feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)

Just a photo of my best friend, taken on October 16th, 2011. Today (April 3rd 2015) marks the 3 month anniversary of his passing over the Rainbow Bridge.

Thank you, Ra. Though losing you was devastating, I want to remember you as you were in hale and hearty days.

Thank you for sharing your journey and all of your love with me. Daddy misses you dearly, buddy.
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
You read that correctly: $3,097.04. That's what I paid for Ra's medical care in 2014. Well, correction -- that's the total of the receipts that are in front of me. There's a file somewhere in my records cabinet that has other receipts for 2014 medications and surgeries, so the true dollar figure is actually higher, probably by another $300-$500.

All that money spent, all those medications and procedures that he had to endure ... and I couldn't help him to last past New Years. I still don't know if I did the right thing or not. In a very specific sense I have no regrets. It's not as if I think it was "poorly spent" money. I'd spend it all again (and then some) without even thinking about it. But filing these receipts, reading the labs performed and medications prescribed? I just don't know. That I have regrets, that perhaps I kept him here too long through too much pain.

I can feel the grief swelling up inside again. There's a tight feeling in my chest that always accompanies the tears that come when I think about Ra and how much I miss him.

I think it is going to be a long, lonely night.

Got a picture of you I carry in my heart


Jan. 31st, 2015 11:38 pm
feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
"Empty" by Jason Olsen

Title: "Empty"

It has been four weeks since I lost my best friend, today.

My heart is empty as his bed and collar.
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
I said farewell to my best friend today at 2:40pm. He'd been part of my life for 16 years. Ra had seen me both at my best and at my worst. I chose him from a rescue in 1999 because he looked like "a little black panther," but there was nothing little about how he lived or how he loved. He filled a hole in my heart that I didn't know I had. I'm so devastated right now.

Be at peace, Ra. You were part of my life for the last 16 years. You are always part of my shadow, now
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
It has been confirmed, Ra is terminal.

Who dares to love forever, when love must die
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
Ra went in for a follow-up of blood work today. The results are increasingly worrisome on top of his results from last week:

  • BUN is higher (Kidney - bad)
  • Anemia is worse (Liver - bad)
  • Bilirubin is higher (Kidney - bad)
  • ALT is down from 1400 to 950, which is better but is still way out of whack (Liver - sorta good)

His creatinine is okay (kidneys) and the level of potassium is normal (finally) but what has me concerned is that this is almost the same thing that hit Diva. She had a "perfect storm" of anemia + kidney failure advancing into the next stage. I'm fearful that this is what is happening with Ra. How do you treat kidney failure? You administer sub-cutaneous fluids. The problem with fluids? You dilute the blood stream and exasperate the anemia.

Our vet is going to re-run the existing blood work and try to get some clarification from the lab as to what type of anemia he has, which can help steer us towards a better treatment plan.

What scares me is that one of the plans involves blood transfusion. Cat. Blood. Transfusion. Because there are just warehouses of feline blood and plasma waiting for situations like this.

All these numbers are joining together and telling a story that's scaring me badly, so badly that I can't even articulate what I'm feeling right now. My productivity for the night is shot, the work I had slated to do for the evening is beyond my level of concentration at this point.

I'm going to wait a bit longer for the air to cool off and then I'm going to go BBQ something and hope that it distracts me. I'll probably end up burning everything because I can't put the right level of focus on it.

But the cat came back, she wouldn't stay away, she was sitting on the porch the very next day.
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
Reposted from this entry by [personal profile] lady_curmudgeon. I have obviously been talking with her every day, but not very much here or on Facebook. I just don't really find myself able to talk about it much in those other settings. I don't know if that's because I'm dealing with it by not dealing with it, or what... but please focus here or Facebook and I'll repost what Mudge shares. Or better yet, you can follow her directly.

We finally got the diagnostic report from Ra's procedures last Monday, as you well know. Last we knew, from Dr. B. was Ra would be on the Chlorambucil (the chemo drug) once/daily for six weeks, then every 72 hours thereafter depending on his clinical response. Dr. B said he would call right away to get the drug ordered and to us so we could start treatment.

