Missing Charlie

Friday, May 30, 2008

I’m missing Charlie this morning because he’s not here. He’s at the Deerfield Animal Hospital, recovering from a urethral obstruction. It’s been a stressful couple of days…

On Tuesday, early in the day, I noticed that Charlie seemed to be using the litter box an awful lot that day, considering that since I had gotten up, he had already been in it twice–for him, that’s a lot. Then later that day, we started noticing these small puddles all around the apartment, about the size of an egg. We’d wipe them up, thought maybe it was cat urine, smelled the paper towels (yeah, I know, gross–but they didn’t smell), so was unsure of what it was. Even later that night, I noticed Charlie walking kind of strangely, almost like he was constipated, and then stopping every once in a while to strain, like he had to take a poop–but nothing came out. Until even later in the night, when I finally noticed, during one of these straining sessions, that some urine was left on the floor. Wiped this up again, smelled it again, still no smell, but this time I KNEW that it was urine. He also vomiting up a large amount of food with a hairball. Oh yeah, he was also licking himself in the nether regions quite a bit more than normal. So I did what any person in the 20th century (are we still in the 20th century, or the 21st??–), I’ll rephrase, what anyone in the computer crazy age would do–I googled his symptoms and lo and behold, they seemed to indicate a urinary tract infection, which seems to be quite common in male cats. Turns out this can be a serious problem because cats can become blocked, essentially not being able to get rid of urine, which is a medical emergency. Since Charlie was still leaking, and because it was 10 pm when I triumphantly “diagnosed” him, we decided to watch him during the night and call in the morning to take him to the vet.

After a restless night (I couldn’t sleep well after reading about a potential blockage), I got up and immediately called the vet (which is another story in itself since Madeline and Charlie’s vet office closed a while back so I called the closest one in Holyoke). Of course they did not have an opening that day. So I described the symptoms and they suggested that I call one of two Animal Hospitals since Charlie could be blocked. So I looked up the two places and choose the Deerfield Animal Hospital since it was not the Boston Road Animal Hospital (which is located in Springfield, a place I try to avoid at all costs)–fortunately they were both about the same distance for driving. So I called, and again described the symptoms and they said, “Bring him in.”

So we loaded him up in the carrier, and he is such a good boy, walked right in–unlike Madeline whom we have to bribe with food and then still end up pushing her in! After a 25 minute drive we arrived and they took a urine sample and turns out that yes, he did have a urinary tract infection. The vet informed us that Charlie had quite a few struvite crystals in his urine (in their words, large +++ amounts) and we even got to take a look under the microscope.  Struvite crystals are formed when urine is more alkaline (meaning more basic, not acidic).  The normal urine pH for cats is 6-6.5, and Charlie’s urine was 7.5 (much more alkaline than normal).  Ways to keep the urine more acidic include changing the diet (which the vet recommended–by a different brand of food, Walthum SO), including wet food in the diet (again, the Walthum brand–which may be difficult for Charlie, since he doesn’t really like canned food–he has difficult eating it–Madeline could eat a can in a few minutes, and Charlie would still be pushing it around with his mouth, he just gets confused), feeding several small meals a day (which we already do), and increasing water consumption (how the heck do you get a cat to drink more water?).  So, after paying $158.01 for the visit, we were sent home with antibiotics for 10 days, some free samples of the prescribed cat food, and instructions to keep an eye on his urinary output because he still had a chance to obstruct (because of all the crystals, which can irritate and inflame the urinary tract, and combine with mucus which works to try to reduce the irritation, but really just works to create a plug–this is dangerous because if a cat can’t urinate, he can’t get rid of potassium so the potassium goes back into the bloodstream, and the high levels of potassium can cause cardiac arrythmias and even death).  So yeah, we were scared.

So we head back home.  And of course, what does Charlie do on the way home?  He urinates.  A LARGE amount.  Oh yeah.  There’s nothing quite as unpleasant to the human nose as cat piss.  When we take him out of the crate he is soaked!  So we have to give him a bath.  And we don’t have any cat shampoo, so we use Kimm’s body wash.  Charlie sure didn’t like that bath, but at least he smelled much better.  But of course we forgot about how all this would affect Madeline.  She, in the brief time we were gone, forgot that she shared the house with Charlie.  In reality, she didn’t recognize the smell of Charlie after the bath and started to hiss (VERY loudly and VERY menacingly) at Charlie.  Poor Charlie was simply trying to lick himself dry after his bath and thus ignored her.  But Madeline persisted.  So we had to separate them.  Turns out this is quite common in cats.  Lucky us.  Good thing we have lots of doors between all rooms in our apartment.

