Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Kittens

8 weeks ago I rescued 4 kittens from under my back deck. I caught the mother but she got away when transferring her to a larger cage that would allow me to put her kittens in with her. A day later I caught Papa. Papa has been around here for a couple years, having his yearly fling under the shed out back. Last year I had help to catch the kittens from that litter. This year I was on my own.

I took Papa to a pet clinic that neuters strays for a reasonable cost, had him neutered and released him the next day. I hoped he would not hate me. I have seen him around since so I guess its okay as long as I keep feeding him.

Momma I haven’t seen in a while. I hope she’s not off giving birth again.

I thought I could catch these kittens and find a place to take them the same day so it would be quick and easy. Uh uh. The kittens, I found out, were too young to be neutered. They must be 5-6 months old; these guys were only 8 weeks old. I know their age because I discovered them under the deck with Momma probably the day they were born. After my discovery Momma moved the entire litter to a new location, probably under the shed where previous litters were raised.

So I became a kitten custodian, raising these kittens until they are old enough to be adopted. I could have taken them to the SPCA, but there was no room. They all had a respiratory infection requiring a trip to the vet and medications, also worming.

Fortunately I have a small bathroom off the master bedroom that I am able to use as “the cat room”. It needs a paint job anyway. They haven’t destroyed it as such, but they have definitely left their mark.

I did not intend to but found myself wondering if I could keep all four cats. Besides the cost of food, litter and vet bills, I wasn’t sure how I could handle them and care for my husband. I lay awake nights trying to figure a way to cat proof my house, so they would not get outside when I opened the door to get husband in his wheelchair outside. A perfect escape opportunity for curious cats.

Husband said we should keep them and seemed to enjoy watching them play when I let them out of their room at feeding time to stretch their legs. His attitude changed when I had to pay them increased attention, cleaning litter boxes, socializing them, giving them medications. He no longer wants to watch the kittens, but sits in the living room watching the TV while I feed and exercise the cats.

There is a tiny female in the liter I named Tina. She is an independent spirit but very loving if you can catch her. She comes out with the others to play but does not go back in to feed as the other do, leaving me to try to catch her. I cannot leave her outside the cat room while I go about taking care of other chores, so must spend time in frustration trying to catch her. I have found a newly opened can of cat food helps. But it is annoying and time consuming. This one antic is my biggest drawback to keeping any or all the cats. Tina is mostly white but with a lot of calico patches blending over her back, rump and tail. Fur is like rabbit fur, so soft.

Of the others,

Fluff, the only long hair in the group, is a sweetheart. Under his billowy fur he is very tiny, smaller even than Tina. Very affectionate. Coming along standing up to BB and the others. Uses the cat tree to sharpen claws and chase BB. Mostly white with orange tabby marks on his face, back and tail, small orange smudge on muzzle, just like Papa. Although Papa has short hair.

Essy, short for S.C. (sick cat), had such a bad respiratory infection she could not smell her food and would not eat. She is healthy now but is still coming around to being affectionate. If I catch her and hold her, she will purr but doesn’t sit still long for being held. 80% white with calico marks on head, rump and tail, fur is smooth and sleek.

And BB, the sweat heart of the bunch, larger than the others by a couple pounds, white with black patches. BB stands for Big Boy, Bad Boy, Big Belly, Butter Ball, and Baby. I shortened it to BB like BB King the musician. Affectionate from day one, his fur is like velvet. Eats like a little pig, pushing his siblings away from their food so he can eat it. I stand guard over the food dishes to be sure everyone gets their share. BB is most active on the cat tree, scratching to sharpen claws, climbing up to the platform and performing cat antics. He sits on the platform over seeing his siblings’ antics and may decide to join in. He is the one I might keep.

All the kittens are being taken to be spayed or neutered next week, then they go to a Pet store to find new owners. I will cry my heart out, but I don’t know how even one cat will fit in when husband’s demands take precedent over everything else. Also I’m afraid BB will jump up on the bed while husband is sleeping or resting and hurt husband with cat scratches, not intentionally, but it would make husband less willing to have cat.

