Adventures with Dr. Lady Cutie Troublemaker

Life is in flux BIG TIME these days. I want to keep in touch with all of my peeps. The Internet is this beautiful thing. I can move to a brand new city and still stay in easy, near-daily contact with the people I love. When I feel connected to the people in my life that matter, I am unstoppable!

Surgery Problems

By Abby at 7:17 pm on Friday, July 24, 2009

Maggie & Dr Ardente

The vet, my Dad, Shannon, and I have spoken a lot since 5pm yesterday, when the vet let me know that Maggie needed to have surgery to address the Calcium Oxalate stones, or be euthanized. No treatment was not an option given all the details of her current physical condition. The decision was to move forward with Ureteral Stent surgery. This has been done on only 30 cats so far (although it is a common procedure in humans). Only one cat has died from the surgery, and unfortunately, that was the one cat that had surgery at the NC State Vet Teaching Hospital. There were extenuating circumstances, though. That cat went into surgery with a Urinary Tract Infection, so it was known that the surgery was very risky in advance. That said, there were many other reasons to choose this surgery over the more common Ureterotomy:

  • Because it is a teaching procedure (as in, cutting edge), the cost was lower – $2,000-$4,000 vs. $4,000-$6,000.
  • The chance of complications is much, much lower.
  • It is less invasive.
  • I’m an academic, so I like the idea of students having an opportunity to learn from watching the surgeon do this “teaching procedure,” adding to the body of knowledge, etc. That is groovy to me.

So I went to see Maggie today before her surgery at 2pm. They warned me that while she had seemed quite spunky for the first full day she was there, she was starting to seem somewhat depressed and less feisty than usual. (They all really like her there, and I know they weren’t just saying that!) When they first brought her in, she wasn’t that interested in me, but I told them that I know my Maggie, and she HATES being cooped up (much like me in that way), and I suggested we let her walk around the exam room. After a few minutes, her tail was back up in the “upright and happy position.” Then she came over and was really affectionate with me, purred, etc. They left me with her for about 15 minutes, and she ended up sitting in my lap as I sat against the wall on the floor. She fell asleep and purred. It was really nice. If you didn’t know how sick she was, you (you know) wouldn’t know how sick she was.

I was told that the surgery prep would start around 2pm, and that I should hear something by 4pm. At 5:30pm, I called the hospital to find out what was going on. The vet said that the surgery had been “quite complicated” and that she was still anesthetized and in the operating room. The idea was that they would use a wire to go in through the bladder to the ureter, where they would implant the stent, but there was something obstructing the passage (either a stricture of some sort of inflammation). She said they had been trying for a long time, but it wasn’t working. They also tried going in through the kidney, even repositioning the kidney to try and get the stent in. At the point I spoke with the vet, Maggie had been under anesthesia for 2.5 hours and was still doing well (glad we chose to do the surgery quickly before more toxins made her sicker). In short, the surgery was “not going well.” Another surgeon had been called in, and I was asked on the phone to decide whether I wanted to go ahead with the other type of surgery (the Ureterotomy) or have her euthanized right there on the table. They said that to wake her up when they had been unable to repair any of the stones was inhumane because she was going to go rapidly downhill. This other surgery was going to bring the total surgery cost to $4000-$8,000. This is over and above the $1,500 for medical costs incurred so far at the vet hospital over the past few days. If you’d like more information about a Ureterotomy, look about halfway down this page.

Here’s where I mention how awesome my people are. I have REALLY good people. I have this feeling about the world, that we are all here for each other. It’s not me for me, or you for you. If you need help, and I have it to offer, I give it to you. And then when I am in need, I have always found the help I need, too. I would not have expected that anyone would step forward to help me with such costs. Despite working very hard for years, I have not exactly been a money making machine. Far from it. I’ve been lucky that I have had generous parents who could help me. So far, this summer has been about getting in a position where I could begin to take over full reigns of my life financially. Starting my business has been tons of work, but I’ve been excited for the school year to start again, because things are definitely in place for me to succeed. But on that path, I’ve sunk credit into office startup costs. This wasn’t the BEST time for Maggie to get sick, but it’s when it happened. I expected that I would have to choose the hard option – the “time to say goodbye” option. And I didn’t feel it was time for that. If Maggie survives this surgery, she has many more years left in her – healthy happy years. She is not lame, not blind, nor deaf. Her energy is good. She is happy. And she is my companion. I recently wrote about my cats, not knowing Maggie was about to get sick.

