A bad night for one yellow cat

I set out a few hours ago for my usual late-night walk and ended up killing a cat.  

I guess it was meant to happen.  I came to a corner of the street.  I considered going east.  Instead I walked south into a bad situation.

At the side of 15th Avenue lay what I thought was a dead cat.  It was young and yellow, probably female and feral.  As I approached, it raised its head and hissed.  I reached to stroke its fur but it squirmed away from me with its upper body.  The hind legs were paralyzed.  Otherwise the cat looked normal.  It had been hit by a car but there was no blood, no obvious broken bones.

I walked back to the house to get a box and to tell Nebra.  She drove us back to the spot where the cat lay.  It looked dead, flattened out on the pavement by the alley.   Nebra picked it up by the scruff of the neck and placed it in a box.  It didn’t resist or complain.  We took it to the house.  I offered it some milk, held the saucer in front of its nose.  The cat wasn’t interested.  It just stared at me as if trying to understand what I was all about. 

Soon we were on the road, cat in the box, headed for the Emergency Animal Clinic on West Glendale. 

I explained the situation to the receptionist.  Feral cat, found along the street, partly paralyzed.  We were told to take a seat.  Someone would come out to see us soon.  The cat stared at me.  I stroked its head with the back of my fingers.  No hissing this time.  But its breathing came very fast, traumatized no doubt and in pain. 

A young woman, a veterinarian I assumed, came out, took the cat out of the box and left.  She didn’t say a word.  I walked to the window and told the receptionist I would take financial responsiblity.  She’d mentioned $95 for an X-ray or exam.  Nebra and I were prepared to nurse it back to health if possible, to take care of it even if it had permanent damage to its spine.  Pat, up the street, fed a cat for years that dragged its immobile hind legs around as if it were normal.  Another neighbor woman, Joan, cared for a three-legged cat she called Tripod.   I think those crippled cats often make the best pets. Then came the blunt news as I tried for the third time to explain our willingness to pay.

“It’s already been euthanized,” the receptionist said.  A middle-age man behind her nodded his head in agreement.  No one even examined the cat.  It was simply taken into a back room and killed.  I felt sick to my stomach.  Maybe it was for the best.  We’ll never know now, though. 

“It was probably abandoned,” the receptionist said, starting to get testy.  “It happens all the time.  We’ve probably had 14 cats today come in here just like that.”   All were euthanized.   But you wonder why a place like this is so quick to kill.  Here, with us, they could’ve made a little money tonight even if they ended up euthanizing the cat later. 

For the pretty yellow cat, it was just an unlucky night all the way round.  First the car that hit it and did not stop, then the uncaring clinic and the vet with the hair-trigger syringe.  And the bad timing.  If the cat had been hit tomorrow and I’d found it on a work day, not on a Memorial Day night,I would’ve taken it to my regular vet up the street and told her, fix this cat if you can.  At least it might’ve had a chance.

As it is I feel like a murderer.  Surely someone more competent, more savvy in the ways of the world could’ve gotten better results for the cat.

On the drive home, angry and frustrated, I shouted at the wind, “What kind of a country do we live in?”  Almost everyone knows there’s something terribly wrong with America, and it just isn’t the economy or illegal immigration or crime or big government.  I do not know the answer.  But I do think the death of the yellow cat is symptomatic of whatever it is.

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Cataract surgery: 207 eye drops later

I measure my recovery from cataract surgery by four post-op exams and 207 eyedrops.  On a morning two days ago, on the 26th, I reached the medical end of what seemed much longer than the actual 35 days.  I squeezed one drop of the steroid Durezol into my left eye at 9:45, a perfect splashdown, followed by the brief, concluding 3-week exam less than an hour later at Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center in Phoenix. 

To be precise, there were two surgeries, both by Dr. Scott Perkins.  One on my dominant right eye on April 21 followed two weeks later by the left eye, on May 5.  The old clouded lenses were broken up and sucked away and new, synthetic standard ones implanted.  And, despite missing three of the scheduled 210 eye drops and having yet another surgery for a macular hole on the right eye to deal with, the results ultimately pleased me beyond expectations. 

