Sunday, February 28, 2010

Should you ever doubt my commitment to the cats, look here

Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is liver. Though the veterinarian and I still doubt that Guinness’ problems are due to a thiamine deficiency (the MRI diagnosis from the U.K.), he is continuing to get daily thiamine injections. I want to do as much as I can for him, so I decided to supplement his diet with liver (high in thiamine).

I went to the store, found some liver, cooked it up, and guess who won’t eat it? That’s right, the two, four-legged creatures living in my house.

I can’t say that I blame them; it smells foul. Anyone need ¾ of a package of liver?

quick book review, “What To Do When You Can’t Get Pregnant”

Another very well done book about infertility, written by Daniel Potter MD and Jennifer Hanin MA. The forward is by Pamela Madsen, executive director of the American Fertility Association.

The book is easy to read with a great balance of science and emotional health/ coping mixed in. Topics covered include fertility work-ups, low tech vs high tech treatment, sperm and egg donation, and surrogacy. Particularly impressive is the section on IVF. For a book that focuses on infertility as a whole versus specifically IVF, I found it to have fantastic coverage, including medications and various IVF protocols. Rounding out the book were chapters on emotions and relationships, telling versus not telling a child conceived through IVF (I’m personally a huge fan of telling), and a good glossary.

A must have read for those dealing with infertility.

Friday, February 26, 2010

today I was ‘that’ parent

You know the one, the one that is over the top protective, disagrees with the doctor and refuses treatment

::hangs head in shame::

Yesterday Guinness was prescribed two new meds, Antepsin and Zantac, both in liquid form. These are meant to prevent stomach ulcers from the high dose of steroids he’s been getting. He takes medicine easily, for a cat, and the Antepsin went down with little fuss. The Zantac was a disaster. It smells bad, foamed, he clenched his teeth, shook his head, spit, and cried. I got .3 of the .8ml dose down his throat, threw the syringe back into the bottle and declared defeat. I’m not going to torture him. Sure enough, that amount of stress was enough to cause an episode with his legs (we’ve always suspected that it’s partially stress induced). Today I informed his vet that we would not be continuing with the Zantac. It turns out that it didn’t matter because they are discontinuing his steroids; they aren’t working :(

This afternoon Guinness had his appointment with the opthamologist. I was asked to accompany him back for the exam. The opthamologist took a complete history, asked a lot of questions, and did a VERY thorough exam (45 minutes), which was actually quite interesting. He found a few minor differences between Guinness and a healthy cat, but nothing major. Strike 20.

Toward the end of the exam, his treating veterinarian came in. I had told her that I would do Guinness’ vitamin B injections this weekend, as to avoid more trips to the university/ more stress on him. She agreed, had brought the supplies in for me and was going to do today’s injection. She and the veterinary student with her had warned me that the injection stings. NOTHING could have prepared me for what came next. The student and I held him down, his vet drew up the meds, started to inject, and he lost it. Scratching, clawing, biting, and making the most unnatural noises I’ve ever heard. I did not see a patient; I saw my helpless, scared, precious baby boy. She finished, I grabbed him, and said, "that’s it, we’re done." Tears in my eyes, blood on my hand, and my baby boy screaming. She said that he always cries during the injection, but must have been “putting on a special performance for his mother.” We discussed it and I have agreed that he can have the injections through Monday. By then we will know whether it’s working on not (I vote not). She offered to come to the house to do the injections which I said wasn’t necessary, but she insisted. I feel like such a failure. With all of my training, all of the injections I’ve given, and I can’t even give my cat an injection. Ugh, failure.

Guinness calmed down, I calmed down, and everyone left the room except the opthamologist. I was getting Guinness ready to leave when the opthamologist struck up a conversation. He mentioned something that was in the news today, which led to him talking about the building in which my husband works, which led to him figuring out why we are in Ireland, which led to him telling me about traveling all over Africa practicing veterinary medicine, which led to an interesting conversation about human medicine, and an hour later he walked Guinness and me out to the waiting area.

We are home now and both exhausted. Hopefully tomorrow’s injection will go better than today’s. Eek.

up and down and all around

such is the life of Guinness. His highs are high and his lows are low.

He spends a great deal of his time snuggling, purring, going up and down the stairs, wanting treats, and otherwise behaving like a normal cat. Unfortunately normal is still interrupted with episodes and a lot of time at the university hospital (every afternoon).

