The Greek Pride two weeks in

The teenager and I are fostering a batch of feral kittens for FURR, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. They need socialization before they can find forever homes and they are too young and friendly (4 months) to be candidates for Trap, Neuter, and Return/release.

Today marks two weeks since our Greek Pride entered our home— we named the kittens after Greek Gods: Apollo, Artemis, Hades, Hermes and Zeus.

Week one was rather hectic because they are passing around an eye infection and sneezing, and while trying to medicate them I got bit and required a 4-day, 3-night hospital stay.

And upon discharge, the kittens and I were all taking amoxicillin.

Cat bites— and in my case, one tooth from one 3-pound kitten punctured my finger and forced bacteria into my tendon sheath (I think that is what the doctor said)— have a 50% chance of infection, even if they are your pets and have been a part of your household for years, versus a dog bite which stands at 5-10%.

Luckily cats don’t usually bite. I was poking one in the eye and restraining its claws when it bit me.

I was applying eye cream.

With all the antibiotics and eye cream I’ve put on this crew— with the teenager’s help—trust building has been a back and forth process.

Here are some photos from this morning’s breakfast:

They have their own page on my site here: The Greek Pride

I uploaded a lot of YouTube videos today, including a real appearance of Hades, the black cat. This is the whole playlist: Greek Pride YouTube playlist.

Animals and astrology

Today was hard. In ways I didn’t expect.

It didn’t start that way as it started with all five FURR kittens from the Greek Pride coming to eat at the same time!!!

Starting with the black cat and moving clockwise: Hades, Apollo (you can’t see his head), Zeus, Hermes (not quite at the bowl) and Artemis

That was super exciting as the exclamation points denote.

I indulged in the self-care that usually helps, but instead I feel worse. Went for a walk. Still in a bad mood. But Sobaka followed me home and refused to leave my side.

So I indulged in stress eating, and that didn’t help.

My horoscope didn’t help as several different astrology sites, including my favorite astrology app Co-Star, warned me things wouldn’t be easy.

Of course, there has to be a reference to Fire/Mars. A friend I recently alienated is a Fire sign and oh so Mars.

So I tried retail therapy— and this was a totally stupid move because:

  1. I don’t have any income right now and my savings will only cover two months living expenses.
  2. I paused my Ipsy subscription yet I ordered cosmetics.
  3. I not only ordered cosmetics but I ordered Goth cosmetics so I’m probably not going to be able to pull off the look.

But in my defense, I ordered $60 worth of cosmetics, but found a 20% off discount code, and paid $5 shipping for a total of about $55. And I qualified for a $5 American Express statement credit for supporting small business.

I sent the teenager this photo to select a red lipstick for herself

That merely made me feel guilty.

And, as my last effort to revive my spirits, I walked down to Darnell’s house for a business meeting— both for Thrive Public Relations and for Aspire to Autonomy.

I brought the teenager along to meet The Household Dog.

Here is the two of them: The teenager and Baby Boy (video)

The energy of working with Darnell, Amber and Melanie (all members of the Aspire team) revived my energy. Darnell even invited me to stay for a fish sandwich but the teenager needed me to come home and med the kittens of our pride.

Then, she left for her dad’s and I came upstairs to share dinner with my cockatoo, Nala. She was super bratty and bitey so I put her on the floor. I was losing my temper.

And she walked to the budgie cage. Climbed it. Pulled out the newspaper on the bottom of the cage…

And pooped!

I’m about to continue on with my evening, but I had to give the animals credit for making me smile.

The disappointing nature of the human race

The pandemic. Unemployment. And a host of social issues that start with our federal government and cascade down to our neighborhoods.

It sounds like I have a bowling alley above my kitchen, and the teenager’s bedroom smells like an animal shelter— both due to the five kittens we are fostering on behalf of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. (See their web site here.)

Our Artemis might be listed for adoption soon.

One of my peers working with FURR posted to Facebook this morning about some of the new additions to the FURR family— including two adult, declawed cats left behind when their owners moved.

