Category Archives: Butterscotch Saga

Miracle Boy

I did get hold of Dr. Wagner by phone. I then remembered that his appointment is 10:30 in the morning, and I have a chiropractic appointment at 10:40! I could leave him at the hospital during that time, and I’d rather not—he doesn’t like it there. Somehow the schedule will work tomorrow. We did meds and went to bed. I put him on a couple of towels, in case he pees in bed again. I was exhausted.

I woke up in the middle of the night – probably around 4:30. I’m not sleeping deeply enough. A big wave of sadness came up. Not now—I could stay up grieving all night. Better to rest. Since he hadn’t peed before bed, I picked him up and took him to his box. He went, and we went back to bed. Such a good kitty.

The alarm went off at 8:30. I got some sleep; not quite enough. We did meds and I had breakfast. Mom called while I was getting ready, and we had a nice talk. I have a new niece! Chloe Therese Edgar, born to my brother John and wife Lori. Very neat.

I was going to take Butterscotch to Cynthia’s before the hospital, but the schedule won’t allow this. She said to bring him after.

We went to the hospital. I carry him around on a towel; I think this is more comfortable for him. it’s more stable sitting in my lap in the car. He now settles right down and curls up.

Julia, a student, did the intake and then Dr. Wagner joined us. I don’t remember much from the consult at this point. They took him back for bloodwork, and I went to the chiropractor. Great appointment; I had lots of stuff out of alignment. Body feels much freer now.

I was half-way back to the hospital when I had this thought/feeling come in of “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” Like this is tearing me apart and wearing me down. And it is wearing me down—I’m not resting enough. That needs to change somehow. I realized I was hungry. There’s Brennan’s. I stopped and got stuff from the deli for lunch. I’ll eat it at Cynthia’s. While I was looking in the cooler to get a water, a big wave of sadness came up. I thought about the story I tell people during Taking It Lightly, except it was water instead of spaghetti I was picking out. I appreciated the irony of it.

I got back to the hospital. Dr. Wagner, apparently, was on a phone call. I waited for 30 or 40 minutes. Julia would go by every so often and give me a ‘just a minute’ motion. I was starving at this point, and was getting a bit frustrated. I didn’t need a consult, I just needed to get my cat OUT OF HERE. She could call me later. I would have gone to do something about it, but knew it would do no good—they’re big about proper channels there. Someone from the pharmacy came out to let me know there wasn’t a tech there now to prepare the Cyclosporin (we’re out). I said I’d come back this evening to get it.

Finally I saw Dr. Wagner carrying the boy with Julie following, heading to an exam room. By the time she opened the door, I was about to open it myself. She looked surprised, “How did you know I was here? Are you psychic?” “I saw you heading in here through the window.” She then said (not sarcastically), “Ok, you’re psychic—what do you think his potassium level is?” “Still low.” (smile) “It’s perfect.” She seemed happy and a bit pleased with herself. Indeed, she was “right”. It was the potassium. His electrolytes are stable. He’s a miracle cat. And I thought back to receiving several emails from the healers, some of whom said, “You should see some changes soon.”

Dr. Wagner seemed surprised and a bit annoyed that the Cyclosporin wasn’t ready. I told her what the pharmacy person had said. “Well, there were techs there this morning when I put the order in.” They’ve overgrown that clinic and are raising $11 million to build and renovate.

We debriefed for something like a half an hour. I then sprung the boy and drove to Cynthia’s. Starving starving. The three of us sat in the guest room while we talked and I ate. I shared with her my feeling of being worn down, and she suggested I not be so vigilant. Get rest. Other good stuff.

I left him with her while I went to work so she could do a session with him. I needed to have a project printed so that others could come in tomorrow to stuff the attendee badges for the tradeshow. I worked, took a nap, worked a bit more. Finished. I then went to the hospital to get the prescription, and got the boy. Cynthia showed me how to put the ophthalmolic goop in his eyes. Since his immune system is suppressed, he’s got a couple of ulcers near his eyes and his nose. We need to protect his eyes from corneal ulcers.

I kept Butterscotch in a room with everything he’d need and slept alone last night. Finally, good rest! He’s staying quiet today, and clinically he looks better—lots of grooming, eating, etc. I spoke with Cynthia this morning. He’s past this crisis, yet he’s still very serious. There are three things that could kill him: the original anemia for which he’s getting the steroid to limit the immune response, the partial heart failure due TO the steroid, and viral or bacterial infections that have already begun as a result of the steroid and Cyclosporin. It’s a balancing act. Similarly, he needs to stay a little dehydrated. If he were normally hydrated, his heart would have to work harder due to more fluid in his blood which leaks into his body cavity. If he were to get too dehydrated, he could die of circulatory collapse. He’s on a tightwire. While I feel much relieved that he’s past this crisis, I still need to be prepared for him to go any day. Cynthia and I are going to reduce the steroid today. He needs the immune response, and his heart needs a break. Cynthia will deal with Dr. Wagner on this on Monday. <g>

I’m going to futz for a bit longer, spend some time with the boy and go get lunch.

Crisis…and Reprieve…for Now

Butterscotch stayed in the hospital for several days. I visited him on Tuesday night. He looked like crap, to be blunt. He was very lethargic, and they said he perked up since I arrived(!). I left feeling grief.

