Prescription for Disaster

Friday, 29 June 2012

I live with a self centred jerk-face

Yep. That's him. Dermot the Chinese Kitchen Cat. And he's a self centred jerk-face. Oh he looks cute there all cuddled up on the sofa like he owns the joint. He'll suck you in with his "pet me I'm adorable" routine. But he's a jerk-face. He usually looks more like this:

He may have fooled Paul, but he hasn't fooled me.

Here's why he is a jerk-face cat:

1. He's ungrateful. And a hardcore communist.

We picked up Dermot the Chinese Kitchen Cat in, you guessed it, a Chinese kitchen. We were living in Dongguan, the South of China at the time and one day just before Christmas we were walking past a restaurant and noticed a cage of kittens and cats sitting outside of the kitchen. We wondered what was up with that and found out that they were on the menu. Being the easily horrified foreign devils that we were at the time (we are no longer easily horrified. Still foreign devils, though) we asked about the cats and a woman opened the cage, picked up a tiny orange kitten (covered in fleas) by his face and tossed it to Paul. Well, Paul wasn't letting go. We paid something for him (I seem to recall Paul thrusting money at her and backing away) and he's made us regret it ever since.

I've shown him pictures like the one above. I've explained to him that look, considering that you were nearly stir-fried with bamboo shoots and broccoli you should really stop whining about the brand of cat food we buy you, and I've even threatened to cook him up with a nice black bean sauce myself. He doesn't get it.

And this is an outrageously expensive cat. We may as well have purchased a couple of breeding pure bread show cats for what this one is worth.

After we de-flead the little guy with tweezers there was all the feeding him with tiny bottles, teaching him to use a litter box full of dirt, cleaning tiny dirt paw prints off of everything we owned, the shots, the cuddles... then the flight from the south of China to the North of China (nobody could believe that we were flying a kitten with us. Or even taking it with us when we moved). I don't think he has ever quite forgiven us for that last flight.

And then we got a dog. Just to torment him. (technically, the dog came first, but that's another horror story for another day). And to make things even worse, we had a woman come in a couple of times a week that insisted on bathing him. The woman was like a ninja. I'm surprised he never drowned.

Then we moved to England, and took the ungrateful bastard with us. More expensive shots. Microchipping, quarantine in China, an expensive flight to the UK. AND THEN 6 MONTHS OF HORRIFICALLY EXPENSIVE QUARANTINE, and this cat has NO appreciation. At all. We visited him every 2 weeks! We saw what it was like there! It was like a kitty hotel! He had friends to chat to through the plexi glass, stuff to climb on, stuff to hang out on, a door way top to leap down onto the unsuspecting heads of the staff with (we received a few complaints) - he even made friends down the street (the facility received a few noise complaints). His was a palace compared to the dog's solitary confinement hell-hole. But is he at all grateful?

Of course not. Entitled twit.

2. He doesn't earn his keep

So, it's my understanding that cats are meant to keep out mice, no? Seems like a pretty simple job to me, I don't ask much of Dermot, just that he keeps the vermin out and cuddles me once in awhile without giving me a "love bite" that leaves a scar.

But no. When we saw a mouse recently (we have since moved), Dermot was nowhere to be found and we were left to deal with it ourselves. This involved a heated argument, a broom, an empty diaper box and some hiking boots. We're not very good at this stuff. Paul was ready to kill it, I wanted him to capture it and let it loose in the back garden. He though I was insane, I thought he was a monster. We agreed to stun it, capture it, check that it was okay and then release it in the neighbour's back garden. This did not work out quite as well as we had planned. 

My point though, is that if Dermot had been doing his job satisfactorily that the mouse wouldn't have even come into the house in the first place. Cat fail.

We figured that once we moved Dermot would have a fresh start. There is a gigantic field directly behind the house, surely his mousing skills will get some much needed continuing professional development. We haven't seen any mice yet, but Dermot has another vile foe to contend with here.


We've got spiders. Big ones. Hairy ones. Not ^that one^, thank god, but just as ugly I'm sure, if I got close enough to look. (I won't). The kids picked one up and were playing with it, brought it to the kitchen and got to watch mommy and daddy running around the kitchen screeching "Holy *&^%! Holy *&%! while Paul scrambled to find something big enough to kill it with and I cowered in a corner wet-wiping the crap out of the children.


Nowhere to be found. That's where.

3. He cries like their long lost triplet

Whenever the kids cry, my cat cries. Just to let us know that the kids are crying. He likes to feel included. Making sure we're in the loop. Now, with screaming twins, I'm not going to lie. The screaming cat that screams along with the screaming twins has been strangled more than once. Not a deterrent, clearly.

He bitches at us constantly. He yowls at us in the morning to say hi. He yowls at us during the day just to chat. He yowls at us to let us know the kids need something. Or they're crying. Or somebody has pooped themselves. He yowls to go out. He yowls to come in. He yowls at the television.

