A Letter From Isolation


Writer's Life / Friday, May 8th, 2020

Hi. How are you doing? How loud is isolation-insanity knocking on your tightly bolted doors?

I’m alright. I mean, I did decide to cut my own hair and give myself bangs. It went well. Self-isolating is how I got through college since I didn’t have the money to afford a social life. Plus, since we just moved to Indiana and hadn’t explored much before hunkering down, you could say I have no idea what I’m missing out there.

Besides, there’s plenty to keep me busy inside. Like baking every weekend. I’ve made six loaves of bread so far, I think. Lots of made-from-scratch-waffles (actually, thanks to Chuck Wendig for introducing me to my new favorite waffle recipe). And a disastrous batch of scones. Oh, and 48 cinnamon rolls. For just two people. I’m not even going to count the number of pizzas. Give it another day or two and I’ll have some banana bread done, too.

A photo of freshly baked sourdough bread loaves and cinnamon rolls.
Behold the fruits of a single afternoon’s worth of labor! Beautiful, delicious sourdough everything.

I’ve been writing, too. Here and there. I’ll sit down on the weekends, blink, and magically have a couple chapters done. Also, several hours have gone by. Not sure if some mischievous creature is doing the writing for me while I catch up on my sleep or I have finally achieved Productive Writer Status and can write actual, coherent scenes without having to wait for my flaky jerk of a muse.

Now for the not-so-great part of isolation.

I spent the better part of April making lots of back and forth trips to our local VCA animal hospital. That’s still ongoing, but will hopefully be over with soon.

It started with Bianca throwing up. All cats do it, so nbd. Then she wouldn’t eat anything, which is kind of a problem since she’s diabetic and I can’t give her insulin shots if she doesn’t eat.

She stayed at the hospital for a week. Between barely sleeping and getting updates from the doctors at 6 a.m., I remember spending a lot of time crying. I couldn’t go in with her. Someone came to my car in the parking lot and took her away. As the days went on with few answers, the only comfort they could provide was telling me that I’d be allowed in if I had to say goodbye. It was a rough time to say the least.

Photo of a sick cat.
When Bianca first came home from the hospital, she couldn’t eat on her own. She mostly slept and needed to be carried from room to room.

But after a week, they sent her home with a feeding tube surgically attached to her neck. And lots of medications. The first problem: diabetic ketoacidosis, which we treated by feeding her a liquid diet through the tube. Every 6 hours.

Midnight, 6 a.m., noon, 6 p.m., midnight. Rinse, repeat.

After two weeks, she went back for a checkup. The DK cleared up, but it’s still unclear what caused it in the first place. The leading theory is some kind of yet-undiagnosed gastrointestinal problem. She’s on a prescription diet now that should keep her healthy.

Of course, even after she started eating well enough on her own, I still had to use the tube to administer her various medications. I think the primary ingredient in her special food is chicken liver. Everything smelled like chicken liver. Our kitchen, where I was liquefying it in the blender. The washing machine, where I had to keep washing rags I used to clean up the food syringes.

Me, of course. I smelled like chicken liver. I might still, but I can’t tell anymore. I’m part chicken liver now.

We had another unexpected visit to the vet earlier this week. See, Bianca hates collars of any kind. I explained to the vet that she will try to rip her own throat out with a regular collar on. Her feeding tube is held in place by a cloth collar.

Unsurprisingly, Bianca has taken to scratching at it. And a couple days ago, I came out of the shower to find she had got it all twisted and looked like she could have been choking.

I hope wrestling a sick cat while naked and soaked isn’t a sport somewhere. But if it is, I’d be good at it.

Her tube wasn’t moved too much, but enough to be uncomfortable. The doctor working that day got it all settled, sent Bianca home, and called the following day to check in. I’m back to losing sleep, just making sure she isn’t scratching at her neck.

Photo from behind of Amanda working in isolation at her computer while Bianca the cat lays in the desk drawer.
Trying to stay productive in isolation while also constantly keeping an eye on the cat. This is our new normal during work hours.

I go back and forth using a paper cone the vet sent home. On the upside, it keeps her from scratching. On the downside, she keeps walking into things and getting the edge of the cone in her litterbox and her food bowl.

There is good news, though. She’s scheduled to have her tube removed on Monday. I have no idea what my aftercare instructions will be. Probably still keeping her from bothering her sutures until they heal.

That’s all. April was terrible. There is a whole Thursday I don’t remember because I napped so hard when the sleep deprivation caught up to me. For all I know, tomorrow is actually June.

In the meantime, I’m considering ways to raise money to offset all the unexpected vet bills. Someone suggested a Go Fund Me page. Or I might put together a serialized story and let people subscribe to new chapters with a donation. I’m still exploring platforms to decide whether that’s a good option.

If you’d like to help with Bianca’s vet bills, you can head over to my Ko-Fi page and donate there.

Photo of a sleeping orange cat with a feeding tube attached to her neck.
Bianca thanks you for whatever help you can provide!

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