling a little better. Had she pooped? I don't know. But she wasn't nearly as cranky as she had been. *sigh*

Next Monday, I report for jury duty. Something every good citizen should do. I'm not looking forward to it, at all. I'll be worried sick about the cats. Especially Pepper. California has a thing now where it's one day or one trial. So, if I don't get picked, I won't have to go again until I'm called again. And that should be a couple of years.

I called about the kittens' diarrhea this morning. I explained that they both had it, no other cat does. That they are playful and eating normally. I said I thought it was that they were teething and should I bring them in or could I try giving them Immodium? The vet relayed the correct dosage of Immodium. If they still have it next week, I'll bring them in. I haven't started the stuff yet.

I got three rolls of film developed yesterday and wanted to scan a couple of the pictures, they're so darned cute. Well, the computer couldn't find the scanner. I worried that maybe it was the USB connection. I tried running the outside camera from that power source and it worked fine. It was the scanner. It took me about four or five hours to figure that out. Well, I spent part of the time looking for the CD that came with the scanner. I found the installation CD, but that wasn't the problem. We got a new scanner last night. I set it up first thing this am and it was the scanner, not the computer. That's a relief. I'm just sorry anything had to break down. Not a good time right now. But I need a scanner. For pictures like this:

and this:

I took so many of the kittens and of Pepper, too.

I haven't caught up yet on all of the work I had to do since we got home from Disneyland. Well, I've caught up on paperwork, but not on housework. And I really need to do some housework. I've been doing laundry all day, I should go fold it now. I have to wash all of the blankets for the furniture, too. My bathroom looks like a hurricane went through it. The floor is a mess. The cats have been having a grand time, peeing in there. It will take me less than a half hour to wash the floor and walls and it will be so much nicer. I'm going to quit writing in here now and go do something constructive in the house.

Say a prayer for Pepper, okay? That she's not in much pain? That's what worries me more than anything else.


Tuesday, November 07, 2000 Pepper's bleeding didn't get any better. I had jury duty yesterday (wasn't called for a jury and got to leave at eleven) and when I came home, I called the vet and made an appointment for her. The earliest they could get her in was 4:15. I called Brian and asked if he would be able to come home and go with us. He said he would try. Pepper didn't spend much time inside yesterday, which was out of character. At one point, I couldn't find her anywhere. Finally, I spotted her in the tall grass by the pool. She hadn't lain down there for years. I went over to see her and the blood at the left side of her face was scary. I spent quite a bit of time with her outside. I picked her up and nuzzled my nose into her fur, smelling her and feeling the movement of her chest as she breathed, against my face. I could feel her purr. I carried her on my shoulder for a while, which she liked, but she wanted down. I set her down and she chased Junior, which made me smile. I knew that she may not be coming back from the vet's office and I was cherishing every minute with her, watching her do Pepper things. At one point, she was just laying on the grass and I got the camera. I took pictures of her, knowing these may be the last. The blood from her mouth was obvious. I knew if the blood was from the cancer, we'd be saying goodbye that afternoon. There would be nothing more we could do for her.

Brian showed up at a quarter to four, having misunderstood what I told him. I was glad that he did. Pepper had come in and was sleeping soundly in the catcam chair. I had to wake her up to put her in the carrier. I held the carrier on my lap and she cried on the way to the vet's office. I kept telling her that one way or another, we would take care of her pain.

This weekend was good with her. Saturday, I gave her a little raw hamburger, which she liked, but ate with some difficulty. Then I cooked a little for her and tried to process it. Didn't work. But she happily lapped up the "gravy", which there was quite a bit of. She spent a lot of time outside in the evening. When she came inside, she was very affectionate, kneading and purring. Saturday night, she snuggled with me on the sofa. I fell asleep with my arm around her. She was active, eating and affectionate. I combed and brushed her several times a day, which she really liked. One thing I had noticed was that she seemed to have a hard time keeping her balance. Her back end was wobbly. Had the cancer progressed to her ears, thereby affecting her balance? I didn't know, but it didn't look good. Brian said "I think it's her time" and I reminded him that it would be when she wouldn't eat. She was still eating. Brian had mentioned she was getting thin. I hadn't noticed that big of a difference, but it was the same with Bob. It was so gradual with him and it could be the same with Pepper. But this bleeding really concerned me. Maybe the signs the vet told me to look for weren't all that I should have been looking for. Sunday night, and I know this is going to sound really cold hearted, I wondered what it would be like to not have her with us any longer. I realized that it would be a relief. I knew that her constant drooling couldn't be good for her. Cats are such fastidious creatures, Pepper was no exception. Even though I changed her blankets often, she still ended up with her head in a wet spot. She couldn't eat the food that she loved. She was reduced to eating soft catfood processed to baby food consistency. She couldn't eat when she wanted. She had to come to me to feed her. She never complained, but I know it wasn't what she wanted.