Wednesday I worked for several hours at home. Did lots of grieving this day, pretty deep. Amazing how I can be feeling FULL feelings and be programming in SQL Server all at the same time. I had a coach call with Patricia at 1:30 and felt lots of feelings. She shared her own experience with her cat, Snowball. After the call, I did a search on Google, and sent emails to a group that prays for sick pets, and another group that does distance energy healings. I got several emails back from the second group. Even more support.

I went to the hospital at 6 and paid the current bill, then Dr. Wagner waved me into an exam room to go over the regimen. Wow. Two additional drugs and Potassium Gluconate powder to put in his food, to boost his K+ level. She didn’t have time to write up a report for me (they had FIVE emergencies come in that day—that’s a lot. Some morning only, some evening only, some both. We left, and I cried on the way home—gee, I’m good at that too. 🙂

I left him to rest for a few hours and went to Matt’s house to have dinner with him and Rachel. Very nice evening. I got back to find him sitting next to Eric in the chair in the bay window. While Cynthia had advised me to go out to dinner, I was feeling a little guilty. Hearing that he’d been with Eric for hours assuaged that feeling.

We did the meds dance and went to bed. He slept with me all night, which he normally doesn’t do. His belly felt pretty hot to the touch. He was laying next to me all night, with my arm by his legs. I woke up at about 4:30 to him kicking; I don’t know if he was having a dream or what. More grieving. At about 6:45 he was sitting in his sphinx pose, facing away from me. All of a sudden he started peeing on my arm. I got him off the bed and he stopped. Nature’s Miracle to the rescue. We then sat in the bay window for a couple hours. Sure looks like time to go. I got hungry at 8, so I go up and set him on the chair. He started peeing again. I grabbed a towel I had and put it behind him to catch most of it. More Nature’s Miracle.

I called Cynthia and left a message, then called Dale and somehow managed to tell him that I thought today was the day. Luckily his schedule is light today. (He had already agreed to go with me when it’s time to put Butterscotch down.) Eric got up and asked how things were. I told him Butterscotch would likely go today. “To the hospital?” No, be put down. He was incredulous, thinking I should wait a couple of days.

Cynthia called me back, yes we can run over to see her. While I had breakfast, he was begging to go out. However, it seemed at the same time he might be begging to really go. As in leave. I cried harder this morning than I have since I was a little boy. I’m thankful my emotions are running so clearly and open; the grieving will go better. I let him out on the harness for a short while. When I brought him back in his whole body was shaking. I warmed him on in my arms for a minute.

As I walked outside with him, Carol came out of her house; she could tell something was up. I told her it was likely I was putting him down, and she said goodbye. I thanked her for her support, and she thanked me for my sharing. She loves Butterscotch, too.

On the way to Cynthia’s I cranked up the heat to finish warming him. I called the hospital to say we wouldn’t be keeping the 10 am appointment to get his levels checked. The woman asked if I wanted to reschedule, and I said it was probably unnecessary, as I was likely going to put him down today. She expressed sincere regret—she probably knew him; most of them do. Dr. Wagner called me a couple minutes later, stating that much of his state can be explained by the loss of electrolytes. She didn’t want me to put him down. I’d done so much for him, and she acknowledged her own emotional investment, stating that it obviously wasn’t as much as mine. I told her that I was open to he suggestion, and that I’d have Cynthia call her in a bit.

Cynthia confirmed my estimation of things when I arrived, and agreed it was time to put him down. Lots of emotion. She then called Dr. Wagner, and the vets went head to head. I could tell from hearing Cynthia’s side of the conversation that Dr. Wagner was really really pushing to keep going. The steroid could be causing some/much of this. During the conversation my emotions stopped, and it felt like I fell into a little pit. Cynthia said, “Yes, you went numb.” The heart was clear, and then the head came in with contradictory information. I was confused. We are now moving into the decision area I’d thought about all along—where pain goes up and quality of life goes down. Cynthia said there was a compromise: give him subcutaneous fluids and continue the treatment and see if he perks up. No more hospital, except maybe to check levels (too MUCH potassium could kill him). No more heroic measures. Even if he does survive this crisis, he probably wouldn’t survive a year.

We gave him 100 ml subcutaneous fluids, and he perked up. She gave me some ibuprofen to fight the strong headache I had. She would stop by later after an appointment to see him. See how he does in the next 24 hours. We went home. He rested quietly in my lap on the drive. I was very quiet, not even turning on the radio. It’s important to be very present now.

We got home and his energy level was clearly higher. He ate and drank, and begged to go out. I let him out on the harness, and followed him around. He BOUNDED through the grass. Bounded! He’s never done that before! He went down to the gravel lot next door and started eating little rocks. I brought him back. He went to the bushes and began eating dirt. I stopped him. Hopefully it’s the Potassium he’s craving, and we’re giving him that.

I brought him back in, and he did his routine while I ate lunch. Then he begged to go out. I sat in the bay window, and he readily jumped on my lap. We took a nap together for about three hours. Cynthia then showed up. He was clinically much better. She gave him a session while he sat on my lap. He soaked it up. I felt my feelings. I gave him 50 ml of fluids subcutaneously (I can now do that, too…).

He then got up, full of spit and vinegar. Eat, drink, pee. Amazing. And artificial—it’s the water and energy, not his own body’s process. The decision will be clear: he will either improve or get worse in the next couple of days. I won’t continue with subcutaneous water; he wouldn’t last on it, anyway.

So, I’m feeling soft and open. Cynthia suggested I not talk to a bunch of people tonight; I am drained myself. I’ll do some work tonight, and go to the office tomorrow afternoon. I still have one more week to prepare the database for the tradeshow. The timing is fascinating.

