Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Cats12:00 AM - Change to cats page (@Crosswinds)

Changed my Cats Page to add some actual links like I kept meaning to... they're added to the group of pictures about half way down the page.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Life12:00 AM - News stuff

I've decided that when a news item is very long, it's going straight to the "Previous News" section with a quick comment here that there's a new item for that day, since this is the main page, after all. Gotta have at least some of the rest of the main page visible in the window so it's obvious that this section isn't the only stuff on the main page, etc. Basically anything longer than a decent-sized paragraph or so won't show up directly here, just a link saying "New news item: Click here" or some such.

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Monday, August 20, 2001

Cats12:00 AM - Squeeker update

Yes, two updates in one day. I made one early this afternoon and now I'm making another one late in the evening. I would have uploaded the one below in the afternoon and then waited until tomorrow for this, but I couldn't upload because of a small server problem, so I figured I might as well do everything at once.

Squeeker went to the vet for his checkup, and the vet was very surprised but very happy that he is still walking just fine. He said the only thing he could really think of would be that he did something to wrench/sprain/strain something in his back that caused the inflammation, and the steroid injection allowed it to heal quickly. The only thing to watch out for now is a slow (several days or weeks) deterioration of his motor skills in his hind legs, which would definitely indicate something wrong other than a fall or other injury.

We also asked about his ears, because he still seems to be accumulating quite a lot of yuck in his ears (probably lots of ear wax) and wanted to make sure he didn't still have an infection. Also, he made doubly sure of no ear mites. He passed those tests, and we mentioned he's been treated a couple times before, each time with the problem coming back. Interestingly enough, he said that often times chronic outer ear infections (especially the really itchy ones) can be caused by a food allergy.

The only easy and pain-free way to see if he has an allergy, is to find out whatever is in his dry food (corn, beef, etc.) and get another dry food of comparable quality (it's not a quality change that's needed) that doesn't have any of those ingredients in it. For example, if his dry food had corn and beef, we'd get something with, say, lamb and rice. Then, we would feed him that for three or four weeks, cleaning his ears a couple times a week, and see if his ears get/stay clean and unitchy. If so, then he had an allergy to one of those things.

Well... I read what's in his food (I didn't bother with all the supplements, as it's the actual main base ingredients he said were the potential allergens), and he's got a lot of stuff in it. To be specific: corn, chicken, beef, brewer's rice, wheat, and egg. So I called them to see if they knew of a food that's got none of those things in it. The only thing they could think of is something relatively new called ZD. It's a completely synthetic food with no animal or plant material (it specifies no potato, so apparently there is a potato allergy in some animals) and is made of hydrolized protein, which is too small to be detected by the immune system (thus, there is no immune response). Problem #1 is it's only sold by vets. (I called both Petco and Petsmart, and neither one had it.) Problem #2 is that it's bound to be way more expensive, since it's synthetic, new, and only found in vet offices.

What I plan on doing is trying it for 3-4 weeks as suggested, and if it works I'm going to try and find other food that has less of the ingredients than the one I'm currently using. I plan on starting with finding something without corn, because I think (if I remember right) that it's often a source of allergies, and also I've heard that rice is almost never a problem. If that continues to work, then I can use that instead of the ZD because I'm almost sure whatever I find in a pet store should be cheaper than at a vet (and I also have a Petco card, which gets me discounts on stuff there).

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Cats12:00 AM - Getting better

Well, another weekend has gone by, and I have good news to report.

Squeeker is still feeling better. The vet called us Thursday, to follow up on his progress (we had called Wednesday afternoon to mention that his legs were working much better), and what he had to say sounded rather grim. He said that since Squeeker reacted so quickly to the cortisone injection, he highly suspected lymphoma as the source of his troubles. He went on to say that if that was the case, he would relapse very quickly in the "next day or two" -- meaning Friday or Saturday. We were planning to go on a float trip Friday with my fiancé's family (it's a yearly thing where his relatives come in town and we all go), and my grandparents said they would love to have him visit Thursday evening and Friday. We warned them what the vet said, and they said that was fine. So, keeping in mind that when we dropped him off might be the last we saw him completely well again, we went on the float trip.

Friday night we returned to my fiancé's parents' house around 10:30pm, and I called my grandparents to see how Squeeker was doing. They said he was doing just fine, and I was overjoyed! We were planning to pick him up that night, but we still had a two hour drive home, which would've put us arriving after midnight. They are night owls, but we both agreed it would be better to pick him up Saturday morning instead. Saturday morning came around and he was still well, but we still had a busy day ahead of us. We were supposed to go about 45 minutes west to visit his family again at his grandmother's, and we needed to leave again at 1:30 or so, so we only got to spend an hour or so at home with him. Poor guy!! We came home that evening after having dinner out there, and he was happy to see us, greeting us at the door and talking up a storm. :) We played with him lots before going out with friends late that night, and a little more before going to sleep.

Sunday came and went, with us going to see the St. Louis Cardinals play the Philadelphia Phillies (totally awesome game!!!), and then that evening going to my parents' for dinner for my birthday. We did of course get to spend time with Squeeker between trips, and all night after we left my parents. He's still feeling well, with that right leg just the teensiest bit off (mostly just noticable when he tries to run fast and go around a corner at the same time). He is no longer taking any medicine (the vet said the Baytril pills are loads stronger than the liquid we'd been given, so he didn't need anything after the pills) and is playing just as he always did, and cuddling a lot too.

The vet said we should bring him in Monday for a checkup, regardless of the apparent state of his health, so we have an appointment early in the evening for him, and hopefully he'll pass with flying colors!

Also, we have an additional thing to mention during our visit, supplied by another Crosswinds member who read about Squeeker's condition here. He had similar problems with his dog some weeks ago, and while looking on the internet, found out about something called Vestibular Syndrome. I don't have his email at hand, but I did some searching and I'll put in the basics. It's an inflammation of nerves between the inner ear and the brain stem, sometimes caused by an inner/middle ear infection, most times with no known cause.

The symptoms are stroke-like, with loss of motor function ranging from slight to severe. (We did think of a stroke, although when one thinks of stroke, one thinks of lost motor function affecting either the left or right side of the body, rather than front or back.) There is also often leaning of the head to the affected side, dizziness, rapid eye movement, and other things. The onset is sudden, recovery can take from a few days to a few weeks, and sometimes a little leaning of the head can be permanent. Also, not all of the symptoms may be present. Since he just had the problems with his legs, and they were on both sides (no "affected side"), and he had no leaning of his head, I'm not sure if he had this or not.

Since we were treating him for an outer ear infection with Baytril drops (and cleaning his ears before each treatment with a cleansing solution provided by the vet), I wonder if maybe it was possible he also had an inner/middle ear infection that was taken care of by the oral antibiotics he was taking, and perhaps any inflammation was diminished more quickly with the cortisone injection (specifically, it was dexamethasone) he received.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Cats12:00 AM - Improvement

So far so good! My furbaby's legs are almost all better. His left leg is back all the way, and his right leg is almost there. He still has a slightly difficult time jumping, if it is up too high (like the window sill) or doesn't have anywhere for him to grab with his front paws (again, like the window sill). He can make it pretty easily onto the couch and into our laps on the couch & in chairs, though.

He's also showing a gusto in eating his food, washing, not wanting to be alone (which is good -- for a few days he was doing his best to find hiding places in the apartment), etc. He's even playing by himself now (without being prompted by us, although he plays with us too). I think as long as we finish his antibiotics, and his legs stay working right through the end of this weekend, we'll be out of the woods for at least a good while.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Cats09:30 AM - Options

Well, another year older and a lot has happened. We took Squeeker to the vet this morning at 7am, and talked to the doctor we talked to last night. Last night, he said the blood work didn't show anything bad -- his kidneys, liver, and pancreas were all looking good. This morning, he felt his belly (it was only a little tense, so it was continuing to improve) and his back, and felt nothing abnormal. In other words, he couldn't feel anything like a slipped disc, calcified disc, etc., and no masses. He gave us two options: First, he said one thing we could at least try is to give him a single dose of steroids, to see if that improved his motor function in his legs. Second, and much scarier, was something called a myelogram (sp?). This is a referral procedure, which entails completely anesthetizing the cat, injecting dye into his spinal column, and taking pictures to see what, if anything, is disturbing the spinal cord. Quite risky, because not only does it involve anesthesia (more risky in cats than in people, even), it also involves coming close to the spinal cord. Even done correctly, cats often have had seizures and the like, and it's very invasive.

What we decided to do, and what he recommended, was to go with the first choice. He said one of three things would happen:

  1. He'd get better and stay better.
  2. He'd get better for a day or two and then relapse.
  3. No change.

If the first thing happens, then while it wouldn't tell us the cause, it would tell us he'd had some bad inflammation that the steroids were able to clear up with no problem, and we'd just "pretend it all never happened." If the other two, that means it's something more serious (cancer, most likely lymphoma, other tumor, etc.) that may or may not be curable, probably not.

