Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's that time of year!

Back to school! I will be a total wreck for the next two weeks. Don't get me wrong--I like my job for the most part. It's just that I am a total night owl! Typically over the summer I get into the habit of staying up until 3 and sleeping until 10. I was better this year. I was usually in bed by 1 and I got up between 8:30 and 9. That felt great. Now I have to get up at 6 am. The problem is that I will still end up going to bed around midnight. I just can't seem to break myself of that habit. It's worse in the winter when it's dark in the morning. My body rebels against getting up when it's dark! I'm thinking that I will alter my morning routine a bit this year. I tend to be a little leisurely in the morning, taking the time to check my email before I leave the house. I think I will just go to school and get there a half hour earlier which will allow me to leave a half hour earlier in the afternoon. The next trick will be actually leaving school on time. I think if I make myself leave on time, I won't waste a single minute at school. I'm getting too old to continue to work hours and hours of unpaid overtime. We gave up our cost of living raise this year and our workload increased so I'm thinking that I'm not feeling very compelled to donate more of my hours. People have come to expect us to do that and my profession has gotten in the habit of apologizing when they can't work additional hours for free. No more! I'll do the best job I can do, but when my day is over, I'm going home! That is my plan!

In the meantime, I've been trying to catch up on my summer wardrobe--now that summer's almost over! I made a silly little 50's style circular skirt with a Day of the Dead skulls print!

It's fun! I was going to line it, but there was just so much fabric that I didn't need to!

Last night I finished a dress. This is the same vintage pattern that I used for my red silk dress. I love this pattern so much that I decided to use a cotton for a dress I could wear to school. I did end up fully lining it with Bemberg Rayon.

I actually have 2 pairs of shoes that match this--the green ones in the photo and a pair of blue sandals with kitten heels.

I've already moved on to my next dress. I have 3 more to make. This one will be out of some vintage fabric that I found in my Mom's house. I believe my aunt brought it to her from some of her travels. It has hula girls, ukeleles etc. It took some planning to cut it out properly because the motifs are so large that I had to make sure they were placed appropriately. Who wants a large hot pink flower right on certain parts of one's body? If you know what I mean!

Other news--My secret pal sent me a package which was waiting for me when I returned from Boston. I thanked her privately but I wanted to thank her publicly. She sent me one of the books on my Amazon wish list. There are some really cute projects that I can use all my cotton scraps for! She also sent me a notions bag with a funny VanGogh keychain, some very nice stitch markers (can't have too many of those!), some note cards and--best of all--some fingerless mitts that she made!

Check out the mitts! I absolutely love them! They will go with so many of my clothes! I wear a lot of 3/4 length sleeves in the winter and these will be perfect with all those greens and browns that I wear!

I don't know what yarn she used, but it is incredibly soft and I simply love these mitts!
Thank you again, Secret Pal! You're the best!

Ems got a new tat! Check this out:

Is she her mother's daughter or what!!!

That's it for now! Sorry to be so brief! I have to attempt to get myself mentally prepared for the next 10 months!

Kitty Cam: Greg has been very clingy now that Mikey is gone. He inches up onto my lap whenever he gets the chance!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Playing for Change: Peace Through Music

I love these Songs Around the World from the Documentary Playing for Change: Peace Through Music.

How could I do what I do and not love them!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Then there were three . . .

Mikey came into our lives on Friday night May 25, 2001. I was at home sewing Ems' graduation dress for the next Tuesday when she called me at 10 pm. "Mom! I found five kittens at the restaurant park!" Me: "Leave them there. Their mother must be around." Ems--"It's too late. They're already in the car!" I contacted the Howard County Cat Club which is a rescue group because I was concerned about the mother cat. Ems had seen her and she appeared to be feral and hid. The cat club trapped the mom a week later, had her spayed, gave her shots and released her as she was, indeed, really wild. I knew ultimately that the babies would have better lives if they were taken care of. In they came! Five tiny, and I mean tiny babies. Ems' first words were "One's polydactyl! Can we keep him?" Without hesitation, I said yes. These babies were about 12 days old. I had grown up with mom cats and I was well aware of all the developmental stages of kittenhood. I was worried that they may have been exposed to things that I didn't want my 4 indoor kitties to get so the babies were put in a box with a blanket in the kids' bathroom. We started them on KMR immediately. There were two all black males, one tabby and white male, a tabby female and Mikey, also tabby and white with his extra toes. He was named Mikey after Ems' friend Mikey who was with her when she found them. Mikey, the human, was really stocky. Mikey, the kitten, was also stocky with his big old feet, much like like a little bulldog. The kittens grew and we adopted out 3 of them. We kept Mikey's brother who was named Greg. Greg was the runt, weighing in at 1 3/4 pounds at 6 weeks old when the others were all in the 4 pound range. He was sickly and I couldn't part with him because he got so much extra mothering. Greg is now a 19 pound black panther.

Mikey had so much personality. The kitty sitter we have has always said, "Don't be surprised if Mikey is missing when you get home!" He was very talkative and personable. He would carry his cat teaser around (that's the feather on the end of a long stick) and drop it at our feet so that we would play "spinny" with him. Spinny was when we would make him run around in circles chasing the feather--much like chasing his tail. It was comical to see him do this on his big old feet!

This is how I remember him most--lying on the couch in his "rub my belly" pose. It was part of our nightly routine. In fact, if I was busy, he would come over and nag me to come to the couch so he could lie on his back for a belly rub.

