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How not to clean a room full of cats....

Dec 01, 2010 - 6 comments

I'm a relatively new volunteer at Cat Adoption Team shelter, a no-kill shelter.

My first day of cleaning "rooms" by myself I showed up early to get a head start, give myself plenty of time to do a good job.  I started in the largest room, the one with a large wall of glass so all the potential adopters can watch the cats in the free-roam room playing, lounging on the shelves spaced for climbing the walls.

Simple job; check bedding and replace with clean if needed, scoop or change litter, clean water dishes and fill with fresh water/clean food stations, sweep, mop, check it off on list. Clean hands with sanitizer before moving on to next room. No problem, right?

First, in checking to see if they needed fresh bedding: on a top shelf, above my head, the bed I pulled off dumped some poo on me; some bounced off my shoulder, some my foot.  The bed was saturated with urine, too.  After picking up the poo, I got my cleaning supplies and a short step-stool to clean that top shelf, all the while talking to all the cats milling around, checking out me and my cleaning cart.

I stepped down, apparently right on a cat's tail.  This caused a chain reaction with cats leaping, hissing, bouncing off one another, and the cleaning cart...

The cleaning cart that had a gallon pitcher of clean water without a top on it.  The water splattered all over me, the cats, the floor, a feeding station, and caused more skittering and panic among the cats.  I stood there dripping, looking at the mayhem, cats either glaring at me or trying to hide.  I apologized, red-faced to the poor cats, putting down some paper towels, dumping a tray of soggy cat food into the dirty-water bucket.

It didn't help that there were two staff members outside the room going about their business, but not possibly missing the show in the Garden Room.

I went to get the mop, remembering that I needed to put on a fresh mop head and make up mop water. I took the dry mop back to the room and attempted to soak up some of the mess, squeezing it out into the mop bucket, then dumped the water, kitty litter, and cat food out,rinsed the industrial sized mop bucket, and made fresh mop water.

I talked gently to the cats as I cleaned the room, changing wet bedding, sweeping up damp kitty litter, etc.  

I doing the final mopping when I noticed a long-haired cat curled up in a small bed with sides on one of the shelves, I went over to pet her, and noticed that she was SOAKED still, trying to dry herself with her tongue with dogged deternination.  Can a cat be dogged?

I let her sniff my hand, making sure she'd let me pet her, then got some paper towels and helped dry her off, as well as the little pools of water in the bed.

I left a little sheepishly, wondering if they would all hide the next week when I came to clean their room.

What I've lost due to health issues (updated for 2009)

Oct 18, 2009 - 4 comments

I used to climb mountains; eight in one summer, then as often as I could after that.  Shasta, South Sister twice, and Mt St. Helens twice, Mt. Thielsen, Bailey, Bachelor, climbed on Hood, Lassen, I can't remember them all until I get out my pictures and then I can smell the crisp clean air and taste the glacial melt water.

I have overcome many challenges in my life.  I fought my way from obesity not once, but twice.  The most recent battle began in 1999 and was a very healthy experience, despite obstacles.  I learned to cook healthy meals and love to eat them in moderation.  I lost more than 100 pounds and kept it off for several years, until a few pounds crept on here and there.  It wasn't until early 2008 that I added another 25 pounds after herniating a disc, having weeks of bad reaction to an epidural, and then the tremors and fatigue.

I took great pride in the changes I wrought in myself.  I continued eating well and exercising, switching modes of exercise when one became too painful.  I took pain management classes, relaxation classes; I am not a quitter.

I have a best friend that likes to travel, and she takes me with her on marvelous adventures.  I've been to Maui twice, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Rosarita Beach, Palm Springs, numerous trips to Las Vegas,  a week in Park City Utah, to Seatttle and Sacramento for WNBA games, to her daughter's in Danville to help baby-sit her three grandsons.  Everywhere we went, I walked, hiked, swam, joined in water exercise classes, looked for beads for my jewelry making.

I'm on disability, but I was starting to make some money selling the jewelry I make.  It was so wonderful to have an outlet for my creativity and to dream of selling my creations at craft fairs and holiday bazaars; maybe someday being able to once again earn a living.

Neck, back and nerve pain interfered, but life was still good, and I loved having the strength to overcome whatever challenges came my way and plan future outings.

