Saturday, November 14, 2015

First Freeze

Overnight was the first freeze in Huntsville. The squirrels are out chasing each other around, looking for the last of the acorns for this season while the chipmunks are still asleep in their burrows because it's too damn cold to be out at the moment. No pictures of the squirrels since they wouldn't let me get close enough to snap a good photo.

When I took these pictures, the sun had not yet risen above the horizon and it was a chilly 32°F, or 0°C if you prefer. Now that the sun is up the temperature has risen to all of 34°F.

Frost limned leaves, dogwood and violet among the frosted grass.

The partially frozen birdbath is nearly empty from all the birds splashing around, and a few of the last dogwood leaves and seeds have found their way into it.

Friday Catblogging - Requiem In Pace

Since the last edition of Friday Catblogging, there has been a lot of change in the cats of the Oubliette. We have lost McCullough, Eep, and Noah due to age and illness. Callie went to live with a neighbor, who liked each other and where she would be an only cat, as she always wanted.

McCullough had hyperthyroidism, and was on medication for it. We had the option to have part of her thyroid removed. The procedure is to introduce a radio isotope that goes to the thyroid then perform a scan to see how much the thyroid absorbs, indicating how active it is and how much would need to be surgically removed. This requires a specialist, since the cat must be boarded at the clinic for about 3 days in isolation while the radio isotope is excreted in the urine, which is mildly radioactive. By the time we would have been able to send her to Georgia for the surgery, it was too late.

In February of 2013, I found McCullough lying on the floor one morning, gasping for breath. I immediately loaded her up and took her to the vet, who only works on cats. She was immediately put in an oxygen chamber before an x-ray was performed. She had a lot of fluid in her chest, making it hard for her to breathe. She had to have a needle decompression (inserting a needle into the chest cavity but not any organs to remove excess fluid) and it was all hands on deck. Usually, as the owner, I would not have been allowed in the procedure room, but since I let the doc and the techs know I had medical experience as an EMT, the allowed me to help. I gloved up and assisted in restraining her, keeping her calm, and after one side had been decompressed, placing my finger over the puncture to prevent air from entering her chest cavity until it sealed itself (the doc was using a small gauge butterfly needle, so the puncture was very small). In total, 300 milliliters of fluid was drained from her. The vet said she had never seen a cat have that much fluid removed and the cat living more than an hour.

We decided the best course of action was for me to take her home and nurse her there. I was given a prescription for oxygen so she could be in an oxygen chamber at home to ease her breathing. An oxygen chamber sounds elaborate, but it is simply a clear storage tub with a hole drilled in the lid for the tube from the cylinder to fit into and fill the tub with oxygen, and the cat is placed in the storage tub with the lid on. I made a larger one than the emergency chamber the vet had, since McCullough was going to be in it for several days.

I picked her up from the vet after I had assembled my own oxygen chamber, so McCullough would be as comfortable as possible for the ride home.

We nursed her for two weeks, keeping her on oxygen the entire time, but she did not respond to her medications. We decided to let her go instead of keeping her in a box for any longer. We gave her the best possible chance for recovery, but she was beyond saving. Her final resting place is in our back yard, in a small glade among the trees with wildflowers growing in the spring and a stone cairn marking her resting place, age of approximately 15.

In 2012 we discovered Eep had breast cancer. She had gone into heat before she had been spayed, which increases the chance of breast cancer in cats. The vet had to remove all 4 mammaries on her left side, plus two lymph nodes. It was thought we had caught it in time and she came home without needing chemotherapy or radiation.

In March of 2013, one month after McCullough's ordeal, Eep was lying on the floor gasping for breath herself. I loaded her into the smaller oxygen chamber I had and rushed her to the vet. My car was jokingly called the "Cat Ambulance", since I already had her on oxygen when she arrived.

An x-ray showed that the cancer had metastasized to her lungs, with a couple of tumors as large as a quarter. She was terminally ill at that point, so we (myself and Hubby) decided to have her put to sleep immediately. Her resting place is next to McCullough with her own stone cairn, age of 12.

