There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Monday, June 30, 2008

Mimi Louise, Mimila, the Mimster, Moo...

Naturally, after the horror of losing Sophia to some gawd awful monster of a disease, I made a vet appointment for Mimi Louise, also known by all of the title names. Mimi has been overweight since she was 2. She is 11 now. She has been on Science Diet MD (remember the pet food recall scare...her food was recalled but is now reformulated) for at least 4 years and has done OK....well, sort of. We have been on several trips since December and the joke has been that when we are gone Mimi goes on a cruise. Translation: She gets to eat the other cat's food out of the feeders. When we asked the vet about feeding her while we were gone she said, "If you went on a cruise you wouldn't want to be on a diet would you? So, let Mimi eat while you are gone." This comment came after my friend Molly almost went insane trying to put 17 little crunchies into 4 slots in a timed feeder when she was coming in daily to check on the cats. Mimi has been to Alaska, the Bahamas, Hawaii and Jamaica and I discovered a pamphlet for Bermuda under her basket blankie.

So, at this vet visit we discover than Mimster has lost some hair on her back and it is not because I over Furminated her while brushing. Since she has had Feline Acne on her chin I didn't get too excited until the vet said stuff like "Pituitary tumor, Adrenal Gland issues, surgery and medications, skin scrapings"....and then I just kinda zoned out. The short story after being put in a kitty straight jacket and having 3 vet techs hold her down, Mimila had blood drawn and the vet called today.

All of her lab values look good except for her thyroid level which is a bit low. So, my vet called another vet that specializes in feline Endocrine disease and she said that Hypothyroidism is rare in cats and in her 20 plus years of practice she has only seen one case. They are going to run another lab T4 see what's up. Is Mimila gonna be a specimen?

After all of the sadness with Drakie and now Sophia we will NOT put one more of our cats through anything that involves a scalpel, sutures or fluids going through a needle into the subcutaneous tissue. Period. Meds? OK, as long as they are pills. Steve and I talked after we lost Sophie and we both said out loud that we kept Drake going for us, not for her quality of life. If Sophie had been facing the same type of misery we would have made a different decision.

Mimi Louise is happy, she spends her day laying in her basket by the bathroom where she gets her 1/3 cup of dry food throughout the day, moseys over to the litter box, laps at the water bowl and goes back to her basket. She whines a bit about her diet and I tell her I understand. Steve says she is just full figured. My profile picture is of Mimi Louise. I think she looks just fine. I'll let you know what happens.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Crash and burn.....

While Sophie was dying at the vet’s office, Steve and I were in Coeur d Alene at an attorney’s office. How special. This meeting had been set for a long, long time. We had dropped Sophie off thinking she would be all fixed up with antibiotics for her bladder infection and that maybe there was going to be one fair day where justice was concerned in the State of Idaho. Were we ever wrong.

Now that the ink is dried on the death sentence for our law suit against Stat* Fa*m Insurance, I can talk about the mess from the accident that almost killed Steve twice in 2005. I won’t drag this out; well, maybe I will, I just really need to rant a bit. I apologize.

Short version: We were hit by a very elderly man who crossed the center line and hit us in an off set front end crash. Steve thought he was dying and I thought he was dead. He wasn’t. Later on the same day after we were both released from the ER, Steve almost died again on the steps of our entry way. He collapsed, turned grey and was blubbering. He was taken by Paramedics back to the ER to be admitted for a zillion tests. The results; he had broken hardware in his hip replacement, cuts and bruises everywhere, a broken ankle, and head trauma. He was a mess.

I had medical issues too, but next to Steve’s misery I had a boo-boo.

Stat* Fa*m refused to take responsibility/liability for the accident by saying that this elderly man who was the mayor of a neighboring small community, had filed a grass burning law suit because of his lung condition, and didn’t drive but used a motorized cart to get around had experienced an unexpected medical emergency event and therefore was not responsible. Yes, that’s what they said. This is the LAW in Idaho that insurance companies can hide behind to not pay a red, blue or green cent when their Good Neighbor insured person crashes into someone and really screws with their life.

So, for 3 years we have paid for this man’s actions in the form of every single medical bill and cost associated with the crash that was not covered by our medical insurance….and the medical insurance wanted to be paid back should there be a settlement… they should. We paid deductibles, co-pays, not covered procedures, canes, crutches, pills blah, blah, blah.

