Archive for March, 2009

Rodey Doing Well

March 27, 2009

Rodney had his superficial stitches removed on Monday; the ones holding his abdominal wall together remain, under his skin, unseen. He continues to have a good appetite, is enjoying the warming weather, and continues to be a pain in the neck for the other cat, Oni. In short, he appears to be doing well!

3D Printing for everyone

March 14, 2009

I just stumbled across a new web site, ShapeWays.  I gather that one can create a computer model of a 3D object, upload it to the ShapeWays site, and then pay to have it “printed” and shipped to you.  Even more interesting, you can make your models available to others, so that anyone can order the objects that you design.  You pay a flat rate per cubic centimeter of printed material.

3D printers create solid objects from 3D models.  It is possible to create objects that could not be made by casting or by sculpting, or with traditional machining operations.  This is because you can “print” something inside something else, or interlocked with something else.  If you take a look at some of the examples, below, you will understand.

What have people used this new facility for?  Many are just interesting 3D objects, such as those created by Bathsheba, but others have created parts for cars (wheels, chassis, etc), some figures (faces, chests, legs), robot parts, and even an iPod rest.

Here are some of the more interesting shapes that I found:

Vorodo, by Bathsheba

Soap Dish

Interlocked Rings

Worm Hole

Flexible Whale

Dodeca Hydrex

Rolling Star




Working 3 Speed Transmission

Rodney, Saturday

March 7, 2009

Rodney spent most of Tuesday meowing, and spent the whole night in bed with me, neither of which are “normal” behaviors.  Wednesday he was not as vocal, was eating, and was sleeping in a variety of places, which seemed more reasonable.   He seemed more engaged with what was going on around the house.

I had 5 separate meds to give him, two of which were so voluminous that I had to give them in two separate doses.  That meant 7 separate medication events, which took something like 2 hours to complete, during which I was interrupted every 15 minutes or so.  The meds had been prepared by a regular pharmacy, and were totally unpalatable to him, so I arranged to get them prepared by a specialty compounding place, to be picked up on Saturday.

By Friday, he was a bit sluggish, and I took him in for a pre-scheduled checkup.   I was nervous, thinking that Rodney was declining.  The doctor did some blood tests, and showed me that his red cell count was up (good) and his blood protein was up (good).  His temperature was high normal.   The vet also looked at a slide and determined that there were very few young white cells, which indicated that there were no new infections.  He declared that Rodney was doing quite well.  He pointed out that continued improvement would depend on Rodney’s eating a high protein diet, and he supplied some special cat food for that purpose.  The session took 2 hours at the vets, plus an hour each way; I arrived home wiped out.

Rodney came home, at a mouthful of food, and went to sleep on my chest.  In the evening, he crawled up to lie next to me. His nictitating membranes were mostly closed, indicating extreme exhaustion.  He slept near me all night, sneezing a few times, and making noises as if he was sniffling.  In the morning, he just lay there.  I rubbed food on his nose, and he licked it, but was uninterested in eating.  We won’t increase blood protein through fasting.  Sigh.

I called the vets, hauled him back in, and he’s there for the weekend.  His heart and lungs seem to be fine, the incision is fine, and his hydration is OK, as is his temperature.  They have no idea what is going on, but will try to give him saline and an appetite stimulant.  We will see how things are on Monday.

So, I now have brand new meds, no cat, and no idea what meds will be required when/if he returns to me on Monday.  I’m relieved that I don’t have to worry about making mistakes this weekend, but worried about what is happening, since none of the vets really has a clue at the moment.

I’m exhausted again.

Rodney’s Home, Tuesday, but…

March 4, 2009

I picked up Rodney today.  He is OK, but his back legs don’t work perfectly.  He can walk, but he acts a bit drunk or uncoordinated at times, and one of his legs tends to splay to the side.  A bit unsettling.

He complained a lot on the ride back, and during the first half hour once he was home.  He seems to have quieted down a bit, but he’s a little different.  Since his verbalizations preceded The Incident of last week, I’m more worried when he cries out than I was a week ago.

