Here We Go Again

Y’all know I love cats and that we’re a multi-cat family; a few of our furry kids make regular appearances here. However, y’all don’t know how we became a multiple cat family. It wasn’t by design and we’ve never gone to a shelter/animal rescue to adopt a cat. We haven’t had to; the cats find us. My family “blames” me; they say I have a “cat gene” that attracts cats. While it may not be due to a gene exactly, cats do like me and will frequently seek me out.

Meet Smokey

Kenn and I recently spent a couple of an hours at a nursery researching varieties of Japanese maples. Smokey, the cat shown above, belongs to the nursery owners. According to them, she’s an old lady who is half blind and hard of hearing. However, she could see well enough to spot me across the parking lot and make a beeline to me. She allowed me to pet her before she walked away only to come back for a little more attention. Much to Kenn’s dismay, she wouldn’t have anything to do with him, LOL. She also wouldn’t let me photograph her from the front.

For a while we were members of what we called “The Cat of the Year” club. Every year, usually in June or July, another cat would show up. I rescued a kitten in the church parking lot where it had apparently hitched a ride in the engine of someone’s car. We found another in the middle of a busy road – after straddling him with our car. Fortunately, our CotY membership seemed to expire after a few years. For now, we have an aging clowder with ages ranging from 3-14. Or, that was the age range until last week.

My coworker and I were in the woods getting dirt for a research project when she stopped and said, “Is that a cat?” I listened and yes, it was a cat – a kitten to be exact – and it was yelling for us. We both dropped our shovels and went searching. Not too far from where we were working I saw a small calico face peering out of the brush. It didn’t take too long to coax her to me.

Shortly after the rescue operation

The fact that this baby was friendly in spite of being terrified means one of two things: That section of the agricultural center isn’t far from a road, so she either wandered across the road, got through the fence and got lost or, someone dumped her. Either way, she knows people.

Kenn wasn’t working that day and since we live near the agricultural center, I called and asked him to bring a carrier which he did – all while grumbling about another cat. I assured him that I just wanted to take her to the vet to make sure she was okay and then find a home for her. While my coworker and I were waiting on Kenn to arrive, other coworkers wandered by. At least two said they would have just left her in the woods. Y’all, I am just not wired that way and neither is my co-rescuer. (She has already rescued two other kittens this year.) I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I had left her in the woods.

Kenn and I took her to the vet the next day. She got a clean bill of health and her first kitten shots. The funny thing is, neither of us, not even Mr. Oh-no-not-another-kitten, have even talked about finding her another home. We just added her to our clowder. Yep, Kenn’s as big a sucker for a cat as I am even though he tries to hide it. So, everyone meet Roxie!


Do you have any pets? If so, are any of them rescues?

Listen to Me!

I have been suffering from recurring upper right quadrant abdominal pain, nausea, belching, and gastrointestinal symptoms that I won’t detail for at least a decade. After numerous trips to my general practitioner, in 2018 he decided we needed to look into possible gallbladder issues. Me being me, I researched gallbladder issues and, lo and behold, my symptoms checked all of the boxes. I felt a sense of relief since, at the time my tests were scheduled I had been sick for a month with a low-grade fever having joined the list of symptoms above. My blood work was normal, an abdominal ultrasound showed no gallstones, and the results of my HIDA scan were on the low side of normal. So, with no answers, life as normal – with frequent flare-ups – continued.

Fast forward to 2019 and another month-long flare-up with additional symptoms of the “if you have these symptoms, please see your doctor immediately” type and I returned to my general practitioner. The nurse practitioner scheduled me for another round of tests. Once again, my blood work was normal and my abdominal ultrasound showed no gallstones. There was no HIDA scan performed. While I’m not big on unnecessary tests, etc. I felt like I wasn’t being listened to. Maybe it was because the nurse who performed my HIDA scan warned me that it wasn’t uncommon to have to have more than one; she had had two. Maybe it was because I had been having the same symptoms for years and was no closer to an answer.

I continued to have frequent flare-ups and Kenn encouraged me to go back to the doctor. My response didn’t make him happy. I told him that I wasn’t going to go back to the doctor because I didn’t feel like they weren’t listening to me; I told him that when my symptoms got bad enough to send me to the ER, maybe someone would take me seriously.

It’s now five years since my original tests and my symptoms have done nothing except become more frequent. I can go weeks with only minor abdominal pain, etc. and then I’ll go through weeks of being sick (complete with low-grade fever). The last week of March and the first week of April of this year were two of those weeks and I had a couple of nights where I thought it might be time to make that trip to the ER. Kenn, bless his heart, has continued to harass – I mean, encourage – me about going back to the doctor.

