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Archive for April, 2012

New Lease on Life

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Yesterday, I brought Hannah to the vet for her follow-up blood test, to check her liver enzyme level.

When I arrived home from teaching, I had approximately ten minutes to get her into the carrier before heading to the clinic. I could feel my heart thudding with the worry that I would not be able to get her ready in time. As soon as I began to rummage for the carrier in the kitchenette, Sam ran under the bed.

“It’s not for you,” I called after him.

But Hannah knew it was for her. She followed Sam. When I peeked under the bed, she skipped out and into the living room.

“Okay, sweet girl,” I said, picking her up and holding her close. She cuddled against me. “Here we go.”

Of course, when Hannah simply let me lower her into the carrier and did not put up a fight, I worried it might be a sign of sickness rather than just a good development. She did let out one brief “but I don’t want to go” mewl when I carried her out of the garret. I think she knew, however, that she was coming back.

ImageThis afternoon, Dr. Parker called to report that the blood test result shows Hannah’s liver has reacted very well to the steroid. Her enzyme level is now in normal range! The diagnosis is a general “autoimmune disease,” since I won’t be putting her through a liver biopsy to try to determine anything more specific. Hannah will most likely need to take the steroid for the rest of her life, but for now we get to tinker with lowering the dosage. Instead of 1/4 tablet twice a day, she’ll get 1/4 tablet once a day, and we’ll re-test her liver in a month. I’m happy, and Hannah is happy – after all, she loves the Prednisone chews, which come in chicken, liver/venison, and tuna flavors.

This she gobbles up, like life. No pill gun necessary.

— TLS

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New medication = Hungry Hannah

Last I wrote, Hannah and I were becoming acquainted with the pill gun I was administering antibiotics in the hopes that her liver inflammation was caused by an infection, which the antibiotics would cure. Unfortunately, this past week we found out her liver inflammation has continued to increase.

On Thursday, I brought Hannah to the vet for her annual checkup, including a re-test of her liver enzyme level. Dr. Parker suggested I bring Sam in as well, for a weight check, his first since his annual checkup in October, when he was put on a diet. I knew this was not going to be a fun morning for any of us.

My cats always know when I’m going to take them to the vet; even if I try to hide it, I know they sense it in my body language, or in the way my breath shortens with my own anticipation: I saw Sam peering at me from the corner of his eye as I quietly walked to the kitchenette to retrieve the cat carrier. He knew I was about to trick him and his sister into going into the confined locked space, so that I could remove them from their cozy home and take them to some strange office with foreign animal smells, to be poked and prodded he knew instinctively. So did Hannah.

I always leave an extra half hour to get the cats into the carriers, but this time it took me less than five minutes. I started to think I’d become a pro when Sam began to scream. Nothing I said to calm him made his screaming cease (I reminded myself, cats do not understand English). So I rushed to take him, and Hannah, out of the garret, and into my car, before anyone else in the house could consider that such sounds were some mass murder or other kind of torture in progress. By the time I got behind the steering wheel, with Hannah and Sam in the passenger seat, my limbs were shaking. I took a few deep breaths to ward off my PTSD-induced anxiety, so that I could be calm enough to drive to the clinic.

At the exam, Hannah’s vitals were in very good condition  in fact, the vet no longer detected her heart murmur. And Sam had lost 1.3 pounds. All in all, a very positive visit, except for Hannah’s liver enzyme level, which had risen. We’re now treating her with Prednisone, a steroid, to help reverse her liver inflammation, which may very well be caused by an autoimmune disease. There is a small chance that she has cancer, however at this point I’m trying to stay positive. Two week trial, then re-testing.

Sam

Lucky for Hannah (and me), the Prednisone comes in soft chews, flavored in tuna, chicken, and liver/venison. She meows for it before I’ve even unwrapped the package, then gobbles it up. The challenge is keeping Sam from dodging for it himself. One side effect of the medicine is an increased appetite, and Hannah has certainly developed one. She now meows out of hunger, something she’s never done before. Sam, of course, has always cried an hour before dinnertime. I’m working on not caving in.

TLS  

Have you ever invested in an automatic timed feeder? What kind did you purchase, and was it useful? I’m considering getting one, vet’s idea, to disassociate myself with “keeper of the food” and to help out during times when I am away from the garret. I would love to hear some of your recommendations and experiences. Please share in the comment box below!

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