As Cynthia suggested, he’s now taking a deep nap. Sitting with Eric. Oh no! I forgot to call Dr. Wagner! Hopefully she’s still there. I gotta let her know I’m bringing him in tomorrow for a blood level.

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.

Fourteen!

Wow. A week since I put an entry up. Busy week. And another week of poor sleep. One thing that has gotten better is meds time – we’re getting better and better at doing the pilling. When I got the refill on the Cyclosporin, Dr. Wagner let me know they had calculated the dosage of the first batch wrong—it was supposed to be .4 mg/kg of body weight; they simply made it .4 mg. This refill is the correct dosage.

Butterscotch and I have spent some quality time this week, him sprawled on my lap while I read or work on the computer. I’ve even come home to find him sprawled on Eric’s lap—very cute!

Cynthia came to see him on Thursday, and was quite pleased with how he was looking. She thought the cells would last through next Wednesday. I was incredulous, but he is doing well. I took him to the vet (And Dogs, Too, not the vet hospital) to get a PCV and a check for immature red blood cells. When he left the hospital it was between 11 and 13, and on Friday it was 14! The doc also stated she thought she saw signs of new cells on the smear. So, either a measurement is off somewhere, or he is, indeed, making new cells! I was so incredibly happy to hear that number.

I keep rediscovering something: if I don’t make plans for Friday night, I don’t have any plans on Friday night. I think sometimes I get so focused on the present I sometimes forget to plan <g>. So, I went to the store and bought a bunch of food. I made some chicken strips for Butterscotch, as he liked what I was eating the other night, and I made myself an incredible improvised chicken curry! I was surprised at how good it turned out. We then sat in the bay window while I read the Isthmus, then watched a bit of TV before bed.

Rachel will be picking me up in five minutes to go up to Devil’s Lake again to do the triathlon course as a continued part of our training. Last Sunday we went to see my cousin Colleen finish the Ironman here in Madison, and it was AWESOME! She did great. It was very inspiring. Rachel informed me while we were watching the finishers that we were going to be doing this in two years. “We are?” Yup. Wow. I’m a bit disbelieving, yet I’ll go for it. This means we’ll have to run a marathon next year (or more). I don’t have it in my self-definition at this point that “I’m a marathon runner”. I’ll need to be changing some self-concept, I guess.

Winding Down

I went to bed after that last entry. Butterscotch is doing more sneezing now – poor guy has allergies.

Another poor night’s sleep. I awoke at about 5 again, and went to move from a curled up position to stretched out. Something stopped my feet – it was Butterscotch sleeping on the foot of my bed. Good thing I have a queen size bed.

I fell back asleep for a while and had the most horrible dream. The only thing I recall is that Butterscotch couldn’t breathe – at all. However, I was calling him Molly (a previous roommate’s cat). The only thing I could think to do was squeeze his abdomen to get whatever blockage out of the way. To no avail. I woke up just whimpering. Very unpleasant.

I got up and cleaned. With building the new bedroom shelves, I had one of those instances where when improving organization it’s necessary to make a big mess, except I never finished cleaning up. In the midst of doing this, I discovered my chat client isn’t working on my computer, which I use for work and play. Argh. I’m going to reinstall Windows after this entry to try and fix that. If entries stop appearing, you know why. <g>

I let Butterscotch outside in his harness while I had breakfast and cleaned. He just laid in the bushes, hunter that he is. I finally brought him in for a while, but put him out in the front so that I could vacuum – he hates the vacuum, and I want to minimize his breathing dust for his allergies. I was vacuuming the front room when I heard a dog barking. Uh oh. Butterscotch had scurried under the porch. I pulled him out and brought him in. He was a bit aroused from that.

Cynthia came over and had a session with him around noon. She remarked on how white his gums where, and I noted that he hadn’t been eating or drinking much today. She let me know that I’ve been counting his pulse wrong. What I thought was one beat was actually two, which means that his pulse hasn’t been 100 bpm consistently, it’s been 200. Oops. I decided, and Cynthia agreed, to call Dr. Wagner and take him in, as I’d rather take him in today than tonight or this weekend. I made lunch while she finished with him, and we had some rice and soup.

I picked up my sleeping cat and took him to the hospital. I drove past my sister Julie walking down the street with flowers and balloons for her birthday (I won’t say which one…). Butterscotch just laid in my lap on the ride, while he usually is standing looking out – yup, he’s winding down. He complained just a little as we neared the hospital.

Twyla (sp?), a fourth year student, did his intake. She was very considerate, but Butterscotch was less than thrilled, doing his low growl through the whole thing. Actually, shortly after we showed up, he was getting antsy in the waiting room. When’s the last time he went to the bathroom? Hours ago. hmmmm. Sure enough, once we got in the exam room, he started squatting on the exam table. I asked Twyla to get a litter tray, but I put him in the sink anyway. Yup, right there in the sink. I cleaned him and the sink up, just as Twyla was bringing the litter tray. <g> I know my cat.

She went to find Dr. Wagner, and I sat on the bench. Butterscotch came up and sat in my lap, curling up into a little ball while I held and petted him. Poor guy is tired. Dr. Wagner came in and let me know his PCV was 8 or 9. She explained that they have to figure out what to give him for blood, as they don’t have any packed cells that match him – they ordered them on Monday and they normally take one day, but they haven’t arrived yet. They can either give him a transfusion of whole blood from a cat there at the school, or Oxyglobin, a product made from cow blood that carries oxygen like red cells. I asked if he could get two units of blood, etc., to minimize his trips to the hospital. Apparently, he would go through two units given simultaneously faster than two units given sequentially. That decides that.

