Friday, August 1, 2014

A Few Things About Cardiac Catheterization I Learned This Week

My mother called last week to say that she had been having some odd back and elbow pains and decided to go to a cardiac doctor to have it checked out. They did a series of tests and the doctor said she had a blockage. He wanted to do a cardiac catheterization aka heart cath to clear it out, and said she would wear a nitro glycerin patch.

When she called to tell me about it, she said it wasn't going to be a big deal and wouldn't take more than a half hour. She didn't want me to drive up there just to drive her home from it, so she had arranged for my cousin to drive her there and back. I didn't really know what a heart cath was and asked some online nurse friends how serious it was and if I should go anyway - although I really didn't need to be away from home just then. They told me to go and I'm glad I did. What I realized after it was all over is that I also should have asked exactly what a heart cath is. Turns out, it wasn't just a procedure to clear the blockage.

It's possible the doctor explained it thoroughly to mom and she only heard "not a problem" and "will clear the blockage" which shows why it is important to have someone with you at the doctor's office, or at least have a tape recorder. It's hard to remember a lot of information, complicated information, especially when the news causes some anxiety.

What I have learned since then is that a heart catheterization, a tube inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or leg and pushed through to the heart, is generally used to show the exact location and amount of plaque in the blockage and to determine the type treatment needed. Most of the time, the cath tube is used again immediately afterward to perform an a balloon angioplasty or stent. If the doctor mentioned that part to mom, she didn't hear it. What she does remember him saying is that if a stent was needed, they would do it in a month because he wasn't licensed to perform stents and his partner, who was licensed, was out of town at the moment, but the stent wasn't necessary because her doctor was going to treat her blockage with a patch.

So bright and early Monday morning, or actually dark and early Monday morning, we drove to her local hospital where they prepped her and left her for a couple of hours before the procedure. When they finally took her in around 7:45, I left the hospital to grab some breakfast. Since she wasn't able to eat breakfast, I skipped it too, although I had taken my morning pills which were now beginning to feel like they were burning a hole in my stomach. Twenty minutes later I was headed back to the hospital when they called and said the doctor wanted to talk to me. Turns out, he found two small blockages, and had given mom the choice of doing the cath over again in a month to put in stents, or send her to Amarillo in an ambulance and do it that day.

By then she just wanted it over, and didn't want to make me come back in a month, so she decided to go to Amarillo. The doctor said they would do it as soon as she got there. Turns out, that part wasn't quite right. They managed to work her in at 7:30 that evening. In the meantime, she had to lay flat on her back, without moving the leg with the catheter in it, and without food or water. By 7:30, her back hurt, she was thirsty, and she was hungry. Another cousin, who lives in Amarillo, came to wait with me. The doctor had said it would take about an hour but it took two hours because one artery was twisted.

After she was back in her room in the CCU, she drank all the water she wanted and my cousin left to get her some scrambled eggs and a cola. With the kind of stent she had, she had to stay flat on her back for only three hours instead of six and then she could sit up. Unfortunately, the food and drink on top of the local anesthesia made her queasy and they wouldn't let her raise her head to throw up. So to add to her misery, her back hurt, she was queasy, and she had vomit down her neck and on the sheets. However, after she was finally allowed to sit up at 12:30 a.m., the nurse changed her clothes, sheets, and gave her a sponge bath.  And then we both finally got to sleep, or doze between nurse visits and beeping machines.

So here are your tips before you or your loved one has a heart cath:
1) Take someone with you to the office visit and write down everything
2) Ask what he will do during the heart cath
3) Ask what he will do if he finds a blockage, and if he doesn't plan on doing something then, find another doctor
4) Ask how long after the heart cath he will do the next procedure so you know how long you have to wait flat on your back
5) Drink sparingly after the procedure, especially if it has been a long time since your last drink, and save the caffeinated beverages for later
6) Eat sparingly also, something mild like a few crackers

But mainly, eat healthy now and avoid this procedure. That said, you want to know what mom wanted to eat immediately after we got back home? A milkshake and hamburger. Ay yi yi.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ten Reasons Why The Dog Must Go

Today I'd like to welcome a guest blogger, Buddy The Cat. After reading my last few posts, he would like equal time to express his point of view.

