Back in the Woods

We had a great morning at Devil’s Lake. We swam all the way across the lake. It was actually the best thing we could have done. Since I “had to”, I finally got into a good rhythm with the continuous breathing and swimming. I voted myself the most improved triathlete of the weekend. <g> I was frustrated, however, that my back wheel is a little bent and I had a broken spoke – it must be from getting it in and out of the car. Time to buy a rack! I’ve researched racks over the past week, and have decided to buy a Yakima. I’m in the process of procuring the different components on eBay.

Had I completed this update before today, the title would have been Give me Boundaries or Give me Death!, as it has been rather tiring and frustrating dealing with Butterscotch. He’s been doing some inappropriate urinating and defecating, including on my roommate’s down comforter. *sigh* After that he was banished from my roommate’s part of the apartment. Did he want to go in there 1000 times more? Of course! Wednesday Eric came home and opened the door to his den, and Butterscotch flew through the door like a shot! I chased him up through the room, up the stairs and into Eric’s room. He dove under the futon. I know you’re not supposed to do this, and I did it anyway: I grabbed him by the tail and pulled him out. I carried him downstairs, and put him in the bathroom with his bed and catnip in the shower. Yup, he had earned himself a time out. After a half hour in there, he was much more contrite, and took a nap on the couch.

I also switched his food from Science Diet to Nutro Max, which is preserved more naturally with vitamin E, as opposed to other preservatives that aren’t as good for cats. I know cats can go off their food if it is changed, so I was ready to switch him back right away. However, he seemed to take to it immediately.

This weekend was a long one: I participated in an outdoor experiential education course (ropes and challenges) at Rogers Memorial Hospital (hmmm – nothing about the course on their site…). I’ve done this course there for the past 9 years, as it is part of the Professional Excellence Program offered through the Center for Creative Learning. The course is great in teaching teams to be more functional, and allowing individuals to safely challenge themselves to do more than they thought they could. The epitome of this last one for me is the “power pole”, which is a 40′ high pole that the participant climbs (by use of large staples), stands on the top, and jumps off, either to ring a bell or grab a trapeze suspended between two other poles. (The participant wears a harness connected to ropes, so this is very safe.) In all these years I’ve never gotten the chance to go for the trapeze, only the bell. Well, THIS time, we did the trapeze, and I’m happy to state that I nailed it! It was great fun! My friends Rachel and Adam also participated, and they both did great and had a really good time!

I left Oconomowoc and drove directly to Kenosha, where my cousin Andy and his new bride Karen were holding the reception for their wedding. A very nice affair, and I enjoyed visiting with my family. I would have stayed in Milwaukee, except that I had a cat at home that needed medicine and TLC, so I drove home, arriving at about 11:45 pm. The alarm went off the next morning at 7:30 (oh gawd), and I drove to Milwaukee for my niece Grace’s Confirmation and the gathering that followed. Another very nice event.

I got home Sunday at 4 or so and stopped at Rachel’s to help her with her computer (some help – now she can’t log on to it…). I went home and was looking forward to simply sleeping. Not passing Go, not collecting $200 – SLEEPING. However, Butterscotch was complaining about something, so I let him outside in his harness. Of course, then I couldn’t sleep – he tends to get himself knotted up, so I need to monitor him while he’s outside. I brought him in when it started to get dark, and we relaxed with some TV before bed.

Cynthia has been teaching me about his behavior being due to stress and adjusting to being an indoor cat, etc. The reason this has all been tiring is because I haven’t been sleeping soundly – part of me is paying attention to where he is and listening to see if I can tell if he’s about to urinate somewhere, like under my bed. *heavy sigh* Last night I went to bed and he started walking around the apartment asking for something/whining/etc. I knew I couldn’t do this another night. I placed him in the bathroom with his bed, food and water (he has no compuctions about going to the bathroom in the shower, so he was set). I slept soundly ’til 6 am, when I went to the bathroom, and brought him back to bed with me. After a few minutes, he got up and went back in the bathroom! Cynthia was right – they do feel safer when confined sometimes.

Last night I finally perfected the pilling technique. Where I used to pop the pill in his mouth and shove it back with a finger, he’d outsmart me with his tongue and get it out of his mouth, requiring repeated attempts. I now simply stick the pill back with my thumb and forefinger – presto!

Cynthia came over today while I was at work to see him. She called me and stated that he was experiencing some distress – possibly a urinary tract infection or even blockage. This is dangerous. I asked her to call the hospital and tell them I was bringing him in. I got home in less than 20 minutes. Cynthia stated that where she was attributing his inappropriate urination to stress, etc., it may actually be completely medical. If he has minerals (or whatever) built up in his bladder, it can cause a great deal of pain, and feel like he needs to pee constantly.

I took him to the hospital, where he was seen pretty quickly by the student, and then Dr. Wagner. She didn’t think his bladder was blocked as she couldn’t feel it by palpating, but he had lost some weight. I left him with them, and she said she’d call later when she knew more. I went home, exhausted, and laid down. NOTHING was going to stop me from sleeping now!

I got up three hours later feeling much better. I returned Dr. Wagner’s voicemail. She gave me LOTS of information, let’s see how much I remember. They looked at his blood chemistry. His potassium is low – not quite to a dangerous level. His calcium and phosphorous are also low. His heart murmur is stronger, so it looks like he has a heart condition, although it’s not known if it’s from this illness, or he’s had it all along. He’s got some fluid in his abdomen. Since his Cyclosporin level is perfect (409), they will be reducing the steroid (Dexamethasone) he’s been getting to 1/2 the current dose. The steroid could be causing/exacerbating some of these problems, so this is a good thing. He may have pancreatitis, but it’s hard to tell in cats – in humans and dogs is easier to tell by ultrasound and blood levels. They will be starting him on some potassium intravenously tonight, although they have to be careful about this because his heart is working hard with too much fluid in his system already. Luckily, Cyclosporin is tolerated very well by cats, so it likely isn’t causing any problems. Tomorrow they will do bloodwork again and perhaps add some supplements to his diet to increase these minerals. Cynthia shared with me today that he masks how sick he is with his willfulness.

So, the bottom line is I still have a (pretty/very) sick cat on my hands. And in two weeks I’ll be gone for a week to Columbus for our annual trade show. *BIG — oh forget about it — there isn’t a big enough sigh to cover that one. It would be stressful enough if he were as stable as I thought he was last week. If he’s less stable, like right now, it’s going to be even more stressful. “Very” would be accurate.

At this point I’m not feeling as sad or scared as a few weeks ago. I think time and fatigue have taken a lot of edge off… I think ‘glum and ok’ would be more accurate right now. I hate it when he’s at the hospital at night and not here.

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