Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 68)

Murray threw up a couple of weeks ago. That’s not normal for him. It was alarming because it really shot out. I made a few phone calls and decided to keep a close eye on him before bringing him to the vet. I regret that decision now.

One of the things I tried was giving him fiber pills. I figured that maybe he had a blockage and maybe I could help move things along. I gave him a couple of pills with each meal and he stopped throwing up. Then we went away and Lisa took over. He made it through the weekend without incident. I thought we were in the clear.

While Em was napping last Thursday, Murray walked below my chair, stopped, and projectile vomited all over the floor. It was horrible. It scared the hell out of me. He began making a deep crying sound—he was in pain, the poor baby. I was positive he was dying. I’ve never seen a cat vomit like that! I felt horrible for him. He walked further into the apartment and continued to throw up. I knew there was a big problem.

I called the vet. She told me to bring him in immediately. I gathered up Emory, the diaper bag, his stroller, the cat carrier and Murray and headed down to the car. It was raining. The cat was howling. Em was confused. And if it weren’t for the adrenaline rush I got because of Murray, there’s no way I would have been able to pull off the next five hours.

We sat at the vet for an hour, watching dogs come and go. I tried to amuse Emory who continued to get more and more antsy. His quest was to destroy things. I can’t say that a blame him. We were sitting in a waiting room after all. I fed him lunch and read him a book. Murray sat there quivering the entire time. He was terrified.

When it was our turn, I told the vet what had happened. They immediately took and x-ray of his midriff and discovered two foreign bodies in his tummy. I felt so badly for him. I knew for a fact they had been there for a while. He was also running a fever. (Cats have an excellent way of hiding pain or sickness. I always act naive to this fact because I hate putting them through a vet visit. But there’s a good chance Murray was in pain for a while, or at least not feeling like his normal goofy self.)

We were told we had to go to the ER, which is in Cobble Hill, a section of Brooklyn where parking becomes a distant memory. (I’m going omit all complaining from this point forward about how difficult it was keeping a restless toddler from freaking out while dragging my sick cat all over Brooklyn. Sufficed to say, it was a really long day. But I won’t carry on about it. It happened, I had no other choice but to deal with it.)

The doctor was pretty sure, based on the projectile vomiting (as well the number of cases he’s seen like it), that they could extract the objects with an endoscopy. If they found the object had actually left the stomach and made their way into his intestines (was out of reach of the scope), he’d have to have surgery. (For those who wonder how much this costs, the scope ran into the thousands, surgery would have cost at least double what we ended up paying.)

Tobyjoe arrived in order to help out. I needed it. He took Em off my hands for a while so I could talk to the doctor and get our finances in order. We said our goodbyes to Murray and left for the night.

An hour later the doctor called to say that they had successfully removed the items—that one of the items was lodged in between the stomach and the small intestines and was almost just out of reach. Thankfully, they managed to get it out. Thankfully. Murray would have to stay overnight to be monitored, but we could get him the following morning.

I was happy to hear he was OK but I was a little sad as well.

You see, Murray is a shy boy. I’m not sure if I’ve ever really shared that side of him. He doesn’t act shy around us. But he’s shy. Whenever strangers stop by, he hides for hours. He buries his head in whatever pillow he can find. The most difficult part about his ordeal now that the item had been removed was knowing that the happiest and most naive cat I’d ever met (and also the happiest) would have to spend a night by himself and surrounded by strangers. I kept wondering if he’d be returned to us scathed and slightly more cynical than he was before—less happy.

When I picked him up late Friday evening, the woman who released him said that he refused to eat because he was one very scared little boy.

She said, “I went back there to talk to him and he was shivering.”

But he’s not cynical or forever scarred. He’s fine. He’s shaved, but he’s the same Myrtle Man. About 15 minutes after we arrived home, he was playing with Emory who managed to crawl inside the cat carrier.

Within an hour or two he was jumping up onto my lap begging for scritches. And he didn’t miss a beat when it came to stealing our food.

Yeah, everything is back to normal. Everyone is happy.

I think the hardest part for me (now that it’s all said and done) is that I can longer ignore the fact that our cat is overweight. They shaved him for the ultrasound and people, he’s fat. That’s all there is to it. Murray is fat. The fat rolls are so obvious, I’m almost embarrassed to put up a picture of him. (There are two photos that are just downright embarrassing. If he were human, he’d kick my ass for putting these online, so I’m going to upload the lesser of all the evils.)

Murray simply must go on a diet, and no more plastic either. Here are the actual contents that were removed from his belly.

To be honest, it’s not nearly as bad as I though. I would have guessed an entire baby rattle or squirter, a roll of paper towels, something much, much larger.

I imagine we’ll never be in the clear when it comes to Murray. He will continue to eat everything. We just have to be extra cautious. To some degree I think he prepared me for having a baby. Em tends to put things in his mouth as well. Needless to say, I’m constantly chasing creatures around our apartment wondering if they’ve eaten something other than last night’s floor pretzel, or a week old loaf of bread.

Get Your Paci? Go Night-Night?

