Hannah and the CoalBear: Sad Caturday

Hi. I’m Hannah.

It is really snowy and cold today.

The week started out fine. The weather was really warm and nice, and the nice days made the Mother of Cats feel pretty good with her breathing and joints and stuff. She went outside and worked in the gardens almost every single day and got lots of dead leaves and weeds moved away. All of her flowers and bushes that she planted last fall are green and growing again and she was really happy. She was even happy about the seeds on the weeds!

Look at the perfect dandelion puff!!

And guess what? There are tiny baby bunnies in the backyard!! The Mother of Cats has been putting pulled dandelion leaves near the opening under the deck where the babies live, and they are eating them! We even see the babies sometimes as they race past the back window, but we never see our bunny anymore… The Mother of Cats is a little concerned because one of the neighbors has been trapping bunnies and releasing them out in the wilderness, and one bunny got a broken leg somehow from the trap. The neighbor has a huge backyard garden (AKA the bunny smorgasbord), and the Mother of Cats does understand, but she is sad at the thought of our bunny being lost in the wilderness, and chased by coyotes, and… it is just sad.

Our bunny is gone.

The Mother of Cats is depressed about the whole thing, so we have been spending extra time entertaining her because… it is MOTH SEASON!!! The moths get into the house where they are the best toys ever!!! and we spend hours hunting them until, finally, the CoalBear manages to catch them. The Mother of Cats helps us hunt the moths (well, we do call her constantly for help), and would you believe that if she gets them, she puts them back outside? Like, WHY???? Luckily the CoalBear (AKA Mateo) is able to practically fly up and down walls chasing the moths and he usually gets them before she can. See, entertainment! I get to play with the moths every time the CoalBear brings them down onto the floor and this is the best, best cat toy in the world.

Then this new distraction arrived…

Yep. There is a winter storm and a hard freeze on the way.

All of a sudden, the Mother of Cats was worried about the plants and the tree outside and didn’t care about bunnies and moths anymore. She spend part of the day yesterday covering up every single shrub and rose in the gardens but couldn’t do too much to protect the tree out front.

The tree broke!

So today we are kind of having a sad Caturday. The moths are gone (They don’t like snow? What light weights they are!), there isn’t a bunny in sight, and we are both hiding in the closet because some really scary people came to make lots of noises taking the tree’s broken parts away. Why did this have to happen on Caturday?!!!

The Mother of Cats is knitting happy colored hats today because it is too soon to take all the covers off the plants.

Well, that’s it. It’s time to come out of the closet and remind the Mother of Cats that on a day like this we require cookies! Extra cookies!! And lots of pets and attention and maybe even a new toy since the moths have disappeared.

Happy Caturday, everyone!

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

Poor tree. The branches on the top of the tree came down too, but the tree service cleaned everything up and assures me that the tree will make it. The days before the snowstorm were very warm and windy, setting off fire weather alerts. Now we get a week of cold and rain. Colorado.

The hat is for the Kaiser infusion centers and the yarn is from Hue Loco (colorway is Big Yikes). The pattern is Barley Light by Tin Can Knits.

It’s the bunny circle of life. My backyard bunny was a single baby stranded in my yard when the next-door neighbor had the bunnies in her yard removed. Now the offspring are with me, munching on my dandelions, and hopefully will safely remain to entertain my kitties and warm my heart in the months to come.

Miller moths are the guys getting into the house. They cling onto the outside of doors, and when an unsuspecting homeowner opens the door, they just zoom into the house where they cause endless hours of cat entertainment. Night, however, is when they really shine as they are attracted to the lights and almost always end up in my bedroom late at night where the cats zoom across me, the furniture, through the air, and basically put on an entire circus act of astonishing aerial contortions pursuing the moths. I worry about a cat hitting the ceiling fan…

Hannah and the CoalBear: Goldenfern Caturday

Hi. I’m Mateo.

My sister and I have been very busy!!

