Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kitty Health Update #3

Sorry to be so tardy in providing this update on my cat, Fermata.  Life got a bit more complicated after all the tests that were done early in the week.

On Monday, the emergency vet had a specialist perform a cardiac ultrasound to check the odd heart rhythm that was heard when Fermata was admitted to the emergency pet hospital on Sunday morning.  Concerned that kitty might be experiencing heart failure, the vet wanted to rule that out before restarting any steroids for fever reduction.  Thankfully, no signs of heart failure were seen.  Fermata does have a mildly thickened heart, a condition that often occurs in hyperthyroid patients but not cause for current alarm.  With such a good result, prednisone was begun to help with fever and inflammation.

An abdominal ultrasound showed less positive results:  evidence of hepatitis and significant lymph node inflammation with a lot of bacteria.  Ruling out lymphoma, Fermata was diagnosed with a massive opportunistic infection, the result of either a gastrointestinal bug or that same bug combined with a severe reaction to his recent rabies vaccination.  Treatment with antibiotics began immediately, which finally brought down his fever (thank the Lord!).  Now, the concern is getting Fermata to eat, poor appetite being a side effect of his many current medications.  That is our job at the moment since kitty arrived home yesterday afternoon.  If we are unsuccessful, Fermata will go back to the hospital for installation of a temporary feeding tube just to get him over this appetite hump.  Being quite thin, he doesn't have much reserve, so we need to be careful that his weigh doesn't drop too low.

One decision has been made with certainty:  being an indoor cat that has had two serious vaccine reactions over his lifetime, Fermata will never be vaccinated again!

Related articles:
Kitty Thyroid Update #2
Kitty Thyroid Update #1
Another Thyroid Patient

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kitty Thyroid Update #2

Well, life got more interesting around here last night.  At 1:15 AM, after cleaning snow from the Subaru, my daughter and I loaded up Fermata and drove forty-five minutes into Rhode Island to the emergency vet.  Kitty was experiencing a fever plus labored breathing and I was really afraid that he was either becoming dehydrated or, possibly, entering a condition known as thyroid storm, where the thyroid sort of "goes crazy," flooding the body with thyroid hormone, and ramping up respiration, heart rate, everything.  Thankfully, based on bloodwork from the early morning hours, it doesn't look like that is the problem.  That said, the vet is still trying to determine the cause of the continued fever.  Possibilities:  vaccine reaction, a viral infection, or something really serious.  A bloodwork comparison, a feline leukemia test, and a cardiac/abdominal ultrasound should tell us more.  That all happens tomorrow. My family and I are praying for a positive outcome.

Related articles:
Another Thyroid Patient
Kitty Thyroid Update #1

Our First "Real" Snowfall

Today, after many months with absolutely no white stuff, we finally got our first "real" snowfall.  Last October, we got a small amount of snow, but it melted pretty quickly.  Since then, we have been enjoying ridiculously warm temperatures, in come cases near or past 50°F, and that pattern is set to continue.  The forecast for this coming Tuesday calls for a high of around 48°F.  Thank goodness our local outdoor skating rink is made of Teflon, so we won't have to cancel our homeschool group outing for the week.

Anyway, here is a photo of my front yard looking toward my east neighbor.  I fully expect the lawn to be mostly green again by next Wednesday.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kitty Thyroid Update #1

On Monday, my oldest cat, Fermata, a long haired tuxedo mixed breed, had a well check where he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and where he received his rabies vaccine.  Since he also had fleas, on Tuesday I gave him some Advantage.  What a mistake!  Since, over the years, Fermata has demonstrated an occasional tendency toward adverse vaccine reactions, I should have known better than to give him medication so soon after receiving a vaccination.  By Thursday afternoon, my poor kitty had a fever of 105°F (a normal cat temperature is about 102°F) and started showing signs of diarrhea and lethargy, his usual signs of vaccine reaction.  On Friday morning, Fermata refused all food and water, so it was off to the vet for fluids.  I didn't want to chance a hydration crisis over the weekend, a weekend when we were expecting a snowstorm (which arrived as scheduled).

While at the veterinarian, I received the much-anticipated thyroid bloodwork number:  5.8.  Not bad considering the last time I had bloodwork done on Fermata, the level was near the same.  That means that, for now, he is pretty stable, except for the vaccine reaction, of course.  His medication has been ordered and will start as soon as he is back to normal.

Related articles:
Another Thyroid Patient

Monday, January 16, 2012

Another Thyroid Patient

Sometime in late 2009/early 2010, my veterinarian and I decided to help my oldest cat, Fermata, slim down a bit.  At the time, he was weighing in at around 14-15 pounds, which really wasn't very healthy for him.  By late 2010, my handsome cat was at 13 pounds (not bad), but his hindquarters were showing some signs of being too thin for the rest of his build.  Not wanting to miss a potential health problem, I agreed to a thyroid panel to rule out hyperthyroidism.  The results were high normal but with no thyroid enlargement, so a "watch" status was enacted.  Today, after a well vet check, watching became treating.  Fermata is officially hyperthyroid.  Diagnostics have begun to determine the current status of his thyroid and to determine his starting dose of methimazole, an antithyroid drug.  I have decided on this course of action, at least for the time being, until my husband and I can discuss the other options more thoroughly (i.e., surgery or radioactive iodine treatment).

While I am not thrilled at the prospect of caring for a feline thyroid patient, the amusing part of this scenario is that my husband is also a thyroid patient.  He was diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer in 1993 and underwent a thyroidectomy in early February 1994.  He has been on Synthroid ever since, a drug to replace the thyroid hormone that his body no longer produces.  Fermata has the opposite problem:  his body produces too much thyroid hormone.  In fact, the veterinarian explained to me today that King Richard would need to make sure that he steers clear of the cat's ears (the cream medication application site) for a few hours after dosing so that the antithyroid meds that the cat will be taking do not interfere with the thyroid replacement meds that he takes.

This could be interesting!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Journey to Bethlehem

My daughter, Katherine the Great, gave me the best gift this Christmas:  a recording of the 2009 Concordia College Choir Christmas Concert, titled "Journey to Bethlehem."

--- Read more at A Struggling Believer.

Monday, January 02, 2012

A Community Loss

This morning, just before lunch, my daughter gave me some sad news:  the Somers Congregational Church in Somers, CT burned to the ground last night.  This center of worship and community events in northern Connecticut was built in 1842 and had played host to three Shoreline Ringers handbell concerts in as many years, the most recent just one month ago.  Always a welcoming host to the local bell choir, our hearts go out to the congregation at this time of great loss.  Please pray for them, and for their community, as they begin the rebuilding process.

WFSB Channel 3 News article
Eyewitness YouTube video (some profanity)

If you are interested in reading more about the history of the church, click here.