In the last few days, I have been much maligned by the writer of this blog, and I just want to say that my actions and attitude are in the best interest of my family. And the best interest of my family is NOT to have a dog, not even temporarily. Why, you ask?

Number one: dogs are noisy. They bark all the time for no reason at all, and this one can't even tell the difference between a predator and a dishwasher door. (Yes, she was barking at the dishwasher today.)

Number two: dogs stink. Even when they bathe themselves, they still stink. In fact, it is my professional opinion that dogs smell worse after bathing themselves than they did before. The other day, mom and dad gave this usurper a bath in the yard. Afterward, the little mutt did smell a little better, and what did she do? She immediately started rolling on the ground and licking herself. And now she stinks again. Falling into the pond may have something to do with her current smell, and I want to say again that I am innocent. It is hardly my fault if she followed me to the one wobbly rock on the edge of the pond where I demonstrated my uncanny ability to bend over to the water without falling in. I think she would have drowned if mom hadn't reached in and pulled her out. (Note to self: try that again when no one is around.)

Number three: dogs are destructive. This little pest has only been here six days and she has already broken my food dish, and destroyed some of mom's flowers. Sure, I like to crawl into the tall flowers and be the invisible mighty hunter, but I don't trample EVERY single flower in EVERY single flower bed. Dogs have no sense of restraint.

Number four: dogs are too compliant. Their willingness to do anything a human asks does nothing to keep humans on their toes. A cat's recalcitrant attitude is not only accepted, but expected by humans. So much so that the occasional obedience is praised as something extraordinary and rewarded handsomely. In the last few days, I've kept up a low growl and avoided both dog and mom and dad. But when I've stopped growling long enough to rub their legs, I've gotten more cuddles than I have had in weeks.

Number five: dogs eat too much. Oh sure, I don't have to eat the dog food, but that is part of my plan to starve her out of here. I have eaten enough dog food in the last six days to feed a clowder of cats. The stuff tastes terrible too, but I'll suffer through for the good of my family.

Number six: dogs poop too much and they don't know how to use a litter box. Seriously, these beasts have no manners. They do their business wherever they happen to be the moment the urge strikes. It's slovenly behavior and causes more work for mom and dad. Plus, I have to watch where I step now. How uncouth.

Number seven: dogs are expensive. This puppy has only been here six days and already mom has spent over fifty dollars on food, toys, and vet bills. When I came here, it only cost.... ok, scratch that. She's not more expensive yet. But it could happen.

Number eight: dogs have no respect for personal space. That thing is always underfoot, always in front of the gate or door, and always in my face. I have done my best to try to teach her to keep her distance, both for my safety and for that of my family. And what do I get? Reprimands. It's frustrating to see how gullible my people have become. A cute little puppy licking their toes now is a full grown monster with paws on their shoulders and jaws around their necks in just a few months. I have to protect them. I alone have the razor sharp weapons and lightning fast speed to combat this evil.

Number nine: dogs can't purr. Everyone knows that purring is relaxing, both for the cat and the people - as long as they keep scratching my chin and ears. The best dogs can do is wag their tails. Yeah, like that's unique.

Last and most important, number ten: this is war. There may be a truce from time to time, but it is only for planning strategy. Every time I am crouched and ready to spring when she walks by, mom tells me to "be nice" and spoils my timing. There is no being nice in war. It's a fight to the finish and I refuse to give any more ground. That dog already has my food bowl (or had), my carrier (not that I want to be in it, I just don't want her in it), my favorite napping spots, my kitchen bed, and my people. I very carefully groomed these people; they're mine. There is only one acceptable outcome, so watch out dogface.

Sincerely, Buddy T. Cat

Friday, July 18, 2014

Puppy Needs a Name

I have to keep repeating that we are not keeping her, but she is really growing on me.

I took her to the vet's office and found that she doesn't have a microchip. I also called all the local animal shelters and SPCA and no one has her on their lost dog list. I put up flyers at several vet's offices and will take more Monday if we still have her. The vet's office gave me the name of a couple who have a dog rescue and training. I left my name but so far haven't heard back.