We have been hanging out for hours at a time with the Mother of Cats while she knits and knits and knits on her new sweater. Sigh. She isn’t very frisky at all and she should get up and play with me more… instead she just reads and knits all day. Hannah is cool with that because she like to snuggle with the Mother of Cats, but I am still a kitten and I need to play!!!

You can see that she has made some good progress with our help. Yesterday she knitted all day trying to get to the end of the body of the sweater, and around midnight she finally cast off the sweater.

My sister and I were watching out the window when she finished. There is some great wildlife in our yard around midnight!!

Overnight Hannah and I knocked over a container of kitty treats, got the lid off and polished off all of the cookies. I thought that the Mother of Cats would be grumpy with us, but since we let her sleep in until late in the morning she kind of forgave us. Kind of. I did notice that she put all the rest of the kitty treats into a cupboard. Hannah knows how to open cupboards…

This morning she tried on the sweater, and it fit perfect! Well, of course it did. We aren’t exactly amateurs in knit support, after all. This afternoon she headed outside to take pictures of her sweater and I gave Hannah’s ears a washing.

Hannah: the CoalBear is the best little buddy ever.

Now it is almost night again and I’m pretty sure that the Mother of cats is going to make some supper and we will get some more kitty cookies. Yay!!

Hannah: Happy Caturday, everyone!!

Notes from the Mother of Cats: The sweater is Goldenfern by Jennifer Steingass. My Ravelry notes are here.

What have I been reading this week? Here it is (please observe that the cover matches my knitting :-)). I would talk about the book, but I really can’t without giving out spoilers. Just let me say that I enjoyed this book and it was the perfect one for a surgery-recovering BioGeek.

Month’s End Report: March, 2022

All of a sudden, the season has changed on me. There are birds in my yard, the light is brighter, my backyard bunny is once again entertaining the cats, and shoots of green are starting to peek at me from under the winter bedding of leaves that I put in the gardens last fall. The cats are much more active as they rocket from window to window through the house tracking squirrels traveling from my front tree, over the roof, and then along the back fences (this is known as Squirrel Route One in my house). The fatigue-inducing storms of winter are transitioning to spring rains, and the first flowers are right around the corner. Bye, winter. Glad to see you gone.

When the cats take a break from squirrel tracking and bunny watching they hang out on my bedroom bookshelf keeping their eyes on me. Since I spent most of the month in bed, they have been up there quite a lot.

Knitting

I really have gotten a lot of knitting done this month. Since I’m tracking my knitting for the year (well, actually, the number of skeins that I can get out of the stash), I thought that I would also give a quarterly update on my progress.

I’m continuing to knit hats and PICC line covers for the Kaiser infusion centers.

So far I’ve knitted 20 hats and 19 PICC line covers this year. Early in the month I delivered all the hats and covers to one of the infusion centers on my way to an appointment with the rheumatologist. The infusion center had a huge impact on me; it was located in a spacious room with large overhead windows; sunbeams streamed down from the windows lighting up the room. There were almost 20 stations in there, along each wall under the windows, each one with a patient receiving treatment. I was stunned. So many people! I must knit faster.

I finished a simple sweater made with merino/cashmere yarn that is like a comfy sweatshirt to wear. Also, it goes with all my shawls, cowls, and mitts.

The sweater is Cushman by Isabel Kraemer. This is the second one that I have made so I was really confident with the fit and raced right through it.

I cannot stress how helpful the cats are in getting these pictures.
I have also been knitting along on a Goldenfern sweater (Jennifer Steingass). In another couple of inches I will start on the colorwork; the three golden colored yarns are for that. I plan to shade from the lightest to the darkest as I work my way down the chart.

Altogether I have knitted my way through 894 grams of yarn this month making the grand total of destashed yarn 3,154 grams (or the equivalent of 31 skeins) for the year. Okay, I did go through bins and pulled out several hundred grams of yarn that needed be thrown out… like many knitters I have saved the leftovers from almost everything I’ve knitted; at this point I need to let all of those scraps go! I had hoped to get 50 skeins out of the stash: now I’m thinking that I might manage 100 skeins. Knitting all those hats is paying off!