Go in on Friday for Ra's first B-12 shot. Ask about the Chlorambucil--he's not gotten ahold of any yet, nor has he ordered any, and will make more calls for it later in the day. Sigh. We really wanted Ra to start this treatment regimen ASAP in order to keep the pre-cancerous cells in check and not have them develop into CANCER! WTF?!!?!

At least, in the good news department, Dr. B gave us six weeks worth of pre-filled syringes of B-12 for Ra for us to administer at home rather than bring him in once a week and get him all riled up with a ride to the vet and a vet encounter (which he hates) when we can do it at home and avoid all that stress on him. It's administered sub-cutaneously, so it'll be easy for J to give to him every Friday...Dr. B even gave us a bit of a deal on the B-12 shots. :)

So I call the Dr. B early yesterday afternoon--Chlorambucil still not ordered, largely because Dr. B left the office early yesterday for a wake for the family member of one of his techs. What the everlasting fuck?!?! Decided we couldn't wait any longer, so I asked the tech to ask Dr. B (who was predictably swamped with Saturday morning patients) if we could at least order some of the med from VCA Aurora, if they had it. He said that would be fine, so we called VCA Aurora and, thank Bast, they had the med in stock. Thank Bast, and for many reasons...

VCA Aurora continues to impress. They didn't have anybody from the internal medicine department or the pharmacy in the clinic because it was the weekend, but Dr. Mac from ER heard what was going on and was willing to personally dispense us at least 6 pills to get us through about two weeks worth of treatment so that we could pick it up right away. Six pills for two weeks? Turns out Dr. B either misspoke or misunderstood the Tx instructions--Ra is to get the Chlorambucil every other day for six weeks, not every day! I read the Tx summary copy we got from Dr. B and yep--says EOD, which is every other day to my understanding...Sigh, now I'm worried about Dr. B's ability to treat Ra for Dr. M over at VCA Aurora! UGH!!

We were able to talk to Dr. Mac when we picked up the med to ask her some basic questions--when to dose, with or without food, potential side-effects to watch out for. She was WONDERFUL!! Turns out she's also an internal medicine doc in addition to being an ER doc, so she was able to give us all the information we needed! :) She explained she was only willing to dispense two weeks worth of the med because she wants us to closely monitor Ra for any negative side effects and didn't want us to pay for too much of the med in case he ends up unable to tolerate it and ends up needing to try another med. It's to be taken in the morning with his 5mg of prednisone, preferably with food, but since he's got a tendency to vomit his feeds if he's fed too soon after medication, we're to try giving him the two meds about an hour before we feed him in the AM.

Because he fights us with the potassium supplement in particular, Dr. Mac suggested we not give Ra that particular med on the mornings we give him the Chlorambucil so he'll be more apt to not fight the Chlorambucil pill on those mornings because it's so important for him to get that med in him with minimal fuss. She also suggested we try compounded liquid version of the potassium so Ra's not taking as many pills at once, to give him a break on so many pills. She initially suggested we try compounding it ourselves by crushing the pills and adding the crushed pills to chicken, tuna, or clam juice, but given that Ra's on a hypoallergenic diet that idea might not be the best one and that we should wait and talk again to internal medicine proper on Monday to order the liquid from the VCA pharmacy...

Side effects we can expect from the Chlorambucil are GI upset, immuno-compromise in the form of bone marrow suppression, lack of appetite, decrease in white and red blood cells. Standard stuff for chemo treatment. They'll build over time as his blood saturation of the drug increases. She emphasized the importance of the monthly CBCs to monitor these things.

I asked about Rx foods--he seems to like the W/D alright so far, but what if he starts to reject it? She said we'd have to work with Dr. M from internal medicine to make the decision, but there are a number of other high fiber/low fat Rx diets that could work for him if needs be. That was good to know, just in case.

We think it's taken Dr. B so long to get us any Chlorambucil because it's pretty pricey--the six pills we got from VCA cost $125! Holy Hannah!! I'm thinking it's a combination of the med not being terribly common and that Dr. B is trying to find us the best deal possible for the med as well--he's a cheap bastard and tries to pass the savings onto his clientele. That being said, getting us SOME of the med should've been a priority and that he thought it was a once/daily med vs. every other day is a bit disconcerting and concerning. I'm starting to think Ra's care should be taken over by Dr. Lehal and associates at Brookville Animal Hospital, which is much closer to home an they seem to have it together a bit better than Aurora Cat Clinic. It's something J and I will have to discuss, definitely. I know we both want Ra to get the best and most competent care possible. Not to say that Dr. B is incompetent in any way, it's just that he's made not made any points lately, especially about being incorrect on the dosing regimen on the Chlorambucil. I just don't know...

