Friday, November 29, 2019

season of gratitude

Hello!! Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone! We've been absent for a while, sorry about that. I've been selfish and not sharing the kitty fun with you all - how rude, I know. We are all well - let me recap some of the year.

We lost Marvin in early July. Such a tiny cat but he left a huge hole. I miss this guy, he was such a unique character. I'll always love my Marvs.

Naham has had an eventful year with his i131 radiation thyroid treatment and then diabetes diagnosis. He had been in remission, but sadly that didn't last. He's now stabilized, which is awesome. He gets a quarter unit of insulin every morning and that seems to be doing the trick. Grateful such a small dose is enough to keep him stable. 

Every year he gets more and more cuddly! 

Fluffy Nahum cuddles are the best!

We went apple picking this fall. Yum, yum, yum!!

Rose is still terrified of humans. She won't let us get near her, but thankfully she's healthy. I don't know what we'll do if she ever gets sick, I just hope that never happens! She's still as adorable as can be, just have to admire from a distance!

look with your eyes, not your paws!

Theo is very much still Theo! This cat has the biggest personality. He's still as crazy as ever, although he's taken to tummy rubs now. Every morning he sits on the table waiting as patiently as he can manage. Buddy taught him the art of tummy rubs, he's been liking them more and more! He doesn't relax like Buddy did, but Theo is way more uptight than Buddy!

Theo, always ready to lend a helping paw...

I am very grateful to have discovered kayaking at my local happy place, Grafton Pond. The kayaking season ended with an incredible sunrise. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. Such an amazing gift, a perfect way to close out the season. I hope to return in the winter to snowshoe. These photos don't have any special filters or processing.

It was perfectly still and I was the only one on the pond.

Pierre has settled in nicely. He still doesn't let us touch him, but he's acclimated to indoor living quite well. Of course he loves his papa more than anything!

Pierre and Oliver, forever cuddle buds!

He looks so soft!!

I've been a counselor now for over 15 years and my long standing dream was to start offering equine assisted therapy with my clients. My dream came true this year!! I connected with an amazing equine therapist person who owns this amazing nearby farm. I was able to bring a few clients over and start working with the horses. It was so amazing and so fun! I can't wait to do more when spring rolls around.

Oh Vermont, you are so beautiful!

Xanthus and Sunshine
Seeing Sunshine, a 7-pound cat, be so chill around Xanthus, a 1,500-pound horse was quite the sight. It gave me a picture of what living with complete security and self-confidence looks like. I often feel more acquainted with insecurity and fear.

photo courtesy of Meri

I can't believe I get to work in such a beautiful setting!

I've been spending more time and energy this past year helping my parents. My mother is nearing late-middle stage dementia. She's more easily confused, agitated and struggles to recognize people she's known for most of her life. My dad is her chief caretaker but he's struggling with a lot of challenges as well. So, attempting to caretake them has kept me busy and stressed. It's also been a gift, because the reason we moved back to this area was to be nearer to them to be able to help them as they need it. Thankfully, as mom's problems keep getting worse, dad is getting more open to receiving help.

Oliver is a dream! He's so lovely and sweet. Most nights he waits until Theo and Nahum are asleep, then he sneaks into the bedroom, jumps up on the bed, and cuddles in with me for the night! He purrs and purrs. I wake up and delight in his warm, loving presence. Cuddling with this guy is the best!

He's often found sleeping upside-down.

no more!
After making a handful of offers on various houses and not getting any of them, we decided to pause the house search. It was a difficult decision to make, because this apartment is so tiny. The search was keeping us waiting to live until we moved, we realized waiting to live is not living. So, we'll be staying in this place for a bit more, which also gives us more energy to help my parents. Thankfully the cats seem to be settled here too, although Nahum and Theo still pick on Oliver, which makes me sad.

Laura made a lovely portable Thanksgiving feast to share with my parents. I realized it's probably the last Thanksgiving meal I'll have with mom where she recognized who we were. That was sad, but it was also lovely to spend the holiday with them as they shared old stories.

All in all, it's been a blessed year as we continue to settle in. I hope it's been a year of great blessing for you! Thanks for continuing to follow along!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


We received good news today from the Internal Medicine Specialist at Tufts. We've been sending her Nahum's blood glucose numbers and today she declared that Nahum is officially in remission for his diabetes! Yah!!!!

He still gets the nasty OM weight management food that he hates. He needs to drop some weight which will also help with the diabetes. Meanwhile, he got his sporty Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitor applied today. I was worried he might scratch at it and be annoyed by it but he acts like he doesn't even notice it's there!

It makes getting his numbers really easy, I just wave the reader over the sensor and get an instant number. We are collecting as much data as we can so we can tweak treatment if needed. The data from the reader gets transferred to software that makes nice charts and graphs.

No more insulin! No more blood glucose testing pokes!

The sensor last for 14-days. Our vet who applied it had never done one of these before but she was happy to learn. She seems worried about it staying in place, but with Nahum not bothering it, I think it will be fine. The IM Specialist said even if we only get a few days worth of data, it will be worth it. 

Hanging out with Pierre under the bed while the thunderstorm rolls through
I'm so happy that Nahum has responded so well to treatment! His personality has completely returned to his normal self! Go Nahums!!!

Theo prefers a blanket fort to wait out the thunderstorm

We learned that Theo has heart disease. We are waiting until he gets off a medication so we can test his blood pressure, that should happen next week. Once we have that information we'll have a better idea of treatment. 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

life happens now

These past few years have been some of the most stressful I have ever experienced. Many months before our move to New England in early 2018, we began earnestly house hunting for our new home in Vermont. We thought it might take maybe a few months to find a place. Two years later, after making formal purchase attempts on three different properties, each of which fell through, we decided to suspend our house search and sign another year-long lease in our tiny apartment.

