Monday, April 30, 2012

Just in Case You Were Wondering...

Olivia still loves the paper bag.

On the Way to Work This Morning...

To bring greater awareness to the issue of child abuse, Daley Center Plaza was filled with stuffed animals.

Every Picture Tells a Story 4/30/12

Have you been to the Patio Theater yet? If not, get over there--it's a beautiful movie theater and super cheap (five bucks!).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Catfriend at Home

Olivia is back where she belongs, reclining on the hardwood floors of La Casa del Terror. I brought her home Friday afternoon via taxi (it was wicked cold, with a breeze coming straight off of still-frigid Lake Michigan), along with many supplies designed to keep her in good health: an IV bag for delivering subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids (every day); antacid pills (every day); appetite stimulant pills (twice a week); and special food for renal-failure patients.

It was heartening to see her tuck into the special wet food tin I put down when we got home, and even more so to see that, by Saturday morning, she'd licked the bowl clean and even started hitting the dry food. If she'd eaten like that all weekend, I'd have been overjoyed. Unfortunately, her appetite is still hit or miss: Sometimes she'd come close to finishing the moist food, other times she'd eat less than half.

I also found that Olivia seriously hates taking medication. She tries to jump off the tray table I use to give her the IV fluids and, a couple of times, succeeded, sending fluid squirting all over the bathroom. The pills were even worse--when I popped one down her throat, she produced an amazing amount of drool--projectile drool!--to force the pills back out. With all the drool, I wasn't even sure the medication had gone in and stayed in.

It was no surprise, then, that when we went to the vet on Monday for a followup appointment, her blood work hadn't really changed--it hadn't gotten worse (good news, really), but it hadn't gotten better either. I told the vet about the drool, and she changed the antacid to an injection rather than a pill--much easier to administer. She also prescribed two more medications: a liquid to bind the phosphorous in Olivia's system (unfortunately to be given twice daily) and an injection to help fight the anemia (three times a week).

The oral medication still is not a hit, especially since the liquid has to be given twice daily, but Olivia has learned quickly that drool is no defense for liquid (it's already down the throat, kitty), and the liquid helps send the appetite stimulant pill where it's supposed to go with less combat. (Note I did not say "no combat"; it still took three attempts to get the appetite stimulant down.)

I took the last two days off of work de to my own physical issues (i.e., "The Chest Congestion That Wouldn't Die!"), so I spent that time lavishing attention on Olivia. It sucks to be home sick with a sick kitty, but if I hadn't stayed home yesterday, I wouldn't have seen the effects of the medication cocktail. Olivia was very much herself
for the day, chatting constantly, digging under the covers while I tried to nap, and not only playing with her toys, but bring them to me to throw for her. It's been ages since we played fetch; quite wonderful to see.

Not as wonderful, though, as what happened when I put half a tin of Friskies salmon pate down for Olivia at dinnertime. I've rarely seen a cat at any age or stage of health Hoover food like she did with that pate. I wound up having to put more down for her. This morning, the bowl was clean.

A work in progress, my li'l kitty is. I can only hope for more on the "progress" front--and if yesterday was any reasonable indication, there's plenty of reason for hope.

One last thing: Superbadfriend stopped by La Casa yesterday afternoon to drop off a small bag of goodies for Olivia. This is what happened to the bag less than a minute after I brought it in.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Guess Who's Coming Home Today?

As I write this, I'm at the job, It's been a long week--even with having left on time Monday and early yesterday and today, I'll still have well over 40 hours for the week. I'm tired, and I still haven't completely shaken that cough I had two weeks ago.

Then I think, "My baby's coming home today," and I smile.

I'm not under any illusions about what that means in the grand scheme of things. Olivia will be a sick kitty the rest of her days--whether her days are weeks or months or even years--and it will be a substantial challenge to keep her healthy, comfortable and without pain. There will be medicine, IV fluids, and bland prescription food that she'll sniff at and walk away from.

Then I think, "My baby's coming home today," and I smile.

La Casa del Terror has been too quiet for the last week. When I walked in the door last Friday, it was the first time in nearly 17 years--the first time since that first week in the original La Casa, before JB and his dad brought Lottie and Ms. Christopher to live with me--that a cat hadn't been at that door to greet me. Last weekend was consequently rough, with moments of great optimism followed almost immediately by moments of despair.

Then I think, "My baby's coming home today," and I smile.

I visited Olivia at the hospital last night. She was vocal and eager to get out of her cage--"She's SO over us," the vet's assistant said--and the vet said she'd eaten more yesterday, although her appetite will be a challenge--probably the biggest challenge--the rest of the way.

Fortunately, I've gotten loads of support from people like my friend Katie in Portland, who's had plenty of experience with sick pets, and Rachel, a former coworker who sent me the link to Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease, which has an insane amount of information about the disease (just the "Persuading Your Cat to Eat" section goes on for 15 pages) and had the immediate effect of calming me the hell down and explaining carefully and clearly that no, my cat was not going to die today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Beyond that? We'll have to see.

Then I think, "My baby's coming home today," and I smile.

Thank you all for the prayers, well-wishes, info and advice. It will be rough at times, and it will be a lot of work for both of us, but we've both got a lot of support from a lot of people and a lot of knowledge and tools to employ.

