Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sometimes, birthdays aren't all they're cracked up to be

Monday, the adorable little fellow you see above celebrated a birthday. His name is Mulder, and he turned 15.

Today, he was diagnosed with kidney failure.

He showed no signs whatsoever of being sick until Monday, when I noticed that he wasn't quite as spry as usual while I was getting ready to go to work. Monday night, he didn't come running up to see me when I got home, and he was moving lethargically around the living room. And Monday night, he didn't come with me when I went to bed (where he usually curls up beside me as we watch TV and go to sleep). At first, I was hoping it was just the sniffles, or he had eaten a spider or something that didn't agree with him. This morning, I dropped him off at the vet. They did all the requisite tests and bloodwork, and the news is decidedly not good. His little kidneys are failing, and there's really not a lot we can do about it.

We gave him an IV bag of fluids and some antibiotics. I'm going to take him in tomorrow, and they're going to run two more bags of fluids through him while I'm at work, with the hope of hydrating his system. And I'll probably bring some more bags home this weekend, to continue to the process over four or five days. I've got some "kidney special" food for him to nibble on, but the realistic outlook, especially for a kitty his age, isn't very good.

In the decade and a half he's been with me, I've lived in two states and three houses. I've been divorced, engaged and had friends, girlfriends, dogs and even kids (!) live with me. I've had four different cars and worked for four different companies. I've traveled to six different countries. I've lost my father (my mother, who passed on her love of cats to me, died even before I adopted Mulder). The one constant through all of this has been Mulder, and I couldn't have had a more steadfast, true, affectionate and sweet-natured friend.

Intellectually, I can come to grips with the way things may unfold over the next few days, or weeks or months. Emotionally, I'm not quite ready to deal with it. There are still some tests and treatments to come, and who knows, the prognosis could change. But I'm not prepared to say goodbye just yet.

If you have a pet, go give 'em a hug. Tell 'em that you love 'em, no matter how many times they try to drink your coffee, eat your pizza, leave hair all over your black clothes or chew up the toilet paper roll. Soon, you'll really, really miss those things.

All I know is I'm gonna sit down on the couch tonight and do some serious cuddling.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

In which groceries appear by magic

I'm ridiculously excited about getting my first delivery from Peapod this morning. For those of you who don't recognize the name, Peapod is a grocery delivery service. They bring your order, which is placed online, right to your door for a fee. Depending on the size of the order, and your location, the delivery fee is around eight to ten bucks. The groceries themselves come from a local retailer, and typically tie into whatever regular frequent shopper program you have with that store (offering you accrual of gas card points or other bennies).

I've never really enjoyed going to the grocery store. I like the outcome, since I'm a notorious list-maker and organization nut, and value having backups of everything so there's never I time I run out of any staples. But the process of going there, shopping, carrying all the bags in and putting away the groceries? Not that fun. It's better when the weather is warm (which it decidedly is not in Maryland right now). And discovering the joys of listening to podcasts on the iPod while shopping certainly makes it more tolerable (with the added bonus of the earbuds serving as a visible "please don't talk to me" sign). But I saw a Peapod truck dropping off a delivery in my complex a week ago, and decided to give it try, no matter what it cost.

Shopping here is just awful. The stores, with rare exceptions, are all smaller than they were back in Georgia. And I mean smaller in just about every way. The parking lots are smaller, and you have to drive around forever to find a space. The spaces themselves are smaller, which is aggravating for a rotund man with an SUV. No one wheels your groceries out for you like they did at Publix, and the cart returns are few and far between. The inside of the stores are smaller, too. Fewer selections, fewer checkout aisles. And the regular shopping aisles themselves! If there's just one other shopper in the aisle -- gods forbid they have a buggy -- you have to make like Indiana Jones in the beginning of Raiders just to make it by without knocking product off the shelves or getting intimate with a stranger.

Getting back home with the groceries is almost as bad as the in-store atmosphere. Back home, I just pulled up into the garage, and that inside door connected right to the kitchen. Now, while I have covered parking a covered walkway to the door of my unit, it's still more than the 5 feet I used to previously traverse, and I'm still exposed to the elements (which lately, have been wind, snow, rain and cold). Making multiple trips to carry bags in is fine when you're inside and the trek is 8 feet. When the jaunt is 50 yards with snow coming at you sideways? Fuck that noise. So, I wind up doing one of two things: Either I regulate my shopping to make sure that I only purchase items that can be carried in one load from the car to the kitchen in one trip (with my briefcase, since I usually go after work), therefore limiting the amount of supplies I can purchase on any given trip and subsequently consigning me to make even more visits to the hellish retail establishment from whence they came, OR I try to load myself up like a tortured and abused pack mule to get a trunk full of groceries moved in one trip, probably doing irreversible damage to my spine.

At the end of the day, ten bucks seems like a worthwhile tradeoff to me. (Plus, there's a special now that offers 60 days worth of free deliveries after your first order, so the per trip cost may average out to be less than that on an annual basis).

Maybe I'll change my tune after the first delivery. One of the potential downsides is how the groceries are packaged. I loves me some plastic bags. The pictures on the website make the bags look like they do in every single movie and TV show in history - a paper bag with a delightful baguette sticking out the top. I hate paper bags. They're bulky and pretty much useless after they've served their purpose. The plastic bags, however, I use with great regularity. For disposing of cat litter. For taking my lunch to work. To separate dissimilar items in a suitcase when I travel. For running errands or making visits when you're taking a group of objects and don't want to hassle with bringing a bag back. I've got a pantry full of plastic bags right now, but if this new grocery shopping endeavor doesn't supply me with them on a regular basis, what will I do? I guess I could just purchase a case of them wholesale to deal with my personal uses, or make a rare trip into the maw of retail torment, use the self-checkout and bag each and every item down to the chewing gum individually to replenish my supply, but it does add another variable to the equation.

Anyhoo, the first delivery should be here in the next hour, so we'll see how it goes. At least there won't be any screaming kids, dinged car doors or cashiers that don't say "honey" and "y'all."