Tag: illnesses

A quick update on the roofing


I slept better last night. The pain medicine helps. And even during the day the pain is better than it has been for the last 10 days. I’m not yet certain if the one “mosquito bite” is improving. I think it is, but I am biased. I am going to say that I am cautiously optimistic that all the drugs are working and I am improving.

That said, they’ve had a strange side-effect. I am feeling incredibly Puckish today. You should see some of the amusing (to me, at least) e-mail I’ve sent at work this morning.

So if I seem a little odd2 over the next few days, understand it is not because I have had some kind of mental breakdown, gone round the bend, left for Coventry, or am playing a skillfully acting prank on you. It’s the medicine. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  1. You know: shingles. Duh!
  2. Well, odder than usual, anyway.

Sleeper cells (literally!)

I had the chicken pox when I was 5 or 6 years old, some 33 or 34 years ago. It still stands out in my mind for two reasons: (1) I’d been invited to my first bowling birthday party, and then I came down with the illness and could not go. Being 5 or 6, I didn’t really understand and was bitterly disappointed. (2) Calamine lotion–the smell of which to this day instantly brings back memories of the chicken pox.

About 10 days ago, I got my annual flu shot, in my left arm as always, since I am right-handed. That evening, I started having some pain in my right ribs. It was as if the skin there was ultra-sensitive, so that my shirt, rubbing up against the skin was very uncomfortable. Over the next few days, the pain changed and grew. It began to feel like a pulled muscle, then a torn muscle. It got harder to sleep at night. And a few days ago, I noticed what looked like a mosquito bite near the center of the pain area. It was little bigger than a mosquito bite, but it didn’t go away.

Last night, the pain (for which I normally have a high tolerance) finally drove me to the local urgent care. The diagnosis:


For those who don’t know, Shingles (Herpes zoster) is a viral disease that causes an acute, short-lived version of the chicken pox. When you have chicken pox, a dormant version of the virus remains in your cells, and can stay dormant for years or decades. A flare up is usually caused by a weaker-than-normal immune system. In a healthy person, such as myself, such a weakened condition can be caused by stress. It can also be caused by other trauma. Likely, the flu shot that I got (combined with the stress I have from, you know, a full time day job, an infant, a toddler, a night job, etc.) triggered this episode.

It is treated with targeted antivirals: I’m taking 6 pills/day of this medication. I’m also taking a course of steroids over the next 6 days to help with the swelling. Finally, I was given a painkiller to take in addition to the over-the-counter pain medicine I’ve been taking. When I woke up this morning, I took 10 pills!

I should see signs of improvement in 48 hours or so–if the antivirals take. I’m not exactly sure when the “mosquito bite” showed up, but if it was more than 72 hours ago, there’s a 75% chance the antivirals won’t work and I’ll just have to let the disease run its course.

Of course, it’s good to have a diagnosis, but I worried if this was contagious, what with having an infant at home and going into work. The doctor was very clear: the disease is contagious, but only when the legions are open and only if a person comes into direct contact with them, physically touching them. Unlike chicken pox, this does not affect the respiratory system and cannot be transmitted airborne. Right now, I have one “mosquito bite” and it is not open, so I am not contagious. The “bite” is on my right ribs, so even if it does open, so long as it is covered (say, by a shirt) then it is not contagious.

Mostly, I just want the pain to go away soon. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll keep you posted.

Zeke is back home

…and he seems much better, although annoyed, I imagine, at how his schedule has been thrown into disarray. We think we know what the problem is and how to treat it. It means giving him a special diet, food that I get from the vet. I picked some up today. I was worried he wouldn’t take to it after eating the same wet and dry food for nearly 8 years. But at the rate he wolfed down the food when I put it in front of him, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about on that front.

Zeke’s back in the hospital

First, he should be okay and I’m bringing him home this morning at around 10 AM.