But my baby's coming home today. So I smile.

UPDATE: The vet just called and said that she'd like to keep Olivia through the weekend as a precaution because she threw up a couple of times this morning--something that's common with kidney failure patients, but that Olivia hadn't done during her entire hospital stay. "I could send her home today," the vet said, "but it's better to keep her than to send her home just to have you bring her back Monday." Vet is right, of course, but I can't help but be bummed right now.

UPDATE TO UPDATE:Vet called back a couple of hours later. She gave Olivia some anti-nausea meds and, when O ate after that, the food stayed where it belonged, vet says I CAN take Olivia home tonight! It's been a rollercoaster today, but my girl is coming home tonight after all--that's all I care about.

Thanks again for all the info, support and love, everybody.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Catfriend on the Mend

If Olivia had Internet access--which, fortunately, she does not--she would no doubt be quite cross that I would post any picture that shows her at less than her best.

However, the fact that she looks pissed off is actually a good thing. She was much more conversational yesterday than she had been on my previous visit, a reflection of the fact that the IV fluid therapy is having a positive effect on her blood work. She'll be on the IV until Friday, and then she gets to come home--YAY!

Now, the real challenge: Getting her to eat as much as she needs to. She's still picking at her food instead of "going for it" (as the vet put it last night), even after the vet gave her an appetite stimulant. We'll have to figure that out. Kitty can't starve.

But she'll be home soon, and we'll both sleep better then.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Sick Little Bird

As most of you may or may not know already, Olivia is in the hospital. She hadn't been eating well lately--mostly finishing her food at times, but more often than not leaving half or more of the food untouched--and wasn't her usual, energetic self. And she'd noticeably lost weight. So I took her to the vet and got her checked out. The results were not good--Olivia has kidney failure.

The vet decided to keep Olivia in the hospital on an IV at least overnight to rehydrate her, flush her kidneys and hopefully get her numbers down (the blood work showed high amounts of very unhealthy things in addition to anemia). When followup tests Saturday morning showed Olivia's numbers were still high, the vet decided to keep her in until Monday, but let me visit with her for over an hour on Saturday. Olivia looked a bit more lively--"brighter," to use the vet's word--and was definitely happy to see me, as I was to see her. Sitting on the floor, stroking her still-shiny fur and feeling that motorboat pur under my palm set me at ease, as did the cleaning job she did on her legs when she used the litter pan and accidentally got some urine on them. (She may be sick, but she's still vain.)

The vet will rerun the blood test this morning and see where we're at. She'll come home sometime this week, I'm sure. I just don't know when.

In the meantime, many thanks to all of you who've kept both of us in your thoughts and/or prayers. This is not over by any means, and I have no idea how I'm going to pay for any of it, but getting Olivia home and feeling better is the most important thing right now.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/9/12

I've said it before, I'll say it again: I'm really glad I don't own a car in this city.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter 2012

Do you prefer your bunnies naughty or nice? Today, you can choose between the two to celebrate your Easter--The Evil Bunny surveys his domain as the PsychoBunny Army prepares for, celebration, while the far more placid ancient plush bunny just chills in the living room, happy to enjoy another Easter Sunday.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Opening Day 2012

In years past, the first official game of the baseball season--no, I don't count spring training games as real games, nor should you--would fill me with giddy anticipation. It represented hope renewed, lasting until at least the cusp of summer, when it would become clear whether our teams were fading fast or built to last (much more often the former than the latter).

Not so much this year. And maybe that's a good thing.

Both the Cubs and White Sox are in rebuilding phases this year, with new managers and a mix of new faces and old hands on both sides of town. Consequently, not much is expected of either team; most "experts" are picking the Cubs and Sox to finish near the bottoms of their respective divisions.

However, since little good is anticipated from either team, any success they might have--as teams or individual players--will come as a pleasant surprise.

And even if both teams suck it hard (the more likely outcome, truth be told), there are still a couple of tangental feel-good stories to be found.

For one, longtime Cubs third baseman Ron Santo (whose statue outside Wrigley Field is pictured above) was finally elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this past offseason. It was an honor long overdue for Santo, one of the finest players at his position in the history of the sport, and it was (and is) a genuine shame that this honor could not have come long ago, or at least while Santo was still alive (he died in December of 2010).

For another, there is Jamie Moyer, who started his pitching career with the Cubs way back in 1986 and spent 24 seasons starting for a variety of other teams including the Mariners and the Phillies. He hurt his arm in 2010 and had to have surgery after the season, so most assumed that, at the amazing age of 47, his career had finally come to an end.

In this case, most were wrong.

Moyer attended spring training with the Colorado Rockies this year and won a spot in their starting rotation. If he wins even one game this season, he will be the oldest player to do so--at the age of 49.

Maybe hope springs eternal after all.

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/5/12

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Every Picture Tells a Story: 4/4/12

I don't know why, but these two bunnies make me think of The Shining.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy Birthday to My April Fool!

I'm sure Olivia would be more impressed with your birthday wishes if they came with treats, toys or that popping sound that usually accompanies a tin of Friskies. Otherwise? She likely doesn't care, but I thank you nonetheless.