The state of health care

I am convinced that the doctors in this town don’t really know what they are doing, nor do they care. I have just been through it with my ankle and at first they told me it was a strained Achilles tendon, and then it was a fractured foot. When I went into the doc’s to have the foot cast, they looked at the x-ray and told me “This isn’t fractured, who told you it was?” So off went the crutches and I just had a really painful foot. They then said it was probably a partially ruptured Achilles tendon.

The next visit, the powers to be decided to test me for gout so blood was drawn. All levels normal-nope, wasn’t gout. Ankle still swollen, red, inflamed and oh my god painful. So I ask “What is wrong with my foot?” They say it must be broken! MRI will tell us. Well, MRI is out of my reach (no health insurance) so instead they schedule me for an orthopedic surgeon consult. He sees my foot and says “This looks like gout!” GRRRR! In the meantime, I am dealing with pain so severe I just want to cut my friggin foot off! They give me oxycoatin (doesn’t touch the pain.

I call them back and tell them the pills make so sick and they don’t touch the ankle pain, they are perplexed and don’t know quite what to do now. I was also running fevers; I had chills and couldn’t keep anything down. Finally, I had enough! I started logging when I first noticed the symptoms, what my foot looks like, how it feels. Then it dawned on me, I have an infected ankle! I got scratched prior to leaving for the convention. I was barefoot and Baker ran over the top of my foot leaving deep scratch marks on the top of my foot. I dropped my foot immediately into a mixture of bleach and hot water, something an emergency room doctor told me to do with cat scratches. I must have killed some of the bacteria, but not all of it.

I started taking a broad spectrum antibiotic yesterday, and soaking my foot in cold water and GSE already the ankle swelling is going down and it feels better. The inflammation is gone and the fevers are receding.

I see a distinct difference in how I am treated in the health community without insurance from the way I was treated when I had good coverage. They say it doesn’t make a difference, but I beg to differ. It makes a great deal of difference. When I called my doctor’s office this morning to make another appointment about my ankle, I was told he can’t see me till the end of Feb. It’s too bad that here, apparently you even have to die by appointment.

The Puzzle solved

Charlie has been having setbacks. He has been gurgling quite a bit. I finally pinned Mike down and questioned him. Poor man, he was so overwhelmed by all he had to do while I was at the Cat Writers’ Convention that he completely forgot to give Charlie his Lysine. Charlie is on my lap right now, head bumping my hands as I type and making it a bit difficult to to tend to the job at hand.

Charlie is going to need Lysine for the rest of his life to keep feline herpesvirus at bay. I started him back on it immediately and in the course of about two hours after being dosed, he stopped gurgling.

It has been so cold here and I am stuck on the couch pretending to be a couch potato, which I hate. Months ago, I strained my achilles tendon and it has never properly healed. It flared up a few days ago and walking is next to impossible. Honestly, last night I almost woke Mike up and asked him to get his sawzall and cut my foot off! It hurt so bad. They have put me on some pain medication I have never heard of before; Gabapentin. The stuff knocks me for a loop but it stops the pain. It also stops anything productive I should be doing like writing those two articles.

All the kittens are now fully integrated into the house and the house is a busy place. At meal times Mike says the floor is moving because the cats come running to get their meals. When we want to sit on furniture, we practice what Mike calls “cat flinging.” No, we don’t fling the cats to the ground, but we spend a great deal of time removing them from our favorite spots. Oliver especially is challenging. I will put him on the ground so I can sit on the sofa, and by the time I go to sit there, he will be laying on my spot again! The silly goof! Mike said he slept there the entire time I was gone. I know he likes me and that spot retained my scent, but it would be nice if I could sit there from time to time.
Then we have what Mike calls “Kitten Penning”. This is when we really want a glass of water, or a cup of coffee out of the kitchen, but we can’t move because we have kittens laying all over us! It’s a kitty strait jacket actually! Now there are 8 kittens in the house along with the rest of the clowder. That’s 8 more neuters I need to find the funds to pay for. But God always seems to find a way for me.

Right now the kittens are playing in their new playhouse. Nothing elaborate. Just a large cardboard box that I cut several holes in so they can jump in and out. Oliver in his largeness likes to lay on top of the box and since it isn’t reinforced with anything, he of course either slides off or caves it in. But even if the kittens are inside, they can get out easily through the multiple doors provided for them.