Ra got his first dose of the Chlorambucil this morning. He wasn't happy about not being fed right after he got his pills like he normally is, but he managed okay. Waited to feed the other two monsters until Ra ate because, when hungry, Ra has a tendency to scavenge off of Lars' bowl. I though the Young Ones were going to explode, they were SOO HUNGRY!! :/ Whatevs, they managed to wait, so it was all good. Now we wait and see how Ra reacts to the Chlorambucil...
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-tonysoprano)
For those who don't follow my [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon's journal, she's been sick for the last 4 days or so. I came down with the Martian Death Flu on Monday, spiking an all-time high temperature of 102.8F sometime last night (I think around 1945 hours? I don't recall. Time is without meaning right now). I've been fluctuating between 99.9F and 101.6F since then.

I blame a coworker for getting me sick. Ug, it may or may not have been you.

Of course I called in sick to work today. That doesn't mean I got to sleep in, however. I had to haul [livejournal.com profile] ra_kitty up to Schaumburg to see his vet. Without the physical exam the vet's office refused to refill his prescription for Prednisone. Without the Pred, he becomes a very harfy kitty (as he's been for the last five days). So off we went at 0800 this morning. Got there at 0845, waited until 0900, went in for what I thought was an 0910 appointment. Found out it was actually for 0920. Was seated in an exam room and ignored until 0940 -- twenty minutes after the appointment, and I was the first person the vet saw today. That's fantastic customer service. Poking, prodding, yowling was had. Got Ra back at 0950 and was left to sit until 1007 when they finally came by with his pills and the bill. $245.70. Holy crap. His meds cost $12, but to get those I had to pay almost twenty times that amount. Expensive damn cat.

Drove back home, in the door my 1100, had to spend the next 36 minutes resolving an issue for work because I'm the only one with any knowledge of how our VPN system works. Hooray for never getting any off time, even when I'm coughing and hacking and feverish! Once that was done I curled up under the blankets and slept. sometime during my nap Ra joined me on the bed. He's pretty clearly worn out too, from all the yelling & fussing he did. I'm sure the vaccinations and blood draw hasn't done wonders for his energy levels, either.

I just finished a bowl of soup that took me about 20 minutes to eat! I suspect it is because I have zero appetite. Once I finish a quick skim of LJ I'm going to go lay back down in bed and try to catch a few more hours of sleep.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blahblahblah)
I've up and made a macro of [livejournal.com profile] ra_kitty and then posted it to [livejournal.com profile] cat_macros. I somehow believe that he will never never forgive me for this. But at least I brought something new to the "Invisible" meme for cat macros!
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-lurve)
I had just finished making the bed and was getting ready to settle in under a mound of sheets, blankets and comforters to hibernate for the evening and in so doing also hide from the bitter, nasty cold that has taken control of my particular portion of the Midwest (it's 18F, -9C right now... before windchill). While I was making the bed Ra was indulging in a kitten-like bout of playfullness that had him tearing ass around the room, running in and out of the doorway and generally being a black ball of nuisance and noise. When I finished settling the comforter he ducked under the bed, apparently deciding that 2349 hours is a good time to play a game of "Come and find me, Dad!" Since I like seeing him acting this way after all he's been through I opted to indulge him. I went to the foot of the bed where I'd seen him disappear and, when I settled down onto hands and knees, I played my fingers along the dust-ruffle. I figured that he'd be unable to resist this variation of the "catch the mouse under the bedsheet" game and I was not mistaken. Ra came zooming out from the far side of the bed to surprise his prey. Once he'd had enough of pouncing and biting at the dustruffle he came trotting up to me and, meaning to brush his cheek against mine (or thunk his head into my chin, which is another of his favorite ways to display affection) he got a little too close. That's when both he and I got a harsh reminder that the humidity in the house has been a bit low recently -- the moment his muzzle came into proximity of the end of my nose I saw a blue-white spark jump over and heard the CRACK as an excellent bolt of static electricity bridged the gap. I got shocked on my nose and, naturally, so did Ra.