I chronicled his illness here and in the last post I talked about the ordeal of the last week. We had decided last night to put in a feeding tube because he was doing so much better. I talked to the vet today and he wasn't doing well. I went to see him and his temperature had dropped to 96, his blood pressure had gone down and he had some fluid in his lungs. Ironically, his electrolytes were up to normal. He was very cold when I was with him and he was covered with a blanket and surrounded by heated rice bags to warm him up. He cried like I've never heard him and I knew what I had to do. He just had that look in his eyes. I told the vet and she cried too--saying that they had all become rather attached to him. I stayed with him when they injected his IV and he was already half asleep. He died peacefully. My gut tells me I did the right thing, but I am still heart broken.

Here are some favorite photos of my Mikey:

Running around under the rug!

Waiting for mom to get ready in the morning:

Nestling by the creche at Christmas time:

Napping on the dining room table:

Curious Mike:

Watching Mom vaccuum:

Celebrating the 4th of July:

Cuddling with sibling Greg:

Cheek to cheek with Harley:

Hanging around the window with Samantha:

Rest in Peace my little angel kitty. You enriched our lives more than you will ever know. We miss you.

How much is too much?

I'm sorry I haven't posted lately. I have a lot of photos from Boston. I've been a wreck this last week. Mikey had a severe diabetic episode. For those who may not know, Mikey is my 8 year old polydactyl cat. His diabetes has been well controlled with insulin injections. Apparently he hasn't been eating enough--which for those of you with cats, diabetic or not, if your cat stops eating, take it to the vet ASAP. DH was taking care of the cats while I was away and he is at work all day so he wouldn't have noticed anything unusual per se. The cats also don't hang around him whereas they swarm around me.

On Monday Aug. 3 as I was leaving to drive home, DH called me and said that Mikey didn't come for his kitty treats Sunday night and didn't eat Monday morning. I got very worried, thinking that maybe he was getting too much insulin. I worried all the way home. DH got home at 7 pm and I was just north of Baltimore at the time. I asked him to rush Mikey to the vet (who closes at 7:30). By that time DH had to pull Mikey out from under the couch as he couldn't stand on his own. I got home just as DH was coming from the vet with instructions to rush Mike to the ER Vet whom she called ahead.

Our vet said that Mikey had DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) and it was a life threatening situation. With DKA, their blood sugar is too high for a long enough time for them to get severely dehydrated and their body creates ketones. Typically the treatment is to hydrate them with IV fluids to get their electrolytes up and they will eventually pee out all of the ketones. I was floored as I suspected the opposite--too low sugar. Mikey also appears to have Hepadic Lipidosis or fatty liver syndrome. This is what happens specifically to cats when they stop eating. The liver basically attacks its own fat reserves and if this isn't treated, they can go into liver failure. The treatment for this is food. Many cats have to be force fed with a syringe and many go on a feeding tube.

I was, and have been completely heartsick. I thought he looked like he had lost a little weight. Why didn't I take him to the vet? I will forever beat myself up over this. The vet gave me an estimate for 3 days of treatment which was $1100 - $1600 and I paid a $900 deposit. She said that typically the DKA clears up in about 3 days but can go as long as a week. Anyway, I went to see Mikey on Tuesday and he was still lethargic, but he purred when he saw me. Wednesday he could pick his head up and he tried to meow, but he seemed to have laryngitis. Thursday, he was very talkative and looked quite bright. He still wasn't eating so they put a nasal feeding tube in since he was too weak for a regular feeding tube. He was also using the litter box. He continued to look better on Friday. His electrolytes were still low and they were still concerned. On Saturday and Sunday, he seemed more tired and he had diarrhea on Saturday night. The weekend vet said she didn't have a good feeling about him and I got the impression that she was basically saying to put him down. She didn't think he was strong enough to undergo the anesthesia to insert an e-tube. On Monday, he seemed better and his electrolytes were in the low normal range. I had kind of decided that I would bring him home Monday and take him to our regular vet to put down that night. The question is--how much do I spend on this? I've spent $2800. Do I just put him down after that or spend another $1000 to nurse him back to health? He is very jaundiced. His ears, gums and his little pink nose are yellow, though they looked a little better yesterday. Do I spend the $350 for an ultrasound to more accurately diagnose if it is pancreatitis or a liver issue or do I put that money into getting a feeding tube for him? The vets are basically treating him for the various conditions it could be.

I've been getting a lot of support from the ladies on the Feline Diabetes board. Four of them told me stories of their cats who were actually worse than Mikey. All of them had an e-tube put in and got their cats on their regular diet that way. An e-tube goes into the esophagus and you use a syringe to put the food in it. You can feed the regular canned diet if it is pureed and thinned a bit. All of these people said that their cats improved quite rapidly with this and they suggested getting the feeding tube asap so that he can get stronger.

I've been so torn and my stomach has been in knots the last 4 days. The other cats for whom I've made end of life decisions have been such clear cut cases--elderly with kidney failure, cancer etc. Mikey is only 8 and this seems treatable. It's just taking longer than usual for the ketones to clear up. The vet last night said that he was actually trying to climb out of his cage and she thought we shouldn't give up on him but she understands the financial need to get him home.

We made a plan. This morning they would take out his nasal feeding tube to see if he would eat. If he didn't eat, then they would insert an e-tube. I will bring his regular diet for feeding as that is essential to regulate his long acting insulin which they hadn't been able to do. He has been getting short acting insulin every 4 hours and he has to be off that to come home.

So this is where I've been all week. I'm an emotional wreck, breaking down in tears at the most inconvenient times. People who aren't pet lovers don't understand. It's hard to put a monetary value on a treatable condition. If Mikey makes it home, he will require a lot of care. I'm hoping that I can get his tube feedings down to 8 hour intervals before I go back to school. I will also have to do home glucose testing, which I should have been doing all along.

Please say a little prayer for Mike!

Kitty Cam: Here's Mikey, looking fairly bright with his new feeding tube last Thursday: