Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Bumbling Blogger and Her Buddy

 Felix with toy and shaved paw

I expected that I would have more time to post here when the semester ended. And I will. But life has taken me on a short (?) detour through Pain-in-the-ass Land. I hope you will bear with me while I try to navigate my way back to some semblance of normalcy.

Things have changed here and I'm not sure how we will find a new equilibrium. But I believe we will. I have to, so I can continue putting one foot in front of the other.

If Monday hadn't been so tragic, it would have made a good comedy plot line, complete with broken eye glasses, broken fingernail trying to fix glasses, broken door handle on route to vet, etc. Last week was all about studying for my last finals and paying my summer tuition bill. The weekend was all about taking those finals and preparing for an unavoidable whirlwind trip to NYC on Tuesday. And Monday was all about Felix.

When we moved into this house two years ago, we adopted Felix and his sister, Hatchi. They are cats. They came from the local shelter, which is always overworked and underfunded. When we brought them home, they were so tiny. Too small to be on their own, really, but the shelter was happy to transfer their care to us and we were happy to bring them home. They were sick when we got them. But we nursed them to health and they became full members of our little family. Over the weekend, I realized that Felix had shrunk.

I made a Monday morning vet appointment. Even though Felix was behaving normally, I knew that a weight loss that significant was not good news. The vet confirmed Felix had lost 2.5 pounds, which was a quarter of his previous weight. Then the vet discovered that Felix's gums were yellow. She suspected liver failure and did not offer an even remotely positive prognosis. I spent several hours begging the universe for a different answer and when I returned to get Felix later the universe threw me a bone.

The blood tests were not consistent with liver failure. But they did show that something was destroying Felix's red blood cells. The vet explained that a normal kitty hematocrit was 30%. If it dropped to 18%, it was generally accepted that an immediate blood transfusion was in order. Felix's level was 10%.

The vet had called several counties looking for a donor. Ultimately, the one confirmed donor was right here in our own town. We went straight from our vet to the emergency vet clinic. Felix was tested again. He had dropped to 9% and the vet was honest that this was a really dire situation and that there was a pretty good chance Felix would not be able to bounce back.

We left Felix in the care of the wonderful folks at the emergency clinic. I can't even begin to describe how conflicted I was about leaving town the next morning, even though it was only one night. But, I can wait by the cell phone just as easily as by the house phone and I had an obligation to make the trip, so off I went at 6:30am.

I got the call with results from the first transfusion while I was still on the bus. It was not great news. He was back up to 10%, but it wasn't enough. The vets had drawn more blood than they had used, so they gave Felix a second transfusion without charging me- a real blessing considering the enormous bill I was facing. And we waited some more. We got updates every twelve hours. At first, there was not much to report. And then, miraculously, the number started to climb. When I left NYC, he was up to 18%.

I arrived home very late Wednesday night. I walked in the door and the phone rang. It was the clinic. Felix's latest results showed he'd slipped to 14.5%. They wanted to start him on another medicine, but they didn't have any. Would I go to the 24-hour pharmacy and pick it up? Of course. I turned around and went back out the door. I started making my way across town and the phone rang. Never mind; there had been a miscommunication with the pharmacy tech. The meds wouldn't be available until morning.

And so the rest of the week went by- his number climbing, then dropping, then climbing. Yesterday, he had been holding steady long enough to come home. He is not out of the woods. As of yesterday, his hematocrit had not climbed into the "safe" range. He is on three meds that suppress his immune system because the theory is that this is some sort of auto-immune problem. At this point, we realize that anything could happen. But we are so relieved to have our little buddy home.

I understand that not everyone would be willing to decimate their already tenuous budget they way I have just done in order to save a cat. But I adopted him and take my obligation to care for him seriously. He is a member of our family and while I worry about paying the bills, I have no regrets about spreading myself thin in order to try to save another living creature, and especially one who has so thoroughly enriched my life. There will be no summer camp, no vacation, no frills. But in the grand scheme of things, that's really okay. If we can stay afloat, it's all golden.

I think my changed circumstances will shift the focus of my blogging a little bit, at least until I am back on an even keel. The garden just became a huge priority. We will have to expand it significantly and try to pull as much of our food as possible out of it for the summer and fall. I will almost certainly chronicle that process here. We have already significantly reduced our meat consumption due to the cost of sustainably and ethically produced meat. But I will have to reevaluate that portion of our food budget again and reduce it even further. Brown rice has already become a big part of our diet; but I expect it will become even more important for a while. The list of necessary adjustments goes on.

Our food journey just took on far more urgency. Thankfully, my lighter summer academic load will allow me more time and energy to address these challenges. I hope you will stick around and continue to offer your suggestions. I may not always explicitly say so, but I consider each comment and find each one meaningful. And I thank you for taking the time to offer them.


  1. Oh, dear. SO sorry about your kitty. It is a tough call to make, when you know ahead of time the vet bill will be enormous. Take it one day at a time, and you will be back on track before you know it.

  2. Thanks so much, Cindy. You are exactly right- one day at a time. On the upside, Felix has been generous with sharing his wet-nosed kitty face rubs. :) It's hard to worry about the details when faced with pure affection.