The MRI report was less than promising. The differential diagnosis was “thiamine deficiency”, which more than left both his vet and me scratching our heads. Seriously, looking at his MR images, the radiologist came up with a vitamin B deficiency? This happens to cats that eat “inexpensive, tinned food from the store” and “raw fish”, Guinness eats Iams. He is now getting B-1 injections, because well, why not.

Should there happen to be any radiologists reading, here is the MR image interpretation:

There are two ill-defined T2 hyperintensities, 4 mm in diameter, associated with the anatomical location of the lateral geniculate nuclei, present at the dorso-lateral aspect of the thalamus (Seq 701, T2W, Image 11/22). More caudally, similar subtle T2 hyperintensities are visible within the cranial colliculus and periaqueductal gray matter. On Flair sequences, the changes are subtle. The changes are bilateral, symmetric and non-enhancing. Diffuse ill-defined patchy hyperintensities involving the hippocampus.
On sagittal plane T2W sequence, The caudal occipital bone is irregular in outline, responsible for the irregular caudal margin of the cerebellum. The cerebellum appears otherwise normal in size with adequate foliation. The caudo-ventral tip of the cerebellum is triangular, often seen in otherwise normal cats. The tympanic bulla and internal ear structures are unremarkable.


The more I get to know the clinicians and staff at UCD, the more I really like them. Yesterday someone had brought dessert in and two receptionists offered me a piece on different occasions. His lead vet had also emailed me a video that they had taken when Guinness was first admitted, a video that was never meant for us to see. I was touched watching the amount of affection that Guinness was shown during the six-minute clip. Every.single.time he fell over or needed to be moved, someone stroked him or patted his head. They were so gentle, and again, this was not a video that anyone ever thought that we would see. Two days in a row he has had a different nurse come out to get him. On Wednesday his nurse called him gorgeous and talked to him all the way to the clinical area. Yesterday another nurse came to get him. She too spoke to him the entire way to the door that separates the waiting area from the clinical rooms. While she was waiting for the door to open, a receptionist commented to her that Guinness was “lovely”. She agreed and gave him so many compliments. I really don’t think this was done for my benefit; I just don’t get that feeling from them. As I was leaving yesterday, a receptionist came over to ask how I was doing and to tell me how much they care about the animals that are treated at UCD, very sweet.

Since I now have the MRI report, a summary of Guinness’ clinical history, and the video clip, I’ve been searching the internet like mad for email addresses of veterinary neurologists and those teaching at veterinary schools in the U.S. I don’t expect free advice, nor do I expect a concrete diagnosis over the internet, but it can’t hurt to get his information out there. Maybe, just maybe, someone has seen a case similar to this or could suggest another test. Anything. If you know a veterinarian that might like to look at what seems like an impossible case, please email me (see upper right corner).

With that, Guinness and I are heading out the door. Time for his daily appointment. Today we have a bonus appointment with the opthamologist. Wheee……

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the Guinness roller coaster

Yesterday morning we picked up Guinness at the university. His vet said that he was having a good morning, had eaten breakfast, etc.. She had started him on steroids and wanted to see him later in the day to do a neuro exam. She also presented his case at rounds again. Everyone agreed that it’s a very mysterious case and that everything possible has been done (testing and treatment).

Guinness spent the day at home. He relaxed quite a bit, but also went up and down the stairs a few times, as if to say, “see mom, I’m okay, I don’t need to go back to that place.”

We took him back for his neuro exam and spoke with his vet again. She had heard back from both neurologists in the U.K. The one that she particularly likes (refers to him as the God of neurology) said that he’s never seen anything like this. His only suggestion was to send a sample of Guinness’ urine to the U.S. for a particular test. Basically providing confirmation of a Lysosomal storage disease, if that’s in fact what this is. Unfortunately there is no cure and it’s also very expensive to do, though at least we would have an answer.

Guinness is also now demonstrating some bizarre eye movement during his neuro exams, indicative of a brain disorder. The vet would like him to be seen by the opthamologist. The radiologists at the university did see something abnormal on the MRI, but it was “very subtle” and not cause for concern. We are still waiting for the official report from the radiologists in the U.K.

During his neuro exam he started having another episode. We brought him home and after resting for 30 minutes or so, he recovered. Last night he was right there when dinner was served and bedtime treats were handed out. He spent the night making the rounds, downstairs, upstairs, meowing, and sleeping. I think the best part of all was when he snuggled in bed with me, face to face, even giving me a few kisses on the nose.

