reversal of fortune

Today was going to be a doozy.  It was going to start with a not terribly useful departmental meeting that would involve foregoing bringing in food since after it was over, I would have to walk a long, cold, and slippery outside path back to my office.  This means lightening the load as much as possible, which means not bringing as much food in as I normally would to ensure my calorie count for the day isn’t in the double digits.  Also on deck for today was a root canal.  And I’m in a migraine cycle.  Had two last week, one at work with vertigo and then a few days later one at home with a big fat scintillating scotoma in, of all things, my right eye.  Normally it’s right visual field, left eye.  This time it was right visual field right eye.  Still got a preference for the visual fields it seems, but the change of eyes means it got on top of me before I realized it was coming on.  I seem to have a bit of neglect for that visual field.  I’ve noticed it in editing.

The endodontist, after reading through my chart and seeing the last dentist’s freak out in the notes about my allergy to palladium (finally, someone who took that seriously), had given me the substances that would be used in a routine root canal to patch test last week (on migraine day).  Four different things, four patches on my back that I slapped on with the help of Mr. Patient on Saturday when he got back from conferencing in Florida.  Less than 24 hours in, one of the patches started feeling like someone was putting out a cigarette on my back.  Sure enough, on Monday when we removed the patches, that area (with hte root canal sealant) was highly positive.  Fluid filled blister positive.  Still hurts, burns, and itches days later positive.  Thank effing god I did that patch test.  

So, between the positive patch test and the big ass snow storm that blew in last night, my day has gone from one full of misery and physical trial to one with nothing on deck except for chilling at home with Mr. Patient and cats, coffee and netflix, and all the food I can eat.  Pretty cool.

discomfort, hurt, and harm

There is a difference.  I found the tilt table test uncomfortable, but it didn’t hurt or harm me.  I find that most IVs hurt, but usually don’t harm me.  But what about when you’re the one giving the care?  How do you know the difference between when you’ve done something that your patient finds uncomfortable, painful, or harmful?  Does your patient know?  I’m guessing that if you’re lucky, you have a very aware and articulate patient who can distinguish between unpleasant sensations vs. painful sensations and that you know enough as a clinician to be able to discern whether any of those sensations (or signs, like their blood pressure plummeting) means that you are now actually harming someone.

You don’t get all of those potential channels with an animal, and when you’re a pet owner who is trying to take care of your pet, you really are just left guessing based on how your pet is reacting.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  A good friend of mine has two sick, elderly kitties that she’s caring for at home.  Both get oral meds and special diets, but one also gets subcutaneous fluids which my friend has to administer at home.  Her cat grumbles throughout, but towards the end, according to my friend, the cat kicks it up a notch and my friend is horrified, worrying that what she’s doing to the cat has crossed from uncomfortable to painful or harmful.  And so starts the freaking out.

We’ve both been looking on line for information on how to do this procedure on a “difficult” cat.  Not unholy hell beast, not like my cat for example, but on a cat that is not as sedate and chill as all the cats that you find in majority (entirety?) of “how to” videos.  So many of the videos focus on things like how to deal with the infusion set or how to place the needle.  Admittedly, those are important factors but there are also the not trivial issues of “how to calm the cat”, “how to get the cat to sit still”, “how to gauge if your cat is just ‘grousing’ vs. telling you that something is wrong”.

I’m guessing that there aren’t videos on this because the people who make the videos choose the calm cats to (a) show how “easy” it can be and (b) to allow them to focus on the stuff like infusion set and needle placement.  I do wish someone would make some on the other issues though.  Anyone who has had to deliver medicine or care to a feline at home knows that response to your cat’s apparent distress will make a big difference in how successfully you can administer treatment.  My own cat, for example, acts like any constraint is killing her.  She will fight you wildly if you try to hold her down for more than a few seconds.  E.g., this morning we had a nice combing and catnip session, after which I forgot to clean the fuzz out of her comb.  I went back to my desk only to notice a few minute later that she was doing something with the comb…oh crap, she was eating the hairball.  I immediately start trying to startle her away from the comb by making sounds at her, only to realize that it’s too late for this approach when she looks up at me with wide, freaked out eyes and a huge hairball hanging out of her mouth.

