Monday, September 24, 2012

This Week's Travel Reading

James M. Cain remains one of the most familiar names in the history of crime fiction. A number of his books, including Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Mildred Pierce have been made into classic films and each remade after that. Cain was at his most popular in the 1930s and 1940s, but he continued writing right up to his death in October 1977 at the age of 85.

At the time of his death, Cain was working on a novel that recalled themes explored in his earlier successes. While unfinished, this novel existed in multiple undated draft versions with accompanying handwritten notes for decades. And so it stayed until it was tracked down by Charles Ardai, editor and co-founder of Hard Case Crime, a publishing outfit that seems to specialize in resurrecting the larcenous literary dead. (Hard Case has published posthumous novels by such popular writers as Mickey Spillane, Donald Westlake and Lester Dent.)

Ardai must have had a hell of a time puzzle-piecing The Cocktail Waitress (as the finished product is now called) together from the various drafts, fragments and notes, but he also must have had a hell of a good time doing so as well. For a classic mystery fan, having the honor of editing a "lost" James M. Cain novel for publication must have been akin to an English major having the chance to polish a "lost" Shakespeare play.

Every Picture Tells a Story 9/24/12

Friday, September 21, 2012

Every Picture Tells a Story 9/21/12

Maybe I'm overly sentimental--OK, I'm definitely overly sentimental--but I found it rather touching to see a flower growing in the middle of a pile of gravel.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On the Way to Work This Morning

In my neighborhood, maple trees are already dropping their colorful leaves, likely because of this summer's extreme drought.

Every Picture Tells a Story 9/19/12

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where I'll Be Tomorrow Morning

I had no doubt been spoiled by the results of Olivia's blood tests over the last couple of months, which had been overwhelmingly positive, so when her last test came back with mixed results, I was thrown.

Her creatinine level continued its downward trend to 2.9 (from 3.1 in July), which is great--it's now just a few decimal points above normal, and her phosphorus remains within the normal range. But her calcium, which had been on the high end of normal, was now just plain high--like over two points higher than it should be.

This baffled me and the vet. Olivia has been eating great of late, and her energy level has been consistently good enough that she plays with her toys, literally runs around La Casa del Terror and even plays with me when it's time for bed--I put my hand under the topsheet and pretend it's a mouse, and Olivia attacks it with reflexes and vigor she hadn't displayed since being diagnosed with kidney failure back in April.

When I got off the phone with the vet, I did a bit of research via Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease, which is now available in book form. I found that elevated calcium levels were common amongst kidney cats and that there could be several causes for said elevation, including diet, metabolic acidosis, secondary parahyperthyroidism (try saying that quickly five times, or just once slowly)...and cancer.

The vet said she'd do some research of her own and call back, but never did--the Labor Day holiday was at the end of that week, and it's easy to lose touch when a major holiday is involved. However, we talked at length this past Saturday, and while we're both happy with where Olivia is in her response to treatment, we both agreed that it would be best to retest her blood after fasting her for 12 hours. (That'll

My fondest hope is that the previous test was a 'false positive" caused by something she ate or drank. I had given her a couple of new foods that she really liked, but may have been higher in calcium than her normal kibble, and I had been giving her just a bit of milk, usually no more than a fingertip or two in the evening. (I've since ceased the practice, much to her displeasure.) She was a bad kitty the night before her last visit, though--she waited until my head was turned, then leaned forward onto the coffee table and stuck her head in the glass of milk I'd parked there just moments before. Was that enough to throw her test off by so much? I doubt it, but I hope so.

If we're lucky, all we'll have to do is adjust her diet to include more fiber (peas, carrots, pumpkin) or change her subcutaneous fluids (which currently include calcium chloride) to saline instead. Or, it it was indeed a "false positive," do nothing at all, but keep an eye on the situation, as increased calcium can cause calcification of the soft tissue (very painful for the kitty) and, worse, cause the kidneys to fail that much faster.

If it's not a "false positive," though, we'll have to do further testing to figure out the cause. And if it's cancer...I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know if we can fight both the kidney disease and cancer at the same time, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't afford that. I'm barely keeping up with Olivia's medical bills now.

Fortunately, it's not likely to be cancer, if only because elevated calcium levels in kidney cats are fairly common and are almost always tied, in one way or another, to the disease itself or another related condition. Also? My baby is eating well and seems happy and pain-free. If I didn't have to medicate her every day, I wouldn't know that she's sick. That has to count for something.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Every Picture Tells a Story 9/4/12

Everyone at work agrees--this glove is creepy.

On the Way to Work This Morning

Headed in early to work this morning. At least the clouds were pretty.