Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Final Drive


            Chris and I woke early. The plan was to go vote, Chris would drop me back home, and I would start my errands. “I’m going to get Orbit today” I said quietly on our drive back to the house. Chris already knew, but I needed to say it out loud again. I was still wrapping my head around the bizarre trip I was about to make.

            Tufts Veterinary Clinic is in North Grafton, a 45 minute drive down 495 and through a mess of back country roads. Over the course of a day and a half, I had made the drive three times. It had been about two weeks since my last trip. The final leg of the drive is through a beautiful stretch of Route 30, looking out over fields flanked with trees in all the shades of fall. You can always see at least five sets of dogs being walked at any given moment. Under any other circumstances I would have wanted to spend time there.

            On a Friday morning, Orbit just wasn’t being herself. Usually she would be trying to join me in the bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen. She would meow constantly, looking for some extra attention or maybe a little more food on her plate. This morning she was lying on the floor in our office, not really moving around. She was responsive, but she was acting as though her sister had just beaten the crap out of her: lethargic and downtrodden. I went to work, but I couldn’t shake the sense something was wrong. Finally I called my vet and set up an appointment for 4 o’clock. I got home from work and couldn’t find her anywhere. In the basement, I found her curled up in a box with an old rug. Once again she was lethargic and only mildly responsive to my attention.

            Orbit’s usual reaction to the cat carrier is to fight, tooth and nail. She has managed, in the past, to place a paw on every corner of the opening to prevent being shoved in. This time, I simply picked her up and placed her in the carrier. Closing the door, I knew something was seriously wrong. I took her to the vet who planned to keep her for about an hour as they drew labs and did an x-ray.

            They had her 20 minutes when they called. “You need to get her down to Tufts. I’ve already called their emergency department.” As I retrieved her and made my way to Tufts, I couldn’t stop thinking “She’s my healthy one. This isn’t possible.” The vet was suspecting heart

 failure and kidney failure, but no matter what was really happening Orbit needed to get somewhere to help her in a significant way.  Forty-five minutes is a long time to be in a car with a cat. I was used to her caterwauling and trying to tear her way out of the carrier. After numerous moves over the span of her eleven years, the scratching and unnatural sounds she made became a little irritating. This drive, however, she was silent. She tried once during the drive to dig her way out, only scratching a handful of times before curling up again. During the brief flurry of activity, I actually encouraged her to try and fight her way out.  After she stopped, I couldn’t stop crying. We arrived at Tufts and they took Orbit into the back while I checked in. After trying to get them to spell my last name correctly for the fifth time, I finally handed them my driver’s license. They were kind, and asked me to have-a-seat-someone-will-be-out.

            Waiting rooms are their own kind of hell. Some young woman came out and got more details about Orbit, then slipped into the back again. The same woman came out with another doctor, a little older but she obviously knew what was going on. She took me right back into the ICU/Emergency room. Orbit was in a cage with a solid plastic front. She was still lethargic, but breathing a little more slowly. It had never occurred to me that this was how an animal would be put onto supplemental oxygen. They explained that she had gone into kidney and heart failure and they would need to give her diuretics to remove the fluid built up in her lungs, but carefully so the kidneys wouldn’t completely shut down. She would have to stay the night, and likely the whole weekend. I returned to the front to give them a deposit when Chris arrived. We returned to her cage to say goodnight. She raised her head a few times while we petted her, and once we were out of the building I dissolved into tears. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. The rest of the night, I couldn’t concentrate; I fell into fits of crying.

            The next day, Chris had plans that kept him busy the whole morning and afternoon. I decided I wanted to make sure Orbit was improving. The covering doctor for the weekend was kind, and talked to me about how she was improving, but still not really recovering. I spent about 20 minutes with my entire upper torso in Orbit’s cage. I was petting her, and as I put my hand down, she placed her head on my hand. It’s how she would always fall asleep with me when she crawled under the covers. I knew she was so tired. I wanted her to fight. I warned the doctor that if she started recovering, she would likely get very aggressive. Instead, everyone commented on what a sweet cat she was. 