Also must mention our dog Tippy Toes, a 13 year old black lab, who just lies still while the kittens sniff and walk around her. BB has been nose to nose with Tippy, the others are still not sure. Tippy has hip dysplasia and is arthritic. She can’t do steps without assistance. She won’t be with us a whole lot longer. Her brother died two years ago and is buried up on the hill.

I don’t know if I should push to keep BB or if all this is just too much and I should just let them all go until there are fewer demands on my time.

Also have to consider cat fur getting onto my medical device products. My workroom does not have to be sterile but the product must be clean. If a patient would be allergic to cats and my product has a trace of cat hair, it could cause a problem. Don’t need that.

It’s amazing how much he can change from day to day, even hour to hour.
You can tell markedly, when his medication wears off, even though his condition is such that you would swear it was not working, if that makes any sense. That’s where the worse becomes worser.
These past couple weeks, he has been so very weak. Eating less. Drinking less. Waking during the night wanting cold water.
Mornings are best, after I get him washed up and dressed from bed. I give him his medications before he gets out of bed so they have time to start working before he gets to the table. I can tell pretty well by how much assistance he needs to get out of bed, how the day will go. Lately, he needs a lot of assistance. I sometimes have to call the daytime assistant to help get his wheelchair under him because I can’t let go of him long enough to do it myself. If he is strong enough, I am able to support him myself while I reach for the wheelchair.
Depending on his condition he may need to be fed. On good days he will feed himself. Yesterday started off pretty well, he fed himself at breakfast. Later, he wanted to putty the floor in the sun room. He was too interested, too determined. He tried to do it from the wheelchair which I knew would not work.
I helped him down onto the floor onto foam pad. After the episode of getting him off the floor using the pneumatic lift (see previous post) he was quiet the rest of the afternoon. At dinner he could not stop yawning and soon fell asleep half way though his meal. This has happened before but usually he can hold out until later in the meal. He woke about an hour later and we watched TV until it was time for me to feed the kittens about 8 pm. (See other blog story)
We went back to feed/watch the kittens and he indicated he wanted to go to bed. I got the kittens back into “their room”, my bathroom off the bedroom, and got him into bed. Not without difficulty. He let me use the pneumatic lift to get him off the floor, but won’t let me to use it to get him into bed. My back tells the story more times than I can count.
He fell asleep immediately. Slept soundly until 3 am when he called out for cold water. Then his legs starting jumping and he wanted medication. I don’t normally give him meds at this hour, but I did and adjusted his dose at breakfast. Afterwards, he was restless in bed, wanted to get up. I got annoyed telling him its only 3 am. He got angry and said he can’t help it (which made me feel guilty for being annoyed).
I got him up and dressed not knowing how long he would be up. We went to the table. He had a sweet roll and tea. Considering he ate only ½ of his dinner, this did not surprise me. What was unusual was his getting up at this hour. He was back to bed by 4:30 am. Years ago when his disease was diagnosed and we were trying to get his medications figured out, this was an every night event. I hope this is not an indication that those late night wake up calls are coming back.

On the floor? He's trying!

