Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy / Hypothyroidism / Allergies – 08/12/2010 – 09/06/2011

It is time for a full Skip update.  This last appointment has been trying for us, but mostly Skip.  Oddly enough, it was a combination of things and not just HCM that got us.

Since I last left you it’s been a year and 3 cardiologist appointments.  The first two appointments had no changes and therefore, I didn’t feel the need to write anything.  Skip’s labs were fine, meds stayed the same, and he acted perfectly normal.

This last appointment was a bit of a downer, but only slightly.  Basically, it has been 2 years since Skip was first diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) and I feel lucky for every moment that I spend with him.  HCM can be a killer because it is usually found so late.  We were lucky.

This last cardiologist appointment started like the rest.  I took Skip to his regular vet for his yearly regular checkup and labs for the cardiologist.  Skip’s furry uncles (Oreo and Mason) were visiting at the time.

At his regular vet, the vet noticed that his tartar build up on his teeth was getting bad again (My boy absolutely hates to have his teeth cleaned at home).  It needed to be removed.  I told them, that I would schedule an appointment after getting approval from the cardiologist.

You see, getting Skip’s teeth cleaned isn’t as easy as it is for a normal cat.  With HCM, putting Skip under is more risky. The regular vet is awesome about being aware of Skip’s HCM and she does her best to make sure that he isn’t under any longer than he needs to be.

A couple of weeks later, I took Skip to his scheduled cardiologist appointment.  After they spent a couple of hours looking him over, I got the news I had been dreading since learning about HCM.  Skip had a teeny tiny amount of fluid in his lungs.  This is the first sign of congestive heart failure (CHF).

She said what was happening is that the heart is working harder than it needs to.  The capillaries are under stress and they leak fluid into the lungs for relief of the pressure.

The cardiologist said that it wasn’t enough for Skip to notice, but that she needed to make some changes in Skip’s meds.  She increased the evening enalpril to 3/4 of a tablet and added 1/4 tablet of furosemide.  The enalpril will help Skip’s heart to not work as hard and the furosemide will help remove the fluid from Skip’s lungs.

She needed to see him back in a couple of weeks to make sure that the fluid was gone from his lungs and do some labs to make sure that everything looks good with the addition of the new medicine.  Until the recheck, the teeth cleaning was not approved.  His lungs needed to be clear first.

I was disappointed.  I didn’t want to hear that the HCM had progressed at all.  But…as the cardiologist told me, this is just a little blip.  We’ve been lucky for 2 years and since we are on top of it, we were able to catch the CHF early.

I made up two weeks of Skippy pills.  I use the #3 pill capsules, and added the furosemide to the evening pill since I actually have room in that one.  The morning pill is very full.

Shortly after the cardiologist appointment, Skippy’s furry uncles returned for a longer visit.  It’s always a fun week when they visit.  While I think Skip gets a bit more stressed when they visit, I do think he enjoys having them around some of the time.  I figured that this would be a good test of the furosemide.

Once the two weeks were up, I took Skip back to the cardiologist.  They took a look at his heart and lungs plus took the labs.  The good news is that the fluid in his lungs was gone.  After getting the labs back, they said that Skip’s potassium was low.  The cardiologist was expecting this.  I guess the potassium is expelled along with the fluid, so they wanted to put him on half a 550 mg potassium tablet.  They want to see him again in 4 months to make sure that he is stabilized and the HCM has not progressed further. He was approved for his teeth cleaning as well.

Whew!  I was relieved.  It’s never a good thing to hear about fluid in anyone’s lungs let alone your beloved pet.  I called the regular vet and made his teeth cleaning appointment.  I made it such that we would be able to watch him over the 3-day Labor Day holiday weekend.  My other thought on doing it so soon was that as of right now is we know where his heart and lungs are at.

So, two days later, I loaded Skip up and took him to his regular vet for his teeth cleaning.  Poor guy had two vet appointments in one week. His vet did the teeth cleaning and called me once he was done.  They said he had a lot of tartar build up, but they got it all and he was doing just fine.  Because they only had him under for the minimum amount of time, I got to pick him up early.  This was nice because it gets him out of a stressful situation.  I guess he really didn’t like the dog that was next to him. 😉

Now Skip plus anesthesia is a funny thing when he gets home.  He gets ravenous while still loopy, he can’t walk a straight line, and he won’t lay still.  His poppa and I kept a close eye on him on Thursday.  I kept feeding him a little bit of canned food at a time and kept the hard food from him for a day.  His teeth/gums were tender on that first day, so I wanted him to just eat the canned food.  No sense in having the big chicken become afraid of hard food. LOL

On Friday, we gave him his hard food, but kept up with feeding him the canned food.  All day long.  Morning, noon, evening, and night.  Skip was in heaven. 🙂  So, everything goes normal on Friday, and Skip and I head to bed.

Saturday we get up at 7:30 am for Skip’s heart meds.  I put him on the counter and what do I see while still groggy?  Skip with a swollen right eye that he is keeping closed.  Well, swelling this time of year is nothing.  Skip has allergies and allergies can equal swelling.  So, I gave him 1/2 a tablet of antihistamine, but made a note to check him later on in the morning.

Well, I lost track of time, and at noon ran in to check him.  Yep, I still had a one-eyed bandit.  I had a decision to make…this was a holiday weekend which means if it’s something serious and I don’t take him in, we may be taking a trip to the emergency clinic which equals more cost.  But what if it’s not something serious? Am I a helicopter mom with my kitty?

I made a quick decision.  Something was wrong and I knew it in my gut.  Mommy’s know their babies best and should always trust their gut.  I called the vet and they said to bring him up.  It’s a good thing I did.  Skip had a scratch that was pretty big on his eye.  They gave us some antibiotics and eye pain meds to take home.  Plus his regular vet wanted to see him again on Tuesday to make sure his eye healed correctly.

I have to say it was nice to see the other doctor in the practice.  She’s the one who initially found the HCM and to whom I will always be indebted to.  We always see the other vet because of the urine sample.

Skip was miserable on Saturday.  Between his teeth and his eye, he just wasn’t feeling good.  I did cut back on the canned food on Saturday as well which probably added to his discomfort.  He needed to start eating his hard food again whether he wanted to or not.  He would go into the kitchen and eat apiece of hard food. Then would come out and look at me with only one eye open.  It was like he was saying, “Please mother feel sorry for me and give me the canned food.”  I didn’t relent and he went back to eating the hard food.

Skip was better on Sunday.  There was drainage from both eyes which we thought was odd.  And then on Monday Skip was playing with his toys again and acting normal.

On Tuesday, much to Skip’s protests we headed back up to his regular vet.  Hooray!  Skip’s eye was healed.  We were to continue the antibiotics in both eyes for the rest of the week, but Skip didn’t need eye surgery to fix his scratch.  The reason for the antibiotics in both eyes was just in case his allergies were starting an infection in the other eye.

During this whole week, I spent my evenings making up 428 pill capsules which will get us to December.  428!  That is a lot of pill capsules!  The problem is that the potassium pills are HUGE.  I have to cut the pill into eighths.  I called the cardiologist and asked if I could give him a quarter in the morning and a quarter in the evening.  She said that it would be fine to split it.

So the makeup of the pill capsules is as follows:

Morning Pill #1:
– 1/4 Plavix
– 1/2 Thyroid tablet
– 3/4 Enalpril

Morning Pill #2:
– 2/8 of a Potassium pill (It is actually cut into eighths)

Evening Pill #1
– 1/2 Thyroid tablet
– 3/4 Enalpril
– 1/4 Furosemide

Evening Pill #2:
– 2/8 of a Potassium pill (It is actually cut into eighths)

Once Sunday gets here, we’ll be down to two pill capsules in the morning and two pill capsules in the evening.  It’ll be nice to be back to normal. 🙂

To sum it up, after two years Skip’s HCM progressed a bit and we countered with upping one med and adding two new ones.  Here’s hoping for two more years of the same-o, same-o. 🙂

The Wrench

Have you ever had a really bad day at work?  And I mean a really bad day.  One where you wanted to never return to the workplace?  Well, I had one such day, and the events that occurred below made my spirits soar, and I did indeed head back to work the next day.

Here are some things that you need to know before reading this story:
1.) We live in Northern Kentucky.  Most people have a slight twang when they speak, but usually it is so subtle that most people have no problems communicating.

2.) I grew up in Indiana, but have family from Kentucky and Tennessee.  I have the slight twang mentioned above with certain words.  Because of my family, I can understand people with a heavy twang.

3.) Boyfriend grew up in Iowa where there is no twang and they speak correctly without an accent.

4.) Boyfriends’ mom was an English teacher which means he is very sensitive about the pronunciation of words.

One day I came home from work and was not very happy.  I had a horrible day.  Boyfriend decided to take me out to dinner to lift my spirits.  He said that he also needed to stop by Lowe’s for a wrench.

We head into Lowe’s and are looking for the tool department when an elderly employee asks if we need any assistance.  Let me just say this gentleman had a very noticeable twang. 🙂

So, boyfriend, who never asks for help, says, “Yes, sir.  I am looking for wrench.  Could you tell me which aisle they are in?”

The gentleman says “Ur lookin’ for a wha?” (I’m trying to type in KY twang, so forgive me.)

Boyfriend repeats himself (which he hates) “I’m looking for a wrench.”

Gentleman “A wha?”

Boyfriend shortens it “A wrench”.

At this point the gentleman looks at me, and I say in my own slight southern twang “He’s lookin’ for a wreanch.”

Gentleman “Oh! Ur lookin’ for a wreanch!  Those are up at the front of the sto’.”

Boyfriend’s face was priceless.  I wish I had taken a picture.  The gentleman had no idea and was a happy go lucky fellow. Also, I said it no louder than boyfriend so it wasn’t a hearing problem if you are thinking that the gentleman was having a problem hearing boyfriend.  No, this was an Iowa boy trying to communicate with Kentucky twang.

I held in my laughter until we were outside the store which took a lot and I was sputtering the whole time and had tears from holding it in.  Not to mention the huge grin I had on my face.

We walk out of the store and boyfriend cannot hold it in any longer…”A wrench…it’s a wrench.  Not a ranch…a wrench.”  Boyfriend heard us say “ranch” instead of a mangled wrench.

I start laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face.  It made my day.  I laughed all night long every time I thought of the exchange.  You should really hear boyfriend tell the story because it is hilarious.

We still laugh about it today when we tell friends and family about it.  Oh and I have to ask for assistance now because he says he doesn’t speak with enough twang.

The Fly-by Killing

On Saturday, boyfriend and I were watching TV after just finishing with breakfast.  Skippy was lying in his great big pillow bed that is nice and soft and next to the patio door.

We put his kitty bed next to the patio door, so that he can watch kitty TV.  What is kitty TV you ask?  When we put bird food in the bird feeder during the winter months, we also spread some bird food on the ground in front of the patio door.  Skip can then lay in his bed nice and warm and watch the birds…a cat’s form of TV.  Which I call kitty TV…it only gets one channel which is a live view of the outside. 🙂

For the past week, I had noticed that our bird population was fluctuating to extremes.  We’d go from having more birds than the feeder could handle to having almost no birds at all through the day.  If we had birds, they would fly way off all of a sudden and not just to the trees like normal with noise.  I thought this was odd, but I just guessed that a neighbor had put out more preferred food and the birds were going there instead.

Well, Saturday we found out what was up with our bird population.  No it wasn’t a cat; although we have those.  This was much more dangerous to the birds and come to find out deadly.

Imagine sitting on the couch watching TV, talking, periodically looking outside at the birds, when all of a sudden all of the birds take off at once and you hear a THUD! on the patio door.  Skip goes running, and all you saw was a huge wing.  And I mean huge!

Boyfriend and I get up to investigate. We figured one of the doves flew the wrong direction right into our patio door and was knocked unconscious.  Nope…there isn’t any body.

Boyfriend says “Wow! Look at that! Is that a hawk?”  I’m standing there not seeing what he sees.  I’m looking everywhere in the sky, the tree, on top of the brick walls and see nothing.  Boyfriend says “Go over there…quick!”

I look out and there standing in the snowy grass is the largest bird I have ever seen up close.  It’s a hawk, and in his talons is a dove still flapping its wings.  The hawk moves his talons and the wings stop flapping.  Shortly after, the hawk flew off to wherever leaving a red spot in the snow.

A little saddened at the death of the dove, but excited from seeing nature up close, I look to my Audubon Bird application.  Based on the markings, we were just visited by a Cooper’s hawk who now had a meal to eat.

Not too long afterwards, our neighbor heads out with her little Chihuahuas to let them go potty.  Her face was priceless.  She is not really, but kind of an outdoorsy type and loves animals.  She looked at the red spot…at our bird feeder…at the red spot…back to the bird feeder with a very disgusted look.  I sent boyfriend to the door to explain.

The first words out of her mouth were, “Have been feeding your cat?”  If she had thought about it, Skip rarely goes outside, and even if he does it’s on a leash.  The chicken won’t step a foot outside; unless his leash is on.

Boyfriend laughed and said “Yeah, we’ve been feeding him.  Actually, we had a fly-by killing just a bit ago.  A Cooper’s Hawk flew in and caught a dove, and took it to that spot to kill it.”  Our neighbors eyes grew large and she said “What should I do now?”  Meaning she didn’t want her dogs to get into the blood and how would she keep them out.  She solved it with a shovel.

Speaking of Skip, the big chicken was on the back of the couch behind mommy’s head.  I guess he felt that if the hawk could get a dove, it could get him too.  He only stopped by the patio window for little bits of time.  Sunday he started to lie down in his kitty bed again, but for awhile there he was a little spooked.  Of course if I was his size and I saw the hawk swoop in not a foot from me, I’d be a little concerned too. 🙂

I have to say it was thrilling to watch nature in action.  I feel bad for the dove, but that is the circle of life.  The birds started coming back to the bird feeder after a few hours.  I guess all was forgotten. C’est la vie pour d’un oiseau.


