Cats and things.

I guess I was not meant to be a pet-less household.

A week after Teulu’s demise, I found myself at the local Animal shelter. I admit, I really really wanted another dog. I came very close to taking a dog home, but after walking through the kennels (Oh so sad, those doggies know how to look totally hopeful)… I forced a sharp turn to the “Kitty Condos”

Luckily there was a great volunteer who helped me to “interact” with the cats.  Back in the day I worked at an Emergency Veterinary Clinic, and honestly those cat experiences have stayed with me.  I was surprised at how none of the cats actively attempted to bite me.

I have low standards…

I met my first little lady a gray and white 2 yr old in the first cage.  I had had my heart set on an all gray cat, but there were none to be found, and really, that seemed a bit trivial.  I do like the gray fur because I think it’s a little tiny bit softer and different.  That settled, I went on to look for my second feline friend.  I was all for another gray and white one, but was told the one that I had seen on the web site was actually feral.  I sort of thought, oh maybe she’s just shy… but after some discussion with the animal control officer, I realized that they really know cats, and I’m totally not a “Cat Whisperer”. I strolled about the back area and none of the cats really appealed.  I then went back to the “Condos” and on impulse decided to look at all the cats…the second cat started to purr as I opened the cage door…. I was sold… I mean, that was definitely “the cat”

So I took them home, I had 2 cardboard carriers and felt indeed like I had just gotten a “Crazy cat lady starter kit”the_crazy_cat_lady_starter_kit_by_kennerz27-d5wjl3i.jpg

Our shelter has a great situation right now.  For 15.00 I was able to take home 2 adult spayed cats with some food and medication (respiratory infection now gone) and vaccinations.  So I guess it was kind of a starter kit.

I was terrified that they would not get along…

SO here’s a photo of their first 10 minutes in the home…


They are not glued together, but… they are ok with each other.


This is Mavis Staples…

I will save a photo of Violeta del Rio for later…

My main observations from our first week together… Cats are not Dogs…





Teulu The Wonder Dog

Teulu the wonder dog took his last breaths last evening.  It was actually the difficult end I was trying to avoid 2 weeks ago, but I guess it’s ok.

He didn’t seem too much worse than usual when I got home.  I was mostly annoyed as my dog sitter/friend had seen fit to spray the entire house with some sort of heavily scented air freshener.  My typical pattern to freshen the air in the house is to open the doors and windows.  So all day friday and saturday I was coughing up a storm.

Saturday night we settled in to watch the Duke vs Carolina game… which apparently did not turn out too well for Duke.  In the second half, Teulu started to have what turned out to be one gigantic seizure.  Even for someone who has seen lots of people and animals have seizures, this was disturbing to me.  Especially because it went on and on and on.  He would seem to recover, and then it would start again.  I think it may have actually lasted 10 minutes, which is hugely long for a seizure.  After, he had a prolonged post-ictal phase where he stumbled all around the house, running into walls and in general not doing well.

I made the decision that this was horrible for him, and took him over to the bizarre 24 hour vet office in the next town.  The vet there has a very questionable reputation, but since we were there for a non -diagnostic visit, I didn’t care. In fact, he was very kind and gentle to my dog.  He did give some medicine that was not totally needed etc, and it may have jacked up the price, but in the end I think it was ok.  Teulu did not suffer at all, and in fact oddly wagged his tail all through this visit, until all the medications worked.

Given the horrendous seizure I witnessed, I am not really in a big depressed grieving state that people seem to imagine I might be in.  This was absolutely awful and not at all comfortable for the dog.  I know it was the right time and the right thing was done.  Mostly I feel relief that I don’t have to worry about that at all, and I no longer have to worry about him.  I will miss him, but I do not miss wondering if he was feeling good, etc…

He was a pretty good companion for so much of my life that it does feel a little bit quiet around here….



So quick update here:

Teulu the Wonder dog… is a Wonder dog.  I took him back to the Vet on Monday and he suddenly perked up..ate all the snacks in the jar (crunch crunch crunch), and made the new vet look at me and tell me, “Just take him for a nice walk” So I did.  He is a lot less active than he was in the recent past, but he is eating well, and walking fairly well and seems much happier.  What a crazy adventure that was.

