About ten years ago, I started to get a little bit short of breath around cats and rabbits.

 Frank, the doctor said we can still be friends. I mean, he implied it.

Frank, the doctor said we can still be friends. I mean, he implied it.

About a year ago, I got so short of breath around rabbits, guinea pigs and rats that I stopped seeing exotic pets all together.

I also had worsening shortness of breath around cats that would always improve with inhaled albuterol and a few minutes outside. Thank you to all my work friends who made the time for me to ditch work and even pushed me out the door!

My primary care physician Dr. Zhou sent me to Dr. Shakir of Midwest Asthma and Allergy who said, "your case bothers me." Apparently I am one of those weirdos whose symptom severity is much worse than my test results suggest they should be. In fact, by the numbers, I should be pretty okay around cats.

Of all the things Dr. Shakir has done and said and prescribed for me...letting my case bother him is what I appreciate most besides, of course, saving my very life, which I believe he has done. As a (pet) doctor, my least favorite position to be in is in the middle of a case that bothers me. I don't know that I have ever verbalized it to a patient (or client!) I barely admit to myself I am there. I just try to get on the other side of the discomfort of a challenging case as quickly as possible, for the sake of the patient, but also for my own sake.

Thank you Dr. Shakir and team for saving my life.

Thank you for letting my case bother you.

Thank you for not giving up on me.

Early this year, my symptoms around cats became shortness of breath that I could not easily recover from. I would feel congested and tired and horrible for two days after seeing a single cat. I don't mind feeling sick, but the shortness of breath got to the point that it scared me. Three times I was not able to catch my breath at all and had to wait it out alternating inhalers while Russ told me I would be okay.

 It's the proteins people! You know I would have a huge pride of Sphynx cats if I could!

It's the proteins people! You know I would have a huge pride of Sphynx cats if I could!

The first of the three times, I called my boss, Dr. Pete Bashara - don't call someone when you can't breathe well - but I called Pete and asked him if I could take a couple days off of seeing cats. He said "this is serious. You need to take at least four to six weeks to let your body adjust and get this figured out. No cats for the month and then we will talk about whether you will see cats at all."

 I can't imagine my life without Sphynx cats! Or worse, any cats!

I can't imagine my life without Sphynx cats! Or worse, any cats!

Have I told you how very much I appreciate my boss? Oh yeah. But I will say it again. I really appreciate Dr. Bashara. Thank you Pete.

Stephanie led the schedule change to dogs only. Kelly stood watch, not only over the schedule but over me. Erin, Hannah, Kristen, Shonda and Jen all made sure I kept a safe distance from cats and that they were seen by one of the other eight awesome Gentle Doctor doctors. This is not an overstatement - I love you guys. Thank you.

I will talk with Dr. Shakir again this week. I will talk with Pete in about a week. I miss cats, but they are still boarding at the location I am at most often, and we get to spend the early mornings talking together (from separate rooms), so I am okay.

Really I am. 

I've never had asthma. I never had allergies as a kid. Other than depression and anxiety, I've been super healthy. I take a bunch of medication now, but I can tell that - and my distance from cats - is helping a lot. I now feel good most days, which I really wasn't at all earlier this year.

I miss cats, and I will sure miss cat families if it comes to a permanent no-cat career, but it is easier than I thought it would be to not see cats. When I can't breathe well around pets, not getting to be near them is not as hard as I thought it would be.

It is what it is. I am not sure what that means yet, but so far, so good.

I will let you know What's Next.

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