At the time, I didn’t write about it because I was upset and worried. As days and weeks passed and everything returned to normal, I let it go. So, six weeks late, here’s Isabella’s story from November 17th:
The beginning is actually two days earlier. I took Isabella to her vet for a checkup. I thought she was losing weight in spite of a decent appetite. Her checkup was fine. She had lost about half a pound since her previous visit, but the vet and I decided that it was likely due to opportunistic food thievery by Casey (who was gaining weight as quickly as Isabella lost it.) We assumed that Isabella’s teeth bothered her, so she ate slowly, allowing Casey to steal her food, leading to one fat cat and one skinny cat. I scheduled an appointment for a dental.
Two nights later she threw up twice, then let me sleep late in the morning instead of standing on my head demanding her 6am meal. Unusual, but Isabella enthusiastically gobbled up her breakfast, so I mentally shrugged and went about the day. Until she puked up every bit of the morning meal. And then some water. And sat like a meatloaf with dull eyes. Even a thick-headed dolt like me could tell something was wrong, hence the call to the vet.
That was my first mistake. Not making the call, but waiting for a call back. A call that didn’t come until hours later. By 3pm Isabella looked like death warmed over and the regular vet’s office was closed for the weekend, leaving me no option but to take her to the emergency vet clinic.
The animal ER shares parallels with those in human hospitals: They are slow. Slow. Slow. There are families there who are living through a tragedy. The phone rings incessantly. People are grumpy. These things I understood as soon as I walked in.
I explained the problem to the intake person (inappetant, lethargic, diabetic cat; history of vomiting). She wanted to take Isabella for a blood glucose test, but I had just done one, so the kitty stayed with me, in her carrier. That’s probably the only thing I did right, keeping her with me while we waited.
The wait stretched to an hour, then were escorted to an exam room where we waited another half hour. At last, a tech came in and took Isabella’s vitals and asked the pertinent questions. I should say up front that I was pretty sure that she was having an attack of pancreatitis. The symptoms matched and it’s a common ailment for diabetic cats. So when the vet came in, did his exam and laid out the tests (blood test, pancreatitis test) and therapies (fluids, meds for nausea) he had in mind, I agreed to the plan. I left Isabella in their care for three hours while they did what needed to be done.
When she was ready to come home, I went back … and waited an hour before my credit card was billed and Isabella was brought to me.
That’s when I knew that I would never, ever come back to the emergency vet unless it was life or death. Isabella was completely, utterly freaked out. She was in a state that I’d never seen – not after any trip to the vet, or being spayed, or her cancer surgery. Wild eyes, panting, just this close to going over the edge. I don’t know what went on while I was gone, but it surely upset my little cat, and that upset me.
She did calm down when we got home. And she ate, without throwing up. Over the next couple days she perked up and everything went back to normal, meaning no more late sleeps for me, because Isabella is again on my head every morning begging for breakfast.
Reading back over my blog entries leading up to that day, I can see the trail of warning flags. I mentioned several times that she let me sleep late, or that Isabella had thrown up, or that I felt like things were just not right. Now that I’m more aware of the subtle signs I can watch for them and dose her up with Pepcid. Or get her in to see the regular vet – never again waiting until after hours for a call back.
The ER vet, by the way, did not have a diagnosis. The test for pancreatitis came back negative… but that was probably because he used a test developed for dogs. I got my money back for that one.