Noah's story is both the longest and the shortest. In 2013 he was diagnosed with a serious heart murmur, initially rated at 4 of 6 in severity. There was no medications we could give him, no treatment available. His heart would eventually fail.

Over the two years after he was diagnosed with the murmur, we watched his behavior and patterns, looking for any sign he was in distress. He wasn't, although he slept more than usual, because of the murmur.

 By October of this year, his heart had grown significantly worse. He had no energy since his heart wasn't pumping blood properly. Hubby found him on the floor one morning, not moving, and thought Noah had passed in his sleep. When he touched him, Noah finally responded, but stayed lying on the floor. He stopped using the litter box and would spend the entire day and night sleeping on the floor. On 10/10/15 we had him put to sleep. He rests in the same glade with McCullough and Eep, age 18.5. We have not yet been to the nursery that sells decorative stone to pick out the stones for his cairn.

In 2014 Callie went to live two houses down the street. She and the owner liked each other, and with him she would be an only cat. I would see her occasionally wandering the neighborhood, and she still liked getting skritches from me, but she had chosen her new home.

Earlier this year, S asked me if I had seen Callie. I hadn't and he said she hadn't been home in a few days. We never saw her again. There is a pack of coyotes in the area that occasionally come into the neighborhood. I'm afraid she was killed by a coyote, since we never found any trace of her. Callie was approximately 12 years old.

Right now the Oubliette has only two cats, Freya and Freyr. Both have become more clingy towards Hubby and me. Right now Freyr has attached himself to my hip while I type this. Freya is probably asleep in the window in Hubby's room. Both are healthy and happy now that they've adjusted to Noah's passing. Freya is enjoying the peace of fewer cats and Freyr just wants a warm human to snuggle with without  having to compete with anyone.

The Oubliette is quieter now; no herd of cats running around. There's still the sound of the rats in the background, but the colony of rats in the Oubliette is another story.

For more cats and other critters, go visit The Friday Ark #545 at The Modulator. Or you can head over to the Catblogosphere to catch up on cat related news on the blogosphere.

Edit: I genuinely thought it was Friday when I posted this. I was a day behind, since the trash collection is on Thursday, trash collection happened today, so it must be late Thursday/early Friday when I started typing. I'd forgotten that the trash was a day late due to Veterans Day. So, Caturday then?

Monday, October 26, 2015

a lot of things happen in five years - medical

*removes spiderwebs*

It has been a long time since my last post. Why? It's called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) that's been poorly managed. I become a hermit when my MDD is being poorly managed, online and real world. Don't feel bad, I was irrationally afraid to communicate with everyone, including my family. Living with MDD is a bitch.

First, it was trying to find a medication or combination of meds that would work. That didn't go so well and I ended up spending 3 days voluntarily inpatient in the psychiatric unit at a local hospital to get on different meds and somewhat stabilized. I was having a really bad day and leave it at that. Part of the problem was my insurance at the time, it didn't cover any psychiatrists in the Huntsville area, so my only choice for specialist care was inpatient admission. The doctors told me that if I needed any adjustment to my medications to just voluntarily admit myself again, since my insurance would cover inpatient psychiatric care 100%. No, it makes no sense at all; covering the more expensive care but not a physician in a local practice.

Had to change general practitioners (GP). Most of my meds had the "May cause drowsiness" warning on them, so I slept a lot. I asked my new GP if there was an anti-depressant that would not make me drowsy. Yes, there was a new one that fit the bill, that treated MDD and would not put me to sleep. Just the opposite, actually. Great, I'll take it. Which I have been for the past 2 years. One problem: no one told me that it should be taken with food or else 1/2 of the dose is lost in the digestive system. Oops. No wonder it stopped working so well, I was taking it on an empty stomach. I discovered this around 9/1/15, so almost two months ago now. So I spent most of September of this year adjusting to the effective doubling of my dose of meds. Yay, such fun when one's neurochemistry is being messed around with.

