Sunday, January 31, 2010

The day the lights went out in... Tennessee

So I've lived in southeast Tennessee for 10 years now, and I've seen snow probably 3 times. Every time it was an accumulation of an inch or less, and was melted by 10am.

This month alone it has snowed twice to where the accumulation exceeds 4 inches and it stuck around for more than a day. This wouldn't be so bad if we didn't live on a very steep hill along a sidestreet where the town has no snow plows or salt trucks.

Friday afternoon I got word that there was a huge snowstorm coming and schools were being let out early. I got the kids home just in time for us to watch white-out conditions from the comfort our our little home. Not so bad, right? Kinda cool, even. We took some video, pictures of the girls making a snowman in the backyard -- the usual.

Then the power went out.

I'm not usually one to whine about such an event, as I'm well-prepared for this type of thing. We have a fireplace with plenty of wood. Candles, crank-powered flashlights, board games, books... the whole nine yards.

Well, during this time, we also noticed our 3-year old cat Max acting strange. If it were under any other circumstances, we certainly could have paid more attention to his wheezing and strange meowing, but for now we had to write it off as a hairball and hope for the best. Even if we wanted to take him to the vet, we couldn't leave our driveway unless we wanted to make sure our downhill neighbors wanted a small car as a living room decoration.

The next day we all woke up to find Max laying in the hallway looking pretty sick. I picked him up and he was slow and just didn't seem like his usual vibrant, curious self. We still knew we couldn't leave the house, so ... what to do?

About an hour later he went through his little kitty door to the basement (where we have the litter box, food and water) and heard him tumble down the stairs. Ok, now this is serious. We need to do something.

We called the vet who said we needed to hurry because they were about to close due to the weather. We drove him in, sliding the whole way (it was just warm enough now to where the snow was sludge instead of ice). After some in-depth explanation by the vet about urinary blockage and a bladder the size of a baseball, we were given a choice. Emergency treatment that *could* work for now, and have a chance of coming back... all for the low low price of AT LEAST $2,000, or euthanasia.

Here I am, sitting in this small veterinary clinic exam room staring at a cat who can't even keep his head up and trying to imagine how I could ever pay $2k for anything right now. My only mode of transportation isn't even worth $2k. On top of this, AOL decided to suddenly move our pay periods back 2 weeks this month. I don't have credit cards anymore, I don't have $2k in the bank and there's nothing we could do.

It really tore me up, but mostly because I just kept thinking about how the girls would respond. They loved that cat more than anything. When they would come over on weekends, he would run to the door for his manic petting, handling and kisses. While our other cat ran downstairs to hide from them, Max embraced it. He was a good cat, and to make matters worse... they picked him out when he was a kitten.

So on the ride home, I told them that the clinic needed to keep him for awhile. They really missed him and kept saying how they hoped he's ok. I didn't know when I was going to tell them at first, but I knew I had to. We returned to our cold home, threw some new logs on the fire and played board games in the only warm room in the house. A few hours later, I broke the news and explained that the doctor had to put Max to sleep because he was in too much pain. They understood at first and took it quite well, I thought. About an hour later then came to me crying, one at a time, saying how much they missed Max. All I could do was hug them and tell them it will be alright, and that he's in kitty heaven scratching up the furniture up there now.

This morning the power came back on, but the girls are already back at their mother's. She was going out of her mind thinking about her poor babies being in a house without power (hers had power) so she came to get them. That equals about the 3rd thing I've been undermined on this week alone.

It really is times like this when you reflect on what you have and what you need. We were fine without power. We probably could have made it a few more days just fine. But despite those conditions, the loss of a good pet and the horrible weather, I had the three people with me who mattered the most, and it put things into perspective. All week long I read comments from people who tell me I'm stupid or Massively is horrible and they're going to stop reading the site forever because it's become a cess pit of horror that is ruining their lives, but when I have a weekend like this, it really forces me to step back and consider the frivolousness of it all.


  1. Having lost my cat last year I know that must have been a horrid decision to have to make and knowing that you had to break the news to the girls too.
    I hope you and they get over it soon.

    I'd dread to think about how much flack you must have to deal with on the Massively front, but believe me there are many of us that find it one of best & most original in the vast sea of duplicate-gaming-news-story sites.