A week ago, I realized that Elliott was ill. First, he became very vocal. He followed me around meowing and looking at me expectantly. Soon I saw that he was frequenting his litter box with no results. It was Saturday afternoon and our vet’s office was closed so off we go, to Elliott’s chagrin, to the Emergency Vet Hospital. After several hours, an ultra sound and x-rays it was determined that he had a urinary problem. Duh.
They were unable to get urine for a test, but sent him home with antibiotics and pain medication. The fight was on. No amount of begging, force or tuna fish could get the meds down Elliott. He continued to struggle to pee and seemed pretty uncomfortable until Monday morning when we went to our own vet.
Here they were able to extract urine for a test. They found a small amount of blood, but no crystals which were expected. As we awaited the results of a urine culture we tried different antibiotics and still he would not take them. . . not forcefully, not disguised in food. Surprisingly he improved and started to void almost normally.
On Thursday the vet called to say there was no bacteria and not to worry about giving him the antibiotic. Well, Elliott had already made that decision on his own! After a long discussion with the vet we decided that his problem was stress due to the grief of losing Zoe, his housemate, a couple of weeks ago.
I knew that Elliott was a lover. He spends a lot of time on my lap and sleeps with me every night. I did not realize the bond that he had with Zoe. He always followed her around, but I, and she I think, believed it was more stalking than affection. She would hiss at him and he’d leave her alone for a bit. Now I think I was wrong. Elliott misses Zoe and the stress affected his urinary system which is not uncommon for cats.
So, here I am, almost $700 later with a sensitive boy missing his girl.
Traveling to Russia in 1994 was no doubt very different than today. At that point, Russia had just become more open to travelers due to “perestroika” but was not yet well prepared for those travelers. Before leaving home certain shots and immunizations were recommended. While at the Health Department meeting these requirements I received a handout warning against eating raw fruits and vegetables or anything, including using ice, that might have come into contact with unpurified water. There was a warning to use bottled water for toothbrushing and to not open the mouth while showering!
The trip from Louisville to St. Petersburg, Russia took almost nineteen (19) hours with about fifteen (15) actually in the air. Along the way, we landed in Germany and then in Poland, which did not allow passengers to deplane. Officers came on board and checked our passports and visas and then would not allow the pilot to take off for two unexplained hours.
When looking down at Russia prior to landing in St. Petersburg it was hard to comprehend the country’s size, nearly twice as large as the US and containing eleven (11) time zones. Local time was eight hours ahead of EST, which made phone calls home complicated, so I only called once to say I had arrived safely. It is just as well because phone calls to the US were difficult to make, unreliable and very expensive.
The population of Russia at this time was 149.5 which was actually about 5.6 million more than the current population. Education was free and the literacy rate was 99% at that time.
Before the trip, I read a document prepared by Brigham Young University which provided insight into properly interacting with the Russian people. It was entitled “Culturgram ’94 Russia (Russian Federation)” In it, I learned many things that made me better prepared, but also a bit apprehensive. Here are a few customs that I tried hard to remember while visiting.
If you ask “How are you” be prepared for a detailed answer. It is not the casual greeting that we use, but a serious question.
One should eat with the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. Hands are kept above the table at all times. Leaving food on one’s plate is rude.
Pointing the index finger is impolite, as is talking with one’s hands in the pockets or with arms folded.
Some other information of interest was that flowers are given in uneven numbers except at funerals! Russians prefer social interaction prior to business discussions and when a bottle of vodka is opened it is expected that it will be emptied by those present. Not surprising is that alcoholism is a serious problem.