Now, ironically this all happened on Wednesday, a day I was originally not supposed to work, because I switched with a co-worker who needed the day off to take her dog to the vet.  So I go into work that night, after not getting much of an afternoon nap, tired and worried.  When I got home the next morning, I look in Charlie’s litter box and see that he had gone 3 tiny amounts of urine.  And then I see him try to go again, with no result except for a tiny little drop or two.  He was in the box for about 3 minutes before he gave up.  I go to bed and let Kimm know the litter box total so she can keep track during the day.  When I get up later that day, still no additional urine production.  So we pack up Charlie again and take him back (we could bring him back to have them palpate the bladder for no additional charge).

The vet takes a look and a feel and says, “Yep, he’s blocked.”  So now Charlie has to have a catheter placed and in place for 48 hours, to flush the crystals out and then the catheter will be removed and they’ll observe that he’s able to pee again.  So we left him last night about 6 pm.  It was a strange night without him.

The vet called this morning and informed us that they had no trouble unblocking him, that his bloodwork was normal and that they’ll take out the catheter as planned.  Oh yeah, that stay and all the care involved with it cost $995.58!!  There you go with unplanned expenses.

While Charlie has been gone, we’ve been trying to get Madeline to adjust to the new smell of Charlie.  We’ve laid out the towel we used to dry him after his bath and she’s been lying on it (after a few minutes of sniffing it suspiciously!).  She’s acting a bit strange, but okay so far.  The real test will be when Charlie comes back home.  We’re thinking of buying these things called bath wipes at Pet-Co.  Supposedly you wipe down both cats with them and then they have the same smell, therefore eliminating a lot of the aggression.  We’ll have to wait and see.

So at this point, we should have Charlie back on Sunday if all goes well.  Thankfully I’ll be working this weekend so less time to be at home, missing him even more.

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Published in: on May 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Wonderful Meal

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I woke up today knowing that I would make homemade baked macaroni and cheese.  I have had the ingredients for quite a while now, and have just felt too lazy to make it.  I feel guilty even writing that since this meal hardly takes any time at all (approximately 20 minutes prep work and then 25 minutes to bake), but when you are tired out from work, then any bit of time at all seems like work.  I love the idea of loving to cook, but sometimes, you just want food to be delivered to your table, like when you go out to eat.  But regardless of this confession, I still consider myself as someone who likes to cook.  I like the process of cooking and the final results.  So I thought I would share the homemade mac and cheese recipe that I use.  This recipe comes from the Betty Crocker Cookbook (2001, p. 398).  I have made some revisions since the first time I made it when it turned out a bit too salty and saucy for me.  So here goes…

Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound box of noodles (I use campanelle because of the unique large swirled shape)–the original recipe calls only for 2 cups, or 7 ounces of noodles–adjust as needed–if you like a soupy mac and cheese use less noodles, I like a drier mac and cheese

1/4 cup butter (which is 1/2 a stick)–you could probably cut this back by a tablespoon or so if you are trying to cut calories

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper (I don’t measure this, just about 5-8 turns of the freshly ground pepper)

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard (I never have this on hand and instead just do a squirt of the regular old French’s yellow mustard)

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cups milk (I use whole milk)

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

  • Before beginning, heat oven to 350 degrees and it will be pre-heated by the time everything else is ready.
  • Boil the water and begin cooking the noodles.
  • While the noodles are cooking, melt the butter in a large pot.  When it has finished melting, add the flour, salt, pepper, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix together and it should form a paste rather quickly.
  • Next add the milk and stir continuously over medium heat.  Once the milk starts to boil (which should take about five minutes or so), boil and stir for one minute.  Then take the pot off the heat and add the cheese.  Stir.  It will melt very quickly.
  • Hopefully your noodles are done by now.  Drain them and add them to the cheese mixture.  Mix well and pour all into a greased 9×13 pan and slide into your pre-heated oven and bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly. If you feel like it, toss some buttered bread crumbs on top for an extra treat, but believe me, you won’t miss them even if you can’t–this mac and cheese is very good!

I let the mac and cheese sit for about 5 minutes when it comes out of the oven to let it set a bit.  Now dig in and enjoy!

Mac and cheese

Doesn’t this look delicious?