Then the first of this month rolls around and I'm dehydrated from having nausea and vomiting with a mild fever for 3 days and end up going to the ER on the October 1. What a way to break in my new insurance which went into effect that day. I was delirious at times, I was so low on fluids. A good friend/adopted family/neighbor (I'll call her Hera, in keeping with the Greek pseudonyms for people) took me to the ER since hubby was at work. Hera stayed with me until Evil Timmy (hubby, yeah, no Greek name for him) could get off work and meet me in the ER, then stayed a little longer to find out what the doctor said before she went home, despite how the chair had to be hurting her back (another story for another time). Long story short, yes, I was very dehydrated: 3 liters of fluid given in the ER  and I couldn't keep anything down, despite all the Zofran I was given. Reglan finally stopped the vomiting, so if it took that drug, I was going to be admitted.

So testing for C. diff, which was negative, but landed me in contact isolation for about 24 hours while the test was being run. Contact isolation protocols mean that I was restricted to my room and anyone who entered first had to put on a paper gown and gloves before entering since C. diff is transmitted by touch. I was allowed out of my room once, at 5am for a CT scan, and I had to wear the gown and gloves outside my room. I was given two lap blankets to cover myself with in the wheelchair, and I got to keep those since they were potentially infected. I ended up with a lot of blankets by the end of my stay. 

The morning I was scheduled for discharge I began to have double vision, vertically, which is pretty odd to see. The doctor on call was an ass, he dismissed my concerns about optic neuritis by telling me I needed to go see my optometrist (not ophthalmologist, who is a medical doctor specializing in the eye, but just get my glasses prescription adjusted). Now, I've had optic neuritis twice before so I know the symptoms, which include a sudden change in vision as the optic nerve becomes inflamed. The first time I wrote it off as needing a new prescription for my glasses, waited 4 days until my appointment with my neurologist, and got my butt chewed on for waiting so long since if the inflammation isn't immediately treated then there can be permanent damage and partial blindness. Lesson learned, don't screw around when my vision suddenly becomes abnormal.

The ass of a doctor wanted to send me home, and I'll admit, I became a bit emotional at the prospect of re-admission for IV medication treatment for my eyes. It was a Sunday and he said there weren't any specialists at Madison Hospital on the weekend. I said that Huntsville Hospital (HH, both are in the same hospital system) had neurologists on staff on the weekends and would he please call one of the neurologists and see what they wanted to do. Well, a HEMSI ambulance was called for me to be transferred to HH's Neurological Progressive Care Unit (NPCU, and doesn't that sound impressive). Screw you Dr. Asshole. Well, out of spite or something he ordered a psych consult for me while I was in HH because I was "overly emotional" or something like that. The psychiatrist said that it's perfectly normal to be terrified of going blind, especially for a visual artist. In other words, I had a normal, human reaction. Take that, Dr. Asshole, no I wasn't wanting to stay in the hospital just because I'm a hypochondriac or something like that. I just wanted to be sure I wasn't going to end up partially blind. No, I'm not bitter or anything.

An MRI of my brain and cervical spinal cord (neck) didn't show any lesions at this time, but that doesn't rule out the possibility of microscopic lesions that wouldn't show up. Another MRI of my eyes and optic nerves revealed no inflammation. The diagnosis? Multiple Sclerosis. Yep, back to MS as the source of my neurological problems. I'm going to be seeing a specialist in MS at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville to try to figure out what's going on. I'll go up for an exam, then the doctors at Vanderbilt will coordinate with my neurologist in Huntsville so I don't have to keep going to Nashville for treatment. It will be January before I can get an appointment; they're booked that far out.

On the up side, a diagnosis of MS guarantees I'll receive disability benefits, which I'm in the middle of re-applying for. Hopefully I won't have to get a lawyer involved and I can keep all of my disability back-pay.