But the worst bit? He yowls at night when he comes in through the window, directly into our bedroom or the kids' bedroom and then YOWLS. Don't believe it's bad? We got it on tape:


4. He has an unnatural "thing" for my husband

A lot like this guy, but in reverse. Possibly like this:

Dermot has a very clear obsession with my husband, to the point that the cat tells Paul when it is time to go to bed. And Paul often does as he is told by Dermot, because the subsequent yowling just isn't worth it.

This cat rules our home and our lives. He feels he is "too cool" for litter boxes and prefers to go outside. All the time. Whenever he wants. So our house is freezing because a window is always open for Dermot. But sometimes he's not satisfied with coming in or going out through "his" window by the door. No. Sometimes no window other than the kitchen window will do. At 3am. Bastard.

And when he comes home after a night of prowling the neighbourhood like a gangster? He lets us know. He yowls as he comes in as if to say "Heyyyyyy! I'm home! Did you miss me?" and then proceeds to tell us all about the neighbourhood gossip once he has established that we (all of us) are awake and attentive enough for his liking.

As is standard with cats, when we want to hang out with him he wants nothing to do with us. At all.  But when he is ready to chat and have our attention, well..

We love our cat, of course we do. We would have fried him up with rice and broccoli a looooooong time ago if we didn't. But he is an insufferable jerk-face.

And I think he's dangerous too.

I worry for the children a little bit.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

I'm not sure, but I think I just got out of the psych ward

Even my hospital stays are never boring, good grief. People chained together, naked ladies, falling elevators, ballroom dancers and a bizarre ring of special needs prostitutes were just the highlights of my most recent 13 days of captivity in the hospital.

Damn Sarcoidosis, it's now worked its' way into my brain. Fantastic. My kids had been ill, my husband had been deathly ill (kind of feel badly for bugging him so badly about the Man Flu once I found out what it actually was - loving, compassionate wife fail) and I had gotten a bit sick too. No fever, just a dull headache in the back of my skull and an excruciating headache if I stood up or bent over. Thought I was about to have an aneurism, and it kept happening for like, a week (don't want to be a hypochondriac and go in for every little thing, right? I figure that the dr's and hospital see me enough with this crap as it is)

So I went in for a regular outpatient appointment with my Rheumatology team, mentioned the headache and they admitted me on the spot. Right in, stabbed with a cannular and into an MRI within the hour. Swollen brain, sarcoidosis is now in my brain, and I'm flaring up like crazy in my joints, bones, neck and face. I looked (and felt) a lot like this:

It would only be a couple of days, they told me. Don't worry, they told me. You'll be home soon. But noooo. I was back to eating that dreaded hospital macaroni and cheese suspiciously lacking in macaroni for 13 freaking days!

My husband and kids came to see me so often that when the girls saw the hospital from the car they said "Hi Mama". They came for picnics and cuddles and well, I can't even sugar coat that. It's awful to have to watch your babies leave you day after day while you're stuck to an IV, or stuck on a hospital ward not knowing when you'll get to go home to be with them again. Anyway, too depressing, don't want to talk about that. 

Luckily for me, every time I'm admitted to the hospital they put me onto the same Rheumatology ward, though I'm always the youngest one there by at least 35 years. The staff there know me well now, and call me "the Baby". (either because of my age in comparison to the other patients on the ward, or because I cry a bit when they jab me with needles. I didn't ask) I had some fantastic roommates. The one to my right was a very sweet little elderly lady, 82 years old, that used to be a ballroom dancing world champion. I know this because she has alzheimers, and introduced herself to me constantly. Constantly. She also had trouble walking, so when they gave her meds to prep her for a colonoscopy that would clean out her bowels they gave her a commode, right next to me and separated only by a thin curtain. The poor woman nearly blew herself off the commode a couple of times. It was extremely difficult not to giggle like a 12 year old boy at the noise coming from next door. Thank god the drugs I was on removed my sense of smell.

The one across from me was even better. She was an 86 year old, loud, racist, angry Italian woman that  swore at the nurses, wouldn't deal with anyone that didn't have English as a first language (and was sure to tell them why), cried that she was being abused by the food quality and slept with her pink nightdress over her head and spread eagled on her bed, curtains wide open. Every night. 

So to determine what was going on in my brain, they needed to collect some of that lovely fluid. Bring on the Lumbar Puncture. Was I nervous? No, just a lumbar puncture. Just a needle going into my spine. Not a big deal, I just wanted to get it over with. So a ward doctor and a newbie prep me in my hospital cubicle and have at er. 6 times. It wasn't working. They needed a bigger needle, the tissue around my spine was too swollen. Nobody wants to be huddled up with their bare back to doctors preparing to stab them in the spine with potentially paralysing affects and hear "we need a bigger needle". After 6 attempts (FML) they gave up and arranged for the surgeons to have another go the next day. 

