popovers and pelvic instability

Yesterday was a work at home but take the kitten to the vet in the middle of it day.

I got very little work done.  Some of this was due to the kitten, and some was due to the fact that I’ve been putting off routine housework, cooking, and self care for work.  Or for work related energy.  The work I did do involved massive shoulder pain (this is what happens when my staff is cut, too much for me to do alone) so I decided to call it and take care of house stuff.

I managed to get through sweeping and vacuuming ok – different shoulder motion than typing and mousing and the pain is very much an over-use injury attached to keyboard work.  Then I moved on to making my pumpkin pudding that I didn’t have time to cook over the weekend.  I didn’t have time because I was just exhausted.

Then I got ambitious and decided to do MORE dishes.  It was the dishes that did it.  I turned to put something away, with my feet and legs fixed forward rather than repositioned to be at the same angle as the rest of me, and “pop” went something on the lower left side of my pelvis.  Crap.  Laid down with the ice pack, now ice on the pelvis and heat on the shoulder.  But I really wanted to try making pumpkin popovers.  I had made plain ones a few weeks ago and they were ok but I thought I could do better.  I took this recipe for low fat popovers and modified it.

  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • Heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Dash ground nutmeg
  • Dash ground clove
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup lowfat milk
  • 3 and 1/2 tbsp pumpkin purée
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Heat oven to 450ºF. Spray 6-cup popover pan or six 6-ounce custard cups with cooking spray. (I used nonstick cups very lightly greased with butter.) Place all ingredients in blender in order listed. Cover and blend on medium speed about 15 seconds, stopping blender to scrape sides if necessary, just until smooth. Fill cups about 1/2 full.

Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Bake about 20 minutes longer or until deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cups. Serve hot.

Notes:

  • As usual, I didn’t think to measure and record my modified ingredients carefully, just eyeballed them and hoped for the best. So pumpkin, spices, & sugar amounts are estimates.
  • Use room temperature ingredients and preheat popover/ muffin tins for more “pop”.
  • You can use regular muffin tins. Just less pop.

Even in my ill-tempered oven, they came out pretty good.  photo of cooked pumpkin popover
Not heavily pumpkiny, but I think more pumpkin would weigh them down.  Next time, I’m using more spice too.  A nice treat for sitting on the couch in my now clean living room with ice and heating pads and kitties.

Not quite spring cleaning

I cleaned up my blog roll a bit today.  There were some deadends on there (I miss you Queen!) and some links to pages that hadn’t been updated in years, so out they went.  I added a new one, Adam Tilted: Thoughts from a Dizzy Dude.  Hi Adam!  Stop by his blog and say hello.

That is the extent of today’s cleaning I think.  Very little actual cleaning will be done here at Chez Dyspatient.  Possibly tidying up the kitten room a bit.  My god he’s a little slob.  Ah and I just (literally just now) discovered that he is slowly eating his cat furniture.  I turned from my desk to see him chewing on the corners of the cat bed part on top of the cat tree, just in time to see a “GULP” swallow of something.  So I went over and found bits of carpeting all over the place, but more alarmingly, long strands of vinyl looking stuff and staples sticking out.  Yep, staples.  One loose even, sitting on the lower tier of the cat tree.  Oh good lord.  Well, hoping he didn’t eat a staple.  My living room now has a delightful lemony smell, due to the lemon wedge I just rubbed all over Mr. Riley Finn’s chewing corners.  Cats are supposed to hate citrus.  Every cat I’ve had has hated citrus.  But Riley just came over to me and rubbed his face all over my lemony hand though, so he may just think of it as seasoning.

Orange and white tabby kitten in a "cat tree".

Riley in his chew toy.

So the holter monitor is done.  And of course while I had it on, I only had little bursts of that pounding thing, not the sustained for a half hour kind that I had last week and earlier this week.  Eh.  I dutifully recorded it all on the crappy paper…ok, actually I used my iPhone’s notes and speech to text utility to make a log that I then transcribed to the paper one the hospital gave me.  Still quicker and more accurate than me whipping out pen, paper, phone to look at time, remember to push the button on the monitor, drop pen, mis-write something horribly and have to cross it out and start over next to it, oops that takes up too much space, just cross it all out and write a new entry on the next line and while I’m doing that I have another palpitation and should I just fold that into this log entry or add a new one?  Did I mention I have a bit of dysgraphia?  Hence personal peeve about the paper log.  It takes me three times as long to put print on paper as it does to make an electronic text notation.  Especially with speech to text capability.  But that’s done and I’m glad.  Now, back to work on Monday.  Woo-frikkin-hoo!

