Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Word of Advice

In these upcoming cold winter months (for which I'm very grateful), when you are sitting at home listening to your furnace chugging along and wondering why it is not getting any warmer. Before you call a repair person, make sure your heating vents are free and clear of any foreign objects such as...

and this...

Butterball and Woody would like to go on the record though that they would never block their mom's heating vents. They prefer to usurp the laundry basket, preferrably one with warm, clean clothes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Things I'm Thankful For

I've been enjoying my five days off. Our conference did so well this year that my boss closed the office on Wednesday so we would get a full five days off. As much as I enjoy Thanksgiving, I think I enjoy the days after even more. No traveling, no last minute preparations to make sure everything hits the table hot and at the same time. Just lounging around with my cats, raking a few leaves now and then, eating leftover stuffing and turkey and sweet potatoes. I made my famous creamed onions and made a new dessert. Luckily my sister had a pumpkin ice cream pie also as my dessert didn't do anything for me. It looked so good in the magazine. It was a Three Nut Torte with a chocolate glaze. It had crushed pistachios, almonds, walnut oil and I even added a few crush pecans. Along with rum, vanilla and sugar. It just didn't taste like anything. It was very moist and sweet but with no umph. Oh well.
Onto things that I'm thankful for:

Sunrise on Thanksgiving morning. View from my front porch.

My black cherry tree. I love fall colors!!

I'm very thankful that Butterball is not as seriously ill as I had worried. I took him in on Tuesday afternoon to the cardiologist for an echocardiagram. It was quite amazing watching his heart and seeing it from all the different sides. Seeing the massive equipment and the care the vet took with Butterball and analyzing the results, it was well worth $450.00. She did not find any adult heartworms on or around his heart. Butterball's heart was normal size. The only thing she did find was a "trivial to mild mitral regurgitation" due to mild degenerative valvular disease. Basically, one of Butterballs valves wasn't closing all the way and a little amount of blood was leaking back into the heart chamber. She said this was very common in animals of Butterball's age (14) and that it is a very slow disease I shouldn't be concerned with. Even if the disease did advance, there is medication for it. But, since he has lost weight and did test positive for having the heartworm antibody, she wants to put him on monthly heartworm preventative. That way, if there are any little baby heartworms still in his blood, the preventative will keep them from becoming adults. She also prescribed a pill, sort of a bronchial dialator(sp?) to help with his occasional mouthbreathing. So, I just have to bring him in to my regular vet for a check up in six months and again to the cardiologist in about a year and a half. All in all, good news. As I was walking out of the cardiologist's office I was thanking her and saying I was relieved the diagnosis wasn't nearly as bad as I had envisioned. She laughed and said "well, you're a woman and women always fear the worse for our loved ones." I think she is right.

I'm thankful for three pee-free nights from Greybeard! I was hoping for four but I have to take what I can get.

Little Figaro (or as I start calling him around this time of year "Figgy Pudding") is such a sweet little thing. He always has a sleepy expression.

Sweet Pea was dianosed with Feline Urinary Syndrome in 2003. It means that his urine is not acidic enough and he develops crystals that block the flow of urine. He has been hospitalized 3 times from 2003 to 2004. Since then I found a wonderful product from Drs. Foster and Smith called, what else, Urinary Acidifier. It is in a paste form that I just put on Sweet Pea's front paw twice a day and he has been symptom-free since 2004! I am VERY thankful for that.

BIG, BIG thing to be thankful for. Maggie the Lone African elephant from the Alaska Zoo was finally transported (by an Air Force Cargo plane) to her new home at the Performing Animal Welfare Society in northern California. She has met all the other elephants (with a fence still dividing them). The caretakers are thrilled with how well Maggie is adapting to her new home. They are taking her out daily for walks up and down hills to build up her muscles before they remove the barriers between her and the other elephants. Elephant greeting can be very physical with a lot of bumping and head butting and they want to make sure Maggie is strong enough to withstand the gregarious greetings from her new elephant family.

Yes, a lot to be thankful for this year.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tired and Worried

I've been out of the blogsphere for a while. My association has an annual conference every year, usually the first week of November. Before the conference our governing board has a two day meeting. Just preparing for the meeting alone is stressful. Add preparations for the conference, preparations for someone taking care of my herd of cats while I'm out of town for a week, etc. makes for a very grumpy and stressed out possumlady. Our conference (this year in Chicago)draws a crowd of anywhere from 20-25,000 people. For an introvert such as myself the week borders on torture.

Something had to give and a week ago last Sunday night while I was having dinner with our governing board I felt a familiar twinge in my jaw while I was eating. I, along with Mary, suffer from TMJ problems. Once I feel a twinge I need to give myself megadoses of naproxen in the hopes that a full blown attack will not occur. If that happened at conference I would have been useless. TMJ pain manifests itself differently in different people. For me, a full blown attack means the swelling of the muscles in my jaw press against the nerves in my face. It basically feels like every tooth in my mouth is badly infected and throbs with pain. My teeth are even painful to the touch. I decided I had to be anti-social and at the end of every day, instead of going out with colleagues, I headed back to my room to ice my jaw and decompress from the day. It worked! No full blown attack.

I flew back home late Saturday night. Oh, my fur-babies were so happy to see me. I awoke hot and sweating on Sunday around 5:00 a.m. to find 7, yes 7 cats basically plastered to my body, with Butterball making sure he got the prime real estate around my face.

That reminded me to make sure to call my vet. I had taken Butterball in the week before the conference as it seems like he has lost weight and occasionally he will mouth breath when he exerts himself by jumping on the bed. Well, he has lost 2 pounds since March but the vet did not seemed too concerned. He said his lungs sounded good and, of course, he did not mouth breath at all when he was at the vet. My vet thought he looked great for an over 14 year old cat. He took some blood to do a good blood workup on him. I never heard back so I called today and there does seem to be a problem. Butterball's glucose levels, kidney and liver functions all tested normal. But, he did have a very high white blood cell count that my vet said is indicative of two things. One could be a parasitic problem and the other is allergies. The parasitic problem could be very serious---heartworm. Sometimes there are no symptoms, but some of the symptoms can be--weight loss and trouble breathing. And, to make matters worse, there are no standards in treatment of heartworm in cats. Vets just kind of modify the dog treatment, and in looking it up on the internet find out that 70% of cats that are treated for heartworm die because of the treatment. I just don't know what I'll do if that is the case. I'm bringing Butterball back to the vet's tomorrow so they can take more blood to test specifically for heartworm. If it is allergies, I can breath a sigh a relief and the vet said we would just do a round of steriod shots.

So, say a little prayer for Butterball tonight.

The vet's assistant once asked me with all the cats that I had if I had a favorite. I told her "I always tell my cats that I have no favorites and love them all equally. Then I whisper to Butterball 'but if I DID have a favorite, it would be you!'