In cat news, everything was so very stressful it brought on my first ever cold sore... But all is well for the moment. Injection giving has become routine, and he doesn't even notice anyway as he's wolfing down his food so voraciously! I do the morning shift, and the boy the evening shift.
I've learned some important things during my trawling through the web trying to sift useful cat diabetes information from horror stories.
- from my friend the vet: if he seems fine in himself, don't get stressed about the numbers.
- from some forum, somewhere: if he's doing the 5 'P's then he's probably fine;
There are quite a few people out there absolutely obsessed with blood glucose testing. I intend to do another curve soon, but for now I'm relying on the one I managed to get a couple of weeks ago and another fructosomine test from the vet in a couple of weeks. Yes, that's right, I got a curve. I joined the vampire club - people who've managed to get blood from their cat!
Last time you read this wasn't happening. Not to worry, said the vet, take him in and and we'll do it at the surgery. I was unsure as I've read that stress elevates the blood glucose, and my cat, adorable king of his roost at home, is an absolutely peeing himself terrified out of his little mind fearful cat outside of his domain.
So I took him in and left him there. And worried all morning at work. At lunchtime I phoned to be told they'd managed to get one first thing this morning but when they went for the second one he 'went at it' to quote the receptionist. He apparently attacked the vet and was now growling from under a covered cat box in a darkened room. Well, mama bear came to the fore. After putting the phone down and crying in the office (fortunately my colleague is a cat person, otherwise I'm quite sure people would think I'm nuts for getting this stressed about a cat) I came up with a plan. Never has my cat done anything like this. He is placid in the vets always because he is utterly frozen, rigid in fear. To attack the vet must have meant he was out of his mind with terror. Phone the boy - get him. Get him immediately and take him home. Nothing is worth this.
As soon as he was home he was totally fine and happy. He never bears a grudge, or connects his terrible time with us for taking him there. I'm so lucky. So I went to the vet the next day to discuss our options. I'd spent everyday at this point terrified I was going to come home, or wake up to, a dead cat. He could hypo at any time and as we'd not got any bloods off him, we have no way of knowing where he's at. Injecting a cat who is on low blood sugar with insulin is a death sentence.
I made the decision over a lot of tears. If a hypo death would be an awful death then we weren't going to persevere. So I said goodbye in a way. I came to terms with the fact that I could lose him. However, the vet said the process would be a little like going to sleep for him. He would get 'drunk' and disorientated, which wouldn't be great, but mostly he'd be confused, not in pain or anything. Then he'd have a seizure that he wouldn't be aware of, but if we saw, we would probably find quite distressing. If we weren't around to save him at this point then he'd fall into a coma and die. So I felt much happier with this. OK, we can carry on. If he dies, it won't be a bad death for him, and I've done my best to manage this with minimal stress and upset for him. As long as he is happy and not suffering, then I'm OK with that.
So, I relaxed a bit and decided to have a stab at (geddit?!) getting blood from his ear. I asked the vet for smaller needles and decided to take it slow for both of us. The first time I tried I had no intention of getting blood. Just practicing holding his ear and pressing a needle to it until he notices. Then loads of cuddles and his brush as a reward.
Second attempt, got the needle a tiny bit further in and lots of rewarding behaviour after. Making sure he starts and ends the process purring is always a good sign. No blood yet though.
The third time I pushed it in a tiny bit more. No blood. Massaged his ear and blood appeared! Enough for a reading! I've learned that we are not aiming for the vein (this will cause a 'gusher') but to the space between it and the outer ear, as near to the vein as you can get without hitting the vein.
Warm ears make all the difference, and will make teeny tiny pinpricks produce enough blood. Got the glucose meter reader that required minimal amount of blood and that the strip will 'suck up' the blood. The ones that need a drop to land of the top of the strip will require the cat to be turned upside down and for him to wait patiently in this position until he drips... I'm going to give that approach a miss.
So I got enough and passed the results to the vet, who said his readings look good! And just to continue as normal until a fructosamine test. I'm extremely fortunate that my cat is a food hoover, as eating all his food is core to diabetes management. I believe it is harder with cats that graze. So I hope he will always be a hoover, otherwise I'm going to have get blood off him all the time before injecting him.
Now my only stress is the cattery he's going to soon. Usually he's so scared that he won't let anyone near him. And since June he has had trouble with catteries, peed everywhere and felt threatened. Well this time he has to let the cattery owner near him twice a day to inject him. So we're hoping the new, expensive cattery I've found that's run by a vet nurse will do the trick. Seeing cats and smelling cats seems to upset him, and this cattery is set up so he can't see the other cats and it's made of that stuff front doors are made of, instead of wood so should hopefully not be carrying the scents of other cats on it. If the cattery doesn't work out then we're in a jam as we have to be able to go away sometimes, not least Christmas. But we'll cross this bridge if we come to it. In the meantime Feliway and Zyklene are my best friends. I'm going to get him there as happy as possible!
He has had no idea this whole time that there's anything wrong with him. Other than traumatic trips to the vet he is fine. It's just me that's had a near emotional breakdown. As someone said on a blog; "Don't bury your cat until he's dead". Good advice that...