Because it was rather late in the day, she stated he might be spending the night. I told her that all things being equal on their end, I’d rather come get him, at ANY time, so that he could be home at night. We’ll see.

I then paid the deposit for this visit and left. Interesting experience as I walked out the front door. I thought instantly of the movie sliding doors, a movie about interesting life intersections. As I was walking out of the front door I heard the Marching Band practicing on the field that is kind of kitty corner (no pun) to the vet hospital. They were playing On Wisconsin. Way back then I’d have never considered that I’d be bringing an animal here to the Vet Hospital. My life is VERY different now than it was back then. I wouldn’t go back for anything.

I came back and had some more rice and soup. While it’s a bit of a respite from the worry to not have the boy here with me, I don’t like it. He hates being at the hospital. Hopefully they will finish in a few hours, and I can bring him home tonight.

I’m now going to reinstall Windows to fix a few problems I’m having. Wish me luck.

I Hate Computers

Sometimes I’m a bit more prophetic than I want. I did, indeed, reinstall windows after the last entry. Didn’t go exactly right. No internet access. Tried again several different times several different ways. I gave up for the moment.

I can’t remember if I called Rachel or she called me—I was in the throes of computer repair. We were both hungry, so I picked up food at Bandung (great Indonesian food if you’ve never tried it), and we ate it while watching The Matrix on her new TV. My favorite movie ever.

I returned home and once again started battling my computer. I decided on a fresh install, and I’d just have to reinstall all the software I use. *sigh* More and more futzing—I went to bed during the install.

***

I shouldn’t’a stayed up so late last night. Dr. Wagner called me at 8:28 to let me know it all went well, and I could come get the boy. I got ready and went over. Wait, talk to the doctor, wait, get the cat, wait, get more meds refills. I went to pay and they hadn’t entered him as being there for the night, so they didn’t have the right charge. The woman asked me if I’d be there some time soon. Dr. Wagner and I both laughed. Yes, no later than Friday, I imagine.

I came home and finished the install of Windows. More and more futzing, and then I started installing software. I couldn’t remember where all my email settings were—oh, show hidden files. And then I had to go about figuring out all my account settings. Why don’t I have that recorded anywhere? *sigh* I’m back up and functional, although there will still be stuff to load. While this ended up being a big pain in the tuckus, at least it didn’t end up being a huge pain in the tuckus.

Butterscotch has been napping the whole time since I got home. He’s just now gotten up to use the facilities, and eat and drink. I don’t have plans tonight—hmm, I haven’t been making any plans recently. Oh well.

A “Regular” Day

Indeed, I did call Mom last night and chat. And, as we often do, we chatted for some time, and I didn’t get to bed until Midnight.

I grabbed Butterscotch and we went to bed. I got all comfy under the sheets, with him on top of my in his usual pose. Oh! I forgot his meds! *sigh* So, I got his meds out of my fanny pack (I took them to the hospital just in case), and we did what is now becoming a ritual: I set him on the bathroom counter and give him both pills, one at a time. Since the small Dexamethasone tablet is so easy to give him, I do the Cyclosporin first. I thought it was a shame to do this after we both were so relaxed, but he came back to bed with me without seeming irritated.

* * *

You’ll never guess – another poor night’s sleep. I seem to wake frequently between 5 and 5:30, as I turn on the radio and As It Happens, a show broadcast by CBC, is on. I listened to the show, then I fell asleep again, waking up later in the morning. Butterscotch is sneezing again – those dang allergies. At least since Dr. Wagner told me there aren’t many bugs that can pass between the species, I don’t get so yucked out when he sneezes on me (although a wet cat sneeze directly in the face isn’t my favorite thing).

I got up and we sat out back while I ate breakfast. His desire to go outside is getting stronger and stronger. His pulse is great this morning – still around 100 bpm. He wasn’t to pleased with his short visit out back, yet I needed to work, and I can’t leave him unattended – he gets all tangled, and it’s not safe, as he doesn’t have an adequate hiding place. Besides – if the evil, orange-eyed kitty came around, that would be bad. Butterscotch is immunodeficient now – will be for some time – and he can’t afford to catch something, or get in a fight with that evil, orange-eyed kitty. They are pretty much the same color, although the other cat has shorter fur. Oh – he’s evil because Butterscotch is mine, and that cat is on HIS turf! They have goaded each other pretty seriously over the last couple of years. But I won’t get into those stories now…

OK, it’s medicine time again. I think I had some beginner’s luck with this, as it seems to be getting more challenging now. I started again with the Cyclosporin. I didn’t get it far back enough in his mouth – I can tell because if I get it back far enough, he just sits there while I hold his mouth shut and rub his throat. When I don’t, he sits and fights to open his mouth. And there you go – he produces a little capsule from between his lips. Amazing. I grabbed it and tried to get it in again. I don’t remember how it happened – it was very fast – I somehow got him to bite down on the capsule, splitting it in two! Oh, that’s bad – the stuff tastes horrible. I quickly grabbed one half of the capsule, and shoved it in his mouth – that much worked. I recovered the other half, which was empty, so I tossed it. I think about half of the dose got in him, the rest on my hand. He definitely wasn’t liking the taste, although it certainly wasn’t as bad as the Doxycycline. I then gave him the other pill without incident. He really is patient having to go through all this stuff. I loved him up in gratitude.

