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Tuesday, May 15, 2007  

Turning Turtle Part IV

I may have been premature a few weeks ago when I said Turtle was "better." Strictly speaking, it was an accurate statement, in the sense that she was "better" than she had been before. However, she wasn't quite "better" in the sense of "all better and not sick any more." Maybe I should have made that more clear so as not to get her smacked by the karma gods.

This is not to say that she's had a relapse or crashed again. All that happened is that after her red blood cell count got up to 27 and Dr. M. cut her Prednisolone dose to one per day, the next week her count was back down to 23, below the normal range. So now she's back on two Prednisolones per day, along with the quarter-tablet of Famotidine to prevent her from getting nauseated. So I'm back to giving her a total of three pills per day. Which is still better than forty-eight pills per day plus twelve squirts of liquid filth she was getting a few weeks ago, but it's still not quite as good as one pill per day. It's nowhere near as good as no pills per day. It's not even in the same universe as no pills per day plus no other cats that need two shots per day, but that way lies madness.

It's hard to forget that the reason we brought Turtle to the vet in the first place is because she was losing so much weight. She's gotten it back and then some. She's at her highest weight ever, literally. When she sits on the floor with her back to you and her tail curved behind her, she's starting to look like the letter Q. Apparently the steroids do that to you -- make you balloon out like Jerry Lewis. Dr. M. said that we may need to keep Turtle on the drugs for the rest of her life. We should of course encourage her Turtle to exercise, but we can't exactly measure out food for her every day with two other cats in the house (one of whom is diabetic and so needs access to food at all times), so we may just have to resign ourselves to having a fat cat. Well, at least she'll be popular in France.

What would really suck is if she gets so fat that she goes diabetic on us, and then I'm doing three pills and a total of four shots per day, but that way also lies madness. I'm on a madness tightrope here.

It has occurred to me to discontinue the Famotidine on the grounds that while she's slowly turning into a furry basketball with legs (which seem to be getting shorter), maybe a little nausea and attendant puking on her part wouldn't be such a bad thing. Would that be callous of me? And how do I turn off comments for a single entry?

As if this weren't enough, last week Strat had some kind of episode. He started getting all lethargic and his fur began turning spiky, a sign that he'd let his usually meticulous grooming slide. I tried to make an appointment for him with Dr. M. last week, but she was out until Monday. I suppose that we technically could have taken Strat to see the same vet who misdiagnosed Orca years ago instead, but we talked about it and decided that we preferred not to. The fact that we to this day affectionately refer to that vet as "the killer" should tell you all you need to know about those discussions.

Over the weekend, Strat got better. We paid him a lot more attention, and he became himself again. We kept the appointment anyway, and Dr. M. thought maybe his glucose level had just dropped for some reason and then rebalanced. The blood work she had done all came back looking good, despite how totally enraged he was when they took it out of him. Dr. M. was also pretty clear that if this happens again, we should bring him in right away. I didn't point out that in his condition, we weren't about to let "the killer" put his hands on him.

There was a time last week when I thought we might be about to say goodbye to Strat. He's almost 17, after all, and has been diabetic for three and a half years. The tiny glass bottle of insulin in the fridge -- which theoretically holds a thousand doses, enough for five hundred days -- is getting low. I'm guessing it'll last for about another five weeks. Last week I caught myself wondering if we might not have to buy another bottle before it runs out.

But like I said, he's better now, and while we were at the vet, I had them get me another vial of liquid hormone. The shots for Strat are actually easier than the pills for Turtle; unlike his sister, Strat hasn't yet figured out how to spit the injection back out the way it went in if I do it wrong. The biggest pain is spending a hundred dollars on a 10-cc vial. You normally don't get amounts that small for prices like that unless you're buying something illegal.

So between that and Turtle's repeat visits that are almost becoming part of a weekly routing, it makes me really glad I'm changing jobs next month. The extra cash will come in handy.

posted by M. Giant 7:30 PM 7 comments


Im guessing Strat is on PZI Insulin? Just try telling your boss you broke a brand-new bottle of it...

By Blogger Elizabeth, at May 15, 2007 at 8:50 PM  

Seriously, pet insurance. I use VPI - petinsurance.com. They're really great, not too expensive, and you can charge either a spay/neuter or vaccines every year, so even if your pet is totally healthy you can get your vaccines taken care of.

When my last dog died, it took the better part of a year and cost me $15,000 in total. I'd do it all over again in a second, but when I got this dog, I got her insured immediately because I just don't have another fifteen grand.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 16, 2007 at 6:24 AM  

We refer to our fat cat as a meatloaf on legs. As he is white, my parents call him as a shmoo. We have two other cats, so when he snuggles with the smallest, I call them "Fat Man and Little Boy". Also, Mr. Chubbykins, Chub-Chub, Fatty McFatfat. Yet he is totally healthy and on the scale not excessively huge. The vet has no problem with his weight. Some cats are just big cats.

I also have a killer vet, who waited to long to do anything for my boy (FUS) and his kidney's failed and well, there's nothing to do once that happens. I particularly didn't enjoy going in to see him one last time, to get my boy's collar and ahem, oh yes, there's the matter of this $600 bill for a dead cat. That just doesn't seem fair to me. So, whenever I drive past the killer's office I make, um, nasty comments and hand gestures. And it's been 10 years. I'm not bitter, no, not me.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 16, 2007 at 8:09 AM  

Skipping the Pepcid wouldn't be callous, necessarily, but it definitely has the potential to cause more problems- the steroids can actually cause ulcers, because it alters the GI pH. So yes, Turtle would lose his appetite, but he'd also probably sprout a whole new problem to fix. Yuk.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 16, 2007 at 8:25 AM  

Holy guacamole! That's some expensive insulin!! I am diabetic, as was my late dog, and I have never paid that much for insulin for either of us. But I use ordinary R and NPH and the dog took U, which we just bought at Walmart and is so cheap that (for mine) it's not even covered by my insurance. Strat's must be a still-under-patent type. Call around to various pharmacies - you may be able to get it cheaper from a human pharmacy (Sam's or Costco are often dirt cheap).

By Blogger Bunny, at May 16, 2007 at 11:50 AM  

Too bad about the pill increase but at least Turtle is on the mend. One of my guys needs eye drops and I believe that's right up there with liquid filth.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 17, 2007 at 5:08 PM  

Speaking as a human who spent years on pred, do not get between the patient and the food. Only leads to bloodshed. There's not much you can do about the puffiness either, as my aunt's cat (aka The Fur Covered Beachball) can attest.

Weirdly, it was easier to do the 3X per week subcutaneous fluids (kidney problems) for my cat than it was to get liquid medication into her. After the first few times with the needles and tubing she realized that A) I wasn't going to give up and B) it made her feel better, so she'd just let me know when the needle had hit a non-ouchy spot and stretch out on my lap for the 3-5 minutes it took to run the saline.

Amoxicillan though? Pff. She learned how to hold the medication in her mouth and spit it out after you'd set her back down on the floor. I don't know how that's less objectionable than just swallowing the disgusting stuff (I got to taste it too a few times) but she was probably considering it a moral victory.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 20, 2007 at 12:12 AM  

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