Monday 19th October 2015

by chel
It's FALL!!!

It’s FALL!!!

What’s going on around here:

I know I haven’t written one of these in a while. A few things that happened:

Ginger and the Surgery:
Ginger (one of our kitties) finally had the surgery to remove the glands by her tail about three weeks ago, after being plagued by infections in that area for the last 18 months.

The surgery went very well, and we are SO, SO relieved and just… *big deep breath*. Our pets are truly part of our family in every way, so having any of our animals ill or in any kind of pain is a hugely emotional thing. It’s been a rough 18 months for Ginger, and Tom and I can hardly believe the surgery is done and she’s recovering now. We feel incredibly grateful. And Ginger’s such a *champ*- she went through all of this and no one could explain to her why things were hurting and why she kept getting better and then worse, and then she had to have the surgery and recover from that… what an amazing little kitty she is. And she never doubted us, which is amazing to me. I was so worried she’d wonder why we were doing all this to her but she just kept loving and trusting us. It’s amazing- animals are just so amazing.

One of the dangers of the surgery was that Ginger might end up incontinent as a result of them cutting out some muscle, but that didn’t happen.

The other scary part of the surgery was that when they sent the removed tissue in for testing, it might reveal the infections were due to cancer and not just an odd bacteria or just a general problem with the glands. Happily, the tests came out negative for cancer. However, Ginger did have a super weird bacteria in her tissue sample that was so unusual that the vets had to do research on what antibiotics might kill it, and then we were sent to some pharmacy in Naples to have it compounded.

Ginger was on about three weeks of those antibiotics, and they took off her e-collar about a week ago. In a few days, we’ll start taking her out of isolation (she’s been living in the back bedrooms of the house for 18 months so she could rest and heal and not have the boy cats messing with her…) and getting her back into the rest of the house.

Yay for Ginger!

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Anemia:
If you’ve been reading my posts for the last year or so, you probably have picked up on the fact that I haven’t felt great, health-wise. The truth is, I have felt completely awful for the last two or three years. Like, *really* awful. I honestly thought it was part depression and part Spina Bifida and I just had to make the best of it and keep going.

The Spina Bifida thing is always a big question mark because it’s neurological and physical, and it’s a completely individual disease, meaning everyone who has it has a completely different experience with it because it affects so many nerves, muscles, and organs. I assumed that the increased exhaustion and dizziness was just part of it. Exhaustion is sort of par-for-the-course just because things like physical balance and walking (which most people do without much effort) is difficult for me. I don’t really have muscle memory in my core or legs, so walking and staying balanced when I’m on my feet is something I have to work on as I do it. As you can imagine, that takes a lot of energy. (Ironically, I have wonderful muscle memory when it comes to swimming- I get in the pool, and it’s all automatic. It feels like I am flying.)

As far as the depression, I’ve been struggling with that all my life. It sort of ebbs and flows with how much stress I am going through – it was pretty bad in high school and college, and then it was much less pronounced after graduate school and in my adult life. But when Delilah passed away in spring of 2013, I was just devastated, and I never really bounced back. I have mentioned my struggle with Delilah’s passing occasionally, but not in much detail. I just think that there are a lot of people who are sort of, like, “get over it!” when you start talking about losing a pet, so it’s been something that’s sort of private for me.

It turns out it wasn’t depression/Spina Bifida- it was anemia.

At the end of this past summer, I felt so lethargic that I even stopped going to the movies (which is one of my favorite things to do to relax, especially in the summer) because the whole process just exhausted me- every time we’d sit down in a dark theater, I’d nod off. And the car rides to and from the theater felt like agony.

I got diagnosed with anemia and a low thyroid a few years ago, but I thought anemia was just a “whatever” kind of condition in that it makes you feel tired, but life goes on. I never realized anemia (low iron) actually means that you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your entire body, including the heart. I’m a long time vegetarian with heavy periods (sorry, TMI, but relevant info…) so every month, my iron levels have been dropping and dropping.

A week before my annual doctor’s appointment in September, I had blood drawn, and the blood tests showed the anemia had gotten much worse, and it was affecting my heart function. When I saw my doctor, she very firm about me needing to take immediate action, and when she started mentioning words like “transfusion” and “surgery” (ablation), I got the message.

She gave me three months to get my blood levels up before I have to take more drastic steps. So now I’m dutifully taking my meds and altering my diet (lots of spinach and veggies with iron) and paying close attention to how I feel. When I’m tired, I rest. When I’m dizzy, I sit down. I’m making myself get more sleep. I’m saying “no” to a lot of things because I just need to take it easy.

I know there are a lot of people out there with anemia who have very full schedules, but the combination of Spina Bifida *and* anemia is a lot. It really is. I’m only writing this because I’m tired of pretending I feel great when I really don’t. That’s been my whole life, and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m finding the more honest I am about how I really feel, the better I wind up feeling.

The iron pills seem to be helping as far as I can tell- I’m not as dizzy, I feel a bit more focused and energetic, and I find myself wanting to do things as opposed to feeling obligated to do them. We’ve been going to the movies again- and I’m not dozing off! It’s sort of baby steps.

