Sleepless Night

Had a really bad night. Insomnia kicked in hard, worse than usual. My best and favorite remedy for sleeplessness has been snuggling Hobkin. He was the softest, warmest plush beastie to cuddle at night. Guess it should go without saying that I felt his absence particularly keenly as I tossed and turned. Ended up getting almost no sleep whatsoever, so now I’m exhausted and emotionally frail. Add to that the likelihood that we’re going to have a very late night under the gold dome, and we have a definite not-my-favorite-day day.

Fairy Doors

threeoutside commented in my previous post that she didn’t know what a fairy door was, so I thought I’d post a few pictures of them. Matthew gave me a pair of them for Christmas, and we’re so poky about doing anything around the house (plus I kept waffling ’bout where I wanted them), we simply hadn’t put them up. But it seemed both important and fitting to rectify that last weekend.

This one is at the bottom of the stairs.

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Quiet Weekend & Reviews and recommendations for Returning My Sister’s Face and “Sinner, Baker…”

This weekend was a hard one for Matthew and me, punctuated by attempts to distract ourselves from the sense of too-quiet at home and a celebration of the memory of Hobkin’s life. We were hit-and-miss with the former but I think we did okay with the latter. We made stew (the kind we always threatened to put Hobkin in when he’d been particularly naughty) and beer bread (which Hobkin was quite fond of), shared memories of Hobkin that made us laugh and smile, took down the rover gates in his area, and put up a couple fairy doors.

Big thank yous and hugs to kittymel for the thoughtful sympathy card and to Ico and her dad, Barnaby, for the beautiful flowers:


Writing Stuff

Some new reviews of and recommendations for “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” and Returning My Sister’s Face:

“Snow-women and Samurais” by Nin Harris (merlusyne):
“The writing is filled with both the graceful simplicity I have come to associate with Far Eastern literature and poetry as well as the modern edginess which comes with the meeting between two cultures…Returning My Sister’s Face remains one of the brighter sparks in the output of published writing for the year.”

• Returning My Sister’s Face reviewed by Ken Schneyer (ken-schneyer):
“[Eugie] tells her tales with such energy, grace and heart that one feels instantly transported and moved.”

• “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” made Tangent’s 2009 3-Star Recommended Reading List.

• “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” was recommended by Aaron Hughes as his Story of the Week pick for Feb. 25, 2010, at Fantastic Reviews Blog:
“Foster manages to keep the tale moving forward, using elegant but not flashy prose…a fascinating, absorbing story”

A Few Memories of Hobkin

Thank you, everyone, for the outpouring of sympathy and condolences. And a special thank you to yukinooruoni who stopped by on Monday with a care package of heat-and-eat meals, correctly surmising that neither Matthew nor I would be capable of or inclined to do much cooking at this time.

I am truly touched, knowing that so many people will also miss Hobkin’s silly antics and irrepressible personality. I’ve also taken some comfort in reading over the posts I made about Hobkin over the years and looking at our pictures and videos of him, and I wanted to share a few of the last images we took of him.

Taken on Feb. 20 when Hobkin was breathing easily and seemed almost like his old self, the weekend before he started having seizures.

And here are two videos I took on March 1 of Hobkin doing one of his favorite things: eating.

And finally, I’m reprinting on my website the first story that Hobkin inspired, “Running on Two Legs.” It remains one of my favorites, and re-reading it reminded me of Hobkin as a baby, and the memory made me smile.

Hobkin: 2002-2010

Hobkin passed away yesterday afternoon at home in my arms, quietly, easily, and peacefully.

The blood work and x-rays they took at the vet’s on Monday indicated that the most likely cause of his seizures was his cardiomyopathy worsening. Also that fluid was once again building up in his lungs, another sign that his heart condition was progressing. We also think the seizures were blunting or taking out his sense of smell, which is why he was so reluctant to eat. Or else he was just too exhausted to have any appetite. He was lethargic and making small sounds of distress when moved, and most telling, he let the vet–the one that he was particularly not fond of–do the tests without a peep of protest.

Matthew and I agreed that it was clear that Hobkin’s quality of life wasn’t good and wasn’t going to get better. Rather than subject him to any more distress or suffering, we decided that the humane thing to do was to help him make an easy and gentle passing. We wanted his last moments to be at home with us so we took him home and made him as comfortable as we could and called the in-home euthanasia vet to make an appointment for her to come yesterday afternoon.

