Saturday, September 29, 2018

First World Problems...

Sometimes I feel like my life is one giant problem solving exercise. As I write this I feel guilty because I know full well that in the broad scheme of things, the sorts of problems I'm dealing with are just plain trivial compared to what the vast portion of humans on this planet have to contend with.

Nevertheless, whine I will...

Sooo… I've been having sleep issues recently. Mostly my back hurts. I fear that this is due to my beloved waterbed not providing adequate support.
I've been able to mitigate the problem somewhat by putting a flat pillow under my rear end at night, and even though it makes my back feel better, it's a bit awkward - especially when I need to roll over or change position. I think part of the issue is that little Smoky loves to cuddle with me at night, and since I'm a side sleeper, one of his favorite spots is right in front of my tummy, sort of in the crook that's formed between my legs and torso.
This is all good and well, but it adds a good 15 pounds to the portion of my body that's already (ahem) the heaviest bit, causing my rear end to sink further into the waterbed.

Anyhooo… I've been pondering trying a different sort of mattress, but honestly even those ship to your home foam mattresses aren't cheap, plus... they sound like they'd be pretty hot and sweaty to sleep on. My parents have an air mattress which they love, and this seemed like it might be a good alternative, so when I saw someone listing a $2400 sleep number bed on Freecycle, I jumped at the chance.

Since I didn't want to go through the hassle of draining the waterbed and all that just to run the experiment, I set the thing up in the basement and have been sleeping on it for the past week.

First thought: Holy Moly - somebody actually paid $2400 for this thing?!? Seriously, it's basically just a bunch of layers of foam with an air mattress (well, two air mattresses, one on each side) sandwiched between.

I think if one wanted to create a DIY sleep number bed, you could pretty much buy all of the components (air mattress, foam layers, bed frame, etc.) for a few hundred bucks. You wouldn't get the fancy remote control feature, or the "wrapper" to hold it all together and make it look like a normal mattress, but um... I'm not really sure that's worth a few thousand dollars, especially since I don't have a sleeping partner who might want a different firmness.

But more to the point, I haven't found the thing to be very comfortable. I've tried all different settings, and it basically feels either saggy and unsupportive making my back hurt, or hard as a rock causing shoulder pain. And the foam layers on top are uncomfortably hot, plus they mash down over the course of the night and are pretty much useless by morning.

Sooo…. back to the waterbed I go. I think I'm gonna try folding up a blanket under the sheets in the area where I need more support, and see if that little hack won't do the trick.

In the meantime... the weather has turned cool the past few days, so I decided I'd make soup. I have a habit of saving vegetable scraps, chicken bones and the like in the freezer until I'm ready to make soup, so I went to retrieve some soup makings and....

Well, let's just say this portion of the post should be titled "Death of a Freezer." Yup, I opened it up and everything was still cool, but definitely defrosted. At first I thought maybe the plug had just come loose, but no... the power light is on, and I even tested the outlet to be sure... it's just dead. UG.

So after a night of not sleeping well on the dreaded sleep number bed, I spent the day yesterday hauling defrosted meat and other stuff out to the garbage. Grrrr…. Honestly, a lot of what was in there is stuff that doesn't really need to be kept frozen - I was just trying to extend its shelf life by keeping it in there (flour, bread, cheese, spices, etc.) So it wasn't a total loss, but still... I haven't decided exactly what to do about it yet - it wasn't a very expensive freezer, I think I paid $200 for it 10 years ago. If I do replace it I'm thinking of going with an upright model, since I'm just not organized enough to keep stuff from getting buried in the bottom of the thing when it's just one big space.

Side note here... do NOT, under any circumstances, perform a Google image search on the phrase "death of a freezer" unless you want to see some really gruesome stuff. Apparently prepositions are lost on Google, so what you get is not (as I was hoping) some funny or ironic take on the Arthur Miller classic "Death of a Salesman." No, the images you will see are more like "death IN a freezer" - and that's as much of a description as I'm gonna give you!

OK... 'nuff said, just consider yourself warned...

ANYHOW, on top of all that, I've been having bike seat issues again... so bike rides have been more trauma than fun recently, and I really, REALLY need to deal with some homeowner stuff like getting some big dead branches trimmed out of my tree before winter, and some lingering plumbing issues, and... and... and... Gah!

So I've got a bike fitting scheduled with a physical therapist who specializes in working with cyclists, and I'm hoping that she can help me sort out the bike seat issues, and I'm getting some estimates on having the tree trimmed, and I've been researching pex vs. copper pipes...

Honestly, though, I can't help but think that all of the other stuff would feel less big if I could get the sleeping thing sorted out. So I think I'm gonna focus there first. Are there any other side sleepers out there? I'd love to hear what works for you.

But... whatever else may be going on, Jasper is doing much, MUCH better. The litter box is out of the living room, and his peeing is almost back to normal - so I really don't have anything to complain about.

So tell me, how do you keep things in perspective when you are beset by problems that you know are really not that big of a deal?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Kitty Update and Thanks

Hi Guys,

OK, first of all I wanted to thank everybody for all of your kind comments on my last post. Sorry I didn't respond individually - I was a bit overwhelmed.