They were ecstatic about all the wonderful goodies I brought home for them from the conference. www.catnipetc.com provided them with primo catnip, www.petextras.com means they have wonderful treats like calamari and freeze-dried mouse treats. Worldwise provided wonderful (if somewhat annoying cat toys; birds that chirp when they are tossed across the room. I have to take those and put them up for the night or we can’t sleep. But all the vendors were so generous we had so much product.

Now I need to send the sponsors a thank you note for without them there wouldn’t be an event! But I think I better wait until my head clears.
Here is a photo of me with the award I won for my website www.felinexpress.com Joan Miller is next to me- she is the Legislative Coordinator of CFA and a woman I completely admire.

The burning question of the day

I can surely understand why dogs go after litter pan droppings as if they are candy. Cats eat their food so quickly; most cats gulp down their food, so the food is unprocessed basically pure protein. But why horse manure? Horses aren’t carnivores, they are herbivores. So why would both my dogs be scarfing down the contents of the fresh manure pile when I muck out the stalls?

According to Dr. Michael Richards DVM, dogs’ eating other species poop is a natural behavior. It only becomes an issue when dogs live with people, because people think the behavior is disgusting. They eat the poop in order to mask their own scent from predators. Now, you and I both know that the family dog isn’t going to be eaten for dinner anytime soon, unless it happens to run into a cougar or a coyote, but the problem is the dog doesn’t know that. Instinctively, when the dog is outside, he feels vulnerable; therefore he dives into the manure pile. The only danger comes from them eating the poop after the horses have been wormed. Apparently, there is also a high water content in horse manure so the dogs are drawn to it.

Reflections

Looking out the window this morning, I noticed a light dusting of snow on the hills near our home. It grew incredibly cold last night, the air was crisp and the mud from the earlier rainstorm had formed a small sheet of ice that crunched as I made my way to the barn to feed the horses.

The cats were on the warpath, racing through the house chasing each other. I thought perhaps they were reacting to my returning home, but now I realize that they were responding to the change they could feel in the weather. Riley, my eight year old gets snappy during the colder days as arthritis has settled deep into his bones. His growls echoed through the house any time the kittens scampered near.

Seeing the snow makes me miss Alaska (but not that much). Even though snow is beautiful when it is falling, shoveling all that snow, living in darkness for nine months out of the year became tedious.

But oh the people we met while we lived there, and the adventures we had when the weather was warmer serve to keep me in smiles.

On our “first date” (we met through a personal ad years before the Internet was even conceived) Mike presented me with an intense lecture on how to catch fish in Hidden Lake. Perhaps he thought that a Southern California girl had no knowledge how to bait a hook correctly or maybe he thought the only fish I was capable of catching came with Star-Kist label attached. But, at any rate, after his carefully prepared lecture, I finally was able to get him to relinquish one of his coveted fishing poles, I baited my hook (under his watchful eye) and cast the line out in the middle of the lake (we were in his BayRunner). I immediately snagged a fish, and as I reeled in my prize (an eighteen inch rainbow trout) the look on his face was priceless! His original bet for this fishing trip was $1.00 for the first fish and a $1.00 for the biggest fish. I had decided to make him put his money where his mouth is and upped the ante to $5.00. I was $10.00 richer after that fishing trip!

He decided then to drive to Seward (I was spending two weeks with him) and we loaded up the motor home, put the boat on the traier and drove to Seward where we launched the BayRunner out of Resurrection Bay. I admit to feeling a bit uneasy as the land vanished from sight and an Orca breached the water nearby, but other than being delighted that Alaska was on display for me, Mike didn’t seem concerned, so I tried to relax. There is just something about being in a very small boat in the middle of such vastness that unsettled me. But soon we stopped and dropped our lines. How fortunate that we dropped our bait in the middle of a school of feeding King Salmon. We hauled in enough fish to stay safely in the limit set by Fish and Wildlife. In the middle of this excitement, a shadow passed overhead and I looked up to see a Bald Eagle circling. This magnificent predator landed in the water and began to swim over to us. Color me stunned, I never thought about whether an eagle could even swim. Mike whipped out his fish knife and carefully chopped up some salmon and we tossed this sushi towards that big hooked beak.

