Changes. Well, more changes.

So, long time no blog.

Things change. How many times have I admitted that to myself this year?

It’s been an up-and-down few months.

I finally walked out of my marriage, a little tenderised but mostly unscathed. I can pretty much thank the Manbeast’s level head for much of it. The house sold for a decent price (the range we were hoping for) and we were able to split with a decent chunk of money each, even after paying back the Maternal Unit the amount she gave us for a deposit.

Sadly our promises of “staying friends” seems to have turned to “staying silent”. We haven’t spoken for a long while. For all of his insistence of joint ownership of the cats and visitation rights and such (this was our personal joke – we have no kids other than the fur babies), nothing has really happened in that respect. He hasn’t called to visit them at all. I get it. I was warned that it was most likely to happen and while it makes me a little bit sadder than usual, I get it. And I’ll take it on the chin. I’m not going to chase him down and insist he be part of my life like he made me promise when we were going through the throws of breaking up.

Things change.

What actually hurts most is the abject silence from a handful of our mutual friends and that of his parents. Where my mum (the Maternal Unit) had offered her ongoing support to the Manbeast, something I have absolutely no issue with, I haven’t had the same from his parents. That’s one stony, icy-cold silence. Guess I was a bitter disappointment there. First take their son away, then refuse to have babies, then break up with him.

The other friends… Well, maybe I wasn’t as close to them as I thought. They certainly haven’t reciprocated the “We are Switzerland!” stance that the Manbeast and I gave them when they were going through their own issues. There’s been no pokes through Facebook or emails or texts. Just silence.

And to be honest, that’s ok too. The Manbeast needs their support without my interference.

Deep breath.

Let it go.

Things change. Though I will admit it’s left me feeling very alone sometimes. I don’t go chasing people anymore for attention, particularly when it’s obvious that I am barely registering as a thought.

Moving back into the Maternal Unit’s house hasn’t been terribly fun. It’s been reassuring to know that I had somewhere to go but I’ve packed up a whole independent life and put as much of it as I could into one room. A very small room. Mum is a clutter-bug and has a LOT of stuff she’s been keeping for those “just in case” moments and, of course, things that are “useful”. Unfortunately it means that there’s not a whole lot of space to put other stuff, even before I moved in; an achievement when you think it’s a three bedroom house that has contained one lady and one or two cats for the better part of 10 years. She’s a neat hoarder, though. Very tidily squirreling things away. No piles of stuff or cluttered hallways but nature clearly hates a vacuum in that house.

Not all is doom and gloom though.

There’s a new bloke on the scene.

He makes me happy.

Ecstatic, actually. He gets it. He gets me. He loves me. He wants to be with me. Not just “in a relationship” but physically be in my presence a lot of the time.

The feeling is entirely mutual.

And I am learning what I was missing out on with the Manbeast. This is not a bad thing – how can you miss what you never experienced? It’s just nice to learn these new facets of a relationship. Having someone reach for your hand and actually hold it, leaning in for a kiss (and to hell with who is watching), reading a paper together over a hot chocolate and coffee, dating. Stuff that never really happened before.

The Manbeast and I were a couple but we did our own thing and worked independently of each other much of the time. Too much of the time.

Now, “Sharpy” (as I will call him for he wields very sharp knives on a regular basis) and I do stuff together for the purpose of doing stuff together; sharing and experiencing things together.

He likes to shop with me.

He watches “Say Yes to the Dress” marathons with me. VOLUNTARILY.

That’s true love right there, folks.

He’s not perfect but I don’t want him to be. His imperfections match mine and we can make each other better.

I have no idea where life is headed next, but I know for sure that I’m going to live it rather than just exist in it. My aunt died at the end of July this year. That will be another blog post for later when I don’t feel the crushing weight of her absence anymore, but her death has taught me not to waste any more time.

Travel tips from someone who doesn’t travel very much for good reason.

I thought I would join in with Friday Reflections this week and give my top 11 (weird number but why not?) travel tips.