I had done a little research and determined that if I were to talk to a doctor again, a gastroenterologist would probably be my best option. Since I am due for my once-every-five-years colonoscopy, I already had an appointment with my gastroenterologist for a consultation. I promised Kenn that I would that I would raise the issue with the nurse practitioner during my visit and I did. And, she blew my mind. I expected to have to make another appointment at a later date to discuss my ongoing issues since they are unrelated to my colonoscopy, but… no. She spent another ten to fifteen minutes talking to me about my symptoms, my history, and what tests had been done when. I left her office with appointments for a new abdominal ultrasound, another HIDA scan, and an EGD to rule out an ulcer or anything of that nature since one has never been done. I don’t know what the tests will find but it is such a relief to finally feel like someone is listening to me and not acting like being miserable is no big deal.

I understand that my gallbladder has a function to perform, even if it’s not doing it well. I’m also not an advocate of unnecessary surgery. However, I am so tired of feeling bad that, at this point, I’d like to have my gallbladder removed just to see if I’d feel better.

Have you had your gallbladder removed? If so, did your symptoms improve?

Hives and Hope

In July 2021, right before I went out of town for a few days, Kenn showed me that he had developed a few hives. We talked for a bit, but couldn’t come up with any ideas on what might have caused them. When I got back home, the hives were still an issue and were starting to worsen. He made an appointment with our GP who gave him steroids and a cream to put on the hives. No relief. Another trip to the GP resulted in no reduction in hives so Kenn was referred to an allergist. I am so thankful for the allergist; she is wonderful!

The first thing the allergist wanted to do was a full allergy test. However, that involved Kenn taking no antihistamines for seven days. He tried, but was unsuccessful. After two trips to the emergency room when his lips swelled and he had difficulty breathing, the testing was shelved indefinitely. Then began the process of finding the right mix of medications to get Kenn itch and hive free. The next couple of months were pretty miserable for him. Along the way we accidentally discovered that nylon seemed to make his symptoms worse. Do you have any idea how prevalent nylon is in clothing, etc.? Neither did we. Most of Kenn’s clothes were of the “wicking” variety which are predominately nylon. We had to replace his entire wardrobe and all of our towels and sheets, but the change, in addition to the medication, started to make a difference.

It is now 2023 and Kenn has been dealing with idiopathic urticaria, hives of an unknown origin, for almost two years. Earlier this year he was able to wean himself off of most of his meds while remaining symptom free for a few weeks. Then, the itching began again and he had to start increasing his dosages again. Thanks to a recommendation from one of my coworkers, Kenn contacted the allergist to see about scheduling an allergy test. So, last Wednesday, April 26th, Kenn had to cut out all antihistamines for seven days in order to have the test. The first couple of days were relatively easy, after that the hives, itching, and his usual seasonal allergy issues gradually worsened each day. Then yesterday, the day before the test was scheduled, he woke up with swollen lips and a number of hives. Since his lips were swollen, he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to go another day with no medication. We went to the allergist office as soon as it opened only to find that she was at a different branch. However, the admins sent her a message and told us to wait for a call back. We left to run some errands and got a call in less than fifteen minutes saying that if we could get to the other office, the doctor would work Kenn in. (Have I mentioned recently that she’s awesome?) Forty-five minutes later, we were in the office and the allergy test was underway.

This is what an allergy skin/scratch test looks like

I think we both would have cried if the test had shown that he had no allergies. It may sound wrong to be hoping to find a problem, but when that problem may lead to a better treatment for an existing condition…🤷‍♀️So, what were the results? Kenn is allergic to all three types of pollen: tree, grass, and weed. Living in Georgia means that he is exposed to all of them twelve months out of the year. Seriously. It never gets cold enough here to make all plants go dormant so allergy season here is year round. Where do we go from here? Kenn will begin receiving allergy shots in a couple of weeks; the shots are designed to desensitize an allergy sufferer to their allergens. Of course, the allergist can’t promise that the allergy shots will completely clear up Kenn’s hives, but she is hopeful. There’s a good chance that Kenn’s constant exposure to his allergens eventually became too much for his immune system to handle and it reacted in the only way it could. We understand that the shots will take time to become effective, but we are still looking forward to discovering the impact that they will have. (Oh, he also has a slight allergy to eggs and egg whites, but it’s not at the level of severity as his pollen allergy.)

Here’s hoping that you too have some happiness and hope in your week – preferably without getting “scratched” by multiple sharp, pointy objects!