Buddy the cat did give Puppy her first lesson in personal space boundaries this morning. From the amount of blood accompanied by squealing and running off the deck, I thought Puppy must have quite a gash on her nose, but when it quit bleeding, I couldn't even see it. It wasn't anything that a scrambled egg didn't make better. Of course when I put the egg in the bowl, the cat ran over to eat it. He nibbled it, but not being a big fan of scrambled eggs, I think it was just to show dominance.

My neighbor had given me some dog food, but the Puppy wasn't really interested in it, so I bought a collar, a couple of toys, and some puppy food. But I completely forgot we were almost out of cat food. Poor cat.

I wanted the collar so I could take the puppy on a leash into the vet's office, but the puppy wanted no part of the leash. I ended up putting her in the carrier and just taking that into the office. When we got back home, all the puppy food I had poured in the bowl was gone. So I put more in and the cat rushed over to eat it. Aha. So that's what happened to the first bowl of food. The cat emptied the dog bowl three times today. At this rate, that is going to be a very fat cat.

After dinner, Hubby tossed a pizza crust on the deck. Both the cat and dog ran for it and each reached for an end. There was a standoff for a minute, until the cat decided it was something he didn't want, and the puppy ran off with it. I know, puppies shouldn't be eating pizza crust, but other than scrambled eggs, it's the only thing she has shown any real interest in eating.

I still can't figure out why anyone would dump this puppy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Still No Calls for Puppy

She is getting used to us now and not as timid as she was yesterday. We were going to put her in the courtyard overnight to keep her safe from coyotes, but she started crying, then barking, and then howling, so we put her in a crate in the office. When I opened the crate gate to let her out, she backed up and wouldn't come out. I finally had to tilt the crate so she had no choice except to come out.

I couldn't leave Puppy out while I was gone (I was scribe to a judge at the quilt show), so I had to put her back in the crate. I hated to do it, but it was beginning to rain and we no longer have a dog house. I turned on the air conditioner and Hubby said she was fine when he got home. Very glad to get out of the crate though. He played with her awhile and then noticed Buddy watching intently from his window seat, so he decided it was about time to let them get acquainted. He thought the puppy would run over to the cat to play and immediately get a kitty slap. But apparently the puppy has been around cats before and she kept her distance. Buddy didn't attack the puppy either, which is kind of odd because he usually goes after dogs in our backyard. So maybe there is hope that we don't have to have one of them cooped up at all times. Of course Buddy pretended to ignore the dog and went over to eat her dog food and drink her water.

Don't get me wrong, we're not keeping this dog even if no one claims her. The breed is too high energy for us, plus she is either trying to herd me or trip me, I'm not sure which. But it's hard to walk across the backyard with her darting in front of me.

I am going to contact some catahoula rescue groups tomorrow. It would be nice if someone had a yard where she could be safe so she wouldn't have to spend time in a crate.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We Found a Puppy

This little pup was sitting on the side of the road when we left for an appointment this afternoon. We stopped but couldn't get it (turned out to be a she) to come to us, kind of unusual behavior for a puppy we thought. They usually go right up to everyone they see. Then I retrieved a bottle of water from the car and started pouring it on the ground and she came bounding over. So we took her home, put her in the backyard, and left again.

And yes, Buddy the cat was out when we left.

When we came home, Buddy was waiting for us in the driveway and none too happy. Not only was that dog in his backyard, but it was eating his catfood out of his bowl. So we put Buddy in the garage and let the puppy have the backyard to herself while I made up some flyers and posted them along the road.

It's been about seven hours since we found her but no one has called and we haven't seen anyone driving slowly around the neighborhood like they were looking for her. I even went to some of the neighbors I thought might have a new puppy and they all said it wasn't theirs. I sure hope she wasn't dumped out here. I think she's cute and has obviously had some training, like not to jump on people and not to try to come in the house. She was not trained where to go to the bathroom though and deposited one right on the deck inside the gate.

Buddy hopes she wasn't dumped out here too. He did not extend the paw of welcome to the puppy. More like the claws of objection. And now he is on his shelf watching the puppy out the window. Tomorrow should be interesting.