So our meal tonight consisted of the mac and cheese, salads with cucumber, tomato and croutons, and for dessert, strawberry shortcake.  It was soooo good.  I have to say I really enjoy sitting down to a home-cooked meal.

Published in: on May 27, 2008 at 7:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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Is there a cat tooth fairy?

Monday, May 26, 2008

I feel remiss in forgetting to mention that Madeline’s tooth finally fell out about a week or so ago.  I would post a picture, but apparently my camera is not so high tech to take a crisp image of such a small object.  So you must simply trust me when I tell you it is out.  There is a funny story to this as well.  I happened to find Madeline in one of her favorite spots, which is atop an approximately 5 foot caddy in the bedroom that holds clothes (remember, I live in an old apartment building, with limited closet space!)–she likes to lay there on top of my folded sweatshirts and catch a little nap during the day.  So anyways, I happened to see her and was giving her a little lovin’ and checked on her tooth and I saw that it was gone.  I asked Kimm if she had noticed that it was out and she hadn’t.  So we commenced to search the apartment for her tooth.  We looked in all her other favorite spots to no avail–no tooth to be found.  We eventually gave up and figured it would show up when we weren’t expecting to find it.  And oh, we did all right.  When Kimm climbed into bed that night she caught her toe on something in between the sheets and wouldn’t you know it, it was Madeline’s tooth!  This was VERY strange, considering that the bed was made during the day.  I still am having a hard time understanding how Madeline happened to deposit her tooth there??  I’m happy to report that since the tooth has come out, her breath has improved tremendously.  You can actually stand to be in the same room with her when she is grooming herself now 🙂

Madeline has been in rare form lately, providing excellent photo opportunities…

Hangin\' around

Balancing act!

Cat in the box

Cat in the box (notice the one green eye, one yellow eye–normally they are both yellow…eerie)

Window seat

Window seat

Good book

Current read… (and yes, that is an ugly flowered couch underneath that sheet–hey for $25 one can’t be incredibly picky!)

New coffee machine

Comfy…

And I can’t leave out Charlie, because he can be just as cute!

Sittin\' pretty

Sittin’ pretty…

I know I\'m cute

I know I’m cute!

Camera Shy

Camera shy…

Face shot

Face shot

And there you have it…my babies.

Published in: on May 26, 2008 at 7:48 am  Comments (1)  
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Another one paid off!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I paid off my 3rd credit card tonight!  Who-who!!!!  That means only one more left.  This makes me VERY excited.  Of course, the one that I have left probably won’t be paid off for 4-5 months, but at least it will be before the end of this year.  I can’t wait for that party (did I mention that I’m having a PARTY!) once I get that last card paid off!

By the way, I’m still sick.  Last night had to officially be the WORST night ever working.  There’s nothing like having to leave your patient’s room because you have to blow your nose!  My nose is brighter than Rudolf’s!  But I took a lot of Nyquil when I got home and I seem to feel a tad better.  I’ll take the Dayquil tonight and see how it goes.  It can’t be worse than yesterday.

Published in: on May 17, 2008 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sick :(

Friday, May 16, 2008

I have been officially sick on ALL of my days off this last rotation…GRRRR.  I am now convinced that the cold viruses KNOW when I will have long stretches of time off and wait specifically until then to invade my body and make my life a living hell.  I have gone through the gamut of symptoms…starting with an extremely sore throat (which by the way I did gargle with salt water Mom and YES it DID work–even though I hated every second of it–turns out a scientific principle is behind this home remedy–just remember that water follows salt, and so the excess water in the cells of your throat which make it difficult to swallow, follow the salt once you gargle…cool, huh?), stuffed up nose, followed by runny nose (how many tissues can one go through in a day…I’m going to keep track next time because I think I broke a record!), and that crappy feeling that makes you so tired that you want to fall asleep as someone is talking to you but of course doesn’t allow you to get more than 20 minutes of sleep at a time!  So now maybe you can understand how I’ve been feeling.  It makes me so angry, because I’ve had a lot to blog about, but I’ve just been feeling too “blah.”

The good thing is that I’ve done a lot of reading.  I’ve discovered a new author that I really love and she’s written a series of books (I believe it is up to 11 or 12 at the moment…wow…lots of good reading in the future!).  Her name is Jennifer Chiaverini and she writes the Elm Creek Quilt series.  I’m currently in the third book, The Cross-Country Quilters (after finishing the first two, The Quilter’s Apprentice and Round Robin).  These books are about women who quilt…I know, very generic in description but remember I’m SICK.  If you’ve never read any of her books, I would encourage you to do so.