Even in the wintertime, we shared incredible adventures. Standing in the middle of Iggi Augi and listening to the gentle chimes of the Northern Lights as they danced overhead in a kalidescope of colors overhead, stumbling onto a coven of Ptarmigans, perched on a snow covered tree. The birds resembled snowballs until we startled them into flight. Waking up in the early morning to the phone ringing as Fred our neighbor across the road informing us there was a moose on our porch. Sharing times with our friends Renamary and Vern at the Talkeetnea Lodge…

So I look up at the snow creeping closer to the hills and make a mental note to fill up the firewood catcher on the back porch, muck the horse stalls and put out clean dry straw for bedding, fill the cat beds in the hay barn with new hay and take out the stock heater and drop it in the horse trough. I also need to call the vet and get both horses’ teeth floated. I have two articles waiting for me, their deadlines looming, and hungry kitties waiting to be fed. The horses are pawing at the gate. They are eager for the warm grain mash they get as the weather turns colder. There will be time for reflections later as my critters have missed me. It is time to stop reflecting. It’s time to get busy

Purrsonal Notes from the Cat Writers’ Association Convention

Thursday-

As I sit here at the airport waiting for my flight to San Francisco to arrive, I can feel the weight of responsibility slowly roll off my shoulders and go crashing to the ground. I admit, too in feeling guilty for leaving. For Mike stays behind to juggle for the first time the needs of all the cats, including medicating the few still sickly kittens, cleaning out all the litter pans, feeding the brood and seeing that horses and dogs stay fed and watered. He will soon discover how demanding and time-consuming these needs are.

Along with feelings of guilt, comes the gratefulness that I am going to get away. Away from medicating Trump and Charlie, breaking up fights between Matuse and Cole, spurred perhaps by the sudden inclusion of the kittens into the rest of the house, and away from all the needs caring for these kittens places on my shoulder daily. So I sit in the quiet of the airport, before the holiday madness hits, one of the advantages of flying out of Eugene instead of Portland and wait for what lies ahead.

I just imposed on a couple to take a photo of me for my parents. I had to laugh, before the woman took my picture, she fussed over my collar, adjusting it so it stood straight, much like my mother would do.

At the Crowne Plaza Hotel -

My roommates this year are Dusty Rainbolt and Nancy Peterson. Nancy and I get along famously. I find her delightful and funny and she is filled with all sorts of stories about her adventures. She even took time out to hear about my manuscript. She expressed a desire to read it when it is finished and if she agrees with what it says she has said she will write a foreward for it! Nancy works with the HSUS championing the causes of the feral cat. This is the first time I have actually really met her up close and personal.

Amy Shojai and Dusty Rainbolt invited me to have lunch with a group of other authors. The Japanese Restaurant inside the Crown Plaza makes wonderful food and a lot of it! The company at the table during meal time presented more color than the spread before us on the table!

Friday- Interview Day

I pitched my manuscript to three editors. All of them seemed genuinely interested in the concept and how the message was being delivered. We had a long, lovely talk finding commonality in the fact that all of us had stray kittens in our home. Using their strays as a topic, I was able to launch into a discussion of my manuscript. The interviews flowed, they didn’t stall. I will be interested to find out what they think about my sample chapters after the holidays are over.

I have met amazing and talented people here. Belonging to The Cat Writers’ Association inspires me daily. The group challenges me to be a responsible “eye witness” when I write. Every time one of them writes a new article, this raises the bar for me to be a better writer. The group creates new sources for my work, brings to light creative ideas and forms friendships that are true.

One gal I really clicked with is an artist and a writer. Bernadette and I got along from the very beginning and are planning some future projects together.

Saturday-

Another day of seemingly endless wonderful food and inspiring seminars; within the company of so many men and women excelling in their craft. We then had about three hours of free time and I just went upstairs to pack and instead fell asleep in the bathtub! I was so tired. My roommates are busy sleepers- but then I snore, so we are in good company!

It is interesting how three women can share a room with two double beds, one bathroom a table one dresser and a television. Mostly it means we are pretty good living out of a suitcase and not shy about running around in our birthday suits.

7:00 p.m. the bar is open and people have gathered to network, form friendships, hunt for projects or just relax. Joan Miller of CFA is here. I admire this woman so much. Her ability to retain information pertinent to cats, her love of reading and research and her passion for breed-specific cats and ferals makes her number one in my book! I first met her three years ago at the first conference I attended. I watched her in action at the International Cat Show and my respect for her widened. Our sponsors are here enjoying the day along with us. This is always such a glorious event.