A short while after I started working, he went back between my computer stand and the wall, and slept. He stayed there for hours! Actually until around 4:30. He’s doing so well right now, I didn’t get concerned that he was going downhill – he’ll be good for another couple of days with this blood. That’s straight from Dr. Edgar, so you know it’s true.

I worked with Tony this afternoon – me on my computer at home, and him on my computer at work, via pcAnywhere. Very efficient use of technology. And kinda fun to boot. I also finished implementing the big stats page I’ve been working on this week; none too soon, as Rick has been getting lots of requests for it. I also fixed a weird problem with the database. Did you know if you add 1 day to August 31 you get September 2? Yeah – weird. I got around it though.

At about 5 or so, I heard him stirring back there. I stood up and looked down, and he was kinda hunkered down. Hmmm, that looks kinda like – HEY!! He’s peeing on the floor! I gave a yelp, and pushed him out of there. Besides the fact that he’s peeing on the floor – there’s electricity back there for cryin’ out loud! He ran out and stopped, just sitting there. I picked him up and put him in his litter box. I then shut down my computer and unplugged the power strip. Sheesh – the cat coulda fried himself. I moved stuff out, and cleaned up with paper towels and Nature’s Miracle (great stuff!). Luckily it wasn’t too bad. I wonder what that was about. He’d been sleeping there for hours, but he wasn’t that tired, was he? Is this a sign of things to come now that he’s gonna be an indoor cat? I certainly hope not. He was still hunkered down in his litter box – not doing anything. I picked him up and petted him; I guess I scared him. I sat with him a while in the bay window.

I called Dr. Wagner to talk about canceling our appointment tomorrow and a few other issues. I asked, and she agreed to be available during the weekend if he needed blood. I also asked about giving pills. She described it over the phone, and since I was coming down in a few minutes to get the additional Cyclosporin anyway, she said to page her, and she’d show me.

I drove to the hospital, heading DIRECTLY into the setting sun, which was about 5° above the horizon. Hmmmm. Why have I been turning on Charter? I can keep going down to the next turn… I got the meds and had Dr. Wagner paged. I waited a while in the waiting room. Boy, am I tired! Hmmm. It’s more than tired – it’s worn to the point of getting sick if I don’t watch it. She brought a big, beautiful white cat into an exam room, and showed me how to pill. Ah, that will be easier. This cat is one of the donor cats that live there for a year. She was a bit stressed. I petted her, and thanked her for helping keep my boy alive. She was a sweetie. Dr. Wagner was surprised and really pleased that his pulse was still as low as 100 bpm, and respiration at 28. I told her not to stay too late – it was already 7 – that she should go home. She laughed. I said I knew it wasn’t her job right now, and she nodded.

I then went to the co-op to get some food, then off to Target (read: tar ZHAY) to get a plastic file drawer – mine are overflowing in my office. My cell phone range. Karen. Damn. I was supposed to go to her house at 7 to help her with her computer. *sigh* Reschedule.

By the time I got home I felt really wiped. I had planned on doing a thorough cleaning. I started, and after 10 minutes knew it’d be a bad thing to do. I sat and watched TV with Butterscotch sleeping on my lap. Very sweet.

Medicine time again. Time to practice my new technique. This time, the capsule went down just fine, but he produced the tablet from between his lips. Take two on that one. Better.

Now I sit typing this. Pooped. The boy is sitting on my desk in his sphinx pose. Two days without drama and crisis. Very nice. Now he stepped down to my lap. Even nicer.

Ahhhhh

Yesterday was an extremely pleasant day. I could really use that after the stress of this situation. Butterscotch was bright all day, although he napped a lot, of course. I worked at home in the morning, and he slept next to my keyboard the whole time. It was wonderfully idyllic.

For lunch I picked up Dale at his new office, and we went to the co-op, both to get food and allow me to shop. I’m definitely going through some kind of transformation. While I’ve been working on openness with people in general, I’ve never felt as open. I had conversations with three people at the store. The fish guy was smoothing the ice in his display case, and I asked him if he was a frustrated sculptor. He said no, although he does have an art degree. Liberal Arts makes the world go around! We then talked fish. At the deli counter, the woman asked if she could help me, and I said YES! She appreciated my excitement. At the checkout, I got into a conversation (I don’t remember how) with the guy about Saturday Night Live, and the skit that Dan Akroyd did where he imitated Julia Child. I watched myself during these interactions, enjoying the openness.

Dale and I had a nice lunch, then returned to my house to put groceries away and research who we were going to vote for in the primary. Dale did some mantras with Butterscotch. As it was raining, I took Dale home, instead of his taking his bike.

Upon returning home, I walked to the Post Office with my big new umbrella to vote. I ran into my neighbor Mary. I told her about Butterscotch. She was sad to hear it; she and Zane lost a cat just last year. At the polling place my neighbor Carol was working, so I told her as well. She said she’d think happy kitty thoughts for him. More and more support.

I walked back home and worked a few hours. A big, messy, complex query in SQL Server. Way fun. <g>

At 3 we went to Cynthia’s for another session. Butterscotch has never enjoyed riding in the car. He always has complained. Not really any more. He seemed to get a little excited as we neared Cynthia’s place. I was concerned about his PCV being 14 after the last transfusion, and then dropping to 12 the next morning before I picked him up. Cynthia told me not to worry – there’s sampling error in there, especially since the numbers are low. Butterscotch was very bright, and clinically looked much better. She suggested that these cells might last another 4 – 5 days. I was incredulous, although I would certainly love that.

