Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Five Stages of Feline Diabetes

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced the world to the five stages of grieving in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. According to her theory, anyone dealing with grief or tragedy goes through the stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression on the way to landing in the world of Acceptance.

Feline Diabetes is like that, and then some.

The average person, upon learning their cat is diabetic, cycles through Kubler-Ross’s five traditional stages quite rapidly. So rapidly, in fact, that the entire process takes place at the vet’s office upon getting the bill for diagnostic tests, insulin and other supplies:

Denial: That’s not my cat. I’m here to fix the copier.
Anger: She wasn’t diabetic when she got here! What the heck happened in that back room?
Bargaining: How about foot massages for the entire staff in exchange for the insulin?
Depression: Let me find my credit card…
Acceptance: All right, give me the pen. I’ll sign.

At this point, the owner has passed through the standard stages of grieving the loss of a once-healthy pet and accepted that a cat with a high-maintenance chronic disease is glaring out from its carrier. Now it’s time to embark upon the wild and woolly journey through the Five Stages of Feline Diabetes. These stages, though well defined, may be encountered in any order, cycled through repeatedly, and even overlap.

Panic: In the early days, panic comes with the mere idea of perforating the cat with a needle. Later (when shots are so routine the caretaker can talk on the phone, inject the cat, and make dinner simultaneously) panic rears up whenever the kitty does anything unusual. Eat too much? Too little? Not at all? Barf? Look cross-eyed? Too friendly? Standoffish? Sleeping in a weird place? These, and a million other cat tricks, can – and will -- set off the panic alarm. Get used to it.

Sleeplessness/Obsessiveness: The more you know about what can go wrong with a diabetic cat, the easier it is to fret about its condition at any given moment. That leads to an endless cycle of poking the cat with a lancet to get blood for tests and poking the cat with a finger in the middle of the night to make sure it’s just sleeping. Cat not on the bed? Get up, find it, and poke it wherever it lies. Or go sleep where it’s sleeping. Whatever your approach, you will never get an uninterrupted night of sleep again. Poke.

Giddy Optimism: A routine blood glucose test that delivers an unexpected result – say a blood glucose reading of 75 (normal!) – will catapult you into the realm of hope and confidence. Two good readings in a row set off dreams of regulation or remission. Sadly, this stage is generally very short lived because a high reading or two will slam you right into …

Despair & Self-Loathing: The cat’s blood sugar is high; then it’s low. There’s no rhyme, reason, or pattern to insulin response. What worked today doesn’t work tomorrow and in fact, may never work again. And it’s obvious that the reason your cat is so darned hard to manage, is because you, the owner and primary caretaker, are an idiot.

Adult Beverages: When the insulin seems to have no effect and the cat barfs on the comforter for the fifth time this month it’s time to enter the stage where wine is a friend and Baileys Irish Cream is soothing security blanket. So start another load of laundry and rest easy knowing that tomorrow you get to do it all over again, most likely with the same frustrating lack of results.

And there you have it, the Five Stages of Feline Diabetes. These were developed without any of the pesky scientifically-valid research methods that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had to monkey with, but, I assure you, with a liberal application of Adult Beverages.


Venita said...

I soooo enjoy your commentaries!! Thanks for the smiles.

Venita and The Boyz

Laura said...

So true Nancy! I go through this on a daily basis (you know) and can definitely relate! Love Isabella's blog!

BTW, my work computer censored your site so I can't read it at work! No rhyme or reason there!


KIC said...

This was sooooooooooooooo true. The despair and self loathing part seems to rear its ugly head often. I need more Adult Beverage application I think.

Anonymous said...

My 16 year old cat was recently diagnosed with diabetes and I am currently trying to decide what to do. I live alone and would be unable to give her insulin shots regularly but my vet seems to think something is better than nothing and I'm not sure I agree. Any thoughts on this?

Heidi Ho said...
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