1. You will get sick. Deal with it. Pack drugs. Though make sure they’re not the kind that gets you into trouble.

Is this just me? So far on every overseas trip I have ended up getting a case of plague. On my very first trip out of the country, I ended up sitting next to a woman who had sneakily snuck her particularly diabolical case of influenza/black death onto the plane under the cover of what must have been about 800 doses of very strong cold and flu meds. Sadly they wore off about three hours into the flight and I was stuck next to this sniveling snot machine for another five until we hit Singapore. While I rushed out of that aircraft as soon as I could to shower and spray myself with antibacterial lotion, the damage was done. A week later, while I was in my friend’s flat in Japan, the cold hit. And then we went to China and I nearly died. The cold turned into one hell of a chest infection. Beijing at the tail-end of Winter was not the brightest idea I’d had at that time.

I was coughing up black shit for months after I got back to Australia.

And lets not forget that time I got honest-to-God DYSENTERY during a trip to Perth a few years ago. That was one fucking well-earned hemorrhoid.

2. Slow walkers are EVERYWHERE. Try not to kill them.

Bloody tourists. Sure, it’s fine when you’re one of those lucky sods who has the time (and money) to amble about a city for weeks at your leisure but for the rest of us, sometimes we only have a day, maybe two, in one particular place before being dragged away on a bus or needing to catch a plane to the next destination. We need to get places quickly and make smart use of our time and nothing pisses us off more than Slow Walkers taking up an entire footpath while they shuffle along. No amount of polite coughing gets their attention. Fuck, I don’t think a full-blown asthma attack would so much as garner a head-turn.

I have felt the rage. Seethed with it. Cheated death by walking out onto a busy road in order to get around groups of Slow Walkers.

3. Eat the damned food. And pack Immodium.

The whole idea of travel is to see and experience new things. In my opinion, those experiences include eating the food of the country you’re in. Now, I am not suggesting you go and eat scorpions off a stick or drink snake venom wine, but at least try something different. Don’t be That Guy who calls out from the back of a tour bus in the middle of Xian, China “Hey, were is the nearest McDonalds?!” (Yes, we had that guy at the back of the tour bus while we were in Xian, China.) That being said, if you’ve got a sensitive gut (like I totally do at random times), always pack some tummy meds. Nothing screws up a holiday like being stuck in the shitter for hours on end.

4. NEVER play “Pot Luck” in exotic places. And DEFINITELY pack Immodium.

Ok, imagine this, if you will. You’re in a foreign country. You wander into a restaurant that is in the very non-touristy area of a city. You sit down and your friend mentions something about the kanji for “beef” in Japanese is similar to that of Chinese. You blithely smile and nod because you’re tired and “hangry” and over everything and just need food.

Let’s just say I don’t think it was beef.

5. Don’t buy books at the airport. You’ll have to carry them.

Look… I’m a bibliophile. I love my books. When there are a couple hours to spare at an airport and I can’t find anything better to do, I will invariably end up in the newsagent/bookshop. And I will buy, at the absolute least, three books – and I can guarantee they won’t be 100-page novellas. These will be new large format editions that take up at least 6kg of my 7kg carry-on weight limit. And because I love my books, I will not read them and discard them. OH, NO. My babies come with me.

I carried no less than four giant books with me everywhere last time I was out of the country. Don’t do that. Buy a Kindle. Or download a reading app on your phone or tablet.

6. Don’t give street vendors your name. Ever. Just don’t.

Tourist traps are everywhere. And where there’s a tourist trap, there’s a gauntlet of street vendors plying their trade in souvenirs and keepsakes. Don’t give them the promise that you’ll be back to take a closer look at their stuff because you know you won’t. Don’t try to be kind. Keep your eyes down and plow straight on through. I made this mistake when visiting the Great Wall of China. It was the slightly less popular area of the wall, but still teaming with people selling the odd “genuine” fur-lined, Mongol cap and colourful kites. Like the sap I was, I gave a particular vendor my name because she said that she would put something I had a passing interest in away for me. I can’t even remember what it was but the sound that came at me when I returned from my walk on the Wall is ingrained into my brain for life. The entire line of vendors knew my name.

“Erreeeeeeeeeen! Erreeeeeeeeeeeeeen! Come here, Erreeeeeeeeeeeeen! I have many good things for you, Erreeeeeeeeen!”

FML.

7. If they’re still smiling when you walk away, you got DONE. Learn to haggle.

If you are game enough to browse for keepsakes of your trip at any sort of outside store or market, you will have to haggle. You could be a wuss, like me, and just hand over ridiculously large amounts of money for a small ancient, yet surprisingly plasticy-feeling artifact, but that’s no fun really. Regardless of what they might say, if they’re still prepared to sell to you at the highest price you’re saying you will go, they are still making a big profit. Trust me, you are not ruining that person’s day if they are glaring at you as you make off with your goods.