In June of 2006 Steve had to have his hip replaced for the 4th time thanks to the accident. He had stretched out the surgery date as long as he could so we could financially get in a better position, but he was in miserable pain and felt that his hip had reached the point of being unreliable. We took out a second mortgage on our home to pay off bills and have some $$$ to get us through the period of time he would be off. He used all of his sick time and vacation time to cover our basic living expenses, but eventually that pay ran out as did the mortgage money so I cashed in all of the little retirement funds that I had accumulated over the years from the 4 jobs I had ever held. Sucked.

Of course we had hired an attorney when we realized that Stat* Fa*m was not going to budge. He told us to expect the sun and the moon and the stars for a settlement, but we knew we were going to get diddily… dollars that equals nothing. So, time marched on, Stat* Fa*m’s a$$hole attorney took our depositions in December of ’07 and kept stalling so our attorney was never able to take the driver’s deposition. Gee whiz, guess why….the driver was terminally ill and died. So, the judge in the trial that was set for this September ordered a mediation/settlement hearing and that’s where we were Monday.

What a joke. What wasted time. What a bunch of unprofessional, lying, bottom feeders work for Stat* Fa*m. They had paid back in arbitration Farmer’$ (who is our carrier) for the med pay amounts and loss of our car. When all was said and done Stat* Fa*m WANTED TO DEDUCT FROM THE CRAP AMOUNT OF MONEY WE WILL GET, THAT AMOUNT PAID TO FARMER’$ AT FULL COST WHEN THEY PAID IT TO FARMER’$ AT A 50% AMOUNT. See? A$$HOLE$.

Will we get enough money to pay off the second mortgage? No. Will we get enough to cover the loss of my retirement funds? No. Will our insurance be reimbursed? Yes, at a 45 % payback. Will the medical bills we had to pay out of pocket be covered? Of course not. Our attorney gets his 33%, the mediators get their cut, the few costs the attorney is out of pocket like filing fees will be paid, and we will get 4 LOW figures all because a near 80 year old, terminally ill man got behind the wheel of a car because his wife was busy at work and couldn’t run the errand that was so important.

These are the words that stick in my mind: “Well, you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Really? Where else were we supposed to be? Were we not allowed on the road that day and missed the memo? Should we have known in some clairvoyant way that he was going to be driving that day? Did we not have the same road rights as he had?

Then there are these statements from the Stat* Fa*m mediator: We will subpoena every medical record ever put to paper to prove your hip was already unstable. We will have the widow sitting at our table and we guarantee she will cry. We will find all of your financial records and prove you were in terrible financial shape before the accident. You are lucky Stat* Fa*m is even willing to be here today.

And from the mediator that we paid to have on our side: “They will get every hick and conservative in Bonner County on the jury. They will discount your surgeon saying that the hip failed because of the accident with as many paid experts as it takes. This is Idaho not California and justice is different. You will never be an Idahoan, you will always be Californians and everyone knows how the locals feel about your kind.” He was being nice.

So Stat* Fa*m wore us down to a nub and we signed on the dotted line because to do anything else would have probably really killed us. My first instinct was to write the most burning letters to everyone I could think of that had even a passing involvement in our case. But in the end I think I will start letter writing to my government representatives and see what I can do to change this loophole law and somehow get the insurance industry by the short hairs.
I bet you didn’t know I could talk like that did you? You should have heard what I said to the Stat* Fa*m mediator, lawyer, adjuster and our mediator too. I still haven’t talked to our attorney but I bet the little hairs inside his ears are fried already.
PS, the satellite guy will be here the 3rd. HughesNet is next on my list. I am so sick and tired of paying for services that we never seem to get, calling India and talking to Jack or Gary after being on hold for 44 minutes and being told we will probably have to pay AGAIN to fix the stupid satellite if something other than mechanical failure is the cause, and I am most tired of starting this at almost noon and waiting and waiting for two pictures to load and then spell check and then publishing and not being able to access bloglines or blogs any other way because I am using a clunker of a computer. Do I feel better now? No.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And now there are four......My Italian Cat

Sophie died yesterday at the vet’s office. In true dramatic Sophie style, she probably had bone cancer. No leaving with just a silly bladder infection for Sophie. She never acted sick, was eating fine and herding all of the other cats until we crated her up for the trip to see the vet.

