Archive | December 2011

Anatomy of a Cold

I’ve had a lot of colds this year. Not sure why. I started a new job almost a year ago, so some might argue that there is a certain amount of stress associated with that. Or new people with different germs to spread around. I’ve also had quite a bit of stress, because Jon and I decided to sell our starter home and buy a new house in August, so we went through that process for several months. I thought that since things have finally settled down, I could get back to my normal “don’t get sick very often” life. It seems a certain rhinovirus had other plans.

This Monday, I thought I was getting another sinus infection (I’ve been struggling with those a lot lately too). I had a headache in my forehead, and my face around my eyes hurt, and I was exhausted. You know, all the typical sinus symptoms. Monday was a holiday, so I spent a pretty lazy day, did some shopping and lunch with my mom, raked some leaves in the yard, folded clothes – a pretty typical weekend.

Tuesday I went to work feeling crappy. I was really stuffy – couldn’t breathe, still had the sinus headache in a bad way. I managed to make it through the day, but was pretty useless after I got home. Wednesday brought a change, in the way of the sniffly-sneezies! My personal favorite! Thank god it is the week after Christmas and it was a really quiet week. I sniffly-sneezed my way through the day, hiding out in my office, counting the minutes until I could go home at 5 o’clock. Then Thursday I was a bit drier, with the sneezies mostly tapered off. It didn’t hurt that I took massive amounts of cold medicine to help dry me out. The exhaustion still hung on with me, unfortunately.

On Friday… the progression marched on. I got the cough! What a treat!  I was playing in a soccer tournament and worried that I was going to explode into fits of coughing on the field (I agreed to play before I got sick – which was crazy even then – but that’s a post for another day).  Fortunately my cold was under control while I was running around the field (perhaps the sweating and heavy breathing did me some good!)

Now, Saturday – the cough is still lingering, but I can mostly taste things again!  That means I can enjoy some wine for New Year’s!  Jon just uncorked a bottle of champagne – we have to start celebrating early because there is no way I’ll be up at midnight!  I’m hoping for a Happy 2012 with more vacations and fewer illnesses!  Happy New Year everybody!

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When Babies are Old and Proteins are Evil

I love my pets.  I have 3 cats and a horse, and I love them all.  And like us, they just keep getting older.  My oldest cat is a black and white Tuxedo kitty named Martini.  She, like all my cats, is a shelter cat, and I got her as an adult (I have a soft spot for the adults who otherwise might not find homes).  When I got her, the shelter folks estimated her age as 3-4 years, but of course we all know that is just a guess.  That would make her almost 12 now, but she sometimes seems older than that.  In addition to her unclear age, Martini was diagnosed two years ago with a protein allergy, after almost dying of her illness.  It happened like this….

I had an old cat who was a diabetic, and he ate a special diabetic cat food.  After he died, Martini was lonely, so I got another cat, Oliver, from the shelter.  Oliver had some tummy issues, and got diarrhea easily.  After some trial and error, I discovered that Oliver did best when he continued to eat the diabetic food. So I just bought that for the both of them.  Fast forward several years, to when I met my husband, and his cat Oscar moved in.  With three cats eating the expensive diabetic cat food, and none of them actually being diabetic, I decided to switch them to a less expensive food.  Probably one of my more expensive brilliant moves.  Martini began to get very sick within a month – of course at that point there was no way to know it was the food.  I came home one day to find liquid vomit “plops” all over the house.  At least 8 of them.  She was hiding under the bed, feeling absolutely crummy.  She didn’t improve.  That evening, we were in for a trip to the emergency clinic, where she was put on IV fluids.  And kept vomiting all night.  The only comical part of that story was that I was so stressed out, when we were waiting for her exam, I got sick and vomited in the exam room.  Of course, it wasn’t funny at the time, but now I can have a good chuckle about it.  I couldn’t find the garbage can, which was tucked into one of the many cabinets, and the only suitable receptacle was a glass bowl they had out on the counter on a scale, probably for weighing foods and small animals.  Let’s just say it was messy, and I felt terrible.  Of course, when the vet arrived and saw that I was sick too, he thought we both had eaten the same human food and had food poisoning.  I tried to convince him otherwise, but I’m not sure that they believed me.

But at any rate, Martini was so sick, that they kept her overnight on IV fluids to rehydrate her.  If you have ever had cats, you know that they tend to be dehydrated all the time, and when they get are vomiting or have diarrhea, they can easily get extremely dehydrated.  When I picked Martini up the next morning, after worrying the whole night, she had to go immediately over to her regular vet.  They couldn’t find anything wrong with her, so once she was feeling better, she got to come home.  Within a couple of weeks she got sick again, and had to go back for another round of IV fluids.  I was worried that she would die, because things were not looking good.  This time the vet did an X-ray and thought she might have a bowel obstruction.  They pumped her full of dye and did a series of X-rays, to watch the dye move through her system, revealing that there was no obstruction.  At that point, I think the vets were very confused by her symptoms.  Severe vomiting and dehydration that only alleviated after several hours of no food and IV fluids.  At that point the vet recommended that we take her for an abdominal ultrasound at a specialty clinic across town.  When we got there, the vet had reviewed all her charts and believed we were either looking at cancer, or it could be a severe allergic reaction.  The ultrasound prep and procedure took several hours and the waiting was excruciating.  The results were nothing short of amazing.

