Home at last

It has been a long and dreary week for Leah at the hospital.

The view from the fourth floor.

The view from the fourth floor.

She finally made it home on Thursday.

This surgery was very similar to one she had five years ago to address a partial bowel obstruction, which was itself a result of colon cancer surgery in 1999. The surgeon said he touched literally every inch of her intestines to pick apart adhesions. He also took out a few inches of her small intestine that had a constriction. We all — Leah, me and the surgeon — hope this is the last time anyone ever needs to inspect Leah’s intestines that closely.

Despite the similarity to the last surgery, this one was much worse. Before the surgery, the surgeon said Leah might have to stay in the hospital a day, or maybe two. As it was, she was in the hospital eight days including the day of surgery and the day she was discharged. She spent almost the entire time sleeping, waking only to ask for pain medication or something for nausea.

To add insult to injury, she also couldn’t urinate without a catheter. As late as Wednesday the nurses were instructing her on how to use one after she went home. And then later Wednesday she was able to urinate without the catheter. The nurse told me that the nursing staff broke into applause when they heard.

She is clearly improving, but she still has a way to go. She has little or no appetite and still has bouts of nausea. Thursday night she had a little ice cream. Later in the night she became nauseated and lost anything that was still in her stomach. Friday night she had an Ensure and a single scrambled egg for supper. So far, so good.

Thank you to everyone who has commented or thought about Leah.


Pre-op — updated Sunday morning

Unless you’re a very early or late blog reader, Leah is probably in surgery as you read this. She is supposed to report to the hospital by 5:45 am Thursday for surgery to correct a bowel constriction.

This is the latest in a long history of digestive tract problems. Back around 1999 a doctor found colon cancer during a laparoscopy for an unrelated problem. She had surgery immediately. She was on chemo and radiation treatments when we started dating. Leah was a real trooper. Even with relatively mild side effects, she was not particularly hungry a lot of time. Nevertheless, we ate out every Saturday. She never complained about anything.

There has been no trace of the cancer since then, but within a few years of the surgery she started having fairly severe symptoms of a partial intestinal blockage. In 2011 she had surgery to correct the problem. Her surgeon said he pulled out most of her intestines, did a reading, and then removed a lot of scar tissue and adhesions. Based on the surgeon’s description, I pictured Leah on the operating table with a pile of intestines lying next to her.

She was fine for a while, and then about two years ago she started having symptoms again. On multiple occasions she had abdominal pain and vomiting that were severe enough to warrant a trip by ambulance to the emergency room. The usual outcome was that after she vomited up everything in her digestive tract, she began to feel better, aside from aching muscles from the vomiting. Scans done at the ER showed nothing. Her surgeon said he couldn’t do anything unless a scan showed something. A little over a week ago she ended up in the emergency room again, and this time a scan showed a constriction in the small intestine. So her surgeon said it’s time to open her up again.

At this point (Wednesday evening), we both expect the surgery to be routine. We’re hoping she gets out by Friday afternoon, although there’s a possibility she’ll end up staying until Saturday. Leah is especially keen on getting out because she isn’t completely confident in my cat-care capabilities. It was strange to both of us that the pre-operative instructions allow her to eat essentially anything except red meat until within eight hours of reporting to the hospital. We expected a clear liquid diet for at least the day before, but that isn’t required. She can even have coffee (without creamer) the day of the surgery.

The only potential problem is that her blood pressure was high on Tuesday when she did her pre-op checkin, and Wednesday night when we checked it at home. It’s unusual since her blood pressure is normally low. If it’s too high, they won’t do the surgery.

Leah wants me to get a photo of the surgeon after he comes out (in his bloody scrubs?). That may be hard, given the current state of privacy concerns in medical facilities today.

I’ll update with anything new.


Update 2 pm:

We overslept. Leah set her alarm (she thought) but it was 5:15 when she woke up and then woke me up. We were suppose to be there at 5:45. We were only a few minutes late to the hospital about 10 miles away. She went in to surgery around 7:30 and was in her room by noon. The surgeon said it was a tedious process. She had many adhesions, so the process was much like the previous surgery. But she’s out now. Still asleep.


Update Sunday:

Leah is still recovering. The surgeon had her NG tube (the one that goes through the nose down into the stomach) removed Saturday, which was a relief, but she still can only sip water, not drink. All of her fluids and most of her medication are going through her IV, so she won’t get dehydrated. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do anything for the dryness in her mouth. She has an incision about a foot long from a few inches above her navel downward, right through all the abdominal muscles. That made any movement very painful, especially if she tried to roll over in bed. The pain from that is lessening, but still there. She is supposed to be up and moving around now. Her overall condition is improved. She wanted to come home Saturday. I missed the surgeon’s visit this morning, so I don’t know what he said, if anything, about when that can actually happen. I don’t think it will be until a few days into this coming week.

Painting starts

I had a surprise Monday when I went up to the house to answer some questions about the framing inspection. Painting had started.

painting starts

I was surprised because it had been 21 F in the morning and had barely reached above freezing by late afternoon. I thought it was too cold to paint, but apparently not.

