Archive for the cats Category

Expectations

Posted in cats, curly/kinky hair on April 23, 2012 by Confessions of LadyV69

So, over the weekend, I took my cat Hazel to the vet for her annual checkup. Here’s a recent picture of her:

For the most part, everything checked out fine, although her teeth need to be cleaned and one of them is in danger of needing to be extracted, so I have to take her back later in the year. When she had her ear surgery last year, the vet tech at the specialty vet’s office told me that Hazel was likely much older than what I’d been told by the rescue group I got her from. At the time I got her nearly two years ago, I was told that she was a year old. So last year, she was supposedly two years old. The vet tech told me that her teeth didn’t look like that of a two year old cat and that she was really around five years old. The ear tumor she had is far more common in a pet around that age than in one as young as two. I was shocked. Boo Boo was actually closer to middle age (in cat years anyway)? The vet tech explained that it’s common practice for rescue groups to make pets younger than they really are because they know that the public prefers puppies and kittens and that the older the pet, the less likely they are to get adopted and the more likely they’ll be euthanized in a shelter. They’re caught between a rock and a hard place because if they start telling the truth, they’ll only end up exacerbating the problem of unwanted pets being killed needlessly. So I can’t really blame them for doing what they felt they had to do in order to keep Hazel out of the shelter.  Hazel’s regular vet confirmed that she’s not exactly a spring chicken. She’s actually around six years old now.  It doesn’t make me love her any less, but since she’s three years older than what I’d been led to believe, I have to adjust some of my expectations. The biggest one being that she may not be around as long as I’d want her to be, but hopefully I won’t have to cross that bridge for many years.

To make this analogy about hair, a lot of naturals have expectations about what their hair will look like after they cut off their processed ends. A number of them think their hair will look like this:

or this:

only to end up with hair like this:

or this:

and they wind up disappointed. A number of naturals have these kinds of expectations in the first place because many black women get perms as young children and have next to no memory of what their natural texture looks like. Personally, those that hope that they end up with Tracee Ellis Ross‘s curl pattern or Rachel True‘s hair texture are still clinging to that “good hair, bad hair” mentality where looser curls are viewed as more beautiful and the tight, pen spring coils or cotton cloud texture that they actually have is viewed as ugly. So they end up having to go through major changes in order to accept the kind of hair that they actually do have. Some even go back to relaxers because the hair they were actually born with wasn’t what they were expecting. Remember, going natural is more than just a physical transformation. It requires a mental transformation as well and your standard of beauty will need to change in order to be successful. The easiest thing in any situation in life is to have as few expectations as possible so that you’re not ever disappointed, but that’s easier said than done. Since I didn’t get a relaxer until high school and had some memory of what my natural texture was like, I didn’t have the same expectations that other naturals have of winding up with loose curls. I knew I wouldn’t have Tracee Ellis Ross like hair. If I had any expectations, I would’ve thought that I’d have denser hair than I actually do. I’d known for many years that I had fine hair. I couldn’t use the extra strength or super relaxers reserved for those with thick hair because from an unfortunate previous experience, they were too strong for my hair and they immediately took it out. I had to use the mild or kiddie ones and even those did some damage. I think I may have always had fine hair, but I recall having a lot more of it as a child. Years of damage from relaxers, braid extensions and weaves must have taken their toll. Whether my hair density will increase is uncertain.

The main takeaway from this is that each head of hair is unique. The hair of relaxed women tends to look alike, but that’s not the case with natural hair. Your coils and kinks won’t look exactly like anyone else’s, even if you’re wearing the same style. And going natural is about looking like YOU, not like someone else. Concentrate on your hair and your unique natural hair journey, not on wishing your hair looked like someone else’s. That only leads to frustration and disappointment.

Hair ends

Posted in cats, curly/kinky hair, Natural hair care, Uncategorized on September 16, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

First, an Hazel update: Her antibiotic medication was switched from liquid to pill form yesterday. Even though I’d put the liquid antibiotic in her food, she simply wasn’t getting the full dosage of it as she wouldn’t eat it all. With the pills, I put them in those pill pocket treats from Greenies and Hazel gobbles them up. She’s probably less able to taste the medicine that way. So far, so good. She’s doing okay otherwise, so that’s another plus.

Okay, back on the hair tip today. I’m sure you’re all thrilled. In the midst of all the crap I’ve been through, I neglected to say that I dusted my ends a couple of weeks ago. It’s simply a mini-trim. My ends were really jacked up and I was getting knots like crazy. The amount of knots that I’ve gotten since the dusting have been reduced considerably. Since I’ve gone fully natural, I’ve trimmed my hair myself. I’ve had numerous negative experiences in salons whereby I’d tell the stylist that I only wanted about a half an inch of hair trimmed and before I knew it, three inches were gone from my hair. If I do it myself, I know that only the amount that I want trimmed will be done and no more. The last picture here shows the result of my dusting in which my ends don’t look so frayed. If I didn’t mistrust hair stylists so much, I suppose I could go to a salon for a professional and neater trim, since my hair is kind of uneven as it is. You don’t have to cut your hair that evenly with curly or kinky hair because the coils in your hair hide unevenness. Also, my uneven hair isn’t that noticeable to other people but at part of me would like something more polished. The issue isn’t just stylists that ignore my wishes, it’s what a trim would cost. Natural salons charge half a fortune and many of them flat iron your hair and then trim it. I limit the use of direct heat on my hair because of the potential for damage. And at this point, nobody would know what my hair needs as much as I do.