It always irks me when people desert their pets when they move, and it’s bad enough when they take their pets to the animal shelter, but to just leave cats to fend for themselves… well, that is a not-nice human being.

And to find out these cats were declawed tells me the owners invested in these animals at some point probably to protect their furniture annoys me even more.

Declawing, in my opinion, is a cruel surgery. And to do that to your cat and then not even bother to take it with you when you move… I can’t even fathom!

But then I’m the one that not only took in five kittens to help get them ready for homes, but keeps working to socialize the one that bit me and sent to to the hospital for a lovely 4-day, 3-night spa vacation.

I even made sure the kitten that bit me got her next dose of medicine before I went to the ER.

Speaking of which, my family doctor is very happy with the care I received and as of 10 a.m. this morning, the infamous cat bite looks like this:

Rant over.

If you bring a pet into your home or feed a stray, be ready for the responsibility of that animal’s life.

The eye of Apollo

The latest in the saga of our foster kittens, the Greek Pride

So last night we received a new tube of antibiotic eye cream and some amoxicillin for the kittens.

Some of them were coughing and poor Apollo was coughing hard. And his eye was swollen.

Tonight the teenager and I went to feed and med everyone and Apollo’s eye wouldn’t even open. Then he sneezed and got a nose bleed. I never saw a kitten with a nosebleed before.

We were amazed at how peacefully he (we think he—our record at gendering these kittens is subpar at best) allowed us to clean his eyes and nose and feed him antibiotics.

Then he hung out at my feet and let me pet him.

Video of me petting Apollo: Apollo at my feet

Video of Apollo sleeping in the teenager’s arms

Greek Pride surprises

Well, if you know our Greek Pride kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, you know that our flagship kitten, the ringleader, the lover… Artemis… went in to be fixed last night so we could get her onto the web site for adoption.

Surprise #1: Artemis is a male. The teenager reminded me that I thought I saw a penis on that cat, or more accurately that I thought I saw the angle of hole for a penis to come out.

Regardless, Artemis is adorable.

Artemis
Artemis

Surprise #2: Artemis has what I called a “cloudy eye.” The vet said it’s a birth defect that can’t be treated. The retina and the iris are attached. It looks like a cataract.

Surprise #3: The vet had several emergencies pop up— apparently some dogs were fighting—so little Artemis didn’t get home until 1 a.m.

On the way home, we met deer in the middle of the road in two separate places and my daughter and I were trying to imagine telling the insurance company that I wrecked the car bringing the cat home from the vet at 1-something in the morning. But we did not hit any deer.

The teenager thought it might be best to sequester Artemis from his siblings until morning. The teen is already camped out on my bedroom floor to capitalize on my air conditioner so why not have Artemis join us?

By 4 a.m. he wouldn’t stop crying. He missed his siblings. So, I suppose our next job is to get him used to being without them. Perhaps it is time to let him explore the house.

Surprise #4: Apollo and Hermes have a cough. Apollo’s eye is still infected. That’s why they didn’t get neutered last night. The vet gave them antibiotics— amoxycillin. One of the drugs I was recently on. I suppose that makes sense as we all have the same infection.

And finally not a surprise… Hades will show her face more but she will not be grabbed, scruffed or cornered. Hopefully we can win her over or she’ll be someone’s barn cat.

Zeus

Manic Monday … Nan and Angel style

Second week of Band Camp for the teenager and somehow I not only volunteered to drive her and the marching baritone to the high school but I also conned my good friend Nan, my crazy blind compatriot, into breakfast before our regular work session.

So I got up at 7:10 a.m., after the teenager did all the work with the menagerie, slapped on some clothes, took my last antibiotic and headed out the door by 7:40 a.m.

The routine with Nan is simple, yet deliciously complex, I pick her up and we drive to a shady spot in the parking lot of her apartment building to peruse coupons and loyalty deals on the various apps.

Now, Nan loves chai. We both love food, the worse for our health, the better. Okay perhaps that is a joke. Maybe. It’s free coffee Monday at Dunkin. And we have coupons for $2 off a breakfast combo at Wendy’s.

I plot a plan.

I really want to try the chicken biscuit at Wendy’s. Nan and I know we love the seasoned breakfast potatoes at Wendy’s.

So, our first stop was Wendy’s. We ordered a chicken biscuit with honey butter combo, making the potatoes a medium (which honestly was too many potatoes even for the two of us) and an unsweetened iced tea. The bill was $3.70. I had $3 cash and Nan had the 70 cents.

Now, I know, that’s only breakfast for 1 person. We then headed to Dunkin for my free medium iced coffee and to see if they still have chai— you see they took it off the menu.

We got the iced tea in case Dunkin really didn’t have chai.

I used the Dunkin mobile app to order the 2 for $3 sausage-egg-and-cheese wraps because Nan likes them. They are easy to eat in the car. And then I could get my free coffee. So that was $3.18. We saved the last egg wrap for the teenager.

Then at the speaker of the drove-thru we asked if they still had the chai, and they did. We ordered a medium hot chai and a cup with ice so I could ice it for Nan. That cost $3.79, as they had to charge us for the second cup.

They total for all the food was about $11 and we had breakfast for three people.

I loved the chicken biscuit with honey butter.

Phase One of our morning complete. Nan and I returned to my house to submit some essays and strategize future creative endeavors.

And then our friend Joan joins us. Neither one of us has seen Joan in a decade. Joan is another wickedly smart and multi-talented woman, dabbling and exploring the so many ways to express the beauty of this world: short stories, photography and music.

Joan, Nan and I all met as members of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group when the teenager was still “the baby.”

A lot of my good friends came from that group.

Angel, Nala, Misty

And Joan also brought the sweetest, ripest smelling melon I have held in my arms in months. Did she notice how much fresh fruit cup I ate in the hospital?

The teenager came home for lunch break (from band camp), Joan departed and we crated our three male fosters for neutering tonight. Except Zeus looks like a girl now.

Apollo

Apollo and Hermes both still have infected eyes and coughs so we were told to bring Artemis instead since she was ready for a forever home.

I went into the teenager’s room and Hermes had escaped his crate!

I let Apollo out, and cleaned cat boxes while on hold with Capital One Auto Financing to finish my application to refinance the last 40 months of my auto loan and drop $50/month from my payment without extending the life of the loan. I owe $7,690 and some odd cents.

With my auto loan approved, I slipped sweet little Artemis into the crate. Remember if she charms you, you can apply to adopt her through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Artemis purring

On the way to Artemis’ rendezvous point, I received a phone call from Capital Blue Cross, my medical insurer. This was my second medical phone call of the day as the hand specialist overseeing my case called me to request a follow-up even though my hospital discharge instructions said I only needed to see my family physician at Medical Associates of Bethlehem.

I have that appointment scheduled for Wednesday, and now the hand specialist for the following Monday. On the phone was my case manager from the insurance company. She sounded pleased that I was healing well and on top of everything. She will call again next Tuesday.

Upon delivering Artemis and retrieving the teenager, we came home and I finally had Brussel sprouts. When I was admitted to the hospital last week I had missed them by a couple hours as part of the Monday lunch special.

Impatient inpatient insights

I left my home at 6:15ish a.m. on Monday. I was in the ER within walking distance of my home by around 6:30, blood drawn around 7 a.m. and admitted shortly thereafter. I was transferred to another hospital, arriving at 3 pm, and I haven’t left my 9th floor room every since.

It is 9:30 am on Thursday.

I had a cat bite. One tooth. Punctured my finger. 3 pound kitten.

The almost instantaneous cellulitis was scary.

The fact that it got infected is not unexpected—most people don’t realize that 50% of cat bites get infected versus 5 to 10% of dog bites.

