Thursday, April 21, 2005

Vacation!

Tonight we leave for a little bit of time away from the joys of work and school. As I've not left the LA area since I moved down almost 10 months ago, I'm very much looking forward to seeing the forested hills of Oregon again. I'm jazzed to get to spend some time with friends and family, and I don't think I can express how much I will appreciate the break from work. There are no words. ;) It's unfortunate that Tom & I won't get to see each other beyond the first day, since he and his family will be doing their own thing at the opposite end of the state from where I'll be, but I am grateful that separation is now the exception for us, rather than the rule. Tonight will be the first time in a while that we'll go to the airport and both be getting on the plane. If that's not something to be happy about, I don't know what is.

So here's to sleeping in and not having to think about reports or exams or how much longer til lunch break. Here's to long catching-up sessions with friends and quality time with my childhood pony. Here's to going on holiday! (It is, after all, the best day...the ice cream day)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Sun, Sand and Sin (City, that is)

For the first time since about a month before his candidacy, Tom was home for both days of the weekend. Saturday morning we slept as late as Leo (and his ever-empty belly) would let us, packed a bag and headed to the beach. It was sunny but not overwarm, a pleasant 75ish degrees. The water, however, was coooold! We each got up several times from our reading to dip our toes in the water, but (as I overheard one guy in the group next to us telling his friends) "it was so cold it made my bones hurt, man." Nonetheless, it was of course a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. Apparently there was an earthquake that day, but we were driving at the time and didn't feel it.

Saturday evening, we watched Fiddler on the Roof, which I'd borrowed from Yaya, since Tom had never seen it. I found it quite strange that I remembered about 95% of the song lyrics and maybe 80% of the dialogue, even though it's been over a decade since I last saw the movie. Over a decade! That's a long time...just under half my life. Wild.

Yesterday we walked around Old Town for a good, long while. We saw Sin City, which was pretty entertaining. Elijah Wood's in it as this really creepy guy...it was somewhat unnerving watching Frodo skulk around in a weird Charlie Brown-type shirt. Stylistically, the film was rather cool - very comic booky, as advertized. I mean, it's not a movie I'm going to rave about, but I'm glad to have seen it and don't feel it was a complete waste of money or anything.

And now it's back to another week of work, but a short week at least. Horray for impending vacation time!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Captain Random

Time for another Captain Random moment. I just get such a kick out of this Get Fuzzy cartoon that I figured I ought to share it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Slogging

Man, despite being part of such a speedy week, today on its own has been brutally long! Holy cow. Feels like I wrote this morning's post a year ago. Geez, do I ever hate days like this...

Speedy Week

Wow, this week went by fast. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I'm not complaining. Tom was gone from Sunday night until yesterday afternoon at a conference in San Diego, so the cats and I had some raging parties...or not. ;) Nah, it was pretty quiet. I read a bit. Still trying to finish Freethinkers, which is good but taking me forever to get through. Tom & I got three new books from Borders on Sunday, and I ordered two of my textbooks for the fall (should be delivered today or tomorrow), so I've got a lot I want to dig into.

We never did make it to Sin City last weekend, but perhaps we'll get to it this weekend. House of D (Duchovny's directorial debut) is opening tomorrow, but only in NY and downtown L.A. I want to see it, but I'm not sure I want to deal with downtown just to see a movie, even though this one does look quite good. Maybe I'll wait and hope it gets released in Portland next week so I can go with my sister.

Better get to work. Have a fair amount to do today, so I probably ought to get to it. (Loki, by the way, is still doing fine and starting to be better about eating most of his food, so that's good.)

Friday, April 08, 2005

A Good Weekend in Store

Tom said this morning that Loki still hadn't peed more than a few drops, so when I talked to the vet later today, she suggested I bring Loki in after work just in case. My boss let me take off a little early, so I came home and got Loki ready to go. I felt so bad; he looked so happy dozing on the bed, and even though he walked in the carrier on his own, he started his low growl when I locked him in. I hate stressing him out if there's nothing even wrong.