We returned home where I made a nice salmon steak, salad and rice. Dr. Wagner had left a message around 5; she called saying she was paranoid and wanted to know how we were doing. Is that great or what? I worked until about 11:30 or so. Chester turned me on to Josh Groban, who has an amazingly beautiful voice. I listened to his album repeatedly while I worked.

We went to bed, him doing the sphinx kitty thing on my chest, then he went off to do whatever he does a night, and I went to sleep.

* * *

*Sigh* Another short night’s sleep. Butterscotch woke me up around 5. He was digging or something at my shoulder. I need to explain that a previous roommate’s cat, Molly, used to go under the covers and lay next to me from time to time. I thought that was really neat, but Butterscotch never once did it, despite my invitations. Well, this morning while he was digging, it seemed like it was the edge of the blanket he was working on. I lifted the edge, and lo and behold, he walked down my body and laid down between my calves. I worried, thinking this was another example of ‘cat going to dark place to die’ syndrome. So I turned on the light, picked up my watch, and took his pulse. 100 bpm. Wow, that’s really good! (Dr. Wagner is having me watch out for a consistent pulse above 240 bpm, which would be a sign that he is crashing and needs another transfusion). I decided he was just trying something different, and I could relax.

I listened to the radio and relaxed for about an hour, then fell asleep for an hour or two. Still not enough, but oh well. I got up and started my day. I got an email from Barb in Detroit asking how the boy was, and what my plans were for coming to Detroit weekend after next to teach. I sent her and Sharon an email that I decided not to go, and detailed all the reasons. Sharon shot me back an email saying she supported my decision. More support.

Since I’ve been behind on hours, I decided to work at home for several hours today. I finished the big, ugly query, and the page that it creates. Beautiful. Boy my job is fun sometimes.

I had a nice coach call with Patricia this morning, talking mostly during my turn about Butterscotch and the experience I’m having with all of this. I also said I was going to give Northwest a call to see if I could get away without a change fee for next weekend’s ticket because of Butterscotch’s illness. We’ll see about that. She suggested that he may have crawled under the covers this morning because he’s feeling more open with me as well. Neat idea. And yet more support from that call.

At noon we went to the vet hospital, so that he could get his levels checked to make sure the Cyclosporin was dosed properly, as well as to get a PCV. Why does it seem I’m always driving through campus between classes? And why don’t I remember it being such a madhouse at this time when I was going to school? Maybe because I wasn’t trying to drive through the crowds with a cat on my lap. As we approached the hospital, he started whining. He knows where he’s going! Or he’s reinforced for it, or whatever. He can distinguish going to the hospital and going to Cynthia’s.

Brittany did his intake. He was a big complainer today! She was very pleased at how clinically bright he was. Color was good, as was pulse, and all the rest. All inputs and outputs are great. I brought the treats with me, and gave one to her to feed him, so that perhaps we could reinforce him to like being here. Yeah, right. He wouldn’t eat the treat. I think he’s actually getting reinforced that when there’s a treat, there’s a yucky medicine or needle. He actually did a low growl while Brittany palpated his abdomen and checked his pulse, etc. Wow. I held and pet him while she did her work.

[As I write this, Butterscotch came up and sat on the desk, watching my hands as though it were interesting. He just stepped down onto my lap, and is now curled up. How did I get this lucky?]

I waited for a few minutes for Dr. Wagner to come in. Butterscotch was checking out the room. When Dr. Wagner and Brittany came in, he was urinating in the corner. I guess it’s been a while since he went. We cleaned it up and laughed. Dr. Wagner was thoroughly pleased with how he was doing. When I told her his pulse has been consistently between 100 and 125 bpm, she seemed surprised and quite pleased. It’s higher at the hospital, which they’re used to, of course. I thanked her for her call last night. She really does care. I gave her some dried shrimp treats that I bought for Butterscotch that he dislikes. I figured they could use them, or give them to the donor kitties. It’s the least I could do for them, since they’re helping Butterscotch stay alive.

They took him back to get a blood sample, and I waited in the waiting room. Brittany brought him back to me, and I sat holding him while they put the sample in the centrifuge to get the PCV. After a few minutes he got antsy and wanted off my lap. Not a good idea in a vet hospital, where there are dogs around. I informed the receptionist, and took him back into an exam room, so that he could roam. I then discovered why he was antsy – he needed to poop. And where did he do it? Right on the drain plate – smart kitty! I cleaned it up. Does poop qualify as bio hazard? I figured might as well, and threw it in there. They use some icky-smelling cleaner stuff at the hospital. Nature’s Miracle works so much better.

I thought I saw Brittany and Dr. Wagner walk past, and stuck my head out. They came in, and were also amused with him. Apart from his marrow, he’s quite healthy – even gaining a bit of weight. His PCV is between 10 and 12 – what he left with! I was incredibly happy. He’s maintaining this blood quite well. I asked if it would be safe for him to go outside in his harness – I thought he might pick something up since he’s immunodeficient. Dr. Wagner said it should be fine, just avoid other animals.

It’s quite clear to me now how much the health of the animals affects the doctors and staff. Past meetings were mostly very serious. This one was much lighter. I think we’re all much happier now that he’s stable. And everyone there just loves him! The receptionists always beam when they see him (I’m just the human), and people often remark how much they like him. See how lucky I am? I paid for today and left.