Then the dizziness and fatigue got bad, and I had to cancel a trip to Newport, then one to Las Vegas, then a babysitting trip.  I kept dragging myself to the pool, then herniated the disc while taking my cat to the vet.  I sought help, and when things calmed down, went back to the pool, made jewelry, cooked wonderful vegetarian meals.

Then came the morning when I woke up with my head and hands shaking, then my trunk, then my legs wouldn't work quite right, and the nasty occipital headache, floaters in my right eye.  I fell.  I kept thinking it would get better, but I was so tired I could hardly do anything.  By the time I got to a neurologist, the worst symptoms had calmed down.

I still had trouble giving myself my allergy shots, filling my cat's medicine capsules, and forget about making jewelry.  My hands don't behave properly; I drop things, I spill things, I toss things.  

My friend sent me to Palm Springs for a week to get over my fatigue.  I was good for a few hours in the morning, then I stayed in my air conditioned condo.  I went to one aqua class.  I found the Living Desert and Palm Canyon and did some hiking, resting a lot, carrying water with me.  I made simple delicious healthy meals.  I was still fatigued.

I went along with her for a conference in Las Vegas, and had little energy, but pushed myself to do things and recorded a lot of steps on my pedometer.  I got so tired it was hard to walk.  Luckily my friend understands, having her own back and knee issues.  We did manage one good day in the Valley of Fire State Park, with a case of water and a picnic lunch and two cameras.

I took a trip to Phoenix with a group of friends in May, 2008, to see the WNBA season opener for the previous year's champions.  I was concerned about my stamina, but I was determined to enjoy my life.  During the game I had a weird event with my vision then extreme fatigue that lasted a couple days.  My roommate had to help me get around, as I was trying not to ruin the trip.  I had trouble thinking straight.

I had several trips planned for that summer to Seattle and Sacramento for WNBA games, but had to cancel them due to fatigue, dizziness, and lack of balance.  January 1, 2009 I flew to Maui for two weeks. I was very limited in what I could do, by fatigue, nerve pain, and an outbreak of Trigeminal Neuralgia.

I’ve gone along on some of my friend’s business trips, but couldn’t enjoy the swimming pools that I loved so, due to intolerance for heat.  New Mexico, Florida, Las Vegas; I couldn’t go for my long walks, either, nor take as many pictures as in the past.  Lots of them are blurry…

I find that don’t have the energy to shop for and prepare healthy foods.  I’ve cut myself several times while trying to chop or slice vegetables, and drop things often.  Between the nerve pain in my right arm and some flare-ups of my tremors,  the work itself is difficult, even if I can afford Provigil, which does help with fatigue.

Oh, I miss caffeine!  I found that by giving it up, my tremors were less pronounced when they were active, so I gave it up totally (except in chocolate).

I would love to see my friends in my water aerobics class.  I have missed many months due to dizziness and fatigue making me realize that I shouldn't drive.  The silver lining there is I don't have to fill my gas tank very often!  

I am determined to make the most of my life.  I will face any challenge and do my best to overcome it or accept it and accept change.  Life is good and is constantly evolving.  I don't want to go back to who I was; I want to go forward to who I can be.

List of Testing, Lab Work, and Specialists for new neurologist.

Oct 16, 2009 - 4 comments

Testing, Lab Work, Specialists

February 22, 2008 – Brain MRI – report: “most likely to be multiple sclerosis”

February 27, 2008 – Optometrist re: blurred vison, floaters; new rx, no evidence of issue

March 12, 2008 – Visit with neurologist; inconclusive

April  08, 2008 – New neurologist, orders further testing

April 10, 2008 – Visit PCP re: bladder pains, tingling, urgency.  Urinalysis, culture, clear.

April 11, 2008 - Lumbar Puncture, spinal headache.  LP, blood work,  essentially normal

April 15, 2008 – Blood Patch, resolved spinal headache.

April 18, 2008 – Visit with Opthalmologist, no evidence of issue, VFT  5/14 good.

April 25, 2008 – MRI of cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine

May 27, 2008 – EEG, results normal

June 17, 2008 – Brain MRI w/wo contrast, report again “most likely to be ms”

August 11, 2008 – Visit MS Specialist ordered MRA head and neck (9/2/08), normal, thyroid antibodies test, normal.