Don't worry...this is where the story gets good. We got in the car and he settled down (resigned, really). We got to a stoplight about two blocks from home, and I checked in on him. Lo and behold, he'd peed in the carrier! And it was a fair amount, so he definitely wasn't blocked. Whew...I felt somewhat relaxed for the first time all day. It's so hard trying to walk this line between outright paranoia and dangerous complacency.

Anyway, I called the vet's office to relay the good news and let them know we wouldn't be coming in, after all. They agreed there wasn't any need, so home we went. Loki was probably confused as to why he had a short (pointless) field trip, but I haven't heard him complain. He's sitting above my head on the back of the couch, dozing again.

So now it looks like we've got a good weekend ahead. We'll be able to keep better tabs on Loki, and we're thinking about going to see Sin City. The weather's fine, we have a roll of quarters with which to do our laundry, and we don't have to get up early for two whole days. Life, at this moment, is very good.

Touch and Go

Poor Loki has lost quite a bit of weight over the past month, since he hasn't been feeling so hot. Now with the wet-food-only diet, he can't even snack at the leisurely pace he likes; even if we were to leave the food out for him all day, Leo quickly gobbles up his own breakfast and then goes nosing after Loki's. I don't think Loki likes the prescription food too much, either. Tom was able to get him to eat a bit last night, but he had to hand-feed him. There are two problems with this situation. One, Loki's not getting enough water from the wet food since he's not eating much of it. Two, the smell of the food is keeping him away from the water dish, as well. (I'm going to be buying separate food and water bowls after work today so we can keep the smells separated.)

Because of his not drinking, Loki spent some time in his litter box last night with little or no result. This of course immediately raised red flags. He can't be blocked again this soon, can he? Well, since he was going a little, and since the vet showed Tom how to palpate Loki's bladder (which wasn't distended at all), we eventually came to the conclusion that he wasn't going much because he just didn't have much to go; he just felt like he probably had to because of all the recent urethral irritation. Poor guy.

Step one towards a solution was getting some more water in him. He had no interest in drinking any, even with none of the food around, so I went out in search of some kind of feeding syringe. The only place still open was Ralph's, and I eventually found a liquid medicine dispenser in the baby aisle. We expected a Loki to put up a fight, but he must have been quite thirsty because he let Tom give him about a full teaspoon and a half. So hopefully that helps.

Step two is going to be mixing some of the prescription wet food with some of the wet food Leo's been getting. Loki seemed to be interested in Leo's food last night, and we let him eat a little bit of it (better that than nothing at all), so hopefully we will be able to slowly wean him over to the good stuff. Til then, we'll just make sure he gets plenty of water, even if we have to give it to him via syringe, and keep our fingers crossed.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Home again, home again (jiggity jig)

Well, we've got both our boys once more. Loki seemed a lot less traumatized when I picked him up this time, which is good. He's been grooming himself pretty much nonstop since I took the cone collar off, but he's happy to do so in the living room, instead of hiding in the back corner of the bedroom. So far, so good.

The vet agreed with Dr. Blouin's idea that PU surgery should be used as a last resort. She disagreed with the emergency clinic's assessment that Loki's got a stricture in his urethra, since she had no trouble passing a soft, flexible catheter, which would have had been quite difficult to thread if indeed he had a stricture. A belly x-ray showed no major stones or sandy particles in his bladder...another good sign. She said that most cats with symptoms like his do perfectly well on the wet food, and her outlook on FLUTD in general was that it's a pretty manageable disease, except for the fact that these cats require fairly regular supervision. Luckily, this new wet food diet is going to require that we have someone come and feed the boys twice a day when we're up north in a few weeks, so we won't have to worry as much that Loki will run into trouble while we're gone.

The other piece of good news is that the wet food diet may actually help Leo trim down a bit! The vet joked about the "Catkins" diet...basically, the dry food is full of carbohydrates, which are pretty useless to cats, metabolically. After all, in the wild, they're eating grasshoppers and birds and small rodents...things like that...not starch-infused dry food. Of course, lots of cats do perfectly well with the dry food, but for those who have a little bit of a weight problem *coughLuckycough*, sometimes feeding canned food will help.

