Tag Archives: health

Drugging My Cat – An Update

It’s been more than three-quarters of a year since I wrote about medicating one of our resident felines. Yes, Wiley’s done well and continues act like his old self – thanks for asking! His weight’s dropped about a quarter pound from a year ago. Our vet raised an eyebrow at that change, “cats his age usually gain and gain,” but I think it’s because he’s much more relaxed. That, and the two-year-old almost-kitten gives him a run for his money. Wiley recently turned ten.

Anyway, I ran into a situation the other day that calls for some comment.

It was time to renew Wiley’s prescription. I buy a 30-tablet bottle – the quarter-tablet doses last 120 days. But when I cracked the seal something was different: these tablets were noticeably smaller and lacked the usual blue coating.

I first checked the veterinarian’s label. It was correct. I needed to see the manufacturer’s label beneath. Over-labels are notoriously difficult to remove, I suppose to prevent abuse, but with patience I was able to peel back label to see what I needed.

I learned that the origin of this latest bottle was India and not the usual Israel. (The cost was $2.10 less, too.)

The label told me that per-tablet dose hadn’t changed. But the tablet mass was clearly different. Now I needed to re-weigh and re-calculate my capsule fills. Here’s where it got weird.

I won’t bore you with the 30-tablet list, but the variance between tablets quickly became clear. The smallest and largest measurements were 0.099 g and 0.107 g! Tablets from Israel were way more consistent, tablet-to-tablet.

The average worked out to 0.1023 g, yielding a quarter-tablet dose of 0.0256 g. This would be near the lower end of the capabilities of my scale: 20 grams with milligram resolution.

I’m pleased to report that my first 12-day compounding run worked out perfectly. Finished capsules are less full than usual, naturally.

But I’ll still be bringing my feedback to the vet with my next refill.

Wiley’s only been using the new batch for a few days now so it’s too early to tell if this change will have any effect on him. It should not, but you never know.

Drugging My Cat

Wiley lounging on my Dyna.
Wiley lounging on my Dyna.

Imperial Star Wiley Raz-Ma-Taz, our flame-point Siamese, was born April 21, 2007. I think he’s had a pretty good life so far but, poor guy, he’s been having some trouble coping lately. Maybe he’s been watching the news too much… Whatever, we set out to help him.

I won’t bore you with the details. But over the course of a month or so working with a local veterinarian we settled on a successful drug regimen. The miracle drug? Fluoxetine, better known as Prozac. Yeah, this is an off-label use of the drug. I’ve since learned that it’s more common than one might think.

Wiley’s always been an easy cat to pill. Maybe it’s a trust thing. Sometimes he appears to look forward to his next dose, perhaps he somehow knows that it brings comfort.

Unfortunately his dosage requires that the 10 milligram tablet be quartered. That breaches the coating and that means it tastes awful! It’s bitter (self-tested) as all get-out. Mixed with saliva from an angry cat it foams and dribbles and… well, you get the idea.

Never underestimate the fury of an unhappy feline – especially when you’re working near its mouth!

Medication time quickly turned into a nightmare to which none of us looked forward. Even though the drugs helped Wiley this was putting a serious hurt on our relationship!

Pam found a place in China to buy unfilled gel-caps online and ordered some.

Size-5 gel-caps, sourced from China.
A thousand size-5 gel-caps, sourced from China. They were cheap, too. The estimated ship estimate spanned the better part of a month, which was a little scary, but they actually showed up in a week or so. You can click this or any other image in this article for a larger view which will appear in a new window or tab.

The quartered tablet fragments fit pretty well into the gel-caps. Life started to improve. Still, the quartering process troubled me. No matter how careful, no matter how sharp the razor blade, the size of the quarters varied and sometimes even became damaged beyond being useful.

Imprecise dosage and waste: there were still two problems to solve!

Back to Amazon… And in a couple of  days I had what I needed:

  • mortar & pestle  [ link ]
  • spatula  [ link ]
  • milligram scale  [ link ]

I had a few tablets on hand because I had just stocked up so I began by weighing each of them. There was a slight variation – just a couple of milligrams. I averaged the weights and divided the result by four – my quarter-tablet goal. Then I went to work.

Ready for crushing.
Two 10 milligram tablets are ready for crushing. 10 mg is, of course, the amount of the drug and not the weight of the tablets!


Tablets crushed to a powder.
In a few seconds I’d reduced the tablets to powder. If you look closely you can still see some flecks of the tablet coating. It’s kind of like the candy coating a plain M&M, but much thinner, very hard and brittle.


The weighing.
I’ve used the spatula to transfer 53 milligrams of pulverized tablet to a small square of waxed paper sitting in the weigh pan. They make anti-static squares for this purpose but I guessed that the Florida humidity would keep static under control. I guessed right. I creased the waxed paper to make filling the gel-cap easier. Needless to say, the scale is zeroed with the waxed paper in the weigh pan before adding product.