The body of the house is being painted a color called Hunt Club (not hunter green as I had thought earlier). The trim will be a light beige, which may not be far from the color of the unpainted trim you can see on the soffit. We both think we will like it. We picked out the colors using a Sherwin Williams application that lets you apply colors to an image of a house, so this is the first time we have seen the actual color. The vinyl windows are white and shouldn’t be painted. Leah found that odd since the trim will be beige but the windows will be white. The garage doors will also be white.

I didn’t do much to this image (taken with my iPhone) to try to keep the colors as true as possible. We both think we like the color. It was hard to tell for sure from the computer images we looked at.

We plan to use artificial stone on the bare concrete foundation. The pile of construction debris is still there. I’ll cull the useable leftovers and maybe some burnable pieces and then, one day, haul the rest off to the landfill.

The painters said they will be back Tuesday morning after it warms up above freezing. It’s supposed to be in the mid 20’s for a low Monday night, but it’s supposed to reach into the 50’s by afternoon

The questions I was going to answer were from a couple of carpenters working for the framer. The answers were fairly easy this time, and the guys should be back Tuesday morning to work on the issues the building inspector noted.

The plumber still has to install a few additional nail guards to protect drain and supply lines.

The next step is insulation, which I plan to start soon. The electrician also has a little work to do inside the walls. Once all of that is done and the inspector passes anything that will be hidden inside the walls, I’ll get a drywall contractor started.

Rusty Girl

It’s been two weeks ago today, Sunday, two days after Christmas, that we took Rusty girl to emergency vet.

Rusty and Dusty arrived with their mother after being dumped up here just after we moved in.

Dusty, Rusty and Chloe, 10 years ago

Dusty, Rusty and Chloe, 10 years ago

Chloe actually had three kittens. The third kitten was part Siamese. He was probably a Seal or chocolate point if you’re familiar with the breed. He looked all Siamese except that the tip of his tail was white. He was so different from Rusty and Dusty. They were partially feral but he wasn’t. He was so friendly and they were so shy. I am a “cat” person and wanted to keep all but we were able to find him a home. We went through years and years of animals being dumped and finding homes for them. It was mostly dogs rather than cats but we did have some cats.

Last summer Rusty had a persistent cough so we took her to the vet. She had not been to the vets in ten years, when they first showed up. She got her first and last set of shots then. I felt like when we took her last summer the vet just threw it off as allergies. He could have done a blood test, but he didn’t.

rusty lying

Rusty was such a sweet, shy, timid girl who wouldn’t hurt a fly. She and Dusty wanted to come in but were afraid. I felt sorry for them having to be outdoor cats. I fed them daily and watched over them for ten years.

rusty and dusty

Two weeks ago today Rusty, who I knew wasn’t well, had come around to the front porch and jumped on the railing that morning. I told Mark I didn’t see how she had the strength to jump that high and far. Something about her told me it was time to take her to the vet.

After the summer event at the vets I decided to go to another veterinarian. She diagnosed Rusty with Feline HIV. I couldn’t believe it. Where we live most of the cats are mine and the others are so far away I couldn’t figure out how she could have been infected. The likely culprits, Smokey and Sylvester, both tested negative. We have to test Chloe and Dusty next, but I doubt that they are infected.

The poor, little thing had a temperature about 10 degrees below normal and her breathing was labored. The vet said there was no hope for her, so of course I agreed to put her to sleep. I know she was in pain. So I did. I guess she’s in “kitty heaven” now. We buried her in the yard close to the cat house where she stayed so much.

Rusty on her house

Rusty on her house

I feel so sorry for Dusty now being alone, so I’m constantly going to see him and comforting him, trying to get him to come in. I hope by the time we move he will be coming in and giving Sylvester and Smokey hell for all the crap they did to the both of them for the past seven or eight years!

Smokey, not chasing Rusty and Dusty for a change

Smokey, not chasing Rusty and Dusty for a change

She was precious. I miss her.


Rusty and her mom

Rusty and her mom

One of her protected perches

One of her protected perches

Rusty, finding shade in the early days

Rusty, finding shade in the early days

A night visitor

Leah has been noticing signs of some kind of animal eating the cats’ food that she puts out in the garage. Saturday night we found out what it was.

night visitor

This possum had found the beds Leah put under the stoop at the door from the garage into the house. We often see cats under there in cold weather, but not on Saturday.

Leah wanted to get him out, but I could think of only one way to do it. A couple of years ago another possum found the cozy cat bedroom and settled in for some sleep. Unfortunately, Zeke smelled him out and tore the leash out of my hand before I could stop him. Zeke disposed of the possum, or made a good effort. There was blood. Neither of us wanted to go that route on Saturday, so we settled for baiting our live-capture trap. It came up empty Sunday morning, tripped but with the peanut butter bait still there. We set the trap again Sunday night. We’ll see how that turns out.