hankrules2011

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Posts Tagged ‘cats’

End of the Year Post 2015

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2015

I wrote this blog post quite early this morning and didn’t post it. I wasn’t sure about it. Since then, I’ve reread it twice and have had second thoughts about posting it. I usually post an End of Year post on the last day of the year, but this one is too depressing, too negative. I don’t think I want to be a downer for my readers. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to post it after all, although I’m not sure it’s a great idea. It does, however, describe my year, which is my intent. If you’re not interested in reading a depressing or negative post, feel free to skip this one. No hard feelings. If you’re interested at all, feel free to read it though. Hopefully 2016 will be better for me/us and hopefully all of you will have a good 2016. Happy New Year!

 

On the last day of each year, I write a year in review post. Here are the links to the 2014 Year in Review blog post and the 2012 End of the Year blog post. I had a lot going on in both years. If you read them, you’ll note I had some health problems, particularly last year. Well, I’m about to write an abbreviated post for 2015. It’s abbreviated because this year was largely a personal disaster due to hideous, nightmarish health and pain problems and I/we didn’t really get to do very much at all.

In January, my mother celebrated her 85th birthday. Although she’s had a couple of bad falls this year with broken bones, she still is relatively good health and living alone in a condo in Knoxville, TN.

In February, I developed severe back pain to accompany my head and facial pain, out of the blue. It took time, but over the course of the year, I sought treatment from my orthopedist and a rheumatologist, as well as physical therapists. It seems I have spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, massive osteo-arthritis throughout my entire body, and a broken tailbone. They’re recommending surgery to remove my tailbone, probable spinal fusion surgery, and down the road, two hip replacement surgeries. My pain has been at about a 9.6 out of 10 level every day this year and virtually no pain medication helps.

About the same time, my head pain increased and got worse. My Trigeminal Neuralgia was joined by at least one, perhaps two, other types of head pain, which I have been trying to have diagnosed and treated all year, with little help. My two types of head and facial pain have been at a 9.6 out of 10 level every day, virtually all day all year long with virtually no relief from any pain medication. Any pain medication that used to be helpful is no longer useful. I now have three new diagnoses for additional types of head pain disorders, all three of which can be extremely painful, one of which is supposed to be the most painful condition known to mankind. I don’t know. My wife and I are convinced there’s another undiagnosed condition that has yet to be treated, since I’m responding to no treatment.

Since this spring, my longtime insomnia has worsened. I am averaging about three hours of sleep a night and am now, in fact, waking up and getting up between 11 PM and 12:30 AM. It sounds insane, but it’s true. That means I go to bed early, but I still get only two to three hours of sleep. I also can no longer successfully nap. I started falling asleep at red lights while out driving, and in chairs sitting up, and at doctor’s offices, and at church dinners, and my wife and I suspect I may have narcolepsy so I have an appointment with my sleep doctor in a few weeks to discuss this.

During the spring, somehow I was able to get to some of the concerts I was able to buy tickets for 2014 Christmas for my wife. Because of my health problems, we unfortunately had to blow some off and waste that money, but we did get to see Lewis Black, Weird Al Yankovic, The Who (which was awesome), and Barry Manilow, which was pretty much the highlight of my wife’s life. We blew tickets to Chicago and a Pittsburgh Penguins game. Oh well. We had good times.

In April, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. It was pretty low key. It feels like we’ve been together for so much longer than that. We have a wonderful relationship and I’m very lucky to have Gretchen for a wife and best friend. April is also Gretchen’s birthday and so that was pleasant, although she’s not thrilled about getting older. I keep telling her she looks and acts infinitely younger than she is, looks at least 10 years younger than other women her age. I think she knows that intellectually, but still is annoyed with aging. I think she’s still sexy as hell. She always will be.

In July, I started going to a new neurologist who I didn’t like personally very much, but who, to his credit, did try some new things. He’s an egomaniac, but then many doctors are, I suppose. He’s given me a couple of Botox injection treatments so far and has tried a number of new medications on me, none of which have helped, but at least he’s trying.

Also, in July my head pain got even worse, if possible. Since I’m up 21 hours a day on average, it became 21 hours of pain a day, every day, without break. At a near 10 out of 10 scale, which combined with my back pain made life nearly unendurable. I applied to get into Vanderbilt’s Neurology Headache Clinic, which has a good reputation, thinking that after nearly six years of treatment in Chattanooga and only getting worse, I need to go elsewhere if I’m going to get better. July was also the second anniversary of my father’s death. It was a sad occasion.

I had my birthday in September. I suppose it was low key, as I remember nothing about it. This fall has been largely a blur, due to my pain status. I’ve been super focused, while also at the same time, largely oblivious. If that makes any sense. I particularly enjoy September and October because of sports. You have college football, the NFL, baseball, hockey just starting, college basketball just around the corner. It’s pretty awesome. I enjoyed watching my Pirates make the playoffs for the third straight year, watching my Tennessee Vols have a frustrating but ultimately successful 8-4 bowl year and my UCLA team have a winning bowl year, my Steelers have a injury-plagued year in which they still have a minor chance of making the playoffs and the hockey season, in which we paid for a year of NHL Gamecenter Live, in which you can watch any game you want – not on national TV – live for a one time set price. So I get to watch my Penguins quite often. If only they were playing up to their expectations and potential. It’s been disappointing so far. Of course, the UT Lady Vols are doing well so far, but they’ve had so many injuries, they’ve only been able to dress seven players lately, so it’s only a matter of time until they start losing many games and the men’s Vols basketball team has a great new coach, but not much talent while my Long Beach State team is having a rough year getting beat up by major teams like Duke.

