When Heidi Revere went to work for a Madisonville veterinarian in the fall of 2009, her mother issued a warning.
"I told Heidi, 'You're going to come across a lot of situations when you're going to want to bring an animal home, but no animals are coming home,'" Angela Revere said.
Heidi's mom knew what a soft spot for animals her daughter had. From the time she was a little girl, she had been adding pets to the family menagerie at an alarming rate.
"Heidi never played with baby dolls," she said. "Since she was 2 years old, it was always animals."
For more than a year, Heidi managed to arrive home from her job empty-handed. Then one day in late December, the inevitable phone call came.
"Mama, we have this pitiful little kitten," Heidi, 17, began.
"No, Heidi," her mother told her.
"I can't leave here without him," Heidi said.
When her mom heard what had happened, she relented, and Heidi brought the one-eyed kitten home.
Santos' story begins with Sue Boudreau, who lives in Magnolia Gardens near Covington. She was taking her daughter Taylor to school on a cold December morning when she spotted the forlorn gray and white bundle of fur.
"It had been two nights of freezing, freezing temperatures, and here was this baby kitten hunched down in a little ball by the road," Boudreau said.
Taylor jumped out of the car and picked up the kitten.
"She said, 'Mama, this kitty's hurt,'" Boudreau said. "It was just an awful mess, and it had a big thing of blood on its eye. I thought maybe a coyote had gotten it."
She took the kitten to Tchefuncte Animal Hospital where Heidi works, and she left him in the care of her vet, Dr. David Moores.
Later that day, Heidi called her.
"She said, 'Miss Sue, you won't believe what we found in this little kitten. Somebody shot him with a pellet gun,'" Boudreau said.
Moores found one pellet in the cat's leg, and an x-ray showed two more in his left eye and one in his shoulder.
"I couldn't imagine anyone doing that," Boudreau said. "For most people where I live, their pets are their babies."
The starving kitten was running a fever, and infection had set in where he'd been shot in his eye. Boudreau told Moores to do whatever he needed to do to save him.
"Fom the time we picked him up, he was so sweet," she said. "He was just purring all the time."
Because his eye was damaged, Moores had to remove it, and Boudreau asked him to neuter the little tom while he was under anesthesia. She wanted the baby who had gone through so much to have a long healthy life. But she has seven Yorkies, a cat and a cockatoo, so she was planning to find a loving home for him.
"I was delighted to find out Heidi wanted to adopt him," she said. "She told me, 'Miss Sue, I know my mom's just going to have a fit, but she'll be okay when she sees this kitty.'"
And she was. Two days before Christmas, Heidi brought the kitten home. She named him Santos, which means "Saint" in Spanish, and is also the name of a UFC wrestler. In no time, Machida, the Reveres' other cat (named for another UFC wrestler), started grooming his new friend.
Heidi had adopted Machida when he was a kitten, too.
"I was at a friend's house, and they had four litters of kittens about a week apart," she said. "Her dad told her, 'If nobody takes them, they're going to be target practice,' so I scooped him up and brought him home."
In addition to the two cats, the Reveres have Blaze, a 14-year-old Lab mix; Bear, a Rottweiler-basset hound Heidi rescued when he was a scrawny puppy; Sammy, a 7-year-old ferret; and Pettie, a cockatiel.
"I also have two gerbils and some fish," Heidi said.
They are all inside pets, in spite of the rule her parents came up with three years ago when they built their new house near Covington.
"It was supposed to be 'No animals in the house.' And now look at us," her mom said, laughing.
Outside, there are more. Heidi's ducks live on the backyard pond, and Hunka, her 20-pound pet rooster, struts around the yard with his hens.
She found a home for the 80-pound goat she rescued after Hurricane Katrina. And then there's the "white ferret" her grandfather found and brought to her. He didn't stick around for long.
"He turned out to be an albino skunk, and he sprayed my pawpaw," she said. "We let him go after a week."
Three years ago, when Heidi was a freshman at Covington High School, she had to decide on her senior project. She chose the subject of animal abuse.
"I always got angry when I saw it, so I wanted to learn more about it," she said.
Now, she has a thick binder full of her research and a one-eyed kitty who bears the scars of some cruel person.
Santos had his stitches removed on Jan. 2, and he is doing remarkably well.
"It's awesome watching him recover so quickly and adjust to having one eye," Heidi said. "And Machida used to be a grumpy little cat, but now he's happy."
There is one faceless villain in Santos' story, and there are quite a few heroes: Boudreau, who rescued the wounded kitten and paid his veterinary bills; Moores, who billed her only for his expenses and not his services; Angela and Arland "Bubby" Revere, who welcomed their daughter's latest pet into their home. And, of course, there's Heidi, who always has room for one more animal in her big, loving heart.
Sheila Stroup's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday in Living. Contact her at email@example.com or 985.898.4831.
Dr. Moores recently completed the Ford Ironman Louisville and here is his race report for your reading pleasure...
