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My two favorite topics: cats and weather [Feb. 6th, 2004|05:55 pm]
[mood |irritatedirritated]

I just talked to Dr. S, the oncologist. Munch's thyroid levels are normal. He told me he heard back from Internal Medicine. They want me to get Munch tested for worms. It's highly unlikely she has them, as she is primarily an indoor cat, but it's worth checking into. They also want to try some dietary changes: first, a low-fat/low-fiber diet, then, if that doesn't work, a diet based on a unique (to Munch) protein with a single source of carbohydrate (rice or potato). Dr. S says there are many unusual proteins available these days, including kangaroo. Interesting. If a diet change doesn't work in 5-6 weeks, we could pursue an endoscopic exam with biopsy of the colon and/or cytology of the pancreatic lesion. Those tests would confirm or rule out IBD and pancreatitis.

At this point, I'm not keen to keep trying to get a definitive diagnosis unless Munch takes a turn for the worse or starts showing other symptoms. She's eating fine, pooping fine, and acting fine, except for a weekly hork.

In any case, Dr. S is going to hand off the case to Internal Medicine because none of the tests he's performed in the past 6 months give any indication of cancer.

Turning to weather, this winter has pissed me off. Every storm we've had so far has been bad enough to make driving to work a real challenge but not so bad that the office closes. Icy roads have turned my 20-minute commute into an hour-plus commute. Of course, the PHBs all live in town or just a short drive away via interstate. I, on the other hand, live 20 miles from town, 15 miles of which include county highways on the open prairie, which blow closed shortly after the snowplows go by. My only hope is getting behind a plow, but that doesn't happen very often.

The PHBs also frown on employees working from home. Cuz, ya know, how do they know I'm really working?

I've decided to deal with that as follows: if the roads are too bad for me to get to work, I'll offer to work from home. If they won't approve my working from home, I'll take a vacation or sick day and not get any work done. In either case, I stay home. The variable is whether I do any work. Doesn't matter to me one way or the other.

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Munch Update [Feb. 3rd, 2004|06:38 pm]

We just got back home with Munch. Here's what we were told (they kept her all day for tests: blood, urine, ultrasound).

  • Calcium levels were up a bit, after being normal in December. But not dangerously so. No need to return to steroids unless her calcium goes higher. (The primary cause of hypercalcemia is lymphoma. Other causes include renal failure, other cancers, and hyperparathyroidism. A few cases are idiopathic, which seems to be the case with Munch.)

  • They can still see a lesion (which the doctor said is definitely not a mass) on her pancreas.

  • They didn't do x-rays on the thymic cyst because they still believe it's benign.

  • Her weight is holding steady. She has put on only about 6 ounces of the 1.5 pounds she lost last fall but at least she is not losing weight (that surprised me, as she seemed lighter, but our scales don't do ounces, so it was hard to tell; I need to buy some baby scales).

  • They are a bit concerned about her vomiting (1-2 times/week).

  • Urinalysis and glucose levels do not indicate any problems (renal failure, diabetes).

  • I asked if the increased appetite could indicate hyperthyroidism (note: this is different from hyperparathyroidism). The doctor said it could, but it is unlikely in a cat Munch's age (usually occurs in older cats). All the same, they still have some blood left and will run a T4 test for hyperthyroidism tomorrow.

What's next:

The doctor (oncologist) got an internal medicine consult and seems ready to turn the case over to them. The internal medicine doctor will look at her charts and call us tomorrow. The oncologist thinks it could be chronic pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disease. Neither are fatal but do require treatment of some kind (diet, medicine). I plan to do some research about those conditions.

Anyway, we are once again relieved that cancer doesn't seem likely.

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Winter Driving Tips for Idiots [Feb. 3rd, 2004|07:50 am]
[mood |annoyedannoyed]

It's winter here in the Heartland, and we've had snow, ice, and freezing rain over the past week. Not that I'm complaining; we got through all of December and most of January with unusually mild weather. But now that we've had some bad weather, it's time for another installment of Winter Driving Tips for Idiots.

It's possible to drive 40 or 50 mph (in a 55 or 65 mph zone) on a highway if you (a) keep a steady pace, (b) stay off the brakes, and (c) allow sufficient space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This is a simple concept that should be apparent to central Illinois drivers, but many of you forget these principles from year to year.

Like the white-knuckled Nellie who cruises along a two-lane state highway at 20 mph, tapping the brakes every few hundred yards. That causes the other drivers in line behind Nellie to tap their brakes, which can lead to slipping and sliding. (Well, it doesn't cause me to use my brakes, as I'm hanging back about 8 seconds from the vehicle in front of me, but the idiots ahead of me are almost kissing bumpers.)

Or the jerk who tailgated me the other evening as I drove 50 mph down a dark, slushy two-lane county highway. I'm sorry you have a small dick, dude, but riding my ass isn't going to magically increase it by two inches, nor will it get me to speed up if I believe that conditions do not warrant it. If you think your rear-wheel drive sedan can handle the roads better than my AWD Forester does, feel free to pass me. If you slide off into the ditch, I might call 911 for you, if I'm feeling charitable.

And speaking of AWD (and ALB), having a vehicle with those features doesn't mean you can drive like the pavement is dry. You still need to exercise caution. The fact that I see plenty of SUVs in the ditch suggests that many drivers haven't realized this simple truth. On the plus side, you just can't put a price on the pleasure of seeing some soccer mom sitting in her SUV in the ditch.

Finally, if the weather is really bad, stay home unless you have a good reason to be out, and leave the roads to those who know how to drive.

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Fretting About Munch [Feb. 3rd, 2004|07:35 am]
[mood |worriedworried]

For the backstory, see The Continuing Saga of Munch.

I have an appointment today to take Munch to the U of I Small Animal Clinic for a checkup. We were last there in early December, when we found, to our delight, that Munch's calcium levels were normal. However, Dr. S noticed a slightly enlarged thyroid. Since Munch wasn't having any other problems or symptoms, Dr. S said to bring her back in 2-3 months for another look-see.

But I'm a little worried because Munch lately has been showing some symptoms of something: increased appetite and thirst, excessive grooming, a little grouchier than usual, and she hasn't regained the 1.5 pounds she lost last fall, in spite of her increased appetite. Also, she's been vomiting a couple of times a week -- undigested food, not hairballs.

Therefore, I decided to take her in now rather than waiting another month.

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What I Am Doing on Super Bowl Sunday [Feb. 1st, 2004|06:11 pm]
[mood |mellowmellow]

Nothing related to the Super Bowl, I assure you. The Joint Filer went over to a friend's house with a pot of my famous Texas-style chili, leaving me to the house and the cats. Which is fine by me.

I did a lot of cooking today: besides the chili, I made a cheddar-crusted apple pie (new recipe -- not bad!) and got a jump on dinner for tomorrow night by slow roasting a pork loin. Tomorrow after work, I'll add the veggies and make the gravy. For lunch, I made Cuban black beans and rice.

My mother just returned from Florida and brought back some fresh strawberries. I went to her house to pick up the berries, but I left them in my car and they froze. I thawed them, but they are mushy, so I think I'll make a pie from them. I found a recipe for strawberry custard pie that looks pretty good.

I went to the bookstore today and picked up a couple of things to read. The first was The Seven Myths of Gun Control by Richard Poe. I'm about one-third of the way through. My impression is that it is John Lott for Dummies, which is fine by me; I've looked through Lott's book and was put off by all the statistics.

I also bought The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Undermined Women.
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Well, here I am [Feb. 1st, 2004|05:40 pm]
I just want to see if this works, so don't expect anything profound.
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