In other news, Tom's either just finished or nearing completion of his candidacy exam. Gooooooooooo Tom! :)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Loki's Latest

Already I like this vet better than the others we've taken Loki to since his troubles began. From the sound of it, Loki likes it at least a little better there, too. When I talked to one of the techs yesterday evening, she said he's not been growling or hissing too much when he's just hanging out in his cage, so hopefully that means he's a little less stressed than he was during his last hospital stay. They're going to keep him for another 24 hours to let the inflammation go down some more and then do a belly x-ray to see if there are more stones in his bladder. One day at a time...he's not out of the woods yet, but I'm really relieved to have finally found a vet who seems to be more like the one in Corvallis.

Sore legs, you're wearing me out (na na na)...

I've been planning for a while to take up running again, now that we're settled in our new place and all. I kept finding reasons not to go, especially when I had errands after work, but the time change has given me fewer excuses, since it's now light out until well past 7pm. Our new neighborhood is...well...somewhat sketchy, and Tom's made me promise I won't run there, so yesterday evening I drove over near the old apartment, parked the car, and ran my old loop (the "easy" one). Man, a mile and a quarter really kicked my ass after taking three months off. I was all wheezy for the rest of the evening, and my quads and hips are protesting rather mightily today. I'm trying to use my soreness as a motivator (hey, look what great shape you were in before and how sore you are now...get with the program, slacker!), but...yeah. I know enough to realize I've got to start slowly and build back up to my former fitness, such as it was. Maybe Wednesday I'll try running on the track at Caltech instead.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Daylight (and Loki) Saving Time

Well, Loki blocked again this weekend. He's got a nasty habit of getting sick on Sundays, forcing us to pay through the nose at the emergency vet's. We wrestled for a long time with the idea of putting him down. It still may come to that, though neither Tom nor I are thrilled about it, because it's so hard to see Loki so frequently miserable, but in the end he was pardoned, this time. Both the emergency and regular (cat/dog) vets are pushing a surgery called perineal urethrostomy (PU), which basically amounts to a sex change. Loki would have his penis and the narrow part of his urethra removed, which (in theory) would dramatically reduce his chances of blocking again. There are, however, a lot of side effects, including lifelong problems with bacterial infections, and there's no guarantee that he won't reblock, possibly multiple times, even after the PU surgery. So we're not sure we want to put him through that.

I had a great cat-only vet for Leo when I lived in Corvallis. I absolutely trust her, so I called and left a message to see if she would be willing to call me back and offer another opinion on the matter. I was really glad when she did, yesterday evening. She told me about her own "blocking boy" and said that the only thing that worked for him was switching to a canned-food-only diet. The struvite crystals can't really form easily unless the urine is concentrated, so giving the cat wet food helps to keep everything nice and dilute. She said to avoid PU at all costs; some cats do just fine, but more often than not, you just end up dealing with infection after infection for the rest of their lives. I don't know how many vets would take the time to call an ex-client, out of state, on a Sunday evening, to discuss treatment options for a cat who's not even his or her patient, so thank you Dr. Blouin. You are the best.

Meanwhile, Loki's getting one more shot at life. I picked him up from emergency this morning and took him over to the day vet; switched to a cat-only vet this time (have been meaning to switch for a while, not least because the office is much closer to us than the vet in Monrovia), so we'll be getting yet another opinion. She'll assess him later today and let us know what she thinks. We'll try the canned food thing when we bring him home and keep our fingers crossed. I don't know what we'll do if he blocks again though; these are difficult decisions to make.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

At the car wash...yeah

Today was a pretty lazy Saturday for me. It's been quite warm here the past few days - this afternoon it was easily in the 80s - and as the rain seems to have subsided at least for a little while, it seemed like a good idea to take poor Boomer in for a wash. He was getting pretty grimy, his silver coat only half-heartedly reflecting the sunlight. I found the nearest coin-op car wash and went to work washing away several months of road crud. Even the foaming brush and high-pressure soap rinse weren't enough; I had to go over him, nose to tail, with a fake chamois (a shammy...) to bring out his true splendor. He looks much better now.