A Little Faith

This week has been brutal, no doubt about it. I have a lot more going on than I normally do, and a little bit of Murphy’s law kicked in while I’ve been trying to juggle it all.

On Monday I went out to run errands, despite the fact that I had been up since 2:30 in the morning. I had appointments to make later in the week, and since I was traveling on Thursday, I needed to get out at the first opportunity.  The day went as well as could be expected, and when I got home around 3:00, I wanted to collapse. Of course, since I had babies at home, it wasn’t an option – I had to feed the babies first. Inky (the little black one), Misti (the grey one) and Muffin (the black and white one) all came out for their bottle. After feeding the first three kittens I found Bear (the bigger black one) sleeping in his carrier. That’s pretty common for a kitten to sleep so hard he misses the fact that everyone else is screaming for the bottle. I woke Bear up, and he nursed for a moment before giving up. I re-fed everyone else, then realized that Bear was sleeping in my lap. Concerned, I placed him on the floor and tried to get him to walk – he was ataxic (medical for “walking like he’s drunk”). I immediately put Bear in the car and rushed him to the shelter.

The shelter staff took Bear into the back to begin rescue procedures. As I was waiting for them to update me, my cell phone rang. Normally I don’t take phone calls from anyone other than Michael when I’m busy, but an instinct told me to pick up the phone this time. The caller was a casual friend of mine who happened to adopt Donald from the last litter of foster kittens. I didn’t blog about these kittens, I realized. It was in November or December, and mostly Michael was caring for them since I really couldn’t.

These are Donald, Goofy, Ariel, and Jasmine. Poor Donald was really sick, but he pulled through and became the sweetest little guy! Goofy died, though. He had a case of megacolon – his intestines stopped working and he got so constipated that he couldn’t be unblocked and they had to put him down. It was incredibly sad.

Back to the present: My friend had just moved into a new place over the weekend, so Donald was already a little scared. When the pizza guy came by to deliver dinner, Donald snuck out of the house. On Monday, a little girl brought Donald back to his home, but Donald was in bad shape. The little girl witnessed one of the neighborhood boys stomping on Donald. My friend was in a panic, not sure what to do. I instructed her to take him to the emergency vet. When a cat is injured like that, even if you can’t find broken bones, it’s important to make sure there’s no internal bleeding or something. I also advised her to call the police – that kind of animal abuse is a crime. Since I was at the shelter, I had an animal control officer set up a case for her. The bottom line is that Donald is ok now, but the little girl’s mother made her change her story to protect the boy who hurt the cat, so it appears there will be nothing done about the abuse. Great, that mother just taught her daughter several very bad lessons – it’s ok to hurt animals, don’t report crimes, and lie when questioned by the authorities. I hate people.

As for Bear: the shelter kept him overnight on IV fluids. They returned him to me the next day, telling me I just hadn’t fed him often enough. I try not to take comments like that personally. First of all, I’ve been doing this for a long time – I know how often to feed kittens. It was his regularly scheduled feeding time, and the other kittens were just fine. Second, when I told the vet how many kittens I’ve fostered (almost 250 now), she said I’d seen far more of them than she had. The vet was young, probably fresh from vet school. She really had no idea what she was talking about. I decided that I would just monitor him more closely for awhile. He’s been fine since the incident, so I just chalked it up to the fact that sometimes kittens crash and even die for completely unknown reasons.

As of right now, the kittens are great! They have started eating just a little bit of wet food mixed with milk. They are still eating the dry food as well. They use the litter box, and play just as I expect. Misti even made friends with Duck.

Duck was afraid of the kittens when they couldn’t really get around, but now that they are no longer infants, Duck thinks they make great playmates.

I’m plugging along on my knitting WIPs. I finished one of Robert’s boot socks with the intention of sending it off to him to be fitted. I later decided that I would like to have the socks together so I can just make them match, and if I have to rip them back and re-knit them I’ll count it as another project for my goal of finishing up the WIPs.

I’m pretty happy with the way the first one turned out.

I know a lot of people have been waiting for the health update, so here it is:

On Thursday, I got on a plane for Burbank to see a woman (we’ll call her H – she isn’t a doctor, but she has a bachelor’s degree in biology) who specializes in non-cognitive biofeedback. I’ll be the first to admit, this diagnostic method seems a little… exotic. In theory, this machine can read meridians in the body and tell where your body is stressed. I went into it with a healthy dose of skepticism, but I thought that since no other diagnostics were really telling me anything (the antibody tests Dr B ordered came back negative, but there were other things I’ll get to in a minute), well, I had nothing to lose.