Second strange thing of the week. A blast of sorts from the past.. a colleague of mine who I met and worked with in Africa, who is up north at a university contacted me to see if I wanted to take part in a survey project he had envisioned in W. Africa.  Did I?  Well yes- yes I did.  He was in town for a conference and we met up and did some work and pushed the project back to June- hoping we can find a source for some small funding.  I hate looking for funding, and this project looks to be pretty great, so I hope some turns up. First time we have ever met up when we weren’t in Africa.  Odd.

Off to the National Health Safety Network conference tomorrow.  As I am there, I will also meet up hopefully with another colleague from Nigeria to discuss funding (and since he’s a blast… have some fun too!)

Thankfully, a friend of mine has offered to look after the Wonder Dog, as I still don’t want him at the vet.  I hope she gives him a load of attention, I mean.. some days I’m barely home, but I do sleep here at night… I don’t want him to feel lonesome…

My spine situation  has improved and worsened, and improved and worsened.  The Neuropathy has been quite challenging.  I started PT and we discovered not surprisingly, I am weak and overweight!  I was able to start a new medication for neuropathy this week and so far, it seems to actually be pretty much controlling the pain- which is such a GREAT RELIEF that I no longer care if I am damaging anything.  I’ll have to see what the Doctor thinks however.

So, things humming along.  I’m worried about work- I have a lot of meetings of course in the next two to three weeks that involve a lot of presentations.

SO those are the updates.. Very brief.  But I am so happy about my wonder dog…

The other shoe

Well it dropped… kind of hard.

Teulu the Wonder dog has become ill.

Despite a lot of well meaning reassurance from my friends who are not veterinarians, I know that he is in the process of dying.

Teulu collage.jpg

It has been a decade of interesting experiences for him, he has always been cared for, and really never had a want for anything.  He knew he was loved.

I agonized over the entire situation, and spent some time in denial of what the Vet was telling me.  The change seemed to come suddenly, when I was expecting to see gradual changes. On work days this week, when I came home he seemed somewhat improved…but watching him all day Saturday made me see how he really is not improving, and honestly, is not feeling that great either.  He is very quiet, very still, eating and drinking only a little here and there, and not able to chew well (the chewing muscles are affected by his condition). He will still walk a bit with me, but only if I want to walk.  Otherwise, no interest..this from a dog who 2 weeks ago woke me insisting on a walk at 2 in the morning…

I could go all out, get an MRI, put him through Chemotherapy…but that seems actually quite cruel.  Part of the responsibility of owning an animal is seeing that they are not suffering even at the end, when we are suffering the loss.  I’d much rather lose him than think I let him live without Joy…so that I could stay in a comfortable place.

February. Waiting for the other shoe

So it’s February.  I admit, we have had winter weather blow down from the North and I’m really not enjoying it that much.  it’s in the low 40’s with a wind chill… The odd science Americans use in February to predict the weather lied!


We have had a few 80 degree days which I’ve really enjoyed.

Honestly the end of January and the beginning of February… has been crazy. All sorts of good things have been happening and thus..I’m starting to think that the other shoe is about to drop. I did actually have to investigate exactly where that idiom came from…  I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the origin of the idiom, but it makes sense.

Given my life in the past couple of years, I kind of expect…



In late January I was notified that I was one of the lucky selected to attend a training class for the National Healthcare Safety Network, at the CDC.  I spend a lot of time engrossed with the NHSN definitions of health care acquired infections, or affectionately known by most infection preventionists as simply, “The Criteria”

NHSN is extremely frustrating in one way- you can not phone them at all, ever, about anything.  You can not email a particular person with a question, and you don’t really know what it is that goes on up in Atlanta.  If one has a question they must send it to a generic mailbox and hope that someone answers the question by email.  As you might imagine this can be kind of frustrating.  I usually get answers from them, but many many of my work colleagues have either heard no reply or have gotten “The Criteria” cut and pasted into an email.  Since Value Based Purchasing  is based heavily on the data provided by use of the criteria, it’s CRITICAL that IP’s understand how to apply the definitions – so not being able to ever talk to someone on a phone is difficult.