The vet showed me the ultrasound pictures, with these tiny little black pockmarks all along her liver and pancreas.  And he showed me where the intestines were thicker in some areas than in others.  Given that we are looking at small pictures of organs that full size are about the size of a nut, I was impressed that he could tell anything at all.  He took some biopsies of the abnormal areas to test for the abnormal cell growth that would indicate cancer.  I crossed my fingers for the couple of days that it took to get the test results back, but they came with no signs of cancer!  So, we knew we were dealing with a protein allergy.

We started Martini on the Hill’s Prescription Diet ZD (low allergen) food, and has been doing well ever since.  However, this tiny little kitty (she weighs in at 7 pounds) is a fiend for human food!  She loves meat of any kind, green beans, cream of mushroom soup, milk, yogurt, cheese and tortilla chips.  And probably lots of other stuff we don’t know about.  She is relentless in her search for the foods that can kill her.  She will stalk us while we are eating, and if you look away from your plate for just a second, you are likely to find a black head buried in your bowl or a white tipped paw trying to hook that piece of steak.  Once she grabbed a giant steak from the bowl on the counter where it was marinating.  She managed to get it down to the floor and under the bed, where she was gnawing on it when Jon found her.  That steak was as big as she is!  We try really hard to be careful, but on occasion she is successful, and then we usually have to do some carpet cleaning.  YUCK.  It would be much easier if we could explain to her that the food is what makes her sick.

I’m just glad to still have her.  If it means we buy stock in carpet cleaner companies, I guess that’s how it will have to be.

Chehalem for Christmas

Here we are, the post Christmas return to normal. I finished the shopping, hung out with the families, and had to go back to work this morning after a lovely 4 day weekend. One of the perks of the new job (although I’ve been there almost a year now!) is that we have both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. When they both fall on a weekend, like this year, we get the business day before and after off instead, so we end up with a four day weekend! I really needed a four day weekend. Of course, I’m fighting another sinus infection that continues to wipe me out. My eyes were really puffy for several days last week, making me look like I just got done with a good cry. This is a fairly new symptom with sinus infections for me, and I’m sure I don’t like it. I think I looked like death warmed over, since I’m more pale than I have been in years, due to the lack of a summer this year.

Jon got my big Christmas gift the Monday before Christmas – the 19th. He was so excited about it that he started texting me in the afternoon, asking if we could open presents that night. I hadn’t actually gotten all his presents at that point, so that made things a bit tougher. I said no, he said yes, and it went round and round like that until he sat me down on the couch with a gift bag and would let me get up until I opened it. It was a Kindle! I’m pretty excited about it, but I didn’t have any time to play with it with the flurry that is the week before Christmas. Now that things have settled down, I’ve had the opportunity to download a few books to read.

On Christmas Eve we opened a bottle of the 2008 Chehalem Corral Creek Pinot Noir. 2008 ended up being an excellent year for Willamette Valley Pinots, with the weather cooperating, and a late summer/fall warmth and sunshine that contributed to a bumper crop. As a result this vintage tends to be very reasonably priced – if you can still find it. The Chehalem Corral Creek Pinot is an excellent single vineyard Pinot, with a softness that really showcases what I think a Pinot ought to be. There are raspberry notes, and a light mouthfeel that is perfect anytime. We enjoyed it with veggies, cheeses and dips before dinner, and although Pinots are light wines, it wasn’t overpowered by any of the snacks.

I have yet to meet a Chehalem wine I haven’t loved, but this one is extra special.  If you have a chance, try it!

Warm New Home

So, now that we have moved, and gotten down to some semblance of order in the house, we decided to have a housewarming party.  We scheduled it for Dec. 10, exactly one month after we closed on the home and began moving in.  As with any party around the holidays, we actually scheduled a couple of weeks ago, to give everybody enough time to make plans to come.  I knew it was a tight timeline, but I figured that would give me some incentive to keep working on unpacking and organizing (and it did!)  The party was last weekend, and I hope a good time was had by all.  For me, it was a great opportunity to see friends and family that I haven’t had much of a chance to see during this whole insane moving process.  And it was an opportunity to open some good bottles of wine and enjoy them!  We had two large format bottles that we uncorked, a 2007 Glacial Lake Missoula Deluge(a Cab Sauv, Cab Franc blend) and a 2006 Westrey Pinot Noir.  Both were excellent, and I think everybody enjoyed them thoroughly.  I hadn’t tried the Westrey before, and it was a fine example of what a Willamette Valley Pinot should be – bold and tart, with tastes of cherry and black raspberry.  I will certainly seek out their Pinots again.  We also opened a 2006 Matthews Estate Syrah – their Blackboard edition.  Sumptuous.  One the white side, we enjoyed an Inox Chardonnay by Chehalem, a perennial favorite, and a Carlton Cellars Sauvignon Blanc called Proposal Rock.  My friend Tiffany was extremely disappointed that the Proposal Rock was a bottle we picked up on a trip in Oregon – I think she was very tempted to steal the bottle.  Who could blame her?  I bought a couple of bottles of that one when we were down in Oregon last, since I liked it so much.

We got to do “the tour” for everybody – who doesn’t love “the tour”?  I think everybody liked the home as much as we do.  And one of  the best parts is that now that we have a real guest room with more than a single bed, we can have more houseguests!  And they can even have their own bathroom!

Now I need to finish organizing the garage and get rid of the remaining piles of cardboard that are waiting to go to the curb.  But that can wait one more day.