Why is it that the best dreams always happen right before the alarm goes off in the morning?

Last night I had a dream that I was working for some hotel that was hosting a series of events as a part of a contest.  I was setting up for the Balloon Burst challenge when one of our guests was missing a member of their foursome.  Since the guest was important (I don’t remember why) to the hotel, it was determined that I would join his team.

Well, the guest and the other two members of the team went first and did poorly.  It was up to me to complete the Balloon Burst event perfectly for our guest to move on to the next round of the contest.

There I am running through the course bursting balloons as fast as I can…time is running out…batteries are running out of the gun I was using (no idea on batteries), but I only have a few more balloons to go for victory, and…I hear music.  🙁

My alarm was going off and I will now never know if I made it to the end and burst all of the balloons in time or if the important guest moved on.  Or if through my success the hotel was famous.

I guess that’s just one of life’s annoying things.

Herrow? Plus a Quick Skip Update

Boyfriend several years back moved into my condo with Skip and me.  The condo is a bi-level and one of those where when you walk in you decide to go up or down immediately.

One day boyfriend walked in and yelled “Hello!”  I replied with “Hello!” This became our Marco-Polo game when we came home.  It was our way of determining where the other was when walking in the door.

Well, little did we know Skip was listening and learning.  He figured out what we were doing by calling out to each other.  He is a smart cat when he wants to be.

One night boyfriend and I headed to bed and we forgot to make sure Skip was with us.  A little while later we hear “Herrow!” from downstairs.  We both looked at each other and at the same time called back “HELLO!”

Skip came running up the stairs and jumped on the bed with a look of “It worked!”  Of course we praised him to let him know that we were pleased.  Then we all fell fast asleep with one of us purring.

Thinking back on it, maybe encouraging him to call out wasn’t a great idea.  Skip however liked the game and would play it quite often even in the middle of the night after heading down for food.

Skip will even use it when we leave him with his grandparents when we travel.  I had told mom about it and she knew to call back “Hello!”  Mom said that Dad was surprised to hear “Herrow” from Skip and even asked if Skip was trying to say “Hello”.  But hey even Dad knew what he was saying, so it’s not like we parents are making up what it sounds like Skip says.

So, if you ever visit our house or my parents house when you are in town and hear “Herrow!” please reply with “Hello!” and you will have a kitty probably come running to you. 🙂

Just a quick update on my little nutcase (That’s just one nickname for him): Skip is doing awesome!  We are a year and half after the first diagnosis of HCM and you’d never know he has a HCM or hypothyroidism.  I can’t say the same for food allergies because ice cream is a weakness of ours.  He loves it so much that it is hard to tell him no, but he is allergic to milk.

While on vacation, Skip stayed with his grandparents.  I got a report from mom that Skip didn’t like her timing on giving him his pills.  You see at home, Skip gets his pills before I do my hair.  Mom was trying to do it afterwards.

Mom said that he would come and sit outside her bathroom and stare at her.  She asked him for just a bit more time, and he would leave.  She said that he was serious the second time around though.  If she didn’t comply, he would just go and lay down somewhere thinking he wasn’t getting his medicine.  Then she’d have to go find him to give him his pills.

The next day on his second time around the house, she dropped what she was doing and followed him to the kitchen.  He was more than happy to take his pills.  Skip had his grandma in training. 😉

Skip is doing great and it looks like he has gained a bit of weight back since Thanksgiving which is a good thing.  He looks healthy and happy which is saying a lot.  He still willingly takes his pills while sitting on the kitchen counter which he jumps up on.  I hope that this will always be the case.

A full update on Skip will be available once he goes to his next cardiologist appointment in February.  I truly hope that other pet owners are as lucky as we were with our vet finding the HCM in its early stages.  This is just another reason to get your pets checked regularly by a vet.

Look Under their Bed

At some point in everyone’s lives they come across the question “Is Santa Claus real?”  I will tell you right now that I firmly believe in Santa Claus and I know who he really is.  Who is Santa you ask?  Well, he is different for everyone.

When I was five and in the first grade (and yes I was five), a good friend, Mike, came up to me around the holidays and asked if I believe in Santa Claus.  I replied with an emphatic “Yes!”  I just knew there was a Santa Claus.

Well, Mike told me that I was crazy and that his brother had informed him that Santa wasn’t real.  I still didn’t believe him because his brother was known to make things up and dupe all of us little kids.

Mike said, “Tonight go home and look under your parents bed, and I bet that you will find the present that “Santa” will give you on Christmas Day.”  I agreed to do so, and we continued to play during recess.

That night, I found some reason to go into my parents’ bedroom.  I snuck around to dad’s side which was hidden, and then I quickly jumped down and flipped up the bed skirt.  What did my wondering eyes see?  A really cool racetrack!!  Not one to want to get into trouble, I put the bed skirt back and hurried out my parents room into my own.

My heart dropped once I was in my bedroom.  I realized Mike was right, there was no Santa Claus.  I couldn’t believe that my parents would encourage me to believe in something that wasn’t real.  So, I started to think about it because something wasn’t quite right.

I thought long and hard for several days.  I was only five after all, so it took a lot of thinking to figure it out, and I couldn’t ask an adult.  Of course, Mike confronted me the very next day and asked what I saw under my parents’ bed.  I lied and said, “Nothing, I saw nothing.”  I didn’t want to hear him gloat.

At home my parents and family were constantly asking me if I was good and if Santa was going to make it to my house this year.  My grandfather would tease me and say, “I don’t know Santa is getting old; I bet he gives up the gig and doesn’t give any presents out.”  It was a lot of pressure knowing what I knew and still putting up a good front of believing.

And then one night while I was laying in bed thinking about it, I finally understood.  Santa Claus isn’t a single man.  Nobody ever told me that he was a single person; they just kept saying Santa Claus.  I merely assumed that it was a single person.

No, Santa Claus is the heart and mind of every single parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, and yes…the children who believe.  Santa is a gift that families pass down from generation to generation.  If you think about it, nobody and I mean nobody teases you about believing in Santa Claus.  Well, except for a mean older brother/sister.  They’ll tease you about other things that you believe in, but not Santa.  Why is that?

Because by believing, the children are giving the gift of Santa back to their families as well.  I realized that by believing I was making my parents and family happy that they could delight me so much, and remember their own years of believing.  They enjoyed seeing delighted faces on us kids and giving this gift to us.  My uncle loved playing Santa at Grandma’s house that was his gift to us (and he was very believable), and he loved hearing us wonder about it when we came up from the basement.  Nobody teases a child for believing because they are giving them a gift from their heart.  It is the gift of believing.

If you think about it, they can’t recreate Aladdin’s lamp and poof there is what you wished for.  They can’t have you wish on a star and bam there is what you wished for.  But with Santa, a child can believe and ask for their hearts desire and a parent can most of the time make that request happen because most of the time they have plenty of time to work on the request.

I knew that I needed to continue to give the gift of belief back to my parents, so that Christmas morning they could delight in seeing my surprised face at the gift that Santa brought.  The next school day, I went to Mike and told him that his brother was an idiot.  He looked a little shocked as did my other friends who had all found their Santa presents.  Then I told them what I figured out.  I was a pretty smart kid, so they listened as I explained what I had determined.  We all agreed to believe for the rest of our lives because it is a great gift to receive as well as give.

That Christmas as soon as dawn hit the windows, I heard an odd sound coming from the living room.  I leapt out of bed because I knew Dad was playing with the racetrack I saw under their bed which meant I could now play with it too.  I flew to the living room and said “Wow! Santa brought me a racetrack!  Thank you Santa wherever you are!” I was looking at my parents when I said it.  They never had a clue.  I smiled and enjoyed my Santa present as well as the other presents I was given…well except for the clothes.  Seriously, a kid doesn’t want clothes.

I never again went looking for presents under my parents’ bed or anywhere else.  It would take away from my surprise which I would need as I got older.  There was only one other Christmas where I knew what I was getting and that was an inadvertent error.

My parents believed that I believed for many years after that, and then one year they knew the truth.  I don’t remember them ever asking if I still believed, they just knew I knew who Santa really was.  I think as parents they had to come to terms that I was growing up and no longer a little girl anymore.

So the answer is that Santa is indeed real.  He is as real as you and me.  And yes, I believe wholeheartedly in Santa!

Not in the Mood for Christmas…Yet

It’s the holiday season, and I’m not in the mood for shopping yet.  Have you been there before?  It seems like with the weather being so nice that Christmas shouldn’t be here yet. And yet it is just around the corner.

How does one shop when they aren’t in the mood to shop?  I like to buy presents that I know the person will enjoy that I hand picked out for them.  The present may have been requested by them, but I picked it out.

Gradually, I’ve been working up to get into the mood to shop.  First I created my Christmas list…barely.  If you haven’t been thinking about what you want or need, it is very difficult to make a Christmas list.  I’ve been too busy with projects to think of what I want.

Then I requested a list from my parents.  Only one parent has complied thus far.  And for the record trying to get Christmas lists from people this year has been tough, so it must be in the air.

I’ve put the lists I have into a password protected app on my iPhone, and started doing research.  The first two items I looked up cost around $3,000.  There’s no way I’m paying that much for a present.  I doubt that the people who requested those presents knew that they cost that much otherwise they wouldn’t have been requested.  My first two attempts at finding presents failed. <Sigh> I took a break.  The motto is the older the kid (my parents and boyfriend are kids at heart); the more expensive the present.