Toby and I went to DC a few weeks ago. We knew we’d be doing a lot of driving and decided that it would be best if we left Em with my parents for a few days. On Thursday night we drove to South Jersey. We spent the night there and left early the following morning. We left Em behind.

Naturally, being away from him was hard, but it wasn’t nearly as hard as I had anticipated. He spent two nights with my parents, just two.

Why does the number of days matter? It matters because we’re pretty sure they replaced our child with an exact replica. Even my mother joked during a text message conversation we had last week. (The flow of the conversation is shown in reverse. Incidentally, does the iPhone do this as well?)

Emory hasn’t ever been a sleeper. He doesn’t like going to sleep. It takes a while for him to do so. And he doesn’t stay asleep for very long. We’ve grown used to it. We’ve gotten used to spending anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour trying to put him to sleep each night. (Naps have been easier for a while.)

Well, the first Friday he spent with my parents, he was down in five minutes. This is particularly funny to me because I warned my mother over and over again before we left that she’d have a lot of trouble putting him to bed. I apologized profusely in advance.

Saturday night rolled around and the same thing happened. He went to sleep without a peep. All they had to do to get him down was say, “Get your paci? Go night-night?” And he’d run off toward the stairs—actually run off toward bed!

I haven’t wanted to mention this to anyone for fear that I’ll jinx the sheer awesomeness of the situation. But the truth is, ever since he spent the night with my parents, all we’ve had to do to get him to go to sleep is say, “Get your paci? Go night-night?” And every time since his stay he’s run off to his bedroom. Sometimes he even grabs his crib and waits for one of us to lift him up. He’s done this twice per day (he’s down to one 2 to 3 hour nap) since we picked him up.

What happened at my parents house? It remains a mystery. But we’re not looking a gift horse in the mouth. If this particular baby is here to stay, we’re grateful for it.

But I’m not bragging. Because he still wakes up two or three times per night. Since he was born, we have yet to sleep through the night. I’m thinking another getaway is in order. Let’s see what grandma and grandpa can do for us in that department as well.

Wanted: Eye-cam For Tanya Vlach

Tanya Vlach was in an automobile accident back in 2005 and lost the sight in her left eye. She has had a glass eye ever since. Now she’s on a quest for an eye-cam. She is calling on all engineers to recreate her eye so it includes a webcam.

There are probably thousands of nerds working around the clock to get this done for her. And I’m guessing that within six months her (and whomever builds it for her) will be featured in Wired.

Naturally, I started daydreaming the moment I heard this. What if we lived in world where everything we saw was being recorded?

During the late 1800s, many people believed that the last image a person saw was forever burned on the person’s retina. Criminologists believed that by finding this image, they could find a person’s killer as well. Obviously, it didn’t work. (You also can’t tell everything about a person by the shape and size of his or her head, by the way.)

But how far off are we?

To some degree Tanya Vlach and her eye-cam concept touches upon that seemingly foolish 19th Century concept. Are we closer to living a “Minority Report” type of world? Is that necessarily a good things?

Have I just taken things a little too far while daydreaming?

To think what I could have done with all this time, I could have designed an eye-cam maybe.

Edited to add: Ever write something you think makes sense one day and then the following morning you’re like, “Dude, what the hell were you going on about?” Yeah, so that happened here. Forgive. No clue what took place here last night.

Murray Is At The ER

I spent the afternoon with a toddler in one hand and a sick kitty in the other. Murray apparently consumed a couple of foreign objects both of which are currently stuck in his tummy. He’s having said items removed via an endoscopy as I write this. We are admittedly worried and miss him greatly.

So, in order to take my mind off of his troubles, let’s talk about what Murray may have eaten. Your guess is as good as mine.

Update: I called to see when I could pick the little guy up and they won’t let me because he’s running a fever and they don’t know why. I am really bummed. I miss him so much.

Update 2: HOME! YAY! Shaved belly and the fat rolls are in full view. Pictures to come.

A Child's Portion Please

Last Christmas, Em received a Fisher Price glow worm. It plays children’s songs if you press its chest. It also lights up. He didn’t really care much for it back then. We played it for him and he would stare at it. We’d put it to bed with him at night just to keep him company. It was just something that made noise and lit up.

Then one day the batteries died. It laid dark and silent for months and months until recently when I pulled out a screwdriver and brought it back to life. I was so proud of myself! Not only did I NOT forget to buy a bunch of batteries, but I actually sat down one day and replaced the batteries to each and every toy that had died over time. (Parents-to-be: factor hundreds of dollars worth of batteries into your budgeting.)

Emory wasn’t nearly as pleased with my success, however. For reasons I may never come to understand, Em has decided that Mr. Glow Worm is the scariest thing ever. I wish I were exaggerating this point, but the mere sight of this small plastic, legless creature makes him lose his mind. His face fills with terror, actual terror. The glow worm triggers a part of his brain that spits back “FEAR”.

The first time it happened, we thought maybe he was just tired—maybe he had just seen a long day. So we kept it around for a bit. But then two days ago, when I put him down for a nap, I realized that it wasn’t his mood at all, it was the glow worm itself.

