A Surreal Week

One of the definitions of surreal is “very strange or unusual”. That pretty much sums up last week.

Monday I received an email from the Santa Clara University provost where my son attends college. They hospitalized one of his classmates with a suspected case of meningitis. Yikes! On Tuesday a second student entered the hospital, then a third. By mid-week we were pretty nervous. I pulled out my son’s immunization records which shows he’s been vaccinated, but a quick call to our pediatrician indicated otherwise. He’s not covered for this particular strain of meningococcal bacteria, common on many college campuses.

waiting for vaccines

Waiting in line for meningitis vaccine

His university handled the details swiftly and impressively, coordinating a free vaccination clinic on campus for all 5,000 undergraduates. My son waited in line for two and a half hours to get his shot, along with everyone else. They were not allowed to return to class without a “vaccine pass.” They have to get a booster shot in thirty days, so they’ll be waiting in line again in early March.

The hospital released two of the three students from the hospital but a third remains under medical care. I can’t imagine what his parents are going through.

Last week also coincided with the lead up to the Super Bowl 50, hosted in Santa Clara, California. My husband works a few blocks away. The city set up detours early in the week, and by Friday all of his co-workers worked remotely to avoid the chaos. What is surely a sign of the times, but disquieting nonetheless, is the level of security for this sort of event. Outside Mike’s office window he could see army tanks, helicopters and security personnel practicing drills in case of an attack. It’s one thing to see this on the news, but surreal when it’s happening in your own back yard. The Super Bowl came and went this weekend without incident, and we’re all relieved to have things returning to normal.

super bowl parking lot photos

Super Bowl 50 Security Maneuvers in Santa Clara

My sweet Slinky, who’s been my constant companion throughout my recovery, started hiding under my son’s bed. We were finishing up a medication for a bladder infection and thought she was simply avoiding us. Then I saw her walk into a wall, retreat, then step over one of the other cats lounging in the hallway. I thought she’d suddenly lost her eyesight. I got her into the vet the following day for a thorough exam and asked them to test for things that might be causing this, anything we might be able to treat. Apparently a spike in blood pressure can temporarily rob them of sight. Dr. Shanker said there was nothing wrong with her eyes and believes there is something systemic causing a dulling of all her senses. He said a blind cat can get around just fine, and can find their food hidden in another room while at the same time easily negotiating furniture. So, my sweet Slinky has now retreated to one room in the house, where she sleeps on a pile of blankets on the floor. She’s eating well and purrs when I pet her, but she’ll also swat at me if she’s not sure that I’m in front of her.

slinky 2016

Slinky

It’s hard not knowing what’s going on. She’s eating, using her litter box…most of the time, and purrs when she finally relaxes and lets me sit next to her on my son’s bed. The few time she ventures out of his room, we find her staring at walls. If I pick her up and bring her to the couch, she gets upset and goes back into hiding. Our vet always says it comes down to quality of life. If she’s not in pain, responds to touch, eats and purrs, then her life is still pretty good.  I have a heavy heart.

And on the subject of cats, last night Mouse figured out how to open the screen door so he could bring in a dead rodent. What a way to round out the week

I have the beginnings of a head cold, I lost my prescription sunglasses and I fell off the sugar-free eating plan I’ve been committed to since January. The Girl Scouts came to the door, Mike bought a few boxes of cookies, and I helped myself to a “sleeve of them”. The scale didn’t go down this week. Coincidence?

Stress eating once again rears its ugly head. I’m back on plan and hope this week is mind-numbingly mundane.

I’m sure you’ve had weeks where you were  happy to draw the curtain on the whole thing. Do you ever stress eat as a result? Do you have any tips for keeping it in check?

31 thoughts on “A Surreal Week

  1. Oh boy, Alys. So sorry about the meningitis and the tanks and poor Slinky. Gee whiz. I’ve been called for jury duty at the Federal Courthouse in Alexandria. Ugh. Hope I’d never have to do that again, but seriously that’s the worst last week. Hope it all gets better soon. And if a sleeve of cookie makes things better, well, you can deal with that later. Be kind to yourself (cookies or no).

