Being prepared is not quite my strong suit. Aside from bringing an umbrella to work every day, rain or shine, I'm not the most reliable person to turn to when something small yet unexpected is needed. If we're on a train together and you suddenly have a manic sneezing fit, I will not have Kleenex on hand to save you. If we're on a backpacking trip through Europe and you need Band-Aids for your blisters, the most I could do is help you find the nearest drug store. And if you have a headache? I never have aspirin, so don't even ask.
(In case you're wondering what's in that big purse of mine, there's always a camera, a journal, and a book. Because I might have snot running down my face and a raging headache on occasion, but if inspiration hits, I'm ready for it.)
There are some things, though, for which a person can never be prepared.
Tim is Murdo's 13-year-old cat, and after years of helping feed him and groom him and scoop his litter and wake up with his paws on my pillow and his whiskers in my face, he's become my cat, as well. His bones crack, he can only jump as high as the bed, and we're pretty sure he's going blind in one eye. But nothing could prepare us for what we encountered after coming home from a weekend away earlier this summer: a severely dehydrated, limping kitty, suffering from what we would learn to be a very, very serious case of kidney failure.
This was in late June. Tim stayed at the vet for an entire week, in a large cage, hooked up to an IV to help regain his fluids. We visited him every day -- Murdo would go up to three times a day -- and Tim got better with each visit. One day, he lifted his head and seemed to recognize us. Another day, he was looking alert and meowing. Near the end of the week, he was climbing into Murdo's lap to cuddle. By Friday, Tim had started eating on his own, bit by bit, so we took him home for the weekend. We were afraid it'd be the last time we'd spend with him before taking him back to the vet on Monday and expecting the worst. But Tim is a fighter. And he survived it all.
The vet called Tim his anomaly. In his thirty plus years as a veterinarian, he had never encountered a cat with such high toxin levels that recovered so quickly, if at all. It's my strong belief that those daily visits saved him. Seeing us every day, knowing that we didn't just abandon him and that he still had something to fight for, gave him the strength he needed he prove the doctor wrong and bounce back to life.
When he came home, he started eating and drinking on his own. Within a week or two, he was sitting in our laps and sleeping with us again. He eventually got strong enough to walk and jump. It's been two months since his sickness got the better of him, and right now, he's the healthiest he's ever been. Tim stared Death in the face, and Death blinked.
Kidney failure isn't curable. We have to feed him special kidney diet food and give him subcutaneous fluids every other day to help flush out the toxins. But he's doing so much better, and we're just grateful for each day that he's with us, greeting us at the door when we come home and spooning with us when we fall asleep at night. Nothing could prepare us for the life and fight and strength that this sweet cat would prove to have. And sometimes, the unexpected can be quite a nice surprise.
Make-ahead Sausage and Zucchini Breakfast Casserole
(adapted from Simply Recipes)
There are, of course, occasions that you can and should prepare for. Brunch, for example. This is a simple recipe for a make-ahead breakfast casserole that I prepared when my family came to see the new apartment one Saturday morning. I threw all the ingredients together the night before and kept in the fridge until morning. Because if there is one thing I can be sure to prepare for, it's food. I'm always expecting to eat.
2-3 cups grated or shredded cheese (I used a mixed Italian blend)
6 slices bread, cubed
2 cups milk
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 medium bell pepper, diced
1 cup cooked Italian sausage, cubed (I used a couple of leftover grilled sausages)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and mix in the milk and cheese. Add the bread and stir to coat the bread, being careful not to over mix so the bread doesn't disintegrate. Add (don't over mix or the bread may disintegrate). Add veggies, sausage, salt and pepper (keep in mind that the Italian sausage will add seasoning, as well). Pour mixture into a buttered 13x9-inch casserole dish. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to bake.*
Bake in oven for 50 minutes to an hour, until the top is browned and the center springs back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
*In the morning, I set the casserole out for about a half hour before baking so it wouldn't be cold when placed in the oven.