Come out and see my photo this Friday, as well as photos by Jake and James and other people as well! Click on the picture above to see the larger PDF. Basic gist is that it’s Friday at the Raleigh City Museum on Fayetteville Street. I’m psyched to be a part of this one.
Five days before my birthday, I wrote the following paragraph, but I never posted it. Now I have a video to share, and it seems that this would be exactly the kind of reason to go back to the blog. So here’s how I was feeling 5 days before I turned 40. Now I’m 40 and 1 day, and I feel like the same Abby I did last week. Go figure!
So I started this blog over 5 years ago when I was living in Memphis. I had just moved away from all my friends and wanted to keep in touch. It’s been a wonderful thing for me – having a place to share all the things that have meant something to me. On Sunday, I will turn 40. To me, blogging has been the stable force amidst so much instability: moves, relationships, jobs. And today, at age 39, 11 months, and about 25 days, I feel like I may finally be experiencing some stability. I have a private practice in a lovely building in downtown Raleigh. I have a 3-minute (on foot) commute to my apartment. It’s in this historic neighborhood – so pretty, and it has a great vibe. I’ve got a great boyfriend who loves me, challenges me, and is pretty much more fun than anyone I’ve ever met. Even though I lost Maggie this summer, I’ve got my hilarious Jeep, who (despite forgetting I’ve fed her within about 2 minutes) is an utter delight. Do I still need this blog? I don’t imagine I’ll shut it down, because here, people have me in their feed readers, and if I DO have something to say, this seems a fairly good place to stay it. But life has changed in the past 5 years for me, and a slightly more private online environment (like Facebook) seems a better place to share the “bloggy” topics I used to share here all the time. If you’re still reading, then thanks! Stay signed up, but don’t hold your breath. If you want to see me doing my thing, the better place to check is always Flickr. My photostream is how I communicate to the world now. I tend to save my writing for reports. But like I said, if I have something to say, I’ll be back around. As with most things, my output comes in waves, and right now, it’s ebb-time!
One more follow-up thought: I have some wonderful people in my life. Jake’s planning and generosity this weekend knocked me off my feet. Shannon and Brian are awesome as always (and not just because of Ham Dip, Beer, and DJing). My friends who came are awesome. Lalitree made me Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Pamela gave me the prettiest necklace and took a buzillion awesome pictures. Holden gave me a fun quad camera – the REAL kind that uses film. Robert and Elise got a babysitter and made the trek from Durham. Jake’s parents, Nancy and Barry, opened up their home and put on the charm. I could go on and on, but the more I go on, the more I need to talk about every single guest, and I’m sure you’re already bored by now! I am a lucky, lucky woman!
I decided about a week ago to stop trying to raise money for the Maggie Memorial Fund. I had gotten so close to my goal already, and to be honest, asking for help is a difficult thing to do.
I’ve taken some big risks this year that were unsuccessful, and this was one of them. Still, I have absolutely no regrets. I’ve risked when it’s mattered to me. In the case of Maggie’s surgery, the vet and the surgeon were very optimistic since Maggie was otherwise in excellent health and since the success rate with this surgery prior to Maggie was 97% (29 out of 30 cats had survived and been helped by it). Had the surgery been a success, Maggie would likely have had many more healthy and happy years ahead of her. In the end, there was an unforeseen complication that meant Maggie would not be as lucky as those other 29 cats. Still, knowing that we did everything that was possible for her means my grief is pure. There is no guilt at all – just sadness and a lot of missing her. It’s weird that pure grief can be a gift. It’s not something I’d expect to feel, but I do.
I ran into a friend yesterday who I hadn’t seen in a while. He asked how I was doing, and it was one of those times when I had trouble answering the question. I have good days and bad days, and while I FELT like I was having a good day, the question caught me off guard. “Did you hear about Maggie?” I asked. Yes, he had. He was very sweet about it and said he was so sorry to have heard. Then this morning, I received a surprise donation of $100 from him, an amount that put me over the $2,000 fund-raising goal I’d set for myself. (If you can believe it, I actually WANT to pay as much of the cost of Maggie’s surgery as I can, but having started my own business this summer, this was an unlikely goal.) Here is the fund-raising thermometer as of this morning:
So I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all my generous friends, and know that if you’re ever in a fix, I’ve got your back. I mean that. I had it anyway, but if it’s possible, I have your back MORE! Gratitude is not something one gets to feel on an average Monday morning, but I’ve been feeling it a lot this summer. My friends are my strength. Thanks for the donations, thank you for the kind words, thank you to those who followed Maggie’s story with interest, thanks to the lovely people at XX Merge who came up to me and gave me hugs, and thanks to all my close friends: Shannon, Lalitree, Katy, Oliver, Chris, Brian, Andy, Robert, Elise, Dad, Mom, Jason, Prachi, Pamela, Don, Everette, Nancy, Kendall, Holden, Libby, Kathryn, Ian, Clara, Rachel, Kurt, Tricia, John, Drew, Hugh, Hamilton, Aaron, Brad, Barbara, Ogun, Scott, Sunitha, Jake, Leah, Veronica, all the lovely Blarty-goers, IM friends, interested Facebook friends… ALL of you. It’s funny. I know I’m forgetting tons of people like I just won an Oscar or something. It’s just… during a really hard time, I’ve gotten so much support in so many ways, and without embarrassing everyone I know, I wanted to say Thank You in a very public way.
So THANK YOU!
The Maggie Memorial Fund has been a big success so far. The final bill at the NC State Veterinary Teaching Hospital was $4,600, and the bill at the regular vet was $600. My plan has been to try and raise about $2,000, then to split up the remainder ($3,600) with my parents. Mom and Dad are very generous people, and Mom has been calling my cats her grandchildren for years! It’s going to take me a while to pay off my part, but it was a risk I took knowingly (with the support of my parents and one caring friend), and one I will never ever regret. Since Maggie’s overall health (other than her kidneys) was so good, successful surgery could have brought her many more good years. There was just no way the vets could have predicted the complication she had, since it was one that had never been seen before.
This little campaign of mine has gone on for 6 days, and I have now raised $1,587! I’m almost at my goal. When I started, there was still hope for Maggie, but obviously, things did not go well. I wouldn’t have expected to raise this much, but it’s happened, and I couldn’t be more grateful. The Flickr strangers are the people who’ve blown me away the most… no, not them… the ex I hadn’t heard from in years who I didn’t even know followed my life at all anymore. Must have heard through the grapevine. Whatever the case, the $10 here, $25 there has made ALL the difference in an doable amount (in the wake of starting my own business) and an insurmountable amount, and I thank you so much!
One last push, since the first of the month is in a few days. Just a few more donations would make all the difference. I usually go over the top with things, but I think that after a full week of doing all I know to make a dent in this, I should spare everyone further blabbing (although I will probably keep talking about my cats for a while… just unsub for a while, and it’ll pass – maybe!). Only $413 more!
I got a call back from the vet today. Since Maggie’s surgery was a fairly new one, I wanted to give her my thoughts. If you listened to the long 12 minute description of what went down during the surgery, you know that there was an unexpected stricture blocking her ureter (the tube between the kidney and the bladder). Had they known about that in advance, they would have known that neither type of surgery (Ureteral Stenting and Ureterotomy) would have been effective. While they would not have been able to save Maggie, they would have been able to avoid the expense, time, and pain/stress (for Maggie, Me, the surgeon, and the vet). Techniques like CT scan or ultrasound are costly, but they could have picked up the presence of the stricture. I’d been thinking about this since Saturday. I figured they would have been talking about that over at the vet school (and they had), but I wanted to be SURE they had. My thought was that maybe strictures are much more common than they think. Maybe they are the reason that Ureterotomies often have the complication of leaking afterwards, because if the blockage is somewhere else other than at the site of the stones, then removing the stones won’t fix the problem. Anyway, I think there are maybe about two people I know who find this interesting, but perhaps these thoughts will be of value to other pet owners and vets who may come across it in the future. Just more to think about.
The vet is calling me back tomorrow morning after her meeting with the nutritionist for the best recommendations of food for Jeep. I’m, of course, interested in the best, state of the art food for prevention of stones of all types for Jeep. As if Jeep weren’t spoiled enough, she’s going to now get the best care I can manage. At some point, I will have to say goodbye to her first, but I want to do all I can to make sure she lives a long happy life – as long and as happy as is possible for a cranky 12-year-old head-case of a feline!
By the way, I couldn’t have been happier with the care I got at the Vet Teaching Hospital. My vet and the student I worked with called me regularly, took the time to explain every part of the procedure to me, and even respected me in the conversation when I said, “OK. Enough. My head is full. No more anatomy for the day!” I’m so lucky to have them down the street. I could tell they liked Maggie (I mean, she’s awesome, so no surprise there!) and that they really felt awful that they were unable to save her. But it wasn’t for lack of trying.
As I share about this stuff, I’m going to keep including the donation link – at least until I hit about $2,000. I think the grand total is about $4,600. I’ll find out for sure tomorrow. They are doing an audit to make sure all the charges are accurate. So far, I’ve raised $1,025. Yes, I have RIDICULOUSLY awesome friends, many of whom are animal lovers.