Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Serious "Learn From My Mistakes"

I have a 16 year old cat named Dixie, that I love as much as I possibly could. I love her like she's human. She was a birthday gift to me from my husband after we had newly married. She came from a shelter in Kenosha, WI. She was about a year old when she came home to us.

Over the last couple of months, I thought I was just starting to see her age. She started peeing on the carpet in the back entry way, but pooing in her litter box (No blood in her urine and no crying when she peed, so she didn't have a UTI). Over the last few weeks, it looked like she'd lost a pound. She's never been a big girl. Her fur started to look a little rough. She sounded a little wheezy at times, but she'd been diagnosed with seasonal asthma/allergies. She started vomiting and she wasn't working on hairballs.

I looked her symptoms up online and decided she had to have hyperthyroidism. All the signs were there, so I bought a thyroid support supplement online for her and started using it.

She's always been a solitary cat and never goes outside. I haven't gotten a lot of her vaccinations done over the years for those reasons, and her distemper shot always made her so woozy afterwards.

So over the last two weeks, all of a sudden she went downhill. I took her to the vet on Monday after a particularly bad Sunday of lots of bouts of vomiting. She weighed 5.19 lbs but all of her organs were good, including her heart. The vet thought hyperthyroidism was the best guess so they took blood to do some screens. The vet called me back that night: it's not hyperthyroidism and she didn't know what it is.

Dixie eats like she's starving and then throws it up three hours later. It's like a schedule. She's wasting away before my eyes. It's killing me. I haven't cried like this since Jeanie passed.

So back to the vet on Wednesday for more tests: x-rays and an ultrasound. The new expected diagnosis was lymphoma. Turns out, that wasn't the case either. There are some weird looking cells in her liver but it's not cancer. Right now, it's just some kind of infection, probably. The vet wanted to do a heartworm test (there was enough blood still from Monday for that) and take a sample of her liver for analysis, but I drew the line at taking a piece of her liver. It's too invasive for such a little girl. By the end of the day on Wednesday, the vet weighed her at an even 5 lbs.

So I took my girlie home. The vet said we should still try to take care of her. I thought for sure that I'd be bringing home a dead cat on Wednesday night (having her put to sleep) and it broke my heart. I have enough steroid pills (to get some weight on her) for a month and a good start on some antibiotics (to clear up the unknown infection). Shane and I agreed that we would try this for a month, monitor Dixie, and decide the next step then. We have a follow up appointment in a week and a half. Shane even made up a med chart for us to follow.

So the moral of my story is to not be like me. Don't be a know it all, so convinced of your own troubleshooting/animal diagnosing/overall cat knowledge to think you can diagnose and treat your own pets. I should have taken Dixie to the vet sooner. But I thought I knew what the hell I was talking about, that the hyperthyroidism made sense because she's 16 and it's a condition a lot of older cats get, and I didn't want her to have surgery, let someone dig around in her neck.

My stomach is in knots. I wish I had done something sooner, because now, my girlie, the best little cat to have ever lived, doesn't feel good.

I gave her a little cold milk this morning and a tiny pinch of shredded cheese before taking the antibiotic. Then, I gave her a little bit of canned tuna that I shredded up more by hand, and warmed with a little lukewarm tap water. She even sampled  some of Cujo's dog food. She ate it all like it was the best meal she's ever had. I had to leave before the three hour window was up, so I don't yet know if she's gotten sick from it. I'm afraid to call my husband to find out. I'm here at work on a break, because Thursdays are my late nights. Tonight when I get home, I'll give her the steroid pill, crushed up in some more wet food and then her liquid antibiotic.

I kind of hate myself right now.

Part of me thinks that because of how torn up I am over her health, maybe I am too attached to her. I made Shane promise me he'll be my voice of reason if the time comes to put her to sleep and I just can't bring myself to do it. I know he'll be reasonable with me.

I also think that after I no longer have Dixie and Cujo, that maybe I shouldn't have dogs and cats anymore. I get too attached to them, like when they hurt, I hurt, because they are somehow an extension of me. Maybe I should stick with fish or birds. Shane said if I think that's best, then that's okay, but I think he'll never go for that, that he would insist I need a dog and cat like I need my glasses. Those animals are just an ingrained part of my life.

I've always been kind of a "wait and see" kind of a person where medical care is concerned, for myself and even for my pets. I don't run to the doctor everytime I cough or have a pulled muscle. And I know I really shouldn't be that way with my pets because they can't tell me when they don't feel good. At least, not in English, anyway.

Letting Dixie get sick has been an expensive lesson for me to learn ($700+ in 3 days at the vet's office) but really, I'm learning it more at her expense than my own. The credit card will be paid off, but her weight and health will be hard earned, if we can get her there again.

No matter how sick she's been, she still comes to bed with us at night. She lays down between us and purrs. She's my security blanket whenever things go wrong in life, and while I love that nightly purr, it breaks my heart to think that no matter what, she still wants to be with us to sleep.

I've talked to her a lot the last couple of days and even apologized to her (alone, away from Shane). I know she loves me and has forgiven me (but she probably wasn't ever mad at me anyway) and gave me a nice headbutt and rub of her cheek to let me know everything was still good between us. She is very much the little empath.

I should be off tonight at 9-ish, and home around 9:30-ish. I can't wait to go home and see her. I just want to hold her and feed her and turn her into a chubby little girl.

Love your pets like the family they are, but don't let your human ego get in the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment