Andrew Vogel, CCC

I passed my American Culinary Federation Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC) examination in an intense 3-hour practical examination today (after previously completing a paper exam and three 8-hour refresher courses)!

Tonight, Wendy and I celebrate!

(And today is Achilles’ 3rd birthday, so happy birthday to the rat-bat-bunny-cat!)

Bean, RIP – Sunday, February 6, 2011

On Sunday, February 6, 2011, right around 10:33pm, our dear sweet old Bean dog took her last breath in this world.

Bean had battled spleen cancer in August 2010 and beat it (with spleen removal and chemotherapy). However, not long after that, Wendy found a mass on Bean’s liver which turned out to be cancer.

Bean battled valiantly through several months of chemotherapy under the care of the wonderful Dr. Cheryl Harris. Bean rallied for a bit, but soon began losing her once-considerable appetite. The weight began to fall off Bean very quickly. Each night, we’d offer Bean a variety of eating options, from cat food to Arby’s sandwiches to cookies to Fritos – anything she wanted to eat she got. For the last few days, Bean didn’t want to eat anything at all. The cancer had grown so large that it had compressed her stomach to the point that her appetite was non-existent. Our girl was starving to death, so we had to make the difficult decision on Sunday February 6, 2011. Bean passed away in our family room, in her favorite bed, surrounded by dogs, cats, and her people.

-=*=-

Wendy met Bean when she came into the hospital to be adopted several years ago. Something about Bean’s gentle demeanor, sweet soulful dark eyes, and long eyelashes touched Wendy’s heart, so Wendy asked me to come visit Bean. Before I entered the large run where Bean was waiting, I was warned that Bean didn’t like men. Well, not that she didn’t like them, she’d just never been around them so was unused to them. Unworried, I went into the run and sat on the floor across from Bean, with a couple dog treats in my hand and just waited. Within about 10 minutes, Bean’s legendary appetite beat out her sense of caution and she slowly approached me and took the cookies from me. Deciding then that I wasn’t all bad, she plopped her butt down on my crossed legs and looked at me expecting more cookies. I did not disappoint her!

When Bean came home to live with us, there was exactly one male she liked (that would be me). During parties, she was most content to stay upstairs, away from any boys. Wendy once threw a party for one of those home-based business things (maybe it was Avon or Candlelight; I cannot recall) which was attended only by females. Bean was literally the center of attention in that environment – she came downstairs and hung out with the ladies all evening!

The first time Dolly (our first dog) met Bean, we could see Dolly fall head-over-heels in love with Bean. Dolly was very happy to gain a canine friend! The two of them were inseparable for the rest of Bean’s life.

Over the years, Bean’s comfort around males grew until it stopped being an issue. Bean was then able to share her loving spirit with everyone, male or female.

Once Bean started to get sick with the liver cancer, she felt comfortable laying in a dog bed in the family room. The bed was large enough – barely – that Bean and Buster (the wiener dog) could both wedge themselves in. Today, Buster is laying alone in that dog bed, but he’s kindly left room for Beanie.

-=*=-

So far in 2011, we’ve lost 20% of our furry family, by losing Bean and Akhenaten. Merrick, Oliver, Chuck, and Buster are all geriatric animals, so the next couple of years may be full of loss for us.

Even though Bean lived a long and happy life before she got so sick, it was still very difficult to see my sweet girl finish her time with us.

An update on Bean and Akhenaten

BEAN:

Bean-2010-11-18After surviving spleen cancer (and spleen removal) a few months ago, we recently noticed that Bean was once again slowing down.

Wendy checked her out and we determined that she’s got liver cancer. On Wednesday, November 10, 2010 we took Bean to Dr. Cheryl (a veterinary oncologist) who started Bean on aggressive chemotherapy.

Wendy’s prediction was that Bean may see Thanksgiving, but probably won’t live to see this Christmas.

However, in the last few days, Bean has completely stopped eating, refusing all food (which is quite unlike her) – even turning down the Holy Grail of enticements for animals reluctant to eat (that would be Arby’s Roast Beef sandwiches), so we’re thinking that Bean’s end may be closer than we originally expected.

Bean has been a good dog, a good friend to us and to the other dogs (especially to Dolly, who fell madly, head-over-heels in love with Bean the first time we brought her home). When her time comes to an end, she will go in the company of her furry family around her, and her people who love her very much.

Expect more information in the near future.

AKHENATEN:

AkhenChuckWendy decided that it was traumatic to Akhenaten to get poked with a needle every other day when we “juice” him with Lactated Ringer’s. She was worried that he would begin to avoid us, associating the pain of the poke with us.

She found a “button port” in one of her veterinary resources, so she ordered one. This port, which is installed surgically, allows pain-free “juicing” and should be much more pleasant for the cat than getting poked again and again. So, Wendy ordered one and it arrived on Tuesday, 11/16/2010. I dropped the cat off at her hospital and she installed it.

While he was knocked out, Wendy implanted an identification microchip, neutered him, trimmed his nails, and installed the port on his right shoulder. He came out of the surgery just fine (but pissed off!) and is currently resting on Chuck (for warmth) and wearing a little bandage vest to protect the button port (which we’ll be able to use in 7 days).

While he was under, Wendy also did some blood tests, and the report is not good news. His kidneys continue to be insufficient on their way to renal failure. We’re hopeful that more-frequent (and pain-free) juicing will help his kidneys, but we realize he may not be around much longer. Our goal is to keep him happy and warm (he likes warmth) for just as long as possible.

Again, expect more information in the near future.

Another update on Akhenaten

Wendy took Akhenaten to the specialist yesterday (along with Bean, who is going there for weekly chemotherapy). The specialist did an ultrasound of Akhenaten and was cautiously optimistic that instead of being in “kidney insufficiency”, he may be instead sub-clinically dehydrated from his ordeal.

As briefly mentioned in this post, Akhenaten was found unconscious “in the hood” (that’s what his admission notes say) in Hamilton, Ohio. His body temperature was 91 – the same as the ambient temperature outside. (As a reference, normal body temperature for a cat is 100.5-102.5.) It is safe to assume that he would not have lived through the night had he not been found and brought to Wendy. What we don’t know is how long he was outside before he was found… He was certainly skinny, even for a Siamese, so it’s safe to assume that he’d been without food and probably without water for a while.

The distinctive rip in his ear indicates that he was probably a kitty-mill kitty. Apparently, there are several kitty mills in Hamilton, and they ear-tag the animals. The ear-tags are ripped out when the animal is removed from service.

So, based on the specialist’s recommendation, we’re doing subcutaneous fluids. This involves inserting a needle between Akhenaten’s shoulders and flowing Lactated Ringer’s under his skin. In addition to being funny to look at (he looks like a camel with the squishy pouch under his skin!), the extra fluid enables him to wash away more toxins that his kidneys aren’t sufficient (yet, we hope) to deal with.

Doing this will minimize the amount of damage those toxins do, while we wait for his kidneys to come back online (we hope).

We’ve upgraded his status from “bleak” to “cautiously optimistic”. Please keep your fingers crossed for Akhenaten! More updates (and some pictures) soon.

Update on Akhenaten

Wendy brought home Akhenaten’s blood-work from the lab today. The summary: It’s bad. Really bad.

His BUN, PO4, ALT (SGPT), Creatinine, Cholesterol, Protein (total), Globulin, and NEU% are all really high (the BUN and PO4 are high enough that the lab re-ran them to make sure there wasn’t a mistake).

I’m not certain (and Wendy isn’t here to validate), but I believe that means his kidneys are shitty. HOW shitty, and how well they would respond to treatment, and what kind of life we’d get for him, I don’t know. Wendy and I will talk about the options this evening.

I’m sad because he’s a great cat – a really great cat. I hope he gets to enjoy living in our house for a long time.

Will update more after Wendy and I talk this evening.

Updates on Dog, Cat, & Food

Just a few updates for today…

  • Bean had her first chemotherapy today. Wendy described the treatment plan to me, which is three different chemotherapy medications each given once a week on a 3x repeating cycle. Bean tolerated the first injection today, though it made her tired. Thanks to everyone who offered words of support as my old girl goes through this awfulness. The doctor that we’re going to has Wendy’s highest trust, so I know Bean is in great hands.
  • Akhenaten02 Akhenaten is adjusting to his new life in our house very well. As is normal procedure around my house when a new animal is introduced, we sequestered Akhenaten in a spare room to allow the other animals time to catch his scent and get the idea of a new resident. Wendy & I visit him in the room to help bond him to us, and the cats (especially Merrick) walk around at hiss at each other (or, if you’re Merrick, hiss at EVERYTHING – shoes, papers, electrical outlets, you name it). Akhenaten really seems to enjoy laying on my belly, so I spend a fair amount of time in there with him… Me reading (or dozing), him laying on my belly, making biscuits, and purring contentedly.

    Wendy has a day off today, so she’s given him the run of the house. She’s anxious for me to get home, so he’ll stop following her around everywhere! He’s a sweet cat, and I think after this period of adjustment and introduction, he’ll integrate nicely into the general population. And maybe Merrick will stop hissing at everything.

  • Between my UC job and helping Jean-Robert & team open Jean-Robert’s Table, I’ve been working non-stop since August 4. Man, am I tired! But I couldn’t be happier about my involvement with Jean-Robert’s Table.
  • The good news:
  • After a lot of work by a lot of people, the restaurant is open and it is fantastic. I am so proud to be associated with the restaurant and especially to be part of the culinary team that makes it all happen.
  • The harder news is that we’re entering the busy time of year at my UC job, which requires a lot of evenings and travel, so my availability over the next several weeks to work at the restaurant is very limited. Chef was not thrilled to hear this news, nor was I thrilled to have to tell him, but we both know I’m only part-time at the restaurant and that UC is my primary job. Still, once my schedule opens up again, I will be back in the restaurant many nights. Stop by and say hi!
  • So, those are today’s updates.