Sunday, June 29, 2008

Better Living Through Chemistry

So, I just finished reading some of my sister-in-law's blog. I need to make time to really sit down and peruse the whole thing. Many of her recent entries are related to a variety of psychotropic drugs being regularly prescribed along with side effects, etc. Interesting stuff, really. We are such a "better-living through chemistry" society. And, I have to add that I have taken anti-depressants during my life. When Dave and I started trying to get pregnant, I stopped taking Wellbutrin. And, mostly, I have been O.K. I wasn't willing to risk side effects to my unborn child, even though multiple doctors conveyed that remaining on antidepressants is perfectly safe. I just don't always have the most faith in the long-term effects of such things, even if professionals are trying to convince me otherwise.

I began taking antidepressants after separating from Danielle and Sarah's dad. I was enrolled in college full-time, working full-time, and was attempting to rear two children with CF. Further, I had taken my grandmother to the hospital for chemotherapy treatments after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Talk about your toxic drugs! I remember reading about the treatments during her admission and asking, "Grandma Dot, are you sure you want to do this? I'm not really sure this is a good idea." And, it turns out I was right. The chemo killed her. After sitting idly by, watching her deteriorate, I broke down in my therapist's office. (Yes, I'm sure you are relieved to hear I was receiving professional therapy at this point in my life.) My therapist, a completely savvy woman, listened to my current state and decided, "Wow, you are depressed." And, after referring me to a shrink (because a psychiatrist has the letters after his name allowing him to prescribe drugs), I was placed on Wellbutrin.

I have no criticism of the drug. It was a miracle for me at the time. It allowed me to go about the business of my life without bursting into tears for no apparent reason. It allowed me to finish papers late at night and made it possible to crawl out of bed every morning without cursing the sun's existence. I believe I desperately needed it at the time. I also believe that I no longer need it. I believe that God is doing for me what I could not do for myself. And, I believe that any problems my baby may or may not have will not be as a result of me taking any type of drug.

Now, all of that being said, I believe drugs are extremely necessary in my life at this point. And, I mean, bring on the drugs! The heavier-duty the drug, the better... Given that I am such a hippy and so into yoga and alternative therapies, some may be shocked to read this. But, I can't help it. There are times when heavenly, blissful escape is all I can think about. There are times, several of them occurring this very morning, when I crave the easier, softer way that I believe drugs can offer. Keep your 12-step meetings, your Serenity Prayer, your slogans... I know you are well-meaning, but I have tried all that and have met with incredible failure. It is not working, even though I'm trying to work it. Thus, in my desperation, I'm willing to dive into the better living through chemistry pool, in an attempt to find sweet, sweet relief.

Last night, Danielle caught Dusty, one of our three cats, peeing on the rug in the kitchen. She put her out, but I am at my wits end with these cats. I have been working feverishly to get the baby's room ready and have had to clean cat pee daily. These cats are peeing all over my house. And, I am grossed out. I'm freaked out. I just can't stand it anymore. The Internet reveals that the cats are under emotional distress. Often, with the arrival of a new baby, cats can become anxious. The Internet also states that homes with multiple cats have more problems with spraying and "naughty bathrooming". But, regardless of the reason, it is SO nasty. I have waged full out war with Clorox wipes and multiple cleaning products to no avail. And, alas, while the Internet pet doctors talk about how sad it is that people turn their pets over to the Humane Society citing that cats peeing in the house is the number one reason people get rid of their pets, they are offering no real reasonable solutions for my family.

Last weekend, after cleaning cat pee off of the baby's new changing pad (yes, note the irony) I laid down the edict that cats were to stay outside. After calming down, Dave tried to talk to me about how hard it would be to keep them outside all the time. Thus, in an attempt to be reasonable, I conceded that we should stop at the pet store to get the pheromone spray, which is reported to make cats feel all warm, fuzzy and secure so they don't feel a need to pee on my stuff. It seemed kind of homeopathic and natural, so I was willing to give it a try.

But, this morning, after Dusty was thrown out for the night and I sprayed the warm, fuzzy spray on the area where the carpet had previously lay (since I have to wash the @#$#@ thing again!), Dusty was allowed back in the house this morning. She lay in wait for Dave to leave for the gym, hopped on the counter top and peed all over my kitchen counter and further sprayed her villainous odor all over the coffee pot. IT WAS REVENGE PEE! Not wishing to drink cat pee, I poured out the coffee, fully disinfected the area and scoured the counter top. But, I am obviously very upset and at my wits end.