We spent Monday and the time we had with him on Tuesday holding and talking to him, telling him what a good boy he was, and enticing him to nibble (and occasionally scarf) as many blueberries, mealworms, crickets, hard boiled egg, and other favorites as he wanted. And when the time came, he passed away full of yummy tastes, wrapped in warmth and safety, with Matthew and me there holding him and petting him and telling him how much we loved him. It was the best and most gentle passing we could hope for, and one day I will be comforted by that. But not today. Or tomorrow. Or the many tomorrows after that. Because now, the pain of losing him is too huge and overwhelming to allow for anything else.

I knew eight years ago, when we decided to bring into our lives the adorable stomping baby ball of fuzz, that he would one day break my heart. Knowing doesn’t make it any easier. There is a wrenching emptiness in me and an aching coldness in my arms, the hole his absence has made. I’ve cried until my whole body hurts from it and I go numb and think I can’t have anything left. Then something reminds me of Hobkin, and I yearn for the warm, soft weight of him snuggled in my arms and know that I won’t ever be able to hold him again, and more tears come. But for all this raw pain of grieving, there are no regrets.

Hobkin was a wonderful part of our lives for the years that he was with us. I wish we could have had longer with him, but the time we did have was a gift. Hobkin was precious and treasured and much beloved, and I hope he knew that, because he brought us so much joy and laughter. He gave us a new perspective filled with humor and magic and ruled our household with his imperative, silly attitude and personality. I miss him beyond what I have words to say, and I will never forget him.

Hobkin: 2002-2010

Hobkin Update: More Seizures

Thanks for all the supportive, concerned comments from everyone. They’re very much appreciated.

Hobkin had another seizure on Saturday night at 9PM and then a series of them on Sunday and early this morning. The seizures are much shorter in duration than the first one, and he’s not agitated after them, just exhausted and a bit skittish. We’ve started him on diazepam, but while it seems to be increasing the time between them, it’s not stopping them, and between the diazepam and the seizures, he’s utterly wiped out. He wasn’t interested in breakfast this morning, not even a cricket, and his breathing has become labored and wheezy. Didn’t want to put him back on the furosemide if he’s not eating.

Bringing him to the vet first thing this morning.

Matthew and I had the “quality of life” discussion last night. We didn’t decide anything, but it’s at the forefront of our minds. I’m trying to stay clear-headed and calm for Hobkin’s sake. It’s hard. We’ll see what today brings.

Hobkin Update: Seizure and Vet Visit

Hobkin had a seizure yesterday at around 2:30AM. Seizures are not uncommon in young skunks, but Hobkin’s never had one before—not to mention that he’s not young anymore—and it was a surreal and unnerving experience. He’d just settled down next to me under the blanket, and I noticed when I stroked his head that his mouth was wet.

I pulled the blanket back, intending to see what he’d gotten on his face and wipe it off, and saw he was drooling. Skunks, unlike dogs, aren’t particularly disposed to drool, so I was surprised and announced to Matthew, “Hey, Hobkin’s drooling.” Matthew came over, and I saw that Hobkin’s eyes were really wide and glassy. His head and neck arced back into a weird upward angle, and I realized that Something Was Really Wrong.

His front legs went rigid, and he went into convulsions and a full-blown grand mal seizure in my arms. I couldn’t move or act, and all I could think was, “Hobkin’s having a seizure. This is a seizure. He’s not dying. This is a seizure.”

Matthew asked, “What should we do?” which snapped me out of my shock, and I remembered reading that they recommend administering honey or syrup to the gums of a skunk having a seizure in case it’s due to hypoglycemia. So Matthew got q-tips and syrup and dunked the former into the latter, and then I discovered it’s rather tricky trying to smear a syrupy q-tip onto a convulsing skunk’s gums. After liberally annointing Hobkin’s nose and muzzle with syrup, I finally got some into his mouth. Not sure if it was the syrup or if he was simply coming out if then, but the seizure ended a little after that.

Suffice it to say that neither Matthew nor I had the presence of mind to time it. It was probably only a couple minutes, but it felt like forever.

Hobkin spent the next hour and a half or so really, really agitated and obsessively trying to walk in tight clockwise circles while we called the emergency vet clinic and a couple fellow skunk owners for advice. The emergency vet folks were not very useful on the advice front (they’re not really very knowledgeable about skunks) and we weren’t able to reach anyone (it being 3AM in the morning by then). Eventually we tried feeding Hobkin, and he was ravenous. After several blueberries, a couple teaspoons of cottage cheese, and a hard boiled egg—foods which seemed unlikely to cause choking in case he had another seizure—he calmed down and fell asleep beside me.

