Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Max Update #2

Max stayed at the vet all day yesterday. The only way I could get him in was to do a "medical drop-off." This means that I leave him there and when the doctor has time during the day, she sees him. Otherwise, I'd have had to wait over a week for an appointment and he might not have lasted that long.

The verdict is a worsening in his anemia and with the prescribed treatment, his prognosis is considered "fair" and the vet assured me that there is a lot of life left in him.

So, despite carrying around a pound of fluid in his back legs and belly, which makes him look like a hard-working Asian bovine (you know, back bone sticking out but with enormous fat sides), and sleeping by his water bowl 24/7, and having to be force-fed (and I mean FORCED), and giving him massage and passive movement therapy, I'm not to worry.

What I am to do, is still give him 4 pills a day, give him sub-cutaneous fluids EVERY day, and three times a week give him a shot of Epogen, a human drug to make the bones make red blood cells. This is given in a tiny sub-cutaneous injection and I did the first one last night and think I missed and shot it right through him, like piecing an ear but on the back of his neck. The reason I think I missed is that a few minutes after giving him the injection I pet him and felt a drop of moisture. Since I'm not possitive, though, I have to wait until Friday to give his next dose, which I will do at 12am, so technically it's Friday, but is the soonest I can repeat the medication so it can do it's good work.

The swelling is supposed to be cured once Max isn't anemic any more. My exhausted, brain, dwelling numbly in my cold-fighting, sleep-deprived, exhausted body, vaguely recalls the vet mentioning something about fluid differential over cell membranes and anemia...

In the photo above, Sammy took a break from harassing Rose (after I scolded him) to keep Max company and try to cheer him up. When gently batting at Max's feet caused Max to turn his back on Sammy, Sammy gave up and took up his position again on the computor monitor.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shopping for the Home

I had my eye on this round shelf for a few months. It's from Pier 1 Imports. All the ones I saw had damage of some sort and I couldn't get a good enough discount to justify a damaged one. Then, one lucky day, I went back in and the salesman found a perfect one for me. I asked if it was on sale and he said it was not, but when he rang it up, it rang up on sale, much to both our delights.

It's on the wall above my piano. It will hold ivory carvings that my grandparents bought in Hong Kong when my mom was in her early teens, but until I'm sure my cats won't bother them, it holds non-breakables. The picture doesn't do it justice or show that it's actually 30" in diameter.

Max Update

Max is not doing well. In the past five days, he's gained a pound in fluid that has swollen his belly. I did some online research and have adjusted his medications back down to the smaller doses he was first on, hoping to reduce the side effects he is experiencing. If this doesn't work, and the vet has no better treatment, I will take him off of everything and let Nature take over. I would rather have a shorter time with Max feeling better than a longer time with him feeling miserable. The feeling bad began for him when I put him on all these pills. Until then, he was just very skinny, but he still ate and acted like himself, but slower. Now he doesn't eat but a tiny bite or two and he's starting to hate me because I've been force-feeding him (inappetance is a side effect of the meds, so is not being able to taste, upset stomach and nausea) and he's been camped out in the kitchen by his food bowl for four days. I put a blanket there, but it's heartbreaking. He wants to eat, but can't make himself do it.

Last night he jumped up on my lap and settled for a nice snooze, which was nice for both of us.

Hats I've Knit

Doesn't Sammy make a lovely hat model? He's such a good kitty to do almost anything I ask of him, no matter how silly. This hat is made from the Ann Norling pattern, but I found a free pattern online that is virtually identical by putting "knit strawberry hat pattern" into the Google search engine.

With this second hat, Sammy started to get the hang of really posing. If it wasn't for the flash in his eyes, I could have posted a variety of darling poses he struck. This hat was from a pattern I found HERE but after making the strawberry hat, I knew I needed to make some changes, so here is the same pattern but with the changes I made:

Lilly's Hat
(bits in brackets I added)
Yarn: scraps of Lamb's Pride worsted [sport weight]
Needles: US size 10.5 [U.S. size 4] circulars and dpns. Switch to dpns whenever it becomes necessary.
Cast on 224 [1-2 yr. 336 or multiples of 7], and join.
Round 1: K2tog
Round 2: k2tog
Total 56 [84] stitches remain
Knit until hat measures about 3.25" [5.5"] including ruffle.
Decrease for the crown as follows:
Decrease round 1: (k2tog, k5) repeat to end.
Round 2: Knit
Round 3: (k2tog, k4) repeat to end.
Round 4: Knit
Round 5: (k2 tog, k3) repeat to end.
Round 6: Knit
Round 7: (k2tog, k2) repeat to end.
Round 8: Knit
Round 9: (k2tog, k1) repeat to end.
Round 10: Knit
Round 11: K2 tog
[Round 12: K2 tog]
Thread yarn through remaining stitches and pull to close.

