I’ve always heard that bad things come in threes, but I am sure that I have exceeded that count recently.
On Monday night I was notified that Jay, one of my dearest and oldest friends, had passed away.
Jay and I went to Junior School and High School together, Jay was in the class one year ahead of me so we had become friends when I was about 12 years old and we had stayed friends ever since.
We got up to such mischief and had such fun doing it. When I was about 15 or so we got into trouble when Jay, my friend Robin and I had told our parents that we were baby sitting Robin’s sister’s kids but in reality we were out driving around and partying. It saddens me that both Robin and Jay have now passed away.
I grew up in North Georgia and after graduation Jay moved to Atlanta to go to University. My friend Marie drove us both down to visit him one weekend. We drove down in her Dad’s old white convertible, I think it was a Cadillac. Jay was working in a record shop (yes it was THAT long ago that record shops were commonplace) so Jay could get discount concert tickets and we went to see Joe Jackson perform at an Atlanta stadium.
We took a bucket of KFC and a bottle of schnapps and we had such fun. It was a simpler time when we were all young, beautiful and broke.
I left the south when I was about 22 years old and I moved to Los Angeles. Every time I would go back home to visit I tried to always meet up with Jay. I ate Jamaican food for the first time when he and I went to a restaurant in the funky little Five Points in Atlanta.
In 1990 I emigrated to South Africa and 7 years later I moved to the UK. Jay and I found each other on MySpace and we followed each other’s blogs and stayed in contact via email and social media, eventually moving over to Facebook as MySpace suffered its death throes.
In 2006 Norman, my children and I went back home for a visit and I contacted Jay to meet up. Jay was still based in Atlanta.
We went to Dave and Busters and had dinner.
We then spent ages playing games in the arcade and had such fun.
He knew of the issues I had experienced in my first marriage and he was so pleased to meet Norm and my kids and see me happy. Jay also seemed settled and happy.
It was another 11 years until I went home to the US again and Jay was the first person I made plans to see but Jay was too ill to come visit me but he did not tell me that until I had returned back to SA. Instead he told me that his father had a heart attack and he wasn’t able to leave his mom and various other excuses. I thought it was all a bit odd but once I was back in SA he let me know about the issues he was having with his liver and the ascites which meant he had to have his abdomen drained of fluid regularly. It turned out that he had end stage liver disease but he was very private and did not tell me that part. He kept telling me that they were doing tests and that he might need a liver transplant and the doctor did not know what caused it.
We chatted on messenger almost daily and he always read my blog and messaged me nice comments about it. Recently Jay went to Florida on holiday but he had to leave earlier than planned and go home to Atlanta to check into the hospital for treatment. We were in constant communication and then he just stopped responding to my messages. I had such a bad feeling and I started messaging various friends back home asking if they could find out how he was. My worst fears were realised on Monday as we were going to bed and many friends messaged me to tell me that Jay had passed.
I was already in so much distress over Panda and whether he was going to survive his sudden illness, so this news devastated me completely.
I barely slept for crying and fretting on Monday night. My heart felt broken. Jay was such a kind, loving, gentle soul. He always had time for everyone and did not have a mean bone in his body.
I had to go back to work on Tuesday and I was a zombie. I kept praying to the Great Spirit that Jay had a peaceful transition. I could not get Jay out of my mind and I felt Jay’s presence all around me.
On Wednesday night I was woken out of a deep sleep by bright flashing lights. I am very visually challenged and I thought it must have been Norm on his phone and I shook him and asked him what was going on. He was sound asleep and told me that nothing was going on, that I was dreaming and to go back to sleep. However I was now wide awake and I could see bright lights shooting around the room, almost like bolts of lightening, flashing and zinging around the room. I have never experienced anything like that. Even when I closed my eyes I could see these lights. I then started wondering was I having some sort of neurological episode and checked that I could move my limbs but the lights did not go away. It went on so long that I started to feel frightened and as soon as I felt this fear, the lights stopped.
Eventually I went back to sleep but I was so confused by the entire episode. I’m now convinced that it was Jay coming through to communicate with me.
My Mom went to the funeral home to pay respects from our family and she said that Jay was so thin. I am glad I did not see him like that, I will remember him happy, healthy and smiling. I hope that he is now pain free and at peace. I miss him.
As mentioned in my last blog, we have still been nursing little Panda. He went to his appointment with the specialist vet on Tuesday and they kept him in overnight to run tests. On Wednesday Norm picked me up at the client in town at lunchtime and we drove through together to collect Panda and speak to the vet. He agrees with the third vet Panda had seen. They are confident it is most likely idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis. He gave Panda IV antibiotics to target the most likely causes of the issue. It will take a few weeks to get the results of the blood tests back and they may not provide any definitive answers.
The vet said this is a very rare condition but that he has another patient with the same issue but that is a large dog. I cannot imagine how his owners cope with turning him and getting him back and forth to the vet.
He thinks the prognosis is good and that Panda will recover but it could take up to 4 months & a lot of nursing care. It is like caring for a mute newborn as he is so helpless & cannot make any noises at all. It does not affect smooth muscles so his urinary & bowel functions are not affected. Luckily his lungs do not appear to have been affected either. We have waterproof pads under him and keep an eye on him so that he is not left lying in urine. He has not yet managed to poop on his own, we have to take him to the vet for them to get the poop out of him manually. We turn him over every few hours to make sure he doesn’t get any pressure sores. We give him antibiotics twice a day and make sure he eats and stays hydrated and I am putting tissue salts in his water. We sleep with him in our bed so neither of us get a full night’s sleep.
I am hopeful yet terribly sad watching the confusion on his wee face when he tries to move or bark. He is so determined to get his bark back. He spends ages just trying and trying.