8. Stay in hostels. You find the best people in them.

If you’re light on cash flow, this might be the only option for you anyway, but if you have the choice, I totally recommend hostels as a place to lay your head for the evening – or continue partying, depending on your choice of hostel. You don’t have to do it all the time but do it at least once. Apart from saving a shitload of money, you get to meet people – people who encourage you to go out and do stuff. Explore a city a little deeper. Actually eat that scorpion-on-a-stick.

And sometimes you may find yourself rooming in a hostel in the middle of Old Town, Edinburgh, with two young men from Australia and New Zealand respectively who gleefully announce at five o’clock in the evening that it’s “Beer o’clock!” and vanish down to the Grassmarket for the rest of the day, only to return at some time in the wee hours and very drunkenly navigate their way onto the top bunks while alternately trying not to talk too loud or throw up and then fall into such a state of unconsciousness that you feel compelled to check for a pulse on one of them the following morning before you leave for your day of sight-seeing and then come back to an empty-but-for-a-bucket-of-vomit room in the afternoon…

NOT THAT THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME.

9. Choose the path less traveled. Avoid tourist traps.

The best advice we ever got while in China was to avoid Shaolin at all costs. The lovely staff at the hostel in Pingyao warned off the area after overhearing a conversation my friend and I were having about going there. Instead we were handed a big brochure about Chengdu. What’s special about Chengdu?

Lemme give you a hint:

Yep. ALL THE PANDAS.
Yep. ALL THE PANDAS.

Chengdu is still a big city and fairly touristy, but I reckon we chose the better option. An awesome time was had by all. So if a local warns you off somewhere, pay attention. They might have a good alternative. Though be safe, make sure you research any suggestion thoroughly before actually going – you don’t want to end up the victim of some nefarious crime ring.

10. You will inevitably fight with your travel companion(s). Don your big girl/boy panties.

Look, it’s going to happen. Weeks on end with the same person, sharing each others very personal spaces, enduring massive culture shock, the stress of traveling, getting used to each others REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING habits… Yep. It’s just a matter of time. What is important is that you get it out of your system and then get over it. Sometimes you just need to quit whatever plans you made and do something else. Sometimes you need to take a break from each other.

Sometimes all the situation needs is for some weird and slightly sleazy European to attach himself to you and start asking you all sorts of personal questions to make you forget whatever pithy argument you were in the middle of giving/getting the silent treatment for and instead haul arse to the train station to take shelter there while you wait the four hours for your train back to London…

(This may or may not have happened to us.)

11. JUST TRAVEL.

Go. See the world. See things. Take it all in. Don’t wait for a more convenient time. Do it while you’re young and stupid enough to enjoy being in mild levels of danger and getting drunk at five o’clock and eating stuff that will give you the runny shits for a week and staying up all night talking philosophy to people you just met.

Write Tribe

There and back again. Marriage to Un-Marriage.

How do you know when a relationship is over?

When you know you can live, quite happily, without the other person as part of your life. It’s a simple answer but the most telling one.

How do you deal with it? That’s the bit I’ve spent the last few years trying to work out.

Even before we got married, I knew things weren’t right. I’d known for a long, long time but I thought it was normal. It was shit that everyone felt one time or another, right? No one is perfect. There is no perfect marriage or partnership. But being terminally optimistic (or fatalistic) about such things, I thought being married would bring us closer together; make us happier.

It didn’t. Nothing changed. If anything, things gradually got worse.

For me, the beginning of the end was a brief conversation about whether I was attractive. I was told I “wasn’t… unattractive”.

I kept waiting for a punchline that never, ever came.

The problem was me, right? Of course, that’s what I thought. Who makes a comment like that? Even if they didn’t “mean” it, there’s still some truth to it. I was hurt beyond speaking – fuck, beyond breathing – as I realised that there was to be no laughing “Just kidding!” to follow.

Clearly the problem was me.

It started a spiral that was both downward and upward for me.

I started to take care of myself better – thinking that the problem was me. I lost 50kg – thinking that the problem was me. I started to dress better – thinking that the problem was me.