At the vet's, we had a short wait in the outer office as they cleaned up one of the examining rooms, in preparation. Becky was our tech and she weighed Pepper, who was very reluctant to come out of the carrier. Pepper had only lost three ounces since her diagnoses more than two months before. Not bad. Brian and I sat alone in the examining room. Brian held Pepper and I grabbed one of the "free for all" flea combs, junk plastic ones, useless for fleas, but good for combing drool stiffened fur. I combed her ruff, making it soft. I combed her back and her legs. Brian started to tear up, knowing well what the outcome of this visit may be. She's such a good cat, never been bad, never been a bully, never starting fights, never peeing inappropriatley. She was never sick a day in her life, none of those "fevers of unknown origin". She was the perfect cat. Except she had cancer. Pepper pushed her head against Brian's arm, nuzzling deeply in the area between his arm and body. She was purring.

The vet came in. He took Pepper and looked her over. He asked some questions and looked into her mouth. He was amazed at how much the cancer had grown. It was almost back to her tongue. You could no longer see her lower molars, the cancer had overtaken that part of her mouth. The blood was coming from a very raw looking area where her top molars were pushing into the cancer on the bottom of her mouth. He was very apologetic as he said that at this point, he usually advises euthanasia. He said that there is nothing more that can be done. We knew that this was most likely going to be the outcome of this vet trip. That we would leave without Pepper. We told him "yes, do it." (Yes, set her free, let her spirit go, let it leave her diseased body, the spirit and body we've loved for over fourteen years, she's our first cat together as a couple, it's fitting we say goodbye as a couple, I love you Pepper, I love you so very, very much and I'm sorry for your pain, I'm sorry I couldn't make you better. If I could take your pain away and have you live, I'd do it in a New York minute, but I can't my sweet, I don't have that power, all I can do is to give the word to help you on your journey, oh, Pepper, this hurts my heart so much, I'm not God, this shouldn't be in my hands, I shouldn't have to make this decision to end your life, oh, Honey, I love you so very, very much, I can't stand to know you hurt, I can't keep you here for me. Goodbye, Pepper, goodbye, please forgive me.) He got the sedative ready. As with Bobby, what he does with all cats now, is to sedate them first. He had problems in the past with the euthanasia drug hurting as it went in and the cats would fight. Sedating them first made it easier on the kitty and easier on the owner (those that chose to stay with their beloved pet until the end). I petted her and Brian stroked her and said goodbye to her. Brian sat down and I stood with her, running my hand down her body, saying my goodbyes. I kept kissing her neck and her side, listening to her final purrs. I would never hear this again from her and I cherished it, that she was purring for me, as if thanking me for setting her free. It took about five minutes before she was finally asleep, head down on the dark pink towel the vet had put down for her. Then the vet took her left front leg and found a vein with the needle. He withdrew the needle, then shaved her. He put the needle back in and slowly pushed down on the syringe. I watched as the blue fluid left the syringe and went into Pepper. She shuddered slightly. This was it, this was the end. I put my head on her body, whispering more goodbyes, telling her over and over how much I loved her. As she breathed her last, I told her to say hello to Maggie for me. At 4:35pm, she was gone. The vet asked us what we wanted to do and I told him we wanted her to be cremated. We said our final farewells, I kissed her lifeless body one more time, then we left.

Oh, man, this is so very, very hard. We knew it was coming and I think that may make it a little easier to get through the grief. And when I think of her, and how much I miss her, all I'll have to do is to review that image of her mouth in my mind and know that we did what was right for her, maybe to help ease my pain a little. I have to call the vet's this morning to give them my credit card number so that they can relay the information on to the place that does the actual cremation. We're getting a nice pile of remains on top of the bookshelf. Bobby, Blackie, Sandy, Maggie, and now Pepper.

When we came home and got out of the truck, I waited while Brian got the empty carrier from the back of the truck. He said "is it raining? I think I just felt a sprinkle on me". I looked up at the sky and there wasn't a cloud to be seen. I told him there were no clouds. He looked up and then looked around, perplexed. I said "it's Pepper saying goodbye to you".

We walked into the house and the other cats were glad to see us. I came back to the office and posted to my regular bulletin boards, changed the message on the catcam, letting people know that the star of the catcam, Pepper, had passed on. I removed the blanket on the catcam chair and replaced it with a clean one. Brian was super sweet, he made dinner, comfort food, a grilled cheese sandwich. I shut down for the night and we watched television. I laid down on the couch and pulled the afghan over me. I could still see the blood from the night before when Pepper had laid on it. I took it into the laundry room and got a clean blanket from the exercise room. I fell asleep, thinking about my Pepper, missing her on me and the feel of her kneading. I tried to remember if the any of the other cats kneaded like her. Maggie did, does anyone else? I nodded off. I got up and went to bed about 11:30. At four, I was awakened by purrs and a cat kneading me. It was Peter. Oh, yes, I remembered. Peter kneads.... I fell back asleep.