I am crying and have been since yesterday. Steve is devastated. We deeply loved this sassy, independent little old lady cat. We only had her 4 short years but I like to think that we gave her the best 4 years of her life. Her food bowl is put away, her special litter box emptied and stored, the bathroom where she ate is quiet now and once again Mimi Louise seems to be the one mourning her loss.

Below is the post I wrote about Sophie when I had just started blogging. It was my 5th post. I hope it tells her story well and all of you get a feeling of how much Sophie was loved, is missed and how that spot in my heart can never be filled again.

Ahh, Bella Sophia when she has make-up on.....Sophie for everyday use.

If her hair was a little curlier, she could be a movie star!

Sophie has been my kitty for almost two years. Like most of our other pets, she was almost homeless, and certainly unloved when we brought her to our home. Sophie's story is multi cultural, and her heritage shows!

Sophia was originally owned by an elderly Japanese woman who lived in the Japanese section of L.A., California. She was an apartment cat and left to her own devices most of the time mainly due to her owner's dementia. The woman's family eventually realized that she couldn't take care of herself let alone a cat, so Sophia, whose name was Mitchu at the time, went to the L.A. Central Jail...excuse me, Animal Shelter. She lived there for almost a goodness.

A local radio show was a sponsor of animals at the shelter and Mitchu became the pet of the week for adoption. The bait......lots of food, litter and a vet visit.....the catch....the first person to arrive at the radio station got the cat and the bait. I wonder if Mitchu liked to fish?

Who should be the first to arrive but my future sister in law's daughter. So, Mitchu went home with Tish who was not allowed to have pets in her apartment.

Tish kept Mitchu and another cat she rescued, Burbank, in her apartment, hidden, until she fell in love and decided to move in with her allergic to cats boyfriend. That's when Mitchu and her buddy Burbank went to live with Ilene and Gary in Whittier, California. Gary is my husband's brother and Ilene, who was intelligent and lovely, fell in love with him for some reason I have yet to figure out. Yes, my husband is the only normal one in his family. Gary is a perpetual I am unhappy because the world doesn't treat me right and I am owed adult, another brother Bill is a biker for Jesus now, but in the past Jesus didn't ride on Bill's hog, a sister Sandy is just strange for no reason ......thus my wondering about Ilene choosing Gary. But, I digress.

Eventually Gary and Ilene moved to Corona, California with the two cats. Gary and Ilene decided that poodles were fun so they bought a pedigree standard black male and a miniature apricot female.....Phantom and Rose. The dogs didn't like cats, so Mitchu and Burbank were kept in a bedroom when the dogs were out which was all day and the cats got to come out when the dogs were in their crates to sleep at night. Did I mention that Gary doesn't like cats?

Gary and Ilene eventually married and lived happily with this routine until Ilene was diagnosed with ovarian/liver/pancreatic cancer in November of 2002. Ilene was an R.N. like I was, worked like a fiend taking care of others and basically ignored the signs and symptoms of her disease. She was a strong, brave woman and while she was sick trusted that Gary was taking care of the cats as well as she did. Did I mention that Gary doesn't like cats?

In Gary's defense, he was overwhelmed with taking care of Ilene and trying to deal with losing his wife. While he was aware of the dogs needs, the cats were left in their bedroom all of the time and eventually stayed in the closet where they sometimes got food, water and their boxes cleaned.

At some point in Ilene's illness Gary and Ilene asked my husband and I if something should happen to the both of them would we take their pets....all four of they were making out their wills and the dogs and cats were their "children" and they wanted to ensure that they would be cared for.....we said of course.

Ilene died November 23, 2004. We had promised we would not go to each other's funeral for a variety of reasons.....not exactly fair to our spouses, but our friendship was more important than the brothers Grimm mourning at a funeral.

My husband flew to California to attend the service and support his brother. He stayed at Gary and Ilene's the spare non pet bedroom. The request to care for the pets should something happen to both Ilene and Gary changed. Gary had given Burbank to the housekeeper and Mitchu was to go home on the plane with my husband at our cost. Mitchu was suddenly "aggressive and bites!" Did I mention that Gary doesn't like cats, but, after making the aggressive and bites comment my husband said Gary called her a sweetheart!

