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The Sick Rat Saga and Memories of Peta

I meant to do more rat status updates but I didn't really get around to it. For myself and anyone else who is interested in the whole story, this is what's been going on with my two sick rats.

On Sunday August 15th I went to clean The Rat Pack's cage and I noticed that two of my rats were not doing well. Peta, one of my two older rats, was laying on her left side and was unable to stand up straight. She would scoot around on her side but she could not stand up straight. I freaked out. The last time I had really seen something like this was with one of my first rats, Godiva, who ended up having a brain tumor. I freaked out. Later on that evening I noticed that my rat Dena had a decent size lump under one of her front legs. I proceeded to freak out a little more. It wasn't seeming to bother Dena though, had I not seen the lump I wouldn't have known anything was wrong. She was still eating and running amok with her sisters.

Due to my schedule and the vet's schedule I was not able to get to the vet until Tuesday (08/17). I got some cans of babyfood to hand feed Peta with since I wasn't sure if she was really able to get at the food so well. I also would give her bits of fruits and veggies. Dena seemed to be getting along fine so I just treated her like normal.

Tuesday (08/17) I took Dena and Peta to the Rancho San Diego Animal Hospital. They are really great with small animals and other exotics. Dr. Bevirt rocks. Anyway, I knew Dena would need to have surgery but I was hoping it could wait a week or two. Turns out the surgery is more expensive the bigger the tumor is. They had an opening for that day so I took it. As for Peta, I had been looking at stuff about head tilt online and was hoping that maybe it was just an ear infection causing it rather than a stroke or brain tumor. The doctor thought it was likely an ear infection and prescribed two medicines for that plus a medication to help with the head tilt itself. Peta came home with me that morning, I got an appointment to pick up Dena later that day after the surgery.

At this point I'm going to tell each rat's story separately.

Peta: I brought her home from the vet that morning. She had already had her first dose of medicine at the vet so I didn't medicate her until that night. I medicated her twice a day and was hand feeding her three times a day so she could get her strength back. She improved very quickly and I was delighted. By either Friday or Saturday she was standing upright some. I saw that she was eating food in the cage so I only fed her twice a day when i was medicating her. On Sunday and Monday she was pretty much back to her old self, you wouldn't have known anything was wrong other than her seeming a bit on the weak side. She would eat her baby food after the medicine for a little bit, then she would want to wander about on the couch. I figured I probably wouldn't need to hand feed her at all pretty soon and I couldn't wait to tell the vet about it when I took Dena in for her post-op. This Tuesday I took her out of the cage for her morning feeding and it was like she lost half her progress. She was lying on her side and was only upright if she was against something or being held that way. I called the vet, they told me to bring her in if it got worse or if it continued. Wednesday morning was about the same. Only difference was she took her medicine but really didn't want to eat at all. She kept trying to crawl off. I was worried, if a small animal isn't eating it's a pretty sure sign they are dying. However, when I put her back in the cage I saw her at the seed mix dish and saw her later with some cilantro in her mouth. I did some errands, went to my classes, came home, medicated Dena, then I went to get Peta out to medicate and feed her and see how she was doing. She was cold and not moving. I think I screamed. I pulled her out and held her on my lap for quite awhile. Cried, said good-bye, snuggled her. Called my mom. Cried more. Snuggled her more. Put her in a shoebox on an old t-shirt. This morning my mom took me to La Mesa Vet Emergency to give them the body. More crying, more saying good-bye and farewell pets and cuddles. I took her body out of the box and held her on my lap most of the way there.

Dena: This is a shorter tale but it ends better. Picked up Dena from the vet after her surgery. Was told she would probably be groggy and pretty mellow for the anesthesia. Yeah right. When she was brought out she was poking her head out of the box. Her tumor ended up being larger than expected plus there were a few more really little ones but the vet did not charge extra. She was supposed to be kept away from the other rats so they wouldn't mess up her stitches so I put her in a travel cage and put that in their huge cage so she could be with her sisters but they wouldn't mess up her stitches and so Dena couldn't run amok too much. Started medicating her the next day, one for pain, one antibiotic (Yep, that makes 5 medications between two rats). The second time I took her out for medicine she would not go back in her small cage and hid in the back corner in the one spot that I can't reach so well. I let her be since I was home and could keep an eye on her. I was never able to get her back in the small cage and just took it out the next day. I don't think she or any of the other rats have bothered her stitches. She was back to normal right away and a pain in the ass to medicate. Which is annoying but also good since it means she has energy to fight me about it. She goes in tomorrow afternoon for her post-op and then I should be done with medicating her which I am rather looking forward to. Of course, as much as a pain that is it is totally worth it to get her healthy.