Saturday Morning:

I have met amazing, wonderful people; TE Watson, author of There’s a Dragon in my Mailbox, I Wanna Iguana and other children’s story. A delightful man, who is quick to laugh, he has a twinkle in his eye and told me he is currently working on eight books. This group inspires me to be a better writer while encouraging me to stay true to myself. Belonging to this organization motivates me to think outside the box. They supply me with endless article material simply by speaking about their own personal experiences.
The Awards Banquet starts in a few minutes. This year, there won’t be a main speaker for the event which is good, because it is always so long anyway.

Sunday 2:00 a.m.-
I can’t sleep and in a minute you will know why. As we were nearing the end of the awards banquet and I was trying not to fall asleep in the middle of my chocolate mousse, they were announcing the last three awards of the nights. As Amy was talking about the judge’s comment regarding the biggest award of the evening- the CFA’s President’s Award, one of the women near me whispered “Sounds like Cat Fancy…” Although, it did sound like Cat Fancy, there was something about the description that seemed familiar, but I just thought I was tired. The judge’s comment is below:

My winner has a lovely layout, is easy to use and promotes the welfare of all cats – pedigreed, mixed-breeds, strays and ferals. There’s a wealth of information – from its quality articles on health and behavior to its fun photos and cat horoscopes – for the wannabe cat owner, the new cat owner and the experienced cat owner. CWA members are among the contributors to the website and a Muse Medallion won by the website’s creator proudly graces every page. I’m sure the website will display her President’s Award as well. It’s my pleasure to present the 2007 President’s Award to Mary Anne Miller for her excellent website, www.felinexpress.com!”

OMG! I heard my name and I think I screamed. I know I couldn’t move and I was crying. I am such a wuss but I was so surprised! OMG- I won this writing award. I still can’t wrap my mind around that concept at all! Everyone was clapping and Bernadette was pounding me on the knee and telling me to get up there. I don’t even remember climbing on the stage. I was presented with a dozen red roses, a beautiful plaque, and a check! Oh My Word! There was a flurry of photographs, I remember standing on stage with Nancy Peterson, Dusty Rainbolt, Kim Thornton, Amy Shojai, and then it blurs.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. For one brief moment in time, the pumpkin turned into Cinderella at the ball! Chung (my webmaster) is going to flip out and Deb is going to be so pleased. So many people were coming over to me; I have no clue what I said to any of them. What an honor! WOW!
So, I should be asleep (Nancy is) Dusty is down the street at BJ’s but I can’t sleep and I didn’t want to go out and drink to celebrate as my plane leaves early in just a few hours. The events of the night just keep whirling in my head along with all the memorable people I met this weekend; TE Watson, Rick Tillotson author of Cat Yoga Bernadette (who also snagged a special award for her article about senior cat care)- yeah Bern! Dusty, who embarrassed me during her seminar by holding up her brand new book Cat Wrangling Made Easy and announcing that “the book wouldn’t have been possible without Mary Anne Miller’s help! Oh my- the frog turned into a princess for just a bit and it was wonderful. Now I really have to try and sleep, and I hear Dusty at the door trying to get in. I think between all of us we must have 15 keys to this room! LOL So I better go let her in.

A humbling recognition

The strangest thing happened the other day. I received in the mail, a package from someone I only know off the Internet. Inside, there was a card, a donation for my cats along with Nathan J. Winograd’s newest book Redemption.

When I opened the book, I saw that he had autographed it for me. He said he knew of my work and thanked me for all I do for cats! I was honored and amazed at the same time. I haven’t read his book yet. I haven’t had time, but I am looking forward to what he has to say about the euthanizing of over five million cats/dogs in shelters every year.

Catching Up

In just a few days I am off to the Cat Writers’ Convention in San Francisco. I feel guilty for harboring excitement in going. In getting away from the demands of sickly kitties, nightly bed checks, and braving the slamming rain and winds currently blowing here as I make my way to the stables in the morning to feed the horses.

Yes, I admit, I am feeling selfish. Rather than have hay in my hair, I will have bling bling on Saturday night at the banquet, where we all gather to celebrate the writing accomplishments of our creative friends.

Instead of having kitty claws crawling up my legs, my legs will be embraced by the wonderful feel of silk stockings, sent long ago to me by my mother.

Instead of being wakened in the middle of the night by the galloping of little kitties overhead now healthy playing a mean game of tag on the second floor. I will be sleeping blissfully, lulled to sleep by the sounds of San Francisco’s night life.