The expression of absolute dismay and betrayal on his face in the moments immediately following were both extremely cute and decidedly hilarious.

I am a bad cat daddy for laughing, aren't I?

Say what
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-lurve)
Known Fact: Yawns are contagious.

Little Known Fact: Yawns are contagious across species. Ra was in my lap and yawned hugely and then I found myself yawning. A few minutes later I yawned... and immediately after I finished, Ra did too.

Hiding out in treetops
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-lurve)
... is me at 7:45, groggily trying to boxulate Ra into his carrier in preparation for his vet appointment. No, this trip isn't because he got sick again -- I am rather pleased to say it's for the exact opposite reason. Ra has gone quite some time without being sick (in over six months there has been absolutely no harfing, despite his continued desire to snack on cellophane wrapping) and I felt it was time for him to receive a general checkup along with his vaccinations, so I made an appointment for him to see his doctor at 9 o'clock this morning. The last two years have been rather rough for him and the poor fuzzball's health never stayed stable for more than a few months at a time after each bout, so it followed that he's gone without his boosters for that duration as well. This is something I was never entirely happy about but the doctors at the veterinary clinic agreed it was better to wait until he was in a good stretch before we started stressing his system.

When I put his carrier on the table and coaxed him out for his exam I was reminded that this was the first look Doctor Hailpern has gotten in a while. She was completely taken aback by his size and couldn't stop commenting on it during his general exam. When the time came to weigh him he tipped the scales at a healthy fourteen pounds. I couldn't help but grin when she leaned down, touched her nose to his and said, "I knew you five pounds ago." I grinned even more as she fussed over the scar on his nose (he gave it to himself when he kept nosing open the furnace room's doors after we first moved into the house), scolding him for ruining his "handsome face."

Ra received a clean bill of health and several compliments from the staff who have seen him at his worst. While he was given a rabies vaccination we skipped the feline distemper shot. Doctor Hailpern felt it might upset the balance we've struck between his various health problems and his medications (the doc was heard repeatedly telling Ra, "I love Pred, it makes you want to eat." Prednisolone is his primary medication). Since she told me it was not a particularly big deal for Ra to miss the distemper shot, especially given his status as an indoor-only cat, I also feel this was probably the best choice. One thing at a time, if it'll help him go even longer without a relapse! The doctor also felt this was too good an opportunity to pass up, so she asked to take a blood sample. Since this is the first time in years that he's been into the office while at the peak of health she wanted to check some of his panels and have a "known good" point of reference to put in his file. I didn't see a problem with that, so they took him in back to draw the sample and returned him a few minutes later. I'm amazed by how quickly the time went and before I knew it the time was 9:24 and we were being sent home.

All in all Ra's visit to the vet went very well and I'm pleased with his behavior, minus the hissing, spitting and growling treatment I received at the very end. Since he'd been poked, weighed, prodded, squeezed, probed by a thermometer, jabbed by a vaccination needle, swabbed with excessively fragrant rubbing alcohol and then had another jabbing to get his blood drawn -- all in the span of fifteen minutes! -- I don't begrudge him. After we got home from the vet's office he nestled in with me and started purring, so I guess Daddy is forgiven.

Would we escalate the value to be worth its weight in gold
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
Tonight, during a commercial break for Invasion, I made a stop in the guest bathroom. While I was in there Ra wandered by the door. Following whatever strange instinct it is that makes felines do what they do he diverted into the littlest room and demanded my attention before he started investigating the area (I guess when you're a cat things demand constant re-investigation). When he wandered behind the door to sniff around (I usually keep the door open when I'm not entertaining guests) it spawned a most curious and unexpected memory for me...