IM Louisville Race Report (2.4 mile swim/112 mile bike/26.2 mile run) 8/29/10
Bruce, Amy, Molly, Mark, and I all arrived up in Louisville on Thusday evening and were greeted by 68 degree weather and no humidity. We had a good time over the next few days seeing the city, going to the expo, and eating out. Celeste, Clay, Robert, and Mr. Barkerding all joined us in the days before race day (Sunday).
Unfortunately, the weather got hotter and hotter so by race day, the high was 97 degrees with 90% humidity. I guess we brought the heat with us up from Louisiana! We had trained in the worst possible heat and humidity in the months leading up to this race, so we'd had done everything to prepare and were ready, or at least I thought so.
Before I get into things, I would like to thank Celeste for putting up with me with the training and obsessive preparations for this race. Also, not only did she do that, she came all the way up to Louisville and spent the entire day outside in the heat watching the race and cheering me on! Not to forget Eugenie, Margie, Cackey, and Cheryl for watching the kiddos! I need to thank all the volunteers and police officers who made this race possible. Thank you for spending 17 hours outside handing out drinks, preparing food, directing traffic, and cheering us on. We really appreciated all your hard work and enthusiasm! Thank you!
Race day, we all got up at 4:00 am and headed to the start at the Tumbleweed restaurant on the Ohio River. This race was unique in that it was a time trial start so we joined a line that seemed a mile long. However, we got a good spot that wasn't too far back from the front, thanks to Bruce. We waited in line in the dark till 7am when the cannon went off. The line started moving quickly and we started running down the marina dock and jumped into a small channel off the Ohio.
I couldn't see anything on the swim. The Ohio is dark and muddy and I couldn't see my own hand in front of my face but the water felt cool and nice. I swam upriver in the channel past Towhead island to the turnaround buoy about maybe 3/4th of a mile upriver. At the turnaround, I looked up and I could see the railroad and I-65 bridges just downriver. They seemed to be just a little ways away but it took forever to get there! I stayed to the outside, towards the main channel to keep away from the barges lining the island and to avoid the crowds. I didn't notice much of a current, though. Even though it took a while, I enjoyed the swim and pretty much avoided getting run over or kicked, etc. When I finally reached the steps in front of Joe's, I felt pretty good and climbed out and ran to transition. Checking my watch, I saw I did the swim in 1:20 which was my target goal, so right on time! (thanks Caroline!)
I grabbed my bag and hit the changing tent and quickly pulled my top on, got my cycling gear on and took the time to apply a liberal application of Boudreaux's Butt Paste "down there" for comfort. After a quick visit to the bathroom, I hopped on the bike and headed off to the hills of Kentucky.
It wasn't long before I realized those rolling hills were more like mini-alps! We have rolling hills in SE LA but by our definition, these KY hills were mountains. I had to work hard to get up some of these hills but the downhills were fast, fun and a chance to get some of that lactic acid out and recover. A lot of people were stopping, getting off their bikes, and pushing them up some of the hills. The scenery was pretty and I saw a lot of horse farms and river scenes that were impressive.
The morning started to heat up pretty quickly and before long, the mercury was in the upper 90s and the humidity was right there along with it. It felt like I was back home in the swamp but with hills added to the mix. I was feeling good till about mile 60 when I hit an aid station and discovered they were out of water. Not good. I drink a mixture of Carbo Pro, Accelerade, and electrolytes that is in powder form and needs to be mixed with water. All they had was this hot, nasty Gatorade imitation called Perform. Don't ever buy this stuff. No one else would drink it since it tastes so bad so that's why the water ran out. I couldn't mix the Perform with the powder as it made me feel sick with too much carbs, etc. so I kept going, hoping the next stop would have water.
Unfortunately, I was out of luck. No water at the next stop nor at the special needs bad stop either. I was riding in 97 degree weather with nothing to drink but powder and a warm Perform bottle. At the next stop (about mile 70) I snagged a water bottle that was filled from a garden hose. It tasted like it was the best thing on earth, but it wasn't enough. At mile 80, I got another bottle that was filled from a swimming pool and reeked of chlorine but I had no choice but to take it in. Finally at mile 105 or so, I was able to get a nice cold bottle of water which if I didn't get, I would have probably had to quit before finishing the bike. In the midst of all this, I was still going up and down hills and fighting a headwind the last 30 miles back to town. The road was rough and my back and neck were just tightening up and with all that, I was in a pretty bad mood.
During the last 30-40 miles of the bike, in spite of how slow I was going, I realized I was passing a lot of people. Not only that, I began noticing people just stopping and sitting on the side of the road. I would guess I saw someone quit about every ½ mile or so. I also noticed about every 10-15 minutes, an ambulance would go flying by with lights flashing. At about 20 miles to go, I saw someone get loaded into one.
I was hoping for a 6:15 bike but it ended up taking me 7:19 which shocked me and I was really disappointed in that. I also ended up only taking in 3.5 24oz bottles of nutrition mix when I needed 6-7 and I attribute that to the lack of water on the course.
The poor bike performance coupled with dehydration and lack of nutrition made me think seriously about quitting at T2 (bike to run transition). I stood in the tent for a few seconds and realized that I was likely only going to be here once and may not make it back to Ironman, so I decided to go for a walk.