This whole adventure taught me a lot about animals, emergency medicine and hospitals.

My favorite nurse Michelle just announced I am being discharged as soon as she can fill out the paperwork. They cultured my blood— that was those bottles I posted the other day—and nothing grew!

So now that these have come back clean, I can head home. My neighbor, Jan, little dog Sobaka’s mom, is on her way.

I have set up my follow up appointment with my primary care physician, who will be very glad to see my blood pressure has reached normal levels.

I can’t even remember what I wanted to write in this because I’m so excited to go home.

  • I drink a lot of water and also urinate a lot. If the average person urinates 2000 ml a day, I probably hit almost 3000 ml.
  • I heard a “rapid response team” code 3 times while in the hospital, once each night around 8 pm. Last night, it was in a room a few doors from mine. Seeing the red cart fly by and people streaming from every direction, including the corridor I could see from my window. It was sobering.
  • I always feel like I’ve ordered half the hospital menu and when the food comes, I’m always shocked at how little food is on the tray.
  • My blood pressure was consistently about 117/75.
  • Being in the hospital for 3.5 days allowed me to follow the routines and “get to know” the staff and the other patients. In this time of Coronavirus, I couldn’t leave my room without mask and what not and really where would I go?
  • I saw the nurses deal with several difficult situations.
  • I watched the patients walking the corridors for exercise, in their gowns and with their IV poles.
  • I loved watching shift change, and when the residents and interns gathered for rounds.

Dawn: The Big Reveal

For those who haven’t read the whole saga— I am in St. Luke’s Hospital Bethlehem/Fountain Hill because a 3-pound black kitten I am fostering managing to bite me while the teenager and I were giving her eye meds.

One of her teeth punctured my left index finger above the middle knuckle and I developed cellulitis that was spreading into my hand.

Thanks to a maceration dressing (again read the last few blog posts for details) and IV antibiotics every four hours, it seems to be calming.

Last night was not easy. Something was going on— I don’t know if it was the tropical storm or something happening with the other patients (this is the cancer floor)—and they didn’t even do basic checks on me for almost six hours.

The entire staff kept running to the other end of the floor and when the PCA did come down to this end, she apologized and ran back out again.

I was on IV meds for that time and when they came in it was business only. No chit chat.

And my needs right now are far from life threatening.

But around 7, I started to get really hot. I took my sweatshirt off and saw what I thought was the beginning of a rash.

And then I started to freak. Because I thought about the course of the day. My eyes were dry, burning and itchy most of the day. My skin had been itchy on probably 65% of my body.

I was taking an IV antibiotic from the penicillin family every 4 hours and I know I have issues with penicillin.

Was I having a reaction?

The nurse increased my fluids just in case. I have similar symptoms today.

As if that scare wasn’t enough, my dressing fell of my finger. But the nurse rewrapped it.

So I had my last bag of antibiotics at 4 am. They have no meds in the system for me today. My only meal ordered was breakfast.

It all relies on what the specialist says.

The residents turned up at 6 am. It was time for the big reveal.

The residents, “the babies” as my favorite nurse calls them, took photos to share with the doctor supervising my care. I haven’t met him.

It looks like I will be going home today.

The nurses are all amazed at how quickly “that contraption” worked. The maceration dressing works on the same concept as a hyperbaric chamber, just a lot more low tech.

Certainly much less invasive than surgery.

Random Hospital Tidbits during a tropical storm

I think I have a sense of humor

My daughter brought extra dry erase markers so we could have fun with the nurses and my care team. Yes, as the a patient with cellulitis from a kitten bite I drew paw prints all over my board.

Today was my second day in the hospital at St. Luke’s Bethlehem/Fountain Hill and also the day that Tropical Storm Isaias wreaked havoc in the Lehigh Valley.

This is the only unplanned hospital stay I have ever had and will also be the longest. My other other experience in the hospital was giving birth to my daughter.