With startling clarity I remembered a time a few years ago when I was living in Hoffman Estates with [livejournal.com profile] twanfox. This was a little bit before [livejournal.com profile] cabbitattack joined us -- maybe a year or so before she moved in with Twan. I had adopted Ra from the shelter and the little black cat with the white patch certainly seemed comfortable in his new demesnes after a few weeks. You could tell that kitty knew he owned me -- meowing imperiously, sleeping wherever he wanted (usually between my ankles when I was trying to sleep) and constantly getting into trouble as most kittens are prone to doing. One thing I learned quite rapidly, however, was that I had to remove the "springs" from certain doors in the apartment (you know them... mounted at a bottom corner of a door, used to keep it from smashing into the wall if you open it too forcefully). Not only was the door to my room quicky de-springed, the one in the bathroom followed shortly after as well. Why? Because when Ra was locked into those rooms for whatever reason he would demonstrate his displeasure at such an unjust incarceration by batting and pawing at them. His favorite trick was to bend the spring back until he couldn't hold it in place anymore. Once they'd reached the "point of no return" the spring would fly free of his grip with that annoying "SPROINGGGGGGGGGG!" sound that was astoundingly loud and reverberated in ways I couldn't begin to fathom. Sadly what used to amuse us endlessly when we were children was now the bane of my existance! As I was no longer a child (and I was overworked and undersleeping) such distractions were far from welcome in my household -- especially when I was trying to catch a nap on a Saturday morning. Removing the springs only inspired Ra in other ways, not the least of which was his attempt to master opening doors by jumping up and grabbing at the door knobs. But it was that distinct "SPROINGGG-GGG-GGGG!" sound that pulled the memory to the surface for me, and I couldn't help but grin.

Ra doesn't do that anymore, but as he was exploring around behind the door he did step on the doorstop and it made a faint, half-hearted imitation of the sound that use to haunt me at 3:30 in the morning.

As a friend once said, "Those were the (bad old) good old days. Don't you wish you had them back?"

Give me a ticket for an aeroplane
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-lurve)
I can tell he's got hiccups since he jumped up on my desk and settled in beside my mouse pad. With him sitting within my field of vision, backlit by one of my flatpanels, I can see the way his head keeps snapping up every 45 seconds or so. Every time he does it he sort of twitches, blinks and swallows.

For some reason I find this deliciously funny.

feren: I AM THE MAN (groat)
Good: The DirecTV system was installed yesterday and things went smoothly. I'm loving it -- the TiVo kicks ass and the quality of the signal is much better than what I had with Comcast. I'm sure I'll find something to gripe about soon enough.

Bad: I have the TiVo, and Ra apparently has a UTI. Again. If he goes to the vet, my trip to Man Day II will be at risk. What the hell is it with this cat's health and my attempts at having fun?

Disturbing: Subway sandwiches after they've sat in the fridge for 29 hours.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
Tonight, while I was taking the trash and the recyclables out the curb (sometime around 9:16 PM or so), I saw the first firefly of the season. I had just gotten a bag full of garbage and used cat litter out to the end of the driveway when I happened to look up. My timing couldn't have been better, because just as I did a firefly buzzed by and winked his light. I was so startled I dropped the bag and stood up to squint, because I didn't really recognize what I had seen. He flashed again once more and then disappeared into the night.

I stood out in front of the house for something like ten minutes after that, just waiting to see if I'd see any more of those ghostly green lights. I didn't, but that's okay. While I was out here I had time to enjoy the weather...tonight it's teetering upon the edge as it can't quite make up its mind between being "spring-cool" or "summer-warm and a little bit humid." The weather, along with the sighting of that lone firefly, caused a few memories to tickle the back of my brain. One of the strongest ones was from about 20 years ago, when I spent a few weeks in Long Island, where one of my uncles lives. I was at my uncle's house, and spent an entire evening running around his yard and catching fireflies in a jar. Another memory was of a much more recent time: when I was living in Wheeling with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet, I spent quite a few of my nights (when the weather would permit it) standing outside and just staring at the stars and the moon. Back then I was thinking about somebody. Now, when I do the same thing in the back yard of my own home, I think about those memories. Maybe that's weird, maybe it's some sort of "meta-zen" when I think about memories of thinking of people (I think maybe I think too much).

On the topic of Ra: He seems to be doing well. In the time that has elapsed since my last update about him there have been no accidents that I've been able to discover. The daily tending of his litter box shows he's still passing urine, though it's hard to tell if he's passing as much as he should since I cannot accurately gauge his water intake. The other problem is that I'm not able to get a good sense of if there's still blood in his waste -- his litter just clumps around it and leaves no hints. I may put down a plastic cat pan liner and sprinke No-Sorb atop it to see if I can get a sample. Since he's finished the first week of antibiotics I want to make sure I'm not seeing any extra colors that shouldn't be there.