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    • Thank you, Lisa. Sorry to hear about Federal jury duty. Are you empaneled or jus on call for now? The problem for me with sugar is that one leads to another and I quickly fall back into old habits. I’m acutely aware of that slippery slope. But yes, be kind to yourself is good advice. I’m trying not to be my own worst enemy.

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  2. Firstly I’m so glad that your son is healthy…..SCU does a good job with stuff like that.

    And I am so sorry about Slinky. It must be distressing to see her staring at the walls and not responding properly.

    Kudos to you for trying to stay away from sugar…..it is in everything and it is hard to avoid. ….especially difficult when someone near and dear to you walks through the front door with temptation in his hands. This year I sent a check to my cousin’s little girls to buy Girl Scout cookies and then donate them to a family in need.

    I hope your cold is mild and short lived….I hear there is something going around the day program that Robert attends…..fever, cough, misery…..I’m so thankful for the nursing staff there…..which swings us back around to children getting sick at school…..we never stop worrying about them , do we?

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    • Thank you, Mary Elizabeth. Santa Clara is handling this beautifully, and they’re working closely with the county department of health, following all the suggested procedures for managing and containing the outbreak. I know they’re in good hands. Now that nearly everyone has been vaccinated, depending on how long it takes to become effective, I imagine we’ll have seen the last of this particular outbreak.

      It’s been distressing watching what seems like a sudden decline in Slinky. The strangest thing is that one day in the last ten, she seemed to have rallied. I came home and she was sitting on her favorite chair in the living room. She engaged, sat in my lap for awhile, and then that was it, back to the new normal. She howls when she wants me which is pitiful. But right now she is at my feet on C’s bed purring. Sigh.

      You know, I too have opted to donate cookies to the troops or the homeless, but Mike didn’t know that was an option. He’s losing weight also but he’s not tempted by the same things. He’s more of a cracker and pretzel guy whereas I want cookies and chocolate. I don’t moderate it well. I need to keep it out of my house…and my mouth!

      Thanks for supporting the Girl Scouts.

      I hope Robert avoids the creeping crud at school. I think cold and flu season peaks around now, and by March is in decline. I sure hope so.

      We never stopping worrying about our children. Apparently we signed up at birth for a lifetime of love, care…and worry.

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  3. You are right about your week! As you said, hopefully this week will be back on track. As for falling off the wagon I try to use perspective to help get back on track. One sleeve of cookies in a surreal week is nothing compared to the length of a life-time or even a month. As long as you are on course 80% of the time then 20% of eating out, or making a mistake, or just indulging yourself occasionally won’t make a bit of difference in the long run. You’ve lost nothing and gained everything by removing sugar from your daily food intake, so those cookies were a very small blip in your forward progress. Ignore it and just return to your regular routine.

    I hope that whatever is going on for Slinky is temporary and will clear itself up soon. Even if it doesn’t just imagine what kind of heaven she must feel like she’s in every day considering what her past life was. Laying on a pile of blankets in a warm room, purring and with ample food must be like Nirvana for this old lady. Her perspective is probably far different from yours.

    As far as your oncoming illness goes, I encourage you to experiment with different types of interventions until you find one that works for you to kill of bacteria or viruses that try to attack you. It takes some time…because you have to teach yourself to recognize early on that you’re coming down sick, then take immediate action, then note down what happens so you know what to try or not try the next time something tries to get you, but in the long haul it’s worth it. There are so many things out there now that are recognized as killing bacteria and viruses–some work better on some people, others work better on a different set of people. In my family high doses of vitamin C to bowel tolerance will stop most anything in its tracks. 5 caps of echinacea taken every 1/2 hour until symptoms are gone also works. There are loads of other things to try: Zicam, EmergenC, Echinacea, Vitamin C to bowel tolerance, Zinc, Elderberry, Olive Leaf, Licorice, Pau D’ Arco, garlic, nettle leaf, Oregano, Thyme–the list goes on and on, and Vitamin C alone has been called “the best vitamin for cold and flu, vitamin C in large amounts can greatly speed recovery” and I like it because it cannot harm you, even in very large quantities. If you decide to read up on and try out different things, remember that there is a difference in taking something as a supplement every day vs. taking larger doses when you’re coming down sick. All the best to you dear Alys!