The sick thing is I knew that meant she wasn’t going to make it.

            That evening Chris and I returned home from going out for dinner. There were two messages on the answering machine. Both were from the vet. I returned the call. Yet another doctor:

“Her heart rate is dropping dramatically, and her breathing is getting faster.”

“Do you think we should come down?”

“I think that might be a good idea.”

            On the drive down, I had made up my mind. We walked in, and were brought back to Orbit’s cage. They had her on a heart monitor and had IV fluids dripping in. She was lying flat, a heating pad underneath and blankets on top of her.

            “We need to stop this. Please.”

            The doctor disconnected the heart monitor and the IV. She picked up Orbit, and I took my cat into my arms. I carried her into a small room. As the vet exited she said “Take as long as you need.” Orbit was lying prone in my lap and lifted her head a handful of times as Chris and I cried and petted her. Mostly I just remember her pressing her face into my stomach. Finally, I asked Chris to get the vet. We said our farewells and it was over. I held her for a little longer, and gave her to the doctor. We decided to have her cremated, which we were told would take a week or so.

            Which lead me to this drive. It was hard to come home with an empty cat carrier. This was worse. A long drive, whose only reward is a cardboard box with two stickers, one stating “Oak Small Classic”, the other “Individual Cremation Prepared for: Owner: Bussiere”. How could my sweet kitten be in this box? How could she be fine one day and fatally ill the next? I took the box, stepped outside and into my car. I wept. And then, I knew it was time to take her home.

            Chris and I have an idea of where we’re going to bury Orbit. There is a sunny hillside she loved to watch from our sun porch. It’s a hillside full of chipmunks, wild turkeys, and, hopefully come spring, either some flowers or a plant. I still miss her every day. I keep expecting her to come around a corner, tail held high and fluffy. Her sister has started talking more. I wonder if she just never had the opportunity to get a word in edgewise.     

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blogging: To be, or not?

Another year and a half have gone by, and again I insist on not posting. Actually, it's not really an active choice, more just a simple omission. I'm getting the impression that blogging just may not be my style. I think that I may be more introverted than I give myself credit for.  For you folks at home, I'll try and cover some ground from the past year and change. I'll throw in a few pictures, just to remind you what I look like! 

I struggled with my diverticulitis, having a few more attacks and being on antibiotics for a few more rounds. I was given the advice to reduce my stress, drink more water, and have a higher fiber diet. I was also working in a high paced in-patient unit where I would get to work at
 6:15am, eat lunch between 2-5pm(if I got lunch at all), and get home anywhere between 8 and 9:30p. Then I would get up and do it again the next day. I experienced a fair amount of stress on the job, but the people I worked with were amazing. I was considered one of the more
 experienced nurses, and a good resource ( a little creepy, considering I'd been in the field three years).  It was very hard on mind, body, and spirit. Then, there were also days where I'd feel
 like I'd made a breakthrough with a patient, or I feel I'd done something extrordinary with my day. Unfortunately, it was taking a toll on my health and quality of life. December of '07 I began
 working per diem at a small community hospital in their stress lab and cardiac/pulmonary rehab. Outpatient, normal hours, lunch breaks... almost unheard of in my profession. A full-time position opened up in May, which is where we find my employment today. No insanity, but I'm wrestling with the reward component. In nursing, I want to feel I'm making a difference in someone's life. In my current position, I don't really feel that and I frankly don't spend enough time with any given individual to really effect any change. The reality is that I will need to find fufillment outside my job, and enjoy the little successes
 when they come my way. 

Chris and I got married October 13, 2008. It was perfect in every sense of the word. I can't believe in a few weeks it will be our 1 year anniversary! We were married at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate. I stayed at the Inn at Castle Hill, and below you'll see a picture from the porch
 there. The weather was crisp but warm, not a cloud in the sky. 