In October, I finally got to go to Vandy. I was instructed to bring my medical records, so I spent two weeks and hundreds of my own dollars getting them, Gretchen took a vacation day, we drove six hours two ways, went to Nashville and met with a doctor who didn’t even want to look at my records, said they weren’t important, didn’t want to discuss my background with me, spent perhaps 15-20 minutes with me, prescribed a useless migraine medication for me, said I needed Botox immediately (so they scheduled me for three and a half months away) and, when Gretchen asked if we couldn’t just get this done in Chattanooga, reacted angrily and said it had to be done there. We left pretty ticked off at what waste of time and effort that was. I haven’t canceled my next appointment there yet, but I will. There’s no point in going. Meanwhile, my mom has stepped up to the plate and said she’ll pay for me to go anywhere to help get me fixed, cured, whatever. So, I’ve been researching Mayo, Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA, etc. So far, Johns Hopkins would be convenient because that’s where Gretchen’s family lives, but Mayo seems most impressive by far. I’m not going to pursue it just yet though. Want to exhaust things here in town first.

In November, we traveled to Maryland to visit Gretchen’s parents, sons, and friends. It was a difficult trip for me health wise, but she had been wanting to go for months and we hadn’t been up there for a year and a half, so it was time. And we had a good time over Thanksgiving. It was good to see everyone. We also celebrated our one year anniversary of getting our kitten, Ace, who has become Gretchen’s baby. He’s now about 16 months old, and Henry just turned 10 years old, which is unreal because I can remember when he was just a month old, but they get along much better now and Ace is calming down a little bit finally. But just a little bit. Ace is also the most social, codependent cat I’ve ever seen in my whole life! He needs to be with people like nothing I’ve ever seen. He needs to be held. When we went to Maryland, we hired petsitters to come to the house twice a day to help mostly Ace. Henry is pretty independent and I’ve left him by himself for a good three days or so, but Ace couldn’t take even one day, I’m sure. It’s kind of sad. Cute, but sad. Nonetheless, we love them both and they add to our lives tremendously.

This month, we celebrated our five year anniversary of when we started dating. That’s always an exciting occasion for us and fun to remember. We also had a very subdued Christmas, which was somewhat anticlimactic. My pain was so severe and I was on so much pain medication, it was virtually impossible for me to function at all. My mother drove down from Knoxville to be with us on Christmas day and we exchanged a few gifts, nothing like last year. We couldn’t put up our tree this year like we’ve done in the past because of Ace. He goes wild. We put up a mini-tree we bought, with some lights and ornaments. That was destroyed the first night. We put up an old ceramic tree with plastic lights I’ve had for decades, but Gretchen thought better of it, so she got a little wooden tree with a string of lights and that was our tree. We didn’t even put presents out until the night before because Ace would destroy them. We try to control him, but we really can’t.

One year-long note. Early this year I was forced to drop my Obamacare and start using my Medicare I got last year when I went on disability. I had no idea how that would change my life. It’s been a nightmare. Medicare Part D is a freaking nightmare from hell! With Obamacare and BCBS, my monthly medical bills came to roughly $400 a month. With Medicare, I was quickly paying up to as much as $2,800 a month in medical bills, almost all of it prescriptions. One of my prescriptions alone had a co-pay of $800! That’s fucking insane! That total is more than double my disability check. How the hell am I supposed to pay for that? And I have no choice. As long as I’m on disability – and there’s no way I can work – I have to be on Medicare and as long as I’m on Medicare, I’m stuck paying thousands a month for medical/prescription bills. It’s unfair and cruel and I resent it like hell. It’s practically ruined my life even more. Thanks for the added stress, government. Thanks for practically bankrupting me. Appreciate it.

Well, I guess that’s about it for 2015. It was truly a horrible year. Probably worse than 2011, perhaps. I don’t know that 2016 will be any better, but I’m hoping it will be because we intend to aggressively pursue medical treatments for my back and head and solutions and ways to diminish and end my pain. I don’t know if that’s possible or reasonable, but dammit, we’ve got to try. My wife, meanwhile, has her good job, although without insurance, and Obamacare just doubled her premium, so we can no longer afford it, so that’s just great. So she’s actually thinking about looking for a new job next year, which would mean leaving her nice, cushy job that’s so great otherwise. Pity. I hope anyone reading this has a pleasant New Year and a wonderful 2016. Cheers!

 

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Thanksgiving Maryland Trip

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 1, 2015

This is my 600th blog post on WordPress. Yay!

My wife is from Maryland and her parents, grown sons, and many friends still live there and she rarely gets up there to visit, so we went up last week for Thanksgiving. She had been looking forward to it for a long time. It was an 11 hour drive and we had to stop many times. It was grueling and tiring. As you know, I’ve long been suffering from severe head and back pain, so that made this trip difficult for me. Nonetheless, we got up there before 4 PM on Tuesday and met her parents for dinner. It was nice to see them and they were shocked to see how different we look from when we last saw them. Gretchen has lost about 35 pounds and I’ve lost over 70 pounds. After dinner, we went back to our hotel room and basically passed out. It had been a long day.