  3. Well, I was just finishing up a long, heartfelt comment when we lost power and I lost the comment! Short version, I am so sorry about Felix and think you made the right decision. We've had to face the same kind of decisions with our cat Rascal, and his Feline Lymphoma.

    The silver lining is the motivation for your garden. I agree that's more of a priority than blogging, but really, it's what we all ought to be doing anyway. Purrs and hugs to you and Felix.

  4. Thanks very much, Leigh. Heartfelt short comments are valued just as highly as heartfelt long ones here. And you are so right about the garden. I find so many benefits to being out there. The stress just melts away, and of course, the best food going! My son has always been the kid to join me in the garden, but primarily because he loves to dig. But this year, my daughter seems to have been bitten by the garden bug which has been a delightful surprise.

  5. Hi Maggie, I was over at the cat blogosphere and read about Felix being sick. I just wanted to come by and let you know that all us crazy cat bloggers out here are pulling for Felix and sending out lots of prayers that he will be ok. And to us at least you don't sound crazy at all to spend so much to save someone so important to you, because the odds are very good that we have all done something similar (or would if we had to).

  6. We just heard about Felix from the CB and dropped by to offer our rumbly purrs that he may recover quickly from this devastating illness.

    There is only honour in what you are doing to try and save Felix. He has been your friend and you are his. That's about as far away from crazy as a person can get.

    Get well soon Felix

    Whicky Wuudler

  7. We came by from the CB too. We think what you did for Felix is terrific. He's probably happier to be home than you are to have him after what he's been through. We send purrs and tail wags for his recovery.

  8. Sending purrs for Felix's recovery and for a good summer garden to help with the tough money situation!

    Charlemagne and Tamar

  9. We just heard about Felix over at the Cat Blogosphere. We're purring for him and we hope he recovers quickly! Our mom totally understands how you feel...Felix is part of the family and you do whatever you can to help him. Nothing crazy about that....

  10. we read about Felix on the Cat Blogosphere site and we came over here to offer some purrrsss and purrayers. You are a wonderful catmom. Felix, we hope that you get better and stay better very soon buddy. MsFelix'sMom, {{{{HUGS}}}} to you.
    Sammy, Miles and Nicholas Meezer, and Billy SweetFeets Norton Gingersnap, the Orinch Meniss.

  11. Oh gosh. Thank you so very, very much for all of your well wishes and support, from all of us here. I'm not sure how to even convey how much I appreciate it. Felix *seems* to be doing well, although he has been sneezing lots today. He is due for a re-check anyway, so hopefully he will see the vet again tomorrow. His appetite has improved significantly, which is encouraging. And he's been more social. So, I am feeling a bit more hopeful and a bit less worried and am trying to take things day by day. Many, many thanks to all of you.

  12. We too came over from the Cat Blogosphere. My sisters and I are sending our best loving purrs to your sweet Felix. Although we didn't know him until now, we sure do feel the love.

  13. Purrrs for Felix and big hugs for you!! We saw you at the CB and are going to send lots of healing vibes to Felix!!
    Your TX furiends,

  14. Purrs for Felix and yoo all!
    Sanjee and tha resta tha Hotties

  15. we just read about felix on the cat blogosphere. we are sending healing purrayers and comforting purrs your way.

    yuki, kintaro & tt of kazoku neko

  16. We read about Felix on the Cat Blogosphere and wanted to come by and say that we'll be purring really loud and hard for him.

    Sniffie and the Florida Furkids

  17. I am yet another member of the cat blogosphere who has come to offer you and Felix purrs of support. You've had so many visitors because you really get what it means when you take a pet into your life: they are a part of your family and a living being that you must be responsible for. If there were more humans like you, this planet would be a kinder, more sustainable place to live.

  18. We've also come over from the CB to send purrs and healing Light and well wishes for Felix--and for you too.

    Lots of kitty kisses for Felix and (((hugs))) for you!

    -Kim, with adoptees Annie, Nicki and Derry

  19. We just read about Felix on the CB and came over to say we will say a prayer for Felix and we will send lots of purrs and wet nose kisses.
    We hope all goes well for you all. xxx

  20. Please give little Felix (((HUGS))) and kisses from us. We have him in our thoughts and prayers. Our mom has been in your shoes many, many times. There's nothing you moms won't do for us furry kids.

  21. We just read about Felix on the CB. We wanted to stop in and let you know all of us have banded together to give him our best healing purrs. Bless your heart for doing what you've done to help him. (((hugs)))
    ♥ Maggie May and The Creek Cats

  22. We read about Felix over at the Cat Blogosphere and wanted to drop in and offer our purrs up to help heal handsome Felix. We totally understand about taking a financial hit for your baby. Bless you for all that you are doing. We hope things continue to improve and you will be in our purrayers...


  23. We learned about Felix's serious illness and had to come and meet him and his family. We are purrin big time that he can recover and be your happy, healthy companion once again!

  24. Got the news from CB and came right over. Sending lots of love and healing Reiki energy to liitle Felix and you. Hope he comes thru this all and the money will be there for you. You are blessed for caring for another creature! Has Felix gotten into any toxins, or could this be viral? With the liver it can be many things. Good luck!

  25. VERY sorry to hear about Felix at the Blogosphere. Just wanted to pop by and offer our support and purrs for you. it can be a heart-rending time for you, and I hope you're coping.