 We honeymooned in Playa Del
 Carmen, Mexico at an unbelievable all-inclusive resort. I still dream about that place... 

In Feburary, we bought a house in Groton, MA. It was difficult to leave Arlington, but we gained so much moving out here! Our property (which seems funny to type "our property") abuts an area "preserved for agricultural use." No one has purchased the property, and when they do they can only use it for horses or hay. Beyond that 191 acre parsel is another area of conserved land, a retired apple orchard. In Groton, there is over 1,000 acres of preserved land open to hikers, mountain bikers, etc. It's paradise! 

I've found it difficult to photograph our actual house because we're on a hillside. Besides, as most people can attest, photos don't do it justice. The short version is I'm doing well. I'm learning to garden, care for a home, and continuing to grow. Perhaps I'll just start posting a photo gallery? 

Saturday, April 21, 2007


After multiple false starts, it appears that we may have finally achieved spring in New England! It's been a rocky road: Two days we had beautiful weather, I was without my down coat, Chris and I went for a mountain bike ride. The next day it was snowing.

Now, today, I hear songbirds singing. I can see grass being less brown. I see SUNLIGHT!

To celebrate, here are some pics from Chris' and my adventures in my first ride of the season:

We decided to try one of the Rails to Trails paths that I'd been reading about. For the life of me, I can't remember where we actually ended up! It was a really beautiful path. First it started on some slightly burlier (and signifigantly muddier!) trails. I learned how to bike over snow and ice. Apparently, the best method is to speed up as much as possible, and whatever you do don't stop. This is the point we turned around: it's not the most natural setting, and it was a little jarring coming out of the woods to this. At the same time, it's such a cool thing, seeing a major overpass from underneath.

Between all the snowmelt and rain, the river was raging. In the shade, the edges of the river were still frozen. Just a beautiful day.
Speaking of which, what am I doing inside typing to you?!
I'll update later when the weather isn't quite as nice... =)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Health, Surgery, etc.

It's been a while, yet again. I thought I'd be a bit better about updating, but there have been a few overwhelming things occuring recently, and publishing them has been put on the back-burner.

A few weeks ago, I was admitted to the hospital with what I thought was appendicitis. After the laparoscopic procedure, the doctor found it wasn't my appendix. I was having a diverticulitis attack (the second in my life). This time it was located in the ascending colon, which is extremely rare, especially in someone my age. A round of antibiotics later, I started my slow return to work. After two days of nursing, I felt pain in my left side. I was having yet another attack, which brings me up to now. I'm on oral antibiotics, getting back to a normal work schedule, and very nervous about my future.

There is some information that suggests that high fiber, good hydration, and stress management will all help to avoid future attacks. However, I've now had three attacks (first one was '03) at the age of 30. I'm a genetic freak, or at least my colon is. I still don't want to have surgery, because that has a whole host of other issues associated with it.

For those who don't know what diverticulitis is, may I suggest checking out the wikipedia description here:

There should be some more uplifiting info coming up soon. Wedding planning, etc...

Friday, December 29, 2006

The coming year...

The next year is approaching fast, and I'm kicking around my resolutions. I would like to resolve to climb and exercise more, but I find by Feb. I'm already saying "I really need to do laundry. I don't think I can make it to the gym."

So, here's the real plan. I will climb more, but I won't beat myself up if I don't improve as quickly as I want. Don't get me wrong, I'll grumble. I'll curse. The usual. But, I'll let it motivate me rather than pissing me off. Or, being pissed will motivate me? Also, when I do all the things I intend to do around the house, I will listen to my pretty new Shuffle. I've already starting doing that, and I find myself dancing about while I'm doing house chores. Luckily, the only one's who benifit from this show are Spaz and Orbit.

I wish I could make resolutions about remaining calm and collected regarding the wedding. However, I know that I'm probably going to lose it at least once. And, it won't be about anything, I'm just going to get tired and short circuit.
To keep myself inspired about climbing, here's "Sail Away" in Joshua Tree National Park. And me, at the top, bleeding a little and swearing a lot, but happy nonetheless.