Today he’s acting like a healthy, happy cat. He’s been up and down the stairs several times, used the litter box, and nibbled on some food. He spent some time snoozing on my lap, purring away. As I tried to eat my lunch, he crawled all over me trying to get at my food. He likes his water like I do, cold with ice. I added some ice cubes to his water dish and he took several sips.

This afternoon I’m taking him back to the university for his steroid injection and neuro exam. I will give the vet the update, the good and the bad.

The roller coaster continues…..

showing off his bright, red bandage

waiting for his doctor

Where I found him last night. He had put himself to bed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

a very sad update

On Saturday Guinness’ lead veterinarian called to say that he was hooked up to an IV and was showing little interest in food; they were syringing food into him. She had tried to induce an episode with his legs to take more video, but in that regard he was doing well and not having episodes. She wanted to continue to observe him through the weekend.

This afternoon a woman called to say that Guinness was eating and using the litter box. The university still hadn’t heard from the neurologists that they had sent the videos to in the U.K. They wanted to keep Guinness overnight again, not the news I wanted to hear.

Tonight Guinness’ lead vet called; the news is not good. She feels that he is continuing to deteriorate and not only are his back legs weak, his front legs are now weak too. She said that he is also somewhat reluctant to get onto his feet. As far as a diagnosis, there still isn’t one. He doesn’t fit the category for any one disease and the neurologists from the U.K. have still not been in touch; they will be called tomorrow. Guinness will be starting a high dose of steroids tonight because there really isn’t much more that can be done, so why not try it.

I expressed my desire for him to be home one more time, so we are picking him up tomorrow morning. I don’t know how long we will keep him here, probably not long. One thing is certain, my love for him and his quality of life always has and always will take precedence over my desire to have him “here” and personal selfishness. I also told the vet that I want to be there when he takes his last breath, which she agreed to. I will be cradling my baby boy as he leaves his earthly existence.

My heart is broken and my body physically hurts with pain. I can’t possibly put into words the love I have for that cat. Someday, hopefully soon, I will explain why he is more than just a pet to me, why he is so loved, so important to “his mommy.” For now I just wanted to let you know what is happening with my dear, baby boy.

I have asked the vet to summarize his history and tests as I will be immediately contacting several veterinary programs and specialists in the U.S. for more opinions. I honestly don’t expect to hear anything different than what we’ve been told here, but I need to exhaust every avenue possible for my own peace of mind.

Please pray that we will have a few good days with Guinness, and that this difficult process is as easy as possible, for all of us.

helping me pack a box a few weeks ago

Guinness loves Sundays.
I like having clean, white sheets on the bed to start the week and one of Guinness' favorite things to do is "help" me make the bed every Sunday night. Of course it always takes twice as long because we spend so much time playing, but I've never regretted those extra minutes. Looking back, I'm so glad that I let him have that time every week. It was worth every minute and every black hair on the clean sheets. I love you baby boy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

baby boy is in the hospital

After all of the improvement that Guinness had made over the past 24 hours, he unfortunately slipped backward. Last night he came upstairs for the usual bedtime treat routine. He had a few snacks and started to have an episode with his legs. He pulled himself under the covers, but something didn’t seem right. I picked him up, noticed the signs of a cat about to vomit, and quickly put a puppy pad (disposable, absorbent pad that we use for the cats) under his head. Baby boy threw up everything he had eaten yesterday. I wrapped up the pad, took it downstairs, and went back up to check on him. He was on the floor and began to cry. I put him on another puppy pad and he lost control of his bladder. It was the first time he had ever cried during a leg episode. I disposed of the soiled puppy pad and snuggled with him for a while. He decided to sleep on the wood floor in the hallway, a first.

This morning I called the university and basically told the woman who answered the phone that I needed someone to call me back immediately. The phone rang within five minutes, my husband was home 15 minutes later, and we were at the hospital within another 10.

Guinness was examined, more notes were taken, and a senior veterinarian came in to speak with us. All of the spinal tap results were normal. The official MRI report is not back from the U.K. yet, but the radiologists at UCD didn’t see anything that would be indicative of something major. The spinal tap results basically rule out most of the inflammatory brain diseases (the guess of the neuro-specialist in New Zealand). They are now going to get more video of Guinness having an episode and contact another neuro-specialist in the U.K. The veterinarian said that they have never seen anything like this. I again mentioned that it’s coming down to a quality of life issue and she agreed. She also thinks that we “need a break”, so they admitted him for the weekend. That way he can get some much needed IV fluids and they will be able to get more video.