It was never him. I wasn’t prepared to shift the blame onto him. It had to be me. I had all this rage because I was the problem and didn’t know how to properly deal with it.

When we had a massive fight, it was me who was sent to counseling – and I went, thinking that the problem was me.

The end goal was to be a better, more lovable/likeable me.

So I changed physically and emotionally. I learned to breathe and let things go. To compromise – always compromise and convince myself that whatever I had to compromise on wasn’t important, totally putting aside the fact that my thoughts and feelings were important and valid too. Did it change anything at home? Nope.

And in the three years (from 2011) all that took, I came to the realisation that IT. WASN’T. ME.

I was reacting to the problem, not creating it.

(I realise belatedly this was the stuff my therapist had alluded to. Funny how hindsight is remarkably clear.)

The confidence that came with losing weight meant that I could walk down the street and look people in the eye and know that I was worth so much more than what I was given credit for. I had a brain. I had skill. Fuck, I was even pretty. I was perfectly fine as a human being.

I suddenly got tired of watching all of our friends working as units; well-oiled marriage machines that managed to keep their shit together and even love each other at the same time, and wondering why I didn’t have that. I watched my employers scream at each other (I work for three husband/wife teams) one second but be cuddling in the next second and actually addressing what was wrong and doing something to fix it but couldn’t even convince my own husband that putting empty toilet rolls in the bin was a Good Idea.

After the disastrous Christmas of 2014 when I needed support from the one who was supposed to be closest to me – who had chosen that period of two weeks to give me the cold shoulder because of a fight the week before – I knew I had to face the reality that things weren’t working. More importantly, I had to deal with the infinitely more guilty realisation that I didn’t want them to work anymore.

I wanted out.

(And before anyone rails the benefits of couples counseling and all that stuff at me, I have to tell you now that no counseling in the world will work when both parties aren’t committed to the process. And I was not and am not committed to that process. Deal with it.)

Cue a year of depression and hiding and eating… OMG, the eating.

I rediscovered my love of cake and chocolate and my affair with apathy was back in full swing.

Hello 20kgs. Nice to see you again. At least I’ll be slightly warmer this winter.

But anyway. The year wore on and time and time again I would finally decide that it was time to say something but I would chicken out. I knew I had to say something, and soon. My heart was flying off in a totally different direction at this stage.

Going to another wedding in January this year cemented it for me. It was painful, pretending to be happy while watching two friends who had been tip-toeing around each other for ages finally get married. The absolute adoration…

I was happy for them.

Sad for me. I was tired of being sad. I was tired of all lying and pretending that everything was fine and normal.

And the following week I spoke the words out loud, finally.

“I don’t want to be married anymore.”

And a new adventure begins.

Postscript: I still don’t blame him.

Truer words rarely spoken.
Truer words rarely spoken.

Goodbye 2015

This blog has been relatively quiet over the past twelve months that a “year in review” post seems a little unnecessary, but I’ll do it anyway.

2015 has been an interesting year. It’s been one of those years where it’s been mostly calm and serene on the surface but it’s been a flurry of emotional activity behind the scenes. I’m tired, emotionally drawn but grounded – most of the time.

In some ways I can count myself lucky. For many people around me there’s been horrific illness and tragedy. Some have made it out the other side while a couple have not. Some are still battling away, bless ’em.

This year has seen a few blessings in my life. New friends, new family, new creative obsessions endeavours.

My niece was born and has been bringing us much entertainment for the past ten months.

After a year’s worth of fairly constant misery with my Vectra’s electrics which not even Holden could properly diagnose without having to redo the wiring throughout the entire vehicle, I finally traded the jalopy in for a nifty little Bitsaremissing (aka Mitzubishi) Lancer which zips around the place like a ride-on mower on speed. I will admit that I miss the European luxury and the smooth drive of the Vectra – when it was working – but nothing beats a car that actually keeps running when you slow down to go around a corner…

If you’ve recently bought a Vectra in the past 6 months… I’m sorry.

I discovered colouring books. Yeah, the whole world-wide phenomenon of colouring has bit me hard and I’ve gone unashamedly nuts with it.

(I now own 397 colouring books…)

(Not quite the exaggeration you might think that number is, trust me.)

(I DO own over 400 colouring pencils and markers…)

(Hey, I could be smoking again. I consider this a win. And this is actually cheaper than buying nail polish every week.)