So, the opportunity to physically be at the CDC, learn more and discuss “the criteria” in great detail with other Infection Preventionists was very appealing to me. In addition it is AT the CDC physically, so that is super duper cool… I see they have a new exhibit up at the museum abut “Defeating Ebola” I can’t wait to see it, although it is my personal opinion that while the CDC may have done fantastic work in West Africa they did a horrendous job communicating and working with hospitals across the USA. It’s been a while since I traveled for work, and I know Ill make some great connections and friendships.  Deep down I keep hoping someone will slip me a REAL email address…or phone number.

SO Woot woot!  Atlanta Here I Come!!!!  I admit, I was slightly less enthused when I realized how cold Atlanta is compared to Florida.  I need to obtain a winter coat.

Secondly, my faithful 3 readers will recall that we have gotten a new Director at the job.  She is a firebrand. She is also, however, an overwhelmed firebrand. It would seem that they dropped so much on her that she is just running here there and everywhere.  I like her, she’s demonstrated the ability to rapidly and correctly assess situations, work with difficult personalities, show compassion and kindness, and provide support.  I had not had much interaction with her prior to my surgery, but in the past two weeks I’ve to do a lot of projects with her. I completed an analysis of one lab test that we thought was being overused. It was a huge pain.  After this I started doing observations in the OR for one of the service lines.  These types of observations are kind of tough because I sit in on cases and sometimes make people nervous.  Then, I make recommendations, which tend to upset staff, management etc.  There has been a lot of finger pointing and  I never like making recommendations because it requires some deep political finesse to get everyone to want to change things, without having them think they were being accused. My Director has several times now praised me in public and is helping me make it through those political nightmares.  It has made me feel enthusiastic to actually get up and go to work again.  I almost feel out of my chair one day because she called me Passionate about Infection Prevention….You’ll remember at my old job...So, this is good, but of course, since I am in a touchy area- the OR- I am expecting something or someone to complain.  Still it feels good to be doing good work, getting feedback that it is good, and contributing.

Thirdly- my SPINE.  I saw my Doctor in follow up a week ago.  I was actually feeling very depressed because I had had a few pain free weeks and then BAM! I had started to have very intense hip/calf and foot pain.  My X-rays look great, and he spent a great deal of time telling me that most likely I would improve over time and that the waxing and waning of symptoms was typical.  He cleared me to get a deep tissue massage, and PT which I scheduled right away. I was concerned about the massage, but it seems it really was the key.  I chose Mona the marvelous. She has so much experience, and given that I still feel freshly operated on, I didn’t want just anyone… She did a pretty short massage, and I walked out pain free.  In fact, the next day I noted that my pain in my calf was reduced and the sensation was increased to that area.  Had not really had any problems with pain since.  I’ll see her in two weeks.  I start PT on Monday and I’m looking forward to getting stronger.  I have so much more energy since I’m not in constant pain, and I am finding even the difficulties of standing for 8 hours in an OR…are not really that bad.

SO… I’m just waiting for a complaint from someone who matters, or a some other thing to come rain on my parade…don__t_rain_on_my_parade_by_kiku_chan13-d4juia4.jpg




Checking in…

The Resolutions!

Eating is going along OK. I am struggling with my love of Pizza during College Basketball season.  Yes.. I know these kids are really not exactly students who like to play ball, but you know.. I love it anyway.

I’m consistently making better breakfast and lunch choices, but dinner…well…I am getting there.  My Oven gets repaired next weekend so I am pretty excited about that. I will then be able to broil fish and make meat balls again…

Money:  I took a quick re look at all my automated deposits and upped the IRA one.  I have a ROTH, and I have yet to contribute the full amount allowed by law.  Each year I come up with about half.  I also dropped by the bank and did a transfer direct into savings.  My bank, in order to apparently comply with some money laundering laws, limits on line transfers.  Prior to the limit, I used to go in to the online account and transfer money will nilly.  It helped me to save a lot as once my money gets into a savings account I tend to forget about it.  Now, I have to remember to go to the ATM and do it…inconvenient, and I’m never going to just pop by there to transfer 15.00.

Volunteering: I finally signed up with “Hands on Orlando” which looks like it has some activities that I can do.  Packing hygiene kits for our sizable homeless population, and sorting donations of blankets and stuff.  I was kind of torn when they asked “Are you disabled”  No, I am not disabled, but I really can’t be lifting 50 pound boxes either. I checked no, and we will see.  I don’t see anything for dates that I can do in February yet, but I hope to get some friends to join me!


I am making progress.  The slowest progress ever.  I really understand why people dislike going to the gym.  When you ‘re out of shape, it really sucks. 10 minutes on the elliptical is like an eternity.


And the WORST part of this, is KNOWING how bad I suck at everything.  The humiliation continues in that it is January, I feel like a January-ist…


That said. I am working at things.  My radiculopathy is still kind of nutty.  Comes and goes, but it is staying away longer, and I can do more without firing it up.  I’m starting to feel some endurance.    I do feel like I will be able to run races again. I’m still pondering what about running… What will it mean to me?   How will it be?  Will I be able to put in 40 mile weeks, or will I have to be content with 25? Will the remaining nerve problems cause big or little problems?  Could I run Comrades?  Will I be able to really LIFT weights again? It’s kind of an unusual place to be. I’ve been so worried about running again, that I never really thought beyond “Can I run”.  Now, I realize that yes that will be possible, I’m smacked with the reality that it is going to be quite different. I won’t be able to just pick up where I left off.  All that, it’s still a pretty good feeling. I find myself smiling a lot more as I feel a lot of hope.

Work.  O.M.G. WORK.  We have a new Director. She is a dynamo. This is good and bad.  I really like her, and she is pushing me (and everyone) in different directions. Often it’s a little uncomfortable. So I’ve been actually pretty stressed at work.  Add in everyone else on my team feeling stressed, and it’s a bit of a pressure cooker.  I do hope that we can move beyond the stress… but I think if I can learn some new skills, and get over the initial uncomfortableness, we might be able to achieve even better results for the patients.  So for the past two weeks I think I’ve averaged like  55 hour work weeks, which I really dislike.  The new director is a slow mover and takes her time making decisions. She clearly wants to change some things, but so far has been unwilling to do it. At this point 5 months in, I wish she would implement some of the changes as we aren’t all proverbially holding our breaths.

So… we shall see… 2016 is going to be a very interesting year. How is your year moving along?

So how are the resolutions…and my Spine coming along?

Actually pretty well.

I’m eating more correctly. Not perfect yet, but it is improving.  The trick for me with the sweet tooth and sugar is to decrease it gradually until I stop craving it. So, I’ve been doing things like drinking chocolate milk as “dessert” at work. 15o calories, sweet and is milk with calcium which I desperately need for my spine fusion. Lots of salad, i’ve even “cooked” two crock pot meals so I’ve eaten at home a lot more this week, an even brought some left overs to work, so I’m pretty pleased.  I’m going to do another meal in the crock pot this week, and I am thinking about branching out into trying to make a carrot ginger soup.  So, feeling pretty good about this one. I’m not ruling out sweet all together, I just found a coupon for buy one and get one free sundae at Culvers, sooooo yes I’m going to take advantage of that with a friend.

Exercise is coming along well. We’ve had a cold snap so I have stopped any pool walking.  It’s too cold, and it wasn’t that great exercise anyway.  I’m feeling stronger and am seeing improvement in my heart rate and stamina. I was smart enough to take a complete rest day this week as we had hospital inspection week so I was standing and walking ALL day…and so so tired.

I have not done a thing about my Money, but I did finally stop by the club house to discover that they had issues with printing the coupon books for the HOA, so NO one got their coupon book.  So not late on that payment at all. I am going to the bank tomorrow and I’m going to at least move some more money into saving accounts.

Volunteer:  have not done a thing.  Must investigate.

And return to running.

My back/leg is improving. It isn’t perfect at all, but it is slowly getting better. the symptoms I have are more manageable.  It gets a bit crazy from time to time, but I do see it improving.  I am starting to think more and more and more about running…and wondering what running will look like for me after all of this.  People who don’t know me well have asked “Are you glad you did it”  HA ha ha Ha.  Those that watched me deteriorate weekly after injury have never asked this question.  But yes…. I AM glad I had the fusion done. I can walk now for hours…take care of relatively simple house tasks, and sit around and chat with folks for hours.  I am still struggling with not being able to bend much, or lift much, but my life is dramatically improved.

Hope everyone else has had a positive, calm start to the New 2016. Keeping your resolutions or have you pitched them to the wind?