Dusty was left outside when we went to church, and feeling a little more spiritual, I decided to pray for all of the cats during our prayer circle time at the end of the service. Lo and behold, upon arriving home, I was greeted with cat pee on the back mat when I entered the door. GARFIELD! I CAN'T STAND THIS! THEY ARE PEEING ON EVERYTHING AND I HAVE TO BRING A BABY INTO THIS FILTH. I guess my prayer went unanswered, or God said, "No", or God said, "Wait." I don't know what God said, but I know cat pee awaited our return from church.

So, I have Googled all the information I can find, and the only acceptable thing I can find to do is drug these cats. There is something called Kitty Prozac, and I say "Bring it on." Dave is ready to allow the cats the opportunity to experience the next life, but I am willing to give this a shot. Dave also revealed how his brother, Keith, gave a parrot, who was plucking out all of his feathers, a couple of drops of whiskey in his water and the parrot was miraculously cured of the plucking behavior. I am not above trying a kitty cocktail either. We don't have any alcohol in the house, but a trip to the liquor store may be warranted. I mean, I'm up for anything. Kitty marijuana brownies... Kitty heroin... Kitty Valium... While I am committed to sobriety, do my cats have to be?

The thing is... Dan and Sarah absolutely love their demented, peeing cats. Dusty is a cat we adopted for Dan as a Christmas present. She howled the entire time during the car ride home when Dave and I drove to Mobile to get her. We should have known she was mental that first day and turned around to return her, but she was so pretty. She is a muted calico with gray, white and light orange fur. She sleeps with Dan every night, and when Dan goes to visit her dad, she becomes upset and sits at my feet yowling as if to ask, "Where is my person?" She doesn't enjoy being petted by anyone except Danielle; although, if Dan is out of town, I make a point to pet her so she doesn't become even more anti-social than she is currently. Garfield is one of the cats we accidentally stole, thinking we were rescuing him. (See my blog entry entitled "Yoga and the Cat Rescue Mission). Sarah chose him and named him because he liked to eat so much. She didn't have a cat of her own, as Dan has always been the cat person, so Garfield was specifically adopted as her cat. He lays flat on his back, legs sprawled in the air, right beside Sarah every night. He is also the most annoying cat we have. He has what Dave likes to call "Other Side of the Door Syndrome". He meows to go out the back door, then runs around to the front of the house and claws the window screen until someone lets him in. He also jumps up and claws the back door, scratching all the paint off in the process.

We also have Suzy. This little, black, part-Siamese cat was adopted by a sweet lady across town who rescued a Mama cat only to discover she was pregnant. Dan earned Suzy because she stopped sucking her thumb once and for all. She is symbolic of a childhood milestone. And, while she was officially Dan's cat, anyone who has ever had a cat knows that cats determine who actually owns them... Or perhaps, they determine which person they own. So, Suzy is my cat. She also loves Dave. She sleeps with us every night, and she is the least crazy of all the cats. While I am not entirely convinced of her complete innocence in the peeing escapades, she is generally well-behaved and ignores the rest of the cats completely. It's almost as if she knows they are nuts and holds herself to a higher standard. Suzy even goes out in the back yard with the dog, whereas the other cats all go out the garage door entrance. She is too cool to hang out with the other cats; she seeks out an entirely different species for companionship rather than lowering her standards to associate with the aberrant creatures hell-bent on spewing filth and stench throughout my living quarters.

I know that I am justified in getting rid of these frustrating felines. Dan and Sarah would probably get over it eventually. My most demanding responsibility is to the baby's health. But, I have a hard time just writing them off. When we adopted/stole the cats, we made a commitment to care for them for the duration of their lives. And, I have a hard time giving them away, or taking them to a shelter, or any other option that might expedite the end of their kitty lives. I think part of me is geared that way. I mean, I have several family members that could be described as emotionally defective, but I don't get rid of them. (I also don't live with them, but I would like to believe if Dave or one of the girls developed a mental disorder that led them to pee all over the house, I would go the extra mile to seek a solution instead of just getting rid of them.) Isn't that what family is about? Sticking together through the rough times? Loving each other in spite of those glaring flaws that infringe on each other's rights... But, maybe a little chemical help is in order to facilitate a little more family harmony.

So, regardless of the side effects, I believe drugging my kitties is in the best interest of everyone... Certainly in their own best interest, when the alternative means a quick trip to Euthanasia Town. Who knows? Maybe all of that Internet baloney about anxiety is true... Maybe these cats are amongst those who really need medication to function reasonably in society. (Like some of the children I teach...) And, maybe, I am beyond caring as long as I don't awaken to cat pee in my coffee.