And then with a clearer head, I searched for some more presents.  I’ve done research on presents, and everything.  Lunch at work is my research facility; since no one I’m buying for can see what I am researching.  The Christmas shopping ball is rolling.  Will everyone get what they want…no, but I hope they like what they get.

As for the Christmas spirit…I don’t have it yet.  I’m simply going through the motions.  I’m trying to get in it by playing Christmas music, but the weather needs to change.  For example, maybe we could have a nice flurry of snow or something.  Snow is what really gets me in the mood.  I think a lot of people are this way.  For the record I don’t want a lot of snow; just enough to get into the spirit.

I always seem to get into the Christmas mood at some point.  Last year it was on Thanksgiving as I was pouring through the ads and seeing awesome deals left and right.  This year, I have no idea when it will happen.  It may be as late as Christmas Eve when family walks through the door with smiling faces and stories to tell from the year or years past.

But I bet it happens as soon as I walk through my parents’ front door and see all of the Christmas decorations that they have put out.  It basically looks like Christmas threw up in my parents’ house.  Christmas is every where…no room or nook and cranny is exempt. This is a good thing because it even makes boyfriend smile as he cracks a joke.  My mother’s tree always looks like it should be in a store.  The people of Rockefeller Center should call her to decorate their tree.  Just thinking of what she could do with a tree that big blows the mind.

Here’s hoping that your holiday season is bright with happiness, and the Christmas Spirit.

Patience is Hard to Come By

The Cincinnati Cyclones have a new coach, Skalde.  Our previous coach, Weber, was very successful. Let me repeat very successful.  Two ECHL Championships in 4 years successful.  It has to be tough to come into a system that was very successful and have to deal with pressure from expectations.

To say the least we in Cincinnati are very spoiled.  We expect our ECHL Hockey team to continue to be successful even under a new coach because from our perspective there are a lot of returning players from last season’s championship team.  If those guys were successful last year, they should still be successful this year, right?

Under Weber, even if our team started the season slow (and it always did), we as fans had confidence that no matter what by the time January rolls around, our team will be one to be reckoned with.  It always was, and our record the last four seasons proves that.

The problem I see this year is that there is no confidence by the fans that Skalde can turn the team around because we don’t know him.  We only know Skalde by his past coaching performances which weren’t that great and what we have seen so far this year.  Neither of those two items inspires confidence from the fans.

On top of that Skalde doesn’t seem to be nearly as fan centered as Weber was.  Weber knew that his bread and butter were the fans.  Inspire the fans and make them believe, and they can lift up a hockey team to the next level.  The fans will be the 7th man on the ice to help in difficult games to put our team on top.  I’m not sure Skalde quite gets this, but maybe he’s shy being in a new city and all, but in comparison, Coach Weber would never have missed the annual season ticket holder dinner and would have held it right before the season started.  Of course for all I know Skalde had no say on when the dinner was held and therefore blame lies on the sales department.

As for how the team and coach Skalde are doing so far this season and where that will take us in the future; I am trying to keep an open mind, but boy when you get burned on the same outlet pass four times in a game and no change was made to stop it; it makes it hard to keep that open mind.  I keep telling myself that the guys from last year are learning a new system, and that it is going to be painful until we get it and that is assuming that the new system will be successful.

Coach Skalde has said that he wants our team to be an offensive team first.  I’m good with that, but I can tell you if we do not work on our defense then our offense is going to have to be scoring in the double digits to keep up.  So far, our defense is pathetic to say the least.  I am sure it will improve.  I don’t really see how it can’t…it is that bad.

Our goalies both need work as well…and work with the defense.  To both goalies, when I (we sit directly behind the score twice goal) can see a totally empty net and you are a foot off to the side…you are too far off to the side.  You will get burned and burned over and over by someone passing to the guy on the other side.  Because you are so far out, there is no way on this great earth you can get over to stop the shot.  Learn to stay closer to home.

To the defense, the fact that you allow that pass to occur, is not helping out our goalie.  Our goalies need help.  As a defense, you need to stop the guy who is streaking over to catch a pass.  You also need to man-up and be aggressive and hit the guy with the puck.  You do one of the two and that pass doesn’t occur and your goalie will be happier with you.

To our offense, where are you guys?  We are supposed to be an offensive team first.  That’s what our coach said.  So far I don’t see it.  We have a hard time even getting the puck into the zone and once we do break that plane, we can’t keep it in the zone.  Our poor goalie had a hard time getting off the ice, so that we could get another man on the ice because you weren’t doing your jobs.

I’m not even going to talk about the penalty kill or the power play.  Neither exists, so no point in talking about them.  Note to coach…we need both or I will start calling our power play a power kill again.  And as someone in our section said, “It’s not even a power kill when our five guys have to work hard against four to even get the puck in our zone.”  So, I’m not sure what to call it at this point.

