"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~Toni Morrison

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WOTW: Diabetes

Diabetes: noun, a disease that causes high blood glucose levels

About a year ago, my aging cat was diagnosed with diabetes.  It all began when we took her to the vet for a flea allergy.  Every time that our cat happened to get a flea, which happens often here in the Pacific Northwest where fleas live year-round, she would end up covered in scabs and open wounds.  We took her to the vet.  Yes, it was definitely a flea allergy, and the best solution was a shot of cortisone.  The shot was amazing.  It definitely worked, and soon our little kitty was scratching less and her scabs were healing.

No one can say if the diabetes was already in her system or if the shot caused the disease.    Cortisone can raise blood glucose levels and trigger diabetes in cats. Our kitty had always been small, but she became absolutely scrawny.

Then came the morning that changed all our lives.  Kitty could not control her bladder.  When I fed her, she took  one bite, then sat back and urinated.  She urinated on every blanket and chair that normally brought her comfort.  She was obviously in pain and could not stop, even though she wanted to.  My husband and I had to go to work, so we locked her in the bathroom with all her necessities and headed out the door.

I had my official evaluation and observation at work that day, so I had to be there for the morning.  I scheduled a vet appointment for the afternoon and put in a sub request for a half day, then continued with my planned observation, all the while thinking that my cat was sitting at home dying alone.

Both my husband and I took a half day to take her to the vet.  Neither of us truly believed she would survive the experience.  The vet took a urine sample, something that no cat will ever enjoy, and reported back that she had a bladder infection.  He added that based on the high sugar levels in her urine, she probably was diabetic.

And so began our new life:  daily shots of insulin, occasional blood glucose tests which involve pricking the cat's ear to get a blood sample, new expensive food, and infections anytime we miss more that one insulin shot.  With treatment, our kitty has gained weight, acts like a kitten again and seems like she may live a few more years.  We had a recent scare when her blood glucose level fell to 59 (normally it should be around 180), but we got it back to normal with a little corn syrup and some food.  The rest of her life will involve more work than we expected, but we do love her, so it's worth it.

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