It doesn't help that while being wheeled in a bed to the surgical suite the elevator we were in dropped an entire floor. The three of us (porter, nurse, me) thought we were going to die. We lived, barely, but after that surely one has no fear of a lumbar puncture. So in we went. 

5 more tries and they finally were able to suck out some spinal fluid - it felt incredible to have such instant relief in my head. So wonderful that a couple of days later I asked for another one. They thought I was nuts, and told me that the story of the girl who had 11 attempts at a lumbar puncture had already travelled throughout the hospital and will become Imperial Healthcare Lore. Again, lucky me.

However, nasty treatments aside, the most entertaining and bizarre part of my hospital stay was definitely the rotating string of pirate themed prostitutes with special needs, there seeing a male patient with special needs. It was crazy, and for awhile I wondered if I was really seeing this, or if I needed to reduce my painkillers again.

Every day at around 4pm one or two of these girls (4 in total), that dressed like pirate themed hookers but also clearly had special needs themselves, would come to visit this guy. They would close the curtain and you could hear them chatting (not very clearly, some due to speech impediments, some due to my lack of spy equipment that I solely needed while in hospital) and laughing, and then you would hear him shout something like "Gerr Off Woman!" and then the girls would leave. 

In chatting with the nurses, I found out that they all go to a special school together and all have similar learning disabilities. She explained that their prostitute-style dress was probably just their personal style preference, but she was also confused by the pirate theme. So it wasn't just me. 

The first time that the nursing staff kicked them out is when they brought in some beer and got the guy properly drunk. He tore out his IV line and went wandering down the hall talking to the walls. It was fantastically entertaining. (Hey, I'd been singing show tunes to myself at this point I was so bored, I'd take any form of entertainment I could get. I was even debating introducing myself to ballroom dancer next door, just for the conversation!). Then they were banned for, get this, having a threesome in his cubicle. You can't make this stuff up. He wasn't in a private room. He was on a shared ward with 3 other men and across from the room I shared with crazy 1 and racist 2. It was fantastic.

The best bit? When he was discharged he was replaced with a prisoner from the jail next door to the hospital - who was chained to a prison guard at all times. This was a further source of much entertainment, though the nurses did not know what he was in jail for (though there was much speculation over tea at my bedside with them).

The worst part? Even HE got out before I did! Paul kindly reminded me that he wasn't going home, he was going back to group showers and prison shankings, but still. What the hell??!

So in the end, on Day 13 of captivity I was feeling much better, my immune system had been completely decimated by a crazy high dose of steroids and I was due to now wait out the meningitis ( ah yes, turns out I had meningitis, which caused my sarc flare, but the virus was found after they decimated my immune system, so I was kept in like an outbreak monkey) and I asked my team of 14 doctors and professors if I should ask my husband to come and get me or if I should go ahead and tell him to start dating other people.

They reluctantly discharged me to the care of my overprotective husband who put me on house arrest for the 4 day Queen's Jubilee weekend. I didn't care, I was just so happy to be home.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

I'm Clearly Not Meant to Have Any More Kids

I’m Clearly Not Meant to Have Any More Kids

After spending two weeks in hospital captivity and missing out on pretty much the entire British summer for this year, I came out with a zest for life and ready to live life to the fullest – short lived ambition, yes, but still.  I wanted to travel, let’s go to Spain, France, Poland – but then was reminded that we can’t go anywhere at all this summer, as our passports needed renewing and then our UK visas, oh god, our UK visas.  Our passports will be in the Home Office for months. We’re stuck to exploring the UK this summer, maybe a sneaky trip to Ireland without documentation if we’re feeling brave, but we’re stuck here, none the less.

So we went out and bought some bikes, a twin bike trailer and a bike rack for the car, with visions of us out cycling the great British countryside as a family, past castles, cottages, along the sea side and stopping to have cute picnics with baguettes and local cheeses along the way.

The bikes were picked up, the trailer put together, even the bike rack arrived yesterday so off we went for an inaugural family bike ride to the neighborhood park last night.

I fell off my bike within the first 10 minutes.

Of course I did. Now, it wasn’t just a usual fall off of one’s bicycle. My bike seat was too high and as I slowed to get through a gate behind Paul and the kids, on an incline, I lost speed and tilted to the side, trying to catch myself I fell against the gate and was pinned with one leg up in the air and being horribly violated by the bike seat. My leg was stuck up in the air, the gate and the bike had me pinned and Paul was riding away with the kids, oblivious to my yelps for help. I was able to get his attention by shouting Man Down! Man Down!

By the time he turned around to come and save me I had managed to remove the bike seat from my hooha and slither to the ground, still pinned between the gate and the bike with my left leg up toward the sky. I looked ridiculous.

It was a painful (but thankfully short) ride home and I’ve got a bruise on my groin that looks as though I’ve been in a car accident, but the girls (and Paul) had a great time. It’s quite clear that we won’t be having any more children, as if the methotrexate hadn’t already taken care of that my bike certainly just did.