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    • Laura, this is all great advice. Thank you for that and for your kind words regarding Slinky. I’m glad we got her off the streets, and that she learned to love and trust. I know she’s comfortable, and I won’t tolerate anything less, but it’s been hard. I love your perspective, though. No matter what, she knows she’s safe and warm.

      I like the 80/20 rule in general, but know that I really don’t do well when I let sugar back in. There are some things I can moderate, but that doesn’t seem to be one of them.

      Thanks for all your personal tips on supplements and herbal remedies. I’ve been starting each day with a glass of fresh lemon water for the past six weeks, made easy thanks to our now-prolific lemon tree. I’m drinking Traditional Medicinal’s Throat Coat and Breath Easy tea, both of which have licorice root, Echinacea and Nettle. My mom was always a fan of Zinc Lozenges, though she was rarely sick.

      I hope you and the J’s are staying healthy. Thanks for taking the time to post.

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  4. Hey Ho Cali-girl. I honestly didn’t know the Superbowl was in your backyard. We just don’t follow sports and never tune in but that’s really something! I imagine it was kaos at the airports and hard to get around. Tanks in the street seem pretty extreme, geez. Happy there weren’t any incidents though. What madness you’ve been dealing with.
    I’m so sorry Slinky is still having health troubles, heavy sigh. She looks so vulnerable and tiny in your photo. Sweet little girl. It must be really heartbreaking for you after all the time you spent together while you recovered. As long as she’s eating and purring, that must be a big relief. With Spring showing up across the south, you can soon look forward to days outside either putzing in your new garden or just enjoying the view. Deep breaths, tomorrow will be better, you’ll see xoxo K

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    • It’s been a frenzy leading up to game day, with folks hoping to catch a glimpse of Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and various team members. The smaller airport for private planes had to prepare for an onslaught of private jets, since the majority of people attending have megabucks. They set up a Super Bowl City in the parking lot of Great America where we rode he coasters on your first visit here.

      Tanks seem extreme to me too, but after Paris and San Bernadino, no one wanted to take any chances.

      It’s been so sad seeing this turn of events with Slinky. She had one day where it all seemed to pass, but now it’s a steady diet of her howling for me to come in the room, disorientation, a few meals a day and sleeping. For all the eating she’s doing, she does seem quite frail. Just taking it one day at a time for now. As I type this, she’s resting her chin on my foot while we sit on “your” bed, softly purring.

      As for today, we’re supposed to break a heat record. Crazy, eh? It feels more like spring than the middle of winter, even for California. Are you still experiencing milder days, too?

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      • Oh no hon, I wish they knew how to help Slinky. I’m sorry to hear she’s not recovering. Does she like to be carried now? Petals sure does. I often pick her up when she’s howling and carry her around. I need one of those baby papooses you see hip mom’s us with their little ones so my hands can be free. You must be sick with worry, I would be too. You’ve made Slinky’s life so wonderful these past few years, it’s awesome she found you and you her. I’m sure hoping for a miracle for you both.
        Our weather’s been warmer than norm too. Yesterday it was 9 C. Not a record but much much nicer than the usual February weather. February is usually unbearably cold, which is why we take a holiday. El Nino is showing up big time. Off I go to ready for work. I hope your day is sunny but not too hot and there’s loads of purring going on. xox Love you dearest. k

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        • I’m glad you’re enjoying milder temps. February in California is usually windy and a dry cold. My hair goes flat and I get carpet shocks if I shuffle my feet. We had that exact weather for two days, followed by ten days of warm, dry, clear weather with temps in the mid-seventies. Crazy. You know me, though. I say please bring back that rain. Soon we will be out of rainy months again, heading in to our typical dry pattern.