Wednesday we got up and had our own low carb breakfasts we brought with us. We then went to MarylandLive! Casino. Gretchen had never been to a casino before, had never gambled, which was bizarre to me, so she was excited. When I lived out west, I went to Vegas some two, three, or four times a year for many years. I usually stayed at the old Frontier, but stayed at other hotel/casinos too and gambled at most of them. I loved it! I had a good time and was a good enough blackjack player to usually be able to play for a long time and maybe make a little money. I’ve gambled in a few other casinos too, but Vegas is my favorite place. But I had not been in a long time. So I was rusty. The place was fairly big. Not very many tables, but a million slot machines. We decided to start off with that and break her in gently. And she did well! Won some money. Slots have never been kind to me; I’m a blackjack player. After awhile we walked around looking at the tables. Not many cheap tables. They had two $10 tables. That was it. Everything else was $15, $25, and $50 minimum tables. That ticked me off. I don’t have that kind of money to lose! At the Frontier in Vegas, where I used to stay, they had $1 and $3 tables. They were very popular. The other casinos had $5 tables. Caesar’s Palace had $10 tables. I realize that was a long time ago, but it gets worse. We went to eat lunch. We paid with the money Gretchen had made from slots. When we came back out, the $10 tables were gone and there were now only two crowded $15 tables. Everything else had been turned into a $25 table! Assholes! While Gretchen played quarter slots and won $40, I wandered around all the tables looking for an empty chair anywhere for a half hour. Finally, as I was about to give up, a seat at one of the $25 tables opened up and I jumped in! Then I found out why it opened up. The dealer was killing everybody. I got a 12 on my first hand and the dealer got a blackjack. Should have walked away then. I’m a fairly decent blackjack player. I’ve won some decent money at it and have been able to stay in games for many hours. The dealer demolished me on four straight hands. And everyone else. I hated her. She owned us. I finally won a hand. Someone else left and I quickly urged Gretchen to jump in cause she’s never played and I didn’t want her to leave a casino without having tried blackjack. So we both lost the next round. Then we each won a round. Then they changed dealers and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. But the new one was just about as bad. Won some, lost some. Finally we decided to leave while we still had something to leave with. When we cashed out our chips and slots credits, we ended up actually walking out of there with a little more money than we entered with, thanks to Gretchen’s great slots winnings. Seriously, that was the worst blackjack I’ve ever played! And aside from one time playing at a $100 table in Vegas, I’ve never played at such an expensive minimum table. Oh, and there were hardly any roulette and craps tables. That was really weird. Nonetheless, we left in the black and had a good time.

Later in the day, we met her friend Cindy and Cindy’s daughter Rachel and went to Captain Dan’s restaurant for some authentic Maryland crabs. Now, I don’t eat crabs. But Gretchen does. And like most Marylanders, she’s a crab snob. No crab outside of Maryland is worth a damn. So when we’ve gone elsewhere, the crabs have sucked. So she was really looking forward to this. The restaurant was pretty small and not very attractive, but you’re there to eat, so who cares, right? Rachel got a salad while I got a BBQ sandwich. Since I live in Tennessee, I know my BBQ, and this wasn’t very good. Nor was it very much. And it came with fries, but since I’m on a diet, I only ate three or four and was left hungry. Meanwhile, Cindy and Gretchen got crab pretzels and then got 12 crabs and went for it with gusto. God, it was messy! And when they brought the bill, I was stunned. Stunned. I never knew crabs cost so much. Especially since two of four of us just got $10 orders. That dinner cost a HELL of a lot! And the service was absolutely terrible. But Gretchen was very happy with her meal, so that’s what counted and she left happy.

Thursday was Thanksgiving. We started the day by going to her parents’ house to hang out for awhile. We had fun with them and then went driving around. She took me to the town she used to work in, which was a beautiful waterfront town, and we went to other places as well. Maryland is a really nice state. Finally, we went over to the townhouse her sons share. Her oldest son cooked and we four sat around enjoying a good, healthy meal (he had lost 60 pounds on a similar diet) while talking about all sorts of things. Then it was late and we had to get back to the hotel, so that was sad.

Friday we spent with her parents. They took us to the Eastern Shore across the terrifying five mile long Bay Bridge which I’ve heard about so many years. It actually didn’t bother me too much. At all. We met some friends at a Maritime Museum and saw what we could in the time we could and then we all went to lunch in this delightful small town. We had a really nice time, although parking was at a premium. Afterwards, we drove around some more and hit some more pretty towns. In one town, we went into an antique shop and I found the copy of Mao’s book on guerrilla warfare I just reviewed a few hours ago. It was pricey, but it was a valuable find and I was excited. As it was now nighttime, we went back over the Bay Bridge, which again wasn’t too bad, and went back to a restaurant near the hotel where we shared our last meal together and said goodbye. It was a little sad.

Saturday, we both got calls at 5:10 AM from our home alarm company telling us our living room motion detector alarm had gone off. We tried not to freak out, but they called the police and we waited. And heard nothing. We called the company back and they said they were waiting to hear from the police. Finally, after about 35 minutes, I called the police and talked to them. They said they found no signs of forced entry anywhere and no broken glass, no signs of disturbance anywhere and they had left and were now writing up their report. So that was good. But what set it off? And why? Frankly, we moved to that house last year in part because our old house was broken into and robbed two years ago and we didn’t feel safe, among other things. Our two cats could have been active, but the alarm company had assured me it would take something far heavier and bigger than cats to set that alarm off, so what was it? Were the police wrong? I texted three pet sitters we had working for us, far too early. I explained the situation and asked if someone could go over there early to check things out and make sure the cats were okay. Two of them did and reported things seemed fine. But by that time, we were underway, rushing to get home. And rush we did. We got home in about nine and a half hours, which was a record, and were damn glad to see the cats and house were okay. I still have no idea what set that alarm off, but I’m going to call the company today and talk to them about it.

So that was our Thanksgiving. It was tiring, but pretty good. I didn’t get too much head pain, thank God, not as much as usual, but I had a decent amount of pain and had to take pain medication, which tired me out. But that’s the norm. It’s good to be home and back to normal, but it was also good to get away and I know it was good for Gretchen to see everyone. Hopefully it won’t be so long before we can get back next time.

 

 

 


  
  
  

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More Ace

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 27, 2015

Well, Ace had his first birthday on Tuesday and it was pretty good. I went to PetSmart and found several brands of chicken flavored pate cat food (that’s all Henry and Ace will eat — they’re so spoiled) and got three for each. I got some treats. And I got some fun toys, including a catnip ball. I wanted to get birthday party hats to put on their heads, but not only didn’t the store have any, but they didn’t even have ANY hats for any pets!!! Last year we went there for Halloween and there were lots of pet hats. I thought they just carried them. I was wrong and very disappointed.

Ace, Henry and I hung out until Gretchen got home. Then it was time to feed them. We chose some new food for each and Gretchen put a birthday candle into Ace’s pate and lit it. I held him close to it as we sang Happy Birthday, which Gretchen video’d. I think the fire actually scared Ace, so then we felt bad, but after we gave them their food, we discovered that I’d gotten good brands because they really dug in and went for it. They can be very picky, so that was good.

After dinner, we broke open the treats and I kind of held my breath. I’ve never had good luck with cat treats. None of my cats have ever cared for them, especially Henry. I can’t remember the name of this brand, but both cats seemed to really like it and they munched out. It made me quite happy.

Then we opened some toys. The catnip ball was a big hit with both, although Ace, the alpha cat, ended up with it for the majority of the evening. He really liked playing with it. And when it ended up underneath our living room sofa, we tried to clean out everything underneath it and discovered a ton of toys under there, so he pretty much OD’d on cat toys. Henry liked it too, but he’s not as into it as Ace. All in all, a pretty successful first birthday. Henry’s tenth birthday will be coming up at Halloween. Boy, that’s hard to believe! I still remember getting him when he was a teeny little kitten. He was so tiny. He’s sure not anymore. Heh. Here are some more recent pictures of Ace.

Ace asleep on Gretchen

Ace asleep on Gretchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace looking cute

Ace looking cute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace asleep in Gretchen's arms

Ace asleep in Gretchen’s arms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace on his birthday

Ace on his birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ace’s Birthday

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 24, 2015

Today is our kitten, Ace’s, first birthday. It’s really hard to believe. He’s grown so much. Yet he still behaves like a kitten and still kind of looks like a kitten, especially compared to our older, bigger cat Henry.

Henry has always been “my” cat. He’s always been loyal to me. He likes/loves Gretchen, but after Toby died in February 2014, she really wanted her own pet. At first, she wanted a dog, which I wasn’t in favor of, because at heart she’s a dog person. So last summer and fall, we looked for a dog. We ultimately thought we had found one and she talked me into agreeing to adopt it. A week later, we went to the shelter to get it, only to find it had already been adopted. Gretchen was very disappointed. Finally, last November, on the day after Thanksgiving, the local shelter was having a day where they were giving away free adoptions. Gretchen wanted to go look. Apparently, so did the whole county. Parking was at a premium and the place was packed. We decided to look at cats first. We thought it’d be easier to get another cat, a companion for Henry, and they’re easier to care for. And then Gretchen saw. Ace was a scrawny little kitten in a room with a lot of brothers and sisters. He was a little tabby, just like Toby had been. And she claims she knew. She found an employee and asked to see him, so we were given a private room and were given “Twinkles” to play with. Twinkles is oh so not a little boy cat’s name. He was cute and very affectionate. He was fixed. He had had his shots. I wasn’t completely sold, but Gretchen was, so we filled out the paperwork and stood in line for what seemed like hours before we got him and took him home.

Gretchen wanted a new name. We talked about several possibilities, but she came up with “Ace,” which I thought was the most stupid name I had heard. But that’s what she wanted, so that’s what she got. And I couldn’t remember the cat’s name. I’ve been calling him Toby ever since, because he reminds me of Toby when he was a kitten. We let him out in Henry’s presence and while Henry wasn’t thrilled to have another cat around, they each survived the encounter and soon Gretchen was cuddling with Ace. We took him to our vet, got him some kitten food, which Henry tried to eat, and took lots of pictures. Gretchen wanted to bond with Ace, wanted to make him “her” cat, so she forbade me from bonding with him, much to my amusement. As some of you know, I’m on disability, so I’m home during the day while Gretchen works. Ace we now know is a co-dependent cat and while he was getting a lot of affection from Gretchen while she was home, he’d jump up on my lap during the afternoons and I’d have to kick him off. Very sad. He liked to jump up on our chests and lie right under our chins. It was both very odd and very cute.

Ace was three pounds when we got him. And much to our surprise, we found out he was four months old! His birthday was apparently August 24, 2014. So today is his first birthday. Ace turned into a frisky cat. Very energetic. At first, we worried that Henry, who was fairly alpha with Toby, would beat him up. Boy, we were wrong about that. Within days, our three pound kitten was attacking our 15 pound eight year old Henry, terrorizing him and chasing him around the house, causing him to hiss constantly. Henry didn’t know what to do. Ace was always jumping him no matter where he went. He stalked him. He jumped on his back. He attacked his feet. He bit him, clawed him, went after him. I had had kittens before, most recently Toby, so I knew what to expect, but Gretchen had never had a kitten, so this was all a new experience for her.