My mother and aunt and I finalised our overseas trip next year. I will be meeting them both in Munich (MUNICH!) in late August and we will be heading south into Austria to travel the countryside and get our tourist on before landing in Vienna to meet family I haven’t seen since I was three years old and I recently realised I really need to learn German. I know “danke” (thank you) and “löffel” (spoon) and a smattering of swear words… that’s it.

So unless I want to be the clueless Austrian version of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy and communicate a million nuances with just those two words, I need to learn all the Germans.

So yeah, things have been pretty good in that respect. I have stuff to look forward to. I have things to keep me occupied. I have people who love me and whom I love to the moon and back.

And then there’s the stuff that I am looking forward to as much as anyone could look forward to having a root canal done… on their birthday… with no anesthetic… while Justin Bieber croons in the background. I might post about that in a few months time. Maybe. Or not.

Next year will be about change, I can promise that.

And hopefully I’ll write a little more. Because I miss you guys.

In any case, I hope everyone who reads this has a lovely Christmas and New Year, however you choose to celebrate it.

Catch ya on the flip side.

Of Gods and the Godless

The current goings-on in the world are wearying, aren’t they? I always feel an odd sort of exhaustion any time something horrible happens in the name of someone’s omnipotent being called God (or one of His many other names). It’s a weird reaction to have. Most people are terrified or angry. I’m just tired. The tiredness comes from the constant waiting for something else to happen. Expectation of the proverbial muck that is going to hit the rotary blades.

The bombings in Beirut, Nigeria and Paris in recent weeks have been fucking overwhelming for me and I will freely admit that a little of the terror creeps in at the sides of that tiredness. In that small admission, I guess the bad guys are winning. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about.

A few months ago, I had a conversation with my nephew about God. I can’t even remember why. He ended up telling me about this weird class that his friends were taking.

For whatever her reasons, my sister had the Peanut baptised but is putting him through the public school system where religious education is not part of the regular curriculum. It’s a special class my sister can give permission for him to take.

As a result, the Peanut doesn’t know God. He doesn’t understand anything about the Creator. More over, he doesn’t understand the concept of a higher power at all. God, Allah, Buddha, the Flying Spaghetti Monster… it’s all alien to him. He doesn’t get it and kids like him have no idea why the world is looking down the barrel of what I think will be WWIII – The Religious War.

Back story…

Both my sister and myself were put through the Catholic school system from Prep to (in my case) year 12. From the age of 5-ish, we were taught Faith. We learned about God, Jesus, Mary. We know all the major stories from the Bible. We went through the major ceremonies to cement our membership and ensure our spot on the right side of the Pearly Gates. (So long as we behave ourselves – there’s always that caveat.)

So now… the God question.

To me, God just… is. That’s what Faith is. Inexplicable and fucking insane belief in something that has never been proven and of which there is very little evidence apart from a book of stories written by several different people and translated umptymillion times for the past 2000 years.

PLEASE don’t mistake me for being a Bible-thumping churchie – clearly I am not. Nor are the rest of my family – my parents put us through the Catholic system because they thought the education system was better in such schools. (Pro tip: It’s not.) And my schools were progressive in that while they taught the Word, they also taught stuff like science. Real science. (Like, no, humankind as we are today did NOT walk hand-in-claw with the dinosaurs and that the world was most likely created via the Big Bang and did not actually materialise magically within the universe over a period of seven days.)

But faith. It’s there. I can’t help it. I have it, as disillusioned with it as I may be.

But “it just IS” is not an adequate explanation for those who haven’t been indoctrinated from an early age (or birth) and have absolutely zero experience.

Of course this brings me right back to my initial comment. How do you go about explaining to a kid who has no concept of Life After Death (though he seems to know what ghosts are – probably due to the copious amounts of horror films he’s watched from behind a couch when he should have been in bed) that those nasty people over there in that other country are murdering people in the name of their Invisible Friend because their Invisible Friend is better than our Invisible Friend?

Yeah, it sounds as stupid as it actually is.

I really don’t blame him for the look he gave me.

Yep. This look.
Yep. This look.

Mountanish inhumanity. A literary response to the refugee crisis.

From the play, “Sir Thomas More”, written by Shakespeare (and others) Act 2, Scene 4.

LINCOLN.
Sheriff More speaks; shall we hear Sheriff More speak?