We never thought it would take long to find and buy a place. We took this apartment, sight unseen, thinking it would be very temporary, so we could endure the cramped space. Our focus was on finding a place to settle into. As the search rolled on, what we found was that we were not living life - life was on hold. We were waiting to live.

In the midst of this past year, the cats have done fairly well. It took some time for them to settle but they did. 600 square feet is small space for 6 cats. The layout has a small hallway space that connects the four rooms. This poses a challenge for Oliver when Theo or Nahum are camped out in the hallway. Since Theo and Nahum both harass Oliver, he's afraid of trying to get by them when they're in the hallway. Even with such challenges, I noticed the cats were making due with what was available, they were not waiting to live but were living in the now. The cats were settled and doing ok, I was the one living in an unfulfilled future, leaving me intensely depressed and anxious.

The stress load kept increasing between Marvin's health problems, financial challenges, mom's worsening dementia, nearly non-existent family relationships, work burn-out, etc. I realized at one point that I could not change the things that were adding so much stress to my life, so instead, I needed to add something into my life that was relaxing, life giving, something that would breathe life into my soul to counterbalance the drain from the stress.

I bought a small, cheap kayak. I wanted something that would fit inside my mini-van and thus make using it super easy. The idea of a roof tie-down situation was more than my overwhelmed brain could handle. Once I had the kayak, life jacket, and paddle all I needed was to find a spot. I first tried a small lake that was too developed for my taste and too big. And then I found Grafton Pond, in Grafton, NH. This place is incredible. 300+ acre pond that is nearly entirely undeveloped. It's all in a preserved land reservation and thus gas powered motors are not allowed.

I've only explored a small fraction of the pond so far. The bottom left little section keeps drawing me back, maybe someday I'll venture out and explore other parts.

Kayak fits perfectly in the back of the van.

I've been visiting most Sunday mornings, early before many others get there. 

I love loons and this pond has many. One day I saw about 10 loons congregated together - loon fest! Floating around among the loons is so peaceful and soul refreshing. The loon sounds connects deep within my soul. If you are not familiar with the Common Loon, you can learn more at the Audubon Common Loon page. You can listen to the loon sounds on that page too, my favorite is the wail:

and the Tremelo call:

The adults both share the parenting duties including laying on the eggs in the nest and fishing. The parents use these various sounds to communicate with each other over distance, helping them find each other if they get out of sight. 

The little part of the pond I visit has a pair of loons with two babies. I first saw the babies riding on one of the parent's back, it was so cute! 

You can see why I want the telephoto camera option!

This is my favorite part of the pond, this little protected space. It's very quiet and sheltered, perfect place to float and soak in the serenity. Hanging out in such surroundings quiets my heart and feeds my soul.

Playing with taking pictures underwater.

Perfect place for morning coffee and journal writing.

The parent loons catch little fish and then deliver the meal to their babies.

Life is meant to be lived now!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Nahum's Tufts adventure

Nahum had a big adventure today! Road trip to Tufts Small Animal Hospital! An exciting 2.5 hour drive each way. He had some sedatives for the way down, so he was pretty stoned. On the return trip, he talked the whole way!

Tufts veterinary hospital is massive!! The small animal hospital was the largest veterinary place I've ever seen. They also have a number of adjacent buildings dedicated to large animal and farm animal veterinary services, as well as a behavioral clinic, spay/neuter clinic, and wildlife clinic on the same campus. One stop shopping for animal wellness!

A special cats only waiting room section was very nice! The regular waiting room was filled with dogs of every size you can imagine and even some birds. Nahum didn't care much for the dog sounds, the birds were a different story! Too bad they didn't have a bird only waiting section next to the cat only section! 

Nahum did great, as always! The internal medicine vets enjoyed him and were generous with compliments of how beautiful and well behaved he is. 

I was very impressed with the vets, Kenny, a 4th year veterinary student, and Dr. Burns, a resident internist. Both had thoroughly read Nahum's medical history in advance, which was awesome. Dr. Burns did a great job explaining what she thought was going on and her rationale for ruling out other possible conditions. We met with them for well over an hour and never felt rushed.

Windows at cat height!
The news was good. She ruled out Cushing's Disease and Acromegaly. Also said it would be improbable for him to have a brain tumor causing this. Both of his adrenal glands showed up on the ultrasound as enlarged, however she noted, a cat of his size, it's hard to know if they are just larger than normal because he's a larger than normal cat. She said there could also be a connection with the hyperthyroidism he's experienced. In the end she thinks it's just run of the mill diabetes and she believes there is very good chance we can get it in remission with weight loss and proper treatment.

She was not concerned by the all over the place blood glucose numbers. Our plan is to switch his diet to a weight loss food, so he can trim down. She also recommended we try the FreeStyle Libre - which is a temporary sensor that gets attached to him and allows for continuous glucose monitoring for 14-days, without drawing blood (no more ear pricks!) The sensor is the size of two US quarters stacked on top of each other and it wirelessly transmits the information to a reader or smart phone app. The idea is to collect a lot more data about his blood sugar levels, that way we will know exactly how he responds to food and to insulin. With that data, she can more accurately fine tune his treatment.  She seems pretty confident that we can get the diabetes in remission!

The GI tract concerns that showed up on the ultrasound have not really been showing symptoms, so we are gonna wait and see on that. Treat the diabetes and keep watching for GI upset.

let's go home now!
We are feeling a lot of relief and more hopeful after this visit. Time and money well spent.
Go Nahums!!!