Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mojito lodged a complaint

Mojito (the dog) came to me with a pleading look that said he really wanted to lie down.

"Go lie on your doggie bed," I suggested to him.

His expression didn't change.

"Is there something blocking your doggie bed access?" I asked him.

He gave his tail a wag and I went to take a look.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fennec makes me laugh every day

...And here's some little Gadjofeets for you. They feel like silk velvet.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Self-portrait contour sketches

Blind contour quick self-portraits looking only in the mirror (not at the paper). From an old sketchbook.

Mojito and Fennec. For a size comparison, Moji is a 74-pound dog. 

Three little pigs? Three bears? Three muffins, all in a row.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Gadjo attacked my snack

Fennec is hiding. He knows you can't see him:

Gadjo attacked my snack! (I had no idea a cat would like watermelon, though I've known some who loved cantaloupe.)

Mojito just heard a noise outside. He's very vigilant about protecting his kitties.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Updates: Mojito, Rumi, Fennec, me

So Fennec had his one-year-old vet checkup. He's enormous. Well, that I already knew. But I hadn't known his actual weight. 

He's 18.7 pounds. Yowza! Lynxie, who stayed with The Ex-Husband, was quite large, and he weighed 14.

I've been lectured to play with Fennec a lot more, and to try to figure out a way that the other two cats can get to the food whenever they want, but that he would be limited to twice a day.

All three cats are in this photo (Rumi totally camouflaged except for one pink ear--can you see him?). Fennec outweighs the other two put together.

Fennec: [Surely I can't be that big. I'm the baby of the family!]

A piece of good news: I had Mojito's lump tested and it is a benign fatty tumor. No need for treatment unless it gets so big it interferes with his movement. 


Another piece of good news: the physical therapist that I found trained in the special head movements to treat my BPPV was very good, and the treatment worked! No more world tilted crazily and spinning, at least for now.


I discontinued the meds Rumi was on because he seemed to be getting so much worse. He got to the point where he didn't move or eat for over two days. I managed to get him to drink some water twice, that was it. I literally was checking many times a day to see if he was still breathing. He lost another half pound in the last two weeks, bringing him down to 7.5 lbs. when he should be (and used to be) at least 10. He is skeletal and fragile, and was very weak.

I discontinued the meds, and after some 30 hours, he is once again alert, moving around, playing, eating, and acting happy again. That's a huge step in the right direction.

I brought him to a different specialist, who did some more blood work, and again nothing unusual showed up in his blood tests. The new specialist wants to do another ultrasound, too, sort of a mini-ultrasound of just Rumi's intestines. (This specialist was surprised to hear that Rumi seemed to have a bad reaction to the meds that I quit giving him, but hey, my instincts proved right.)

We're dealing with three hypotheses now: 1) IBD; 2) FIP; 3) cancer [small-cell lymphoma]. The cancer would be rare for a cat as young as he is, but still possible. Rumi may have to go under anesthesia for a scope biopsy, or exploratory intestinal surgery. I hope we don't have to do anything that drastic. We'll know more after the next ultrasound.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm afraid

It really hit me tonight that it's probable that my sweet, wacky, deaf little white Rumi (with his excellent blanket camouflage; see above) is really going to die of this wasting disease, whatever it may be. And possibly very soon.

He is getting thinner by the day. He seems worse than ever after two weeks on this medication trial (which is supposed to last a month) and I'm afraid he really may not even make it as long as is needed for any other medication experiments. I decided tonight to stop giving him the current medication since he actually seems worse than before.

My heart is breaking. I am just grateful he has a roof over his head, lives with loving creatures and his constant companion, little Gadjo, who is following him around and literally doesn't let a moment go by without curling around Rumi, licking him, and keeping him warm. How either one of us, Gadjo or I, will manage without Rumi, I don't know.

I am sorry to post this, since it's so sad. I know that reading my blog this last year or so is like tuning in periodically on a slow, tragic train wreck. But again, please use this news as a prompt to give your beautiful furry friends an extra hug and kiss today. I know I will.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Case of the Mysterious Bed Lump

Detective Fennec is first on the scene in this riveting mystery...

Detective Fennec: [Perhaps if I try sitting on it...]

...And the lump escapes! This case is now closed.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sketches and updates

A couple of regular (not "blind" or contour) sketches from a few years ago. The top one was a guy reading the newspaper in London while perched on one of those things that they put in European streets so that cars can't pass through.

And this sketch is a couple of quick ones of my students taking their final Spanish exams:

I finally got in to see a practitioner for my BPPV (positional vertigo). I felt a little better right afterwards, then a little worse, then by night I felt nearly cured. Same with this morning. I was thrilled to feel such improvement. I am doing the self-treatment exercises (which make me temporarily even more nauseous--it's unavoidable) that she assigned me, too.

But then--oh crap--without thinking, about an hour ago, I leaned forward, head down, and wham!!, suddenly I'm back to square one in terms of vertigo, dizziness, and nausea. I don't understand how things in the inner ear can change that dramatically from one single movement. Probably the first thing I'll ask at my follow-up BPPV appointment tomorrow. I'm worried about what all this portends in terms of doing yoga in the future, too. Having to skip yoga today.

I got one of my migraines a couple of days ago, so combining that with the BPPV was a joy, I must say. On top of all that, I am supposed to sleep propped up at a 45 degree angle because of the BPPV, and I can't sleep like that, so am sleep-deprived.

I knew I shouldn't try to drive yesterday, so had to take a taxi to my BPPV appointment, and the taxi cost a lot more than I expected ($24), but I got a ride home from an acquaintance. Monday I had to cancel my work because I didn't dare drive. The other evening I drove a short distance to get some groceries, but then felt really ill again afterwards (dizzy, nauseous). 

Tomorrow I'm supposed to drive to work, then to my follow-up BPPV appointment, then back home, then to another work appointment. I am praying I will be able to drive tomorrow.

And then Friday I'm supposed to be taking Fennec in for his one-year shots (and probably some kind of lecture about how fat he is). Last night I found a lump on Mojito's chest, so I'll bring him along and ask the vet to feel it. Hopefully it's just one of those common fatty deposits that aging retrievers seem to get. (Strangely, Jazz never ever had one of those, though almost all old retrievers I've seen have several.) Wish him luck for that, please. Mojito also developed bad diarrhea today. Aaarrghhhh. I seriously need a break.

So wish him luck. I'm only going to give him rice for dinner. And wish me luck! so that I can drive tomorrow and get to work, get groceries, and get to my next BPPV treatment--I need it.

As for Rumi, he's showing no changes of any kind yet that I can tell. I'm coating his anti-inflammatory pills with a bit of ghee--makes them go down much easier (and the vet said it was OK to do that). Rumi's thrilled with me, as you can imagine, to be getting large pills shoved down his throat twice a day. He's already getting smart about hiding from me when it's approximately pill time.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Help, the room is spinning! (No alcohol involved.)

The Audubon Society's newest member. Signed up for lifetime membership.

 Rumi practices his excellent kitchen camouflage.

So it seems I'm having more than my fair share of strange ailments lately. Yesterday when I woke up, I rolled over to turn off the alarm clock, and suddenly was hit with a dizzy spell so severe I nearly vomited, and the room literally seemed to be spinning very fast, and I could feel my eyeballs moving back and forth really fast, unbidden, like in a horror movie. 

I didn't dare move. In about thirty seconds, it passed and I felt pretty normal. I hit snooze on my alarm, and lay back down and--WHAM!--another identical dizzy/Exorcist spell. 

This went on several times. I lay in bed thinking about who I could call to walk Mojito, and what to do. Finally I gritted my teeth and got up. After the usual thirty-second bizarre stuff, I again felt pretty normal and went about my day. During the day, every time I tilted my head up, down, to the side, or (the worst), obliquely (ear to shoulder), the dizzy spell came back, though a lot less severe than in the morning.

I happened to go to the dog park and mentioned it to a woman there who I know has had dizziness issues. She told me I'm not crazy and it's not seizures--that what is happening is not too uncommon and is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, and that she has had it before. I Googled it when I got back home, and lo and behold, everything the Mayo Clinic website said about it matches exactly what's happening to me.

So apparently, if you didn't hit your head or anything like that to cause it, then it's usually age-related because some part of your ear canal is degenerating (lovely). The older that people get, the more likely they are to get episodes of this, and the more often. Sometimes it goes away on its own, after weeks or months. But there's supposedly a treatment, done by a doctor or specially trained physical therapist, that one can try and it often works well on most people (although the condition can still recur anytime). This treatment consists of the medical person moving your head in certain configurations, to try to get
--who knew we had such things??--the little "ear rocks" inside the little canals to move back to where they're supposed to live. See? "Rocks in your head" is actually literal.

I no longer have health insurance but am going to try to get to a physical therapist or something this week, if possible. The treatment itself is extremely uncomfortable, because as they put your head in each position, you get the dizzy/Exorcist spell every time. Ugh. I feel queasy just thinking about it. I bet a lot of physical therapists have been puked on.

So in the meantime, it's worst by far when I wake up--apparently because my head's been in one position so long. The rest of the day, I have to just try to hold my head in basically an upright position. Every time I forget, wham!, and I'm reminded very quickly that all is not right with my ear pebbles. I'm learning to do a deep plié every time I would normally bend forward for something (like, frequently, picking up dog poop, say).

Climbing the ladders in the art studio: very bad idea right now. Not going to happen. The studio still is not usable, sadly.

Universe, please stop picking on me for a while with all the bizarre maladies.

We've been getting some really great skies lately. These appear to be mammatus ("mammary") clouds.

 And a whole assortment of clouds, all in one big sky:

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Three happy cats

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