Sammie is doing MUCH better!

This morning, Sammie was sleeping next to my head. When I woke up, she "Enh"ed at me (which is the semi-voiced meow she does when she wants food) and sat on my chest. When she did this before, it was annoying. When she did it today, I was almost crying with joy.

I got up and fed her, and she ate nearly all of it, so I gave her a little bit of kibble to munch on throughout the day (as the doctor told me to do so she can put on some of the weight she's lost). She fought me giving her pills, but did swallow them eventually. Her blood sugar was elevated, but not stratospheric, so I gave her one unit of insulin.

If she continues like this, I expect that tomorrow she'll be knocking things over and chewing paper again to wake me up. :)

Second update on Sammie

The ultrasound revealed that Sammie's pancreas has some nodules on it that they say are likely scar tissue from previous bouts of pancreatic inflammation. This scar tissue, they said, is probably contributing to the glucose spikes she's been having. I'm going to talk to their feline diabetes specialist this afternoon to work out a plan for controlling her glucose better so that her pancreas doesn't get this badly inflamed again. Then I'll be taking her home and watching her very closely for a while.

But they also say that she's been doing much, much better since I brought her in. Her appetite is back in full force, and she's drinking and urinating normally again. Also, not vomiting! Yay!

Update on Sammie

I left the VCA last night around 1am. At that time, the vet on duty said that she was dehydrated, her pancreas was inflamed, and her glucose was still very high, but they were going to put her on IV fluids and give her insulin and anti-inflammatory drugs. About 3am, he called me to say that she was responding to abdominal palpation as if it hurt her, so they wanted to do an ultrasound, and they were going to give her pain medication and an antibiotic just in case the inflamed pancreas was a bacterial infection. He said someone would call me some time this morning to let me know how she was doing.

I ended up calling them about 10am (a little over 20 minutes ago as I write this). She responded very well to the pain meds and the fluids, and her appetite came back. However, her glucose numbers were all over the place, so they said that they want to keep her for another day. They hadn't yet done the ultrasound, either.

So bottom line: Good news is that she's eating again, she's apparently not in pain (though that's probably the drugs), her glucose isn't consistently through the roof anymore, and she's stopped vomiting. Bad news is that her glucose is now fluctuating, her pancreas is still inflamed, and they still don't know if there's something else that may be causing both of these things (which the ultrasound could help determine).

Also bad news: this whole thing is going to set me back about five grand. Sammie is worth it, but ... ouch.

At the emergency vet

I'm at the VCA emergency veterinary hospital in Mission Valley. Sammie is not doing very well. She was vomiting about once every hour this evening, was extremely listless, and her blood glucose level was sky high. I gave her her insulin and watched her for a while, but she didn't seem to get any better, so I decided to bring her here.

I spoke with the doctor on call about a half hour ago, and he wants to keep her here overnight for observation. I'm waiting for them to do some tests and so they can decide on a course of treatment and give me an estimate.

I have a bad feeling, though...
Working Class Superhero

Awesome Dream Channel

I had one of the most kick-ass dreams in recent memory last night. This might take a while to transcribe, so bear with me.

Unlike a lot of my dreams I wasn't a participant, but just an observer, like I was watching a movie. The setting was a fantasy world something like a cross between that of The Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age. I was following a group of vampires led by a woman, and they were definitely the villains of the story. My memory of the dream picks up at a point where this woman is experiencing a vision of her victory.

In her vision, she is on a grand throne in "Heaven", surrounded by ... nothing. There's just a vast emptiness. As my view pans around, I see that she's actually in what's called "The Fade" in the Dragon Age setting, a dream land where spirits and demons live and where the fabled Black City (supposedly once the Golden City and the Holy Seat of the Maker himself before it was corrupted by the touch of humankind's hubris) can always be seen in the distance, but can never be reached. Her throne is surrounded by the ruins of everything she's tried to create, shadows of the empire she's envisioned. And she understands (because she's saying it out loud--I don't see into her thoughts or experience her feelings or anything) that no matter if she wins or loses, this will be her fate.

At that point, she looks up at the Black City and hurls invective at the Maker for so cursing her. But I notice, as does she, that beyond the Black City is a light. And that light is a sun (and anyone who plays Dragon Age games knows that the sun doesn't appear in the Fade). And that sun ... is the Maker himself, looking upon the vampire in her throne.

A doorway floats between the sun and the throne, and the doorway is a lens, and suddenly the sun is a thousand times brighter. Any flesh and blood creature would be reduced to ash by that much light, let alone a vampire, but the light doesn't burn her. Instead a voice comes from it, warm and compassionate. I can't clearly remember the words (it's been over an hour at this point since I got up), but the gist of the exchange was this:

MAKER: Child, this is not a punishment. This is a redemption. A cleansing.