In the beginning, as I wrote in Part I of my cataract journal, my goal was simply to pass the Arizona vision test so I could return to driving at night.  Even if my eyes could see only the minimum, 20/40, that was fine with me.  My current license is restricted to daytime-driving only, a daunting imposition on my lifestyle and independence.  In fact, one eye specialist told me I probably shouldn’t be driving at all, so poor was my vision.

There was no lower point in the process than on the day of the first surgery when I signed a form saying it was understood there was a possibility even after the operation my vision would be no better than 20/50.   The thought of never driving again at night and maybe never driving again, period, weighed on me as I was prepped and anesthetized for surgery.

Almost from the moment that first day when I pulled off the bandages that covered my right eye, a feeling of elation began to swell.  Even in those first hours of blurriness and distortion I sensed something good was happening.  There was a lot more light and detail.  I recall lying on the sofa and looking out the living room window into a bright, blue sky with my right eye.  The unrepaired left eye revealed a brownish sky and the same old fuzziness.  The distortions vanished that first day and by the end of the third day so had the light haziness.  With each passing day, the vision steadily improved.   And the halos around lights, quite dramatic at the start, dissipated after several days.

All the time I continued to pound the three prescription eye drops.  For the first week after each surgery I plopped in three drops of Vigamox, Nevanac and Durezol every day.  That came to 63 drops for the week.  At times I wondered if callouses were forming in the eyes.  The second week was much easier, only 35 drops of Nevanac and Durezol, and by the third and final week only one drop of Durezol a day.  Still, I came to resent the eye drops and the amount of time I spent administering them.    With five minutes between drops, I computed it used up at least two hours and 45 minutes of whatever life I have left.  But I got through it and felt upbeat at the end.

But no amount of optimism prepared me for the last exam on Thursday, even though I can read books and some newspapers unaided. 

As I settled into a cushy chair in a darkened room, I was asked again to read the smallest line of letters I could on the eye chart using only my left eye.  I was startled how far down I got.  Line 5 was easy, and I read Line 6 with almost as much ease.   “That’s 20/20,” said the technician, a 30ish man wearing eyeglasses.  “That’s great.”   I’m thinking my vision is probably better than his now.  And to realize in just 15 days after an initial exam for macular hole, on May 11, my left eye had improved from 20/30, well, that was a rush I had not experienced in a long, long time.

My right eye tested only 20/40, but the optometrist, Dr. Pinkert, predicted it will be much better after the mac hole surgery on June 1.  The center of everything thing I view is “wrinkled.”  Looking at a light pole, say, the top and bottom are clear but there is a wave in the middle.  That wave prevents me from seeing a full word or an entire line of letters on an eye chart.

In fact, Pinkert said, my overall vision is 20/20 because, he said, “the left eye is doing all the work.”  As I left he gave me a reassuring smile and said, thinking no doubt of the macular hole, “You’re going to have very good results.”  I not only hope he’s right.  I believe it.

Doomsday and the aliens on this planet

Well, I think it’s safe to say, almost six hours after the zero hour of Doomsday, nothing has changed in Arizona.  There was no earthquake.  No one I know has disappeared from the face of the earth.  Not that I ever thought for the slimmest of a second that the end of the world was at hand.  But then again I don’t believe in a god that would destroy his or her own work without at least a Tweet from on high:  “Get ready, y’all, this here human experiment is over.”

On the other hand, I do believe the human experiment a failure.  We are a flawed and doomed species, all right.  And we will eventually do ourselves in one way or another.  But nothing cataclysmic.  Nothing that will end abruptly.  If there be gods, they will let us do the deed while they sit back amused.  It will take many, many years for it to all play out, those years, though, a belch in the total length of time.  And then the gods will be on to something else.  Perhaps another experiment with yet another kind of species.   Maybe they will get it right eventually. 

But before then I wonder.  So who are these species that believed in Doomsday on the 21st of May?   They are so different from me that I do not recognize them as the same species.   In truth, I do not know who is the alien here.  Them or me.  Let’s just say the differences we face are mammoth and without solution. 