I knew Ace would start tearing our furniture up pretty soon. I didn’t count on the drapes too. And he did. Toby ripped the hell out of a nice leather chair I had. He destroyed most of my furniture when he was a kitten. Before I got him de-clawed. I’ve gotten every cat I’ve ever had de-clawed. I know it’s a little controversial now, but all of my cats are indoor cats and I value my furniture and stuff too much, as well as my skin, to allow my cats to retain their front claws. Besides, from all I know about it, when they have it done before six months, it’s not too painful, they recover very quickly, and they don’t really remember it as they age. And they don’t really miss their claws. I couldn’t wait to get Ace de-clawed. But Gretchen was kind of nervous about the topic. She had never had to go through this before. It wasn’t until we got some new furniture that was pretty expensive that he started to sink his claws into, as well as all of the older furniture he was ripping up, that she agreed it needed to be done. So I made an appointment. And then we canceled it. Felt too guilty. Yet two weeks later, we made another. He was just so bad. He was six months old, and the window of opportunity was slipping away. So I took him to the vet. Gretchen was terrified. He was away from us for about four days and Gretchen was in agony the whole time. But I knew he’d be okay. Been there, done that. When he got home, it took about a day before he was back to normal. We had bought him a three story cat condo so he could sit and look out the window and within a day, he was jumping up and down from it. So, good decision and one we’ve never regretted. And Henry’s grateful too.

Christmas was an interesting experience. Everything was new for Ace and it was so cute to see him exploring the tree and the ornaments and the presents. Of course, he tried to demolish everything, so we had to get a big baby gate and put it around the tree, which made it look stupid, but it worked, so everything worked out well.

Ace had to go back to the vet several times for shots. He grew to not like going to the vet. Heh. By this time, he and Gretchen had really bonded and on weekends, he stuck to her like glue. He likes to lie on her all weekend long, on her chest, and she can’t get anything done. She both likes it and it irritates her. I like to remind her this is exactly what she wanted. LOL! And by now, it’s okay for him to get up on me, but he doesn’t usually do it. Normally, in the late afternoons, he’ll come hang out with me for awhile, which is nice, but when Gretchen gets home, he jumps up and goes to the door to wait to see her come in. It’s cute.

Ace used to eat everything. He ate, not only meat, but vegetables too. He loved beans, broccoli, mashed cauliflower, which he still loves, and other things like cheese. He’s gotten more picky recently, which we can’t figure out, but he still likes to sit with us at the table for dinner. Dad never liked that when our pets did this and he’d be rolling over in his grave if he could see this, cause Henry gets up on a chair with us too, but it’s okay. They’re part of the family.

Ace is doing better with Henry lately. He doesn’t attack him as much. Of course, we’ve tried to minimize that. And Henry isn’t hissing as much. In fact, they often sleep on the same bed during the day, which is cute. Ace has really become part of the family. Our only concern is that he’s such a social cat, such a people person, so co-dependent, that we worry that we can’t really go anywhere for any stretch of time. We don’t feel comfortable boarding him. We had a cat sitter come over for a half hour a day when we were on vacation when it was just Henry by himself, but I really don’t think that would work with Ace. Gretchen really misses her family in Maryland and is hoping to get back up there for Thanksgiving and we’ve been talking about options. Obviously, I’d like to join her for travel and to see her family too, but we don’t think Ace could handle it, so I’m probably going to stay home with the cats and take care of them while Gretchen goes by herself. Can you believe it? Isn’t that crazy? Still, it seems like the best and only viable option and unless and until we can break Ace of this co-dependence, I don’t see anyway around it.

I’m going to post some pictures in honor of Ace’s birthday, but they’re old. I have more recent ones, but I can’t post them because I have a new phone and I’ve emailed them to myself at every email address I have and none of them have shown up, for two days. I don’t know what’s wrong with my phone — it appears to be emailing them with no problem — but something’s obviously off. So, here are some older pictures. Ace is now almost 10 pounds. He’s really grown. He’s still cute though. Happy Birthday, Ace!

Ace, 12/24/14

Ace, 12/24/14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry and Ace, 3/7/15

Henry and Ace, 3/7/15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace, back from the vet, March 2015

Ace, back from the vet, March 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace 3/21/15

Ace 3/21/15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace 3/23/15

Ace 3/23/15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Animal Reincarnation | SouthernHon

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 28, 2015

Animal Reincarnation | SouthernHon.

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Toby

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 18, 2015

Before I launch into today’s post, I want to acknowledge my last post and what happened with that. In my last post, I whined pretty pathetically about not getting comments or likes from my 406 followers. So I was stunned to get tons of comments AND likes on this post, most all of them from people who didn’t follow me! Including my own responses to various comments, there were 73 comments and dozens of likes on this post. And not too many took me to task. Most made the point that I needed to be more interactive in order to gain comments, as in I needed to make the rounds of other blogs and make more comments myself in order to get people to my site. And that’s probably true. So point taken. I shall try to do that. It was also nice to hear from some other ex-Xangans. And instead of offending followers and losing bunches of them, I actually gained some new ones. Bizarre! I wondered how people found my post. Apparently several people found it, somehow, and re-blogged it and people found it that way. I’m not sure why they felt compelled to re-blog it, but there you have it. So that’s the story. Thanks.

OK, so today is our beloved late cat Toby’s one year anniversary of his death. We still sometimes can’t believe he’s gone. We still miss him so much. We still feel like he was cheated out of a good life. You may remember that he was only six. That he died of kidney failure. That we had to have him “put to sleep,” which is a nice way of saying we had him killed. He had been getting sick and we were getting concerned. We took him to the vet as early as the preceding October. She put him on a special diet, but it was too little, too late. He really went downhill his last two weeks. It was really sad to see. During his last 24 hours, I thought he could be saved, as he had perked up a bit, so I took him home from the animal hospital and he seemed better, but that didn’t last long and he was obviously ill again within hours. So the next morning, I took him to the vet and my wife later told me she thought that would be the last time she’d ever see him. I can still remember him looking at me as they took him in his kennel into the back room. When they called me later to recommend euthanasia, I was devastated, but not horribly surprised. We had him cremated. We keep his jar of ashes next to my old cat, Rocky’s, ashes.