There are only two parts of this experience that I have disliked: IVs, though I have learned to ignore them, and collecting my urine so everyone can monitor my fluids.

Everyone on staff has been kind, and most downright enjoyable and intelligent. But Nurse Michelle has been my favorite.

Michelle finally arranged all my IV tubes into a double Dutch arrangement so they don’t have to keep swapping them out on my arm. She labeled everything meticulously. Attention to detail is the perfect trait for a nurse.

The hospital has lovely old architecture and picturesque views.

I started betadine soaks today. I’m tickled that such basic medicine still works well. I also feel like I’m hanging out with Marge from the Palmolive commercials.

“You’re soaking in it.”

Old Palmolive Commercial on You Tube

The teenager stopped by so that was fun— we took silly pictures. Speaking of the teenager and silly photos, I FaceTimed my cockatoo last night.

And in the category of things that make me happy—

Checking in to the 9th floor

The charge nurse introduced herself and asked me if I had Covid or any signs of Covid. I said no. She was curious why I had been swabbed and tested for Covid. I told her that they had told me that it was required before my transfer.

She discusses this with the doctor.

Then I discovered I had been admitted to the cancer floor and anyone with Covid or Covid exposure can’t be on the floor. The patients here are all very immunocompromised.

I read the hospital menu as I want for my admissions tests. It’s torture as it is after 3 pm and I’ve had about 350 calories of food and 6 grams of protein all day. And then I see Monday lunch features maple glazed Brussel sprouts.

If you follow my blog, you may now Brussel sprouts are my favorite and I narrowly missed them. I was heartbroken.

** side note** Every staff person I have met at both of these facilities (I started at St. Luke’s Easton Campus) has been amazing.

The nurse finished most of my paperwork when a very handsome doctor strolls in, with sandy light brown hair and big eyes, swoops in to check my finger. He’s the specialist, the regular doctor and the nurse have all seen the cellulitis from the puncture/bite caused by a 3-pound kitten.

He tells me his plan for treatment—a maceration dressing. Now at first, I got this word mixed up with “eviscerate” and thought maybe they planned to make a brace of nails to poke holes in my flesh and let whatever was beneath the flesh ooze out.

The reality is far less gruesome but probably just as uncomfortable.

He carefully explained, but I’m going to summarize and share pictures. They put wet gauze around my hand, wrap it in a splint, wrap it in some soft stuff, tape it like a candy cane, put a plastic bag over it, wrap it in a heated blanket, put it in a big sling and hang it over my head.

“Ah,” I said. “The height of 2020 technology here.”

“It works,” he said.

He returned with a resident and an intern and they set to work. I love being in a teaching hospital because I learn so much.

I finally ordered some food and I meant to ask the kitchen staff if they had any Brussel sprouts left over from lunch but I forgot. I went with the beef brisket. And a sweet potato. Applesauce. Lemon meringue pie. Salad.

When it arrived, my tray only had spoons as utensils.

I have my left arm suspended from an IV pole. My right arm has an IV in the elbow. And I have to eat salad and cut meat with a spoon.

So the nurse came in for one of those routine things that nurses do, and I asked her, “Is it customary to not receive forks?”

She looked at my tray and started to laugh.

I must have looked a good tad baffled.

“It’s usually hard to get a spoon around here,” she said.

“They were saving them for me,” I replied.

Note the utensils

She found me some plastic utensils and I was able to dine more delicately. Later at shift change, the nurse and I managed to convince the night nurse that I was under doctor’s orders not to have a fork.

I should know not to joke about food as I had an NPO go into effect at midnight just in case I needed surgery in the morning.

I slept from about 1 to 4 a.m., and the resident undressed my contraption shortly after 6. The swelling had reduced, the redness gone, only one knuckle still swollen. The resident squeezed and poked and prodded but no discharge or puss oozed out.

This means no surgery!

The morning after

We will be doing another 12 hours of fluids, electrolytes and unasyn. And betadine soaks. I have noticed the knuckle is no longer swollen!