Saturday, February 23, 2013

Goodbye, Q-tip!

And just like that, Q-tip left us on Friday morning. After a couple of days of home care, when she seemed to be doing better than at the hospital, she suddenly took a turn for the worse. She was refusing food again and later on, her body started rejecting the food that was already inside her.

By morning, she was severely depleted and no longer responding to stimulus. At this point, it was clear that nothing more could be done. We mutually opted to have her euthanized at the vet. It was a decision we'd been hoping to avoid as long as possible, but time just wasn't on our side.

Goodbye, Q-tip! Rest well!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The invalid

Just so you know, home-care for invalid pets isn't easy. Woke up at 6 am today, didn't leave for work until 8. Either we wake up earlier, or find a more efficient routine. Let's see what the sequence was today:

Took Q-tip to the pee pan -- success
Made Maui's water-diluted special formula food and fed cats -- success
Wife made Q-tip's water-diluted special formula food (not the same as Maui's) -- success
Helped Wife feed Q-tip, alternating between laps of water and food -- success
Fed Q-tip heart meds -- took a number of attempts but she finally swallows half-pill (success)
Helped Wife remove Q-tip's dressings -- bandages stuck to skin and fur causing distress (fail)
Helped Wife re-dress Q-tip's bedsores -- looked like a neat job but dressing slips, exposing wound (fail)
Q-tip threw up entire breakfast -- probably put too much pressure on her stomach holding her still (FAIL)
Helped Wife remove failed dressing and redress wound -- success
Helped re-feed Q-tip breakfast -- due to previous trauma, she didn't eat much (limited success)
Washed Q-tip's feeding dish -- success
Cleared cats' sandbox -- success
Got ready for work -- success
Dosed self with personal meds -- success
Discovered Maui vomit (he's the only cat who eats formula, remember?) and cleaned up -- success
Staggered out of house to go to work -- success

Because of Q-tip's bedsores, Wife got her a soft foam neck-rest that allows us to immobilize her on her back or on either side. We just have to keep turning her over throughout the day to avoid making her wounds any worse. Good news is that Q-tip's eating and drinking on her own again. Bad news is that her bedsores look slightly bigger than they did yesterday, maybe due to poor dressing removal technique. Seriously considering taking her back to Kasey every other day for professional assistance instead of DIY.

Also so you know, although she looks insanely happy in the photo, she isn't really. That's just how her face is. Poor little dog.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Home-care for Q-tip

Q-tip is home from the hospital for a round of home care. That would involve syringe-feeding her small amounts of food over the course of the day and administering her meds and a sub-cutaneous drip twice a day. To work the drip, we have to poke a small needle into the scruff of her neck then suspend the bottle until the fluid reaches the next mark. Rinse, repeat with a new needle once more later in the day.

This complication is necessary as she won't eat or drink, yet she needs her nutrition or else her condition will deteriorate faster. Fortunately, when we got her home, she started drinking again -- big laps of water and even some milk from her water dish. At least if she's voluntarily hydrating herself, she won't require the drips and that saves us one painful step twice a day.

Oh, the other thing we have to do is turn her over every few hours to keep her from getting bedsores. Yup, her joints are stiff with arthritis and so she has a lot of trouble even maintaining a sitting position, let alone being mobile enough to shift position even if she was uncomfortable.

At this stage, the prognosis of recovery is narrowing with each passing day. The best we can do for her right now is to keep her as comfortable as possible over the next couple of days while we figure out a care-routine that will work for her. But as long as she still has a spark in her eyes, we're not giving up on her.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Don't cry for me, Sergeant Tina

One day, I ran off to join the circus and when I came back, part of the circus came back with me. Back then, I was young, energetic and didn't know what I wanted; but I knew what I didn't want: to live according to the usual cycle of drudgery that everyone else seemed destined to live.

What I had to offer was mime. Learning the discipline as a church activity, occasionally taking it out onto the streets (it helped me establish some common ground with my more hellfire-and-brimstone bent brethren), and later honing the craft in an undergrad elective course, it became a crucial aspect in getting my early life back on track again. Through mime, I learned that I didn't have to be good at everything -- I just had to be good in one thing, and then everything else will fall into place around that thing. That thing for me just happened to be mime.

So when I joined the circus, you could have called me a practiced hand already. I joined on a whim, because I knew someone who knew someone who was holding free after-hours classes. I needed the exercise and an excuse to maintain my muscle memory and because working the arts scene was... a different life, here in S'pore almost two decades ago.

Where there is a circus, there is a ringmaster. Tina held centre-ring for us in Mime Unlimited. Beyond the exercises and skills training which she led us in, she encouraged all of us to train each other with what we ourselves had learned from whatever our backgrounds were. We threw in a little yoga, Pilates, Alexander, and later on some of us learned ever more exotic techniques of movement theatre and passed them on to our pool of performers.

Our pool comprised many, like myself who had full-time jobs by day but found time to train, rehearse and perform whenever we could; while many others joined the local professional theatre scene in one capacity or another in time. You could say that Tina clearly had a personal hand in shaping theatre in S'pore with so many current professionals having either trained under her or worked with her at some point in their careers.

So although I joined her merry little band of itinerant mimes with some skillz, Tina opened my eyes to the production aspect of theatre. Working with her on a number of productions showed me that the magic of theatre rested on the hard work of every crew, every talent, every hand working together, coordinated, organized and tick-tock, and yet being prepared for the unexpected because every show is not like any other. Some of us would give 110% to the production, which was great, but Tina could also find a use for those who could only give 20% as long as they gave 100% of their 20%. That kind of welcome valued every contribution and made everyone involved proud to be in the production.

Apart from working on the 'now' of producing shows, she was also very interested in preparing for the future. She played a big part in Drama Education. In the early days, we took shows into the schools. Later we started training school-based drama CCAs and helping them produce their own productions... and that's about the time I left the circus and brought it with me to my current place of employment where I'm doing all I can to carry on what Tina started in building into a new generation a love for theatre, whether as audience members or as contributors in one way or another... or at the very least, to give kids who might never have an opportunity to have a taste of what magic theatre has to offer once, even if they never go back to it again.

And now with Tina's sudden passing, the whole of our country's theatre and arts industry is going to feel the enormity of the vacuum she's left behind. We'll go into a period of shock and sadness for a while. But if Tina's done her job like I know she has, she's already trained a fantastic group of people and influenced many others in such a positive way that we're going to pick up the torch she's been holding up for us all this time and continue running in her place because it's now really our torch to carry.

I'd say this little island owes much more the this crazy American lady (who became as S'porean as any of us) that many of its inhabitants will ever know. Director, teacher, mentor, friend... and in many ways the indirect influence behind many things that have gone right in my life whether she knows it or not, at least this little islander does.

Till we meet again, peace out, Tina!