About an hour and half into his nap, I heard blood curdling screams coming from his bedroom. I was certain something terrible had taken place. I dropped everything I was doing and ran like hell into his bedroom. I found him standing upright and rigid in his crib, silently screaming. He pointed down at the glow worm, which I had stupidly placed in his crib (like I had done in the past). Tears streamed down his face. His lip quivered. And I hate to admit this next part, but if it hadn’t obviously freaked him out so much, it would have been really quite hilarious.

That’s not the only creature that invokes terror in our little boy. Balloo is guilty of it as well.

Em loves watching Elizabeth Balzano sing songs and play guitar on the show Bounce. He smiles when he hears her voice. I think he may have a crush on her. But as soon as it’s time for bed and Balloo appears, he completely freaks out. Again, this would be hilarious if it weren’t so terrifying for him. I think the funniest part about Balloo making his bedtime debut is how we act. As soon as she starts singing the goodbye song, one or the both of us sprint to the remote control in order to turn it off.

Yesterday, as I stuffed the glow worm into a box and sealed it shut, something occurred to me. I was afraid of everything when I was a child—ghosts and monsters and all things make believe. Tobyjoe had real fears to contend with and every time I hear him talk about his childhood, my heart breaks a little bit. I can’t imagine having to deal with real terror at such a young age. I much prefer my child-sized portions of it (if you call being afraid of poltergeists and skeletons terror) over his.

I’m hoping that my son remains afraid of things like a glow worm or an animated egg-shaped creature sporting suspenders. Because before you know it, adult-sized fears are keeping you up at night. There’s something to be said for prolonging innocence.

I’d give anything to fear a glow worm again.

Elmo, Please Save Us

We’re literally climbing walls over here. Em is sick. Usually I take him outside and let him run around, but the only thing running lately has been his nose. He’s losing his mind with boredom and his voice by coughing.

I never knew babies to get bored. But they do. They get really bored. And they express their boredom by climbing chairs, moving furniture, throwing pots and pans, spinning, digging through the trash or cat litter, following their parents around with books, sighing a lot, screaming, climbing bedcovers, playing with cellular phones, TV remotes, hairbrushes. They follow you around right on your heels like they’re waiting for something awesome to happen and whenever something awesome doesn’t happen, they throw little tantrums on the floor at your feet, after wiping their snotty nose on your pant leg or crotch.

I have no idea how to amuse this poor child. All he wants to do is go outside and dig in the dirt and he has too much of a cold to do that. (I think?)

Something has become very clear to me, however. This is precisely why some parents simply can’t live up to the “No TV Until They Are Two” rule.

There are only so many baths we can have and books we can read. There are only so many blocks we can stack, puzzles we can build, pictures we can point to.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 67)

I was trying to write a story about what you see below but I feel the picture does a much better job. This was taken right before lunchtime last week.

P.S. I’m having trouble focusing these days (lots going on, more on that later) but will hopefully have my act together soon.

Haircut 100 and a MOHs Update.

I got a haircut last night. The woman didn’t even use scissors. Instead, she pulled out that razor thing and went all Edward on me. I generally tell hair stylists to do whatever they want with my hair. (I liken it to doing logo work. Things always work out better for everyone involved if the client trusts that I know what I’m doing instead of try and art direct.) I’ve only had one mishap following this technique.

It’s really short in back. But it’s easy to maintain. This is how it looks today after a torrential downpour.

I think I’m happy with it, although I’m a little shocked with the length. I was also shocked by the price tag. Who knew that taking a razor to someone’s head would cost 100 bucks? This is precisely why I only get haircuts once a year.

As long as we’re on the subject of my face, I would like to take this opportunity and give an update regarding the MOHs surgery I had last November. As I was clicking around on Flickr, it occurred to me that today is the one year anniversary of that surgery. (Nuts, eh? Years fly!) Anyway, I think that it’s a perfect time for an update.

This was taken on November 7th, 2007:

This was taken in January (the redness around my eyebrows is from a waxing, totally unrelated):

This was taken in March after some laser treatment:

I took this shot today:

I am quite pleased with how it’s healed, although it did take a year. Remember, wear sunscreen or you’re an idiot.

In other news, we’re heading to DC tomorrow morning. We’re leaving Em with my parents, which is giving me heartburn as well as heartache. It’s not that I don’t trust them, quite the contrary, it’s that I’m not sure I want to be away from him for two days. I already miss him. I’ve never known love like this before. How do people do this?

Em Dancin' To Ted Leo.

Emory dances a lot. He has two dances. The first one (which we can’t seem to capture on video) is by far my favorite. He shakes his head really fast from side to side until he gets dizzy and falls down. It’s truly one of the most outstanding things you’ll ever witness.

The video I have for you today features his other dance. This one is a little easier to capture because it lasts longer (since he doesn’t get dizzy right away). I love this one as well.

I’m two parts melancholy, three parts joyful today, so I thought this might be a perfect way to express as much. (You may watch Ted Leo play the song live here.)