Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Corky Update

Poor Corky. He had to go back to the vet today. He actually doesn't even mind it anymore. Because he had the pulmonary edema (fluid in his lungs) the vet thought that he was having heart problems. They put him on some heart medication but then Corky stopped eating his food. The vet wanted to do an EKG and cardiac ultrasound to understand the extent of his heart problems which is why we went in today.

The ultrasound showed Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. What is that you may ask? That's a thickening of the ventricular walls. So basically his kidney failure is causing his heart to work harder which has caused the heart "muscle" to grow bigger. The muscle wall of the heart thickens and stiffens, so the heart's chambers are greatly reduced in volume and can't relax properly after contracting - the chambers can no longer fill with blood properly. The whole thing causes some sort of odd back pressure resulting in fluid in the lungs (the pulmonary edema that he had a couple of weeks back).

What does all of this mean in the long run? He's on a different kind of heart medicine and back on the diuretic to reduce the fluid in his lungs. The vet is just trying to keep him comfortable and give him some quality of life. We talked at length about the time Corky has left. The vet stated that there is no way he could survive the flight home to the US. Even if Corky was to live comfortably for the next 6 months or so until we repatriate, the stress of the flight would surely kill him.

According to stats, once the symptoms of cardiomyopathy are present, the average cat only lives about 3 months. Now the vet did comment on the near miraculous recovery from the last episode of pulmonary edema so she thought Corky might have several good quality months left. She also stated that a blood clot could render him lame at any moment. (ugh!)

Ben had dropped us off at the vet since we are down to one car right now and he had to go pick up Carter from school. To get home, Corky and I walked through the woods, along the river. It's a beautiful, quiet path from the vet's office to our house. Corky was in his carrier so he felt secure and so I think he really enjoyed our walk.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Carter tells Ben this morning that he wants 2 brothers and 1 sister. Geez! How about running that by the lady who has to push them out? He'll be lucky if he gets one of those. We certainly don't want to the spoil the kid and give him everything he asks for.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thanks for the visit, Nana!

Thanks for coming to visit us, Mom. It was great to have you here. You certainly got the best of the Cologne weather so far this year. It has been raining since you left and the Euro has gotten stronger vs the dollar. Not only did you have good weather, you had a good exchange rate for shopping!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Petting Zoo with Nana

We went to the Petting Zoo today with Nana. For 50 cents you can buy a box of food to feed the animals. There are deer, goats, sheep, etc to feed. The deer actually roam free in the park and will walk right up to you...this is a bit scary for Carter. Carter prefers feeding the goats because they are behind a small fence. We easily went through 2 boxes of food feeding them. Check out the video below and you'll see how excited he gets.

By far, my favorite part of the petting zoo are the ENORMOUS chickens. These are a special breed of chickens called Brahmas. Click here to read the Wikipedia article on them. Apparently they make a good pet for families with children. there's some food for thought.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Future Jamie Oliver or Emeril? Watch Out Iron Chef!

Ben and I have been trying to engage Carter in food prep & cooking lately as a way of getting him more interested in different foods. Carter has a very limited diet and we are really trying to expand on it. "Experts" claim that cooking with your children can help get them interested in trying healthy (or different) foods they might normally refuse. In addition, if Carter is in the kitchen cooking with us, it means more time spent together as a family and less time for Carter to veg out in front of the TV after school.

Carter helped me make Apple Walnut muffins yesterday. He helped me measure out ingredients with measuring spoons. I also had him use a stainless steel measuring cup as a "mallet" to break up the walnuts into little pieces. He especially loved this as it was an opportunity to make lots of noise. Carter got a kick out of watching me shred apples in the food processor. He even helped a little with the mixing.

I especially like this picture because it looks like he's reading the recipe.

The best part of it all: he couldn't wait until they were done baking. As soon as they were cool enough to eat, he ate four of them (granted they were mini-muffins). This is a much better snack than Goldfish crackers!

Today, Carter helped Ben with a homemade pizza. We figured this is a healthier option than delivery and it would be fun and easy for Carter. He was really into sprinkling the cheese very evenly over the entire pizza. When he was finished, he shoved a few handfuls of cheese into his mouth for good measure! He stood by the oven and watched it cook.

One thing is for sure, we sure have a lot of fun together and it really gives him a sense of accomplishment. Next task - a vegetable garden. Once the weather is finally warm enough, I am going to have Carter help me plant a small vegetable garden. Hopefully planting the veggies and watching them grow will get Carter a little more interested in actually eating some of them.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Million Dollar Question

When are we moving home?

Everyone (including us) wants to know when we are moving back to the States. There are lots of rumors, some from legitimate sources, some not.

My assignment here has officially been extended to July of 2010. Ben's assignment is scheduled to end September of 2009. Apparently, though, those dates are meaningless. With the terrible economy and the auto industry in a downward spiral, it's not surprising that Ford is looking for ways to save some money. It's also not surprising that having a whole slew of American engineers and their families in Germany is extremely expensive.

Given all of that, the most reliable rumor is that we are all going to be sent home by the end of the year. Some of us earlier than others. Ben and I are estimating that we'll be sent home sometime around November or December.

So what does that mean? It means that if you want to visit us here in Germany, you need to do it sooner rather than later. AND, you need to let us know ASAP because we are planning out our vacation days for this year.

Corky Update

Some of you may be wondering how Corky is doing. We've had several rough weeks but I think we are in the clear now. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Corky was breathing really hard and seemed to be really low on energy. I took him to the vet only to discover that he had pulmonary edema (fluid around the lungs). The doctor believes it was a result of his organs starting to fail due to his kidney issues.

The vet warned me that it was really bad. He said we really only had one option: treat him with a diuretic (to force the water out) and hope that it doesn't stress his already weak kidneys too much. He said to do nothing would certainly result in his death. The vet gave him an injection and then gave me medicine to give Corky at home. The vet tried to prepare me for the worst. When I got home, I ordered a story book about a dying cat to read to Carter. I needed to start to prepare him.

Two days later when Corky and I went back to the vet, he was remarkably better. The vet admitted that he so surprised at how quickly and thoroughly he recovered.

We had yet another follow up visit with the vet today. Corky is doing really fact I think he's acting healthier now than he has all year. He is eating really well and seems to have plenty of energy. What keeps us from forgetting that has kidney failure is that he only weighs 7.5 lbs. Six months ago he was nearly 11 lbs. He has lost 30% of his body weight and doesn't seem to be able to put any weight back on (despite all the food we give him).

Here's hoping that Corky continues to do well and stays comfortable and happy.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Finally! A Nice Day...

We had the most wonderful day today. We started off the day swimming with friends. I was totally amazed at how much more comfortable Carter is with the water. His swimming lessons with his school have really made a difference and it really makes me happy to see him enjoy his time in the water. After a couple hours of swimming, we went out for a pizza lunch and then grabbed an ice cream cone at the local Eis Cafe. Finally the weather was nice enough to spend time outside. The sun was shining and it was warm enough to enjoy our ice cream outside.

We intended for Carter to take a nap after lunch but when we returned home, all of the neighborhood kids were outside playing. Poor Carter was standing inside with his nose pressed up against the window watching the kids. Of course we let him go out and play. He had so much fun and it was great to hear him speaking German fluently with the other kids. He rode his bike, and his car, and blew bubbles, and drew with sidewalk chalk.

We had our front and back doors open to air out the house. Since there are no screens here, Corky could just come and go as he pleased. The neighborhood kids thought Corky was so cool and followed him right into our house. I was out in the front yard working in the garden and suddenly I heard Ben inside talking to someone. I went inside and found 2 kids I've never met inside our house...following Corky right up the stairs to the second floor. Their parents were so embarassed!

After a couple of hours playing outside, we made Carter come in for some quiet time. We had friends coming over for dinner and they have 2 boys roughly Carter's age. We knew he was going to be exhausted if he didn't get some rest. He ended up falling asleep on me. So cute.