When you can’t

I like to think that I can get a lot done in a day. I make to-do lists, only to find maybe half the items crossed off at the end of the day. It used to be that I avoided the things on the list like the plague. Now that I’m feeling a little better, I actually have the ambition to get the stuff done, but I don’t have enough energy yet. I’m visiting a new doctor today, and I’m hoping that this one can do something the others haven’t yet managed. I just can’t imagine that someone under 30 should be THIS tired and THIS sick all the time.

In the last two months, I have focused on what I can do. I fostered a few more kittens and brought my total up to 203 before there were none left at the shelter.

This is Bootsie:


and Dancer:

All three of these guys came to me at over 2 pounds (the weight at which they are eligible for spay/neuter surgery and adoption). Dasher and Dancer were already altered, actually. They were also all behavior kittens with an upper respiratory infection. That tends to be a tough situation because I am trying to teach the kittens to trust me, while at the same visiting them several times a day to give them medications they don’t want/like/trust. In the end, they all learned to be OK with us, but only Dasher really loved us. Bootsie was very hand shy, and Dancer just had her own agenda.

After the Christmas kittens came the telethon kittens. The shelter I volunteer for was doing a televised fund-raiser after Christmas, and they needed kittens to show and draw in donations. I was able to keep some of those kittens in my home until they were needed. Here’s the thing: I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I don’t remember their names. If I do remember I’ll add an edit to this section of my post. The thing is, the little guys stayed with me for only a week, they were easy to care for, and they were as friendly as kittens come. There were no real events to make them stand out in my mind, so I managed to <sob> lose them. To be fair, I had a lot of things happen right after they got to me (to be explained in a moment), so maybe I can forgive myself. Still, here they are:

I know, what kind of jerk forgets such cute, wonderful babies?!

Right after I got these kittens, several crises popped up: one with a friend, one with my cats, and one of my own. The one with my friend is not my business to tell, so you won’t be getting that. Instead, I’ll start with the cat crisis.

One weekend, all my cats got diarrhea. It happens sometime, and since they had been exposed to my last foster kittens, I assumed it was giardia. As of Monday, Wesley and Serra got better, but Buttercup and Duck did not. I brought a stool sample to the vet, but they found nothing and advised me to make an appointment for Butters and Duck. The night before the appointment, Buttercup was acting very sick. Understand that if a cat shows her sickness, that means it is pretty serious. The average cat pretends that nothing is wrong so that predators don’t see an easy mark. I checked Buttercup’s temperature, and it was a little over 99°. The normal range for a cat is 101° – 102°. I took her to the emergency vet (and yes, she brought home a URI to share) and they gave her more fluids (I had already dosed her) and some anti-acid pills for her stomach. They also did a ton of blood tests, but everything was normal. I believe they also gave her some anti-nausea injections as well. It was a scary and expensive night.

The next day, Butters and Duck went to the vet. The vet did a direct (fecal) smear to check for parasites, but again, nothing came up. Duck’s bottom, however, was terribly inflamed and swollen from having the squirts. Buttercup had lost about 1 lb from just not eating (that’s a lot for a cat – she only weighed 14 lbs prior to that). The vet was baffled. He thought that maybe the cats had eaten bad dry food, but the cats were at the end of a bag that had been just fine for the last month. It could have been a bad can of food, but we’ll never know. The vet kept Buttercup on the fluids and gave both cats probiotics to help fight the gut bacteria. He also gave them an injectable antibiotic. Duck was still eating well, so he just needed a little diaper rash cream, but Buttercup was on orders to be syringe-fed if she didn’t start eating again.

We were back and forth to the vet innumerable times that week. The worst part was that I planned to go to San Francisco for about a week after the cats started to get sick, but I couldn’t just leave them if they didn’t get better in time. After about ten days, Buttercup started to eat again – that was a relief. Duck’s diarrhea didn’t go away, however, even though he had been given a prescription for Flagyl. Finally, the night before I was supposed to leave, Duck made normal poop. It may not seem like a big deal unless you were here. It was exactly like the mystery ailment that kept him so small for so long when he was just a few weeks old – nothing of note in the stool but the diarrhea only stops when he is given Flagyl. I am starting to think this may plague him his whole life. Good thing I kept him.

Duck and Buttercup are completely back to normal now, except for one thing: Buttercup has learned to like Duck! She took about a year and half to accept Serra, but only about 6 months to learn to tolerate Duck. I think she just bonded with him over all the vet visits. Poor kids!

Since the vet visit, Duck has resumed his growth. I am not sure how big that one will be when he matures, but he’s big now. Look at these pictures:

It’s amazing how big Duck looks when he’s with Wesley (never mind what Wesley is doing to the kitten – it’s a dominance thing). What’s even more amazing is how big Ducky looks when compared to my newest kittens who are just under 2 lbs. I don’t have a picture of that yet, but I do have a shot of the new little guys:

Meet Wallace and Gromit. They came to me as Grunt and Wrex, but no one at the shelter nor I liked those names, so we (with the help of friends on Facebook) chose these better names. These are numbers 204 & 205. Man, I’ve fostered a lot of kittens! In any case, these kittens are incredibly sweet and they have a simple URI. They are definitely getting better, and they love our company. Because of all the travel we’ve had recently, coupled with the complete absence of kittens in the wintertime, I haven’t had kittens for about a month, so these guys seemed extra cute and extra tiny when I picked them up. I already love them (is it really a surprise by now?).

As for my crisis, it’s more of a long-term thing than an acute issue. I’ve been experimenting with diet changes to fix my low-energy. One day, something really odd happened: I didn’t have milk in any form for an entire day (I’ve had a bowl of cereal almost every day of my life since I could eat it), and when I went to sleep that night, I had the first dream that I can remember in a very long time. Not that I can remember the dream, I just had one. I then realized that I am not getting REM sleep. I’ve been tested for sleep apnea, so I know that isn’t why I am not sleeping deeply. As an experiment, I gave up all milk products for a week. During that week I had dreams, and when I woke up I felt refreshed. Not only that, but only eight or fewer hours had passed since I feel asleep instead of the usual upwards of ten hours that I generally need. I still need a midday nap (the kittens don’t mind – they take one, too), but I am drastically better. Last weekend I ate a couple of cream cheese wontons, and the next day I felt really bad. It’s like I had the flu without the respiratory symptoms. The next day, after avoiding milk products again, I felt mostly better. I think I’m on to something. The new doctor I mentioned at the beginning treats endocrine diseases partly with diet (I can’t imagine that I will stop needing my pills), so I have some hope. If this works, I am going to seek paid employment. I may go to vet-tech school (there is a great one here in the Denver area) or even vet school. I may try another career entirely. No matter what, I am keeping my foster kitten career.

After the last little experiment, I’ve finally accepted that I am not just lazy, like I feared. I’ve experienced good health for the first time that I can remember, and I had it juxtaposed to a bad day – a day like that was just like I’ve felt for at least the last ten, maybe more years. On the bad day, I was awake, but I had no drive or energy. I couldn’t do anything, and I felt depressed.  On the good days, I got things done. I could remember where I left my keys. I felt happy. I want more of that.


3 thoughts on “When you can’t

  1. Glad you are onto something healthwise.

    I can’t believe how big Duck is!! He’s gorgeous too, but I guess you know that.

    I think you’d be an awesome vet or vet tech.

    • That’s really sweet of you!! I haven’t seen much of you since I quit working at the shop. We should meet up and knit sometime!


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