The senior vet will be working all weekend and promised to call both Saturday and Sunday morning. We stroked Guinness’ head, told him that we loved him, and they bundled him up in his white blanket. It is the most helpless feeling to watch someone else carry your baby away, knowing that there is nothing you can do to help him. He looked at me with those big, black eyes, as if to say, why are you leaving me here. My heart hurts just thinking about it. I know that he is where he needs to be, but the selfish part of me wants him at home. I miss him so much already.

It’s going to be a long weekend. Please think good kitty thoughts. As usual, prayers are appreciated, for all of us.

my brave boy being admitted

Thursday, February 18, 2010

back to the OB, or whatever he’s called

I had to go back to the OB yesterday and it occurred to me that in the U.S. he’d be referred to as a perinatologist or MFM (maternal fetal medicine) since he’s sub-specialized in high-risk obstetrics. Here he’s simply called an OB, just another difference between countries I guess.

The results from Friday’s blood work were back and in his words “perfect.” Yay! We were able to straighten out the prescription and before I left he said that we should have a look at the baby. Just then his secretary came in and gave him a message. He then told me that he needed to move his car, to hop up on the table, and he would be right back. I jokingly asked if I would be getting a picture this time as the machine was out of paper last week. He looked and sure enough, there was no paper. Seriously, no other patient in seven days had asked? Wowza! He left to move the car and returned with a roll of paper in his pocket.

The baby looks great and is getting so much bigger! The ribs are really well defined now and the baby gave us a great shot of its foot, toes and all. I still can’t believe this is happening. 18 weeks today!!!!

Guinness and anesthesia = bad combo

On Tuesday the lead veterinarian on Guinness’ case called to let me know that he had woken up from anesthesia (for the MRI and spinal tap), that he was moving around, had eaten, and that we could pick him up in a few hours. She also said that there were no “major abnormalities” on the MRI.

We arrived at the clinic and he was awake, barely. The lead vet said that there was something found on the MRI in the midbrain. The images were sent to the UK to be read by an MRI expert and the spinal tap results should be ready in a few days.

Upon arriving home, he belly crawled out of the carrier, a few inches into his favorite hiding spot, the bottom bookshelf where I keep my yoga mat. He was in there all night long. Wednesday morning I finally pulled him out and syringed 2 cc's of water down his throat. Throughout the day he was lethargic, refusing food and water, including his favorites, cooked chicken and Whiskas cat milk.

I finally called the hospital and left a message. The head of anesthesia for veterinary medicine called me back within minutes. We had a long discussion and she assured me that he had eaten and had some water upon waking up (I’m not entirely convinced). I really don’t think she understood how very out of it he was. I had to leave for an appointment, and left him snoozing on my bed.

When I got home a few hours later, he hadn’t moved. Last night was a rough night. Again, refused food, refused water, didn’t use the litter box, nada. After dinner I was sitting at the laptop and he crawled into my lap, though just couldn’t get comfortable. He eventually made his way back to the bookshelf and it appeared that he would once again spend the night there. My husband agreed to sleep on the couch so he could watch him.

Around 2am, I woke up to a cat trying to get under the covers next to me. I reached down, assuming it was Bella, and my hand was greeted to a little, bald head and the sound of my boy purring. I was ecstatic. He had climbed the stairs by himself and managed to get onto the bed. We had a wonderful cuddle.

This morning my husband spoon fed him a little bit of wet food, though I had still planned to call the university since two days later, he’s still not very alert, nor has he eaten enough, IMO. Wouldn’t you know, ten minutes before I was to call, the little monkey walked himself into the kitchen and ate some dry food. Since he’s showing signs of improvement, I’m going to hold off for now and continue to encourage wet food and possibly syringe more water into him (he needs some hydration).

The veterinarian should be calling later today or tomorrow with the spinal tap results. Again, we should know something more conclusive about the MRI next week.

Thank you all for your support. Guinness appreciates it too. Yes, I read the comments to him :)

my brave boy

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

another OB appointment, prepared this time

Last Wednesday I had another OB appointment. I’m sorry it took so long to write a quick update; it’s just that Guinness has been my main concern and all of my energy is going toward him right now. I thought I should throw this post in so you don’t think the blog is all about Guinness, and so you know that the baby is doing well.

After finding out that I’m supposed to hand carry a urine sample from the ladies room to the waiting room and finally hand it to my doctor, I decided to come prepared. Instead of allowing a small, specimen cup to roam loosely in my purse, I came armed with a Ziplock bag, you know, just in case the plastic lid should fail.

in case you were wondering, yes it's empty, and yes, it is much smaller than the specimen cups used in the U.S.