Still trying to see work as something I can do for now and enjoy the parts of that which are enjoyable.  Sometimes it’s tougher than others.  And I’m not sure how well I will be able to work with this heart thing but I’m gonna give it a shot.  It’s all I can do.

wormy

Well, Riley (kitten) is still on isolation.  The vet thinks he has the upper respiratory infection that’s going around the shelter, but that was before we got his stool results back.  Turns out my little boo has worms.  Two kinds in fact.  Roundworm, which is contagious to humans and other animals; and lungworm, which they tell me “you’d have to eat a slug” to get.  Mmmmm.  Since kitten is still running a temp (I don’t take his temp, can’t quite bring myself to do that to a cat – but his paw pads are warmer than is normal) so we’re keeping him separate for now still.  This means my time is divided into everything else and “kitten time” and kitten time = handwashing after and changing clothes.  I’ve put him on droplet precautions.  And lots of box scooping and cleaning.  And meds.

But he’s so cute!

orange and white tabby kitten with paws in a person's hand.

Love is a cuddly kitty.

Still eating, using the box, playing…so he’s not doing too badly.  Just for now, still on “lock down”.  He’s a cute little prisoner, isn’t he?  In the picture above, he’s holding my hand.  Regular readers will know it’s my hand by the erythromelalgia that is apparent in my cherry red fingers.

new addition

Well, we did it.  We got another kitty.  Meet Riley, a.k.a. “Mr. Finn”, Nugget.

orange and white tabby kitten sleeping with toy

Sleeping with his toy, Bernard the Bird.

We got him on Saturday, our second visit to the shelter. They say he’s 10 weeks old, but I think he’s a little older. Either that or he’s gonna be a big kitty. Could be both.
He was a feral kitten, so he’s very interested in my other cat, Anya (Buffy fans will be sensing a theme here). Anya, on the other hand, has zero interest in Riley. We haven’t let them meet yet. So far, he’s still in the “welcome” room and she’s come to the door a few times – first meowing to know why her person is locked behind a closed door. Then growling to let us know that she has figured out why we’re in there and she’s not impressed. I think this is going to take some work, transitioning these two.  Riley won’t be a problem in terms of wanting to have a feline buddy. But Anya is going to take some patience and fortitude.  If we approach her without having washed kitten smells off our hands, she hisses and growls.  Hm.  Well, both Mr. Patient and I are long time cat owners but admittedly, I’ve been a single-cat cat mamma for all of my adult life, so this is a new one for me.  Plus, I’m just more anxious in general now and so this is a little bit stressful for me.  I had stated repeatedly that I didn’t want a kitten, but Riley showed up there on our second visit, all by his lonesome since his more outgoing litter mates had been adopted.  He needed to go to a home where the people (a) had a cat (b) didn’t have a dog (c) didn’t have kids and (d) had a lot of patience for dealing with his left over feral behaviors, like hiding.  So here we are.  Us and another special needs kitty.  🙂  He’s got a huge purr, with chirps in it.  Adorable.  We’ll just take it slow with Anya.  I’m off for a week after today, so this is a good time to do the initial stages of kitty introductions.  Wish us luck!

season of sleep-lessness

This past week has not been a banner one for sleep.  I am sleepy.  For the most part, I fall asleep.  Sort of.  And there’s the problem.  I fall into this light napping sort of state that is certainly not awake enough to get me out of bed and onto the couch with a book but not slumbering enough to keep me out.  And when I wake like this, it is inevitable that my bladder, now apparently a misfiring thimble, tells me that hey hey hey hey I’m full time to get up and pee!

The past two nights, I’ve had both stomach pain and nausea as well as intermittent shooting pains in my hips and legs.  And electric shock-like feelings in my arms.  While all of the above suck, the shock feelings in my arms are a new sensation, a new trick.  I know what it is, I know it’s a nerve thing.  I don’t know what’s causing it, something mechanical – i.e. a joint that’s slipped and is pinching (I’ve been having a lot of neck pain during the day while I’m up, so this isn’t an unlikely cause) – or a progression of whatever’s up with my nervous system.  Hoping for the former.  Whatever the cause, I’m definitely in a bad sleep phase right now.

The time change is not going to help.  On the plus side, when the clock says 10:00 PM, it’ll feel like 11:00 to me and hopefully that’ll mean I’ll get sleepy earlier.  On the down side, it means when I wake up wide awake at what my body thinks is 5:00 AM, it’s going to actually be 4:00, and it’s a long day that starts at 4:00 AM when you don’t get home from work until after 7:00 PM most days.

I tried getting out and about, thinking that maybe the daylight would help to put me on a normal rhythm.  Got some nice pictures out of it, but not so much with the sleeping.

color photo close up of a tree branch full of red to yellow shaded autumn leaves

This is the time of year when I should be getting BETTER sleep, with the temperatures falling.  That might be a clue.  While the temperatures fell, and we had some lovely crisp autumn days, they have also been yo-yoing a bit over the last week and a half.  We started out with lovely 50 degree days and then shot back up into the 70s, and now back down to the low 60s.  I know from bitter experience that this does not treat my body well.  E.g. the shooting stabbing joint pains at night are a direct consequence of this.A stone wall in autumn woods at sunset

Went for a short walk yesterday, took some nice pictures of the fall color before the rain came in today.  It’ll probably knock all the leaves down that the windy Halloween night didn’t take out.

Some of this, the stomach stuff, maybe could be helped by eating earlier.  Easier said than done when you have to eat two dinners that don’t start until 7:30 PM though.  I have managed to gain back some weight with the two dinner approach and I really don’t want to abandon it.

But I’m not giving up, just need to think creatively here.  I can start bringing two “lunches” to work and eating one late, before I leave for the day.  More weight for the bag, but that’s what my husband bought me an awesome rolling bag for.  It’s not fashionable, but it’s roomy, lightweight, and water resistant.

Another thing I can do is cut down on the phone screen time before bed.  It hasn’t changed recently, but it may not be helping if I’m already in a light sleep phase.  Well, that’s what a good old fashioned paper book is for.  I’ve got Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.  She had me at “classics department” (in a past life, I was a classics minor at a snooty private liberal arts school in the northeast US).

mapped

Got my results from 23 and me yesterday.  Me and Mr. Patient did.  Ancestry:  I am soooooo European.  99.7% European to be precise.  And apparently more Irish and British than Italian, which is a big “wtf?!”  Although I’ve always known that the Italian side of my family doesn’t look typically “Italian”.  Guess that remote little North-western village really isn’t in the same gene pool.

map and graph of european ancestry

Mr. Patient, on the other hand, has a speck of the Tribe in there.  Actually, two tribes.  Ashkenazi and some strange mitochondrial bits that are very uncommon in most places, except in a few populations including Native American.

My health risk profile is pretty good, if not really on point.  For example, I have genotypes associated with lower risk of having Migraines and Endometriosis.  Ha!  Ha, says my body.  I’ll show you migraines and endo!  Higher risks of selective IgA deficiency (not surprising given all the thrush infections), stroke, sarcoidosis, gout, narcolepsy, and alcohol dependence among other things.  The stroke risk gives me pause.  I really do need to quit smoking.  I don’t know if if’s from having worked on a vascular unit, from my grandmother dying from stroke complications, or from the nasty history of vascular bullshittery on my paternal grandfather’s side, but I do worry about stroke.  More than cancer in fact.

There’s an EDS group on the site, so I’ll be checking my data with them.  So far, 23 and me doesn’t do any data analysis for EDS….which I think is bad on them.  I know that there’s not a lot on some of the subtypes, but I thought type IV was genotyped.  You’d think they could map that.

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.

Day 3

It’s Saturday.  Three days in to my 5 day weekend.  A little sad that it’s half over.  Mr. Patient is out getting groceries and I’m turning some of my pumpkin angel food cupcakes into bread pudding.  The cakeyness of the cupcakes is questionable.  They are tasty, but they have more of a quickbread/muffin quality than cake one, so they seemed suitable for conversion.

I don’t have recipe yet, since it’s still cooking and filling the house with the most amazing cinnamon and nutmeg smells, by the way.  I threw some of the apples and apple “syrup” into it to, skipping sugar (ok, a few crumbles of brown sugar on top but not the cup and half or whatever of white sugar that my old bread pudding recipe called for).  Also, no half cup of butter.  Not if I want this food to empty out of my stomach.   I used a scant teaspoon of butter to grease the casserole pan that I’m cooking in, a must or the “bread” will weld to the sides.  So that’s about 4 grams of fat just from the wee bit of butter.  Meaning this is not something I can eat large amounts of at once.  I try to keep the fat content low since higher fat foods tend to slow gastric emptying.

Such a tragedy that I’m lactose intolerant and now fat intolerant.  I used to LOVE butter.  I am told that when I was a child, we’re talking highchair level kid, my mom once left a stick of butter within my reach and when she went to use it, discovered that I had grabbed it and was eating it like it was a candy bar.  Yes, my slow break up with butter has been painful, but I will survive.