I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic or something actually changing as a result of the pills, but I’m just riding it and seeing where it takes me.

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Home Improvement and Floors:
I don’t know if you remember or not, but back in the spring, I started talking about us redoing all our floors in our house. Then suddenly I *stopped* talking about that project.

Well, the floors my dad and Tom installed were from Lumber Liquidators. And the week after we got them in, there was a big report on 60 Minutes about the illegal levels of toxins in the floors- they were manufactured in China, and the plant was told to ignore the US regulations, so tons of floors were sent out and sold that were toxic.

And it turned out the floors we installed have super high (and illegal) levels of formaldehyde in them- the test kit that Lumber Liquidators sent verified it. *sigh* Of course, when Lumber Liquidators contacted us with the results, they said that an agent would be in touch shortly to do another test and follow up with getting them removed/replaced, but nothing ever happened.

So now we have to get the floors OUT (no more waiting around for someone to contact us) and find new floors to replace them. And we’ve got a lawyer on it, as well, because it’s never as simple as getting a refund or Lumber Liquidators doing the right thing and having someone come and remove the floors and replacing them with CERTIFIED and TESTED healthy floors.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to pick a new floor within the next few weeks, get whatever additional testing done right away, and have new floors installed. This time, we’re hiring installers so hopefully they can do the whole house in a fairly brief period of time.

I can’t wait for this to be over- what a nightmare. So much for saving money by getting discount floors and DIY 🙁

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So, anyway…
that’s kinda what’s been going on, in addition to us getting used to the new school schedule and how busy things have been. It’s also why I haven’t been online or on Facebook or posting on here very often. I plan to do a more normal “around here” post in the next few days, I just didn’t want to jam all of this in, so I decided to make an individual post with this stuff. That way, if I refer to Ginger or the floors or anemia, you’ll kinda know what I mean.

I know I say this a lot, but I’m hoping that things do truly settle down just a bit and we can all catch our breath and enjoy the fall. It’s been an interesting few months.

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I hope you have been well, and I hope you have a great week 🙂 If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading. I really appreciate it.

<3

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...comments...

  1. Meg says:

    I did read it all, and enjoyed reading your thoughts, as always. It’s just good to read about your experiences, even when you’re not feeling well. It’s good to “hear” your voice. 🙂 I’m sorry you’re not feeling well, too! That sounds like quite a struggle to deal with for so long, and that’s scary that anemia can affect your heart. I never thought of it from that perspective either, knowing what the red blood cells are actually doing, or not doing, as the case may be. That’s cool to hear it put that way, it really adds some depth and more understanding. I had anemia when pregnant and after I birthed Homer, and no one ever put it to me like that. That’s kind of freaky!

    That sucks about your floors! Oh what a pain, I’m sorry to hear there’s so much more to be done.

    And I am so glad Ginger is doing so well!! She is amazing, and so are you guys. I always love people who love their animals so much. <3 Your family rocks. 🙂

    Big hugs and look forward to hearing more soon!

  2. Misti says:

    So good to see you post but bummed that you’ve been having a rough time. *hugs* I wish I could help you out somehow. I’ll do some gardening for you. 🙂

    • chel says:

      I’m getting back out there! It’s much better now that the weather isn’t as HOT. Holy smokes- even though we’re in the 80’s every day here right now, it feels like it’s 100 degrees cooler outside than it was just a few weeks ago. Every degree makes such a big difference.

  3. Kelly says:

    Hi Chel, as you know we’ve had our own version of chaos in our family beginning in late July. I’ve felt bad when all I can muster is a “like” to a post, and I hoped that you and other friends would understand. So trust me when I say that I completely get it! I’m still waiting on feedback from my neurologist from the last batch of tests, so no news there. Take care and I’ll post when I have news! . Kel

  4. Kim Mailhot says:

    It has been an intense time for so many. It sounds as though you have been battling through on multiple fronts, brave one. I’m wishing you easier, more peaceful times as our season changes here in FL. I’m welcoming this cool wind of change here too!
    Big love to you and some extra for little Ginger cat as she heals. ❤️

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hello!
I'm Chel (pronounced "shell", short for "Michele").

I'm an artist, graduate student (Buddhist Studies), writer, gardener, art historian, long-distance swimmer, crochet-er, movie watcher, animal lover, and avid reader.

Random facts: I have an eleven year old daughter named Gracie and a husband named Tom. I grew up in New York (Long Island, to be specific), went to college/grad school in Atlanta (Emory University) in the 1990's, and now I live in Southwest Florida. I'm incredibly shy but I adore my friends and family. I've been a vegetarian for almost 30 years and I love animals of all kinds- we have four rescue cats, three parrots, and an elderly gecko and we raise butterflies. I swim five miles every day- rain, shine, storm, or travel. I was born with Spina Bifida, and swimming keeps me healthy and sane. When I'm not in the pool, I'm in my art studio, with a hot cup of tea.

If you'd like to know more, click here

contact me at:
lists@gingerblue.com



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