Friday, September 13, 2013

The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

No, unfortunately, it wasn't a fictional children's book, it was my real life. Because, you know, I was having a great week, I was happy, and that ain't allowed.

I was having a great week and being happy despite the fact we got behind on our bills to make up for the shortfall in paying for our new roof a couple of weeks ago (we had $4900, it was $5800). I had said that's not problem, J usually picks up OT at the ambulance service during his two weeks he's off from there, we'll get it made up in a month at the most. Except, wouldn't you know it, every since that day he hasn't been called even once to go in to work. So we're behind on bills, getting further behind every day as late charges accrue, but worrying about it doesn't get them paid any faster than not worrying, so I decided to count my blessings and be happy with my lot anyway.
Bad idea, apparently.

When I left off last on Wednesday, I was draining the juice from boiled Apple Leavings to try to make homemade Apple Pectin.

 In the meantime, I started researching how to make Pear Preserves and found a likely recipe that advised me to peel, slice, add sugar, and let the pears sit overnight. So I went ahead and washed, peeled, and sliced my pears.

I had 2 different varieties of pears, I don't know the names of either. The ones like the one on the left are more round, while the ones like on the right are more customarily pear-shaped. I used the ones like on the left for the preserves.

This is where the trouble started. First I sliced the skin off the outside of my thumb with the knife while I was peeling the pears.  The pear-peeling caused a blister to come up on my index finger. Later, I sliced open the tip of my Bird finger while washing the corer/peeler.

I added 2 cups of sugar per every 2 quarts of pears. I ended up with about 5 quarts, so used about 5 cups of sugar.

I didn't add any water, but the next day, sure enough, they were swimming in juice.

I turned the pears on to simmer on low heat for a couple hours and set to work on my Apple Pectin, which involved boiling it down to about half.

I boiled to about half and started testing for gel strength, which involves dripping some of the (cooled) pectin into alcohol and seeing if it makes a gelatinous blob.

Mine never did, and I boiled and boiled and boiled....until there was none left. Project Fail.

See the pint jars water-bathing in the pot on the rear burner in anticipation of being filled with homemade apple pectin? When I leaned over to put the pot of jars back there, I burnt the crap out of my titty nipple tip end of my boob on the hot pectin pot. OW.

I managed to burn my other hand while stirring the pears, and at some point I started getting a pain in my neck, like a crick, but I hadn't woken up with it. I think it was a tension knot or something. It got worse and worse until I couldn't even turn my head or barely raise my arm. My shoulder started aching, and my arm and hand felt numb. I just kept trying to stretch it out or "shake it off".

Once they were tender and almost translucent, I removed the pears and boiled the juice to thicken and reduce by about half.
I boiled and boiled and boiled and reduced, maybe it thickened, seemed like it, but I'm not sure it was enough. I don't eat preserves so I'm no expert, but I was thinking preserves were more like fruit-in-jelly. Whereas these are more similar to pears-in-syrup.

After boiling and reducing the juice, I returned the pears to the pot and boiled some more. Then I used a slotted spoon to put pears in my sterilized hot jars, and then added the juice/syrup.

Processed in a water bath for 25 minutes.

In the meantime while I was working in the kitchen, our Kitty was acting strange.

When Ryan came in from work, he said Kitty was squatting on some newspapers I had laid out in the mudroom I use to sit my paint can on when I'm painting, and looked like he was using the bathroom. I went and looked and sure enough he'd tinkled on the papers. Which was weird because, for one, his litter box was not 2 feet from the newspaper, and two, the papers had been laying there for...months, I guess, since we've been working on the fireplace/shelf between the studs/kitchen wall, so if he felt the need to mark his territory, why then?

I shook my finger at him and gave him the evil eye and he looked at me like, yeah, whatever, lady, as usual. But as the day went on I noticed he was in and out of his litter box more than usual, and squatting on the papers. Later he came in the bedroom and jumped on the bed with J and looked like he was squatting to pee. I leaped up there to stop him, but he hadn't pee'd. I thought I was mistaken at his intent, but apparently at that point he was no longer able to pee. I didn't know it yet.

After that he was walking out of the bedroom and kind of flopped his back half down. I reached down to pet him and he flopped out on his side and meowed kinda pitifully. At that point I was realizing something was wrong, that he wasn't feeling well, and I thought maybe he was constipated because we'd changed his food the day before.
It was accidental, I sent Ryan to Walmart for the food and told him the wrong kind, but I didn't think anything of it because I've always fed Kitty whatever food I got on sale or was the cheapest and he just gobbles it down like he's starving and sometimes he threw up from eating too much/too fast but no other problems.

So then he was in and out of his litter box some more, then I saw he went and squatted on the newspapers again. I left him alone and when he walked off I went and looked and he hadn't made a new spot. So then I figured he wasn't pee'ing.
I googled about urinary problems and it said about cats eating dry food diets have trouble because they get a lot of their water from wet food. He loves wet food and gobbles it 'til he pukes, so I don't give it to him much, really only when I'm giving his flea meds. Anyway I gave him a half can of wet food with all the liquid from the can, and put fresh water in his water bowl.

He gobbled the wet food, but wouldn't drink any water. A little while later, he vomited up the wet food on our bedroom carpet.

I was in the floor cleaning up this nasty cat puke with my neck and shoulder aching so bad I just started boo-hoo'ing.
Eventually J came to see about me and asked me what was wrong and massaged my neck and shoulder a little bit. It helped some, but not completely.

I set out more wet food mixed with some water, and three more bowls of water all around the place in addition to his regular water bowl. He wouldn't eat or drink anything.
He started having trouble with his back side, trying to walk forward but ended up walking backwards and sitting down.

We finally decided he was just getting worse and called a Vets office to take him in to get seen. Figuring they'd catheter him to drain him and give him some antibiotics to clear up any infection.

But apparently it was more serious than we were expecting. They said he needed to go into the ICU of the animal hospital for at least 5 days, anesthetized and cath'd to relieve his bladder. Blood work, urinalysis to see if it was infection or blockage. Antibiotics and special food.
The bill was already huge, way more than we could pay at this time, and no way of knowing if he had more permanent damage to his heart or kidneys, or might require surgery on his urethra parts.

I have never been so torn in my life. I felt like there was no way we could kill him for what amounted to a UTI. But there was no way we could pay that kind of money, and maybe even more, and he still might not have lived, or it would happen again. Apparently urinary problems are common in male cats.
We really didn't have any choice but to have him put him to sleep and not let him keep suffering like he was.

I think it's the worst things I've ever had to do in my life. I thought accidently running over one of our previous cats was bad. It doesn't even compare.

He was a neurotic, nervous, anti-social, dumb cat, but man, we miss him a lot. There's a huge hole here with him gone, and I can't stop crying.

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