DOLL.
Let’s hear him. ’A keeps a plentyful shrievaltry, and ’a made my brother Arthur Watchins Seriant Safes yeoman. Let’s hear Sheriff More.

ALL.
Sheriff More, More, More, Sheriff More!

MORE.
Even by the rule you have among yourselves,
Command still audience.

ALL.
Surrey, Surrey! More, More!

LINCOLN.
Peace, peace, silence, peace.

GEORGE.
Peace, peace, silence, peace.

MORE.
You that have voice and credit with the number
Command them to a stillness.

LINCOLN.
A plague on them, they will not hold their peace; the dual cannot rule them.

MORE.
Then what a rough and riotous charge have you,
To lead those that the dual cannot rule?—
Good masters, hear me speak.

DOLL.
Aye, by th’ mass, will we, More. Th’ art a good housekeeper, and I thank thy good worship for my brother Arthur Watchins.

ALL.
Peace, peace.

MORE.
Look, what you do offend you cry upon,
That is, the peace. Not one of you here present,
Had there such fellows lived when you were babes,
That could have topped the peace, as now you would,
The peace wherein you have till now grown up
Had been ta’en from you, and the bloody times
Could not have brought you to the state of men.
Alas, poor things, what is it you have got,
Although we grant you get the thing you seek?

GEORGE.
Marry, the removing of the strangers, which cannot choose but much advantage the poor handicrafts of the city.

MORE.
Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another.

DOLL.
Before God, that’s as true as the Gospel.

LINCOLN.
Nay, this is a sound fellow, I tell you. Let’s mark him.

MORE.
Let me set up before your thoughts, good friends,
On supposition; which if you will mark,
You shall perceive how horrible a shape
Your innovation bears.
First, ’tis a sin
Which oft the apostle did forewarn us of,
Urging obedience to authority;
And ’twere no error, if I told you all,
You were in arms against your God himself.

ALL.
Marry, God forbid that!

MORE.
Nay, certainly you are;
For to the king God hath his office lent
Of dread, of justice, power and command,
Hath bid him rule, and willed you to obey;
And, to add ampler majesty to this,
He hath not only lent the king his figure,
His throne and sword, but given him his own name,
Calls him a god on earth. What do you, then,
Rising ’gainst him that God himself installs,
But rise against God? What do you to your souls
In doing this? O, desperate as you are,
Wash your foul minds with tears, and those same hands,
That you like rebels lift against the peace,
Lift up for peace, and your unreverent knees,
Make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!
Tell me but this. What rebel captain,
As mutinies are incident, by his name
Can still the rout? Who will obey a traitor?
Or how can well that proclamation sound,
When there is no addition but a rebel
To qualify a rebel? You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in line,
To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,—
Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used?

This is the strangers’ case;

And this your mountanish inhumanity.

Isn’t it funny that even 500 odd years ago, we were talking about the same problems and behaving in much the same way?

The End of an Era

Sometimes you just have to admit that you’ve lost the interest and motivation with something that used to bring you joy. The thing you once loved is now the monkey on your back.

So it is that blogging has become that for me. This has been coming for ages. I’ve tried to find things to keep me interested in posting, thought that I could maybe monetise the blog a little (this was vaguely successful as I was part of a few awesome campaigns) and win back some readers at the same time. But there’s no real point if I’ve got nothing to say and certainly nothing I want to share with the world at large any more. As it is, there are actually huge changes afoot in my life but to share them here would be damaging and unfair to those involved.

Fact of the matter is that I am far too lazy to pursue it any more. I am not a “mummy blogger”, I do not want to sell my soul to do product reviews, I’m not a travel writer, I’m not a regular crafter. I’ve lost my writing voice. I’m just not inspired. I’m actually infuriated with what mainstream blogging has become.

I blogged before blogging was a profession and something to milk for cash and free stuff. I’m sad that I tried to make that what I wanted too.

Having said that, I love instagram and I’ve developed a new taste for tumblr. I’ve had a tumblr blog for ages but really only used my account to look at other people’s tumblr blogs. So that’s pretty much where you’ll find me. I want to post pictures, photographs I’ve taken, all that good stuff. I think the format is better there. I’ve also got a massive following on my Pinterest account.

So… Important links:

Pinterest
Instagram
Tumblr

What will become of Renlish? I don’t know. I’m keeping it for the time being. I might just switch it to the photoblog I always said I would like and keep it simple.

Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Renlish.com - Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Hyperthyroidism in CatsDo you have a cat who is starting to look a little thinner, a little greyer, a little unkempt? Is he or she starting to demand food constantly – not in that annoying “I’m a cat” way but in a weird, desperate sort of way? Is he or she drinking a lot? Throwing up for seemingly no reason? Chances are your cat may be suffering from Hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism in cats is not unlike that in humans. It is the increased production of thyroid hormones in the thyroid glands and sadly, it’s becoming increasingly common in our moggies, particularly as they get older. Thyroid hormones, among other things, causes a cat’s metabolic rate to go into overdrive and burn energy way too quickly resulting in often dramatic weight loss, even if you give in to your cat’s complaints and feed it more. As I found out, it can also make your cat extremely ill in other ways.

I knew something was up with Bindi initially when, a few years ago, she started throwing up. Now I am used to both of my cats’ regular upchucking. Dugite and Bindi do it with aplomb but this wasn’t right.

For Bindi not to be hungry, there had to be something wrong. And as she wasn’t hungry, she wasn’t eating much and so she was throwing up nothing but clear bile. This carried on for a couple of days, steadily getting worse until she was refusing to eat and drink at all.

Renlish.com - Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Hyperthyroidism in Cats
“Nope.”
We monitored her for about 24 hours once we realised we actually had a problem that wasn’t just the regular “cat’s a bit crook” thing before I took her to the vets. She was in a bad way. Severely dehydrated and exhausted, her little body was suffering. She was immediately put on a drip and kept overnight for observation. Clearly there was something wrong with her stomach (or so we thought) but we couldn’t tell what it was.

Several appointments and dollars later we ended up having an ultrasound and a small biopsy done. The results were inconclusive. She may be suffering from an infection or she may have have had an obstruction or she may have stomach cancer. Ugh. The only way to check was to do a full depth biopsy. That meant opening my little kitten up. That was simply a no-go. I wasn’t about to put my frail little puss-puss through that.

While the stomach issue was still a mystery at this point, after the multitude of blood tests and examinations we put her through it was determined that Bindi was also extremely hyperthyroid and was given medication to treat it.

Renlish.com - Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Hyperthyroidism in Cats
At the vet. Again.

There are a few ways of treating the condition. Methimazole in tablet and gel form are the two most common ways of treating hyperthyroidism in cats, but this medication needs to be given multiple times a day for the rest of their lives which is understandably a huge commitment to take on.

Unfortunately neither of these sorts of medications agreed with Bindi because she threw the tablets up due to the sensitive stomach and the gel, while it initially worked, started to lose it’s effectiveness and the dose needed to be increased – and there’s only so much gel you can rub into a cat’s ears!

When my vet initially suggested the radioactive iodine treatment for Bindi, I was horrified – both at the cost and the idea of the procedure. It sounded full-on and a thousand or so dollars is not small change for most people, I totally get that. But given how much money we were spending on regular blood tests and medication and vet appointments, that’s pretty much a year’s worth of medical bills for a single cat right there.

While Bindi was an ideal candidate for the treatment, there is another thing you need to consider when investigating this as an option for your cat.

Renlish.com - Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Hyperthyroidism in Cats
And again.

Hyperthyroidism can often mask other issues in older cats, in particular kidney disease. Their systems are working so fast to keep up with the thyroid production that all the organs are affected. Once the thyroid is treated, the system slows down again to a normal rate and as such, the kidneys also slow down. Sometimes this return to a more normal pace causes problems if the kidneys are no longer working well on their own anyway. Your vet will arrange a full set of bloods to check that your cat is otherwise in good health prior to treatment.

The radioactive iodine treatment itself is very simple. As it involves radioactive material, it needs to be done in a specialist centre (your vet can refer you onto a specialist) that has the proper facilities in which to carry out the procedure.

In most cases, the specialist will sedate the cat and induce it to swallow a capsule. In some cases, the iodine is injected directly under the skin.

As the thyroid is the only organ in the body that needs iodine, nature is allowed to take it’s course and the radioactive iodine targets the thyroid, thus killing the cells producing the thyroid hormone. No other organs or glands are affected.

That’s it.

Renlish.com - Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Hyperthyroidism in Cats
“Mum? Mum? MUM?!”