Brought him to the vet first thing this morning. The problem is that there’s just too many things which could have triggered the seizure: his heart condition, an electrolyte imbalance from the furosemide, low blood sugar (unlikely since he’d had a snack at midnight but possible), the respiratory infection, etc. If Hobkin has another seizure, we’ll have them do a full blood panel, but considering how inconclusive the last blood test was, and that they’d have to anesthetize Hobkin in order to get blood, we opted not to have one done today. So the vet sent us home with clavamox and diazepam—to clear up the infection and to stop another seizure if he should have one, respectively.

So it’s observation and rest for now. Oddly enough, I’m not freaking about this. I’m concerned and hyper-vigilant, but “seizure” isn’t triggering the panic that “labored breathing” does. Don’t know why. Or else I’m having a very delayed reaction. Regardless, it’s gonna be a long weekend.

Hobkin Update: Vet Says Just Keep Keeping On

Hobkin was pretty much the same yesterday, which is probably a good thing—so sayeth the vet. We called the vet, and he told us to keep Hobkin on the furosemide for a couple days to see if there’s improvement. If there’s not or if there’s any worsening, we bring him in. If there is, then we try taking him off the furosemide and see if he gets worse again.

In a nutshell:

If the furosemide is helping and Hobkin gets worse without it, it means fluid is accumulating in his lungs again, which is bad, because that means his cardiomyopathy is getting worse. Prognosis worrisome.

If the furosemide is not helping, chances are it’s an infection, probably a reprise of the one he had before which the amoxycillin didn’t completely wipe out—which isn’t a big deal as they’ve already cultured it and know what it is, and it’s of a variety that’s generally pretty responsive to antibiotic therapy. It might actually clear up by itself, and if not, treatment either with another course of (a different) antibiotic or an antibiotic injection should take care of it. Prognosis good.

Feels weird to hope that Hobkin has an infection, but there you go.

Hobkin Update: A Night of Fretting

Didn’t sleep much last night. Hobkin’s breathing has been erratic for the last couple days. There are periods where it’s extremely rapid, about twice as fast as normal—almost panting, except skunks don’t pant (at least Hobkin doesn’t)—and then it returns back to normal. And it doesn’t appear to be related to activity level.

Last night, his sides started heaving a little too. Not nearly as labored as in January, but enough to ramp up the worry. I would’ve liked to have started him on some oxygen therapy, but as luck would have it, (of course) Matthew returned the oxygen tanks on Tuesday. So at around 10:30 last night and after a lot of discussion, back-and-forth, and uncertain waffling, we decided to give Hobkin a dose of furosemide (the diuretic), since if it is fluid building up in his lungs again, I don’t want to wait until they becomes dangerously filled before treating him. The counter-concern is that with giving Hobkin furosemide, there’s the danger of him becoming dehydrated, which could be as life-threatening as pneumonia.

So we slipped Hobkin a furosemide tablet concealed in a blueberry, which meant he woke up every two hours to use the litter pan and I got up also to get him a little snack of veggies. Gotta push fluids and keep him hydrated and all. His appetite was excellent, thankfully, and he didn’t seem distressed—aside from having to use the bathroom every two hours—but I couldn’t tell whether there was any change in his breathing, good or bad. So Matthew’s going to watch him today and if Hobkin doesn’t get better or gets worse, it’s back to the vet we go.

Actually, even if Hobkin’s breathing does improve, we’ll probably need to visit the vet in order to discuss adjusting his medication dosages. If the furosemide helps, it means fluid’s definitely building up again, which means Hobkin’s heart meds aren’t working as well and need to be upped.

Gotta keep telling myself: “It’s not that serious. We can handle this. It’s not that serious.”

Hobkin Update: Vet Follow-up

Had a follow-up with the vet on Saturday. Hobkin’s recent medical crisis has not improved his fondness for the vet or the clinic. There was a lot of indignant huffing and snorting, which made me wonder if the vet would be able to get a good listen with his stethoscope. Apparently, good enough.

Hobkin’s lungs are completely clear, which the vet announced with no small amount of surprise. Hurray! But he also heard a mitral valve murmur. This is not surprising and is mostly indicative that Hobkin’s meds are working (improved heart contractility leads to more obvious indications and symptoms of the heart’s extensive dilation), but it’s something else we’ll need to keep an eye on.

Our vets are not exactly upbeat. One of them has said every time we’ve seen him (even for a routine check-up): “Y’know, skunks crash so suddenly and go downhill so fast.” So when the vet started talking long-term med acquisition—we can get up to a three-month supply of Hobkin’s pimobendan and enalapril—that’s tantamount to unbridled optimism.

Hey, I’ll take what I can get.