Garden

The outdoor garden is still dead, and the indoor garden is kind of pathetic. I’ve been buying some ferns and a spider plant to get more greenery into the house. The cats are fans of the new plants!

All the new plants are kitty safe.

Books

I’ve been reading like a champ so far this year. Mostly science fiction since I am not in the mood for thrillers, mysteries, or anything that is going to require the serious use of brain cells. I’ve been spending long blocks of time in bed with short outings to accomplish tasks in the house in the house all year. I’ve been relying on audiobooks heavily as I can listen to them when I’m too tired to hold a book (the fatigue is real, people!), and listened to more books while I was working on the quilt top that I got done this quarter too.

I was so happy to discover this little gem!

I usually don’t listen to the forward of a book, but this time I did, and I was glad that I took the time to let the author explain his book to me. John Scalzi struggled with writing a book in 2020 that he had contracted with a publisher for. Basically, he was kind of crushed by the whole Covid situation and the book wasn’t happening. He finally had to let his publisher know that the book was a no-go, only to think of another book idea a day later. A fun book. An upbeat and slightly ridiculous book with wisecracking characters and lots of fun. A book that celebrates scientific knowledge, jobs that you love, and sticks it to people who are kind of unethical in the pursuit of money/power. A book with Kaijus: those enormous monsters of Japanese fame… think Godzilla. The exact book that I needed!!

I even bought myself a Kaiju cat tee-shirt to go with my ridiculous, feel-good book.

So, how many books have I read this year so far? 19 books! The goal for the year is 50 books, so I am well on my way to meeting that goal.

That’s it for the month.

Hannah: Have a great April, everyone!! If you should come across a Kaiju, don’t try to play with it!!

The Scleroderma Chronicles: It’s okay if you cry…

My fatigue lately has been off the charts. I struggle to get the simplest of tasks done, and to be honest I just don’t feel like getting out of bed for days on end. I have been slowly, slowly sewing on a quilt top over the last few weeks. It is soooo exhausting to pin two fabrics together, guide the fabric through the sewing machine, and then to stand up to iron the seam. I handled all of this by 1) sewing only for an hour a day, and 2) lowering the ironing board so I didn’t have to stand while ironing. Take that, you nasty, exhausting fatigue!!

The quilt has a panel in the middle with really cute pictures like this one. Super cute, right?
Here’s the finished quilt top. This baby has really simple quilting in one border and then simple, simple borders around the central panel. Yeah. This took over two weeks to complete. Thanks, fatigue.

When I noticed some strange terminology on my last heart imaging test report, I contacted my pulmonologist about it, and he ordered a CT scan of my lungs. (You can read about that adventure here.) I knew that something was up when I got a call from his office telling me the date and time of the earliest possible appointment with this doctor. The nurse had intervened and made the appointment for me ahead of time. Then there was a call from the cardiologist’s nurse that was the same; an echocardiogram and appointment with that doctor had also been scheduled for me in order to secure the earliest possible appointment. Kind of the harbinger of a tough appointment, right?

Today I had a pulmonary function test and met with the pulmonologist soon afterwards. We joked about the horrible year we had both had. (He is a pulmonary critical care specialist who has been on the front lines of Covid care for two years now; for me lockdown never ended and the BLZ was running wild.) We laughed at my summation of the year: Crushed by Covid. We decided that “Crushed by Covid” could be the name of a really sad band. Then he whipped out his laptop and had me move over to look at it with him.

He had prepared for my appointment with a spreadsheet of my lung function tests over time and my latest lung scan along with that of a normal person. The spreadsheet showed that I was losing volume in my lungs. The scan of a normal lung was really interesting (old biology teacher here…) and then we looked at mine.

Um… my lungs were really cloudy. Like frosted glass. Like… “Hey. Is that what they call ground glass lung?” I asked.

“Yes. That is exactly what we’re looking at. That’s why I wanted you to come in. This isn’t the type of conversation that you have over the phone,” he replied.

Ground glass is not good, folks. Ground glass is the type of lung imaging that Covid patients with pneumonia have. Covid presents like systemic sclerosis because there is an extreme immune response going on in the lungs; both are aggressively treated with drugs that target the immune system. I also have some honeycombing that is the beginning of fibrosis; first the inflammation (which creates the ground glass appearance), then the fibrosis follows. My ground glass lungs are, in his opinion, absolutely not Covid. It is not likely to be just pulmonary edema. It’s systemic sclerosis at its worst. This is interstitial lung disease.

So, it is not good. On the other hand, this is good. I’m in trouble, but the problem has been identified early on and that means aggressive treatment now may stave off the worst of the fibrosis. I am so glad (and lucky) that I googled those crazy medical terms and then followed through with an email to my pulmonologist.

I’ve been referred to a surgeon for a lung biopsy procedure. Evidently that will land me in the hospital for a few days. Following that, if things go to plan, I will be started on more aggressive immunosuppressive drugs. He is going to talk to my rheumatologist about starting a course of chemo and an anti-fibrotic drug. One of the last things that my pulmonologist said to me was, “It’s okay to cry about this, but we have a plan.” That’s when it hit me that this might be really bad; lockdown will continue, and the fatigue is probably going to get worse. Oxygen 24/7 is right around the corner.

Crushed by Covid plays on. What a sad little band it is.

Luckily for me and the cats it is squirrel season. They will have lots of entertainment while I’m in the hospital and laying around like a slug.

The Scleroderma Chronicles: The shunt hunt takes a left turn…

I’ve been continuing my adventures in cardiology over the last several weeks. If you have been following along on my scleroderma adventures you know that I had a trip to the Cath lab that led to the discovery of a cardiac shunt: a hole in my heart. I also was eventually diagnosed with exercise-induced pulmonary hypertension and started on drugs to treat it, which is a lengthy process as I was slowly titered up on two different drugs while monitoring for side effects. I’ve been mostly living in bed for the last 6 weeks except for short trips out for more testing and blood work. The cats have been loving this, by the way. I’m kind of their captive right now.

This is edema in my arm. I’ve been dealing with headaches, muscle pain, edema, low blood pressure, and extreme fatigue. I cough a lot. Every new weather system is a nightmare. Ugh!

While the whole process has been pretty difficult, I am breathing much, much better and that blue lipped thing has mostly faded away. No more panting!! I haven’t had to put my head down because I felt faint for weeks. This is huge, people!!

I may have to retire the whole BLZ logo the way things are going!

My cardiologist is still hunting for the shunt that was detected in the Cath lab. I have one that they can see (a patent foramen ovale, which is pretty common), but for the really significant disruption of circulation that was detected in the Cath lab the feeling is that I have something much bigger somewhere. I’ve gone through 3 rounds of testing looking for the dang thing, and so far, no joy.

When the test results come in, I always read the entire text and google terms that I don’t recognize. The last imaging of my heart did not find the shunt, and my cardiologist sent an email letting me know that my heart looked pretty good. Umm… okay, but where is that infernal shunt?!!! This is getting a little frustrating, but I am doing better, so I guess I should just roll with it. I did notice this little sentence in the report about the portion of my lungs seen in the heart imaging: “There is mild subpleural reticulation and bibasilar atelectasis.” Say what? I googled and …. bibasilar atelectasis is a partially collapsed lung. I shot off a little email to my pulmonologist to ask if this was something new.

This is why I decided to write this post. As it turns out, this is new. Both of the things that were noted in that test result were significant (subpleural reticulation is evidence of scarring in my lung), and I was immediately sent to get a specialized lung scan that shows I have sustained moderate advancing lung damage over the last 10 months. Oh. No wonder I’m so exhausted. At least they didn’t use the word “severe” in the report. I seem to have developed pulmonary edema and my lungs took a big hit during the last few months; scleroderma is now attacking my lungs. If I hadn’t read that report and then contacted my doctor, no one would have picked up on this. The BLZ may be on hiatus, but the lessons she learned during that drive for the pulmonary hypertension diagnosis really paid off now.

What do you do when you get a sad little lung report? Why, you put on your Catzilla shirt and go start a load of laundry, of course!!

Tuesday I go for a pulmonary function test and then immediately afterwards I will meet with my pulmonologist. I’m kind of thinking that there might be more drugs in my future. Anyway, there is a lesson here that I decided I should share with you all.

Be proactive! Read your test results and ask questions of your doctors. Google is your friend, and those online portals that let you shoot your doctor an email are priceless! Use them!

And now readers, back to the shunt hunt…

Mateo: and now readers, back to my nap! After that I’m going to go swat some more helicopters!

The Biogeek Memoirs: Goldfish

I know, I know. You were hoping for something a little on the wild side like, maybe, pronghorn antelope, and here I am writing about… goldfish. Hey, goldfish are kind of cool, and I have a lot of fun memories about them.

My first goldfish tank was delivered to my house by my mom as a gift for my oldest son. That tank led to another in time, and then classroom fish tanks, and finally a huge tank in my family room. Goldfish are great. Goldfish are the stuff of science if you are an intrepid biology teacher who can deal with the chaos and squeals in your classroom.

I had a large tank towards the front of my classroom that housed a variety of goldfish.

I kept a few fancy goldfish in the classroom tank, and during the year new fish would get dumped in because they were short term visitors destined to do science with the kids. The new fish were usually cheap feeder fish sold by pet stores as food for turtles, snakes, and other hungry critters. These lucky guys hit the jackpot since they got to do science!

Goldfish respiration lab. The student is counting how many times the goldfish opens and closes its gill covers each minute.

Goldfish are cold blooded critters, so their need for oxygen is determined by their environment. If the water is warm, the fish need more oxygen. If the water is cold, they need less oxygen. Oxygen use reflects the rate of biochemical reactions in living things; determining how fast the fish is “breathing” in different water temperatures can reveal the relationship in the fish between the water temperature and how fast it can do its body chemistry to produce energy. This lab was a riot as the kids handled the fish, ice cubes, warm water, and got their data collected and graphed. I’m pretty sure that they found that the fish chemistry doubled every 10 degrees. Oh. That’s why fish in cold water are sluggish!

Once the lab was finished the fish were returned to the aquarium to live their best lives until they could be adop1ed out to new homes. Yep. These fish were a hot ticket item and there was a drawing to decide who could take one home.

Fish who didn’t get a home right away got to hang around for a second round of science. Did you know that if you carefully catch a goldfish, wrap it up in a wet paper towel, and then pop the tail under a microscope you can see the flow of blood through the tail? Yep!! It is pretty amazing! Here’s a YouTube video showing the blood moving though the blood vessels in the fish tail (really cool!), and here is another one showing a student doing the lab. The whole fish burrito treatment isn’t too hard on the fish if you get them back into the tank within ten minutes, and I only used one fish for each class as I could project the digital image from the microscope onto the classroom screen so everyone could see what was happening. You can count the pulse of the goldfish that way!

One day a student brought me come crayfish left over from his father’s restaurant order and we added them to the fish tank. Oops. Crayfish can catch goldfish. Talk about chaos in the classroom! Um… natural selection, anyone? Several fish were lost to the crayfish but one wiley little comet goldfish evaded the crayfish with ease and eventually outlived them all. It grew to become a 6 inch goldfish giant that the students named Fred. Fred learned to beg for food. Fred loved the 6th period class more than any other because they brought him scraps of lettuce and oranges from lunch every day. Fred was so big he had the whole tank to himself unless some little feeder fish were visiting for a lab. Fred went to another classroom one quarter during a big lab push in my classroom and we had to bring him back because students told me that Fred was getting scared and picked on in its new classroom habitat.

Yep. An important classroom lesson about the responsible and ethical care of the creatures under our control was delivered by… a goldfish.

When I left that school for another job in the district Fred came home with me and lived out the rest of his life in a bigger tank with some nice fancy goldfish to keep him company. I think that he still missed the students.

Hannah and the CoalBear have their birthdays this month!

I’ve been thinking about goldfish lately because Mateo (AKA the CoalBear) needs lots of attention. There isn’t enough entertainment in the world to meet his needs. I have bought him lots of new toys. He chases feather teasers and the laser light every day. There are cat trees in the windows so he can watch the squirrels and the bunny. He gets tons of attention!

I bought the cats a spider plant to hang over their cat tree! Mateo has been playing (and munching on) the new plant.

I’m now thinking of getting the cats a little goldfish tank to watch.

Yeah. A goldfish aquarium! That’s the ticket.

It’s not like I’m longing for a tank of fish. Oh, no, nothing like that.

Goldfish memories are the best.

Hannah and the CoalBear: Mateo does Caturday

Hi. I’m Mateo.

Today I am on bug watch!

See that new orchid that the Mother of Cats brought home from the store? It has some little flying bugs in it. Yay!

The bugs are in the bedroom, too!!

The Mother of Cats isn’t as excited about the bugs as we are, but we are on the hunt and before she knows it we will have taken care of the problem. Aren’t we the best kitties ever?

I’ve also been helping the Mother of Cats with her new hat.

Don’t you like the color of that yarn? The color is called “Midnight Orchid” which is pretty cool because the Mother of Cats was knitting on the hat at midnight last night.

The yarn kind of matches the orchid that just started blooming last week.

I try to help the Mother of Cats in the garden but she won’t let me play with the plants. I am a really good digger and I think that she should be more open minded about it, right? Nope. She put up more chicken wire to keep me out of the orchids.

Well, I guess that is all. I have to go play with my new toy that the Mother of Cats got me last week and then maybe I can spend some time pulling down the clothes in the closet. In the evening I plan to watch the bunny in the backyard for a while and then I think that I will chase my sister Hannah around the house. She really likes to play chase-chase! Doesn’t that sound like an excellent Caturday to you?

I hope that your Catuday was good, too!!

The Scleroderma Chronicles: And Do You Exercise Regularly?

It has been an eventful week in big and small ways. I had been mostly in bed for most of a week as I struggled my way through two snowstorms with significant air pressure drops. Ugh. I had chest pain, coughing, heart palpitations, and more sleep than I want to admit to. Towards the middle of the week, I went off my immunosuppressant drug and the flare of my disease(s) arrived over the next two days. Ugh. So predictable, but still discouraging. I dragged myself together on Monday, double masked, and made it to the pharmacy where I had an appointment for a Covid-19 booster that afternoon.

Mateo: Do I need a booster too? Here’s my arm…

I have this really wacky sense of humor. The entire experience just kind of cracked me up. You see, I got the appointment at my local grocery store’s pharmacy. Here are some of the highlights:

  • I have had so many shots at this point that they had to use the back of my vaccine card. At this rate I will need an accordion-like pullout for the vaccine information in a few months.
    • Why so many shots? I’m immunosuppressed. I went off my drugs this time to give my immune system a better chance of responding to the vaccine.
  • The staging area for the shot was at the Fritos display across from the pharmacy. Seriously, the pharmacist said, “Go stand with the Fritos and wait your turn.”
  • The shot was easy, peasy. I think that the syringe was spring loaded it was so fast. “Go walk around the store for 10 minutes before you leave,” I was told.
  • So I waved goodbye to the Fritos and walked around the store. Mostly I just looked at the empty aisles for the 10 minutes feeling sorry for myself. No milk. No Snapple. No cat food. No guacamole. NO GUACAMOLE!!!! Oh, yeah. Genius me scheduled the booster shot during a grocery store strike by the competing chain’s employees and this store was basically stripped of essentials by the descending horde of shoppers who didn’t want to cross the picket line. As they shouldn’t. But they could have left me a little guacamole, don’t you think?
I was able to get the cats a Boston fern to replace the palm that was chomped to death by… I wonder who could have done that? Hmmm…

I also got a Starbucks. Not the worst trip out of the house. I ended up with a sore arm and was so exhausted that I slept for 12 hours.