He has been fine since his surgery 2 weeks ago, back to his old self, playful, happy. But when I came home from work yesterday (with my Dad, who got into town yesterday evening) Zeke was lethargic. He went into his litter box and wouldn’t come out–kind of like he did when he was a kitten. When I got him out, he went into a corner and was straining (it looked like) to pee.

He was supposed to have his stitches remove this morning but I didn’t want to risk waiting, so I brought him to the hospital in Annapolis, which is probably the best animal hospital in the state, if not the entire Mid-Atlantic region. There, they ran blood tests, which all came back fine, as well as an x-ray, which also didn’t show anything unusual. They gave him a sedative and fluids to help him pee, but that didn’t seem to help, so the next step was forcing him to unblock. They do this by anesthetizing him and then running a catheter up into his bladder. I spoke to the doctor at 2:30 AM after the procedure was complete. It wasn’t hard to do the catheter, which was a good sign. There was no blood, which was also a good sign. Finally, once the catheter was in and out, Zeke urinated.

I spoke to his doctor (Dr. Taylor) again this morning at 7 AM. They said around 3 AM, they found a large quantity of urine in Zeke’s space which was a good sign–he was able to urinate again. This morning he was eating and drinking. They said it is safe for me to take him home, but that I need to keep an eye on him.

The most likely cause is something called Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC). The “idiopathic” part means that they really don’t know what causes it. But some cats just get so stressed that it causes them to block.

I am meeting with his regular vet at 9 AM (the time Zeke was schedule to have his stitches removed) to let him know what happened and to have him call the emergency hospital with the results of the stone analysis. This will help determine what kind of diet Zeke needs to be on and may prevent these incidents from happening again. I will also reschedule the removal of his stitches.

It was a long night and I didn’t sleep to well, mostly anxious over how Zeke was doing. I feel a little better this morning, knowing a little more. I just want to get him home and make sure he’s okay.

Zeke is home!

I picked up Zeke from the vet right after work yesterday and he seemed happy to finally be home. His belly is shaved and you can see where the stitches are, but he doesn’t chew at them, or they are some special kind because he didn’t need one of those cones around his head. He has to take some antibiotics still (which are a pain in the neck to give him, because he hates taking them) and he is scheduled to have his stitches removed on August 11. But he really did seem happy to be home, purring and evening playing a little.

Zeke’s upcoming surgery

While Zeke was boarded when I was in Europe, he developed what the vet thought was a urinary infection. They said it was probably caused by stress and they put him on antibiotics, which seemed to help. When I took him home Monday evening, I noticed that he kept going into his litter box, coming out, and then going right back in. He’d do this for a while, and then not for a few hours, and then repeat the cycle. I brought him back to the vet yesterday to be checked out again as it sounded like the antibiotics weren’t working.

Long story short, Zeke was x-rayed and found to have stones in his bladder. They are probably the type of stones that don’t react to treatment (diet, etc.) so the only real option to get them out is surgery. The doctor explained that the surgery is straight-forward and routine. They get the stones out of the bladder, and then do an analysis to see what type they are. Knowing the type helps to prevent them in the future.

Zeke is scheduled for his surgery (which should take about 45 minutes) tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM. I’m dropping him off at the vet on the way up to Albany tomorrow, and I can call in at around 1 PM to see how he did. He will stay at the vet recovering and I can pick him up on Monday. I’m relieved to know what has been bothering him and that it can be fixed. Of course, I’m a little nervous too since any surgery has it’s risks. But the doctor sounded confident and I am confident as well.

An extra dose of vitamin C…

Ugh! A little while ago, I started to get that feeling. You know, it starts behind your eyes and it’s usually a symptom of a fever or a cold. I’ve had my flu shots and I’ve been getting plenty of vitamin C. Maybe I need an extra dose?

Usually, when I get a cold, it starts in my throat, then moves to my sinuses, and finally my chest. This time, the only symptom is this feeling behind my eyes. Maybe it’s nothing. I hope so because there is no way I’m breaking my workout routine. I’ll workout when I’m sick if I have to, but I’m sticking with it.

Stay tuned…