Here's wishing you all a Happy New Year with great adventures!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Photo journal

I may have mentioned I love taking pictures. So, here are a few of the adventures we've taken this past year:

This is a picture from Joshua Tree. I have never seen this before, but at sunset, the clouds became rainbows. This is also one of the many reasons I carry a pocket tripod. Chris and I were driving back to our campsite when we saw what was happening. Apparently, the phenomenon happens when the clouds become ice crystals, and the refract the light into rainbows.

This is what Joshua Tree is all about: devilishly handsome men on rocks. Yes, I'm a little biased. Chris and I went out west for rock climbing. The entire park is littered with boulders like this one. Some of the rocks are stacked up, or signifigantly bigger, and it makes for amazing rock climbing. It also makes for some of the more harrowing decents I've ever had. Occassionally, getting off the rocks is more difficult that getting up them! This picture was taken right after Chris and I climbed a fun 5.8 called "Life's a bitch, then you marry one." I thought this would have been a terrific place to be proposed to, but he had other plans...

Just outside Joshua Tree National Park, the Country Kitchen is the perfect place to start your morning. Or perhaps completely wreck your morning by gorging on some of the best greasy spoon food you can find. There are only a handful of tables, and a tiny bar to sit at. The decor is... overwhelming. The highlight could be the fake aligator on the floor by the cashregister. This picture was taken as I'm crying out "BACON!"

The journey continued along to Red Rocks, NV. We met up with Bryan, Caroline and Ty for more adventuring.

This features some of the amazing rock scapes that occur in Red Rocks. Some of the rock errodes faster than other parts, creating these amazing pockest and caverns. This is Caroline showing that she could live quite happily in one of the larger "gnome condos".

I wanted to put these images side by side: If you look carefully on the left, there is a climber wearing a red shirt inside the arch. As a matter of prosective: that person is climbing in the rock formations to the right.... they've got a long way to go to get to the top!

Think that's all the blogging I have in me today. And we've only gotten through one trip in March!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

As an FYI

Check out the links! OhGizmo is for geeks like me: I love cool gadgets, widgets, etc. They will fill you in on the newest, latest, and craziest! Sometimes they don't even know what the gadget is for, they just know that they want one.

1st Ave. Machine has some very cool project: They are a CGI company, and they've done music videos, advertisements, and just some funky videos. My personal favorite is Sixes Last.

Alton Brown is my hero. I think if Indiana Jones were a cook, he'd be Alton Brown. Or, maybe if Chuck Norris were a cook?

Homestar Runner was introduced to me by Chris's younger brother John. I am a fan of Strongbad's emails, but you need to be a little twisted to like them. Personal favorite off the list (you'll find it under 'sbemail' when you open the web page) is 'dragon'(it's near the bottom of the list). If you don't like that one, you won't like anything else on the site.

Petfinder is a fantastic way of finding pets in your area that need adoption. My cats were abandoned by their owners at the age of 4 weeks. I was lucky enough to have them fall into my life. They're 9 years old now, and still as crazy as they've ever been!

The PDGA website: I'm just learning about how to play disk golf. I know, you throw the Frisbee, you get it in the basket, no big deal. Not quite, I've discovered! There are multiple disks you can use, drivers, putters, mid range... and they all curve one way or the other depending how you throw them. It's a great way to get outside, and there are soooooo many beautiful courses!
These were taken during a recent outing to Borderland State Park in Easton, MA. Chris and Bryan had some amazing tosses, but everyone was punished by the 900+ foot fairway (hole #2, if I remember correctly)!
As for Cook's Illustrated: you do have to pay to use the website, but you have access to anything and everything they've written. Great reviews of equipment and supplies, and well researched recipes. They try everything, even old wives' tales, to find the best method to cook any given dish. Highly recommend the magazine and the website.
Odds are good I'll add more links as I think of them, but I think this should keep you all busy for now!