I now have to give him five different medications, twice a day, which is almost twice the amount that I had to do at the worst of his previous illness.  And this is up from zero a week ago.  In addition, he is to avoid jumping, which means that I should monitor him and try to restrict his activity.  No climbing on the furniture.  As if that’s going to work out!  And I have to watch what he eats, to make sure that he continues to have an appetite.  And take his temperature every day (now that will be lovely).

So, I’m back to being trapped here, and back on the hypervigalent bandwagon.  I’m stressed and tired and anxious already.  It is nice that he’s back, but I want him to be finished with all of these meds and all of the monitoring.

So.  A mixed bag.  Off to the pharmacist to buy some meds.  Sigh.

Oh. Yeah.  I received the bill.  Perhaps some of you would like to guess at the original bill, and then at the modified/reduced bill.  Stunning…

Rodney Update, Monday

March 3, 2009

Rodney’s legs continue to improve, but he is not back to normal yet, so we decided to leave him at the Vet’s until at least Tuesday.  If he’s not back to normal by then (which seems unlikely), he would have to return home and be supervised, which could be difficult for me.  He is likely to want to do things like climb and run and jump, and he could injure himself.  So, I might have to lock him in a bedroom, which is something that he would neither like nor understand.  So.  Could be difficult.  But at least his legs continue to improve.

Rodney Update, Sunday

March 2, 2009

While Rodney is doing well in many ways (blood protein, temperature), he no longer has full use of his rear legs. That was first noticed Saturday night, and he improved over night, but it remains of some concern. The proposed cause is a fat embolism that may have been released during the trauma and/or surgery. Prognosis for improvement is good, but not certain.


March 1, 2009

What follows is upsetting. Read it at your own risk.

My cat, Rodney, underwent major abdominal surgery on Monday February 9th, to have his colon removed (for mega-colon). I picked him up on Tuesday the 10th, but worried about him, so brought him back for observation on Wednesday the 11th. After that things went well. He was increasingly active, and would always give me a purr. We had another appointment on the 20th, for a checkup, and everything seemed to be fine. No infection, incision healing nicely.

Of course, since I used the phrase “seemed to be”, you know that it was not so; something I did not know at the time.

Rodney often would walk around the house and howl a bit. He’s done this for years. So, when he started doing this early this morning (Friday the 27th), I went up to him, and petted him, and he started purring, and I figured we were done with that.

He went up to the cat door, which I keep closed in the winter, and given that the weather was warm, I opened it up. He went out.

When I looked up, from my chair, he was at the back door, scratching his paw on the glass, wanting me to open the door. I try to avoid coddling the critters in that way, because it can lead to endless trips across the room, especially at night. After a while, he wandered around the house, to come back in through the cat door. I noted that he had had mud on his paws when he was pawing at the door, but didn’t realize until later that there was no mud out there.

When he came back inside, he lay down in front of the wood stove, and I walked over to him.

It was then that I noticed the blood on the floor.

Scared, I gently rolled him over on his back.

And there it was.

A fist sized piece of his guts, extruding from a tear in his abdomen.

I remember screaming “Oh, No! Oh, No! Oh, No!”

I tried to put him in a box, but he jumped out. and walked away. I ran to the upstairs storage area where I keep his carrier, and returned, closing the door to the garage, in case he headed out there.

And then I couldn’t find him.

I looked all over, and then heard him vomiting under a fish tank. I grabbed him and dragged him out, trying to be gentle. He wrestled away from me, and ran to the other end of the house. I was astonished that he was that mobile, and terrified that I would not be able to catch him, or that he would injure himself further. I cornered him and threw him into the cat carrier. Gently. But I was going insane with fear.

There was blood everywhere. And cat guts. There were at least two separate pieces of cat guts that had come off during his running around and our struggles. One was fairly small, but one was perhaps half the size of a banana. I was sure that he was dying. I was stunned, shocked, horrified. I shoved the parrots into their cages, dragged some clothes on, and called my vet’s office.