Here's to keeping fingers crossed.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-blue-contemplative)
It's been an exciting week here. By "exciting" I mean, of course, "upsetting," "panic-filled" and "involving bodily fluids normally left unmentioned," three phrases that seem to go along with any type of excitement that manages to filter its way past my defenses and into my life. As is also common, these phrases orbit around the center of my universe, Ra.

Warning: I'm going to use many euphemisms for boy parts1 and count how many different ways I can refer to his twig and (long absent) berries2 along the way. If you don't want to hear about Ra's dangly parts3, then you don't want to read on. I promise I won't be vulgar, but it's probably not going to be fun when you take into account the other aspects I'm writing about.

So... back on topic.

In my last entry (May 30th.. has it really been over two weeks?), I wrote that after a weekend away from the house I'd returned to find that there was considerable amounts of blood in Ra's urine and that he'd been using inappropriate items and places around Z'ha'dum as bathroom spots. [livejournal.com profile] roho and I went out and did some emergency shopping to procure some supplies to catch samples with. Tuesday I spent on the phone, trying to get through to my vet's office. All I got was a busy signal, over and over again. Something was wrong with their phone system and I just wasn't getting through. Wednesday (the first of June) saw the problem with the vet's phone system finally cleared up. I called in and talked to one of the evening staff members about the situation. A recommendation was made for some antibiotics and to ensure that he keeps drinking and eating. I was not impressed by this, but followed the directions. For the next few days it seemed that perhaps the plan was working.. Ra didn't sound as if he was straining in the box anymore and it seemed that he was having no more problem with his bits and bobs4. I thought maybe we were in the clear and started to feel hope that the antibiotics had cleared up the worst of it and that his immune system would take care of the rest.

This last weekend was spent around the house, doing some small-scale home improvement projects with the help of [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet. Because I was spending a vast majority of the time in the house I was able to keep an eye on Ra's behavior. One thing I noticed was that he was making frequent trips to the litter box. I believe I counted something like 16 or 18 trips in one day... and those were just the times I noticed him sauntering into or out of the bathroom where his box is located. This is not a normal behavior for him, and I started to wonder if things were relapsing. I had my suspicions confirmed to some small extent on Sunday, after Roho and Genet left. I was flopped on the couch and thought I'd heard a yowl from the bathroom. When I got up to check and see if the cat was in the box, I found him sprawled in the hallway with one hindleg kicked up in the air, licking someplace South of the border5 as if he was trying to soothe an irritation. This is a behavior that a lot of pet owners are familiar with, for certain. While some of this is fairly normal, there's a world of difference between that and an animal that's just following instinct to lick the ouchy place. Ra was very clearly in the latter catergory.

This Monday I was off from work. I was planning to attend the Cubs game with [livejournal.com profile] spoothbrush and [livejournal.com profile] captain18 since they were in town and were kind enough to invite me to go along with them. I did some telecommuting to make sure I didn't fall too far behind in my workload, then got ready to leave for the Super Secret Parking Place that Cap had clued me into. As I was emerging from my shower I caught Ra copping a squat in my laundry basket, kicking his hindpaws as if he was scooting litter around. I didn't need a manual to tell me what he was doing, I could figure it out well enough on my own by the way his tail was hiked and his haunches were set. A bit of yelling and menacing later, Ra had run out of the bedroom and my socks seemed relatively unspoiled (and no, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, he does not get "the piss shiver"). But now I was on alert, so I checked his litter box. It was still clean from when I'd skimmed it that morning... not a sign anywhere that he'd been in there -- certainly there was no reason that I could find for him to avoid the box and favor my socks instead. I started scouring around the house to see if there were any other places where he might have been doing some illegitimate business and in short order I found that he had, in fact, been urinating in other unexpected places. Once again he seems to have dragged a bag out of the cupboard and into the livingroom, which he then proceeded to decorate with brightly-colored urine. By brightly colored I mean "normal urine color with an incredible splash of crimson."

