All’s Quiet on the Eastern Front

Newt has had another good day.  A bit manic this morning, and more re-arranging the living room. Naughty boy keeps knocking the dog brushes onto the floor.  Wish it was because we trained him to brush the dog, but no.  He likes to gnaw on the rubber tips of the brush.  I guess it’s better than him chomping on me or his One True Love. (Little bugger left a humongo bruise on me the other day.  Ouch!  No wonder One True Love screams obscenities at him.)

Cat Daddy is doing a fine job with Newt-rition. He says Newt is eating every bite of his normal meals.  Yay!  I guess after weeks of me whining to him to “fix my Pookie Bear” he finally decided that doing so would be the only way he could get any peace.

I heart Cat Daddy

Third Time the Charm?

Three days in a row now with no drool.  We’re touching wood, rubbing Buddha’s belly, tossing coins in the fountain … any other superstitions we should adhere to, to keep Lady Luck around?

Obviously, Cat Daddy is a liver shunt cat caretaker extraordinaire.  Like I didn’t know that already

He informed me that he has tweaked Newt’s diet a bit.  Still giving the homecooked veggie / chicken mix; just in a smaller quantity.  And he’s direct dosing the Lactulose.

It’s working.  Newt was rather manic today.  He woke me with several exciting games of footsies, chased his One True Love around the house while waiting for breakfast, and then while I was away, re-arranged the living room and kitchen.  He ate well, helped add extra oomph to my workout by swinging his ten-pound self from my knees and wrist, and is now resting comfortably in the Annex Box here next to me as I prepare for the next round of today’s work.

Please welcome new shunt cats / kittens:

  • Bartholomew in California
  • Sky in Ontario
  • Teddy in Utah

And even more exciting news:

  • Finn has navigated the stairs on his own;
  • SugarMint has been playing;
  • Marley has regained a bit of weight; and,
  • Simon is coming home tomorrow!

Woohoo!  Wonderful news on several fronts with our liver shunt kitties!

Just Another Manic Monday

Still trying to figure out all this new-fangled blogging stuff.  Yeah, yeah, blogging is soooo, like, four years ago, and what with Cat Daddy calling me his Geek Goddess? Puh-leeeze.

I’m so ashamed. OK, not really, but pretend penitence is all you get from me today.

Ah well, blame it on Newt. It’s all his fault, really.  I never really was into the whole blogging thing. I enjoyed browsing other folk’s blogs, but never wanted to write one.  Too shy, too quiet, too lazy, too private, too paranoid.

And then came Newt.

As he defied the odds, and slowly began to blossom, we thought well, if his story can help other shunt parents to have Hope, then what’s a bit of time on the computer, anyway?  So I began cobbling together bits and pieces of his story, back-filling info as I had time, adding new details as the mood struck me. I refuse to feel bad for the gaps and the holes and such. I promise, I’ll make it a proper site one of these days.  In the meantime, it has already become so much more than we ever anticipated.

Problem is, I never really did much with the promoting, the tagging, the categories, etc.  Pretty much meta everything with cat liver shunt, and there you go.  (By the way, did you know that googling “cat liver shunt” yields Newt’s web presence in the top five entries, with his survivors page as the #1 entry? Amazing!)

Then it struck me today, that I have several entries under the “bad day” category, and yet, I don’t even HAVE a category for the good days. Oops.

Well, we do now, since Newt is on his second “good day” in a row.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the “good” days, just blundering along when everything is peachy keen, no reason to rush to the computer and see if anyone is in chat with a handy shoulder for crying; no questions you need answered right NOW.  You just … live – and revel in the good days.  And when the goods days blur into an ever-growing series of good weeks, then good months, you tend to get complacent. Even though you know in your heart that the disease isn’t cured, you can sort of pretend that everything is normal, and keep the annoying little voices at bay.

It’s only when things aren’t quite so good that you start reaching out again, for the comfort of pixelated strangers. For those who know the gasps of the wheezing wheezelets; the wiping of the never-ending puddles of drool; the frantic offerings of delicacies to get them to eat something – anything; the Damoclean choice of surgery vs. medical maintenance, and the never ending chorus of “are we doing the right thing? Are we doing enough?

So to each of you who have been so kind and concerned during Newt’s recent roller coaster, Cat Daddy and I extend our heartfelt thank yous.  I’ve had a bit of the guilties, and haven’t been posting Newt’s details in the support groups as much, because I feel rather guilty at everyone being so concerned for him. Plus, I know how up and down and up and down and UP and DOWN we’ve been feeling; didn’t want to add that burden to other folks who truly ARE in crisis with their liver shunt cats. 