And I’ll tell you a little secret.  I believe the Tea Party madness in American politics is the fine thread that separates the aliens from the not aliens.  A slight misstep, I think, and the Tea Party people will slip into the Doomsday crowd.  Or a slight upward swing and the Doomsdayers will switch their extremism from God to politics.  It’s wild down here. 

Beam me up, Scotty.

Poor Sean Hannity: Doesn’t he get it?

When an intelligent and articulate woman called in to Sean Hannity’s radio show today and exclaimed loudly, “Frankly, you sound like an idiot,” my gut reaction was to feel sorry for him.  After all, Hannity is the weakest of the right-wing propaganda machine, not nearly as smart as Limbaugh, not nearly the loony-bin magnet as Beck and not nearly as creative and entertaining as Savage.   Mr. Bland, you might say.  I’m sure Sean  has great ratings among conservative women, a Dapper Dan with choir-boy good looks and not a hair out of place.  But to me, he’s Little Boy Lost. 

But there he was in all his usual arrogance and acting like he knows everything, demanding President Obama release photos of the Bin Laden corpse.  Americans have a right to see them, he said, again denouncing Obama as soft on Islam.  Obama is more considerate of America’s enemies, he said, than the citizens he supposedly represents.  Yet at that very moment, according to Hannity himself,  the Bin Laden photos were circulating around the halls of Congress.   Didn’t he get it?

Obama’s official stance on the subject:  No photos will be released.  It would be debasing to what Americans stand for and so grisly are they it would only infuriate further the fanatical Muslim terrorists.  But Obama is not the stooge Sean makes him out to be.  Obama knows  elected officials on Capitol Hill will come across these photos eventually.   He also knows these  pols can not keep a secret to save themselves, be they from the left or the right.  Within a short time,  those Bin Laden photos will be leaked out into the public sector, and circulated around the globe.  That way Obama can have his cake and eat it too.

 On the surface Obama has seemingly done “the right thing” for the sake of diplomacy abroad and at the same time mollified those at home who for whatever reasons feel they must see a cold and bloodied Bin Laden .  It is not imperative that the President release the photos himself, only that they see air, that at least some of the Doubting Thomases will believe Obama when he said, “We got him.”   And Obama’s hands will be clean.  Sean should know better than anyone  how this game is played.

Think about it.   Hannity’s alleged “hero,” George Bush, did a similar if morer sinister political maneuver eight years ago when outing Valerie Plame.  Bush and his vp, Dick Cheney, had one of their  minions, Scooter Libby, leak Plame’s  CIA status to friends in the media.  So it wasn’t Bush who leaked.  His hands were clean. But the message got out.  It was a clever ruse, that deflected attention from the more serious issue at hand, the fadt that there was no WMD and therefore no reason to go to war in Iraq.  In the end, Libby was handed a presidential pardon from his chuckling boss, Geroge Bush.  And so it goes. 

While I want to feel sorry for Sean, I just can’t do it.  He lies and distorts and yet chastises others for what he himself does routinely.  That is what propagandists do.  And sometimes, yes, Sean does sound like an idiot.

Jumping off the bandwagon

The deadline for renewing our two Arizona Cardinals season tickets has come and gone.  I am not renewing for the 2011 season, not that there will be a season if players and owners fail to agree on a labor contract.  No matter.  After five seasons, I am, in the eyes of the hard-core True Believers, jumping off the bandwagon.  I am a traitor.

I originally purchased those tickets prior to the 2006 season, the team’s first year in the new stadium at Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix.  I remember the excitement.   A former All-Pro running back, Edgerrin James, had been signed.  And then came the drafting of the USC golden boy, Matt Leinart, who was to be the Cardinals quarterback of the future.  That first year was special and I enjoyed it very much.  I enjoyed even the unbelievable debacle with the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football that led then-coach Dennis Green’s famous rant, “Crown their asses.”

But in truth, I never was on the Cardinals bandwagon. Not even when the Cardinals made it all the way to the Super Bowl.  I’m not even sure I would know a bandwagon  if I saw one.  But I will tell you this.  The “bandwagon”  is a very expensive ride.  For two season tickets in the corner of an end zone,  I paid almost $1,600 in 2010.  That’s $80 a game for one seat, up 25 percent from what I doled out the first season, in 2006.   Cost aside, there are numerous reasons I saw for not renewing.