On one hair board the other day, somebody posted that some white acquaintance of hers commented that her hair must take a very long time to do and she was feeling some kind of way about it. I went on a tour to Canada last year and roomed with this older Australian woman. A couple of days into the trip she remarked the same thing-that my hair must take a long time to do. I’ll tell you right now that in my case, that statement is false. I’m fairly lazy when it comes to my hair. If it takes me more than 90 minutes to do it, including the time it takes to wash it, I don’t bother. That may be a lot of time to some people, but I have to take into account that I have to be more gentle in handling my hair than other people. Because my hair is so tightly coiled, it is actually more fragile than straight hair, which a lot of people find hard to believe. Black natural hair may look coarse and tough, but in a lot of cases, Afro-American natural hair is like mine-fine and thin. I’ve heard white friends and acquaintances say they’ve damaged their hair with color, flat irons and blow drying but since they tend to have looser textures and their hair isn’t as fragile, most of the time, it takes longer for their damage to show. It’s not out of the question for my hair to get damaged with flat ironing just ONE time, whereas with looser textures, it could takes months of flat ironing for it to get damaged. I can’t just run a comb through my hair and comb it from the root down to the end. For one thing, I can’t use fine toothed combs that straighties use. They’ll rip out my hair. I can only use wide tooth ones. Also, combing my hair from the top down would damage my hair. I have to comb from the bottom up and gently work out any tangles I encounter. If I’m not able to comb the tangle out, I use my fingers. With that said, it only takes me about 15 minutes to detangle my hair, primarily because I stretch it with twistouts/braidouts and because my hair isn’t thick. This is the one time where having fine hair can be a blessing. I pity thick haired naturals who have one hour detangling sessions.   

So anyhoo, lately my main styles have been a wash and go, braidouts and twistouts, with puffs and curly fros here and there. None of those styles in and of themselves take more than an hour and puffs and curly fros take just 5 minutes to do. I feel there’s more to life than being a slave to my hair. There are some naturals who take around 6 hours to do their hair in certain protective styles, like braids and twists, because they want them really small and neat. More power to them. I ain’t one of them. While I initially arrived on that Canada trip, my hair was in a braidout. It took me about 10 or 15 minutes each night to rebraid my hair into about 8-12 braids. The next day, it took about 10 minutes to take the braids outs, moisturize, seal and fluff my hair. That was it. The one time I washed my hair on that trip and did a wash and go, it took a little over an hour. That roommate, who had naturally straight hair, washed her hair every other day, then took about 45 minutes to blow dry her hair. Her hair routine took as much if not more time than mine. And her hair wasn’t as versatile either, whereas I can change my curl pattern whenever I want to. In short, however amount of time you want to put into your hair is up to you.

Surviving

Posted in cats on September 12, 2011 by Confessions of LadyV69

I spent a rare weekend doing fairly little. Partly because Hazel was in the hospital but also partly because I don’t think I was fit to be around others. I also didn’t watch a millisecond of media coverage on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It would have saddened and infuriated me. Saddened because 3,000 innocent lives were lost for no reason and infuriated because it’s often as much about people making a political statement as it is a tragedy. I was in New York City that day, albeit not near the World Trade Center. I was working in Midtown at the time, across the street from the Empire State building actually. We were given orders to evacuate the building about a half hour after the second place struck the towers. I’ll never forget seeing the smoke from the towers 2 or 3 miles away as I made my way toward the Brooklyn Bridge to walk home, as the subways had been shut down. It took me all day to walk home. I don’t need a reminder from CNN about that day as it’ll live within me the rest of my life.

So, I brought Hazel home from the hospital yesterday. Her fur around her right ear was completely shaved off and she has to wear a collar at all times so that she won’t lick or otherwise touch the surgical site. This is her from before:

And this is Hazel earlier today:

It’s hard to believe she’s the same cat. It’s more than a quarter of Hazel’s fur is gone and that she has to wear that collar for the next two weeks. The ear canal that the surgeon removed is near the eye muscle that controls blinking and she sustained some minor damage in that area in that she can’t blink her right eye. Hazel may or may not ever regain that function. We’ll know for sure within the next two weeks or so when I take her back to the surgeon for a checkup. I have to give her medication in her right eye three times a day so that it won’t dry out. Whether it’s a temporary or permanent thing, I don’t know. Also, she’s on a liquid anti-biotic for the next two weeks. I have to give that to her twice a day. I attempted to give it to her last night by forcing her mouth open and injecting the syringe into it but she promptly spit it all out. I figured that would not work for two weeks. Today I mixed the medication in with her food. Hazel for the most part has a fairly big appetite, but today she only ate about half to two thirds of her breakfast and dinner, so she still didn’t get her full dose of medication. I suspect she was able to taste the medicine in her food which is why she wouldn’t eat it all. If anyone has any suggestions on how else to administer this medication to Hazel, I’d greatly appreciate it.  Hazel’s been a little lethargic as well, but it’s probably to be expected with the surgery. She’s not supposed to be all that active for two weeks anyway. Whatever problems I have seem quite petty and insignificant compared to hers. Some jerk dumped me last week. Hazel had surgery in an attempt to treat her cancer. It’s hard to get more serious than that. Even though both Mommy and cat have been battered a bit, we’re still hanging in there. Hazel’s a feisty little thing, so she’ll fight the cancer with everything she has. And if she can keep on, I can too.

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