Next update - more of what's been going on, moving on from medical.

The photos show much better than I can describe what edema (retained water) from 19.8 liters of saline given over the course of a week when input > output looks like. That's 19.8 kilograms or 43.5 pounds of water, mostly accumulated in my legs. I'm wearing thigh-high anti-embolism stockings to provide compression for the edema, both to reduce the pain and the edema itself. After 4 days of not being able to eat and dehydration landed me in the ER in the first place. The same pen is used for scale.

Then I was given Lasix by my GP and I lost 40 pounds in 5 days! Wanna guess how? You probably guessed right. Ugh. And I had to keep my oral fluid intake at normal so I wouldn't get dehydrated again...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Long Story

Where to start?

Those of you who know me from high school may remember that I was often sick. That was Crohn's Disease, which I've had since I was 9, and culminated in me requiring part of my intestine removed in the early spring of 93. After that, the disease went into remission, and I spend most of my early 20s in great health.

I moved to Huntsville, staying the summer, taking classes and getting a job instead of going home, which made me officially an Alabama resident. Damn it was nice how much tuition at UAH dropped.

By January of 1996 I had an Alabama EMT license as a result of one of my electives. So I joined the Huntsville Madison Rescue Squad and volunteered with them for a decade. I was on the Board of Directors for 2 terms and got to play with the big boys when I helped plan the Huntsville International Airports' Disaster Response Plan (a full scale drill of a crash landing, which is required by the FAA every 10 years for every airport).

During that time my back started to ache and get worse over the years. I also had a minor flare of the Crohn's, so I had all sorts of tests, and that's when it was discovered I had Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). The links will take you to the Wikipedia article for each, right click and open a new tab if to keep this one open.

The good thing is the treatment for Crohn's, the medications, also treat RA and AS.

During this time I met my EvilTimmy (hey, that's what my hubby calls himself online), and we got married 3 times and never divorced. First, we were married by Common Law (Alabama is one of the few Common Law states left) when I told Huntsville Hospital he was my husband, not my boyfriend or fiancee. The moment we presented ourselves as married, we were under Alabama law, which was in 1997.

EvilTimmy is an Engineer and I graduated with an Art Degree, specializing in Graphic Design. I was hired by a military contractor to work on the Redstone Arsenal, and hubby was hired by a different contractor. We both needed at least Secret level security clearances. So we went to the Courthouse, since while the government recognizes Common Law marriages, the Department of Defense does not. Marriage number 2.

One year later, to the day it turns out, we were able to get a venue for the wedding ceremony for our families, since most didn't know about marriages number 1 or 2. It turns out our anniversary is November 17 of 1997, 2000, or 2001 depending on who we're talking to. We've been married 10 to 13 years. No children since we decided early we didn't want any and it would be detrimental to my health to carry a fetus.

Then, one day in April of 2004, while I was at work, I had a horrible dizzy spell. I left work early, got home by luck and muscle memory so I didn't end up in a ditch. That was the first major symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. While going through testing, I realized I'd been having minor symptoms for months.

Yay, even more meds. One med does start helping, I'm not having as many falls (my neurologist says I have to use a cane outside the house, and I mostly do), and my coordination isn't getting worse, at least.

But then comes the down side. It makes triggered an episode of paranoia and anxiety directed toward the computer. Not anyone on the computer, but the machine in general. I wouldn't fire up Photoshop, or get on the internet just to check the weather.

That's the last 15 years of my life, in a very large nutshell. Please don't take any offense if I don't respond to any comments, I may be having a bad day as far as the computer goes. Comment here or on Facebook, whichever you prefer. I only ask that here I'm Mira, regardless of what my Facebook name is.

Whew. That was a lot

Saturday, January 10, 2009

sunday catblogging and the CotC

It's getting cold outside, so Freya has started looking for warm spots inside to nap, mostly on or very near my lap or hip.