He’s really doing okay.  Far better than when he was a baby.  He’s not been in crisis, he’s not been critical; he’s just not been having the Indian Summer of good days to which we have grown so accustomed. 

In fact, today he is being quite the little scamp.  Has eaten well the last two days, no drool, hair coat looks good, a wee bit manic (or is it his normal kittenish behavior?), playing with his toys and wrestling with his best friend the Dog.

Life is good.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Ever notice how when you name a cat, it usually morphs into something else?  In general, the cat has a name, and then it has a name.  Or two, or maybe even three. 

Little Newt has a mutlitude of monikers, a veritable lineage of labels, an ever evolving, series of sobriquets. Cat Daddy and I began listing all of Newt’s nom de plumes that we use toward him, or in reference to him, and by his friends, and got quite a giggle out of them.

  1. Newton
  2. Newt
  3. Little Lion
  4. Killer
  5. Kittenator
  6. Newt Newt
  7. New New
  8. Punkin Head
  9. Kleine Katz
  10. The Baby
  11. Schnookums
  12. Schnookie Bear
  13. Booger
  14. Kitty Bunny
  15. Pookie Bear
  16. Pookie
  17. The Pookster
  18. Cutie Newtie
  19. Poochy
  20. Tubby
  21. Twitch
  22. Fat Boy
  23. Chubbs
  24. Pissant
  25. Little Pecker
  26. Sugar Newt
  27. Spot
  28. Varmint
  29. Pudge
  30. Schnookels

Keep in mind, this list does not include some of the more colorful varieties.  And yes, he does respond to all of them.

Don’t Enjoy Roller Coasters Anymore

Sneaking in a quick post between projects.  Need to wean myself away from New’ts blog at least for the next couple of weeks during the crazy upcoming schedule.

It’s been another up and down kind of day. 

First, the update on Newt’s friend, Simon – a tiny bit of hopeful news.  Last night’s report was that he had nibbled a bit of food on his own.  His vet is guardedly optimistic, and his family sends their appreciation for your encouragement and support.  They are visiting him today.

Red Feathered Newt Nest

As for little Newt? He’s having a bit of a rough day – probably the worst since this cycle began.  Was drooling last night, but ate his snacks.  Did not jump on the bed with me, preferring instead to drool and doze in his box.  At least he’s not hiding in the back of the costume closet in his red-feathered Newt nest. He’s been drooling rather heavily off and on today, resting in his box, or sitting in the annex box here next to me. He’s alternating between purring and wheezing.  Hair coat is ruffled, and he refused breakfast but ate some chicken for lunch. Direct dosed some water just to be cautious, and direct dosed Lactulose.

Have another email into his vet, and am curious why his Neomycin that was compounded with chicken flavor does not taste like chicken.  It actually tastes like sort of a lemony zing.  Doesn’t smell bad; doesn’t taste bad; but, does not taste like chicken.

I just shake my head.  Isn’t it interesting how one’s tastes and preferences can change situationally?  I used to adore the wild surges of emotion induced by the dips and twists and jolts and turns of the roller coaster rides at the County fair. Have often described myself, and been described by others, as an adrenaline junky.

And yet, with our Newt, and especially with his recent bout of up and down and round and round? Well, I’ve decided that I really don’t like roller coasters anymore.

Simon Says …

Newt’s friend Simon says to “Keep those well wishes coming!”Simon Lounging

Thank you for your prayers, your healing energies, your well wishes, and your support and encouragement of Simon and his family as he fights valiantly to recover from his surgery to correct his liver shunt.

Simon is now almost 72 hours post-op, and still having difficulty recovering from the surgery. However, we just got the wonderful news that he stood on his own overnight.  Yay, Simon!  So keep those good vibes heading his way!

At a mere eight months old, Simon has already had a series of setbacks.  His liver shunt, a bout with Toxoplasmosis, (which may have led to his newly-discovered heart disease), and now, a prolonged, post-operative recovery.

A prolonged post-operative recovery process seems to be fairly typical in our shunt cats, from what I’ve seen.  In fact, for some cats, the lengthy time to come out of anesthesia from spay/neutering may be the first indicator of an underlying shunt condition. Anecdotally, with the cats we know who have had surgeries after a shunt diagnosis, be it for shunt repair, spay/neutering, dental, etc, the surgeons have been aware of this, and have used special care and types of anesthesia, etc, to help with the process.