I go to her, grab her, and hold her with my forearms while I try to pluck the hairball out of her mouth with my hands.  Not working because she’s writhing and bucking, windmilling her paws at my arms, and snapping her head up and away from my fingers.  “Need some help!” I call to Mr. Patient and present the wriggling cat, still wedged between my elbows to him as he comes over.  The cat greets him with more writhing, bucking, and snapping.  But she’s out of luck.  Mr. Patient grabs her face and picks the hairball off her lip.  I release the cat and she bolts from the room.

brown tabby cat sitting under a coffee table

Try grabbing me now!

She comes back a few minutes later, and this is how I know we have made some progress with this cat.  When we first got her, anything  that startled her was sufficiently traumatic that she would hide for hours after.  Now, she recovers faster.  Although note the pose in the picture to the left.  She’s back, but she’s barricaded herself under the coffeetable.

Admittedly, I would not have approached her like that to give her a medication.  Had I not made the alarming noises at the cat to start with, I might have had an extra second or two between grabbing her and her turning into the hellbeast. But those extra seconds wouldn’t have been worth much if the medication were anything that requires time to administer, like fluids.

For your amusement and edification, I’m sharing this gem I came across in researching how to give fluids to a difficult cat.

I also thought I’d share the following tip, although I haven’t heard back from my friend on whether it worked or not.  I started out by noting that it’s tough to know how to interpret your cat’s “feedback”, so toward that end, I recommended my friend try a “sham” infusion with her cat.  That is, set everything up as if she were going to inject and infuse, but don’t actually place the needle.  Just poke the cat, then keep her still for the time she’d usually have to stay still for the infusion.  If the cat’s grumbling pattern is low and grousy then kicking it up a notch toward the end, we have reasonable evidence to conclude that the escalation in vocalization is not pain or harm but the “discomfort” of running out of patience.


Dear A at Playing the Hand I was Dealt was just dealt a really bad card recently.  Her sweet kitty Moush Moush has had a recurrence of a rare form of cancer.  I know this is not a high traffic blog, but for anyone out there with even a bit of spirituality, good will, love of animals, or just plain old love, send it A’s way for her and her dear Moush Moush.

I’m posting pictures of my kitties.  I grew up in a cat household.  Ok, it was also a crazy house too, but there were cats.  Thank god there were cats.  Of the many cats we had, there was one who was dearest to me.  My cat.  With a silly name that only a 6 year old would give to a cat, Muffin.  Muffin was white with grey saddle markings with faint ringed stripes on his tail and more evident stripes on his knees.  I called them his knee pads.  He had a small grey dot on his face too, a sort of beauty mark.  He was so precious to me, born on my sleeping bag after his mom got herself knocked up shortly after the blizzard of 78 (oh yes, we were aware….the event was held in my backyard in broad daylight and was quite euphemistically referred to as “Rocky’s Wedding”).

old black and white photo of girl watching kittens nursing.

Baby pictures, Muffin and siblings.

old photo of white and grey cat

In his prime.

After Muffin died, I did not think I would want another cat.  I can’t.  too heart broken.  Then this beast came into my life.  Max. I thought he was full grown when I got him but he just kept growing.  He was huge in his prime.  Not fat, just LARGE.

orange and white tabby cat backlit on couch

My beautiful Max.