The appointment was fine and the baby looks great on ultrasound. Unfortunately the machine was out of paper, so I didn’t get a picture. NOT happy about that. My doctor said that my blood pressure was “perfect.” At my previous appointment he had said that it was “textbook”, so this time he asked me if I always had such perfect blood pressure. Yes, yes I do.

He wrote a prescription for me, booked the next appointment, and off I went. Of course now there is a little, okay big, problem with the prescription, but I’m currently trying to remedy that, and shall blog about it later.

Guinness' weekend

Before you think that the blog should be renamed “The Guinness Gazette”, this is still a blog about living overseas, infertility, and now, a high-risk pregnancy. It’s just that the situation we are dealing with first and foremost right now is our dear boy, Guinness.

On Saturday I noticed a red mark on Guinness’ collar line. Upon closer inspection I found a gash where he had been shaved for blood work.

Livid doesn’t begin to express my anger. I’m certain that whoever clipped him on Friday didn’t cut him out of malice. He’s a cat, cats move unexpectedly, accidents happen. What angers me is that nobody bothered to tell us. I’m an honest, upfront person and I expect as much from others. If you accidently cut my cat, tell me, I’ll handle it. In particular, I won’t let him run around with a collar on, further irritating his injury. I removed his collar, gave him a cuddle, and calmed down. The rest of the weekend he spent resting, spending most of his time napping on our bed. He did have a few episodes, two of which involved falling down the stairs and off the bed. Poor baby.

Yesterday afternoon we dropped him off again at the university hospital. The head veterinarian on his case came out to speak with us. I mentioned his neck, not in an accusatory manner, just that whoever is handling him should be careful because of his injury. She promised to take good care of him and also said that they had heard back from the neuro specialist in New Zealand. Unfortunately he thinks it’s probably an “inflammatory brain disease.” I’m shocked and saddened, as you might imagine. Guinness is only two years old, much too young for such serious medical problems. Hopefully the MRI and spinal tap will tell us more.

It was so hard to leave him at the hospital. He’s not spent a night away from home since we adopted him. The house feels empty without our baby boy. This morning I’m waiting to hear from the hospital, and praying for good news.

showing off his shaved neck

resting in his favorite place

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday, Guinness update

We took the boy back to the university hospital this morning. The veterinarian in charge of Guinness’ case came right out to meet with us. We discussed the plan for the day and his upcoming MRI. I am concerned about the anesthesia (for the MRI), particularly since he is medically fragile and we don’t know what’s wrong yet. They are using meds that I’m familiar with and he will have much of the same monitoring equipment that people have during surgery. I feel so much better knowing that.

This afternoon the vet called me to let me know that Guinness was ready to come home. As I mentioned yesterday, they wanted to take blood before and after an episode. The blood work came back and there was no significant difference between the two tests. His potassium level also came back much higher than it was yesterday, not normal, but much better. In addition, all of his infectious disease tests have also come back negative. We are still waiting on the report from the neuro specialist in New Zealand.

Guinness seemed very pleased to see us, and even more pleased to be home. He’s had some food, rested by the fire, and is now curled up under the covers on our bed. Hopefully he will have a relaxing weekend before going back to the hospital on Monday.

Thank you all for your kind words of support.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday evening, Guinness update

I just spoke to the veterinarian handling Guinness’ case. Her colleague was able to get a very good video of Guinness having an episode yesterday, as I mentioned in the previous post. The video has already been sent to a neuro-specialist in New Zealand for review. His report should be back early next week.

Right now they are leaning toward it being one or two components, the cerebellum in the brain (controls movement) or a muscular disease. There are also abnormalities in his blood work, which can influence nerves and muscles. One aspect is that his potassium was very low, so low in fact that she wants to retest it to rule out a lab error. She would also like to draw bloods on him both before and after an episode to see if there is any difference in the electrolytes. We will be taking him back to the hospital for this tomorrow :(

We were initially told that the MRI machine would be at the hospital next Friday, but now the test is scheduled for Tuesday. Unfortunately Guinness will have to spend the night at the hospital on Monday to have an anesthesia workup. That’s all the information I have as of this evening. More of his lab results should be available when we take him to the hospital in the morning.