Make 2 flowers using this free pattern from Sarah's Yarn Box. Make 1 starting with a 6-stitch cast on and 1 starting with a 4-stitch cast on. Sew them onto hat. Weave in all ends.

First Bay Cup Tournament

I am The Fencing Mama! I got third place (out of 21) at my first fencing tournament of the season today. This is a picture of my actual medal while I'm wearing it. I set the camera on my kitchen table and set the timer. The medals this year are quite pretty and I just noticed a touch of China on them. On the left is the TransAmerica Building, in the middle the Golden Gate Bridge, and on the left, a fencing mask with a Yin and Yang underneath as a sort of neck.

It was gratifying to place (I love getting medals!) since I haven't competed at all since last December, pre-adoption. After my tournament, the under 14 girls were arriving and many of them are Chinese and look like 7 year-olds, even though most were 12. All I could think about was Apple and the interests I'm going to support her in, whatever they turn out to be. I watched the mothers cheering their daughters on and knew that one day I'll be doing the same thing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Question Re-vaccination!!!

I am shocked at the number of families that automatically re-vaccinate their babies once they get them home, without doing a simple blood test, called a titer, as part of the normal blood work-up to see what the immunity levels are. Most pediatricians recommend re-vaccinating automatically, but I've heard from several doctors and learned from research that this is unnecessary and may even be dangerous.

I'm also shocked that these families and doctors will give as many as 5 injections in the same visit! This can mean something like 15 serums or more at one time! Besides not feeling well from the serums, there is physical pain at the injection site. Also, if the baby has a significant allergic reaction, how will you determine which serum it was? Not to mention that I think it's inhumane to stick a baby with five needles in one visit, not even counting the TB test and blood test.

At Children's Hospital here in Oakland they have a very strict policy on the number of "sticks" a child has to endure at one time. For example, one nurse or technician has two tries to insert an IV or draw blood. If they fail, they have to ask someone else to try. That person gets one try. If they fail, the procedure is cancelled or put off until another time. If it's urgent that the procedure be done, then a pediatric anathesiologist is called in because they are generally extremely proficient with difficult IV insertions and blood draws. I've even seen a nurse in the ICU take a look at a baby's veins and not even try, knowing it was a difficult case, so she got someone who she knew was very, very skilled at it.

Many are under the impression that there isn't much risk with vaccines, but this isn't true. In the past few years there have been several recalls and changes in protocals due to side-effects from vaccines. I'm not just talking the MMR/Autism question, but things like intussusception that was caused by the Rotavirus vaccine (it was pulled from the market right away), and now Prevnar, which prevents seven strains responsible for most cases of pneumonia, meningitis and deadly bloodstream infections has caused a niche for dozens more strep strains that exist, to flourish and become impervious to antibiotics since the vaccine combats the more common strains, yet doctors are still advising that children receive this vaccine. The Prevnar vaccine promotes new superbugs that cause ear infections, a superbug germ that is resistant to all drugs approved to treat childhood ear infections. One strain in particular, called 19A, is big trouble. A new subtype of it caused ear infections that were resistant to all pediatric medications. HERE'S a link to the article, but I'm not sure how long these news links stay active.

Also realize when you hear about children getting meningitis, that most of these kids HAVE BEEN vaccinated and that the vaccines are not 100% efficient. Also, menigitis has many causes and many different bug strains, but you never hear about these in the news articles and TV programs.

Please educate yourselves on the risk/benefit ratio of vaccinating and definitely do NOT automatically re-vaccinate. When you have your child's physical done after you get home, definitely include in the blood workup a titer. A titer is a measurement of the amount or concentration of a substance in a solution. It usually refers to the amount of medicine or antibodies found in a patient's blood. Blood titer measurements can be very helpful in determining medical treatment. Antibody titers can tell the doctor if the patient has immunity to diseases such as measles, small pox, and hepatitis.

At my last agency class one of the parents said their doctor told them, "Your baby will have to have a needle for the blood test and the vaccine. Why not just do the vaccine and then it's only one needle." How ridiculous is this when the blood was being drawn ANYWAY for other tests and the vaccines require THREE doses!!! Fortunately at this class there was also a parent who was a doctor and she spoke up about NOT automatically re-vaccinating and said she was glad I told everyone about the titer.

I've also heard that the vaccines used in foreign countries aren't as good as the ones here. Well, unless you read the label and brand, you have no idea which ones your kids are getting here either, and be assured, the cheaper vaccines are widely used in the USA, too, don't kid yourself. My cousin used to work in a doctor's office (she was the technician that gave the shots) and I learned a ton from her. I also have a mom whose baby is in my daycare who works for a pharmaceutical company and gives me the inside scoop.