In the past 5 years, I’ve lived in four cities, had 6-9 jobs (depending on how you count my predoc internship), and dated 5 people. There’s one little pair who have been with me the whole time. They provide the consistency. They have been with me every step of the way. I love them so much. Jeep and Maggie are what make home, HOME.

So the amazing thing is that not only have my parents have offered to cover the high costs related to this surgery, a close friend has as well. I don’t even have words to express how floored I am by their generosity. Of course I feel guilt that I can not cover this on my own, and it’s more motivation to do all I can to grow my practice so I can be in an increasingly stable financial position.

My head is spinning with all the anatomy I’ve learned in the past 24 hours, and the rollercoaster ride I’ve been on emotionally. In fact, while I was writing this just now, I got another call from the vet. She says Maggie’s tissues are “angry” so the surgeon has suggested bypassing something or another with a catheter to keep her stable for 4-5 days so she can get strong again before they go in and do the second surgery.

I’ve set up a donations page. Hope you don’t feel it’s too tacky, but this is one of those times in life when help is needed – real financial help. If you are able, please take a minute to donate a little for Maggie. It’s been a long road, and it still isn’t over. While I know that the costs will be covered, they are obviously getting higher and higher, and anything I can do right now to offset them feels of the utmost importance.

Filed under: Kitties,Stories From My LifeComments Off on Surgery Problems

Back On a Bike

By Abby at 10:03 pm on Monday, July 6, 2009

When I was a little kid, riding bikes was my very favorite thing to do. I lived in a neighborhood full of kids, and I loved the freedom and the speed I had available to me. It was a safer time, so as long as I was back before dark, I was free to go where I wanted.

My ex-husband is very athletic, and cycling is his sport. Before he moved to the states (he’s English), he did a lot of road biking, but living in Atlanta and Bloomington, Indiana, there were a lot of excellent off-road trails available. I ended up getting a mountain bike of my own, which I used while we were married. Since the marriage ended, I haven’t been on the bike at all. I’ve moved many times, but I always knew I’d get the bike working again. This week, I finally got around to doing just that. My apartment isn’t in a great starting place for bike rides, but my new office is. For a grand total of $120, the nice guys at Flythe Cyclery got my old bike working again. The bike is living at my office instead of at my apartment, so when I’m downtown, I can get wherever I need to go so much more easily.

I picked up my bike Friday night and brought it to its new home. Saturday morning was my first outing. It was a pretty ideal time, since Raleigh was a wasteland (most people were traveling for the 4th of July). I simply went from my office to Helios, had breakfast, then went back to my office. Not a huge adventure, but it let me know that (1) the bike works (2) Helios isn’t very far away and (3) Lane is a handy street for me. From that adventure, I could already tell that being on a bike is going to help a lot with my sense of direction, which is something I desperately need.


Today was adventure #2. My friend Clara met me at my office with her bike. She’s got all the gear, clipless pedals, the whole deal. She looks like a real pro. Lately, she’s been riding with our friend Joe who’s a SERIOUS road cyclist. The other day when we hung out, she’s just gone 32 miles. I wanted to go for a real ride, but not a JOE ride! We ended up going all over the place. I kind of wish I’d gotten one of those Map My Ride apps for the iPhone so I could say how far we’d gone and where we actually traveled. All I know is that we were out for a full hour, and I saw a lot of corners of Raleigh I’d never seen before AND… I didn’t pass out. While I have been suffering from a low-grade migraine all day, I did make it. The nausea did begin to get a little bad near the end, but it was only annoying, not inhibitory. Overall, I had an awesome time, and I can’t wait to go out again. While I’m really happy Clara is heading to St John’s soon, I’m bummed she won’t be around for lots of rides. Being out there with someone else really keeps me going further than I would alone.


