Connie update



(Photo taken before Connie lost her sight… Her eyes are like little mirrors now.)

So Connie had her blood glucose curve again yesterday… Still no improvement. But the vet thinks she knows why. It could be that Connie also has Cushings disease (a slow growing tumour of the gland which controls cortisols, managable with the right medicine). Apparently this is common in older smaller white fluffies (poodles, maltese, westies, shihtzus), and does co-occur with diabetes. We’ll know more after the very expensive blood test on Tuesday.

They grow up so fast…

Bub is the one with more yellow and pearl; Bib is in foreground with more grey
Bub is the one with more yellow and pearl; Bib is in foreground with more grey

As you can see, the big two are already quite feathered…

The little two

And the little two are well on their way – those feathers are breaking out of the sheaths already.  It’s almost impossible to tell the little two apart, I think they’re going to be pearl greys like Allie.

Connie is ever curious about anything little – she wants to kiss the babies!

Connie gets very excited whenever the babies come out of the cage.  Puppies, smaller dogs, baby birds – Connie just loves anything little.

Best Dog Toy EVER!

Reminding us that poodles were, after all, bred to be water retrievers

Since it’s HOT again this week we decided we’d get Miss Connie a paddling pool.  After an initial wariness, she remembered that poodles are water retrievers and was straight in after her ball (or as she prefers to call it when she has her mouth full, her “bloggroggrogg”).  She has special toy poodle size ‘tennis’ balls from the pet shop, and when they’re wet, they’re Even BETTER.

She worked out how to use the step…
It’s not really for CLEANING the dog, though…
You can make the ball roll around for ages...
You can make the ball roll around for ages…

When the bloggroggroggs can be rolled around in the water for ages, they get even better still.

Soggy bloggrogg ahhaa!

And then you can take them out and demand that they be THROWN while they’re all soggy, which means the humans get sprayed with water too, oh yes.

A ball, in a pool!
A ball, in a pool!
The empty side is just as much fun – you can climb from that!

She spent about 2 hours hopping in and out this arvo, having a lovely time, before eventually deciding she’d had enough and consenting to come inside to have the mud washed off.  There is absolutely NO POINT in washing the floors while she is playing with the pool!

(We have a lot of dirt and not a lot of lawn: the 2011 flood (and then the 2013 Australia Day “rain event”) washed a lot of our topsoil away and Mr Beloved is working hard to sheet mulch and re-vegetate areas, but for now: heat + dirt + running dog = dirt gets dragged into her pool.  We’ll let it settle overnight and see how it goes, but I think we’ll be bucketing it off to the garden and refilling it tomorrow.  Small price to pay for keeping the poor old dog cool.)

I also expect the magpies and butcher birds will use it when Connie doesn’t.

Allie and Connie

I like a chin scratch already!
I like a chin scratch already!
My crest feathers are nearly here!
My crest feathers are nearly here!
My ear is getting better, really Mum... still the Cone of Shame... Really?
My ear is getting better, really Mum… still the Cone of Shame… Really?

She’s a very smart poodle.  I think she wanted me to look up ‘otalgia’ in the dictionary for her – despite the ear drops from Jules the Vet, poor Connie is still shaking her head about in the night.  The swelling has settled down a lot, though.

Allie, Day 25 (and a visit from the vet)

I haz more feathers now!
I haz more feathers now!
Look at my pretty grey tummy!
I is still very tiny, but...
I is still very tiny, but…

Yes, Allie is a Very Pretty Bird, and was much admired by Jules the Vet.

Jules the Vet was here because poor Connie has an ear infection.  Her left ear canal  is all swollen and red and yeasty smelling, and she had to have a muzzle on while Jules the Vet massaged cleaning solution in there and got some special ear drops down inside the swelling.  It could have started with an underlying allergy or something as simple as some dirt or a scratch but it has to get cleared up, because poor Connie is miserable.  She is being very patient though, wearing the Cone of Shame.

not Connie - from the movie "Up"
not Connie – from the movie “Up”

Meanwhile, Caity had a skype video conference with the Very Helpful Psychiatrist this morning.  I explained how I’d discovered that if I leave one earbud of my phone radio in all night, it stops the voices in my head (replacing them with the lovely Radio National voices, without disturbing Mr Beloved) and switches off my brain enough so I can SLEEP!  And if I wake up during the night I listen to the radio for a little while but then go back to sleep.  My Dad has been leaving a radio on low to get to get sleep for years, I should have tried it before this.

The VHP says it works because it’s like white noise. I’ve tried those recordings of white noise or the surf? and THEY DON’T WORK for me. Has to be voices. Music makes me visualise the notes of the music (seriously, I try to write out the entire orchestral parts, like I was writing the conductor’s score in my head in black ink); “ambient” music just drives me nuts.  Can’t be talkback radio, either – has to be the long form doco or interview sort of stuff that RN does.