VAMPIRE: But I've lost everything!

MAKER: Except what is most precious. Your soul. The vampires say "The blood is the life." They are wrong. It is the breath. And it is my breath that will purify you and give you back that which you have lost.

VAMPIRE: Who are you?

And there was a terrible, ferocious, roaring wind as if the entire universe were inhaling. And upon the exhale, the Maker said:

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Undercaffeinated zombies

Yesterday, both my brother and I got up early to make the trip up to L.A. to see our dad for both Thanksgiving and his 80th birthday. I was staggering out of my room just as he was pouring a cup of coffee for himself.

ME: Urgghhh...
HIM: Zombie?!?
ME: (thinking fast) GRROOUUUUUNNDDDSS!
Working Class Superhero

Listen close to everybody's heart

I was in a very bad place when I woke up today. The Doctor Horrible parts of "My Eyes" from Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog were running through my head, except I'd changed the Penny-specific lines to: "They say it's just our stupid luck/But no one seems to give a fuck/That soon the dark in us is all that will remain."

And then I read this post from Ursula Vernon about a frequent commenter of hers having committed suicide on Wednesday, apparently because she was going to lose her health insurance.

That's when I realized that giving up isn't an option.

See, Doctor Horrible gave up. Or, rather, he gave in. Penny was close to turning him into a good guy. But as soon as he hit a setback—and it was a major setback, that's for sure—he went full evil. He gave up on the path that would very likely have eventually won Penny's heart, and he gave in to his basest, vilest instincts.

And he destroyed his world.

The first half of the chorus of "My Eyes" is absolutely correct:

Listen close to everybody's heart
Hear that breaking sound
Hopes and dreams are shattering apart
And crashing to the ground

But the next lines, where Doctor Horrible declares that "evil inside of me is on the rise", are absolutely the wrong thing to do. For all of us. Yes, we need to listen. We need to hear how people are heartbroken, how their dreams are shattered, and how they're frightened and hopeless. Perhaps more importantly, we need to understand and acknowledge these things about ourselves.

And then we need to help each other.

Yes, many people are probably going to lose their health insurance. But ... that probably won't happen right away. Bureaucracy is slow, and for once it's slow in our favor. So there's time to make other plans, take other actions, and do what we can to weave a net to catch some of the people who might otherwise fall through. I'm fortunate enough to live in California, one of the most liberal states in the U.S., and I have a strong feeling that the CA state government will enact something to cushion the blow that any action taken against the ACA would otherwise cause. The same probably goes for New York, Oregon, and Washington. Massachusetts already had a plan in place before the ACA took effect, so people there are probably going to be okay. Not certainly, however, so don't let your guard down, MA people.

Those living in other states (including Denial, Confusion, Dissociation, and Abject Terror ... oh, and Texas) may have a harder time of it, so we'll all have to work extra hard to help those people. And by "help", I don't necessarily mean money, or volunteering, or even writing to Congresscritters—although, of course, all of those things will help should you wish to do them. I mean being there for our friends, listening to them when they hurt, commiserating with them, letting them know that we are here.

For those of us, like me, who are straight, white, cis-gendered, fully-abled, relatively healthy men ... our duties and burdens are even bigger, because although it may not feel like it right now, we play the game of life on the "Easy" setting. When we walk down the street, no one hides their wallets or surreptitiously crosses to the other side to avoid us. When we walk past large groups of women, we don't feel ice-cold terror at the idea of being surrounded and physically overpowered. When we hold hands with our loved ones, we don't run the risk of someone shooting us in the head from their car. When we apply for jobs, we aren't given bullshit reason after bullshit reason for being turned down when we know full well that the company just doesn't want the hassle of accommodating someone "different." The police give us the benefit of the doubt, usually. When we tell someone our profession, we usually aren't greeted with stark disbelief at the idea that someone "like us" could be a doctor/physicist/astronaut/accountant/professor/inventor/author/Master Sifu of Shaolin Five Animal Kung Fu/etc. (Okay, maybe we'd get some funny looks for that last one...)

THEREFORE, when we see any of these things happening to our fellow human beings who are non-white, non-straight, female, transgendered, androgyne, disabled, afflicted with chronic conditions, or any combination or permutation of the above, we need to do something! We don't need to be paladins about it, but people need to know that we have their back. And the perpetrators of whatever awful behavior we witness need to know that their behavior isn't acceptable. Even if those perpetrators are the police or some other authority. I'm not telling anyone to get themselves arrested, just to do what you feel is right to defend and assist the disadvantaged.

This turned into a much longer post than I intended it to, and I'm sorry if it's rambling. But I needed to write this. And I need to do this. And I hope that you'll do this, too. Don't overtax yourself, don't take on more than you feel you can realistically handle, but try to do something. One drop of water won't douse a forest fire ... but a few million of them can.