Toby used to like water. A lot. He liked to take showers with us. He’d drink out of the bath water with my wife every night. He’d get in the sink and drink out of the faucet every morning. He also used to like to get us up in the morning. It didn’t seem to matter that I have insomnia. He’d hang out with me in the office from 1 or 2 til 4 or 5 and then start wailing at the bedroom door, trying to get my wife up. I’d have to chase him up the hallway to try and quiet him down. He could also sleep with the best of them. Never met a cat that could relax so much. He really loved Gretchen’s Ravens blankie. He made it his own. He also loved shoes and loved sleeping with his face in them. I know — gross. Still, it was cute. He was a big cat — 22 pounds. He was tubby. He loved to eat. We’d put him on diets, but they never worked. Our other cat, Henry, is 15 pounds. Henry always let Toby eat first. Heh.

Toby died the week we were supposed to move. It was very stressful. We were moving from a crime-ridden neighborhood, to a nice peaceful neighborhood where we’d all be happier. We felt cheated that Toby never got to see the new house, never got to run around it, see the new neighborhood. Time went on. Meanwhile, Gretchen wanted a new pet, one to call her own since Henry is sort of my cat. He’s been with me since he was a tiny little kitten and often seems to favor me over others. It’s always been that way. Gretchen wavered between a dog and a cat and we went to adopt a dog one day, only to find it had already been adopted. We took that as a sign, so the day after Thanksgiving, we went to the local shelter and adopted a four month old tabby Gretchen named “Ace,” who’s a real cutie, albeit a crazed little monster who beats up on poor Henry constantly. Gretchen really seems to love him and I’ve even grown somewhat attached to him, although he’ll never take Toby’s place in my heart.

So I guess I’ve said enough. I just wanted to commemorate Toby today. It’s been a year since he died. That was an awful day. A lot has happened since then. We’re in a new house now, Toby. You would like it here. You’re sorely missed. RIP.

Toby and me

Toby and me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby on a scale

Toby on a scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby in a scarf

Toby in a scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2014 in Review

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2014

At the end of the past two years, I believe, I’ve written about what took place during that year, so I’m doing so again. Here’s the synopsis, as best my memory can recollect.

In January, my mother celebrated her 84th birthday, so we spent a little time with her. The month was otherwise uneventful.

In February, we put our old house on the market and moved to our new house. We’re pretty grateful for the trade. Our old house was in what looked like a nice neighborhood, but it was actually nearly a ghetto. It was very loud and had a lot of crime. Now, we’re up on top of a mountain in a quiet neighborhood with no crime. We feel good about that.

February also saw the death of our beloved cat Toby. He was only six and it didn’t seem fair. He essentially died of kidney failure, although we sadly had to put him to sleep (which seems to me to be a pansy way of saying we killed him). We had him cremated and keep his ashes with my late cat Rocky’s ashes. We still miss Toby a lot.

We also got a membership to a good shooting range in February and have enjoyed that a lot.

March was pretty uneventful.

In April, I got a new car. I traded in my lemon BMW 530i for a 2011 Toyota Camry and couldn’t be happier. I found it on Autotrader at a dealer in Atlanta and went down there, beat someone else coming to buy it — barely — test drove it, and left with it to come home. It’s been a great car.

Sometime around April also saw the return of my head pain that I’ve had since 2010. I have trigeminal neuralgia, so I have to take a lot of pain pills and have had a number of procedures to try and combat it.

Additionally, Gretchen’s birthday is in April, so we went up to Baltimore to celebrate it with her friends and family. We had a very good time. It was great to see everyone and we got to go to an Orioles game, a museum, some good restaurants and even saw some friends in Virginia on the way.

Finally, we celebrated our one year anniversary in April. It was pretty low key, but we had a good time remembering our wedding and honeymoon to the beach the year before.

In May, I got a SCCY CPX-1 9 mm through an online auction site for a very good price and a Beretta PX4 Storm at a gun show. Neither gun has turned out to be my favorite — a Ruger SR9c is — but I was happy to have them. Meanwhile, Gretchen turned out to be a pro with our Marlin .22 rifle.

I believe it was May, too, when Mom moved from here back up to Knoxville, her old home. It was sad to see her go, but it was good for her to be back with her many friends and at her old church, which she had missed. She got a nice one level condo and is living on her own. We do worry about her though.

In June, we thought we had a buyer for our old house, finally. We had had to lower the price three times and it was going for practically nothing. We were about to take an $18,000 loss on it. However, the financing for this buyer fell through, so we were back at square one.

In June, I also had a disability hearing. It was my second time in court for it and I was denied for the fourth time. However, my lawyer appealed. And the judge left open the chance that he might rule in my favor if my orthopedist provided appropriate information.

July was the one year anniversary of my father’s death. That was very sad. We went to visit his gravestone in the cemetery where he’s buried in Knoxville. In July, I also had the first of three neurological procedures for my head pain. It didn’t really work, so that was disappointing.

We also had a new buyer for our old home in July. They were doing FHA financing though, so it would take awhile. They agreed to buy the house at very nearly the price we were asking. The closing was set for October.

I think August was pretty uneventful. I had been doing a lot of traveling back and forth between Chattanooga and Knoxville to help Mom out with things. That got old. We also started looking for a new church, even though I was on the vestry of our old church. It was simply too small and too old. We were the youngest people there and people were dying off and no one new was joining. It was a dying church. So we started going to other Episcopal churches, as well as Methodist and Presbyterian.

In September, I celebrated my 48th birthday and tried not to get too depressed.

During that month, I also had two more surgical procedures for my head pain, but neither helped. It was discouraging.

October came around and the financing for our house’s buyer fell through the day before the closing. We were livid and so were they. However, our realtor worked the phones and found a new lender within two days, so they were approved and a new closing was set for about two weeks away.