Max was with me for 16 years.  He died after being ill for a long time.  He was a trooper, purring through being sick.  I learned that from him.  After Max died, I really did not want another cat.  Seeing other cats made me cry, and the thought of getting another felt like a betrayal to his memory.  Then, it was christmas.  And it was going to snow, the weather forecasts called for blizzard conditions with lots of snow and high winds there in my coastal New England hometown.  And there had been this stray who we met when Max and hubby and I had moved into the neighborhood just a couple of months prior….but I hadn’t seen her for a while.  I’d been very absorbed with Max’s illness, and then after I hadn’t been up for going out hunting for the stray.  And she had stayed away.  So on Christmas day, after dinner, my sister and I went out looking around.  I half hoped we wouldn’t find her, that she had already found a home.  Nope.  She came bounding up with her crazy sustained meow while running.  Her hallmark.  How you always knew she was coming before even seeing her, this bouncing “aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhnnnn” that she did.  Hubby and I even had taken to referring to her by this as her name.  “Saw ‘aaaaaaaahhhn’ outside just now.  Gonna go sneak her some food.”  The next day, after she’d spent the night in the basement, then worked her way up into the house, we decided to name her.  We tried out different sounds on her.  She seemed to respond to the ones closest to her hallmark meow, so we called her Anya.

photo of brown tabby cat resting

Very skinny stray, enjoying the crap out of my couch during a Christmas blizzard.

Despite looking calm in the picture above, Anya spent the first few weeks pretty edgy with us.  She started warming up to me after my hysterectomy.  I was home for several weeks, and she had me all to herself.  She’s still jumpy if there are too many humans moving around at once, but she’s becoming quite the little housecat.

None of my cats has replaced the other in my love.  They have each been special in their own way.  I know that when Anya passes, I will get another cat.  We’d like to get another now, because I think it’s good for cats to have friends.  And I think it’s good for people to have cats.  And there are plenty who need homes.  So maybe Anya will get a little brother at some point (if my husband has his way).  I have love to give and I will give it.  It hurts sometimes too, but I won’t let this stop me from looking for the joy I know they bring into my life and the warm and affectionate home I can provide for them.

orange and white tabby cat smiling

Happy Max, Fall 2006

So say a prayer, a spell, a chant for A’s girl Moush Moush.  Wishing her love and healing and time with her mom.

rescue me

When I was a kid, one of our cats got stuck in a tree.  Several cats had climbed this particular tree but had found their ways back down promptly.  Not this one.  She went up it and then stayed.  The tree had a strange placement, really my whole back yard was strange.  Our yard backed up onto a massive rock formation.  It wasn’t too wide behind our house.  From east to west, it created a relatively flat shelf full of thorny bushes and small trees that went back probably 50 yards or so.  But it was high and long…it ran about a mile to the south, expanding in width as it got further from my house to fill the area between houses and highway.  As the rock bordered our yard, it eased from a steeply dropping rough mound, which rose to the third floor of our house, to a more gradual set of slopes at the north west corner of our house.  The tree grew where those slopes met the ground in piles of large rocks covered in moss and brambles.

The tree wasn’t far from the side of my house where my bedroom was, so at night we could hear the cat crying.  And in the daytime my siblings and I, and the neighborhood kids, would all try to climb up the nearest highest rocks and reach up to coax the cat down.  I distinctly recall smearing most of a can of nine lives cat food onto the rough bark of the tree…no use.  The cat stayed stuck for days.   Why did she go up?  We asked ourselves, each other, my parents.  No good answer.  Why did any cat go up?  It’s what cats do.  Go up trees.  Run around like fools.  Chase squirrels, birds, and other small wildlife that flourished in the woods that grew on and around the rocks.

Another one of our cats decided to come along with us one day during an exploration of the woods.  We were a little older then and ventured quite a bit further.  We packed food and punch.  It was hot out.  We had moved through the wooded areas and broken into what was known as “the crushes”, a sort of gravelly expanse with not a tree in sight.  It was summer, the sun was out, and it was hot.  The cat kept up for a while, but after an hour or so, she started panting.  Shit.  Who’s gonna take the cat back?  No one wanted to be the one but no one wanted to leave her there so near the highway.