But still, knowing it, and living it are two different things.

Seeing your loved one, (regardless of the species), lying unresponsive in the hospital, can just rip out your heart, and make you feel so entirely helpless and hopeless. Even the “normal” day-to-day antics of a shunt kitty can make your heart leap into your throat with every little thing.

Kitty is purring. OMG is that a happy purr or a pre-episodic purr?  Is that drool? OMG where’s the Lactulose?  And don’t even get me started on the Kitty isn’t in the normal spots, OMG where is kitty??? Is kitty okay? Kitty? KITTY!?!  KIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! as you race through the house screaming yourself hoarse, throwing large pieces of furniture over your shoulder, thundering up and down stairs, leaping over large dogs, and ripping closet doors off their hinges in a desperate search, all the while fearing the worst, only to have Cat Daddy calmly point to Newt, gleefully racing along RIGHT BEHIND YOU!

Not that that has ever happened, mind you.  Ahem.  Nope, not around here.  ::whistles innocently::

But, that’s how it is, for me, anyway.  And previously, it used to be such a lonely existence.  Such an obscure condition, so little information, and no other cat parents with whom I could compare notes.  The dog people were wonderful, and such a source of comfort.  But still, I remember how indescribable it felt to find a CAT shunt owner.  Then another.  And another.  Those emails were like gold to me. Nuggets of golden Hope. (And you may have noticed that I purposefully capitalize the word on here – because it IS that important.)

That’s why I am so proud of our growing community of shunt cat parents.  You are doing such an amazing job of reaching out to one another, encouraging one another, sharing your stories, sharing your Hope.  I am truly humbled and awed at the outpouring of love and support I have seen.  You are building such a wonderful community, a tremendous resource for those of us now, and for the future cats and kittens who come.

We are no longer alone.

We are NOT alone in our pain and sorrow, sadness and frustration.  We are NOT alone in our joy. We are NOT crazy cat people. We are merely trying to do the best we can for our loved ones, whether it is medical maintenance or surgical intervention. Each of us struggles daily with the difficult choices we have to make, to ensure the best quality of life for these special kitties placed under our guardianship.

Our shunt cats come to us for a reason.  I can’t speak for everyone, but it seems to me that so many of our shunt cats seem to have touched our souls in ways far beyond the normal reach of our other, beloved companion animals.  My opinion is that our helplessness and suffering on their behalf is part of the price that we must pay for sharing that unbridled joy they bring to our hearts and homes.

It is a steep price indeed … but mere pennies in comparison to the untold rewards we reap from their presence in our lives.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

What an interesting day today – definitely a combination of good, bad and ugly.

As with everything though, if you break things down, and try hard enough, you can find the good in everything, right?

The Good

  • I was delighted to hear that Newt is being RAKd by one of his Ravelry fans!  OMG how COOOOL is that? The RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) are such a wonderful idea, and I hope to participate in them soon, but never imagined that Newt would be a recipient. 
  • Two projects have landed, woohoo! Work is good, especially after so much downtime that I’m having delusions of sheep and bunnies LOL
  • Another shunt cat has found Newt’s site. Jet is being medically managed and doing well.

The Bad

  • Newt is intermittently drooling again today.
  • One of our shunt cat friends, Simon, is having post-operative challenges.

The Ugly

  • Two projects have landed. Simultaneously.  That means at least 18-20 hour days for the next couple of weeks or so. Which means that I won’t be able to have Newt with me while I am on-site at the client.  Ouch.
  • Sari yarn. Oh my word, that stuff is a PITA to handle.  But I looooooooooooooove it!

Now, how to flip the bad and the ugly into good?

Well, Newt is drooly, but not overly so, and only intermittently.  He’s eaten most of his snacks today, snuggled with Greycie, and has spent some time in his sling snuggled on my chest.  Gazing into those magnificent copper eyes and cuddling his warm little body brings an indescribable love and joy.

And while I would never speak for Simon’s family, I’m in awe of the fact that we now have, I believe, around 30 cats from all over the world who are in contact with one another, able to lend support and encouragement to Simon and each other. Knowing that we are not alone in our struggles and challenges and can act as a united support system is so awesome!

As far as the long days sari yarngo? Cat Daddy does an amazing job with Pookie Bear, so I know Newt will be in very capable hands.  And being able to juggle multiple projects and extended days during my busy season is exactly what enables me to have that wonderful downtime at home.