This morning, it was back to life as usual. I still have to feed Lola. I got her medicine yesterday, so I won't have to go in Thursday morning. I just called and gave the information for Pepper's cremation. I haven't fed Lola yet and a little while ago, I saw her eating from the feeder in the television room, something I haven't seen her do in months. It was good to see her there. Her followup treatment is one tab of Lukeron on Monday with one half of a prednisone tab, which she will also get on Wednesday and Friday. Easier than six days a week, but I hope I don't lose track. She seems to have gotten over her constipation. Yay, Lola!!

Did I mention that my brand new receiver died? It worked, then it didn't. Then it did. Well, Sunday night it didn't and it hasn't worked since. I called Saturday morning for a return authorization, called my salesman and left a message on his voice mail, called back Saturday afternoon to cancel the return. Called back yesterday morning to reinstate the return (they're back east so I was able to get ahold of them early). Yesterday afternoon, Max called me back. He talked me into a different brand (more $$ of course). And I also ordered a surge protector. It should all be here tomorrow. And then I'll package up the other stuff and return it. I should get a full refund because the unit is defective.

I have so much housework to do. My bathroom is a disaster area. I haven't cleaned since before we went to Disneyland. I'm so tired. I don't feel like doing anything at all. It's a beautiful day, though and maybe later I'll open up the doors and windows and get busy. I'm sure it will make me feel better than I do. Cleaning is so good for the spirit. I kind of wish I had been picked for jury duty.


Wednesday, November 08, 2000 Well, I haven't cried much. That's good. I'm sure it's because I know Pepper is in a better place. And because I had said goodbye to her and let her know how much we love her since she was diagnosed. Her passing wasn't a big shock. There is a little bit of shake up here in the home with the other cats. When I got up this morning to pee, Ciara peed right where I sleep. She hasn't peed on the bed in months. I didn't go back to bed and I'll have to strip the sheets and mattress pad today. Ciara is back on Buspar.

I was in the office yesterday afternoon when I heard a ruckus from elsewhere in the house. I went to check it out and Rusty was on the floor in the bedroom, Lola was yelling at him and hitting him. Rusty was having a seizure. I'm sure it had only been a matter of seconds before I got to him, but it was very scary. I petted him and said his name over and over. His body was stiff, his paws moving. He was foaming at the mouth. I had to keep telling Lola to go away. She was as frightened as me. It didn't last long and he's fine this morning. I believe it was triggered by the sound of the blinds knocking against one another. Remember a couple of months ago I noticed him reacting oddly to different sounds? And the vet couldn't find anything? So, I'll have to be very careful about the blinds. If the windows are opened, I'll have to tie the blinds so that they don't rattle. I'm kind of afraid he fell off of the bed, because he was walking pretty stiffly, but as I said, he seems fine this morning. I did call the vet's office and I'm to watch him and let them know if he has another one in the next couple of months. Then we'll decide what to do. One of the factors here is his age. I don't want to subject him to a bunch of tests if not having a repeat of that type of sound does the job. And it was pretty windy yesterday. I just don't want to stress him anymore than I need to. One of our neighbors has a cat that does the same thing. This cat has done this for close to two years and he's twenty one. Somebody told me since there's an obvious aural trigger, that we should probably take him to a neurologist, since most vets aren't really sure of how to find the underlying cause of seizures like Rusty's. If it happens again, I may do that.

I'm curious when cats will start sleeping in the catcam chair. I had the camera shut down yesterday in memory of Pepper. *sigh* I've tried to get different cats to check it out, but so far, nobody is interested. I'm playing with the kittens by tossing their toys in the chair, hoping they'll get tired and just go to sleep in the chair, but it's not working.


Monday, November 13, 2000 I can't seem to concentrate on anything long enough to get anything done. I don't know what's wrong with me, most likely some sort of burnout, caused by stress. It's all I can do to get the litter boxes cleaned out and the cats fed at night. My back is a little sore and I'm having a hard time getting to sleep, but once I do, I sleep until it's time to get up. That's kind of nice. It's really been quiet around here, not a whole lot going on, maybe my body is adjusting to the past couple of months. I don't know, but this lack of motivation is getting real old real quick. My neck is stiff and my right ear keep feeling like it has to pop. That's annoying. It's been like that for about a week now. Maybe I'm coming down with something. Wouldn't that be nice? My third cold this fall? I sure hope not.