  • A loss of faith in ownership.  The Bidwills lied.  “We Do This Together” is the organization’s motto.  Yes, together.  I give them my money, and they hold on to it for their own personal gain.  In the disastrous 2010 season,  no money I could see was spent to bolster player talent, most notably at quarterback.  The Bidwills had built a foundation for success, then let it slip away by not re-signing key players.  
  • A loss of faith in the coach, Ken Whisenhunt.   Rather than change his system to fit the talent last season, he told his players, “Believe in the system.”   For example, Whisenhunt’s decision to use a passing offense when the passers were all inaccurate defied belief.  At least with a more balanced approach, the games — even the victories — would not have appeared so ugly.  His faltering attempts at explaining away the release of Leinart last summer were embarrassing.  Whisenhunt seemed no more than an organizational toady.  
  • The fans.  A stadium setting is just not my thing.  I do not enjoy high-fiving with the crowd or listening to the mostly irrational views of football.  Nor being in the proximity of a human being dressed in red feathers.  For the most, I am neutral.  I do not care who wins.  I like to watch great athletes perform.  I appreciate the team that overcomes odds, be it the home team or not.
  • Lack of information.  The stadium noise is often so loud you can not hear, say, the head official explaining a penalty.  The JumboTron does not show every controversial play.  You get more information sitting at home, watching the game on TV.
  • The loss of an entire day.  Six hours pass from the time I leave the house until the moment  of return.  It would be half that with TV.  And you could easily get up and walk away from the tube if the game got too, too ugly.

I was called out on one of the message boards last season.  “So you admit you’re a bandwagon fan.  We don’t need you.”  I admitted no such thing.  And wrong, the Cardinals do need me and my likes.  Without me, the Cardinals would not filll up their stadium.  And there would soon be no franchise in Arizona.  The rabid are noisy, like the Tea Party crowd, but they are few.   

So ta-ta, season tickets.  Goodbye stadium.  Best wishes, fans.  To the True Believers I would say I am not so much jumping off your bandwagon as alighting from it.  Softly, almost imperceptibly.  The landing, I anticipate, will be pleasant.

A `boarder’ searches for truth

In the Beginning, God created Birthers.  After a rest, God created Deathers.  And now, alone, I have created Boarders.  That’s boarders as in water-boarding.  Show me the proof.

The Birthers did not believe President Obama was born in America.  They cried for the long form of his birth certificate.  When they got it, they didn’t believe it. 

The Deathers say they want proof Osama bin Laden is dead.  They want to see his corpse.  The long form, I suppose, head to toe.   And then if  presented they will not believe that either.  Obama is lying for political gain.

I am better than that.  I am willing to change my mind.  I will believe, faced with facts, that George Bush’s policies of  torture and water-boarding at Gitmo or anywhere else, produced the key to killing Bin Laden last Sunday in Pakistan.  Just show me the proof.

Those Bush policies have been used by the right-wing propagandists, like Limbaugh and Hannity, to discredit President Obama’s role in the Bin Laden affair.  Those propagandists say that Obama merely sat on the sidelines and let Bush’s policies do their thing.  Obama, the bystander in all this, was led down the primrose lane by bureaucrats and other officials, each and every one of them a grand admirer of right-wing politics, George W Bush and his “war on terror.”

I will even discard the view expressed by the New York Times this morning:  “There is no evidence that good intelligence like this,” meaning the exact location of Bin Laden’s living quarters in Pakistan, “was the result of secret detentions or abuse and torture.  Everything suggests the opposite.”   That is not proof.  That is opinion.  Honest opinion, I might add, unlike Mr. Limbaugh who will deliberately lie and distort. 

Once the link between torture and discovery of Bin Laden’s whereabouts is destroyed, Bush’s role is all but obliterated from this great moment, a moment that wiped away the shame of our country being unable to find the perpetrator of 9/11 for almost 10 long years.  It will further doom Bush’s role in history, as a shallow, bumbling Texan, led around by the nasal holes by Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.  And it would be a spear to the heart of conservative ideology. 