One of the first things the machine told her was that I was severely hypoglycemic. I already knew that – the tests that Dr B ran showed that my hemoglobin A1c levels (a measure of your average blood sugar over the long-term) were too low. Also, when I got out of the car at the airport, I wasn’t feeling right. Although I didn’t have the right symptoms for hypoglycemia (sweating, dizziness, trembling – all adrenal responses), I immediately got out the blood glucose meter and checked my blood sugar. The meter read 45, and it reads 15-20% high, which means that my real blood sugar was between 36-39. That fits the clinical definition of hypoglycemia. This was the most severe hypoglycemic event I’ve ever had, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to correct it well enough to fly. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring candy canes left over from Christmas with me, and they worked. Crisis averted. The scary part is, other than just a vague sense that something was wrong, I had no symptoms. If my blood sugar gets too low and I am unaware, I could have seizures or even go into shock or a coma. That’s just such bad news.

The question is not whether I am hypoglycemic or not, it’s why am I hypoglycemic? The first thing the machine told H is that I have a massive infection. I’ll go more into detail about it later this week, after I speak with Dr B about the results. Overwhelming infection can most definitely cause hypoglycemia – in fact, that’s the most common cause I’ve seen for the death in my foster kittens (infection culminating in irreversible hypoglycemia). The next thing that came up is that I’ve had a large pesticide exposure. That one baffles me – mostly, I eat organic food now, and I wash my fruits and veggies before eating. Maybe it’s the flea medication I’ve used on foster kittens when I lived in San Francisco? She also noted that I had a high insulin load, but she attributes it to insulin resistance (which I am still not sure about – I have been on a diet that should reduce the resistance, and a lot of the supplements I am on also have that effect). There were other things that came up, but we aren’t dealing with them right now. H says that if we change too many things at once, we could do more harm than good.

I’ve invested in books about treating hypoglycemia, and after reading them, I’m sure that this is the cause of my fatigue. I’m still not sure of all of the reasons for the hypoglycemia, and there may be many. Still, this is MAJOR progress, and I’m feeling optimistic that it can be sorted out now. There is a very real risk that I might not survive long enough to get better, but if I’ve lived this long with an infection of the magnitude H describes, well, I must be a sturdy sort.

I also learned from reading the books (Hypoglycemia for Dummies and a textbook written in the UK called Hypoglycaemia in Clinical Diabetes (Practical Diabetes)) that not all doctors believe that hypoglycemia can exist in patients who are not taking insulin. Really? The textbook repeatedly states that hypoglycemia in non-diabetics is rare and practically dismisses the possibility, but I attribute that to the fact that the book specifically explores the condition in diabetic patients (I got the book because I wanted to understand the mechanisms of hypoglycemia, and it does do that). According to Hypoglycemia for Dummies, even the doctors who believe hypoglycemia can exist in non-diabetic patients don’t believe that diet has an effect on the condition. Again, really? I guess it explains why no one ever talked to me about low blood sugar before. Every doctor I’ve ever seen has been focused on my family history of diabetes (both types) and has consequently been worried about high blood sugar (which I have never demonstrated, but I do have signs of high insulin). It’s the same as the blood pressure – they get all over my husband for being mildly hypertensive, but no one ever bats an eye at the fact that my blood pressure is too low. I’m just going to put this out there for medical professionals to ponder: “There is a functional range out there, people. With a high and a low. Both ends need to be attended to.”

This week, in addition to preparing to travel to San Francisco, I am going to read as much as I can about hypoglycemia and I’m going to discuss what I’ve learned from the books and from H with my doctors. By Wednesday I should have the information I need to discuss what I’ve learned with you in much better detail. No matter what, I’ll check in so those of you following the health crisis know what’s happening.

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One thought on “A Little Faith

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about Donald. That makes me so angry that mother told her child change her story. That is SO messed up. But I’m glad that he is going to be ok.

    A massive infection, huh? I am interested to hear more about this. I’m so surprised to hear all that bs about blood sugar. I know SO many people who report mood swings and all the rest of the symptoms when they don’t eat on time, myself included. Who would think that diet doesn’t inform this? That’s crazy talk. I didn’t realize your hypoglycemia was so severe, but that’s crazy you were so low and just barely noticed. If you are frequently so low, then no wonder you have trouble with energy level.

    All interesting updates, Barbara. More pieces to the puzzle, coming together. More still to figure out.

    Hugs
    -Vickie

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