The only thing now is to wait for the all-clear from the vet that your cat is safe to bring home. Any treatment requiring radiation means that there are significant dangers of radiation poisoning to people as well. That means your cat has to stay in isolation until they are no longer radioactive. In my case, Bindi was in isolation for seven full days until she was safe to bring home again and even then I was only allowed limited contact with her for a further week.

(Bindi put paid to this idea very quickly. My future hypothetical children may very well be mutants.)

Since having this done it’s like we’ve returned to the Bindi of five or six years ago. Fat, happy and slightly (ok, very) neurotic instead of skinny, bloated, stressed, sick and… yes… still neurotic. Would I do it again if my other cat fell ill? In a heartbeat. And as it turned out, the horrendous vomiting turned out to be part of the hyperthyroidism and we haven’t had a chuck in months apart from a hairball or three.

I have NEVER been so happy to clean up hairballs in my life.

Renlish.com - Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Cuddles with a much healthier Bindi

I seriously cannot thank Animal Accident & Emergency enough for the way that they looked after my Bindi-boo this time around and all the other times over the years that I’ve rushed to them with my sick kitten.  I was kept up to date from start to finish. Dr Abraham is a fantastic, knowledgeable and personable specialist and is a real “cat person” too. I was very comfortable leaving Bindi to her care and that of the awesome nurses at the centre.

Radioactive Iodine Pros & Cons

Cons:

  • It’s expensive.
  • It’s not without the usual risks that come with sedating  animals.
  • It can result in the opposite condition. (Hypothyroidism)
  • In younger cats, the condition may reappear after about 5-7 years and the procedure may have to be done again.
  • It may not completely work the first time around.
  • It may unmask other issues such as kidney disease.

Pros:

  • Successful results are mostly permanent for older cats.
  • One time cost pays for itself over the remaining life of the animal if it is in good health.
  • Benefits and improvement in quality of life are almost immediate (from my experience).
  • No daily medications to remember!
  • No added stress (for you or your cat) of blood tests every few months.
  • No ongoing specialist bills!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet. I am an animal lover and I am very attached to my pets. This post is based on my own experiences and the information I was given and researched. ALWAYS consult your vet if you think something is wrong with your pet.

20 Things about Ren

1. In 2009 I had my gall bladder taken out. Because I was so fat at the time, the surgeon didn’t take much care with how he sewed up the holes he made and as a result, my belly button is inaccessible.

2. I used to self-harm as a youngster. I have scars.

3. My favourite gemstone is Labradorite.

4. I cannot stand watching a television series the old way anymore. I need to binge-watch from the first episode to the last. Unfortunately this often leads to me wanting to kill people who will not shut up about what’s happening in a show as it’s being aired week by week.

5. I have a Reverse Bucket List – it contains the stuff that I have done as opposed to the stuff I want to do, because why pine about stuff you’ll never really get to do in life?

6. I hate exercise.

7. I have embraced “The Selfie” and take many of them for myself and others. They help remind me that I am not an ugly person. Sticks and stones break bones, but words scar for life. I lived for way too long thinking I was ugly because that’s what people told me.

Renlish.com - Selfies

8. I can’t eat bread anymore without feeling sick – but I’m not gluten intolerant.

9. I think the kerfuffle over raw eggs is fucking ridiculous. I eat raw cookie dough that has egg in it and have done so since forever. My mother used to give me raw eggs at my request – and yes, I would eat them. I clearly haven’t died from it.

10. I don’t understand how people like the taste of fizzy drinks.

11. My favourite sort of wine is late harvest white. It’s sweet and flavourful rather than tasting like…. well… fermented grapes.

12. I am a major procrastinator. I am writing this list instead of doing stuff like feeding my cats and doing my laundry…

13. I haven’t ironed anything in YEARS and totally judge people who iron stuff like sheets and underwear.

14. I am addicted to popping candy.

15. I am VERY addicted to The Sims 4. (And I promise Sims Saturday will return.)

16. I am not very good at keeping up with my friends but my friends know who they are and that I would be there with a shovel if any of them needed help in hiding a body.

17. I want children but I am pathologically afraid of and disgusted by pregnancy.

18. I will be a Crazy Cat Lady in my twilight years.

19. I believe that the human race is not inherently monogamous and we are all capable of having many great loves – and not necessarily one at a time.

20. I am addicted to French Bulldog accounts on Instagram. They are the cutest dogs ever.