It's a web-cam shot, so not up to my usual standard.

And don't forget, at 18:00CDT (6:00pm for you non 24-hour folks) the Carnival of the Cats will go live at Three Tabby Cats in Vienna.

Monday, January 05, 2009

carnival of the cats

The Carnival of the Cats #251 is up over at The Whole Kitten Kaboodle. (Yes, I know it went live last evening, but better late than never.)

So go forth and view other members of the catblogosphere.

Friday, January 02, 2009

friday catblogging

Today it's Noah's turn to be the cat of the week.

Noah in cat bed 1

Noah, sound asleep in the cat bed I put on my art/beading table. He and Freya were taking turns sleeping in it. Otherwise, this happens:


Not. Helpful. In. The. Slightest.

I'm such a pushover when it comes to the fuzzies. Complete pushover.


Don't forget to visit Modulator to check out the Friday Ark then head over to head over to Carnival of the Cats to submit your link for Sunday's Carnival, hosted by The Whole Kitten Kaboodle.

Friday, December 19, 2008

friday catblogging

Today I introduce Isis, my parents' newest resident:


Don't be fooled by that innocent look, the dainty crossed paws. She should have been named Sekhmet because she is a little hellion. At least this is what the reports I've been receiving are saying. Yes, we know she's part something-point Siamese, we'll just have to see how her color develops and see what her points become.

Isis appeared early one morning, before Ra had risen in the East, hiding in the stump of a tree. Mom left the house to go to work when she heard Isis cry out from her hiding place in the woods, all the while an owl called out over their heads.

Mom crossed the road to the woods and called out to Isis, but she would not leave her shelter, for the owl was hungry and hoping to find a meal before Ra appeared in his chariot. Mom implored Isis to stay hidden while she returned to the house, to find Dad so that he could join her in rescuing tiny goddess.

Mom had to leave for work so she would not be late, but she guarded Isis until Dad appeared with light and food that was gooshy. The owl, being a creature of the night, left Isis and the bearer of light and food alone, retreating to its roost.

At the scent of the food that was gooshy, Isis appeared from her hiding place, somewhat bedraggled but still proud in countenance, as are all her kind.

Until she tasted the gooshy food and nom nomed without any pride. Dad was able to collect Isis while she nomed the gooshy food and carried her inside, where she now resides.

Friday, December 05, 2008

friday possumblogging

I'm hoping to start a new trend here - possum blogging, or opossum blogging, whichever you prefer. I know not everyone has one of these creatures readily available for photography, but then that's the fun of it. The photo-hunt at night. You might find one like this:


This is a juvenile, born this past spring and Momma Possum has finally said "OK, kid, you're on your own now." I know it's hard to tell scale in this photo so here are my estimates for size and weight: she (I think) weighs about 3 pounds, and is 12-16 inches from her nose to the base of her tail. Her tail was almost as long as the rest of her body.

But don't worry, this young one takes advantage of the stale bread I throw in the yard for whatever wants it and it also eats sunflower seeds that the birds scatter from the feeders. So despite not having a Momma Possum to gather food for her, this little one should be fine because I can't not feed the outside critters. Plus it's better to let something eat stale bread than send it to the landfill. [/environmentalism]

There is also a second, large adult possum that comes by every once in a while. More possumblogging yet to come from me.

...I think it will catch on. *nods*


Since it is Friday, be sure to head over to Modulator for the Friday Ark, where there are links to many other cats and critters for your viewing pleasure.

friday catblogging

It's a miracle! I remembered to catblog on Friday, instead of Monday rolling around and me saying "Well, crap" and trying to remember to post new cat pics.


If you think you see a bald patch on Eep's back, just above her tail, you are correct. Since she hates to be groomed, she doesn't get brushed as often as she should. She will tolerate being brushed for a completely random amount of time before she goes for blood. As a result, a pretty big mat of hair formed on her back where she can't reach to groom herself because of her fat ass.