That’s about all I can muster up to write today.  Wish me luck at work.  Hopefully I’ll feel better once I get to work (isn’t that sad…usually I do feel better once I’m at work just because I’m so busy I don’t have time to feel miserable!).  Oh, and to add to everything–it’s raining!  I already wish it was my days off again.

Published in: on May 16, 2008 at 5:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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Night out…

Friday, May 9, 2008

So Kimm and I were actually able to get out of the apartment and do something on my one night off (on Monday). We did one of our favorite activities, which is to go to Barnes and Noble and look at the books. For anyone who knows me, book stores are a dangerous place. If I don’t watch myself I could spend A LOT of money in a very short amount of time. This time I managed to get out without spending one cent, while still getting three items. This is because I had two gift cards (one worth $25 from my birthday–Thanks Chris!–and one with a partial amount left on it–maybe $3–from my MyPoints account).

I had my usual routine. First I went to the magazine section and read the latest People magazine (which happened to be the 100 Most Beautiful People edition–Kate Hudson on the front–in my opinion, not that beautiful–I would have chosen Katie Holmes, but then again, I have a thing about Katie Holmes). I used to get a subscription to People magazine, but then realized that since we go to the library so often I can look at the new issue there (which saves me a BUNCH of money since People is one of the most expensive magazine subscriptions–I believe it is around $120 for a year). Then I went to look at the cooking section, and the nursing section. Then I browsed the craft section, the self-help section, and the weight loss section. Ended up by looking at the bargain books and the Top 10. We even treated ourselves to fruit drinks and a peanut butter cookie.

So here were my selections at the end of the night:

New books

The first book is historical non-fiction, based on the life of a wealthy citizen of Holyoke, MA, Belle Skinner, during the early 1900s.  I thought it would be interesting to read about the city that I have lived in for 5+ years. On the back cover it mentions that Holyoke used to have more millionaires than any other state (due to the paper mills in the city). Interesting, considering that Holyoke is now one of the poorer cities in MA. The second is a true-story documentary, written in novel form, of a nurse who works on a medical-surgical floor in the 1970s. I started reading this one immediately and it is quite a page turner (at least for me–as a nurse I could completely relate to many of the things that this nurse was talking about–which is amazing in a way considering that almost 40 years have passed since this book was written and many of the same issues are still the same–for example, doctor-nurse relationships, difficult patients, the doubts and insecurities faced by many nurses). It’s also interesting to read about how “way back then” patients, doctors and nurses could actually smoke in the hospitals…can you imagine!

Artsy notebook

This item is simply a blank notebook. It was on sale and I couldn’t resist. I like to have something to write miscellaneous things in–wish lists for Christmas and my birthday, favorite recipes, nursing notes, my thoughts and feelings. I was drawn to the cover–I liked the abstract painting and the colors.

I won’t leave out Kimm–she spent about $90. She goes wild around books too. Just one more reason to love her!

Published in: on May 9, 2008 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Martha Stewart I’m Not!

Friday, May 2, 2008

So when I got up this morning, I decided I wanted to do some baking (not REAL baking, because that requires things being made from scratch–and although I always WANT to do this, it rarely happens–hmmm, I will have to ponder why this is and try really, really hard to bake from scratch NEXT time!)

Anyways, so I looked in the pantry and happened to have a box of Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake, so I decided to bake it.  Now keep in mind, I STILL had to mix the ingredients!  After about 35 minutes in the oven, 15 minutes of cooling, and the final application of icing, we have this:

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

(did you know that cinnamon and streusel are both challenging words to spell correctly?)

I plunked slices for me and Kimm on plates and we excitedly dug in…

Yummy!

YUMMY!

We both agreed, even if it was from a box, it was DE-LISH!!

On a sadder note, I only have 5 hours until I leave for work 😦  I’ll be spending two of those trying to get a nap in, another hour making HOMEMADE baked mac & cheese (yes, I really do make something from scratch!), a half hour taking a shower and making myself beautiful for the patients (hospital humor!), and an hour eating.  So my free time amounts to only about 45 minutes!!  I already can’t wait for my day off.  I truly wish I was independently wealthy!

Published in: on May 2, 2008 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Joke

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Here’s a funny joke (at least I thought it was funny) that was in the book I’m currently reading (The Night Watch by Sarah Waters):

What did the brassiere say to the hat?

You go on ahead, and I’ll give these two a lift.

Even typing that one out made me laugh!

Published in: on May 1, 2008 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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