The setup and work product.
Here’s the setup and the finished work product. The hardest part is dumping the weighed powder into the size-5 gel-caps; it takes a steady hand and a good eye, but it gets easier with practice. Notice, there’s very little residue on either the waxed paper or the spatula, indicating that my static is under control.

The final result? Worth every nickel of cost and every moment of work!

That the evil, bitter taste is now gone is a clear win. And I’m convinced that consistent, accurate dosing is exactly what Wiley needs. He’s back to his old self! Our relationship is back on track, too.


Poison Ivy

I never had poison ivy, never in my life. I could handle the stuff, nothing. “Lucky you,” the doc said when I asked, “you’re just immune.” Until that time back in 2001…

poison-ivyMy dad had two rows hedges he wanted removed. There was plenty of poison ivy in those hedges, which is one of the reasons he wanted ’em out. When he trimmed ’em he’d get some poison ivy for his trouble. I told him I’d handle it.

So one morning I set to work. I crawled under each bush, wrapping the bottom with my trusty tow strap. Attached the loose end to the front of my Jeep and yanked the thing out by the roots. Then on to the next. One after another, about 80+ linear feet all told. Some came out easy, some not so, requiring more wrestling to re-attach the strap and/or dig with a shovel or pickaxe. Then haul it all out to the street by the armload Sweaty, dirty work it was.

The shower felt pretty good.

By nightfall the itching and oozing had set in bigtime. I woke up looking like the Michelin man.

I figured it’d go away pretty quick. After all, I was immune. I figured wrong.

After a couple of days of agony I dropped in on the local doc. He walked into the examining room, took one look, turned and left without a word. Came back with shots and gave me a prescription for 15 days of prednisone (ultra-high dose immediately, then very high and tapering off in five-day increments). Hydroxyzine hydrochloride, too, several times a day for the duration. And finally, some kind of voodoo ointment (Diprolene AF) to help combat the external symptoms.

“But I’ve always been immune! WTF??”

“No more,” he told me, “those days are over for you. You got yourself one severe overdose.”

Over the next couple of weeks my skin slowly dried up as the itching and oozing subsided. And I put on a good fifteen pounds, too, because I ate everything in sight. I was famished-hungry 24/7. Fucking steroids.

And yes, today I’m sensitive to the damned plant. Not as bad as some, but enough that I treat it with respect.

Diet – Phase Two

Not sure how to put this, exactly. Over a ten-day period, Pam’s shed four pounds and I’ve shed six.

Nothing more than some rather simple diet changes. I didn’t expect it. Here are some random thoughts so far.

Lots more vegetables and beans so I fart more, longer and louder. Excretia emits a slightly different odor, shifted towards vegetables. The first week or so was hardest as I learned to prepare stuff different from our normal fare. Egg whites are ugly as sin in the pan at first (kind of like lancing a boil) but soon become more palatable (which lancing a boil never does). Baby carrots actually DO make a nice snack, and have a very satisfying crunch. I run the dishwasher more often, which is probably because I spend about 50% more time in the kitchen either preparing of cleaning up from meals. You really DO eat less, but more often in order to avoid feeling hungry. The weirdest ‘trick’? The juice of a lemon, drank just before dinner. They told me it’d have the effect of lowering the glycemic index of foods eaten afterward. I dunno, but it seems to do me good.

The first few days I felt hungry, but no more. I attribute that to just getting used to it. I feel pretty good. Plenty of energy at the gym, sleep good, all that. So far, so good.

More as we progress.

Diet – Phase One

Pam and me started using a local gym a few years back, after about a 17-year hiatus. (All I’m going to say about that is if you think you’re going to have any free time after having kids, well, you can just bury that notion in the backyard. Along with your wallet. Ahem.) So, when we restarted we were rusty, sure, but knew what we were doing.

Frustrating, hard work, it was. When you’re only lifting maybe ten percent of what you remember and, still, it kills you… well, it takes some perseverance to keep going. Along the way we met with some personal trainers. We use one of those cheap gyms new-style back-to-basics facilities where the trainers are on contract, actively promoting themselves to potential clients. When you come away from one of those meetings and they say something to the effect of “just keep doing what you’re doing, I really can’t help you too much” it sort of validates you.

Fast-forward to today. I’m in much better shape today than when we (re)started. A lot stronger, too. I’ve put on a few pounds in the right places, lost a few in others. But it’s definitely not the same as when I was younger.

So the next thing is diet modification. All this time I’ve just eaten whatever I feel like whenever I feel like it. No fast food – I gave that up years ago following a bad experience with a chicken sandwich – but plenty of processed stuff. Whatever presents itself. I should add that I’m not – and neither is Pam – one of those people motivated by food, whose lives revolve around their meals. I mean, sometimes when we’re busy we actually forget to eat. It gets to the end of the day, maybe two in the morning, and we look at each other, “we should eat something.” We just hadn’t gotten around to it all day long. Which might lead us to a couple of frozen pizzas washed down with beers.