Both stories resolved.  Both cats were saved.  The one who got stuck in the tree continued to do not terribly bright things and eventually got lost because she had taken a nap in my dad’s car one summer day (the window was open) then dashed out as soon as he stopped several miles from our house.  The other was a hell of a lot smarter.  She lived a long, happy life of chasing and catching snakes and doing adorable things for nibbles of people food.  She eventually died of natural causes when I was living out in The Great Midwest as a young adult.

You don’t think of cats as needing rescuing.  They’re very independent. They’re little predators even.  But sometimes they do things that get them stuck.

And so it is with 41 year olds with chronic illnesses, it seems.  I hate having to be rescued.  I can honestly say, with the exception of the time I dropped out of college and my parents had to come help me move back home, I have not had to be rescued since I was a little kid.  Actually, now that I think about it, even the times when I properly needed it, like passing out, not one person has done a good job of taking charge.

  • Felt bad at lunch and told the teacher.  She left me alone in the classroom rather than sending me down for lunch.  I started feeling really bad and chose to walk myself to the nurse’s office.  I passed out and came to alone in the hallway.  I was 8.  

    illustration of placing person in recovery position

    Notice how no one is dragging the afflicted person around by his arms…

  • Felt bad on a field trip into Big Historic City in 6th grade.  Told a teacher.  Was told, basically, to just suck it up.  I passed out and came to alone on a bed in the recreated house of a famous US patriot.  
  • Felt bad on a flight to Europe in 11th grade.  Told my brother, who was embarrassed and whose single gesture of “assistance” was to throw the barf bag into my lap.  Passed out.  Came to.  No help.
  • Felt bad at lunch in 11th grade.  Told a friend, who took me to a lunch monitor, my guidance counselor.  Was told to suck it up again, lunch was almost over and I could go to the nurse then.  Passed out and was dragged through the entire lunch room by the guidance counselor and the friend.  
  • Passed out numerous times in numerous bathrooms throughout adolescence and early 20.  Alone, came to alone.  Took care of myself.  
  • Got horribly sick at college, retching and cramping, feeling really faint.  Campus emergency response came and I had to explain that the strange blood pressure readings they were getting were symptomatic of shock and insist that they call a real EMS.  Then had to convince real EMS that my insurance would pay to transport me to the less horrible local hospital, this convincing included calling my dad while in bed, drenched in sweat, not able to see because the graying of my vision had reached such a severe point and I could barely hear for the roaring in my ears.  Got it straightened out, onto the stretcher and started down the stairs, then passed out.
  • Passed out while out for drinks with a friend from work. A nurse.  She left me at the table alone while she went to call 911.  Came to still in a chair with a law student trying to check my pulse with his thumb.  Made my way to the bathroom where I refused to come out of the stall.  
  • Passed out at home on the toilet when I was married to my ex the doctor.  “Oh you go stiff when you pass out” he told me.  “I practically had to break your legs to get you out of there.”  I don’t count this as particularly helpful, although I was grateful that he at least knew an unconscious, upright person is a bad thing.  My legs god damned hurt for weeks.  
  • Passed out on my ex the diabetic.  Started feeling faint, called for help – was ignored.  Staggered into the bedroom then promptly fell, hit my head, and lost consciousness.  I had to insist he take me to the ER after I came around, and I kept asking why my arms hurt so much.  It wasn’t until much later that the idiot admitted he had yanked me up and onto the bed by my arms.  
  • Got a sudden onset migraine at my old job that reached monster proportions.  I felt shaky and like I was going to pass out, I couldn’t see much at all, and I was sooooo nauseous.  I couldn’t hide how sick I was when I told my boss I had to go, and so she decided to “help”.  While my boss and other staff stood around me in the lobby trying to decide if someone would drive me to the ER or just give me the damned taxi number like I had asked for, the vomiting began.  So I dropped to my knees, grabbed the nearest trash can, took out the bag inside and reached in for the extra empty bags I knew the custodial staff put at the bottom of the can, then rocked back up into the chair I had been hunched over in, bag in hand.  Everyone was just staring like “d’uh?”  Yeah, thanks guys.  The staring and doing nothing to assist is really super helpful.