Anyway, I’m just thrilled to have a working bike back in my life. I hope to use it a lot.

Filed under: Pictures,Stories From My Life7 Comments »

Nut Focus Group

By Abby at 11:28 pm on Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spring Tartlet

I did something really strange on Friday. A nut company hired a firm in Chapel-Hill to do some research on nuts, and I ended up participating in their Nut Focus Group at Southern Season. I arrived in time for a delicious lunch, during which we discussed how we liked to cook with nuts, what we think will encourage people to buy more nuts, and our favorite flavor combinations using nuts. After a lengthy discussion, the 12 of us participating were broken into 3 groups of 4 and asked to come up with several recipes using nuts. Then, the REALLY fun part. We were released out into Southern Season (a massive, super-stocked gourmet grocery, if you’ve never been) to gather everything we needed to create our dishes. We brought everything back to the test kitchen and were let loose. In other words, we were IRON CHEFS! It was so fun. My group made:

  • Spring Tart with Cucumber, Caramelized Onions, Mascarpone, Dill, and Pine Nuts – I made a lot of this one, but the flavor combo was a collaborative effort.
  • Breakfast Bar made with Dried Orange, Crystallized Ginger, Oats, Raisins, Almonds, and Ground Cardamon – But this didn’t hold together as well as we’d hoped, so we ended up putting it on Vanilla Ice Cream, and calling it “Better Than Breakfast Ice Cream”
  • Mango Chili Chocolate Bark with Macadamia Nuts (That’s the one I was most responsible for, and it was AWESOME!)
  • Orange Dream Brownies made with Ginger, Dried Orange, and Almonds (I actually had zero to do with this one – Brownies are yucky!)

JNFR Diptych
The Delightful JNFR

So two particularly fun aspects of this adventure. First, the delightful JNFR was there. She is a special needs teacher, and was VERY good at herding us and keeping everything on track. She was definitely the Alpha that kept us focused so the creativity of our group could flow. Second, WE GOT PAID! Yes, they actually paid me $150 to give opinions about food and play Iron Chef. I can’t believe my luck!

The Day in Pictures:

Filed under: Food,Stories From My Life2 Comments »

Neti Pots and Waterboarding

By Abby at 9:45 am on Sunday, May 31, 2009

I always thought the reason I hated the Neti Pot so much related to a simple fact: I am a total wuss. I always say that it feels like waterboarding.

Watching this video, I think it’s more complicated. I have a deviated septum. I noticed that my nostrils were very different in size during college, but I never thought much of it. I think it was when Jennifer Aniston got surgery for a deviated septum a few years ago that I wondered if I should care. The rumor was that she’d had a “nosejob,” but her nose didn’t look any different afterwards. She’d cited a deviated septum as the reason for the surgery. Anyway, about a year ago, I tried the Neti Pot, since everyone seemed to think it was the best thing ever. When I’ve tried it, it’s been torture because I’ll pour all the saline water into one nostril, but it doesn’t come out the other side. I am standing there leaning over the sink, my eyes are turning redder and redder, my sinuses are burning, and all this liquid is trapped in my head. I stand there as long as I can stand it. I might get a drip or two out the other nostril, but no lovely stream of saline like in the video. I’m thinking maybe I should look into this deviated septum situation. I was just reading the Wikipedia article about it, and it says that it’s often a result of birth trauma – of which I had a TONS. I have a foot lodge into my face when I was born. I think this explains a lot. Only took 39 years to work it all out.

I think I’m out on the Neti Pot until I talk to a real doctor about my deviated septum and about my allergies, which seem to get worse every year.

Filed under: Stories From My Life,VideoComments Off on Neti Pots and Waterboarding

Oh hai, little tree frog!

By Abby at 12:20 am on Friday, May 8, 2009

Filed under: Stories From My Life2 Comments »
« Previous PageNext Page »