I bypassed "worried" and went straight to "full-blown fear." I may not know much about biology, but even I can figure out that if a few drops of blood in a urine sample is bad, something that appears to be completely comprised of blood is very bad. I got on the horn to the vet, described the renewed symptoms and begged them find an available appointment that day. With great luck I was able to convince them to slide me into a vet's schedule at 4:20, so at 3:15 I packed up Ra and made my way North. I called up Cap to let him know what the situation was and to give warning that I might have to beg off on the Cubs trip. If they kept Ra for observation, I'd be able to head downtown to catch the game. If they didn't, or if I was kept there for a long time to do testing, I wasn't going to be able to meet up with his family and thus would have to miss the game. Then it was up I-355 as fast as traffic would allow in order to reach the vet's office.

We arrived with about 10 minutes of leeway, which was good as I didn't want Ra confined to his carrier and waiting for 30 minutes... but I didn't want to be late, either. Luckily, despite our somewhat early arrival, the receptionist got us into the exam room so we could start doing the preliminary work before the vet showed up. Ra was weighed (he's now 12.1 pounds... a much healthier weight than where he was in Jaunary!), prodded and poked. When checking his bladder he howled a bit, indicating it was sore, though the tech said that it seemed to be a normal size. After the vet came in I gave a full rundown on his symptoms, the treatment until that point, and some of his medical history. She did a bit more checking of her own before disappearing with him into the back to get a sample. I didn't ask how they were going to get him to make a sample, I just hoped for his sake that he'd be able to come through. At around 4:50 Ra was returned to me, looking a bit disgruntled and... leaking a bit. The tech said they had been able to get him to "express," and that the sample was indeed "very bloody" (emphasis is the vet's, as she felt the need to triple underscore that phrase on his worksheet). She also said that once they'd gotten him to start they had a hard time getting him to stop, which was probably why he was "leaking." While I waited for the results from the urine sample, I spent the time chasing Ra around the exam room, trying to clean up the drips and to dab off his peener6 with some of the sterile Kleenex the tech had provided. Think about that... I'm dabbing a cat's wang7 with toilet paper. Could I be any more domestic? Hey, they had already dealt with the really messy parts... it was the least I could do to try and keep their exam room clean. I think between this, force-feeding him and cleaning up the harf on a regular basis... I believe I'm fully checked out on bodily functions and bodily fluid cleanup. Who knew that playing daddy to a housecat would prepare me for that role if I ever were to have kids of my own?

Around 5:10 the vet reappeared with the results from the urinalysis. Yes, that's definitely blood in his urine ([livejournal.com profile] roho accused me of feeding Ra beets, a joke that goes back to his own days of being a vet tech). No, there were no crystals in the urine, so that wasn't the problem. Yes, there's white blood cells in there... which isn't surprising, given the amount of blood in the sample. And here's the kicker.... "Well, he's a very healthy cat... except for the small fact that he's peeing such incredible amounts of blood. No, we don't know why he's bleeding, so we're just going to continue treating the symptoms. If it's something like bladder stones this won't clear up at the end of the regimen and he'll have to come back for X-rays and further testing. Here's your bill and his medication."

What. The. Hell. I paid $48 for 20 minutes of the vet's time with $35 for an analysis that tells me pretty much what I already knew? I don't need a white labcoat and a centrifuge to figure out he's peeing blood. On the positive side, at least I had professional confirmation that it wasn't crystals and thus could rule that out as a factor, but I would have liked something a bit more informative. Was there any bacteria? Any other sign of what might be wrong? So anyway... at 5:15 I was handed a set of prescriptions for Ra (5mg of Clavamox to be taken twice a day for 14 days; 2.5mg of a painkiller I don't remember the name of to be given twice a day for five days) along with my receipts for the bill and sent on my way. Not impressed. Not impressed at all.

I got home with Ra around 6:20 thanks to rush-hour traffic, which pretty much ensured I wasn't going to get downtown to see the game. I opted instead to feed Ra and give him his first dose of the new medications. I've discovered that this painkiller he's on (must get the name of it off the bottle for later discussion) has some interesting side effects. The vet warned me that it might make Ra lethargic. Trust me, it has a vastly different effect -- it makes him a total cuddle whore. Sure, he's already a very tactile cat with codependence issues to begin with... but an hour or so after he takes this stuff? Forget about whatever you're doing, you absolutely must pick him up and pet him or he'll implode from the weight of his lurve and need for attention. Some people might find it annoying, I find it sort of cute. In a way I wish his pain meds didn't run out today... but that's okay, he's a very loving cat even when he's not high as a kite.