I usually drive to the hospital taking University Ave. and turning on Charter, and come back along Observatory Dr. I don’t know why, yet now it’s habit. When I got to the corner of Observatory and Park, I stopped at the stop sign, and rolled forward, waiting for the herd of students so that I could turn right. It was class change time again – how does this always seem to happen? As I was slowly creeping forward, a car came from my left and honked at me. Some … hmmm. Family show. I’ll be nice. Man and his wife in a nice car. There, I handled that well. Anyway, when I looked at him, he motioned with his thumb that I should back up and let him through, as though he had right of way. Are ya kidding? Pfff – I was already in the intersection! I motioned HIM with MY thumb to back up, and continued creeping forward with about 3 inches between his bumper and the side of my car. I’m a very patient person, but that kind of undeserved entitlement gets my goat. And I learned a very important lesson while driving in Chicago with Suzanne years ago: whoever is in front will win.

We got back and had lunch (yes, we both ate). I then worked into the afternoon. Kelly called to check in, and we had a nice conversation. Yet more support.

With little sleep and everything going on, I was pooped by 5 pm. I laid down and took a nap for about two hours. Boy, I needed that! I got up and cleaned the kitchen while Eric listened to the September 11 stuff. I didn’t think about that much today – I’ve already processed a lot about that, and the one year anniversary seems a bit arbitrary to me. I think about it often, and don’t need a special day. Sounds like neat stuff happened, though. I hope people got good healing out of it. I completely took apart and washed Butterscotch’s water dish/fountain, and put in the new homeopathics that Cynthia gave me. He got up and drank a bunch of water, and I mixed some tuna with digestive clay for him. I wish he’d eat more of that; he really prefers his kibble.

I then had some dinner out on the back patio while I put Butterscotch back in his harness. We came back in when the mosquitoes came out. The last thing I need is for some mosquito to attack his shaved portions and give him West Nile Virus!

Sandi called me and we had a good conversation. I laughed and laughed! Oh, I need the laughter after all the tears of the past week! Very healing. I helped her walk through fixing her computer.

And here I am typing this now. Butterscotch is sitting across my lap like a tiger sitting on a branch – you know the pose. I think I’ll call Mom and have a chat.

*Yawn*

After last night’s entry, I called Terra to let her know what’s up. Another emotional call, and another supportive call as well. I then called Joe, whom I haven’t spoken with in some years. Voicemail – argh. I called Cheryl and talked to her as well. Not as emotional a call; I guess I’m emotioned out for today.

Time for medicine and bed. I got two pills ready (one of each) and set them on the counter. The Cyclosporin capsule was sticky and smelled like medicine, so I rinsed it off, lest it taste horrible. Rule #143: “water soluble” means water soluble, as in it dissolves in water. I destroyed the pill.

I set Butterscotch on the counter and prepared for the next event. It was just as easy as when Dr. Sartor showed me: I held him with my right arm, and pried open is mouth with my left ring finger, dropping the pill in and shoving it to the back of his throat. I then held his mouth shut gently, and stroked his throat. Voilà! VERY easy. I then gave him the teeny Dexamethasone tablet. Dr. Wagner suggested I not give them simultaneously, as the capsule can be sticky in the throat. No worse for wear, we went to bed.

***

Per current normal, I slept poorly last night. Butterscotch was in bed with me, and being with him is a bit more important than sleep right now. His breathing rate, pulse and appearance were all good.

I woke up at some point in the middle of the night when Butterscotch came back to bed. I held him again. Recently Mom told me about a time when I was a baby when she was determined to remember this moment, since I was the last kid she was going to have. She said that she has, indeed, remembered that moment. I’m feeling very much the same. I studied the tiger patterns on his face, and the feel of his fur.

I awoke again about 5 or so. Holding the boy again. I only dozed with the radio on softly for a couple of hours, then got up. I heard something strange. Apparently, he had tried to get out of the door when Eric was coming in. <g> I guess he’s doing pretty well. Perhaps I’ll put him in his harness and go outside with him some today.

I forgot to mention something in last night’s entry: Cynthia let me know that if he does recover from this, he won’t show any signs of new red cells for at least a month. A month?! Yes, a month. While it takes 10 days to use a blood cell, she informed me it also takes 10 days to create one in the marrow, and that medical tests are always indications of past happenings – not current. So, this means that there’s a bit of a haul involved in this process. Considering the past week (it’s been almost exactly one week since the moment that he came home ill) has felt like a month (I’m constantly having to orient myself time-wise when I talk with people), I’m not thrilled about how long the next month will feel.

I also asked Cynthia yesterday a question I was going to ask the doctor and forgot: do they ever give cats marrow transplants? No, it’s not been done. First, a cat would have to give its life to be a donor, since cats have small bodies with a small amount of marrow. Second, it needs to be given multiple times. Third, EVERY marrow cell in the recipient needs to be destroyed first, lest they would destroy the donated marrow. This involves horrible drugs. Fourth, there’s lots of testing, etc, involved, and it costs at least $100,000 to do it in humans. That settles that – it doesn’t meet my quality of life/suffering criterion, and I certainly don’t have that much money.

Butterscotch is pretty bright this morning, and has been eating and drinking. He’s always had a constant feeder just outside my bedroom door – for some reason neither Molly (past roommate’s cat) nor he like to have food near the water, which is in the kitchen. I’ve always smiled in the night when I’d be awake, hearing him dig around, then crunch on each piece of food. I like that sound even more now.