Thursday morning, Guinness update

Last night I returned home after my appointment and was greeted by my husband, Bella, and Guinness!! Apparently poor Guinness had been hiding in the bookshelf since being picked up at the hospital, but came out to see me. We are thrilled to have him back at home. Unfortunately Bella doesn’t share our enthusiasm. Guinness smells like he’s been away and around other animals. Bella takes this as an invitation to hiss and growl at him. Hopefully the unfamiliar smell on his fur will disappear in the next few days and Bella will relax a bit.

Now the Guinness update. Even though my husband had arrived at the hospital early, the vet and students that we had dealt with earlier in the day had already left. A different vet brought Guinness to my husband and spoke to him about the day and the plan. As I understand it, Guinness had another episode while at the hospital and the staff was able to get their own video of it, in addition to the one I had taken the previous night. Most of Guinness’ blood work isn’t back yet, but he tested negative for one disease (my husband couldn’t remember which one). This morning Guinness’ case is going to be presented to other vets at the hospital. It sounds like Grand Rounds, feline style. As of right now, the team handling Guinness’ case is leaning toward doing the MRI next Friday. There was some discussion of this possibly being a seizure disorder, but I’m hoping that I misunderstood that.

For now Guinness is resting (he’s exhausted) and I’m waiting (not so patiently) for the phone to ring. The vet in charge of Guinness’ case is supposed to call me today to discuss yesterday’s finding and the next step as far as diagnosing him.

two more books, Navigating the Land of IF and Infertility, Learn to take charge of your condition

*disclaimer- I haven’t read either book cover to cover

I’m really working on getting rid of stuff (hoping to motivate my husband to do the same). So far I’ve got over 25 books in the donation box. It’s not that I don’t like these books and therefore want to get rid of them. I just don’t have the time to read all of the books, nor do I want to haul them around the world; books are heavy. I’m currently trying to get through the 20ish books I own on infertility. Again, it’s not that I don’t like the books or haven’t gotten a lot out of them, it’s just time to get rid of some.

Today’s first book, “Infertility, Learn to take charge of your condition”, from the Barnes & Noble Health Basics series, written by Jenny Wolsk Bain, 2004. There are a few items in this book worth mentioning. First, the author includes questions and answers in each chapter. One such question is on conceiving after discontinuing “the pill”. I was very pleased to see that the author pointed out that it can take months (up to 13 according to some studies) for a woman’s body to regulate itself after coming off of birth control pills. While I’ve not used birth control throughout our marriage, I know of several people who did and then became upset when pregnancy didn’t occur within the first few months of stopping. It was nice to see a book address this, albeit briefly. I can’t tell you how many women join infertility message boards claiming to be infertile, then mention that they’ve been off of birth control pills for mere months, very frustrating and anger inducing for truly infertile women.

My next observation is that the very outdated “post coital” test is listed in this book under testing. I realize that this book was published in 2004, but even in 2007 when I started fertility testing, the post coital test was viewed as out-dated and undependable by all of the reproductive endocrinologists that I worked with directly or consulted with. Fortunately the author does end the section by stating that, “the post coital test is not always reliable.”

The book does win points with me for a great glossary and numerous resources throughout. It contains a lot of information in just 224 pages.

Next up, “Navigating the land of IF, Understanding infertility and exploring your options", by Melissa Ford, 2009. Since this was published in 2009, I didn’t purchase it until rather late into our journey, and as noted above, have not read the book cover to cover. This book could easily be re-titled as The Girlfriend’s Guide to Infertility. As you read though the pages, you feel as though you are sitting down and chatting about a sensitive topic with a friend, versus reading pages out of a book. It’s a simple read, full of information, and you won’t be left feeling alone. This is an excellent book to have for dealing with the emotional aspects of infertility, though testing and treatment are certainly covered. The book is well laid out, very easy to read, and because of the recent publication date, you can be assured that the resources listed are up to date.

In addition to her recently published book, the author maintains an up to date and interactive website, which is very popular with the IF community.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guinness is spending the day in the hospital

We took Guinness to the University Veterinary Hospital this morning. First he was examined by a lovely, young student; she read the letter and notes that our vet had faxed over, asked us a lot of questions, and then gave Guinness a thorough exam. While going through the lifestyle questions, she said that he lives better than she does. LOL.

Another student later joined her and also examined Guinness. Last night I had taken a video of Guinness having an episode, which they were very grateful for. It’s one thing to explain the episode, but much more helpful when they can actually see it. The other student also asked questions about our boy and we were very pleased with the amount of affection they showed him.