So, from my perspective we need to work on all aspects of the game.  I don’t mean to dog you Cyclones, and I will be there for every win and every defeat, but you aren’t looking pretty right now.

My point is that as fans, we need to realize that there will be growing pains with a new coach and new goalies.  The Cyclones are traditionally slow starters for what ever reason.  I am currently hoping that our team is being its usual slow starter, and that come January we will be a force to be reckoned with.  Please as fans, do not say “Cyclones Suck” or “Boo” our team right now.  Do not be like Philadelphia fans and bring your own team down.  I would say right now, our team needs us the most.  If you need someone to boo, boo the refs.

In January, is when we can make a judgment call on the new coach; not right now.  Please give him a chance.  Skalde has huge shoes to fill and he’s going to make mistakes.  As long as he realizes his mistakes and learns from them, I will be happy.  This is ECHL hockey where players and coaches refine their skills.  So give them a break and be patient; even though it is very difficult right now.  Patience is very hard to come by isn’t it? 😉

Open Letter to Coach Chuck Weber

Dear Coach Weber,

First off let me give you a belated “CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! On the AHL Coaching job with Rochester.”  I am really, and truly happy for you. 🙂  You deserved a job in the AHL after the 2008 Cyclones championship, but I am happy that you stayed with us for two more years even if I am being selfish.

Back in 2006 when the Cyclones came back to Cincinnati, I wasn’t a big hockey fan because I had never been around it.  My boyfriend was though and he wanted to go to the opening night game.  We enjoyed ourselves and decided to attend the next game which as you probably remember there was a brawl and Matt Rogers wound up getting his head slammed to the ice.  That was my introduction to hockey.

For the record, I am not a big fan of hockey fights, but I understand them and why the guys fight.  I learned from you what a good fight is and what a bad fight is.  The problem is getting the rookie fans to understand that it was a bad fight even though our guy won the fight. 😉  I now have an understanding of that aspect of the game from a coach’s perspective and I look for it.

Anyway we started coming to the weekend games, and kept mainly to ourselves that first year.  But the one thing I noticed about you was that no matter what was going on; you always had a smile for us fans.  In 2006, the Cyclones were predicted to finish in last place.  You and the team far exceeded those goals and finished in fine fashion.

In the 2007-2008 season, boyfriend and I became partial season ticket holders and started interacting with our section who has become our second family.  The only games we missed that season were weekday games in November and December.  It was a once in a lifetime season with the team breaking records left and right along with Texas.  We knew that we were a part of something special, and you gave that to us.

That season, the nights that I loved most were the weekday nights.  What I loved most was that I could hear the players on the ice due to the crowd noise being down.  I believe I even heard you holler out once or twice. 😉  A crowd is nice for the arena, but it seems like a bond is made with the dedicated fans and the players during the weekday games.

When we won the championship, I was so proud for you and the guys.  You deserved it!  I told boyfriend in the car on the way home that we would probably lose you after that season.  I was happy for you, but also sad.   I knew you deserved to move up to the AHL, but I wanted you to stay with us because you were the only coach I knew.

Then the news came, that you were staying in Cincinnati for the 08-09 season.  What?  Why?  I was sad for you, but elated that you were back.  We became season ticket holders and attended the season ticket holder dinner at the start of the season.  You spoke to all the season ticket holders and explained how you were attacking this next season with the loss of a vast majority of the previous season players due to call ups to the AHL.

Here is where I absolutely became a dedicated fan of yours.  You looked us straight in the eye.  You made eye contact with us.  You were speaking to us; not at us.  You were also being very honest in that we were starting off with basically a new group of guys.  You explained that we would have a good team with the new recruits, but there was going to be a learning curve and that we needed to be patient.

And then you asked if there were any questions. 🙂  I think most of us were surprised at first that you, a coach of a professional team, would take the time to answer our questions.  We appreciated it.  We came to fully respect you because you respected us.  After that dinner, I started telling my ticket representative that when they have jersey auctions that they needed to include one for you.  I kept telling him that people will buy it.  Unfortunately, it never happened that season.

We also attended the pucks and pasta dinner where the players serve the fans and there was the first talent show and an auction afterwards.  I have never laughed so hard in my life.  This is the other thing that I loved about having you as a coach is that you taught the payers that the fans should be respected as well.  When the t-shirts off their backs were auctioned, the players signed the shirts, and you had them go out and shake hands with the person who won the auction.  I happened to get the Chuck Weber shirt and the Chris Burke t-shirt was boyfriends.  I was in shock when you came over and shook my hand.  I and the other winners of the auction will never forget the moment when we were made to feel special by you and the team.  Thank you!

That year we went to the playoffs again, and there was another dinner for ticket holders.  Even though you had to prepare for the playoffs, you once again took the time to speak with us.  Again, you spoke to us; not at us.  Boyfriend and I loved hearing your perspective of the team.  You are a very good speaker Coach Weber, and I applaud you.

That season we were in a tight playoff series that was tied and the final game was at home.  That game went to a double overtime, and we fans were cautiously nervous because we were confident we’d win.  We knew that you could coach our team to a win, and you didn’t let us down.  I remember our players changing every 15 to 30 seconds to keep their legs under them.  At first I thought it was strange, but when the second overtime started; our guys looked fresh whereas the other team looked sluggish.  It took very little time for Syro to score a goal in that second overtime.  You coached our team awesomely. 🙂

We wound up not winning the championship that year, but you gave us a lot of memories to enjoy.  Once again I swore that you would be given a job in the AHL because you took a team that was pretty much decimated and won the division plus made a strong playoff run.  Boyfriend agreed and we were just hoping that the new coach was a memorable as you were.  We were shocked, but elated to hear that you were back for the 09-10 season.

The 09-10 season was a rocky one.  At the start of the season, our defense/goalies were giving up a ton of points in a game, but our penalty kill was awesome.  We were shaking our heads at the start of the season.  But the one thing we all agreed on in our section was that with Coach Weber at the helm we would have a great team by the end of the regular season.  You did not disappoint us.  🙂

The one thing that we did joke about in our section was that instead of a power play; it was more like a power kill.  In that we had the man advantage, but were just killing time.  🙂 It is a joke that we had because it really seemed like we could not score on a power play.  🙂 Sorry…we were trying to keep our frustration down regarding our power play. 🙂  But you know what happened? When we needed it to in the playoffs, that power play scored. 🙂

AT the end of the year, the Cyclones had a jersey auction, and low and behold they had a jersey with your name on it.  I had all season been asking for them to have a Coach Weber jersey.  I even talked to the fans in my section about asking their representatives for it as well.  It worked, and I think the organization was shocked at how high it went.  I was going to bid on the jersey, but it went very high very fast, and I could not get it.  I was not surprised at this because you are truly the favorite Cyclones coach of all time for many fans.  We all want a Coach Weber jersey.

As fans the team was endearing if not frustrating the whole season.  One game they looked awesome and the next we were wondering if they all had the flu because they didn’t look good.  During the playoffs, the team just looked tired.  I think the biggest break was when Bon Jovi needed the arena and we got a 3 day break.  I don’t know what you did with the team during those 3 days, but whatever it was worked.  Our team did what very few others have done and came back from a 3 game deficit and won. 🙂

Once we got past that series, we fans knew it was won.  It was just a matter of when and where the championship would be won.  You and the team did it at home which I think is all the more special.  Last season was absolutely amazing to watch.  We didn’t have the glamour of the 2008 championship team, but the 2010 championship team had heart and scrappiness about them.  The two winning teams are so special for different reasons, but they both had you as the coach.

At the celebration on Fountain Square, the whole team was there and you know how hot it was, but you and the team stayed there for us fans.  When you spoke, you were very gracious and distributed the accolades every where.  It is nice that you are so humble and that is what is endears you even more to our hearts.  At the jersey auction, I got the Ortiz jersey.  I really liked how he played in the playoffs.  After I went over and got my jersey and came back to where boyfriend was, I looked over at you to see what you were doing.  You actually noticed me look towards you, and you made eye contact and smiled.  Again I felt special and it is these little things that you do for all fans that makes us feel so special.  Just one smile is all it takes for us.

The one thing that I one hundred percent trust you on is your recruiting.  I don’t know how you do it, but you can find talent in players that other coaches pass by.  You were willing to give a guy a chance to play in the ECHL.  You were also willing to at any time allow a player to go to a higher league which as a coach that had to be difficult.  But you pulled the team through those times, and found players that needed a chance to come out and prove themselves.  Many did and some didn’t, but every player gave their all for the team.

It is because of this trust that I am trusting that your replacement will be a good one.  Skalde has some huge shoes to fill, and it will be difficult for him because you are so liked here in Cincinnati.  Because of you, we are willing to give him a chance.  I appreciate that you worked it, so that you were still affiliated with our organization.  It gives us comfort to know that you are out there giving the advice which we fans respect.  I can only hope that Skalde takes some of it.

Boyfriend and I are trying to find a Rochester game that we can attend to see your new team in action.  I truly hope that you are as successful in Rochester as you were here, and that you eventually get a job in the NHL.  Once you make your millions in the NHL and are tired of that level, come on back to Cincinnati. 🙂 We’d love for you to spend your retirement on our bench training our young men to be great hockey players. 🙂

Thank you for the four awesome years that you gave us!

A Chuck Weber Fan for Life