This is Diego, one of my two kitties. Diego's not been himself lately, losing both weight (and hair) and eating and drinking with voracity the past month or so. It was just about a week ago my friend Blanche pointed out that he had lost the hair...a lot of it, along his spine. I hadn't noticed it before, but that's probably because I see him every day and well, I just didn't notice, but once I heard Blanchie's observation, I took a closer look and it was obvious. Diego had to go to the doctor, and soon. Something was definitely wrong.
My friends Rich, Bobby and I had been talking about it ever since the unexplained weight loss started becoming noticeable a few weeks ago. I mean, Diego was always a big cat...still is...but in the past month I could actually connect my two hands around his abdomen and clasp them together. He'd lost a lot of weight...9 pounds to be exact. What was a 20 pound kitty back in June became an emaciated 12 pounds yesterday.
Taking a cat to the vet, though, is something every cat owner knows to be a super-stressful undertaking, and I guess I'd been putting this visit off for too long for that reason, making excuses that my busy life didn't leave me time to do it. But the hair loss! And how thin he's gotten! I'm actually a little ashamed it took me this long. Now I know.
This morning I received a voicemail from the vet.
Hi, this is the doctor calling with Diego's lab test results. Unfortunately, he is a diabetic cat.
Stunned! That was not the news I'd been expecting. When she examined Diego yesterday, the doctor told me that, based on his symptoms, it could have been one of three things: an overactive thyroid, diabetes, or kidney issues. Based on what she saw when she examined him, she believed it to be the first, and she even said I should pray for that result, which I did.
It surely could have been worse. Kidney disease killed my first cat, Spike, and that surely would have been the worst diagnosis I could have gotten this morning. The thyroid condition would only have meant he'd be on medication, in pill form, for life, but he would be able to live out a normal life. Diabetes is one serious illness in people and is as serious in cats, too, but this diagnosis will surely change not only Diego's life, but mine as well.
They told me to bring him in as soon as possible. Ugh, another stressful afternoon of coaxing him into the cat carrier and listening to him make these ungodly sounds for the entire trip to and from the vet. It weighed on my mind all day, but when the time came, I just had to do it. He is my baby, after all, so gentle, so sweet.
To my own personal horror, several people I spoke to during the day insinuated, some even outright suggested, that I put Diego to sleep. Since it is such a well-known disease, most assume that having a cat with diabetes at least meant I'd have to administer insulin shots to him daily, a highly unpleasant task, and I guess many people lack the sort of animal compassion that I have. Although the diagnosis and its affect on my life are going to be unquestionably difficult, I never gave that option a thought. They say God never gives you things that you can't handle, and so this will become a part of my life and I will deal with it.
So for the second straight day I had to put my baby in the stressful situation of trapping him in a carrier and carting him outside of the only world he knows: my house. The doctor was going to show me how to give Diego the shots, which I found out have to be given every 12 hours. Ugh! I have to say, Diego was a trooper during the visit (not so much in the car!) and he laid still on the table as I administered my practice injection of saline solution into his thigh. Not fun, for sure, but I'm going to have to get used to it. The doctor said it will just become a part of my daily routine, and I'm sure it will in time, though still...
By this time of night the initial shock of the diagnosis is starting to sink in. I'm just going to have to see where this takes me, and my baby. I went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription for the insulin, but therein lies another issue: cost. No matter, I was given alternatives to the $310 CVS was going to charge me for it, and so that is my next step tomorrow. I want to get it quickly so Diego can go back to gaining some weight and growing hair and well, just being normal again. Like I said, I will deal with it as long as we can go back to being normal. Stay tuned...