Oh No…Now I’m the Girl Who Writes About Her Cat

A week passes incredibly quickly when you are living life on the road, experiencing new sights every day with the love of your life. A week passes agonizingly slow when you are sedentary, alone with your thoughts, bad television, and your cat. Obviously adjusting to life in Tucson is going to take some time. I am grateful that I get to see my grandmother every day, and help make her life better by keeping her company and running small errands for her. When Andrew and I visited her before we went to Mexico I was worried about her. She was tired and disoriented, symptoms of the infection she has been fighting for months. For many people aged 88 these symptoms are commonplace, but for my grandmother they are extremely unusual. As a child I always thought my grandmother was invincible, and though I am far less naïve these days, I am happy to report that she is back to normal and seems healthier than ever. In fact she looks downright out of place at the rehab center, where she is the only patient who does not rely on a wheelchair to move about.

Unfortunately the world of health insurance is so muddled that the only way my grandmother’s antibiotic treatment is covered is if she stays at the rehab center until she finishes her second six-week course of medication. So I do what I can to ease her boredom by visiting her in the early afternoons, and we often sit outside and chat with a nice woman from the Congo who is recuperating from a stroke. Thankfully I never tire of hearing about the past lives of others, whether it is about pre-war Holland, post-war Ecuador, or traditional birthing practices of the Congo. It’s also fortunate that the elderly seem more than eager to share their stories and reminisce about their youth, and I am a willing receptacle for their memories.

I am living alone at my grandmother’s house, and unfortunately she lives in a suburb north of Tucson that is not within walking distance of much. Driving in this city is INSANE.  The main roads are six lanes wide, and there are very few stop signs or protected left turns. Because of this I haven’t ventured too far away from the neighborhood, but luckily I found a Bikram Yoga studio nearby where I go for an almost daily 90-minute torture session in a hot, humid, stinky room. The actual exercises and positions utilized in this kind of “yoga” are not incredibly difficult, but the near 100-degree heat and extreme humidity make this a very sweaty, dizzying, and in the end, rewarding experience. It doesn’t fulfill me spiritually in the same way that other, more traditional styles of yoga do, but at least it gets my blood moving and keeps me from going stir crazy.

When I’m not busy with Bikram or locking my keys in my truck (thank you, AAA!), I am cooking for myself using Paleo-diet friendly ingredients. I first went on this diet at the beginning of the year, and I was amazed at the results I noticed within just one month. The diet stresses fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, nuts, and other items that are considered “natural” to the ancient human condition. I already don’t eat wheat or dairy, and “going Paleo” just means I also cut out other grains like rice, and corn, and avoid overly processed foods. It’s a really great way to keep healthy, and this combined with Bikram will help me “detox” from all the noshing that occurred during the last month of our road trip.

I have also been enjoying the company of my cat, Sake. I was very fortunate to find a wonderful foster mom for Sake while the rest of us hit the road, but now that I knew I would be more stationary I decided to take her with me to relieve some of my loneliness. I love this cat, but after all I have experienced with her I have to say I might never have another. I adopted her from a shelter about five years ago, and when I took her home she was already a year old and had birthed a litter of feral kittens. Since I have owned her, her health problems have ranged from severe skin allergies to major scent gland infections to chronic arthritis. When I brought her to Tucson and let her out of her carrier I noticed she walked like she was three sheets to the wind. She was always a little on the loopy side, but at this point she couldn’t walk in a straight line to save her life! I brought her to the vet, and it was determined that she may have “bilateral vestibular disease,” which I think is a fancy way of saying serious double ear-infections.  She is on a course of antibiotics, but there is a possibility she may never fully recover. She is a very happy, loving cat otherwise, and her quality of life is still quite good, despite the apparent heart murmur that she has also acquired. I think I should just stop taking her to the vet!

In my spare time I read, research potential careers, or as a last resort, watch television. The other day I decided on a whim to apply for a position as a Park Ranger for the National Park System…at Kenai Fjords, Alaska! I have no idea how competitive the position is, or whether or not I will even make it through the first cut. I have never even been to Alaska! Ironically that seemed as good a reason as any to apply, and since I am determined to avoid a traditional office job for the time being, I might as well venture out on a limb or two while I can! In the meantime you can find me in Tucson, white-knuckling the steering wheel, sweating profusely while attempting to balance on one foot, sunbathing in December, or making dinner plans with octogenarians. Jealous yet?

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