          As for Slinky, it’s really hard. The mornings are exhausting. Her food and water and her new sleeping place are all in C’s room. I have puppy pads on the floor because she randomly urinates…in her bed. I had to take up the area rug for the same reason. She steps in her water bowl, needs to be shown the food several times before she’ll eat, then as soon as I leave the room, she starts to howl from under the desk. If I bring her into another room she hisses, and runs back in here. She doesn’t like to be picked up and will also lash out most of the time.

          Today, even though I’m in the same room with her, she is calling for me. I approach carefully, put her on the bed, and now, 40 minutes later, she is finally settled on the blanket, purring, just before I have to leave for the day.

          Thanks for asking about her. I know we share the same kitty heart. xo

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  5. Oh Alys, it sounds like the planets have just collided in your “mess with me zone.” 😦 I rely exclusively on pickled garlic to keep my immune system in high gear. It hasn’t let me down yet. I’m talking years worth of avoiding colds. But your immune system is naturally down for several reasons. Surgery being primary, Sweet Slinky probably sensed your immune system breakdown and may have mimicked it. Give it a bit and she may rally. I sure hope so. You have the real stress of worry about your son. Meningitis is nothing to sneeze at. Then the Super Bowl worry. Next week has to be better so don’t beat yourself up for the sugar cushion. I fell off the wagon last week too while on retreat. Actually, I was so stressed about it, I started sugaring a week early and still trying to get a handle on it. I have another trip in 3 weeks so I’m hoping to manage either before or after the last trip. But any time off sugar gives the body some rest. We’ll get it again. I’ve given myself permission to have a wobble as long as I don’t give up entirely. I’ll keep good thoughts for all of you. Giant squishy hugs.

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    • That’s a great way to put it, Marlene: a mess with me zone. It’s all been so random too, with none of the events related. I had forgotten all about your pickled garlic supplements. Fermented food is supposed to be wonderful for our system and I know garlic has lots of curative benefits as well. How do you ingest it?

      I can totally relate to your sugar struggles. Honestly, when I dig in it’s like I’ve given over my power to the sugary stuff. I don’t want to stop. It’s bad enough that I’ve eaten it, but then I have to deal with the emotional and physical stress that follows. I need to scoop up that inner child, let her know it’s okay, then together we’ll back away from the treats yet again. Best of luck to you, too.

      I like that expression “have a wobble”. Squishy hugs back at you.

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      • You eat them the pickled garlic like you would pickles, olives or pickled onions. I often spoon out a few and just eat them or you can put them on a salad. They lower cholesterol too. I don’t know the science behind it but the doctor was pleased with the results. If I’m out in public and see people coughing or sneezing, it’s time for extra pickled garlic. I buy it by the case from a local in the area I live rather than a large company. There are many flavors added to the pickling. I got them from a grower in Phoenix when I lived in Arizona. He would bring his product to our annual craft fair. Same thing here in Portland. You can taste them at the craft festivals and find one you like. You rarely find pickled garlic in grocery stores.

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        • Thanks for the education. I searched high and low at Whole Foods today without luck. I thought if anyone had them it would be them.

          I’ll have to check out a craft festival during the upcoming season. I’m intrigued.

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          • Not to worry. I’ll send you some. A sample size to you have an idea. TS ordered some from Amazon that were awful. Not every batch of those I buy are consistent in flavor. Each company has their own set of spices so you have to pick your own favorite. It takes a while to find them but when you do, try samples.

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            • Thank you, Marlene! You are so generous and kind. I want to suggest this to Sharon as well. It’s so important for her to remain well. A simple cold wipes her out. She reminds me daily that she’s the world’s pickiest eater, so she many not be game. I’ll suggest it though. Hugs

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  6. Sweet Alsy, I am so sorry the week was so rough-I have had quite a few of those so I get it. So glad Chris is ok-I thought of you all right away when I saw the lines covered on the news. I for one couldn’t wait for yesterday to be over so the tons of people, traffic and madness would end and we could go back to normal. I have been like Slinky a bit-just hiding till they go away.
    I am so sorry to hear about sweet Slinky Malinki and I hope she will feel better and get back to herself. Glad she is letting you pet her and purring-she loves you so much.