Today, 48 hours after the booster shot, I feel great!! The flare is gone. I haven’t felt this good in weeks. This happened to me the last time I got a Covid booster. I think that it must be the increase in antibodies or something; I’m so immunosuppressed that my gamma globulins are way too low (a medical condition that my doctors are just ignoring because I do have enough white blood cells). Maybe the boost in antibodies following the shot actually makes me feel better somehow. Maybe my white cell count goes up. It’s a mystery. I’ll take the win!

And in that winning mood I went to see my cardiologist for the first time since my trip to the cath lab last fall. I was a little short of breath but was walking okay when I got to the office. I received an EKG test and the nurse checked me in:

Nurse: “And do you exercise regularly?” (in a judgmental tone of voice…)

Me: “Oh, please. Let’s not even pretend that I am able to exercise!”

Nurse: “Oh. I’m so sorry that I asked you that…” We both started laughing, but I meant it! I am so over feeling defensive about being unable to exercise. In fact, trying to exercise with my condition was damaging my heart.

I also think that I had my snark on under my mask.

Then the doctor came in!

My cardiologist is freaking awesome. He asked lots of questions about how I was doing. (Face now mostly not blue. Yay! Some panting and chest pain, but so much better. I went up a couple of flights of stairs with no problem.) We discussed the fact that I don’t fit the usual diagnostic model for pulmonary hypertension but based on physiological changes consistent with PH and my dramatic response to treatment with a PH drug, he made the call and entered the diagnosis. The matter is now settled until new data comes along.

Exercise-induced pulmonary hypertension. As in, you look perfectly normal when you are on the table getting your lung/heart tests, but the minute you exercise all hell breaks loose in the blood vessels of your lungs. Fabulous. There is a really invasive testing protocol that I could be subjected to, but there is enough evidence now to establish the diagnosis without it. The diagnosis became part of my medical record today. At last.

It has been a long time coming!!

It has been almost exactly 5 years since the BLZ began her journey to find help and answers. This has been really, really hard, but I made it.

We discussed the pros/cons of more testing. We talked about the risks and benefits of adding a second drug to the one I’m already on. We talked about who will take over management of my PH (he will) and how he will integrate with my rheumatologist. We talked about how important it is to be comfortable with “out of the box” thinking when dealing with a patient who is basically at the far end of the bell curve… in other words, a zebra. Oh, I like this guy!!

I agreed to start the additional medication which will be added to the one that I’m already taking. There will be more side effects as this second drug kicks in and I will be getting several phone calls to check on me as I start it. The plan is to try to slow down my progression before I develop full blown PH.

Next up: more testing to hunt for that dang hole in my heart. It’s like a snipe hunt, but so much less fun. As in, heart surgery anyone?

Hannah: Don’t worry mom: you’re got this!

Hannah and the CoalBear: Mateo does Caturday.

Hi. I’m Mateo (AKA the CoalBear).

I’m almost 10 months old now. What do you think of my ruff?

The Mother of Cats isn’t feeling well today so I am hanging around with her on her bed. I’m helping her write on her computer right now! I’m such a good boy!

I’ve been bringing toys onto the bed so she can watch me play with them.
I chewed on the palm plant downstairs to keep up my energy.
I then helped the Mother of Cats with her knitting. I’m such a great helper!!
I groomed my sister so she would let me sleep on the cat tree with her.
I’m the best CoalBear ever!!

Happy Caturday everyone!!

May you all have an excellent day!

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I’ve gone off my immunosuppressant drug so that I can get my Covid booster on Monday. Sigh. There was a big pressure change yesterday with a cold front that triggered some symptoms along with the predictable flare of my disease that has me back in bed for the weekend.

I’ve been in lockdown for two years and I desperately want the booster because my next round of medical appointments starts in another week. I also want to start knitting with my new-found groups, too. I want some of my life back!!

Please think of me and the other people in a situation like my own (high risk, immunosuppressed or immunocompromised, and struggling with chronic conditions that complicates their lives on the best of days) when you are out in public.

And wear your mask!

ps: I threw out the palm last night. It wasn’t a match for the CoalBear and I was afraid it would make him sick. Next up: a Boston fern.