Long story short, Jasper managed to avoid surgery for his urinary blockage - but just by the skin of his little pee-pee. He ended up spending a total of about 10 days in the kitty hospital, and while he's not back to normal yet, he's been home for about three weeks, and is much improved. He's still sporting a crazy haircut from where they shaved him for IVs and blood draws, but he's getting back to his normal little self.

The whole process was somewhat nerve-wracking because his status just kept changing from hour to hour. It would look like he was getting better, then he'd take a turn for the worse. They had surgery scheduled three different times, but then each time about an hour before the surgery he'd manage to pass a bit of urine and they'd call it off again. It didn't help that he kept chewing his way out of both IVs and catheters despite the cone of shame, and each time they'd call me (usually at around 3 in the morning) for permission to re-insert whatever he'd pulled out. I can't help but think that all of those re-insertions of the catheter helped to add to the cycle of inflammation that's made it so hard for him to recover.

They ended up breaking that cycle by putting him on a whole slew of drugs - anti spasmodics, muscle relaxants, and pain killers. When they finally decided it was safe to send him home with careful monitoring, he was so doped up that he could hardly walk, and I seriously thought that I might lose him simply from all of the downers he was on. I was soooo thankful when he was finally off of all the drugs.

So we still have a litter box in the middle of the living room - which I'm not thrilled about.

But it does make it easier to monitor his peeing, plus it did prevent him from having any accidents on the rugs or furniture. Hopefully as he continues to improve, we'll be able to move it out of the living room and eventually get back to normal with all the litter boxes in the basement.

The other part of this little adventure that we've been dealing with is diet. The vets want him on a prescription diet. Now, I know there are mixed opinions out there on these sorts of diets - some folks say that since the prescription foods contain byproducts, it's better to just feed them an all wet food diet of premium canned and raw foods. But, since that's basically the diet he was on (except for a small amount of his brother's dry food which he'd eat if I let his bowl get empty) when all of this started, I'm following the vets' advice and going prescription. It took a while to find one that he would eat (Science Diet is blick, according to Jasper) but fortunately he likes the Royal Canin Urinary SO (but only the paté - the chunks are yucky.)

The more challenging aspect of feeding has actually been Jasper's brother Smoky. The vets said it would be fine for Smoky to eat the prescription food, but he won't go anywhere near the stuff. Have I mentioned that the Smokster is the pickiest eater on the planet? It's virtually impossible to get him to eat anything but dry food, and even there he's ridiculously picky. In fairness to the little guy, I think he has some dietary sensitivities, because when I offer him something new he usually eats it happily and then barfs it all up a few hours later.

Sooo… this is sort complicated, but Smoky's favorite brand, Evo, recently was discontinued and we'd been searching around for a replacement. The one he decided he'd eat was Blue Buffalo. That's all well and good EXCEPT that when the vets interviewed me about Jasper's diet they said they'd seen a huge incidence of urinary blockages in cats eating... you guessed it, Blue Buffalo! Oy!!!

So I had decided to take Smoky off of the Blue Buffalo since I didn't want to risk any more problems - and we'd found another brand that he would eat... which was working OK while Jasper was at the hospital. But as soon as Jasper came home, instead of being happy to see his brother, Smoky became utterly convinced that Jasper had been replaced with some evil zombified replica, and he refused to go anywhere near him.

And of course, I couldn't leave Smoky's food out because I couldn't risk Jasper eating any of it. So the little Smokster was decidedly unhappy about the situation, and he basically went on a 4 day hunger strike. Seriously, I could not get that boy to eat ANYTHING, even solid white albacore, which is his favorite treat. I was really starting to worry that I might have to haul him off to the vet too. So finally, in desperation, I tried (you guessed it) Blue Buffalo, and he happily started eating again. Whew.

But... the situation was still really difficult because Smoky is a nibbler, and every time he'd get hungry he'd have to cry for me to put food out, and then I'd have to stand there and watch him eat, and take the food up as soon as he was done... and this was like every 2-3 hours including throughout the night. Oy.

Then CatMan found a brilliant techno-solution. Believe it or not, there's a company called Sure Petcare that makes feeders for this exact situation. It's actually rather amazing, but they have this contraption that scans the cat's microchip, and will only open the bowl for approved pets. I really didn't think it would work, but amazingly it did!

Here's Smoky happily eating out of his feeder.

He still won't put his front paws on the little mat where they're supposed to go, but he doesn't seem to mind stretching a bit to get to his food. The thing wasn't cheap, but compared to the $8000 we just spent on Jasper's hospital stay, it was a bargain!

So.... my plan is to slowly start adding small amounts of a vet approved brand of dry food to Smoky's Blue Buffalo and see how he tolerates it. I'm really thankful that he's not the one that has to be on a prescription diet, because that would be almost impossible.

Anyhow, that's the news from the funny farm. Hope you're all happy and well, and enjoying the waning days of summer.