I don’t consider any of those times to be situations where I was rescued, like really rescued.  Like taken care of without stupid arguments, and stupid (sometimes dangerous) behavior.  Or taken care of with cool cloths and even minimal first aid including appropriate body positioning.

Since getting sick(er) in my 30s though, I’ve needed rescuing.  Like the cat, I get places then find I cannot get myself out of them.  So mostly, I’ve just stopped climbing the trees.

Sometimes I do though.  Last night, I did. I thought, I’m feeling  a bit better. And it’s not too cold out, it’s not raining.  My husband’s done so much for me the last month, I want to do something nice for him.  I’ll pick up food at the excellent middle eastern place that’s only four blocks from work.

We made plans, tentative based on how I was feeling.  But I was feeling ok.  So I went.  As I was ordering, I noticed that I couldn’t see the server’s face.  Shit.  Shit shit shit.  Surreptitiously, I covered first one eye, then the next.  Is it?  Yes, a little faceted sparkle in my lower right visual field of my right eye.  As I moved down the Subway-like food ordering line – giving instructions and answering questions “yes, tahini.  no hot sauce.  no tomato,” – it grew.  By the time I got to the register, the lateral border of the entire right visual field of my right eye was throbbing in a shimmering warning of the pain to come.  Thank god at least there is this count down.  It does help, well, sort of.  It’s hard to walk when your vision’s doing this.  And there’s the nausea.  And the talking.  I drop word endings or put the wrong ones on.  So my verbs come out all foreign caveman-like, “he drive now..then we walks later!”

I began texting my husband, which in case you haven’t guessed, is not easy when your vision is set on scramble. I guess it’s time to put in some short cut text for “I have a migraine and will be waiting inside.  Please call when you pull up”.  I don’t know how he figured out that what I typed was meant to be “washington street”.  I looked at it later and while it did start with “w”, it all went to shit after that.  My knight in deisel hybrid sped down the roads of Big Ass (historic) City, nearly knocking pedestrians out of cross walks and probably pissing off more than a few taxis, and called me to let me know he was there.  I was testy.  He seemed to want to talk me to him over the phone but I cut him off.  “Ok, so I have to hang up now,” I said in a tone that I hate “because I don’t actually have much vision in my right eye and I have to stand up, put on my coat, pick up my bag, and get the food and I can’t do all that and talk on the phone like this”.  I’m no good at being rescued.  So no more trees for a while for this cat.

what’s not fun

…Is a nasopharyngeal swab.  Nope, not one bit of fun.  Warning:  a bit of “ick factor” in this post.  

A wire with a blob of cotton on the end.  Up my nose.  All the way to the pharynx.

My doc says “oooh, bloody snot?  I love that stuff!”  I did mention he’s an infectious disease doc, right?  So out comes the swab and up the nose it goes.  Yowch.  But it’s done and off, so I’ll know what’s going on up there, which is good.

Why does no one want to buy that I’m basically riddled with candida?  I know that the whole “systemic candida” is apparently a trendy catch all for the lovers of colon cleansing and whatnot, but honest to god, I get real live overt candida overgrowths at the drop of a hat.  Dry mouth?  Thrush.  Antibiotics?  Thrush.  Oral allergic reaction to something I shouldn’t have eaten?  Thrush.  Flu that knocks my immune system on its ass?  Thrush.  Given that all this thrush started as a result (I think) of a well intended but silly doc prescribing steroidal nasal spray, I see no reason why candida overgrowth in my nose would be such a stretch.

But that’s what cultures are for I guess.