On Tuesday night while Panda was at the vet overnight Norm and I were so sad and to distract us we avoided any drama or anxiety inducing TV shows. We watched a house building show as that should be mindless and stress free and then at the end the mother in the show bloody well dies of a brain tumor! Her house wasn’t that nice either so it was a poor choice all around. FML
We are seeing a very slight improvement in Panda, but the main thing is that it seems the deterioration has stopped and he has stabilized so we hope he has turned a corner. He can hold his head up longer and can drink from a bowl now.
When it turns 4pm Panda knows it is the time when they usually go for their walk. He gets so excited and barks and barks. Silently. Norm has carried him around the block a few times and Panda comes home bright eyed and smiling. He loves his Dad so much.
Wednesday was rehearsal for the SONA and many roads in the city were closed. I park near Parliament so my usual drive home was closed off. I was diverted onto the motorway and only got home very late as I had to work over to make up the time I missed by popping out to the vet.
On Thursday I discovered what Bad Thing Number 3 was. The client does not allow me to work from my own laptop and when I got into the office and tried to log on to the computer they provide I was greeted with this:
I forced a shut down, then tried to log in using safe mode but the blue screen of death advised that my hard drive was corrupt.
I had gotten to work at 7:30 & I logged a Helpdesk call. Finally at 10:30 they came to collect the computer but they could not say how long it might take to bring it back or whether they would be able to recover my documents. The client decided to send me home at 12 as I had been unable to work all day. I fretted about my work as I did not have a recent back up and redoing my work would put me over my timeline for delivery as I am due to finish up there at the end of July. Luckily when I went in on Friday they had managed to restore my documents and nothing was lost.
When I was leaving on Thursday I mentioned to the client that I had not slept well all week and told him about Panda and how much it had cost in vet bills so far and he said ‘wow, what would a new dog cost?’
I snapped back, ‘your daughter was sick recently, what would it have cost to get a new kid?’. He apologized as he could see he had been inappropriate and had touched a nerve. Some people do not understand how much our pets are part of the family.
When I left work I went to collect my drivers license from the Traffic Department. It took longer to collect it than it did to apply for it and applying consisted of an eye test, fingerprints and waiting in 3 different queues! But at least I am finally legal and now that I have a new wallet hopefully I don’t lose it again and won’t have to go through that for a long time.
It was a beautiful warm day and I was happy to be released from the ivory corporate tower. It also meant I did not get caught up in the SONA traffic dramas.
In his SONA speech on Thursday night our new President seemed to be describing a Disney film instead of a plan of how to address our many issues in South Africa.
He mentioned that there are seven priorities his government will focus on:
– Economic transformation and job creation,
– Education, skills and health,
– Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services,
– Spatial integration, human settlements and local government,
– Social cohesion and safe communities,
– A capable, ethical and developmental state,
– A better Africa and World.
It was a bit like a salesman bidding for a contract, all promises with no tangible plans on delivery of those promises.
Many others agreed with my opinion.
For example what are the specific plans to resolve the chaos prevalent within our State Owned Enterprises. After years of a spending free-for-all at SOEs, both Treasury and Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Department of Public Enterprises have now tightened the reins to the point where those in new leadership positions complain that they are given too little room, too little trust, and too little money to manoeuvre effectively. As mentioned in a recent blog, the resignation of a number of top executives in the past months speaks to this frustration.
On Friday a cold front rolled into Cape Town but the morning was warm and sunny so Norm let Panda sit on the patio to get some fresh air. The pack all gathered round.
Norm said Panda lay there silently barking at the dogs in the road.
The wind came up about 2pm and by 4pm there was torrential rain but I managed to get to my car without getting too wet and headed home damp and chilled. Friday night was spent wrapped up warm and relaxing with the animals. We ordered a pizza. We have been living off of takeaways as we are too exhausted to cope with shopping and cooking on top of nursing Panda. Our waistline is the least of our concerns.
On Saturday the rain continued all day and evening and it was bitterly cold so when I got up I built a roaring fire.
Norm dropped Panda at the vet so they could check him and while Panda was there Norm ran some errands but it was a miserable day and he came home as soon as he could.
Today I was supposed to go to Marina da Gama for drumming but as Panda is in need of so much care and Norm needed to work I decided to stay home. I was in bed with Panda and when Norm went downstairs to feed Pixie and Navajo little Panda started barking like mad.
After Norm finished with the other two he made up Panda’s breakfast and took him downstairs to eat. He gets a little bowl of boiled chicken and broth as well as the food prescribed by the vet. He is not keen on the commercial food but needs the nutrients so we have to encourage him with the chicken and alternate the two.
As Norm was working I could watch whatever I fancied. I love Cher and someone on RuPaul mentioned the documentary about her mother Georgia Holt so I found that and watched it.
It was very interesting and Cher sounds so much like her Mom! Georgia is a beautiful woman and looks so much younger than her age. She is now in her nineties but looks much younger.
Norm took a break from work and gave Pixie a bath with her special shampoo for her skin issues. She looks so tiny when she is wet. She has so much hair and we spent ages blow drying her with minimal success.
She was not impressed at all with our efforts. #ShadyPomWithTheSideEyes
Panda has spent most of the weekend practicing his barking. He now does this to let us know when he needs anything, but much like a crying baby you have to guess what it is that he needs. He barks if he has peed and his bed needs changing, he barks if he is thirsty, he barks if he is hungry and sometimes he just seems to be doing it for the sake of the exercise as it is all he CAN do.
I’m hopeful that he will continue to improve, we just have to keep looking after his needs and keeping him comfortable.
We have come to terms that for now our lives will be devoted to his care and we are not able to decide on a whim to go out for a meal or a drink. But like everything else, this too shall pass and we must just adjust to this restriction and be there for Panda.
Until next time, Kisses From The Kitten xoxoxo