Instead of struggling to get into my Carharts so the wind doesn’t chill me to the bone as I let the dogs outside and make my way over to the enclosure to feed the cats. I will be dressed for success in my business attire as I meet and greet old friends and make new ones and meet with the publishers to pitch my book and leave them with a few chapters to read on the plane.

Rather than staying up all hours of the night, medicating kittens, giving supportive fluids, holding solo prayer vigils, I will stay up until I want to go to sleep while I visit with the group, have a drink or two to celebrate with others. Then, when I go upstairs to my room, I will spend time with my two roommates, Nancy and Dusty and listen to their exploits about their lives both at home and at the conference.

Perhaps one of them might be persuaded to set their alarm at midnight, and then set it every ten minutes after, waking up to meow loud and demanding into my ear (just in case, I might get homesick).

Yes, I will be gone from the house in body, but here still in spirit, praying that Mike’s blood sugar won’t drastically drop in the mornings, that Charlie won’t suffer another relapse and that Mike will suddenly realize all that is involved in taking care of so many animals on your own, because now he is doing everything I do.

So for a few days this pumpkin will turn into Cinderella and I am looking forward to having a glorious time!And who knows…I may come back with a book deal and a Muse!

Internet articles

Recently, I keep getting informed from Google Alert about my articles being found on websites around the Net that I have no knowledge of. I guess, I should feel flattered that cat lovers find my articles informative, or intriguing enough to want to take them. But I don’t, I just feel betrayed. The articles lifted, were taken from websites where I was paid to write them. No one has contacted me and asked me if they could take my articles. I suppose, they feel that because the articles are on the Internet, they are free for the taking.

I am certainly curious about this sense of entitlement that some people feel they have the right to. And, sadly, I am not alone when it comes to this type of theft, as many of my colleagues also confess that their work too has been pirated and used for someone else’s personal gain.

This type of situation makes me feel that perhaps I should stop writing about cats and their care on the Internet. But, it is what I do, and what I love. If I can help someone based on my experiences and my limited knowledge, then I want to help. I just wish others wouldn’t help themselves to my hard work. It may look easy to some, but writing and making a difference when you do is hard work.

Tonight, I received a really apologetic email from someone who took my cat carrier article and placed it on her blog. I had emailed her upon finding out the article had been lifted and attempted to explain how sad this makes me, others feeling they have a right to my work. But the others I have contacted within the last week (including two well-known equine vet schools) have ignored my requests to remove what was not theirs to have in the first place.

Hurricane Charlie had a blow-out

Charlie has suffered a set-back. I am not sure what happened, but he is once again open-mouth breathing, gurgling and has the feel bads. Dr. Vickie was kind enough to do a house call and he is back on Zithromax and Busperene. I have him isolated in the cat room with the vaporizer going full steam and the heater on. It breaks my heart to watch him struggle to breathe. The good news is he is eating, the bad news is, he is only eating baby food. It is a bit expensive to feed a kitten only baby food. You pay a lot for a small jar and you don’t get much in that jar. I told Dr. Vickie that I haven’t stopped the Lysine, so at least I am ahead of the game in that respect.

Sullivan was supposed to come back today, but they never showed up. I am angry about this. They said they were coming yesterday so I made arrangements for Hailey to come and pick up Madison for a week then did the kittycat shuffle trying to make room for Sully to come home. Now, it is almost 4:30 and they still aren’t here so I haven’t a clue what is going on.

Vanishing Act

I wonder what happened to Tipster? Last time I saw him (45 days ago) he was peering at me from the top of the hay bales in the hay barn. The next morning when I went to fill the feral feeders, he didn’t come running to take his place at the feeders for breakfast.

I haven’t seen him since and I have talked to neighbors and walked the road looking into the ditch to see if he might have gotten hit by a car. I did not see any evidence that he had.

He is a friendly tuxedo boy who preferred being outside in the barn instead of inside with the others. I miss his white tail tip waving a greeting to me in the mornings and his plaintive meow at night when I go out to feed.

Tip, I hope someone has adopted you into their heart and home. Perhaps, like Funny Face you found a lonely old soul and knew that you needed to stay there instead of coming home. But I miss you old friend- and Dash and Chappy call out to you. I hope you haven’t gone to see India may she RIP- I hope you are somewhere curled next to a fire with a loving human near you to see to your needs. I miss you sweet boy- and my hope is you are still purring up a storm and not in the company of the angels.