As a true Boarder, this is what I have read, not what I necessarily believe.  Identification of Bin Laden’s courier was the key to the Al Qaeda leader’s location and death.   His alias was discovered from American-held prisoners.  Who or where, no one is saying.  The alias was run by two imprisoned top-level Qaeda operatives, Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed, the author of the 9/11 attacks, and Abu Faraj al-Libi, who was Qaeda’s operational chief.  Neither claimed to have heard the courier’s alias, which led investigators to believe they were lying.  One thing led to another and, tah-dah, the end of Bin Laden.

The bottom line of course is:  Did water-boarding or any other form of torture in the Bush repertoire lead to information about the courier?  If water-boarding and torture were so effective, why would neither Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed nor  Abu Faraj al-Libi, cough up the courier’s identity and save the U.S. a lot of time? 

I ask no more than any good Birther or Deather.  Show me the proof.  Show me the long form.  Show me the tape of the interrogations of those prisoners and an objective translation .   Then, and only then should George Bush receive some credit for the Bin Laden episode.

A cataract surgery journal: Part III

NOTE:  Part III deals with surgery on the left eye.  The right one had surgery on April 21 and is described in Part II.  The pre-surgery going back to the telling moment last January on Oahu is set out in Part I.  A Part IV is planned for late May and will summarize the entire experience with cataract surgery, its ups and downs.

May 3, Tuesday:  Two days before surgery on the left eye.  The surgically repaired right eye is doing fine after 11 days.  Take away the separate problem of a macular hole, and I would be overjoyed.   That eye’s vision is bright and clear.  The halos around lights disappeared several days ago and have not returned.  If it were not for the hole, I could read a newspaper without glasses.  That’s with only one good eye.  The right eye is scratchy every morning.  Maybe it’s dry.  A drop of Blink, the lubricant, helps immensely.  I have followed the eye-drop routine religiously.  One drop of Nevanac three times a day, one drop of Durezol twice a day.  The eye drops have become an irritating chore I put up with.  Since there is no macular hole in the left eye, I am expecting great results.  Dr. Pinkert, the optometrist, says there will be synergy in my overall vision, that the sum will be greater than the individual vision in either eye.  It occurs to me I have now taken cataract surgery too lightly.   My thoughts drift too easily toward the macular hole and a third surgery, not to mention the difficult recovery period.  Keeping your head down for one to three weeks sounds excruciating. . . . In late afternoon I received a call from Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center.  I’m to report for surgery Thursday morning at 8:30.

May 4, Wednesday:  One day before surgery.   I’m back in surgery mode.  I must take eye drops in my left eye for the first time, one drop each of Nevanac and Vigamox three times today and once in the morning before surgery.  I am still placing drops of a different combo in the right eye.  If you do not pay close attention the eye-dropping can get confusing.  I can have no food or water eight hours before surgery.  That means shutting off all intake about midnight.

May 5, Thursday:  D-Day.  Awoke shortly after 6, put in the eye drops and am ready to get the surgery over.  On the road shortly after 8 for an 8:30 appointment at the Eye Center.  I’m expecting great results but you never know. . . . It’s 10 o’clock and I’m home again with a bandage over the repaired left eye.  I can take it off at one o’clock and the moment of truth begins.  Will I be able to see better even with the macular hole in the cataract-repaired  right  eye?    Typing this is difficult.  The computer screen is  blurry.  A magnifying glass helps slightly.  The replacement lens is for distant vision, not up close.   The surgeon, Dr. Perkins said, “Everything went smoothly.”  I was much more relaxed for the second surgery as reflected by a systolic reading of 140 on the blood pressure monitor.  It was 160 last time before surgery.  Preparation again was the time consumer. Injecting the anesthesia via an IV in my right hand (and taking two deep breaths),, numbing the left eye, hooking up my left arm  to the BP monitor and attaching a clip to  an index finger to measure my pulse,. A heart monitor was set up with connections to little pasty sheets on my chest.  I was asked at least a half-dozen times which eye was to have surgery, even though a purple X was marked above the left eye.  I was wheeled into the surgery room on my gurney, flat on my  back and was soon looking up into a white gauze mask.  “You probably don’t want to see the surgery anyway,” a nurse said.  But I did see through the left eye, it seemed, as the surgery went on.  Lights, then blurriness, until the bandage was taped on.  Unlike the last surgery, Perkins  detailed each step: cutting a tiny slit, destroyed the old lens and flushing it out, inserting the new lens and it unfolded and was in place. That was it.  I was wheeled into another room. I  popped right to my feet from the gurney and sat down beside a nurse for pre-op instructions.  My blood pressure was measured again, this time 117/59, more like the reading I’m used to.  I was given some instructions, a can of apple juice and a Multi-Grain bar, and was back in the lobby by 10, waiting for Nebra to drive me home.  Just like last time, an hour and a half .at the Eye Center . . . 1:15, Pulled off bandage in front of bathroom mirror.  Foggy and distorted vision.  The mirror is not only a double image, but far off the mark and canted on an angle. .  . . 2:45,  Lunch with Nebra at Wildflower.   Double-vision gone but the fogginess remains. The eye is watering.   Brilliant, blinding sunlight when the sunglasses come off. . . . 3:30, Begin eye drops for the first time  in the repaired left eye.  The fog has lifted only a little bit.  Eye burns and still waters. . . . 10:30, While taking a long walk through the neighborhood, I realized how much my left-eye vision has improved in the last seven hours.   Very little haze now.   I do have the halos when peering at street lights, rainbow colors, just like with the right eye the first few days.  I assume these halos too will pass. . . .