And I really shouldn’t call my luscious recycled Sari silk yarn ugly.  Far from it – it’s fabulous. Was a gift from a dear friend and fellow rescuer, and I’ve been waiting for the right project to use it as a gift in return.  Experimenting with slip stitch crochet / shepherd’s knitting of the faux knitted kitty has been wonderful. 

It is an amazing yarn – fuzzy and thick in places, practically threadbare in others; it twists and turns and kinks unexpectedly – much like life.  And yet, as I am working it up, bringing its rough and ragged pieces together in a dizzying tapestry of color, it seems impenetrable, while soft, sturdy and beautiful at the same time.  It’s difficult to work with, but has been so very rewarding.  The most challenging yarn I’ve worked with and certainly the most instructive.

Life’s lessons from yarn?  Or more lessons from Newt?  Take the bad with the good, and understand that ultimately “it’s all good.”

Baaaaaaaaaad Idea

I reaaaaaaaaaaaally need to get back on a project ASAP.  Have had entirely too much time to think.  Thinking usually leads to grandiose ideas, which tend to get me in trouble.

Somebody PLEASE convince me that I do NOT want a spinning wheel? And of course, the attendant sheep, bunnies, and various assorted furry creatures to go with it?  Pretty please?

Cat Daddy has decreed that this is a “baaaaaaaaaad idea” ::snork gasp wheeze OMG that man is so funny.

In drooling over fat, funky yarns and fainting at the prices of them, I had the brilliant idea that perhaps I should just spin my own. And he agreed!  Oh boy.  I’m in trouble now.

Makes sense though, as my stash is becoming depleted at a rapid rate, and one would hope that the act of spinning would be relaxing and calming, right? The poor man is forever after me to relax, spoil myself with a creative bender, and have FUN.  Spinning sounds like a good match to me!

But before I go all crazy and buy a bunch of tools and gadets about which I have no idea, perhaps I should start small – like maybe a drop spindle?  Not to mention, I can put rabbit ears on Newt – we call him the kitty bunny anyway, and with the Collie, I have enough “wool” output for a small sheep farm!

Jinxed It

Well, rats.

Newt has begun drooling again.  Cat Daddy saw drool forming at 1230PM.  Newt did not eat his normal lunch snack, but did nosh on a bit of chicken.

Direct dosed Lactulose, and back on the merry-go-round again.

Got the next round of go aheads from major corporation to begin work on a backup project – but not til next week.  I love major corporation work when I can get it, but the red tape wait is agonizing.  Hopefully it will be fairly steady part-time for at least a couple of months. Still waiting for the main project to kick in; that should be a nice check (I hope).  Would be nice to buy some fat yarn to use with more of my stash and make more of the nests.  They seem to be a hit, and I am having a blast making them. Nice stash buster, easy to see without having to take of my glasses, and minimal pain and after effects.

Still doing paperwork, and debating about which bit of crochet to do now, if any.  Want to finish the current nest / beds to donate, but out of main yarn those in progress.  Want to finish the little kitty, but the smalls are wrecking my wrists. Want to find cheapo, bigass, obese yarns beyond a 6.  (I’m talking 12s, baby!). Want to get regular income again.  Want to take a nap. Want to go sit in the sun. Want want want want ….

Most of all, I want my Pookie Bear to be better.

Boring is Good!

Never thought I’d be so grateful for boring as I have been today.

A nice, quiet, normal, boring day with Newt.   No drool, no ataxia, no lethargy, no panic, no inappetance, no pukes, no diarrhea, no calls or emails to the vet.

Just another boring day in paradise.

::sighs deeply and calmly::

Had a bit of false hope this AM on the job front.  My most recent client called for an emergency, short term edit, and I was on standby waiting for it to arrive from the other coast.  Next call was an apologetic, project’s been canceled.  Ah rats. Would have been nice to have had a few hours of fill time while (still) waiting for major corporation to launch their pending project, plus I really enjoyed working with the client previously.  But it was nice to know I’m still at the top of their list, right?

Not to mention, it gave me time to play some more with my experiment in converting the knitted kitty to a faux knitted kitty (as in, making up a pseudo crochet pattern for it). 

Am maybe 75% done with it. Body is done, tail is (sort of) done, and head is almost done. 

If it turns out halfway decent, will add it to the basket of toys to donate to the rescue group. If not, am sure my little beasts will ravage it in no time. 

Especially if I lace it with nip and valerian!