The male student asked the female student if Guinness was bothering her allergies, he wasn’t. She then explained that she had a cat allergy. I laughed and said that veterinary medicine was an interesting career choice given her allergy to cats. It reminded me of a patient I once had. While doing her pre-op evaluation she mentioned that she had an allergy to mice, certainly an interesting and rare allergy to have. I told her that we all hoped that there wouldn’t be any mice in the OR, then asked her how she knew she was allergic to mice; I was curious. She told me that she was a research scientist and worked with mice. Fascinating. Oh, and before I continue, the patient was not exposed to mice during the procedure. We were all thankful ;)

Back to Guinness…..
After spending the better part of the morning with us, the two students left to confer with the head vet. While they were out of the room, Guinness began crying, walking around as if he were searching for something, All of the sudden he urinated on the floor. My poor baby had held his bladder for hours and must have been looking for a litter box. My heart broke for him all over again. He’s been through so much and then for our very private boy to have to urinate in “public”, ugh. I cleaned the floor and by that time the students had returned with the vet.

We were also very impressed with her. She spent a lot of time examining Guinness, explaining the various tests that she wanted to do, and answering questions. Today they are going to concentrate on blood work. Fortunately I had decided that Guinness should be fasting, so I took the food away late last night, otherwise he would have had to spend the night at the hospital. They were happy that he was fasting and said that not many people think to do that. Anyway, he will have the first round of tests this afternoon. They are going to start by looking for metabolic disorders and infectious diseases that Guinness’ mother could have exposed him to. Depending on the results, he will have an MRI next Friday. That is what I had been pushing for, but the MRI machine only comes to the university once a month, strange. The vet said that in addition to the MRI, they might also do a spinal tap.

Amazingly I held it together throughout the appointment. It wasn’t until the male student took Guinness’ collar off and handed it to me that I got a little teary-eyed. I was telling Guinness that he would be okay, that we loved him, and would pick him up later today. I don’t know if they were giving me strange looks, nor do I care, but my husband decided to tell them that it had taken years for us to get pregnant and that the cats were our first babies. That news was met with a lot of “ahh, congratulations” and smiles, so I guess they understood how precious Guinness is to us. As soon as the door of the carrier was opened, Guinness made his way inside, hoping to go home I’m sure. I put his blankets back inside with him (yes I slept with them last night so they would smell like me) and told him that I would see him tonight.

Unfortunately I have an appointment late this afternoon, so my husband will be picking Guinness up alone. I was very impressed with the staff and doctors we met at the university and continue to hope that they can diagnose AND treat my baby.

Continued thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

our brave patient

Monday, February 8, 2010

Guinness graduates

Guinness is going to the university on Wednesday. Unfortunately this is not because of his remarkable intellect, but instead due to his health issues.

As many of you know, Guinness has been having issues with his back legs for several months. The first vet said that he was just anxious and needed to go out into our garden. Um no. She also sold us an expensive bottle of feline calming spray; it didn’t work.

Throughout the fall, his leg episodes occurred more frequently and became more severe, often with confusion and stumbling. We found a fabulous vet in December and have taken Guinness to see her several times, though his illness remained a mystery.

In early January we took both of the cats for yearly vaccines and Guinness just happened to have another episode while at the clinic. Our vet asked another vet to look at Guinness and to give his opinion on the leg issue. We were given a possible diagnosis (a very rare illness), some medicine, and sent on our way.

Unfortunately the medicine has not helped, and if anything, Guinness’ condition has become worse, more frequent and more intense. This weekend was particularly bad. Saturday night started out with the usual leg problem, strange gait, confusion, then some vomiting. Within 30 minutes he had also lost control of his bowels and bladder (first time). Thirty minutes after that, he was fine, as usual. Sunday night my husband was upstairs on the phone, I was in the kitchen finishing the dishes. Guinness had been walking with a strange gait off and on for approximately 30 minutes. All of the sudden I heard a terrible noise, a noise that sounded like a cat falling down the stairs. Sure enough, my baby was lying at the bottom of the stairs, unable to move his back legs. Once again, he recovered within 15, 20 minutes.

This morning we took him to the vet as soon as they opened. Much to our surprise, Guinness had a leg episode while we were there. Before we even asked for the referral (which we had planned to do), our vet suggested taking him to the university. It is clear that she understands how serious this is. We are very grateful for the quality medical care and attention our cats have received from her; particularly that she recognizes that it’s time for diagnostics not available at her clinic. She gave Guinness a thorough exam, a hug, and promised to fax his records to the university ASAP.

