Thursday, July 26, 2012
So Bailey and I ventured out to the country. He really is a good boy in the car, not too much crying. His crate sits in the passenger seat, front facing me so I can talk with him and see his eyes. I know people think its crazy to talk to animals but they do understand the vibration and tone of our voices. Cats are magical beings. They sense and feel things that are unseen.
We arrived at Dr. Koenigs office and there they were Those statuesque, large animals that are so graceful as they run the beaches, roam the countryside and give us enjoyment as we ride them, stood right before us. Bailey was fascinated with the horses as I took him out of the car in his crate. He smelled the fresh air and didn't appear to be frightened or upset at all by being there.
Dr. Koenigs office was several rooms of a house, comfortable adorned with a round table and chairs, tables covered in wooly blankets, shelving filled with animal health books. Bailey was intriqued more than scared (which is the typical feeling cats have as they enter the clinical setter of vets office).
She let Bailey walk around the office and get acquainted with the surroundings as she observed him and asked me quetions about his behavior, what he was eating, his medical history, his attitude and disposition. Rescue Remedy was used to ease his visit by wafting the dropper in front of his nose and rubbing it on the tops of his ears. Our visit was an hour or so long with administration of acupuncture needles in various places and homeopathic remedies selected. Yes, my cat actually sat and allowed acupuncture needles to be administered on his body. He was that sick that he didn't fight us on it. Now, five years later and much healthier, Bailey will push back and not be so willing to allow the treatment.
Never having been exposed to homeopathic medicine, I had no idea what to expect. The concept of Homeopathy is that "like cures like", the sick patient is treated with the disease that caused the symptoms to occur. It really is still quite hard for me to get my head around and I wouldn't have believed that it actually worked until I experienced it for myself.
I don't recall now what remedies we actually started with, all I can tell you is that Bailey has been treated with homeopathic remedies for almost years now, with no side effects and has indeed gotten much healthier.
Homeopathy is quite different than conventional medicine and at first it took some getting used to while we discovered what remedies were "a match" and which ones weren't. You see with homeopathy the patient will react to the remedy if it is the right one that the patient needs or if it is even close to what they need. Typically, the patient will respond within 24 to 48 hours if the remedy is a match to what is ailing them. The response can be subtle or it can be intense. I remember one remedy where Bailey just licked himself raw and pretty much tore the first layer of skin off of his paw pad. He bled all over my house. I was frightened, not knowing what to do. My first instinct was to run him to the emergency room, which I had done many times before. And each visit to the emergency room, the prognosis was that there was no infection. This time I called the holistic doctor beforehand and awaited her call.
Stay tuned for part three.
Posted by Kimberley Barker Nightingale at 10:40 PM
Monday, July 16, 2012
My cat Bailey was sent home to teach me about Homeopathy and with that came the lessons of patience, persistance and never ending love. It was October 2006 and a crisp, fall day. I had several pies in the works, apple and pumpkin and right in the middle of my pie baking session I decided I was going to bring the a new cat home. I had hemmed and hawed about this decision over the last few weeks after seeing the cat at PetSmart.
I already had two cats who were about 5 years apart in age and I really felt that the younger one, Ben needed a playmate. So, with pies ready to be cooked on the counter, I called up my girlfriend and said "hey, want to go get a kitten with me?" She thought I was now going to be officially labeled a "Cat Lady" with three cats, but off we went to the pet store.
He was such a little go-getter, running around and playful. I thought he would be perfect for my little boy Benjamin. Excitedly, I told the women that I would take the cat and it was then that she told me, he came with a sister. Ok, I came for one cat, not two! But what could I do? I wouldn't dare split them apart, they were family! Tenth Chance Shelter was working with PetSmart to adopt the stray kittens they had found. I couldn't say no to animals who had no home, so off we went, Kit and Kat with their adoption papers were now offically a part of my family and I would most definitely be called the crazy cat lady with four cats.
They were so adorable, little balls of black fur, they looked like they were related to Ben who also was all black. That certainly wasn't intentional on my part to have three black cats but here we were.
Not minutes into the drive home, sneezes were being heard from the back seat of the car. Ok, maybe they had an itch or something. We stopped for some cat food and other supplies and I decided to check in on the cats just to make sure they were ok. Well, the one who was sneezing had discharge coming from his eyes and didn't look all that good. Today, I can tell you it was Bailey. I don't remember now who was Kit and who was Kat. Thank god I changed their names to Bailey and Bella.
I got the cats home and made them comfortable in their own room. Bailey looked like he didn't feel well and continued to sneeze. It was a saturday night, so no vets were open except the emergency clinic. As I finished up the top crusts of the pies and slid them into the oven, the house began to smell like apples and pumpkin, the smells of autumn.
I checked in with the kittens every half hour, Bailey slept and raised his head every time I would come in the room but he still wasn't the rambunctuous cat that I had seen days before. I decided to call the emergency clinic at 10pm, as I was getting worried about him. I knew that cats could die from respiratory illnesses if you didn't address them right away. The clinic told me to watch him and if I felt he was getting worse, to bring him in. They thought he would be alright until Monday. I wasn't so sure about that.
The night progressed with all the deliciousness of the pie smells and a contented household full of four furry friends settling in for the night. I must of slept for all of an hour and just couldn't help myself. I put on my robe and checked on Bailey at midnight. His eye discharge was now getting worse and he wouldn't even lift his head off the bed. Time to go to the ER! I quickly scooped him up, put him in a crate and we were off to the clinic, on our very first night together. This little guy was not going to die on my watch.
The Emergency Room was packed at 12:30 and I could hear each tick of the clock in the waiting room as I anxiously awaited our turn. I put my hand in the front of the crate to touch Bailey so that I could reassure him that all would be ok. He laid there and looked at me with trusting eyes. I could not let this little one down.
Finally, it was our turn and sure enough Bailey was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and was given antibiotics with orders to follow up with the vet on Monday. The vet confirmed calicivirus on Monday and we were sent home with yet another set of antibiotics. I had a schedule taped to my refridgerator of what to give on what days and when. This cat was really sick and I had only had him for a few days. The shelter told me they would take him back, but after I researched calicivirus and found out that its typically seen in cats who have lived in shelters, there was no way he was going back. Bailey was mine to nurse back to health and love with all my heart.
And that I have done and continue to do so every precious day we are together.
After a year or so of antibiotic and steroid therapy, I knew it was time to change course. All that I had learned about human healthcare had taught me enough to know that a constant diet of steroids suppresses the immune system and the patient/animal could surely die of some other ailment.
The allergist that the conventional vet referred us to wanted to put Bailey under to test for about 5 different things, all with a drug therapy or chemotherapy outcome. I told her that I would prefer that my cat not be put under anesthesia and then drugs and I knew intuitively that he did not have cancer! So, chemotherapy wasn't going to enter the picture and I wouldn't put him through that even if he did.
I told her that I thought there was another alternative approach and she looked at me like I had ten heads. Well, I knew that there were a vast array of holisitc treatments and approaches to treat humans why wouldn't there be for animals as well. She stated that she didn't know of any and I politely told her that Bailey and I would be going home and doing our own research to help heal him.
This started our journey together down the holistic healing pathway. And what an adventure it has been! I found a vet in East Aurora, a small town outside of Buffalo, who practiced acupuncture, herbal and homeopathic medicine for cats and dogs. Her name is Dr. Alisa Koenig .
This concludes the first part of our story. Won't you join us for part two?
Bailey and Mommy (aka Kimberley)
Posted by Kimberley Barker Nightingale at 11:50 PM
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
On Sunday, I drove out to my mom's house for a family gathering. My brother and his wife are in town and my mom wanted us to see her newly renovated bathroom and mudroom. It had been quite a long time since we were all at my mothers house. She lives about an hour away from my house in Sardinia, NY where the trees are all around you and the grass is such a lush green and goes on for miles and miles.
My week had been full to the brim with working, training at the gym, and a total focus on my personal goals. Every hour of the day was scheduled, even Saturday. When sunday rolled around, all I wanted to do was sleep and play with my cats. Instead, I got up, went to the gym and started on the drive to my moms. The tears of frustration and fatigue were right at the surface and I knew any one thing could set them off.
Sure enough, one of my dearest friends sent me a text just to check in and the tears started to come. I knew I was at a breaking point. Once again, I found myself in a place where I expected too much of myself and have piled way too much onto my plate.
No time for crying, I knew I needed to get myself in gear or my mom would be really upset with me. I was already over an hour late, because I wanted to get my workout in. So, I bought myself my favorite cinnamon chip muffin at wegmans, made some hazelnut coffee and headed on the road.
I popped in a Wayne Dyer CD, in hopes that this would calm my soul for the hour drive.
My mind focused on the road and the words that Dr Dyer spoke to me for the first 25 minutes, and then just as I began to pass the highway signs for East Aurora, quietude and calm entered my spirit and the stress began to drift away. The trees hugged me like an old friend. The memories of what it was like living in the country resurfaced.
I soon passed the Town of Wales and then, the Town of Holland embraced me just as it had many years ago. It called out to my soul as I unconsicously slowed the car down. I drank in the country style homes, the corner taverns, the small store fronts and the Bank of Holland on the corner. And then there they were, Joanne's house, my house, Marg's and across the street was Helen's. Helen's house was for sale, that saddened me. A sign that life continues to move on, despite the fact that you want time to stand still. I wanted to stop and just breathe in the memories, but I knew I must continue on to my mom's, another 15 minutes away.
My family was kind and only harrassed me for being late for about five minutes. The afternoon was delightful as some of the guys and my niece Shelby caught some sunfish and bass in the pond. The air was just right, not too hot, not too cool. The summer sun shone brightly, and my nephews son Connor, who is all of 20 months old, was frolicking around the grass in his bare feet, shorts, shirtless and ringlet blonde hair. Dinner was casual with chicken and poultry sausage on the grill with sides of potatoe salad and baked beans. We couldn't have asked for a better day.
All the while I was there, soaking up the country air, looking at the flowering lily pads and listening to the sounds of birds and insects, relishing time with my family, I wondered to myself, how did I allow myself to get on the hamster trail again? My mothers husband had a simple and profound answer for me as he was flipping the sausage in the grill, he simply said "Get out of your head and listen to your heart."
I had no reply, as I knew he was right.
Those five hours in the remote woods, in a log cabin house, brought me back to a place of peace and contentment, back to the simpler things I love. Home, family, gardens, nature, animals.
Having resistantly drove out to my Mom's, I found myself reluctant to leave and even contemplated staying for the week. Slowly, I made my way out of the driveway, smelling the air that was now turning crisp as dusk was soon approaching. I love the summer, nightime air in the country, it has that certain smell about it.
I stopped the car before I made the turn onto the highway. It was as if something inside of me was saying, No, don't go back, leave it all behind. As I pulled out, something else was saying, Get Moving! as the car behind me was going full speed ahead at 55 miles an hour! I put the pedal to the metal and was on my way. Apparently, the universe was not going to let me just sit there!
I savored every mile of that trip home. And I even stopped in front of Marg's house to see many of her furniture out on the front porch. Apparenlty, someone was trying to clean out the house finally, two years or so after she has passed on. I starred for awhile and then turned my attention to Helen's house. The trim around the windows had been painted but the exterior was still white as it always had been. I glanced at the house, that once mine, large but friendly. The porch swing that was a gift to me was still there and flower baskets were hung, just as I had done so many years ago. I thought of stopping at Joanne's to see if anyone was home, but it was already getting late and I wanted to make sure I got home to spend some time with my cats, they had been alone quite a bit this weekend.
My inner spirit had changed within a short time and I didn't want to let go of it. That feeling of contentedness was missing in my life and I desperately wanted it back.
As I laid my head on the pillow that night, I brought myself back to the days that I lived in Holland. I wanted to be there in my dreams. I wanted to fill myself with that contentment and let it seep into my body so that I would never again lose sight of what is truly important and what isn't.
Posted by Kimberley Barker Nightingale at 1:54 PM