The problem with culturing for candida is that candida is just there, even in non-symptomatic people.  Even in the “healthy” folks.  It’s bad when it is there in abundance, bad when it becomes invasive, bad when it gets into places it shouldn’t be.  And for the record, your mouth is a place where it lives and should be, just not in abundance.

So how do you know, if a culture grows out candida, that it means the sick person is sick from an candida overgrowth?  From what I’ve been told, you don’t.  I think a better option would be in office slide under a microscope.  See a lot of candida?  Then you have an overgrowth situation.  Not responding to fluconazole or topical agents?  Send it out,  but send it for a culture and sensitivity please.

Eh.  When I rule the world, things’ll get done right, dammit.

Until then, I have a script for more fluconazole and a script for an antibiotic that is supposed to be kinder on the gut.  I’ll start it when I have a chance to pick up some probiotics, because god knows I don’t need to go taxing the gut right now on top of everything else.

Kitty’s doing better.  Still a little drunk.  She let me pick her up and lay down with her in my arms for several minutes.  This does not happen under normal conditions.  Normally, I (and only I, not my husband) am allowed to pick her up and hold her for as long as it takes to walk to a bed or couch, then she scrambles away from me like she just remembered that I’ve got cooties.  Today, she stayed nestled in my arms as I lay on the bed.  She purred up a storm and kneaded my shoulder (thankfully I am wearing a sweater).  A nice treat after a tough day and a tough week.

dazed and confused….cat

Today, I’m out again.  I have a doctor’s appointment with my PCP because I still feel pretty cruddy, the thrush is hanging on, and I think it’s in my nose.  Ewww.  And also eek, because from nose to sinuses is a short trip.

Photo of cat.

If only she were this calm right now…

And the cat.  On Tuesday evening, my husband and I were greeted (eventually) by our cat who was acting a bit lethargic and who had a squinty and goopy left eye.  So it’s off to the vet for her today, the first appointment we could get to.  The last time the cat was at the vet, they wrote her a script for xanax.  This is because she’s a handful at the vet.  While I do understand the need to claw and hiss at the doctor (I’ve seen a few myself who have provoked a similar urge), I’ve never had a cat who was this freaked out at the vet.

We got her script filled last night and this AM, when I finally dragged myself out of bed, we drugged her.  Now, she’s stumbling around the house like a drunk, eating everything in site, pigging out on catnip, and just generally trying to get into trouble.

Oy.  Just had to go rescue her from the kitchen counter.  She never jumps on the kitchen counter, but I guess that’s what you do when you’re drugged up and you have the munchies.

To occupy her, I have created the “easter egg hunt” for dry cat food.  A handful of crunchies tossed into a blanket on the floor.  Oh boy!  She’s busily foraging in the blanket now.  Thank god.  Note to readers with cats.  This is a great tool to keep your drugged kitty away from things like the stairs, coffee table, kitchen counter, and bathroom sink.  And since she’s so food obsessed, a trail of food into the carrier (which she usually flees from at the first sound of the door creaking open) worked like it does in the cartoons.  She went “gobble gobble gobble” all the way into the carrier all on her own drunken little kitty legs.  So hey, there’s an upside.

Downside, I feel too crappy to take her.  Husband’s doing it on his own.  “You don’t look like you feel good,” he says as I am sitting on the Easter egg blankie on the floor with my head resting on the couch.  “I think you should rest here and I’ll take the cat to the vet”.  God damn that man deserves not just a medal but a statue, and maybe a park.

christmas day – a visitor

My sister was over christmas eve.  As usual, she asked about the little “caramel colored kitty” who lives outside my neighbor’s house.  “I haven’t seen her since about a week before Max died” I told her.  I’d made a few trips up the driveway behind my neighbor’s house to see if the kitty was around and asked about her to the woman who lived in that building.  I saw no sign of the cat, but the neighbor assured me that she and several other cats were living back there under the porch.  “Oh it’s so sad!” the neighbor lamented.  This neighbor had previously tried to convince me to take in the kitty but back then, Max was still very much alive, and Max didn’t like other cats one bit.  I told her this.