I explained the situation, and said I would go right there. Given that this vet is 45 minutes away, that was not a great plan, but it was the only one I could come up with in a minute. They explained that the surgeon was not there. I called another vet that was more local. They did not open for another hour. The original vet called back and said that the surgeon would come in. I got in the car and drove. I had no idea whether Rodney would be alive when I arrived there.

The first 15 minutes were OK. Rodney howled a bit, but he was sitting up, which was better than his collapsing in a coma. Better loud than silent. He vomited two or three times during the drive, which I knew to be a sign of shock. Not good. Not good.

After the first 15 minutes, I began to think too much. I was crying a bit and driving with one hand on the cat carrier and the other on the wheel. At a light, I called a friend. Then the driving became too much, and I hung up. I tried to stay focused on the immediate task, not allowing myself to think of what might happen next. I passed quite a few cars, carefully, but very fast. I did not obey the speed limits.

I arrived at the vets in record time and ran in with the cat carrier. I handed it to them, and said that I didn’t even want to look inside. I didn’t want to know. I sat down and started crying hysterically, suddenly dizzy. They took me into another room, and rubbed my back a bit. I cried for quite a while. At one point I realized that my fly was open: I had not even dressed myself properly. What else had I forgotten? Was the wood stove door open? The garage door?

A series of people attended to me. When the surgeon arrived, he was fairly up-beat, saying that he’s seen worse situations result in recovery. I explained that if it was time for Rodney to be killed, then that was what should happen. Whatever was best for him. I didn’t feel as if I was in any state to make decisions. I was crying again.

The surgeon went to see Rodney, and came back, saying that things were not as bad as he had thought. I paced in the parking lot for an hour or so, and then the surgeon sat down with me to explain the situation.

He had explored all of Rodney’s internal organs, carefully, and none were missing or damaged. The guts that I had found on the floor were pieces of fatty tissue (he told me the name, since forgotten) that were not necessary for survival. He had found a single blood vessel that needed to be tied off, and a few places that needed an internal stitch or two, but basically what he saw was healthy and intact tissue. The blood supply to the intestine was good, and the intestine looked healthy. The original surgery had not been compromised. The exposure to infection was significant, but not necessarily a death sentence for Rodney. Rodney’s blood level was actually within normal, which was astonishing given what he’d been through. All in all, the situation was as good as could possibly be expected after such an event.

We talked about how this problem had come about. The original incision had come apart: he had not been attacked by some animal or cut. The surgeon had looked to see signs that he had made a mistake, but had found none. This was complicated by the fact that the sutures that had been used were designed to dissolve at about 3 weeks, so they were disappearing. We talked about the cat door, and whether something had cut him or caught on him, but we agreed that this should not have caused this kind of trauma. In the end, we did not come up with any clear cause.

Then he explained that if Rodney survived the afternoon [what?!?], and if he did not get a raging abdominal infection [what?!?], then Rodney would be OK. So, basically, things are fairly good, but I won’t know the real outcome until Monday the 2nd or so.

I’m exhausted, dizzy, and crying all of the time. I had just come through a breakup with a girlfriend. A month ago, she decided, unilaterally, that it would be best for us both if we stopped communicating altogether. So I’ve been very, very alone. A month ago, I was a real wreck. On the verge of a breakdown. Crying spontaneously, sometimes in situations that scared other people. As of this morning, I was getting better. Not great, but better.

But this is a real punch in the stomach. I know I can manage it, and will get over it, but I’m exhausted, drained, dizzy, and stunned. The shock of seeing Rodney’s guts, and even holding them in my hands, will not leave me quickly or easily. The event was traumatic for us both. As has been the case throughout the last year of Rodney’s illness, I imagine that it will be worse for me than for him. He’ll probably arrive back fairly happy-go-lucky. He lives in the moment; I do not.

Anyway. That was my morning. How was yours?

Later.  It’s Sunday, and Rodney is doing as well as can be expected.  I hope to take him home on Monday, if an infection has not developed.