And Mr Beloved was up watching the last F1 Grand Prix for the year (mostly because it was Mark Webber’s last F1 drive) and it confirmed (yet again) that I simply CANNOT sleep while there is bright blue TV light leaking into my eyes.  UGH!  Doesn’t help that I still can’t use my CPAP machine because of this wretched cough, which is STILL hanging around. 1

I am rather zombified today.

Off to the mental health nurse tomorrow and then the Dreaded Dentist. When the Dental Practice 2 called to remind me of my appointment tomorrow I suggested I come in early because I know the anesthesia takes a while to work on me. (Something to do with my bad circulation?)


  1. The blood test results for Whooping Cough came back negative… but I am still doing a rather good impersonation of someone with Whooping Cough.  Please Explain.  Latest Theory, proposed by the VHP (who had a similar case in another patient): thyroid issues/goitre, pressing on trachea. Off for ultrasound scan on Monday.
  2. Why is it called a Practice, BTW? You reckon they’d be good at it by the time they get to open their own place?

Not much…

Another week trying to just get on while coping with the depression and anxiety, so not much has been happening.  I’ve had a couple of days in a row now where I can eat without having to immediately dash off to the loo, so that’s a big win… but I’m still not able to eat very much.

I saw my helpful psychologist on Thursday and had two anxiety attacks (complete with ‘oh no, here come the tummy wobbles’) while I was in here office – which was actually incredibly useful, because we were able to work on tools to cope with them right there and then.  Labeling what was going on so the mind gets back in control instead of panicky emotions running riot helps; remembering to breathe (sounds simple but the first thing I tend to do when I panic is hold my breath!); and reminding myself that this isn’t going to last forever – all these are useful things when I’m feeling really rotten and anxious.  I’ve been feeling a lot better since practicing those things.

The weather has been nice but today has turned cooler. Connie took me for a walk in Queen’s Park the other day to see some of the flowers planted for the Carnival of Flowers but she wasn’t stopping to let me photograph them!

Come ON, Mum!
Ornamental Kale

(Photos taken on the run with my phone as Connie CHARGED around the park!)

I’ve managed to pick up a sore throat and a bit of a snuffle.  So I’m off to have some hot water with lemon and ginger.  Uni starts again this week, but we haven’t heard back yet about our marks for the 2000 word story – we should know by the middle of the week, the lecturer says. Then it’s a race to the finish when all work has to be handed in by October 26.  I think I’m as up-to-date as I can be with the other work for the subject, and I’m not going to stress myself out about it, not when I’m already trying to recover from this bout of anxiety and depression! I am better than I was even this time last week, though.

So. Tired.

Ugh. So I just LOVE having rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder.  Yep.  Love it.  Because now I have moved into what the psychiatrist calls a ‘mixed state’ which translates as ‘don’t know if I’m going to be ok or burst into weepy tears’, and it’s very NOT fun. It’s the worst part of Bipolar, the mixed state, because it’s both mania and depression at once. It’s the most dangerous state.  But I’m okay. Sort of. Just really tired and scattered.

And I’m so damn sick of my brain waking me up with useless chatter at 2:30 in the morning.  I just want to sleep through the night so I can get up and concentrate on my school work like NORMAL people, you know? And get to classes and appointments without looking like a zombie and wanting to come home and collapse across the bed without even taking time to take my clothes or makeup off afterwards (it’s not pretty waking up crushed and with the remnants of mascara ground into the pillow.)

So I get to try some new med1cation tonight, yippee. The Very Helpful Psychiatrist reckons it will make me sleep.  It’s a short term fix only. I said I don’t care I JUST WANT TO SLEEP AND BE NORMAL.  The doctor asked if I wanted to go to hospital ‘just for a little while’ but I don’t want to.  It’s such a hassle.  I want my own stuff around me and my own ice packs and my own uncomfortable bed, not to mention Mr Beloved and Connie… I worry that if this med1cation doesn’t work that I might have to go but I’ll fight it all the damn way.


The lovely vet came over to see Connie today -we have to buy a rug for the bedroom floor and build some stairs for the bed, because at 8 years old poor Connie’s knees and back are starting to wear out from her constant exuberant jumping from the bed to the slippery floorboards and back up again.  She also gets to have a yummy fishy powder supplement to help ease her joints – and if that’s not helping fast enough she goes back onto some meloxicam, poor little mite.

Tomorrow Mr Beloved gets his eyes tested and new spectacles organised; I did that last week and so should be picking up my new specs this week.

The black-ish pair is actually much darker in real life, if I remember rightly. Not so tortoiseshell-y. The red pair are that red. (Turned out my vision problems are mostly because I’m tired and stressed.  What a surprise, right? At least it’s not the start of a brain tumor or anything horrible. Except for the persistent floater in my left eye which is just a damn floater and there is nothing to be done about it.)

And here’s a compare and contrast for you:

On the left: at the end of February;  on the right (in winter plumage, but having lost some weight) at the end of July. Is university good for me? Perhaps.

I finally got an official result from last semester: I got an HD. High Distinction.