I was feeding and medicating rats on the couch in the living room. I have a cat, Fosse, who is about 9 mos to a year old (and huge!) and he was fascinated by this and would try to "help". "Help" was him sitting next to me or close to me on the couch or on the floor and either staring at them, trying to bat at their tail, or trying to bop them on the head. Never with claws out. Oh, on occasion he would also try to knock down the medicines that I had on the coffee table. He is a major lap cat so I think he has also been kind of jealous that some other creature has been spending so much time in my lap. If he's on the couch when I have Dena out she's started to go right up to him which causes him to jump off the couch and run away. Silly cat.

So, that's the whole story. My mom and my roommates have been really great through all this. They've been really supportive and helpful through all this and I am so, so lucky to have them. And then there are all my other friends, family, and teachers and all their kind words of support and encouragement, hugs, and now, words of condolence. All this has meant the world to me. As much as I am hurting right now I am very much aware of how very lucky I am. Plus, I still have my four sweet, healthy ratties and my lovey, bratty, not-so-little cat.

It's strange going in my room and seeing four rats coming to greet me. It's been like this for about two weeks but I knew that Peta was in there somewhere. I would look in the box in the back corner and see a bit of her fur or see her sleeping behind the wheel. The cage seems emptier without her in it.

Losing Peta is heartbreaking. It's the worst thing about having rats, they have very short lifespans and you get just as attached to them as to a dog or cat or any other critter. And I am so, so disappointed that I couldn't save her. However, I am glad for all the time I have been spending with her the last week and a half and for the last year and 3 months that I was able to have her in my life. She was a sweet, sweet girl and one of my favorite hood rats*. Usually the first one or one of the first ones out of the cage and straight to whatever area I didn't particularly want them to go. She was my most eager explorer. She was also very friendly and a very good shoulder rattie. And a lover of yogis.


My sweet little Peta.
01/2009 (?) - 08/25/2010
The Rat Pack won't be the same without you.
I love you and I will hold you forever in my heart.



*No, seriously, she was a hooded rat.
There is this life that is my life, it is the life I want to be living. And I have this life now . . . but I don't. Not completely. There are things missing, things I am still reaching for, and some of these things have so much to do with certain other aspects. Maybe they shouldn't have as much influence as I give them but that's how it is right now. And in many cases it is my own fault (at least somewhat) that I am still trying to get them. Or lost them. Or it's way out of my reach.

It gets so damn frustrating. I'm taking these steady, small steps forward but then I fall 7 steps back. I do know I will make it and that I just have to keep going and be patient but . . . I want it NOW! ~stamps foot and pouts childishly~

Joy. I has it.

I'm having a damn fine day. And yes, you should picture Kyle MacLachlan in Twin Peaks saying that the way he talks about those damn fine cups of coffee.

Really though, I've been having a great day and I come home and check out Facebook and I'm just sitting right now with the knowledge that I am really rather pleased with my life and I think it is going to just continue getting better.

And my life getting better . . . it's up to me primarily. It's all under my control. Besides, of course, those things I cannot control. However, I do choose how/if I deal with them. I'm in a good place and I have a number of tools at my disposal.

And I am posting this both to say it and get it out there and also as a reminder to myself. I need to keep these thoughts close at hand. They may be able to help me keep some things under control that need to be kept under control.

This post brought to you by a fantastic day, my brain, and about three months of weekly counseling sessions.

Help me interwebs!

I think there's a project where you take a photo of yourself or something everyday for a month or year. Anyone know of something like this? May have been a once a month thing for a year?

Dream from last night/early this morning

Of course I don't remember the whole thing but I remember two parts which may or may not be from the same dream.

First part seems less . . . important, more like an afterthought really. Nearly forgot about this part. Anyway, there was someone I was sleeping with. Totally casual thing, I know that's where my head was at and that I didn't want more. Anyway, I found out they were also sleeping with someone else and it kind of bummed me out. I think they told me, I may have suspected and/or asked. I think that I did have the thought of "Why the hell is this bumming me out" but that is really all I remember of that part.