I also had my third court hearing for my disability. My lawyers prepared me for disappointment. They said everything would hinge on what the medical expert would say and they didn’t expect much. When the judge started questioning the expert, though, I was shocked to hear him say my back was too bad to work and that, combined with my trigeminal neuralgia and other assorted things, meant I couldn’t work at all. So the judge finally ruled in my favor and I got disability. I was shocked and elated, because I had been trying for this for over three years and now finally I got it.

During this time, my insomnia had gotten worse and I was consistently getting up between 2 and 3:30 AM, which was frustrating.

We did something pretty fun in October. For my birthday, Gretchen got me Penguins tickets to go see them play the Predators in Nashville. So we went up there, went to Bridgestone Arena, which was nice, and saw the Pens win 3-0. It was very fun and we had a great time. We also had a fantastic meal at a nearby restaurant before the game. Oh, and there were a ton of Pens fans there too!

October is also the month for Halloween. We never had kids come to our house at our old place, but we had about 25 kids come to our new house, so we were tickled about that.

In November, we traveled to Saint Simons Island GA, where I used to live, to go to the beach and take a nice vacation. The weather was still good and we had a nice time. We also went to Savannah and Jekyll Island. It was a great vacation.

In November, we also finally sold our old house and with the money I was able to pay off all of my old student loans, which was a sizable sum, so that was great. However, we discovered a water leak in the kitchen the day before the closing. The buyers still bought the home, but we went through a nightmare getting repairs to the floors and cabinets done while these people got impatient waiting to move in. I don’t blame them, but they drove me nuts.

Additionally, we had a new addition to the family this month. Ace, a three month old tabby cat, joined, per Gretchen’s strong wishes. He’s a bundle of energy, but he’s been fun.

This month, in December, I finally got my disability award letter and a lump sum for my back pay. I also got my Medicare card, even though I’m retaining my Obamacare insurance cause it’s frankly better.

We also found a new church we’re joining next week. It’s Rivermont Presbyterian Church, which is a UPUSA church. It’s bigger with more people of all ages and has a number of Sunday Schools to attend, so we’re excited.

We celebrated Christmas last week and had a great holiday season. We sent and got a lot of cards and exchanged some great gifts and had a good time. Of course it’s also bowl month, so that’s good.

In sports, my Steelers have made the playoffs, so I have big hopes for them. My Pirates made the playoffs for the second year in a row, but didn’t get anywhere. There’s always next year, right? My Penguins made the playoffs, but got bounced out in the second round by the Rangers, so that was disappointing. They’re playing now and even though they have a TON of injuries, they’re still having a good season. Meanwhile my Vols made a bowl game for the first time in four years and they’ll be playing Iowa on January 2. I’m hoping for a win.

So, it was an up and down year. I still have head pain. I still have insomnia. Gretchen was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and lupus. That’s bad. But we got a new house, a new car, paid off my student loans, and I got disability, so that’s all good. We’re hoping for a great 2015 and we hope all of you have a great 2015 too. Cheers!

 

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An Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 8, 2014

Four years ago today, out of the blue Gretchen told me of some feelings she had for me, which was a really big step on her part. I felt similarly, and soon we had a special relationship. Of course, we had no idea it would lead to marriage. Now we’ve been married over a year and a half and we have a wonderful relationship and I’m eternally grateful to her for her bravery. Bebe, I love you!

(Here’s another picture of our new kitten, Ace.):

Ace

Ace

 

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New Family Addition

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 1, 2014

Many of you might remember when our beloved cat, Toby, died in February. It was really tough because it was so unexpected. He was only six and had to be put to sleep due to kidney failure. We’ve missed him so much. He was a great cat. We still have had a cat — Henry. But he’s kind of like my cat. He’s nine and he’s been with me since he was a tiny kitten. Toby had turned into my wife’s cat.  He really loved her. Me too, but he gravitated to her. And she’s missed that. She’s felt like Henry rejects her in favor of me and for a good three months or more, she’s been bugging me about getting another pet. She wanted a dog, because she’s a dog person, but they’re such a responsibility, so she was willing to consider another cat. Our main concern was how Henry would react, because he’s not very friendly with cats and sometimes barely tolerated Toby, especially during his last year. Well, she wore me down, because I didn’t want another pet, but one can only take so much. So we started going to the local shelter. Gretchen found a cute three legged dog she wanted, but when we went back to adopt it, it had already been adopted. We took that as a sign. So Friday, this shelter had a “Black Friday” deal where you could adopt a pet for free. We got there 15 minutes after they opened and it was a zoo! The parking lot was completely full and we were lucky to find one last space in the grass. We went in and had to fill out paperwork just to see the cats. And we found a room that had some kittens. We were told kittens are usually gone this time of year. They’re snapped up quickly. But we saw a gray and white tabby, which looked a little like Toby, so we asked to see him and we were put in a private room with him. Gretchen held him and he was well behaved. His name was Twinkles, but Gretchen didn’t like that name and decided to name him “Ace.” I didn’t like that name, but couldn’t come up with anything better, so Ace it was. We decided to adopt him. He was three months old, but was only a pound and a half and looked about six weeks old. He’d already been fixed and had gotten his shots. We were taken out to the lobby to wait for the adoption. And wait we did. We waited about an hour before they got to us. It took for freakin’ ever! I was just about ready to just walk out of there with Ace in hand and forget the paperwork when they started on us. Finally, after we had been there a good two hours, we left with Ace.