We're almost done with the first week of the Clavamox regimen. I've been keeping an eye around the house to see if he leaks anywhere and thus far I haven't seen any sign of such behavior. He's still making far too many trips to the litter box per day (based on my observations from the time when I'm home from work and before bed), but he's still drinking water. Repeated checks of his box indicate he's continuing to pass urine, which is important to monitor in case the antibiotics fail and the infection gets worse. Right now I'm crossing my fingers and hoping the little guy clears up completely. He's had a rough year so far and I'd really like him to be able to go a few months without having something happen that necessitates an emergency trip to the vet. He hasn't even had his booster shots this year because every time things start normalizing to the point that he's ready for them, something else happens and we're back to square one.

So there you have it. Seven euphemisms and a status update on the cat that really says nothing more than "I'm still watching his status and hoping he gets better."

Keep me searching for a heart of gold
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-angst)
I had a very busy weekend, though it was relaxing for the most part. A large majority of it was spent babysitting Fritz, Heather and Garry's little weinerdog. Weinerdogs have codependency problems... or at least this one does. Dealing with his attachment issues removed a bit of the "relaxation" aspect for me, but overall we got through it okay. Saturday I took five hours out of my day and attended the wedding of DP, a longtime coworker. It was a short, simple ceremony with a nice reception afterward. The food was awesome, the drink was flowing, and I could only stay for about three hours before I had to head out and go back to my job of doggie-babysitting.

[livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] roho and I came back to my place today to find that Ra had relieved himself on the floor of the master bathroom. Ordinarily this would just be annoying, but in this case it's downright worrisome: there was blood in his urine. [livejournal.com profile] roho and I did a quick examination, then went out and hit two different pet stores before finding the materials I need to collect a urine sample for the vet. I'm hoping it's little more than a urinary tract infection, as odd as it sounds to say such a thing. Cats are prone to UTI and it's fairly easy to treat. Other options, like crystals, are less easy to treat.

Expect more on the topic of Ra's health as further details unfold.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-lurve)
Or, perhaps, "Get that camera out of my face before I swallow your soul!"

Lookit that maw! )

. o O o .

[Edit 2102 CDT 4/14/05]: Amusingly enough, as [livejournal.com profile] genet and [livejournal.com profile] roho can attest, this is exactly what Ra looks like when he's being "talky."

Discover.... L-I-M-P.... say it
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-lurve)
I've had a long, draining day and am too tired to write up a detailed account. The abbreviated version is: Ra is home again, hopefully to stay. The medical expenses since January have been steadily climbing and as of tonight the total for the last three weeks has broken the $1,500 mark. I was a little shocked to find the bill at $424.72 for the hospitalization on Tuesday night, subsequent treatments and observation... but it's money well spent. What worries me more than the bill is that he very nearly did not come home with me this evening -- shortly before I arrived there was a whole new bout of vomiting. This led the two on-call vets to have a very animated discussion amongst themselves about the situation before deciding he could be discharged to my care again. No wonder I had to wait so long in the exam room before anybody came to talk to me.

To try and quell Yet Another Relapse the doctor has made several changes to Ra's medication regimen. The use of antibiotics has been completely discontinued. The Metoclopramide has been reintroduced into the equation at the rate of 1cc three times a day. The Prednisone has been moved from 2.5mg a day to 10mg a day to try and keep the IBD in remission, and just to make sure that his stomach doesn't overproduce acid I've been instructed to administer 2.5mg a day of Pepcid AC. Yes, Pepcid, the over-the-counter antacid for humans. To ensure that his diet isn't somehow causing these dramatic attacks his dry food has been completely replaced by a "low-residue" formula that is based on green peas and duck. With luck he'll adapt to the new flavor and texture with relative ease.

Since I got home with him Ra has been very alert, playful and purry. I'm glad to have him back... the house was very empty while he was away and I was lonely.

Mister state trooper


feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)

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