May 6, Friday: Pre-op, Day 1 after surgery.  Kept an 11:30 appointment at the Eye Center.  I was surprised and elated by the eye test.  Even though a light fog exists from surgery yesterday, I was able to read through the 6th line.  “Fantastic,” said the technician who administered the test.  “That’s 20/30.  You could pass the driver’s test even without glasses.”   Before the surgery I had trouble even reading the big “E” atop the chart.  Later, I met with the optometrist, Dr. Muong  who echoed the technician’s glowing assessment about my progress.  If it weren’t for the right eye’s macular hole surgery ahead, I would be ecstatic.  I’m to see one of the Center’s  retina specialists, a Dr. Alam Suhail, on Wednesday, the 11th.  Muong assured with macular hole surgery, my vision will be no worse than now and maybe a lot better.  She also said the longest time I’d have to lay on my stomach after the surgery was five days.  Not the 1-3 weeks I’d read on the Internet.  The fogginess that I awoke with is now gone, vanishing sometime tonight, or about 36 hours after surgery .  . .  Just as my father had done years ago, reaching out of habit for his shirt pocket and the cigarettes he had long given up, I reached this morning for my glasses,  those same magnified reading glasses that are no longer of use to my surgically-repaired eyes.  My “new” eyes could not read the newspaper this morning.  I am caught for now in between, unable to easily read books or newspapers though my vision picks up the stop sign 50 yards down the street with no trouble.  It is irritating.  But I know I am not long from prescription reading glasses and a happier day.

May 15, Sunday:  10th day after surgery.  It is just after midnight, and minutes ago I had stepped out into the warm night to again marvel at my new eyes.  I can see distant objects as I likely did in my 30s.  From three blocks away I can differentiate a van from a coupe or a pickup passing along 7th Avenue.  At 100 yards in daylight I can see the palm fronds which line this residential street as never I had before.  It’s a long way now from the uncertainity of Day 2.  There was still the haziness that night when we went to a local theater production of Nine, and I wondered if surgery on the left eye had not gone well.  It seemed to be healing slower than the right one had.  And yet by the end of Day 3, just like the right one, the left eye lost its haze and the vision was very good.  And the halos were gone. Two days ago, on Thursday the 12th, I finished off the regimen of drops in the right eye.  I still have two weeks remaining in the left one, and a final 3-week exam at the Eye Center on the 26th.  All would be great if not for the macular hole in the right eye that will require a third surgery, on June 1, to fix its nagging little distortion.  But more about the hole in a separate article.   Now, even my up close vision is vastly improved.  I can read the 12-point type on my E-Reader.  The 10-point newspaper type is more difficult, and I often use a magnifying glass to facilitate it.  It is a very bright world out there in daylight, and I wear wrap-around sunglasses everytime I go out.  I think in time my eyes will adjust.