September 24, 2008 - Urogynecologist

November 19, 2008 – NCV, right arm, normal

November 21, 2008 – Urodynamic testing, relatively normal, scheduled pelvic MRI

November 25, 2008 – Pelvic MRI, unremarkable, some probable nabothian cysts

December 11, 2008 – Neuro-opthalmologist, 4 hours of testing and exam, dry eyes, mild Meibomian gland dysfunction, noted lesion on pons.

Testing, Lab Work, Specialists

January 20, 2009 – VEP, normal both eyes

January 27, 2009 – Dentist, suggested Trigeminal Neuralgia, no clear evidence dental source of pain in  upper left jaw.

February 3, 2009 – ED lower right abdominal pain, blood work, CT abdomen, tests clear

February 4 2009 – PCP ordered CBC, agreed I have Trigeminal Neuralgia, rx tegretol with flare in May.

March 16 2009 – Rheumatologist, blood work mostly negative, ruled out Sjogren's Syndrome, elevated ESR and CRP

April 6, 2009 – Cardiologist, refuted neurologist’s theory from history & exam;  no evidence of SVID or risk factors.  EKG normal, Echo bubble study (4/14) negative for cardiac shunting

April 30, 2009 – 3T MRIs of brain, cervical, and thoracic spine.

May 4, 2009 – Vestibular PT, weekly for 7 weeks; reduced dizziness.

May 14, 2009 – Oto-neurologist, testing negative, ordered more

May 29, 2009 – Audiology and Vestibular Testing; hearing good, acoustic reflex study suggested diffuse cochlear disease, both ears.

September 1, 2009 – Gastroenterologist, possible neuropathic source of increasing constipation, ordered colonoscopy for November 18, 2009.

September 28 – PCP ordered neck x-rays, 7 views, normal.  Concern over C4 hemangioma  being source of pain, tightness,  neck and upper chest

Other bloodwork throughout this period, re-checking ANA, Vitamin D, thyroid, and more.

To keep on smiling....

Jul 06, 2009 - 4 comments

Last week, I had a tooth get really sensitive to cold and pressure, on the opposite side from my TN.  I called my dentist's office, asked if they could check my X-rays and see if there was a noticeable issue (hoping that it would be something simple).

I was told I needed to be seen, and made an appointment for today.  Over the weekend, I noticed pain on the other side, and discovered an abscess.

This afternoon, at my appointment, I discovered the molar on the right side was cracked in a couple places (already lots of fillings), and it needs a crown.

X-rays of the left side didn't make it clear which tooth was causing the large abscess, which was kind of between two teeth.  She did this test where she ran an electrical current into my tooth, with my finger on the probe; when I removed my finger, it cut off the current.  She tried a normal tooth, and I cut off the current.  She tried one of the two suspect ones, and I cut off the current.  She tried the other, and I just kept waiting to feel something.  Dead as a doornail.

I asked why it hurt so bad if the root was dead, and she explained that once the blood supply was cut off, it was like a big splinter that my body was trying to fight off.  Thus the swelling and pain, pain, pain.

So, I'll be taking Amoxicillin 3 times a day for 9 days, and on next Monday I'm under orders to take 100 mg. of Tegretol (relax nerves) and 10 mg. of valium at 7 am.  My appointment is at 8 am, and should take around 3 hours to do both teeth.  I'll hang out there until my friend can pick me up.  My dentist said she could just through a blanket over me and let me sleep off the meds, lol!  I promised I wouldn't snore.  :o)

The office manager is going to help me work out a payment plan.  My dentist said that it's important to get them both done as soon as possible for my health.  The infection in the one on the left side was getting pretty bad; temperature of 99.9 today, so I can't help but agree.  My teeth, my health, are more important than money.  I work hard at taking good care of them, but I inherited them from my Mom, who got false teeth around 40.  I'm only missing one, though I sure have a lot of crowns and fillings!

So, I'll go through this and keep on smiling.  On the 16th I'm flying to Sacramento for a few days to watch a couple WNBA games, and hope to be healing well by then.  

Maybe my fatigue will lift some after my teeth are fixed.  It could happen!