On to the main thing: I was in a class and I think the building was rather similar to my old high school. But not. You know how dreams can be. There was a Lit class I was in. Didn't recognize the teacher at all but I knew he was one of my favorite teachers of all time. There was a quiz going on for Catcher in the Rye which I hadn't read since high school. I was late, I had no idea how to answer the first question and was panicking that I hadn't re-read the book and was going to do horribly on the quiz. The second question, I knew and I was totally excited about it. The teacher is giving us time to write each answer (it was an essay quiz) and during this time he decided to wander a bit. And by wander I mean drag himself along some scaffolding by his hands. Feet were dangling a little off the floor. The scaffolding was outside which was weird since he got on it in the classroom I think. Again, wacky dream stuff. So he moves away some and there are some boys outside. They mean no harm, just goofing off but they grab him by the legs and kind of twist and swing hm around. He's screaming but they think it's a game. He loses his grip and falls to the ground. It kills him. There is a huge pool of blood. Reminded me of the guy who was shot in the alley a year and a half ago or so. We all went running, I know I saw him fall. The guys who caused it I know felt horrible, they really were just goofing off. Us students were traumatized. We had all really loved him. I remember thinking, there's another one. Every year or so, another one. And this was the first one I had actually seen die. I was one of the first to run over when he started screaming.

I don't really remember waking up feeling all unsettled or anything, I think it took me a minute to realize it wasn't real. However, posting this now, I am noticing just how fucked up this was. And I'm crying for the dead teacher from my dream.
Dear Hollywood,

Please stop casting James Cromwell as a bad guy in movies where we are not supposed to know who the bad guy is until the end. Yes, he is a great actor and makes a delightful bad guy. However, we see James Cromwell, we know who the bad guy is. There is no surprise. You are free to continue to cast James Cromwell in these movies and expect us to be surprised by the reveal of who the bad guy is on two occasions:
1) He is not the bad guy, it's some other dude/dudette
2) He is the bad guy but he is accompanied by a talking and singing pig (This will probably only work once and it will kill a part of my soul.)
Please take this under advisement or else continue to expect me to figure out who the bad guy is as soon as James Cromwell shows up in a movie.

Thanks for your time.

Uh-oh, my subconscious is showing!

Weird dream last night. Well, probably more like a part of a dream. I dreamed that a friend had deleted my blog post about Brendan (in this dream people can delete other people's blog posts). I think the reasoning was that it was too painful for her to see and therefore not really . . . appropriate is the best word I am finding at the moment. Like, it would be too painful for others. Yes, I was pretty angry, mainly because she didn't talk to me about it first, I'm sure I would have filtered it or privatized it had I been asked. I don't remember if I actually got to the point of talking/im-ing/emailing her about it.

I'm a bit curious what my brain is trying to sort out with this. I'm also wondering if this was a little stand-alone thing or part of a larger dream. I think it has less to do with his death and is more about . . . being silenced? Another person/thing/whatever taking control of my life or an aspect of it in some way? Something along the lines of losing autonomy. Or maybe something else entirely.

I don't remember much, if any of my dreams so it's kind of neat when I do.

Remembering Brendan Moran

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go; some stay for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same." -Anonymous

It has been a year since the accident that killed Brendan aka Dizfactor, aka Dizzy, aka Prime. I really can't believe a year has passed already.

Everyone who comes into my life has an effect on me in some way(s). Brendan is one of the few who utterly changed my world. Maybe I should say expanded. That's probably a better word. New ideas, music, events, etc. He's the first person who ever told me about this thing called Burning Man that I still have yet to go to. There are two books that I am reading or about to read that I heard about from him. Would I have learned about these things eventually from other people, other ways? Maybe. Probably. I'm glad I didn't.

I met him the first time I went to Sabbat. It was still at Shooters then. He was a friend of the friend who invited me out. I'm pretty sure no more than introductions occurred. The second time I went to Sabbat we spent a little more time together and he kissed me when I stood up from putting down my coat. Which totally caught me by surprise and created a bit of drama. He called me about this drama and we talked for an hour? Two hours? I never would have thought that we'd become close. I didn't think that we had anything at all in common. This was . . . 8 years ago? Maybe?