So on christmas day, after not seeing the caramel colored kitty (she’s a black and brown tiger with a lovely warm, light brown coloring on her belly and legs), we found her.  She greeted me with her usual running, long meow “maa-aaaa-aaa-aaa!” as she trotted along, tail up and green eyes shining.

By Christmas evening, she was set up on our glassed in front porch.  By late Christmas night, she was in the much warmer basement with a makeshift litter box (which, to my delight she more or less knows how to use), a can of cat food, and a little bowl of water.  Also, a box with bedding in it which she chose not to sleep in, opting instead for the orange cloth suitcase perched atop a waist high stack of folded moving boxes.  That’s where I found her sleeping this morning.

small brown and black tabby cat on a chair.

Anya, getting comfy in her new home.

And so today, my husband and I plan to brave the swirling, developing blizzard to go get some flea and tick drops so we can let her in to our home for more than a few minute, highly monitored visit.  I’m deathly afraid of ticks, having caught lyme disease in 2002 from sitting outside patting a quasi-stray cat at my old apartment in the New England Outback.

The cat has a tentative name:  Anya, after a character in the Buffy TV series.  It seems to fit.  I’m going to try to get her in to a vet this week, I’m off work for the week and I think I should be able to manage this.  We’re hoping she’s healthy – she seems to be but until we get her checked out, I won’t feel comfortable fully letting down my guard and bonding with her.  She is quite cute.  I hope this works out!

pick me up

I need something to make me smile.  Pictures of cats usually do the trick.  So here’s Max, in a pensive mood.

photo of orange tabby and white cat looking out of window

I can scanz ur intestine

Ah well, I swallowed the pill at 7:45 this AM.

cat laying on a reclining person.  person is wearing medical image recording device used with PillCam endoscopy

Comforting me or using me? It's never really clear with cats, is it?

My stomach hurt a bit after, I think it’s got more to do with liquid fast, NPO, bowel prep, and no protonix this AM than with Pill-Cam.

I was so sleepy when I got home from the clinic with my Pill-cam recorder-bag (seen with flashing lights and shit to the left in this picture) and belt (under my sweater) and laid down on the couch for a bit.  You’re NPO for two hours post pill swallow, so there’s not much to do but lie rest and wait for the bowel prep to peter out.  Me laying on the couch mid-day is an invitation to the cat.  I was clearly asking for him to come step on me here, here, there, and (ow!) right on the bladder – then to nestle in with his front resting squarely on my pelvis.  Had to keep him away from the recorder – he really wanted to rub his face on it.

2 hours passed – I was told that on account of me being all migrainy and shit, I could have some black coffee at 2 hours.  let’s hope that pill had made its way out of my stomach by then.  Given how fast stuff usually moves through me, it’s likely.

And now I’m at the countdown to orange chips.  I.e., I can have a “snack” or light meal at hour 4.  I choose orange chips.

person wearing a capsule endoscopy data recorder belt with a cat sitting in lap.

Pill-cam cat iz seeing ur duodenum

creepy cat

(Sunday, July 29: Updated with NEJM link)

This was just too odd to pass up. My father raised my siblings and me with what’s best described as an unhealthy sense of skepticism. Such unwillingness to ever suspend disbelief might make for being a good scientist but I’ve seen that over application can result in a somewhat annoying human. I often find I want to believe…but I’m always held back by skepticism, usually right from the outset. So on reading this story (excerpted below), my tendency is toward the assumption of a non-causal or at least not directly causal relationship between death and the cat.

I think that the article does a reasonably good job of keeping the report on the up and up though. Most likely because the doctors referenced in the article do.

When death comes calling, so does Oscar the cat

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (AP) — Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours.

His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means the patient has less than four hours to live.

“He doesn’t make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die,” Dr. David Dosa said in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.