The solution: a battery powered beard trimmer/shaver and some of my Valium. One for me, one for the cat.

After 45 minutes she was the friendliest she has ever been. All she wanted was to have her head skritched and to groom Hubby's hand. I got to work removing the matted hair and by the time it was all over I had removed a mat the size of my hand. Eep seemed relieved that that source of irritation was gone.

(I don't want to hear how I'm a bad cat Mommy; you spend a third of the summer in a hospital bed and see how much you get done around the house, including grooming a mean-spirited long hair cat.)

I just wish I had thought to take pictures of Eep while she was under the influence of the Valium; she could not get traction on the vinyl floor with her back legs, they just slid out from under her so she ended up almost swimming across the kitchen vinyl tile floor. I should have taken video of all of this.

Next bad idea - giving Eep a bath.


Friday, October 10, 2008

friday catblogging

It is autumn outside the Oubliette, and Callie has agreed to a photo shoot.

Autumn Comes to the Oubliette, Featuring Callie.
(Who came to the Oubliette in the fall as none of you may remember.)

First the contract negotiations. Callie is never happy with the first agreement her agent makes for her. Just a blip in the day's schedule, these things happen.

Negotiations complete, Callie does her sultry, come hither look.

Playful, sexy kitten pose.

Playful, silly kitten.

Proof she can do Star Trek, and sci-fi in general.

Go ahead, tell me I'm irresistible. You don't have to hold back.

Then, the shoot ends.

...and I want some water. Not the stuff from the bowl the other cats have polluted, but bottled water, from a glacier. Or an iceberg. One of those nice dark blue one, the really old ones.

Ahh, models. We all have our days when we're sure we're under-appreciated.


Don't forget to visit the Friday Ark #212 at Modulator.

If yesterday was Friday Catblogging, that means tomorrow must be the Carnival of the Cats at My Big Fat Orange Cat. For those of you who who like numbers and such, tomorrows CotC at MBFOC is number 239.

Monday, September 29, 2008

time dilation and having the plague

So, as you might have guessed, the previous post is pretty much a month late. It's not that I wasn't completely thrilled by David's phone call, but days start running one into another seamlessly.

Then I had the Plague and I died. Then I got better and time continued to not really have any meaning to me. Oh, I see this blinding orb move across the sky, then a smaller one moves along the same path, but that has no relation to time. The day and night doesn't mean the date has changed.

And even better, I've started to notice "cognitive impairments", or what most people call "brain fog". I'm hoping that it is side-effects from the Neurontin, which I'm almost maxed out on. If it's not a drug side-effect, *sigh* I don't know. I'm still not sure if I want to know if the cognitive impairment is permanent. Maybe it would be better to not know.

Hell, I may be more impaired than I think. I wonder what my current IQ score is. It was...well above average before all of this started, and the test I took off the interweb at the time which was within one or two points of a professionally administered test when I was in first grade. (time passes) Uh, yeah. My current score isn't as good. Don't start with the older one is, the more unreliable the tests are, and you have to take the exact version, blah, blah, blah. I did want to finish writing this tonight, so I took one of the first tests I found.

Even more fun, I may end up going to the Mayo Clinic. That's another post, because it's the only way to keep on track. But it won't be tonight because I'm saying f*** it and going to sleep with Top Gear in the background.

why, yes, i am a sci-fi geek


Over Labor Day weekend, I was planning on going to Atlanta to Dragon*Con. That would have meant leaving the house and heading to Atlanta the day after I was released from the hospital.

So no D*Con for me.

However, I did get a phone call from David Nykl, and so there was much happiness. Thank you, David, for the call and thank you Desi for arranging the call.

Although trying to find a quiet corner of Michael's (the craft store) to take the call was not easy, but damned if I didn't manage it.

I talked to David Nykl on my phone!

He also suggested that since I only live 4 hours from Atlanta, that I hop in a car and come see him in person. Trust me, that thought had already crossed my mind several times before he suggested it.