Bottom line: It's up to you to protect your children!

Five Months LID & Update

This post is a day or two late because I was super busy and not feeling well on top of it.

I celebrated my 5 months LID day by having a class at my agency on Parenty Strategies and it was VERY good. I love the classes at my agency because they abound with common sense and practicality. As a person with a lot of experience with babies and children, I don't have a lot of patience with fads in child rearing.

Even though I wasn't feeling well, I still went out to lunch and to the baby shops, but left my favorite one, Bellini, after just a short time, sat and rested in my car, the drove home. I rested today and feel almost normal now.

Thank you for your comments on my last post about my cat, Max. I completely understand about having PTSD, WZgirl, my sympathies to you for whatever you went through, too.

Max appears to have stabilized and seems comfortable, though I wish his appetite was better. He rests a lot now, a side effect to all the medications, but he's alert and talks to me even if it's a kitty curse word, and he was fiesty when I did his sub-q fluids. The day after going to the emergency appointment, the emergency vet called me because the cardiologist got back to him and suggested 1/4 of a pill twice a day to help Max get more oxygen and it worked wonderfully well. He also suggested increasing the thyroid pill since Max is responding favorably, so I did that, too. Max will have an appointment with a new internist when she returns from vacation and I'll have another blood test done. The thing I'm interested in is seeing if his anemia is worse. If so, something will have to be done. There are three choices, transfusion with real cat blood, a shot intended for humans that stimulates the bones to make red blood cells, and something synthetic that is transfused into the blood that carries oxygen and works like red blood cells. I should also mention that even though it's not good, Max has a true Valentine-shaped heart! I always have called him my Sweety Boy.

On Friday, I attended a family funeral. Even though it was a sad occasion, I loved being with all my Hawaiian relatives. My family took it seriously when God said to be fruitful and multiply. My grandmother's sister married at 14 and had 8 babies by the time she was 24. One of those 8 also had 8 kids. One of those 8 has little boy/girl twins, about 1 1/2 years old. They were soooooo cute, both sucking their thumbs and playing with their piko (belly button) with their other hand.

I conducted the hymns so I was up on the stand looking down. I was thinking about this huge loving family that I'll bring Apple into. It was all I could do not to tell everyone about the adoption. Hawaiians love children. I can imagine her running around at a family gathering being spoiled by the older girl cousins and how the uncles will gently play and tickle and hug her. I loved watching everyone's expression of tenderness, joy and love when the kids passed by. The gentleness always touches me since I see so many Western dads trying to be macho, or even when they are being tender, it lacks the utter gentleness I noticed. Even though it's 2am Monday morning as I type this, I still feel enveloped in the aloha of last Friday. It's such a wonderful feeling.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Cat Max

Max is the white cat with a green and a blue eye. Pooch is the sleeping cat.

I just spent the last 4 hours at the emergency vet with my cat Max, who is 14 years old. Two weeks ago he was diagnosed with a ton of "old man" things: 75% kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, hypertension, anemia, and an increase in the heart murmur he's always had. Alone, each of these conditions is easily treatable, together, the treatments contradict one another. Treating the hypertension is particularly hard on failing kidneys. Treating the kidneys is particularly hard on the heart.

The determined treatment was three pills and subcutaneous fluids, all in low doses, with a recheck in a week. At the week check, there was slight improvement so the blood pressure medication was increased. I was warned to look for labored breathing, a sign that the treatment was hard on his heart. Today the labored breathing began so I had to take him to the emergency vet which is open 24 hours and just happens to be where his internist is (but she's on vacation right now).

I went ahead and did $500 worth of tests, some of which needed to be done as a follow-up anyway, and there isn't much change in treatment, just to decrease the amount of sub-Q fluids I give him.

While I was there, an 18 yr. old cat came in and ended up being euthanized. And a dog came in just after me, unable to breath, foaming and contorted. It had paralysis of the trachea and was also euthanized. Meanwhile, a family with a 20 yr. old cat even skinnier than my Max, who is just fur and bones, went away feeling better, having pooped on the table, relieving the constipation it was in there for.

I cried a lot! I felt so much for those who had lost their pets. The grief of losing Max's mom, White, two years ago, is still sooooooooo fresh, just beneath the surface of my control, that it came out a bit. Fortunately, there are several tissue boxes around the place.

That place was truly a pet E.R. From my room I could hear the sounds of the heart monitors beeping and animals protesting treatment. Max really laid into them when they took his blood, poor kitty.