I have always been partial to cats.
It’s true. I have loved many dogs, starting with a St. Bernard mix named Dandy and continuing right on to my family’s current furry pals, Gracie and Jackson. I’ve even loved a few other species of pets, such as a blue narcissitic parakeet and my sister’s guinea pig.
But I have to admit that hands-down, cats are my favorite.
Perhaps it goes back to before my second birthday. I was just shy of two years old when my baby brother was born. Around that same time, I was given a tiny black kitten, which I named “Kitty-Baby.” She used to love to sleep in the backend of my dad’s old pickup truck. One morning, he accidentally took her along for the ride, and when he stopped she got out. When my mother broke the news to me, she said it was unlikely we would never see the old cat again. I cried and cried over my old pal. Imagine my delight when one afternoon about six months later Kitty-Baby reappeared, a forlorn and bedraggled mess, nothing but skin and bones.
There were other cats I loved as well. A calico named Pom-Pom who delivered a little of kittens one Easter Sunday morning. We discovered them during our Egg Hunt when my younger sister Brooke excitedly announced, “Look! The Easter Bunny left us kittens!” as the picked up one and put it in her basket.
There was a gray tabby cat we called Jezzie. I wrote about a crazy, memorable night-time experience with Jezzie during last year’s A-to-Z challenge.
When I was very young and first married, my husband and I each had our own cats (his was Fluff and mine was Nina). Together we had a dog named Gloria. It wasn’t long before Gloria adopted herself a completely orange, long-haired female cat with stunning orange eyes. I named her Punkin, but that cat was convinced she belonged to the dog whom she always preferred over me.
When I first met Jon, he and his girls shared their home with two cats: Sly and India. I also had two cats: Punkin (who by this time was quite ancient in cat years) and Domino (a black and white cat who often faked injuries as a way of getting attention).
I figured we were a perfect match based on the fact that we both loved cats. (Well, there were other reasons as well … but for the purposes of this blog post, I will focus on the cats.)
Little did I know …
Just after I met Jon, he went through open-heart surgery to have a leaky mitral valve repaired. The surgery was consider to be a great success for his mitral valve no longer leaked at all.
It was not long after his surgery that Jon and I started dating. And one of the things I quickly noticed is that Jon’s health seemed to be somewhat compromised. He was always cold, and his weight continued to drop even though he claimed he was attempting to diet. Jon had a pale color and complained frequently of being tired.
Whenever I would try to talk to Jon about it, he would brush away my concerns. “I’m fine,” he would say. “My doctor says my heart looks great. I’m sure it just takes a while to recover from such an invasive surgery.”
But by the following summer, even Jon had to admit that something was seriously wrong. Unfortunately, his doctor couldn’t seem to find anything wrong. Jon was referred to specialist after specialist, and went through a myriad of medical tests. Nothing could be found wrong.
After several months of doctors and testing and declining health, Jon’s doctor asked him to go back to his cardiologist to make sure there wasn’t a problem with his heart. “Nothing else seems to be the culprit.”
However, Jon’s cardiologist insisted his heart was fine. Jon sat in his office and said, “I’m sure something is wrong with me. I’ve been to all sorts of specialists and had medical tests done to look for every imaginable disease. Nothing shows up. I’m concerned this could be related to my heart. Is there any chance I might have a heart infection?”
“Mr. Hamilton,” said the cardiologist, “you don’t want to have a heart infection.” And with that, he sent my husband on his way.
“Jon, I think it’s time for a second opinion,” I said. “You have every symptom of a heart infection, from night sweats and chills to extreme fatigue. You even have Osler’s nodes on the tips of your fingers. I’m worried that if someone doesn’t find the problem soon, you are going to die!”
“Paige, I don’t think I’m going to die, ” Jon said reassuringly. “However, I will get a second opinion.”
Fortunately, Jon knew a nurse who worked for another cardiologist in town. She got him a quick appointment. This new cardiologist saw a list of Jon’s symptoms and immediately booked him to have a TEE (trans-esophageal echo-cardiogram) on his heart, which is the only way to be 100% certain of a heart infection.
Tomorrow I am going to write more about how close to death my soon-to-be husband actually was, but for now I am just going to say that the TEE done by the new cardiologist showed an enormous heart infection raging in Jon’s heart. It had been growing slowly on his mitral valve for over 16 months.
Tests were done to determine the source of the infection. Much to the surprise of each and every doctor involved with Jon’s case, the bacteria which caused Jon’s infection was Bartonella, which sounds like an Italian pasta but is actually the Cat Scratch Fever virus. (Who knew that Cat Scratch Fever was more than just a song?) Furthermore, Jon’s case was the ONLY documented case in North America of the cat scratch fever virus infecting a heart.
I always knew Jon was a pretty special guy, but it turns out,
He is literally one man in a million!
So how did Jon get the cat scratch fever virus in his heart?
No one knows really, but probably it was either already in his blood stream at the time of the first surgery, or shortly after the surgery he got it in his blood stream. He could have gotten it from changing cat litter or from a tiny scratch by one of his cats.
Either way, shortly after Jon’s hospitalization, all four of our cats went to new homes.
Sometimes I miss having a cat in the house, but most of the time I’m happy enough to cuddle up with a dogs and my husband (who I love many times more than I ever loved any cat).
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. ~Matthew 9:35
Please join me tomorrow as I write further about Jon’s nearly fatal heart-infection and how God miraculously healed him.
This post is part of the 2015 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. If you are visiting due to that, thanks so much for popping in to read today’s post. I hope you will leave me a comment so that I can return the visit to your blog. I love to connect with other bloggers and readers. If you are a regular reader, I hope you’ll stick with me during April when I blog about the stories of my faith.