Well, I came home this afternoon, and he's much improved. He's not all good yet, but he can walk a ton better. His right leg is the weaker one, while his left seems almost 100% better, and he's still not able to put any power into jumping, but he can walk without sitting down every other step or nearly dragging his back feet. He also continues to improve as far as his his belly is concerned, as he is actively choosing to eat and drink water, and playing a little more. So... fingers crossed that the steroid dose did the trick for his back, and that tomorrow he's completely better. Then, fingers crossed again (and maybe toes too, hehe) that he stays better for, I would say, at least a week. I say that, because the doctor said the steroids would stay in his bloodstream for about a day and a half, so if the medication has completely worn off, and he doesn't slowly or quickly relapse, then I'd say we just need to finish his antibiotic and we're in the clear. But I'm not holding my breath. "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst." Dunno who said that first, if anyone, but it's true.

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Sunday, August 12, 2001

Cats12:00 AM - Problem with Squeeker's legs now

Well... it's been a long end to a long weekend. We woke up pretty late this afternoon (2pm or so) from staying up really late last night, and there was good and bad. Squeeker was much perkier, and it was obvious he'd drunk a good amount of water, so we were happy about that. But, something new. He is now having trouble with his hind legs, making him look like a stumbling drunk. I called the vet, and their answering machine said they were closed but also gave the number of a nearby emergency vet that's open any time regular vets aren't. We called them, and the woman who answered said to pinch his toes on both hind feet to see if we get a reaction. It got quite a reaction (he growled a bit at Jeremy) but we were still worried, so we took him in. The vet who saw us checked for a pulse in both legs (which she found), and felt around his lower abdomin and hindquarters, including his lower back. He's definitely in pain in that area, but only when he's getting squeezed there (no severe general discomfort). He has good reflexes in his legs, which is also good.

She looked up Amoxicillin, and the only thing she found is that with prolonged use and/or large doses, it has occasionally caused ataxia (what Squeeker has, basically, with his legs). But... she did say that cats often "don't read the book" and so it could be he's very sensitive to it, and it could be the cause. She gave us four pills of Baytril to switch to instead, at half a pill twice a day, to see if taking him off the Amoxicillin clears up his back legs problem. Also, she did suggest that we follow up after the full blood work comes in at the regular vet's, and possibly do more x-rays of his back and maybe a urinalysis too, because of all the pain he has in his whole lower region (he could be having spinal/neurological problems, kidney problems, etc., that may or may not be related to his wobbly legs). So we'll probably be going in tomorrow afternoon. Ugh! I'm so worried about him, dang it. I just keep telling him we're going to make him all better, and that's that. After all, he is feeling more lively after a couple antibiotic doses, so after he finishes those maybe he'll be all better for a while.

It's been one long weekend.

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Saturday, August 11, 2001

Cats This site12:00 AM - Squeeker's sick

My Squeeker's not feeling well. :( He's been acting oddly for the past few days and I'm worried. A couple days ago he threw up a couple of times, but nothing solid (no food or hair), just spit. And he's been "hiding". Basically, he doesn't do anything, isn't interested in playing much at all, and stays in "safe" places such as under desks & end tables, under the bed, etc. We took him to the vet on Tuesday and she said she couldn't feel anything in his stomach, and since his temperature was normal she suggested waiting to see if he threw up a hairball, including getting some hairball dry food. It'd help more (if it's indeed a hairball) if he'd actually eat more than 2 bites of dry food at a time... (He's not eating much, and hasn't eaten his dinner at all.) We couldn't get an appointment for Saturday, or Friday afternoon, but they accept walk-ins, so we're going to watch him for a little longer and bring him in if he doesn't improve.

Uploaded several funnies today. Choose them here or go to the Funny Forwards page to see them:

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Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Wedding12:00 AM - Church wedding in our future?

Well, there's a good chance we might be able to get married in a church after all. Jeremy and I needed to find someone to officiate at the wedding. My sister's boyfriend's parents are both ordained and have both done many weddings. So, last Friday after dinner, she took us to meet them. We talked a lot, about several different topics, and one thing they mentioned was that we could get married in their church if we chose.

I've been thinking about this a lot, and I think it'd be really nice after all. Jeremy seemed amenable to the idea as well, although of course he still insists I have "final say" over this since I'm the one planning it. While it'd require people to drive from the church to the reception, I think it might be a lot of fun, and the church and reception hall are not across town from each other so it wouldn't be too bad.

Oh, and I have to say: they were so incredibly nice. They said they'd put together a few ideas (since we weren't entirely sure on what kind of ceremony we'd like, other than not very religious, simple, and not too long) and discuss them with us, and they can do all kinds of different ceremonies (lots of tradition, a little tradition, none, etc.). The only thing left is to decide which of them we want to actually marry us, and that is going to be a challenge.

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Thursday, August 02, 2001

Life12:00 AM - Meaningless entry

Okay, this isn't "late-breaking", but I just redid my "Previous News" page, and I wanted to have a news item for August.

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weight loss ticker