It's kind of amazing how a thing that seems so random and minor at the time has the capability of having this huge impact on your life.

Some of you reading this knew him well, met him once or twice, or knew him in passing. Those of you who never met him . . . I wish you could have. There is no one else in this world like him although I will sometimes catch a glimpse of him in someone. And it's usually a glimpse that only makes sense to me in some strange way. Brendan was inspirationally fabulous, one of the smartest people I have ever known, always up for an adventure, huge heart, random, silly, fantastic dresser, utterly unique, strong, fragile, romantic . . . and that doesn't even begin to cover it. He was one of my best friends and I think I idolized him a bit.

Memories. Do I start with the one I hold most dear or save it for the end? I think I'll save it. I will also say that there are some memories that I hold that I am not sharing in a public forum.

Memory: Brendan, his girlfriend Megan (another amazing person I am lucky to know), Marty (also fucking amazing), Ben (yet another amazing person and the husband of the incredibly amazing M), and I are at Disneyland to celebrate the birthdays of me and Megan. We're standing in line for Indiana Jones and taking in the bamboo scaffolding. I can't recall exactly how it began but we end up having a conversation about the plight of the inner city panda. You see, the use of bamboo for scaffolding has created a shortage in the forests. This has caused the pandas to move to the cities since that is where the bamboo is now. Of course now the pandas also have to deal with city problems: living in the slums, crack addiction, you know. Truly a tragedy. I think that day is also when I was told about The Secret of the Squirrel.

Memory: A group of us are going to see Nick Cave at the Wiltern in LA. I'm at Megan's getting ready with her and Brendan. I brought a huge trash bag full of clothes because I wasn't sure what to wear. Brendan ends up borrowing my long sleeved goddess shirt and long black velvet skirt. He looked amazing. Way better than I did in those.

Memory: We went to see Tori Amos at Spreckles theatre. It was the Strange Little Girls tour. Amazing concert.

Memory: I was house sitting for a family friend in an apartment by the beach during Christmas. Brendan ended up staying with me most of the time. His car broke down at one point so I was driving him to work. One night, we watched "The Pillow Book". One night I had a party.

Memory: We'd gone to Ra for his birthday. After that some of us went back to his and Megan's place. Most left after a bit. Me, Brendan, Meg, Jen, and JD ended up hanging out all night chatting and such.

Memory: The second to last time I saw Brendan was at Sabbat. This was the last time I really hung out with him for any length of time. He was wearing a gold sequin shirt. After Sabbat a group of us went to hang out at Ryan's for awhile. After Brendan died, Ryan gave me a few sequins that he'd found laying around his apartment. I still have them.

Memory: The second Lord of the Rings movie was coming out. Brendan and Megan had decided they were going to dress as Orcs and protest the portrayal of Orcs in the movie. I decided to join them. They let us march in the theatre and offered to let us see the movie for free. Unfortunately, we all had to be up rather early the next morning and couldn't do a midnight showing of a movie that lasts for days.

Memory: He gave me a mix cd. I'd never heard a lot of the bands before. A few of my favorite songs are on that cd. It's still my favorite mix cd.

Memory: This is the big one. He lived off of Washington St near Little Italy for awhile. I had a huge break between classes right around the time he got home from work so I would go hang out. We'd usually take a walk into Hillcrest and talk about . . . everything. There is a kind of odd building on 5th Avenue that reminds me of him every time I pass it. We investigated it on one of our walks. Sometimes we'd end up walking all the way to Balboa Park. I ended up missing the class I was supposed to be at in the evening quite a bit. I would give anything to be able to do that one more time.

I have spoken at two funeral/memorial services. The first was my grandfather's and Brendan was there, being supportive. The second was the memorial for Brendan, almost a year ago.

I am missing Brendan a lot right now. I wish I could talk to him about the things that are going on. I wish I could make him listen to Movits! although he probably would have heard them already. I wish . . . I wish there had been more time. But that's the standard wish. It still . . . his death still doesn't seem quite real. I still sometimes feel like I could run into him any minute or get an im from him. It still doesn't quite seem possible that he's dead.
Cut for those of you who already saw this on twitter or facebook and/or don't care.
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