Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Caregiver fatigue is setting in

Another cat post... that's because it's consuming our lives right now. Jax was feeling poorly after his last shot of depo-medrol (a steroid that relieves the itchy lesions that break out on him without it), and now has been diagnosed with diabetes. Getting this news was like a punch to the stomach. We knew that we were putting him at risk, and were always relieved when his tests came back negative, but the risks were there each time and his number finally came up.

Jax is an extremely difficult-to-pill cat. That means it isn't impossible, but it takes a vet or vet tech (and maybe both) to do it, and neither of us is a vet or tech. If oral meds had been an option for him (as they fortunately are for Henry) we would never have had to go the route of shots, which are much riskier. That was just the situation - his treatment gave him a new disease. We couldn't let his eosinophilic granuloma go untreated because, not only did it bring him itchy misery, it also brought infections (when he'd gnaw and scratch through his skin to bring blood) and required a daily bandage. Ever try to bandage a strong and feisty cat's hind leg? Hard to do well, and many times had to be re-done.

There’s a lot of guilt, or at least guilty feelings, remorse, wondering how we could have done things differently… and it’s true… if only we’d given him a blood test each time he got an injection maybe we could have avoided this. But bloodwork is not cheap and I think we just preferred to cross our fingers and hoped. I know, this is rationalization, and there is blame but where does it belong? And should it even matter now? We have a situation, and that’s the only thing that matters now. Here I am feeling gloomy over what we’ve done and what we are about to go through physically, emotionally, and financially - when this poor kitty is the one with the problem. Gloom, guilt, remorse, anxiety. Guilt because I'm feeling sorry for myself. Anxiety not only over what’s already happened, but whether we will end up being the ones to accidentally give him a lethal dosing, or whether the disease will cause more misery than anyone should endure, and at the very best we will have extra daily nursing rituals to add to the quite a few we already have.

7 years ago we saved his life (he is now 14). We most certainly did, without a doubt. There's no question. We have done everything possible to keep him happy and healthy. We took in an alley cat and proceeded to pamper. We never meant to harm him in any way. But now there is no relief in sight for any of us.
The poor kitty has been hospitalized since Tuesday afternoon. It's now Wednesday night and he is home, but will have to have another day admission on Friday and another one next Wednesday. I just don't know yet what to expect from this.

One of the main things on my mind is Duncan and his last months. One day I thought he was choking on something and got him to the vet ASAP. They saved him that day from what turned out to be congestive heart failure instead. We had no idea. We also learned that he was also in kidney failure, and because of that we couldn't properly treat either condition because one needs hydration and the other needs drying out. He ended up on lots of daily meds... lasix... nitroglycerin... cypro... and when the breathing troubles started we had to either get the regular vet to stick a long needle in to draw fluids away from his lungs, or else the cardiologist would have to do a similar procedure on his heart. We were trying to keep him comfortable, but he really had no chance. It was a matter of time and we knew it. I couldn't bear the thought of euthanasia because after his procedures he would be back to his regular cute little fun self. Then one day I was taking him to the cardiologist for one of those "long needle" procedures when he panicked in the car and died from the same awful heart failure that he had been saved from 6 months earlier. I know that we ended up spending more time with him, but I have to wonder if we did right by him. We helped him live a little longer, but did we really help him?

I am ranting right now, because I am at wit's end. Agitated and anxious. We all need to just wait and see what happens with Jax. Over the past 4 years we've dealt with [cat] kidney failure, heart failure, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, asthma, blindness, eosinophils, urinary tract blockage, euthanasia, prozac, cortisone, depomedrol, prednisone, pepcid, buprenorphin, cyproheptadine, all the prescription diets you can think of, the fact that Walgreen's always seems to suck, raw food, needles, pills pills pills, sub-q hydration, allergy testing and shots... and now it's diabetes.

5 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Sad news. Poor Jax has so many ailments. May Bast show you the way.

Blueberry said...

Thank you. The ailment list is actually spread out over 4 different cats.

I just saw an article on HuffPo on adrenal burnout. I think that one hits the nail on the head (as for one of MY ailments).

Connie, Orlando said...

Caring for sick kitties is one of the toughest jobs around. I've had more than my share and I sympathize with how you are feeling. It's simply overwhelming and most often feels unfair. I subscribe to a personal motto: no good deed goes unpunished. I sometimes think life would have been easier had I been born evil.

We are human, we aren't perfect and all that we can do is our best based upon our abilities, knowledge and circumstances at the time. Bad stuff happens and placing blame doesn't solve anything. When all is said and done, it's better to be a caring and compassionate person than not.

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

so sorry my friend..candles lit..prayers sent

Blueberry said...

He's not feeling himself yet, and I can tell he's lost more weight. He will spend the day at the vet today while they check him and monitor. There will be needles.