Friday, September 6, 2013

One Year Ago

One year ago today, Guiness was diagnosed with diabetes.

I don't normally keep a diary, but fortunately I had the foresight to write down everything that was going on and how I felt. I was mulling over blog ideas in my head at the time, but I hadn't come up with anything of substance yet. A blog needs to take the reader on a journey, and I didn't have one yet. Or was this it?

I wasn't anywhere near ready to commit to that idea yet. I didn't know anything about feline diabetes, but learning is all part of the journey, isn't it? Still, I wasn't sure where this road was going, or how long it would be. Or, even more scary, wouldn't be.

So I started writing things down. Just in case.

Turns out, it would have been a pretty boring blog.

And that's good. That's very good.


Guiness was diagnosed with diabetes today. I actually feel relieved. Yesterday, I woke up at 6 and when I got up, he didn't come to drag me to the kitchen. When I went to check on him, he felt hot and was lethargic. He even refused treats.

It freaked me out. I'm a strong person. I can handle just about anything but the idea of my cat getting sick. I took him to bed for a little while, then sat in the chair with him. He let me snuggle him against my chest and laid meekly against me instead of propping on the chair arm at arm's length. I called the vet when they opened and jumped at an 8:30 appointment.

All I could get him to eat was 2 or 3 treats and just a little bit of watered down pâté.

The questions the vet asked made me think he was suspecting diabetes as a possibility. I was sort of suspecting it, too, because of how much he drinks and urinates. The vet was concerned with the fact that he carries his weight underneath and feels bony along the spine, but he said that sometimes happens in older cats. Something to do with water retention or muscle weakness.

The thing he seemed most concerned with was Guiness being a little dehydrated with a degree of fever, and not eating. The fever had just started, so it hadn't really affected his appetite much yet. He gave him a steroid shot and some subcutaneous fluids, and said the steroid should make him want to eat and drink. He also did a senior wellness check. He said if it was more urgent, they would do the tests in-house rather than send them to the lab, which made me feel better. But it stressed me out waiting and dreading getting the results.

Guiness was ready to start eating as soon as we got home. He ate a little every half hour, and by about 1 or so, he was acting nearly normal except for looking a little peaked-eyed. He was eating good and getting a lot of water from his food, but not touching his water bowl. He seemed okay to leave, so I ran to Walmart and bought some of his favorites. When I got home, he got all excited when I opened one.

He was pretty much normal by morning.

The vet called at 9:12 this morning. His sugar was elevated, but other stuff came back good. He wanted Guiness back to do another blood and urine test. I didn't want to wait another day since I was supposed to go on vacation on Monday, so he said to let him fast and bring him in after 4:30.

Guiness was pretty good until about noon, and then he started pacing a hole in the floor wanting to know why I was too stupid to follow him to the food bowl. I couldn't stand to eat in front of him.

I started doing some research, and found remarks from two or three people about their cats living several years with diabetes, and that treating them was worth it. One said that cats were sometimes hospitalized to get them regulated, and gave an estimate of $300 for initial diagnosis, that the standard was insulin injections 2x a day, so I knew what treatment to expect. I wasn't sure if the vet would keep him or send him home. I had already made up my mind to board him next week, rather than leave him with Bob.

Guiness' sugar was elevated, but the vet sent him home with instructions to start him on 1 unit of insulin 2x a day. He showed me how to do the injections with a large needle and sterile water. An assistant held Guiness by the scruff of the neck. Guiness did okay while I stuck the needle in, but he pitched a fit both times when I pushed the plunger in.

Boarding will cost $18.50/day + $11 per glucose test 2x day, except they will test 5x when they do the curve. It will be expensive, but not compared to hospital bills, and with many of the hospital benefits. He'll get to spend his first full week on insulin under the care of trained people.

I gave Guiness a little of the special food when we got home (he was less than enthusiastic about it), and called Walmart and Kroger for prices, then went to Walmart to get insulin, syringes, a sharps container, and corn syrup for in case G's sugar falls too far too fast. The vet said not likely at 1 unit, but could as dosage increases.

I called my neighbor to come hold Guiness while I gave him his shot, but he wasn't home. So I got my act together, and wrapped him up. Wrapping didn't work. He struggled a little while I was trying to get it together, but he didn't give me any trouble actually doing it.

The vet was one I liked when he was treating Norma before she died, but he started turning me off yesterday by talking about how difficult and expensive it was to treat a diabetic cat. He started that again today, and said that the owners got tired of it, the cat got tired of being stuck (the comments I'd found online said that cats tolerated it well). He said he wouldn't think anything bad about me if I came back later and said I couldn't do it anymore.

We didn't go back to that vet. He was off the day I picked Guiness up, and I liked the vet I met then. He believes in treating the patient, not the number, and recognized the effect of stress on feline blood glucose levels, so when weekly tests kept coming back high no matter how much we increased the insulin, he did another test which measures average glucose over a period, and we settled on five units.

One year later, Guiness is doing well. His blood glucose is managed on less than half the amount of insulin he was taking. His spine isn't bony anymore, he only drinks from his water bowl occasionally, and goes through about a fourth of the litter he used to. He sometimes gets a little unenthusiastic about being stuck, but he comes willingly at shot time and doesn't complain. I've never had to go hunt him. When I sit down at the coffee table, even it if for some other reason, he comes. He purrs through shots and ear pricks. Sometimes he reminds me it's shot time. A few times he's even led me to the coffee table and asked for extra shots.

Okay, he was actually asking for extra treats, but he was still willing to endure an extra shot for them. (He got the extra treat without the extra shot).

Watching him, you'd never suspect he's about sixteen. He feels good almost all of the time. He's happy.

Well, he's isn't happy when I order him out of his favorite hiding place that he isn't supposed to be in. But he comes plodding out under his own power, grumbling and complaining like a kid. It's quite amusing. Then he goes on his merry little way and forgets about being mad at me after about a minute.

More about Guiness and our experience with feline diabetes:

What a Difference a Year Makes: 365 Days of Managing Feline DiabetesWhat to Do When Your Cat Has Diabetes
7 Things Not to Do when Your Cat Has Diabetes

Introducing My Cat
Cute Kitty Will Work For Food
One Foot Up
Another Cute Kitty Picture
Guiness and Norma
Tabitha & Neelix/Guiness & Norma

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad I found your blog now! :) Good to read about Guiness! :0