Not the best diet in the world, like I said.

So now we’re taking a stab at doing better. We’ll see if it lets us take this thing to the next level. Can’t hurt. Firstly, cutting the carbs and fat and adding a conscious effort toward more vegetables.

It’s a doubly tough endeavor because the kid won’t eat this stuff. His preferred fare? Bacon. Pastrami. Pizza. Burgers. Chips. Candy. That is, when he eats at all. Otherwise it’s soda by the gallon. Skinny as a rail he is. “My meat needs to kill me,” he says. Ah, youth.

My breakfast today was egg whites and mixed vegetables. Plus a few baby carrots and a spit of orange juice. Oh, and coffee. I drink at least a pot a day of the brew, black, and I don’t care you’re not getting me away from that. Spent the whole morning farting up a storm. (Be glad you’re not here.)

It’s been said that anything you can do for a month can become a habit and I can tell you from experience that it’s true. You can modify anything you care to – if you’ve got the will to do it. I’ll let you know how we progress.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Unmatched Pleasure
Ad spotted at Wawa Store #912. Click for full-size.

“Unmatched Pleasure”

That’s what the sign promised.

Y’know, friends, as far as I’m concerned there’s simply NO pleasure in the whole wide world that matches the pleasure of gum disease. Unless, of course, you can find some way to cram tooth loss into the mix.

Well, your search is over! Here’s the product that’s done it.

I bought all that I could fit in my truck. NOT.

I think I’m going to package a hammer with a nail. The marketing sheet will promise that if you use the product properly – that is, by pushing the nail through your hand with the aid of the hammer – it’ll deliver the unmatched pleasure of a hole in your hand.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

This one’s planted firmly in the WTF department. See for yourself.


“May we live long and die out”


Neuroenhancement, brain boost, mind hacking, or simply drug abuse?

I just read a fascinating article in The New Yorker that really opened my eyes. On the one hand, I’ve been known to quaff a Red Bull or two to get me through a particularly trying meeting (or maybe to get a few more hours out of a good Friday night) but on the other I’ve been known to speak out against our over-medicated society.

Go check this out, I practically guarantee you’ll learn something.

Brain Gain – The underground world of “neuroenhancing” drugs
by Margaret Talbot
The New Yorker – April 27, 2009

Smart Bathrooms

My dad was fiercely independent until his last days, turning away all kinds of help even though accepting it would have certainly prolonged his life as well as improving his quality of life. As his health declined after his strokes I found myself with a growing interest in technology-based assistance.


When Pain is Good

My body hurts. All over. Oh, it’s not a debilitating pain, and I’m not sick or injured. No, this is perfectly normal. You see, I joined a gym. And gaining strength comes with a nice side order of pain. So it’s good.

This story goes pretty far back, way back to when I traded working with my body for working with my brain. Even though I was young, the responsiveness and strength of my body, which I’d come to take for granted, had begun to fade. I tried to fight it. I tried exercise, even bought a weight set, but I didn’t have the self-discipline to make it work. Then, a new gym was opening right up the street and they sent around some promotional material. I went in to check it out. I remember being floored by the price tag, but ended up giving in to their hard-sell tactics. One aspect seemed to make sense: the significant cost would push me to work at it, rather than waste it. And it worked.

After about six months my wife joined me – another chunk of change every month – but work at it we did. We gained strength, our bodies changed, we stopped getting colds and stuff, and a whole host of other benefits. Three or four days a week, maybe three or more hours per session, had become our routine. Yeah, there was pain then, too, but we grew accustomed to it, even learned to enjoy it. We did this for years, moving to a better gym when the first one folded.

When Pam was pregnant with Damian she continued to lift – with her doctor’s blessing. “Your body will tell you when to stop,” he said. She continued with the machines and free weights until about two weeks before giving birth. Pretty incredible. (It’s worth noting that she was home from the hospital in less than 24 hours, too – a tribute to the amazing shape she was in.)

With a newborn in the house life was very, very different. Time – for *anything* – was immediately in seriously short supply. Did I mention the sleep deprivation? We tried to keep fitting the workouts in, but it just wasn’t happening. After some months of membership dues essentially thrown away we cut it loose.

In the years that followed I’ve made quite the number of starts at getting strong again. Despite the weights, leg machines and a top ‘o the line StairMaster climber, it simply hasn’t become habit.

So now, more than a decade and a half later, it’s time for a fresh start. I’m please to report getting past the extremely frustrating feeling of being unable to do even ten percent of what was once easy and routine. The every-other-day ritual is becoming normal, and feels damned good. Stuff hurts.

But it’s a good kind of hurt.