When we got him home, we had to put him someplace private where Henry wouldn’t immediately see him and go nuts. We had the perfect room — our library. It’s got five bookshelves, a couch, and a end table and lamp. That’s about it. We put a new litter box in there and some food and water and let Ace out of his carrier. He explored the room and had a lot of energy. He was so cute. And he was hungry and thirsty. Boy, he went at it! He also crawled over each of us, although I tried to kind of stay away so he and Gretchen could bond. We wanted him to become Gretchen’s cat.

We left Ace in the library for the day, visiting him occasionally and trying to reassure him he was in a good place. He seemed to be doing well. Meanwhile, Henry was camped outside the door. He looked a little surly. I guess he could tell somehow. At dinner time, we put up a gate at the door and opened the door so they could see each other. Henry hissed twice, but that was it. Ace seemed a little scared, but after all, at 15 pounds, Henry was 10 times as big as Ace. We fed each of them on either side of the gate. Ace really attacked his food, but Henry didn’t eat much and wandered down the hall to lie down and watch from a few feet away. And that was Friday.

On Saturday, it was more of the same. We had a number of errands to run, but after lunch, we decided to bring Ace out into the rest of the upstairs and let him see it. Henry seemed a little surly, but didn’t hiss. Later that day, we let Ace run around the living room. The two cats kind of kept apart, but it went well and Ace was excited to be out of his prison. Heh.

Yesterday, we let Ace out and just watched. He had so much energy! He ran all over the place. We had the doors to the bedrooms and downstairs closed, but he was crazed. He ran all over the kitchen, getting under the china hutch and worrying us, and all over the dining room, and back into the living room, where he attacked our freshly put up Christmas tree. We really had to watch him and it was a two person job because he was so darn fast. He used Henry’s litter box and drank his water, but we kept their food separate because Ace is eating kitten food and we put Prozac in Henry’s food, so we definitely don’t want Ace getting that.

We let Ace out several times throughout the day and at a couple of points, he and Henry sniffed each other successfully and Henry even licked him on the head. When Ace is out, though, Henry seems subdued. I don’t think he likes it too much, but he doesn’t really seem depressed or too upset. He’s still nice to us and comes to us and sleeps with us at night, so that’s a good sign. When we put Ace back into his room, he now makes little teeny sounds because he wants back out, but he needs to rest and so do we. Heh. He’s a real cutie and I think Gretchen is very happy to have him and I guess I am too. Hopefully, before too long, he and Henry will be getting along pretty well and we can let Ace out of his room more frequently. I’m going to post a few pictures from this weekend. I hope you enjoy.

Ace

Ace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen and Ace

Gretchen and Ace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace looking cute

Ace looking cute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ace on my shoulder

Ace on my shoulder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Surgery, Birthdays, Etc.

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 17, 2014

I had another surgery on Monday. A little neurological thing (two actually) called a Gasserian Ganglion Block and a Radiofrequency Ablation. I’ve had them before, so no biggie, right? Wrong. They couldn’t knock me out! The anesthesia wouldn’t work. I laid there for 15 minutes with the anesthesiologist telling me to breathe deeply the whole time and nothing happened. Finally they said that I would have to go through this procedure awake. This procedure involves putting a hole in my face, inserting a long needle, finding a socket in my skull where a tendril of my trigeminal nerve (the biggest nerve in your brain) resides, and then burning the shit out of it. I’m not staying awake for that! Finally the surgeon came in and they asked him and he said under no circumstances was I to be awake — I was to be asleep for the duration. So, it took another five minutes, but I finally went under. And woke up awhile later, good as new. It always takes me a long time for the anesthesia to wear off, so I’m woozy for a few days and tired, but I’m glad to be done with it. I had another one done at the end of July. These are done because I have Trigeminal Neuralgia, an incredibly rare and very painful disease impacting the face. Not much can be done about it. You have to live on Percocets and hope for the best. It gets old. Hopefully these surgeries will help diminish the pain for awhile. How long? Who knows? I’ve had them last as little as 18 days and as long as several months. Someone asked me once why I don’t just get them done every month, but the easy answer to that is they’re not free. They cost thousands and even though insurance covers a good part of that, I still have to pay a chunk and I can’t afford unlimited procedures.

Meanwhile, this coming Friday is my birthday. Normally I’m a little depressed about it, but this year, I’m actually slightly excited — and I don’t know why! Maybe it’s cause it’s not a milestone birthday. My wife is making me a requested lasagna dinner and the next day, we’re going up to Knoxville to hang out with Mom. Apparently I’m getting a couple of presents too.

On a side note, we’ve been trying to sell our old house since February. The first buyer’s credit fell through. We got a second buyer though and things looked good. The house has been off the market the past two months as we headed towards closing — or so we thought. Closing was to have been last Thursday, but Wednesday night, the buyer’s lender said they had to delay it — they were still working through some things. Finally, today, they denied the buyer their preapproved loan. Why? Cause they’re foreigners and they don’t lend money to certain foreigners. WTF??? If that’s the case, why couldn’t they have figured this out in Week 1 and saved us all the hassle??? Why drag us all through this? Now, we’re back at square one and who knows when we’re going to sell this damn house. It’s a real nightmare. I had already turned off all the utilities, so today, I had to turn them back on again, and the gas company charged me a $225 nonrefundable deposit, even though I just terminated my account with them last week and was never late on a bill. Bastards. What a nightmare.

In the meantime, I’ve been sick and I’ve given it to my wife. Nothing too serious, hopefully, but enough to be aggravating. Speaking of the wife, she wants a new cat. The problem is, we don’t know how our current cat, Henry, would get along with one. He’s very territorial. I’d hate to get one and then have to return him a few weeks later. That wouldn’t be good. Not sure what to do. We do miss Toby though and the thought of getting a new cat is attractive….

I guess that’s all for today. Cheers!

 

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