These past couple weeks have been difficult…in many ways. Husband’s condition has been worse, varying from worse to worser. Some days he is nearly a zombie, no speech, little movement, and little interest in surroundings. Getting to the toilet or bed from the wheelchair requiring a gait belt transfer with much difficulty. Other days like yesterday start off fairly well.
We are (I am) finishing a “sun room” addition added on last spring to accommodate an elevator wheelchair lift. The lift was installed this past April and is used every day, sometimes two or three times a day. He has not been able to use the stair glide for nearly a year. We waited more than 6 months for this elevator because we used assistance from our County Area Agency on Aging. The construction was put on hold until the elevator was installed so the contractor would know where to install the entry door. The room is now able to be finished inside, paint, trim, flooring, etc.
I know a little about working wood from building fancy doll houses years ago, so I was able to put up the window, door, and baseboard molding. Some of it was tricky because the addition was made to fit under the front porch roof so there is not a standard room height or door height. Everything is shorter 6-12”. Anyway, the trim came out looking pretty good. The painting is now complete.
The vinyl flooring is next. The unfinished plywood floor is nailed or screwed to the support joists. The edges of the plywood are not level to each other and there are dimples or holes from the screw holes that will show through the vinyl. These need to be filled so the vinyl will lay flat. This part of the project was put off until the walls and trims were painted.
Husband wants to help - Husband insisted he would do this part of the project, using wood putty and a putty knife. It meant he would have to bend over while sitting in his wheelchair to reach the floor to apply this putty. He could not reach the floor. He wanted to get onto the floor so he could do it. No matter what I said I could not convince him he could not do this.
Getting him off the floor…If anyone had seen him they would have asked if he fell. No, I put him down on the floor, dropping him onto his knees onto a foam cushion. He insisted he could do this. I knew better. He landed on his knees, sort of. Then slid onto his side and lay straddling the cushion. I went to get a pillow for his head. I got him into a reclining position, which, because of the small size of this room, could not have been too comfortable.
He wanted to sit up…impossible. He could not stand to get out of bed without assistance; no way could he sit unsupported on the floor, legs out straight. If we did not have the pneumatic sling lift I would not have given in so easily. I’ve used it before for the same purpose, getting him off the floor when he would not hear otherwise.
I told him to lay there for a while to get his breath and gather his strength to get up. He lay for about 2 hours watching me while I continued to work around him on the sun room. Finally he wanted to get up.
Rolling him from side to side, I was able to get the sling under him and get him lifted enough to get him away from the walls. Fortunately this room was made to be ADA compliant for size so I was able to maneuver the lift so that I could get his wheelchair under him again. I should mention husband weighs about 110 lbs.
Once in his wheelchair he sat and watched as I got down on my butt on top of a cushion and scooted myself across the floor to fill the holes. It took about an hour to fill the gaps and holes, moving his wheelchair from one side of the room to the other as I moved across the floor.
Comical? I thought of taking a picture of him on the floor to show him and his daughter later. I did not. I don’t think he would not have seen the humor in it. I give him credit for trying!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blog 9/30/2010

Husband had a choking incident. Scared the devil out of me. He was choking on a tuna sandwich. The CNA called the EMTs while I worked on my husband to free the item lodged in his throat. He was able to bring up the piece of bread that had been stuck, but it was the worse “close call” so far. The EMTs arrived and checked him over. Husband has now decided to pay more attention to his eating and chewing (with the couple teeth he has left), to avoid choking again.
It’s been said that Parkinson’s won’t kill you, but the conditions it causes can do you in. I think when my husband’s time comes he will choke to death. Not a pleasant thought. When his Carbidopa/ Levadopa (hereafter called “C”) wears off, his muscle control slows making it hard for him to swallow and to speak.
Sometimes he gets to fussing over taking his pills as he did in 2006 when he wound up in the hospital. I have to explain and remind him the consequences of not taking his “C” meds. He hates the pills and the dyskinesias (wiggles) it produces. I don’t like giving him this pill because I know what it does to him. But without it he can’t move.
The wiggles start 20-30 minutes after taking the pill and can last 1 to 3 hours, slowly winding down. He was prescribed to take this pill 4 times a day. If I gave him the pill that frequently he would climb the walls. That’s not even considering the other side effect of hallucinations.
The “C” is crucial for him to be able to move. Being able to move his facial muscles helps him to chew, to swallow, and to speak. A short time after the “C” has taken effect he is able to speak very well and he will talk you under the table with stories of his earlier days camping or driving truck or fishing. But when the pill wears off, within 2-3 hours, it is nearly impossible to understand him. In frustration he will throw his hands in the air and scowl. And for the rest of the day he will try in vain to communicate, only to get angry with me or his CNA claiming we need hearing aids. If I convince him to take a little extra “C” to hold him over, within 20 minutes he is usually able to speak again. He gets the wiggles again and a short time later, maybe an hour, the benefit will have worn off. Nothing is predictable with this disease.