I sat down and changed my socks and shoes as fast as I could but every time I leaned over, I would cramp up. I did get them on eventually and took some more salt tablets then set out. I walked out of transition and up the hill towards the Ohio river bridge. It was hot, humid, and I was miserable. Halfway up the bridge, there was an aid stop and I grabbed some more water and a banana. I tried to eat the banana and it came right back up so I thought I'd better stay away from solid food for a while.
It took me 19 minutes to reach Mile 1. I began to realize that 26 miles was a hell of a long way to walk and I needed to get moving so I started a slow run. It was more like a half-run/staggering motion but I got into a rhythm and started putting down 14-15 minute miles. This was a far cry from my usual 9 min/mile pace but better than walking for sure. There was an aid stop every mile and I would grab a sip of water with some salt tabs and either some Perform (yeech!) or coke. I kept trying to eat things but whatever I swallowed would just come right back up.
The course went from downtown past the University of Louisville, Churchill Downs, and to the airport and back. It was a double loop course so we had to go out twice. Even though I was going slowly, I was passing people left and right. I was still getting passed by the faster runners on their second loop but then I started to see a surreal sight.
I am not kidding, by the time I neared the end of the first loop, I began to see people just dropping like flies. Every 300-400 yards I would see someone lying alongside the road or just sitting on the curb. I saw more people than I can count on all fours vomiting in lawns. I probably saw 10 or 15 unconscious people being tended to. One lady was sitting in the middle of the road crying. Bruce saw one guy pass out while running. The guy started convulsing and foaming at the mouth and a spectator called 911 for an ambulance. Speaking of, an ambulance would go by every few minutes to pick up someone and these bike medics were everywhere checking on people. I have never seen anything like that before. The carnage was unbelievable.
At the halfway turn around, it was a bit depressing as you could see the finish line and people were headed in, having done the whole race, but I knew I had to go back out again once more. I came around a turn and I saw our cheering squad, the purple "Ironman from Cajun Land" crowd! (Thanks Amy!). I got to see Celeste and it made me feel so much better. I told her to hang tight and I'd see her in a bit and kept going.
If the first loop was bad, the second loop was downright miserable. It was all I could do to keep going. I still couldn't eat anything and could only take a small sip of water or coke at each aid stop. I did get my hands on some chicken broth which I was able to keep down and that made me feel a lot better. I was hurting pretty bad by this point and my feet were on fire. I thought about taking my shoes off and continuing barefoot as they were so wet and hurt so bad but I was too afraid to stop in fear I wouldn't be able to get going again. Worse, it began to get dark. I had really wanted to finish before dark at about 14 hours so I was really disappointed.
The miles clicked off and I lost track of time and all of a sudden I realized I was at the 23 mile mark! I said to myself, "3 miles, 5K, you can do this in your sleep!" and I picked up the pace a little. My legs were dead, my stomach was revolting and I started to get this tunnel vision thing going where everything on the periphery was getting blurry. "Just keep moving," I kept telling myself, "Can't quit now!"
Arriving downtown, the street was lined with cheering people and the crowds got bigger and bigger the closer I got to the finish. I came around the 4th street corner alongside this guy who I'd been going back and forth with for the past 5 miles. I turned to him and said, "Why don't you run us in?" and let him go first. I followed him down the finish chute into the spotlights.
I crossed the finish line in 15:28 and change. This guy led me to a chair and when I sat down, I sort of passed out for a second or two. Apparently I wasn't responding to their questions so they made me get on a stretcher and hauled me off to the medical tent in the convention center. I saw Celeste and Mr. Barkerding at this point and they came with me to the medical area.
They moved me to a cot in this giant room with hundreds of other people all receiving IVs or oxygen, etc. I waited there lying out for about 10-15 minutes or so but then I felt better. I took my shoes off which was a relief, stood up, and walked out of there. Celeste was waiting for me outside. I grabbed a pizza and a drink and just relaxed outside on the street for a while. I downed a few Perform bottles, some water, and a large Gatorade and felt a whole lot better. We saw Bruce come by and head to the medical tent and caught up with Molly who finished a bit earlier and Mark who had a great day.
Eventually, we all got together and went to pick up the bikes. Somehow I ended up with Celeste in the van so the two of us went to McDonalds and I got a cheeseburger, fries, and a sprite. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was almost 2am. Back at the hotel, I took a shower and then realized I hadn't gone to the bathroom since about 8:30 that morning (18 hours ago!). I told Celeste that I wasn't going to sleep until I did go and if not, she was taking me to the ER. Fortunately, a few minutes later, all that Gatorade, etc. kicked in and all was well and I got a well-deserved sleep that night!
The next morning, I was still disappointed in my time but really glad I just finished. At breakfast, Robert told us that out of about 2,700 starters, 970 people did not finish! (35% attrition rate) Of 40 pros, 20 quit. That definitely made me feel a lot better. It was quite an experience and I feel like I would have done better but the conditions are part of the race and everyone has to deal with it, but I enjoyed the whole experience and am glad I did it and am even more happy I finished!
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