And my first piece of assessable work for this unit is due on the 13th and I already feel like I’m falling behind so if you’ll excuse me… I have some writing to do. And I have to read the first Harry Potter book again before Friday as homework and look at the way it is structured (yep, really.)

Miss KitTern’s Last Day – from Mr Beloved, and from me

Friday was difficult.  We knew it wouldn’t be easy – here’s how it went from Mr B’s point of view:

0102 today
We cut it a bit fine, and almost hung on too long. The kidney problem is becoming more pronounced day by day.

The vet comes to us tomorrow [later today] at 2PM.

Currently, the cat is outside, being a bit too absent-minded to come in and sleep with us.

I’ll get up later and see if she wants to come in. Time to get used to a cat-free bed now.

0829 today
We just shared breakfast for the last time. Miss Kitty Wannabit (for such is her name when food is to be had) enjoyed some choice bits, given by hand, as is the custom.

She’s now washing her paws, prior to lying down next to me for a snooze.

You’ll be the last cat we have, Tiddy. I couldn’t get lucky enough to find another cat who didn’t hunt wildlife, and who was so appreciative of tummy-tickles.

The dog will spend time over the next few weeks looking for you, just like she missed the puppies from next door. Dammit, I will still wake in the night to hear if you want letting in or out, and I’ll wonder why the familiar lump isn’t lodged between my feet.

Your hairs will show up amongst anything textile for ages to come: light hairs for the dark fabrics, and darker ones for whites and pastels.

I’ll sigh as I set down another serving of your leftover biscuits for the bandicoot. Bandies live a bit over three years, Tiddy. This one could very well be the sixth, seventh or further generation descendant of that one I saw you playing tag with, on the back lawn, on a summer evening fourteen years back. You’ve always been popular with the bandicoots, for your nature as well as the biscuits you let them borrow.

And tomorrow, we’re looking for a grevillea for that sunny spot by the west wall of the studio, to show where you’ll be from now on, poor old worn-out darling. There won’t be any more trouble with the stairs, or painful embarrassment for both of us as you slip away mentally for a while and forget how to get out of the house for a piddle.

The little blue wrens which flitted, nervous but unthreatened, past your unconcerned gaze, will visit once again, but you won’t be there.

We’ll have photos. We’ll have memories. Perhaps it’s kinder that way. The old, limping cat with the wandering mind will be remembered as the little scrap of fluff who, on her first night, insisted on showing me that A Kitten Sleeps In The Bed, Not A Basket; or that athletic young cat who leapt at a butterfly, missed with her forepaws, and followed through by twisting her back and clapping her hind-paws together in a last-ditch attempt to catch the Fluttery Thing.

The line “Let us go then, you and I” will just be a bit of T.S Eliot. I loved how you’d get up and walk down to the studio with me when I quoted the line, even though it was probably body-language and intonation that got you going.

I might say the line, just once more, as we head for the sunny spot…

1500 today
The Fee-Arse Dog even kissed her cat goodbye, between the sedative and the syringe of green stuff that brings down the curtain.

It was quite peaceful, and the old darling slipped away without fear.

She’s wrapped in one of my t-shirts now, beneath that spot where she loved to bask in the sun.

We’ll toast her memory tonight.


From my point of view:

Even from the very first day little Connie appeared in your life, Miss Kit Tern, you were such a tolerant and forgiving cat.

You teamed up to look after me and Mr Beloved – no one ever had to sleep alone.

And when the time came on Friday, you were such a good girl – you didn’t want to go, but you were still a good girl.  But I know keeping you around any longer would have been for our benefit, not yours. If someone could have offered me a magic pill to make you well again and give you a few more pain free, clear minded years with us, I would have jumped at the chance.   But we couldn’t let you suffer – I saw that so clearly when the pain left your face and you stopped hurting when the vet gave you the sedative – I knew then that we had to go ahead and let you go.

I’m so very very glad that Connie was there – we were worried that yes, Connie would keep looking for you; but because she saw you slip away, she was with us when she saw the pain go out of your eyes when the sedative kicked in, she kissed you goodbye, and then after the green needle she knew that you weren’t in there any more, that there was just a kitty shell left on the couch, that cat-cat had gone away now.  She knew.

So apart from a brief trembling fit on Friday night, when I think Connie was scared that she was going to be sent away too, so far so good.  It’s the humans that are having trouble coping.   I washed up your milk bowl for the last time and didn’t know where to put it and burst into tears.  I’ll take your last packets of food up to the RSPCA later, because at the moment opening the cupboard and seeing them makes me cry.

And now – back to other things that I have to get through – the essay for uni, the groceries… but all without your little cat feet and enquiring “prrrrow? .

I miss you, Miss Kit Tern.



(PS:  Toowoomba people – if you need a vet I cannot recommend Creature Comforts Mobile Vet highly enough – Jules was so kind and compassionate, and took her time with our poor old cat and with us – she saved us so much stress by coming to our home for Miss KitTern’s demise. Jules Harboe, 0437 VET VAN.)