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    • Thank you, Betsy. You are not alone in your desire for it all to be over with. I know many people were hiding from it all. And now the athletes, stars and entourages have left and we can resume life. I’m sorry to read that you too have had some rough weeks.

      As for Slinky, just one day at a time now for my sweet little girl.

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  7. So sorry to hear about your stressful week and hope that you don’t have cause to worry now that your son has been vaccinated. Poor Slinky, though. Cats are such independent creatures so it’s bound to take a while to settle into a new normal. She will, I’m sure, as they are incredibly resilient and adaptive. I’m one of those odd few that completely lose my appetite when stressed. These last few weeks what with surgery and my father in law dying have seen me eat very little but you can tell by my curves that I’m happy most of the time!

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    • I’m sorry to hear that you’re father in law died, and to add to that, at the same time of your surgery. I know when I’m sad I lose my appetite, but stress drives me to sugar. Funny that. Arms around you as you work through this difficult time.

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  8. Listen to me, Alys–if a few cookies help, enjoy them! You’re having one perfect storm of an awful time! But it does sound like some of the worst is blowing over–son is taken care of, Super Bowl is over, your cold will run its course. I’m sorry about Slinky–it’s worse for you than her, I think. She sounds calm and quite happy–is she being treated for whatever systemic problem the vet thinks is going on?

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  9. Good grief, what a week.
    We lived for many years with a brain-damaged cat following a head trauma. Amongst other things, she lost her reflexes on one side… if you stood her up and put one front paw on a piece of paper then gently pulled the paper forward and to the side, on her good side she would simply remove her paw and place it back on the ground but on her bad side she would leave it on the paper as it got pulled away. Despite exhibiting strange behaviour, she had a happy life for many years, eventually dying of a completely unrelated illness. Whatever the result with Slinky, you will know you have given her the best care.
    As for the cookies, I’m sure they were purely medicinal!
    Wishing you a calm and happy coming week x

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    • Thanks for sharing the story of your kitty. It is amazing what they can live with. What’s sad for me is that she is so stressed to begin with (she was a wild kitty and took a very long time to trust us and come indoors). We had made real progress with her, and during my recovery she started to sleep on my lap for the first time in five years. It was wonderful. Now she’s back to being stressed and isolated. It’s tough.

      Thank you for your well wishes.

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  10. Oh, what a week Alys! I do hope this coming week will be better. Yes, I do eat when stressed – all the wrong foods that I normally avoid – full of salt and fat, or sugar! The only thing that helps me is to keep busy, and not go shopping when I am feeling peckish! 😉

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    • Thank you, Cathy. Slinky continues to challenge us, but otherwise the week has been mundane. I got caught up on boring tasks, which while dull in the doing, feels wonderful once accomplished.

      From what I’ve read, fat is satiating and sugar triggers the pleasure centers, specifically serotonin, in our brain. It makes sense that we turn to those foods for comfort. The irony is that the very things that comfort us, are not always good for us. Of course we need fat and salt, just in the right balance. I’m still trying to figure out the benefits of sugar…besides the wow factor when I let a piece of chocolate melt in my mouth.

      You’re right about keeping busy and staying out of the markets when peckish.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh Alys, I am checking in days after you posted, and hope that all the love poured upon you from your blogging pals helped bring a smile to your face.
    I’m with Kerry … sometimes a few cookies DOES help.
    Thinking of you, and Slinky, and sending love to all (well except the dead rodent).
    XOXO

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    • Thank you, Laurie. The first two issues resolved themselves, but Slinky is another story. She howls for me in the middle of the night, but refuses to come sleep in our room. She’s eating okay and grooming herself, but she has moments of utter confusion. She just doesn’t seem to know where she is in space and time. I’m monitoring her closely and spending as much time in “her room” as I can. She’s moved it to C’s room for good.

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