Here’s what the “bread” pudding looks like in the oven.  Probably could use a bit more milk and egg, but we’ll see.

small casserole dish of bread pudding in oven

Fall food, part 2

The cake was a hit.  Mr. Patient made blackberry coulis, a variation on the recipe here.  Variation because Mr. Patient and I are very bad about our quantities.  We just kind of cook by eye, nose, and taste.  Looks, smells, and tastes right?  It’s right!  I made a spiced peach puree.  A super simple recipe that I’ll post below – and quite tasty….if you like peach.  I was informed by my brother that peach, along with cinnamon is a “dirty flavor”.  It’s not bad, but it’s not fresh, was his reasoning.  Well then apparently I like “dirty” flavors, because I really liked this peach puree and the bright sweetness was a nice counterpoint to the tart and complex blackberry sauce.

Spiced peach puree:

Again, quantities are rough estimates (except for the peaches, on account of packaging).

4 cups of diced peaches, strained.  You can probably use frozen or fresh too but I find the cups of diced peaches are better in terms of softness (or absence) of peel.

1 – 2 Tbsp of cinnamon

2 dashes of ground ginger

1/4 cup of white sugar

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend thoroughly and chill.

In the photo immediately below, the peach puree is to the left of the cake slice.  The right of the cake has the lemon icing, and then laid on that and to the right is the blackberry.  I probably would just do one if I were doing it again, but I had to try it all since this was a new set of foods for me.  The blackberry is too dark to really discern but the color was a deep red, so that plus the cake and peaches made for a really nice set of Fall colors.  Below the cake picture is a shot of the pumpkin pudding, the pumpkin pudding recipe is here.  I made another batch yesterday AM before going out with my brother on our birthday shopping trip.  Consider it “queer eye for Dyspatient”, it was my birthday present from him, a shopping trip to a store that there’s no way in hell I would have gotten myself to because after parking and walking and shopping, I would not have had the energy to get home.  Success, I scored a couple of nice additions to the wardrobe, including two very nice, lightweight cardigans that will convert my yearlong summer wardrobe into something more seasonally appropriate.  With heat intolerance comes a whole slew of clothing constraints, a major one being sleeveless or short sleeved tops are now a necessity.  I’m pretty tired though.  Woke up today with a bit of hurting.  My “little” brother is 6’4″ so even walking slow, it’s hard for him to walk at my snail’s pace (I’m 5’4″), and the faster I walk, the harder I come down on the hips and legs.

angel food cake with peach puree and blackberry sauce

Fruity!

Whisky pumpkin into pudding base in a stovetop saucepan.
And pumpkin pudding!

results, 2

Ok, it’s bugging me now.  I had the weekend without work to distract, got blown off by brother, and hubby was at a conference all day Saturday.  So I think I spent too much alone time with very little to keep my mind off the results I’m waiting for.  Or maybe it’s that this is the start of the week I find out about them.

Every Sunday, evening, I find myself taking a mental inventory of my week.  It’s like balancing your checkbook (anyone remember doing that?) before you go shopping.  How much do I have?  What do I need to get?  How much can I spend on each thing?  Last night, I was doing this, starting to run through my week in my head.  Work from home Monday – find and buy rare out of print book for student who is blind so we can cut and scan it, write to professors who still haven’t sent me their syllabuses (syllabi?), continue cleaning up and formatting books for one student with low vision and articles for student who is completely blind, log all time spent on each task to send to boss to help justify the strangeness of my working from home.  Tuesday – work at work.  Process mailing, hold office coordinator’s hand while she does the mail merge I requested.  Record audio for training video, run speech to text and create captions (ugh, 14 minute video…will have to break into chunks because I know my computer cannot handle this processor-wise).  Nag professors.  Edit.  Leave work for intern. Wednesday.  Wednesday – get up early and don’t eat or drink anything, pass out in a lab, then go see my primary care to find out if I have antineuronal antibodies suggesting paraneoplastic syndrome.  Go home and clean to prep for inlaws coming.  Thursday – vacation!  Clean for inlaws.  Lay on couch.  Friday – work at work.  No appointments.  In law prep done.

This weekend, we had a return to subtropical weather here in New England.  Ugh.  This shit is killing me.  My bp barely got over 90/50 yesterday, lots of dizzies, lots of eighty something over forty something readings on the blood pressure monitor. I really thought it would rain at one point.  The clouds rolled in, the leaves turned over, my head felt like it was going to pop and the air was heavy.  But instead the sky absorbed the nastiness and the sunlight came back, thicker and hotter than it was before.

photo of dark clouds over a street

heavy sky