Time to get ready and start the day. It’s Primary Day! Gotta get out to vote.

And Back Home Again…

I didn’t get much sleep last night. Once I wake up, I’m pretty much done, even though I stay in bed to at least get more rest. The first half of today was rather uneventful: I got up and went to work. Some weird problems there with the database.

Dr. Wagner called at 11:30. I’m still startled every time my new cell phone vibrates in my pocket. After being transfused last night, Butterscotch’s PCV was 14. This morning it was 12. *sigh* That’s pretty quick to go through those cells. The hope is that the Dexamethasone will slow the immune system’s destruction of the red blood cells. Dr. Wagner suggested that we might also put him on Cyclosporin, which is given to transplant patients to again slow the immune response. This drug is more expensive than the cheap steroids, basically because blood levels of the drug need to be checked to make sure Goldilocks would be satisfied: not to low, and not to high – ju-u-ust right. I asked her a bunch of questions that have been building up. They did, indeed, check the marrow for Feline Leukemia. Butterscotch is negative for that, thankfully.

During the conversation, Dr. Wagner asked me what my long-range plan with this was. I told her that money wasn’t really a concern at this point. I’ve been clear for several days that we will keep going as long as there is a realistic chance that Butterscotch could survive and have a reasonable quality of life, as long as he isn’t suffering. I will not keep going just to keep him alive. She sounded something like relieved – it’s probably tough for vets to see people go way beyond the point of suffering with their animals.

So the plan is for me to take him home today. She would have to have the Cyclosporin mixed specially for him, which would take a couple of hours. We left it that I would arrive between 2:30 and 3:00 unless I heard otherwise.

The conversation left me right on the edge of a bunch of emotion. I did some breathing, then went to lunch with Rachel. At Qdoba I convened the First Annual (or Weekly or Maybe Even Daily) Qualtim Triathlete Club (FAWMEDQTC). So far, members are Rachel and me. We didn’t have much of an agenda, so we ate and chatted. Everyone present concluded that it was a pretty successful and enjoyable meeting.

At work I had a meeting, then some futzing, and then took off for the hospital at 2:30. I waited a few minutes in the waiting room before Brittany (a vet student?) called me in to one of the exam rooms. She went over the report with me, then Dr. Wagner arrived. We discussed the plan, which includes my bringing Butterscotch back in for the Cyclosporin level check, as well as a PCV on Wednesday at noon. I then asked some questions to find out how to better ascertain when Butterscotch sinks low enough to warrant bringing him in, without doing so prematurely. I would normally instantly err on the side of caution, except that it’s best for cats to NOT be in the hospital – they heal best at home with humans who love them. A heartrate consistently greater than 240 bmp, or a breathing rate consistently greater than 45 or 50 x/minute would be indications, as well as weakness and complaining. Since the Cyclosporin also tastes awful, they put it in capsules. Good. I get to give him pills for the first time tonight – I’ve only ever done liquid.

Brittany asked for the cat carrier so that she could go get Butterscotch. I suggested that she bring him here, since then he’d walk right into it. Dr. Wagner asked if I’d like to get him myself. You bet! He was lying in his cage rather languidly. I set the carrier, open, on the exam table, and set him in front of it. You got it – he immediately walked in and I shut the door.

Apparently Butterscotch doesn’t like going to the bathroom at the hospital – this is the second time he’s waited until the car ride home to go in the carrier. Or perhaps the jiggling gets him going. He then complained about being in there, so I let him out and held him on my lap as I drove.

We got home and he went for the water. I put down some tuna for him and he ate a bit of that. Then went into the back of Eric’s closet, where it’s dark and cool. It’s a bit warm in the house today, so I don’t blame him, even though I have an emotional reaction when he goes into these hidey places. I breathed while I watched him breathe. He’s ok – they wouldn’t have sent him home if he weren’t.

I then blipped in to work and got some more work done.

Cynthia had called me earlier in the day, so I returned her call at 5. Quite an emotional call for me, as we discussed all the likelihoods and other related topics. She told me that the change in PCV is most likely due to sampling error, and that I shouldn’t freak out about it. She affirmed that I’m doing a good job in making decisions about things, and that my instinct and decision to take him in last night were correct. Cynthia is a great gift in terms of support and a reality check for me right now. We again discussed the gift that Butterscotch and, indeed, this situation is to me, despite how sad it is. I decided it was time to contact more people, including those who don’t have email. So far I’ve confined my communications to that, as it was quickest and minimized – what – my emotions? I guess. I no longer like the word ‘upset’.

I called Jenna and spoke with her for a while. <g> I think I shocked her right off the bat as I got pretty emotional in the second sentence. I knew she’d be up for it. Great, supportive conversation, and I enjoyed hearing how she was doing, as I haven’t spoken to her for a while.

I called and left messages for a couple other people. I then sat down and drafted an email to my extended family and sent it. Then I went through my contacts (all 1131), and selected a bunch of people to contact, emailing each one separately. I’ve decided this is the time for me to be open, so here we go.

I just finished dinner (toasted then cooked rice with ginger and garlic, mixed with some bean soup – yum!), checked on Butterscotch, and am now going to make a few more calls. BIG breath. I just got an email from Patricia stating that the schedule has changed, and I won’t be teaching in Milwaukee this weekend – WHAT A BLESSING! I got Butterscotch out of the closet to hold him. He went and ate some food, and is now using the litterbox. Good good good.