I upgraded Benny da Kat's forums this weekend, that took quite a bit of time. I'm still playing with stuff, trying to implement hacks, but I'm not having much luck at one of them. This stuff is so time consuming. I moved the private forums from catler over to lisaviolet, which went pretty smoothly, but still took quite a bit of time.

Friday, I picked up Pepper's ashes. Like Brian said, though, "that's not Pepper, it's just what's left of her". I've not broken down too much, but Friday afternoon, when I was digging in the freezer for some peppers for the spaghetti sauce I was going to make, it hit me. I started crying. But it quickly passed. The other cats seem to be dealing well with her loss. Not *too* many problems.

I obsess over Kirby not peeing now. I watch him all the time and I'm sure it's not something he likes a whole lot. Poor guy. But I'm so worried he'll block again.

Lola has started to not eat without me being there with her. I wish she would eat on her own, but if I don't stay with her, she just won't eat. I have seen her eating the dry food in the television room and she occasionally has been seen in the garage at night when I feed the cats.

Saturday, we got some stuff around the house done, stuff that's been put off for a while. Brian checked the leak under the sink (it's been over a year) and found it was the garbage disposal, not the sink. So, he went and bought a new one and put that in. He also crawled up in the attack and fixed the leak from the water dispenser line for the refrigerator. In doing so, he disconnected the cable to the bedroom. After I realized why I wasn't getting the satellite in the bedroom (I was folding laundry) he took a quick look up there and decided he didn't think that's what it was. But it started to eat at him and late Saturday, he was back in the attic. Luckily, it's right there at the opening to the ceiling and he didn't have to go all the way up, standing on a ladder was sufficient. The only problem was Mystie thought it would be great fun to use him as some sort of cat tree and she kept running up the ladder, then him. He did quite a bit of yelling.

Saturday, I got the new receiver set up. It was a major pain in the butt, let me tell you. The new speaker connections come loose so easily. I'd get one set in, then work on another and the original set would have come loose. The stereo cabinet is unfinished wood, just lovely if you like splinters. It's close and tight and it was no fun. I had gone to Radio Shack and gotten some S-Video connectors Thursday night and some RCA splitters. They only had three of the splitters. I needed at least four. But I'd see what I could do without them before I ordered any online. Well, connecting the DVD player and satellite receiver to the receiver was a bust. I couldn't get them to work properly. I wouldn't worry about it, I disconnected both of them and hooked the satellite back up to the television. I had no complaints about the DVD and VCR signal to the television, so I figured I'd just leave everything as it was. So, it's after 10:30 Saturday night and I test the speakers. The manual was wrong. The speakers were mismarked and I had to pull the stinking thing out again. When I did, the other speakers came loose. I was hating it. By eleven thirty, it was working the way it should. I just couldn't rest until it was. One thing I did think to do was to use the RCA splitters to send the sound signals to the television and the receiver. Since I was so tired Saturday night, I did this first thing Sunday morning. I have a splitter box that I was using for the sound signal from the television or the satellite receiver so it worked out fine (you can connect five different components). I used the stuff that is used to decorate clothing and put a different colored dot on the tv, vcr, dvd and satellite receiver, then put corresponding dots on the splitter box. So, now it's pretty easy to change which component you want to listen to. I think even Brian could do it without too much thought. Something that was pretty cool was the saleman called me last week to see how I liked it. I told him it wasn't set up yet. I called him today to let him know that it was all set up and I liked it so far.

Oh, I downloaded the updated version of my weather station software today. I figured out how to do the tabular data, so every ten minutes, our local weather stuff is updated and it's listed out on a separate page. There will be five days' worth. I thought it was pretty neat. Then I noticed this new menu item and I clicked on it. My weather site is now listed on the weather underground. If you look for weather in an area around here, say San Diego, La Jolla, Santee or El Cajon, my website will come up in the personal weather station page column. That really excited me. I guess I did a lot of stuff that used a different part of my brain this weekend. The technical part, not the creative.

Brian went up to the sticks yesterday, taking laundry and mouse traps. It seems the clubhouse is full of mice and they're into everything. Making a major mess. That's all he was supposed to do, but I find out when he got home (it took him longer than I thought it should) I find out that he decided to clear some brush while he was out there. Now, I know that it's probably a silly thing to worry about, but I don't want him working out there by himself. If he were to get hurt, nobody would know for hours. I wasn't real happy to hear that the tractor broke. I guess it was the axle. *sigh*

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lisaviolet is fifty something, married with no kids, takes care of lots of cats, likes taking photographs, loves Southern California weather and spends altogether too much time avoiding her responsibilities.

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