Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Fair Isabella

She was born on my bed. It was awkward.

Jack, aka The Cat Whisperer, is used to all the family's felines glomming onto him like a giant fur blanket. But even he was unprepared for Squishy's devotion. One day, she was lying next to him on the bed, stretched along his forearm, with both arms wrapped around his elbow, when he felt an odd firmness in her abdomen. "Hey, Dear! Come quick; I think she's in labor!"

And so she was. All over his side of the bed. When efforts to move her failed, we got a bunch of towels to put under her, trying to preserve the dignity of our comforter as much as we could. Good thing it was burgundy to start with. 

Before you know it, two little bullets were deposited onto the bed, one white, one black. The white one was dead the next morning, leaving little Isabella the sole recipient of all the kitten love in the house. As soon as she could walk, she figured out how to climb up onto the bed - Jack's side, of course - and curl up. Once in a ball, she was only about the size of an orange, and we were terrified we'd crush her in our sleep. She solved that problem by sleeping across Jack's neck. 

As she grew, she became the darling of all but 2 of the bigger cats. Elsie took the longest to win over, but even her fortified heart was at last conquered. Here is Isabella helping Elsie with a favorite pastime, on the last day of last year.

From the time she was a few months old, she was quite sick several times, needing to take antibiotics and still not doing super great. But one Friday afternoon about 3 weeks ago, she walked into my room, her hind legs not quite walking like they were supposed to. A long story and several vet bills later, we found out that she has FIP, Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It's a virus that attacks white blood cells, and there's no cure. 

Cheerful in spite of her death sentence, Isabella flopped from one part of the house to the next, still hanging out with all her big buddies, not only the other cats, but Clancy, too. She was too weak to jump off the bed without getting hurt, so she could no longer sleep with me. Many nights, I put Wannabe, our oldest tomcat, in with her for company. He's a good momma cat, and curled up with her so sweetly so she wouldn't be lonely. 

Finally, a couple nights ago, she was too weak to move around, and I let her sleep next to me, blocked in with a body pillow. Before long, she had tucked herself under the covers, draped over my shoulder like she always used to. Potto decided she was rather lacking in cleanliness, and did his best to change that.

Yesterday morning, Bella was still sitting up eating her food enthusiastically. By nightfall, her kidneys had almost entirely shut down, and she was almost gone. I was shocked that she lived through the night, and even more surprised that she's still sleeping quietly next to me as I write this. When she opens her eyes, she's not happy till she sees that I'm there with her. The kids are helping me make sure she's never alone when she wakes. 

Soon, probably later today or tomorrow, our precious Bella will leave us. Till then, we'll be right here. Watching over her. Making sure she knows how much we love her. Letting her fall asleep in peace.

Sweet dreams, little Bella. We'll see you again.

3 Days Ago

Friday, March 7, 2014

P90G - Weeks 7B-13A, B, and C

At long, long last, P90G has come to an end. By the time I got done repeating numerous weeks due to illnesses and tragedy (the kids’ grandpa on Jack’s side of the family died unexpectedly of liver failure), it was considerably longer than 90 days. At times, it was considerably divergent from Gentle, too.
I mentioned that for the last section, I would be making some adjustments to add some difficulty to my workouts. One of those was to phase out Air Pullups, and do Almost-real Pullups. Frankly, Air Pullups were hard enough at first. I’m now up to 8 Almost-real Pullups per set, with one toe on a chair to give a bit of a boost. (With legs the consistency of pudding by that part of the workout, it’s not as much of a boost as you might expect.) Anyway, the P90X guy said that was ok, so technically it’s not cheating.
This last change gave rise to a new event in the Feline Olympics. You already know about the Swinging Leg Dive, where the contestants wait until I’m mid-kick before trying to dart between my legs without getting hurled across the room. I've nearly perished more than once as my flying foot met fur instead of floor.
While Jack was home, he got to see the Double Shoulder Balance Lounge, where Jax stepped onto my back while I was doing a sad imitation of pushups, draping himself across my shoulders. Let me tell you, having a tubby tabby aboard increases the difficulty level quite a bit.
The new event is the Screaming Death Pullup. Damon’s enormous fluffy gray cat, Potto, is the only contender. Potto’s favorite hangout is atop the pullup bars. He lies along them, paws hanging down leopard-style, and beach ball belly hanging down sumo wrestler style. A gray sumo leopard.  If you watch all the way to the end of thisclip of Rollin’ Safari, you’ll see a leopard that looks just like Potto. Actually, most of the animals look like Potto in one way or another. 
How this works: Potto, aka The Silver Bullet, dashes across the room, vaulting neatly onto the pullup bars, and then ravages the hand invading his domain. He seems to be playing, but for a cat of his size, playing feels a lot like falling down the garbage disposal. Here I can’t even do a pullup with two hands, and Potto is already trying to motivate to use only one. Be very glad he’s not your personal trainer.
Potto as a Baby
Another interesting change was that, at the same time I got my cute little workout outfits, I also got cute little weights. Pink ones. They’re only 3lbs each, but 3lbs is more than 0lbs. Lifting something besides air totally revved things up, though not as much as if I’d used pasta sauce cans like Tina.

P90X Guy: I’m grabbin’ my 40 pounders. What about you?
Amazingly Musclebound Man (with a hint of a sneer): I’ve got my 50’s.
Trim and Beautiful Woman: 30’s for me!
Me: THREES, OKAY??????? AND THAT’S PLENTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No, I’m not ready to post “after” pictures yet. I feel hugely better, and my overall health has already improved noticeably, but the 5 lbs I lost (without trying to lose weight—I’m only trying to get strong and fit, with weight loss being a happy byproduct over time) don’t make a visible difference yet. Let me just assure you that there are some muscles getting toned underneath the layers of fat.
What’s next?  Well, I’m already a week into P90M, with M for Medium. That means I’m working out for 30 minutes a day instead of 20—a 50% increase! Did it make a difference? Well, by Day 2, I couldn’t walk or lift my arms again. And Plyometrics, that fearsome jump training workout…don’t ask me how this works, but 30 minutes of Plyo comes out to exactly twice as long as 20 minutes.
The first Sunday after school gets out, I’m going to take the plunge to full-out P90X. Once that’s over, if I can still get out of bed, I’m going to do a totally different exercise program for a while.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s this. Exercise isn’t the good china, that you only use once in a while on special occasions—it’s a way of life. So eat well, exercise hard, and feel great! And someday you, too, might be able to almost do a pullup. Just like me.