We brought him home and discovered that in the just the short drive from the clinic to our house (about 5 minutes), he had lost control of his bladder and bowels again. Upon letting him out of the carrier, he laid down on his stomach, legs out to the sides (not typical cat posture). He has recovered now and is resting by the fireplace.

My baby boy is just too young for this; he’s only two. There is no reason that this should be happening. I don’t have any experience in veterinary medicine, but I honestly think that his symptoms are indicative of something neurological. It’s all so unfair. I look at him and just cry. He’s such a sweet, loving boy. I just want him to be happy and healthy.

Guinness’ appointment at the university veterinary hospital is on Wednesday morning. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

this morning after coming home from the vet

happy times:
Helping to make the bed, he loves playing on the white sheets.

Posing with a Guinness on St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, February 5, 2010

last progesterone injection

Hooray! I had the last PIO yesterday morning. As a parting gift, I was greeted with a blood gusher all over my pink yoga pants, but it’s over.

I’m understandably nervous about being done with progesterone (I stopped the Crinone about two weeks ago). However, I was on both the Crinone and PIO far longer than most people, so I just have to hope that everything will be okay and that my body is producing enough by itself.

short book review

Several times over the past several months I’ve promised to do book reviews of the 30ish infertility books I own. Guess what? It looks like it’s not going to happen. If this past week is any indication of what’s to come in the next few months, I simply won’t have time. Busy busy busy. In between scheduling appointments, a sick cat, fighting with a certain insurance company that shall remain nameless, and dealing with more housing issues than I care to think about, I have managed to start a pile of books to donate. It includes everything from cookbooks to books on religion to books on various health topics to everything in-between. I’m currently at 16 and counting.

Here is a brief review of a book that is about to enter the donate box.

“Fertility & Conception” by Zita West.

This book was first published in the U.S. in 2004. It is not an in-depth book on fertility issues, but does offer a very good overview of fertility, lifestyle issues, infertility testing, and treatment. Since the book is six years old, some of the information is outdated, but most of it is still relevant. I was impressed that given the controversy that surrounds reproductive immunology today, this book touched on the subject six years ago. In addition, the forward of the book is by Dr. Geoffrey Sher. Dr. Sher is regarded as one of the foremost infertility experts in the world. Please see a link to his blog, IVF Authority, under the infertility resources listed at the right. The last thing I will mention about this book is that it is published by DK Publishing; by far my favorite publishing company in regard to the simplicity of how information is presented and fabulous pictures.

Monday, February 1, 2010

what a way to start the week

This morning at 6:15, my husband was upstairs getting ready for work and I was in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher. All of the sudden I heard the words I dread, “Guinness just got sick.” I went running upstairs to see the cat on the floor, my husband washing his hands, the bath mat in the tub, and a duvet covered with illness. I won’t go into details, but he was very, very sick.

I stripped the bed, washed everything out in the tub, used the remaining Oxi-Clean, hauled everything downstairs, and have been doing laundry all. day. long. Have I mentioned how much fun it is to stuff a queen size, down comforter in a European size, washing machine? My dear boy rested all morning and seems to be feeling better.

I’m clueless as to what brings this on. This is the third time that he has been sick on the bed, always the day of or day after I’ve washed the bedding. The entire house has wood and tile floors, but Guinness prefers to get sick on our bed. I love him dearly, and wish I knew what was making him sick. His blood work is fine, his sterile, urine test showed nothing unusual. Guinness and Bella are indoor only cats, so he can’t be eating anything strange outside. We take our shoes off at the door as to not drag anything into the house. I clean the floors with vinegar and water so the cats aren’t exposed to harsh chemicals. I just don’t understand. What could have made my baby boy sick?

feeling better this afternoon

I’m a water snob, but this is ridiculous

I’ve always been a bit of a water snob. I like bottled water or water that’s been through a purifier. Filtered, refrigerator water is good too. We have a Brita pitcher which is okay, but my preference is bottled water. Tap water makes me gag; I just can’t drink it. The taste, the smell, ack.

Moving right along, the city continues to play with the water in our area, and at any given time, we may or may not have treated water coming out of the faucet, which means we may or may not have treated water to put in the Brita filter to be purified. Therefore, we’ve been buying a lot of bottled water lately. The least expensive available at the grocery store is Evian, which happens to be a personal favorite. However, buying Evian water to use not only for drinking, but to cook with, brush teeth with, and make ice with, gets expensive. I really hope we have regular water service again, soon. Using bottled water to brush my teeth is a little over the top, even for me.