My husband went into all alone Mitchu's closet to see what she looked like.......she was scared, matted and fat. He called me and explained her condition. We agreed that he should bring her home on his return. The next day was a flurry of getting Mitchu vaccinated and ready for her first plane trip.....crate, dirty blankie so she would have something familiar, smelly toy mouse and a water container. My husband and cat were on the afternoon flight.

They arrived home tired, and Mitchu was still scared with the added misery of being stuck in the bathroom with her dirty blankie and toy.

She was beautiful; black and long haired with the most pitiful miaow ever sputtered. She was matted, full of fleas, had diarrhea and wouldn't eat or drink........she was also fat.

We gave her three days to adjust then off to the vet for a complete check up and the groomer to get detailed. She was bathed, fluffed, de-fleaed, wormed, had her nails done and her butt buzzed, her ears were probed and her mouth checked. Diets were discussed, an exercise program recommended and special needs explained like hairballs. She was ready to start living like a real cat.

Slowly over two weeks she was introduced to the other cats and the dogs. She started roaming in a few rooms and then was left to explore the whole house. It was clear from the start of her freedom that she would rule all things cat-like, dog-like and the humans.

The name Mitchu stuck on my tongue for some reason. I talked to my husband and he agreed that she really was not a Japanese cat....she used her paws a lot to make a point....she must be Italian like me!!! We discussed new names with her.....Maria...too plain...Conchetta...too many consonants....Isabella....nope, couldn't stand the possibility of being called Izzy. Sophia made her smile so Sophia it was with Sophie as an every day name.

Sophie loves the napper in the bedroom, steals the other cat's food every chance she gets, sniffs Penny the dog when she thinks Penny isn't looking, sleeps in the bed with me, gives me kisses, bites me when I brush her too much, bites me when I don't brush her enough, is only aggressive when someone else starts an argument, ventures into an open closet every once in a while but doesn't stay in there for long and proves her international heritage by trying to invite herself to dinner when ever we have meatballs, sushi, ribs or fried chicken.

She has turned into a beautiful, curious, alert, affectionate cat and she is dearly loved by the whole family. Ahh, Bella Sophia!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

So, where have I been? To the.....

….the butchers, the baker, the candlestick maker! It has been awhile hasn’t it? Did anyone notice I was gone for a bit? Several dozen posts ago, I said something about not posting every day and I haven’t. Trying to find something to blog about every day began to feel like a chore or a job. I posted some of the most unimportant minutia of my days and I was bored just writing the stuff. SO……..only semi important posts from now on.

I am going to try to not whine and crab about the weather so much this coming winter, not post every picture I take of the cats and continue to look through old pictures and give my blog friends and my children a look at what I was and where I came from. Another factor is blogger itself. There are days when I can’t load pictures, look at blogs at all, leave comments or enlarge pictures. It irritates me beyond words and I just shut the computer off and don’t go back for several days. My intentions are good and time will tell if I follow through, right?

Guess who was here for breakfast Sunday? We were coming back home after running errands and a young bull moose was licking away at the salt lick south of the house. He ignored us for about 5 minutes and then I think the flash of Myron started to annoy him as you can see in the third picture. I stopped taking pictures and we just watched him for awhile. He eventually mooseyed up the path and nibbled on greens along the way. I have a healthy fear of these animals. When we first moved full time to Idaho I was far out on the south trail looking at the ground flowers. I had Charlie my faithful protector with me. I managed to walk up nose to nose with a baby moose and Momma was right behind her. Momma moved towards me, Charlie took off back to the house running faster than I ever saw him run and I followed (this was 9 years ago when I could still run). The Momma trotted right along behind me all the way to the house....if she had wanted me she would have gotten me. Since then, I stay a safe distance away from moose and watch all around when I am walking in the forest.

See the little buds on his forehead?

Here is a group picture of the "family" at Stephanie's graduation. We are so proud of her. See all the decoration around her neck? Honors; yup that's our girl, an honor graduate!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008

Birds do it...Bees do it...even...

...Idaho moths do it! Steve was hanging newly filled hummingbird feeders on the balcony when he saw something move under the clanger (my techie word for the thing that makes the chimes sing) on the chimes. This is what he discovered when he lifted it up. We suggested they get a room, but I guess in the moth world this is about as private as it gets. I don't have a clue as to the name of these beauties.....but they are all over the place at the moment probably making babies like crazy.