Category Archives: Butterscotch Saga

Back to the Hospital

I took a much-needed nap after the last entry for about two hours. Whew – needed that! When I got up, Butterscotch was still sleeping in the window. I did some stuff on the computer, continually looking at his breathing.

I had dinner and did some other stuff, and at about eight I got him up. I was concerned that he could be slipping while he slept and I wouldn’t know it. I sat and held him on my lap again, and he just kept laying back down to sleep. Normally I would love that, and not tonight. I set him on the floor, because I wanted to see if he was weak. It looked like his breathing was labored, which wouldn’t be surprising considering he has 1/4 the red blood cells in his body that he should have. He walked over to his littler box and used it. At least he still has organ functioning. However, he then walked about 2 feet and layed down in a place where he never lays. I gave him a treat and he ate it, but not very energetically – he’d normally devour these things until they were gone. I gave him a second, and he dropped it and didn’t do a great job of getting it until I gave it back to him.

I needed to see him walk more. I took him to his water and set him down a few steps away. He walked to the water and drank, sitting in an odd position. He didn’t look strong. I put some tuna in a bowl near him. He nibbled a bit at it. He then walked into the dark bathroom and layed down between the toilet and the shower, where it’s dark. OK, that’s it. When a cat goes to a dark place to hide, he’s not doing well.

I called the hospital and spoke with Dr. Sartor at 8:27. She said she’d be occupied until 9. I chatted with Paul a bit online, and then washed my face, put on some clothes, and picked up Butterscotch. I didn’t even put him in the carrier – I couldn’t bear to do that again to him today. I simply held him in my lap while I drove. He normally gets stressed out when riding like this, but didn’t say a word until we were approaching the hospital – I will NOT say he didn’t know where he was going!

The night receptionist buzzed me in and told me she’d let Dr. Sartor know I was there. I think I’m officially becoming a fixture there. I sat in the waiting room and simply loved up my boy for a few minutes.

Dr. Sartor then appeared with a young woman I assume was a vet tech. She said it would take an hour to cross-match the blood, and then 4 hours to give the transfusion. She then stated in so many words (I don’t remember them exactly) that sometimes they have trouble finding a vein for the catheter, and if that happened, we were basically done. I went numb. As I always say, I’d rather know the worst truth than the most unpleasant lie, and I think delivery might have been different.

I held it together until I walked out of the hospital, thanking the receptionist, and promptly burst into tears when I walked out the door. I got in my car, and felt pretty angry that this was happening (yes, I’m noticing my own stages of grief – although in this case it appears to be pre-grief).

I talked to Dale while I drove home and after I got home. I chatted with Paul a bit. Julie called and I spoke with her. I then talked with Chester. I sent a couple of emails to people with whom I have commitments over the next two weekends, sharing my fear that I’d be gone while important stuff was happening. As if this weren’t challenging enough, I’m scheduled to be out of town the next two weekends! I know on one level this will all work out, I’m simply challenged right now in that I don’t know that it will.

Time, of course, will tell.

We did it! – and – a trip to the vet hospital

Saturday

Saturday I worked for a few hours from home and ran a bunch of errands – getting new bike innertubes and other stuff for the triathlon, and getting some things for home.

At 5 Rachel and I went to Christina’s birthday party at Biaggi’s, with Ryan and Christina’s family. Let’s just say it was “very interesting”. After that Rachel I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond where I got more stuff for the house that I’ve been needing for a while.

I got home around 9 or so and sat down to put the new innertubes in my bike. While I had asked for 700x35C at the bike store, I was sold 700x28C – I hadn’t even checked. Big difference. I put the original tube back in my front wheel, frustrated. I did a bunch of prep stuff for the triathlon today and was in bed by 10:30.

Race Day!

My alarm went off at 5:10 this morning. Ugh – not enough sleep. I got up and had breakfast, then gave Butterscotch more Doxycycline. Boy he hates it. I’ve never seen a cat try to drool something out before.

Rachel picked me up and we took off from my place at 5:45. It was a nice drive to Devil’s Lake; the road was pretty deserted. We arrived at the lake and registration was already in full gear. We got our bike and equipment to our respective racks in the transition area and registered, getting our numbers pinned to our suits, and having our heat numbers written on our left calves in permanent marker. Adam was heat 2 (20-29 year old men), I was in heat 4 (35-49 men) and Rachel was in heat 9 (30-34 women). We also had ‘chips’ put on our ankles. These are some sort of fob that’s attached to an ankle bracelet – the timing is completely run by computer, and times are measured when the chip goes over a mat with sensors.

Found Adam and talked to Connor, his boss, for a bit. We swam just a bit to get used to the water before we went to the starting area.

And there off! The start was pretty exciting for me, with this being my first triathlon. Per instructions, I stayed near the back of the pack since I wasn’t a fast swimmer. There were three guys in my heat, including me, who stayed about the same all the way through the 1/4-mile swim. It wasn’t beautiful swimming for me – I must have been so excited I couldn’t get an even breath, so I did a lot of breast stroke and a fair amount of kicking on my back. Most of the heat 5 guys passed me, as well as the heat 6 guys… I kept reminding myself that I wasn’t going to spaz about that. I kept hearing this one word from the DVD Rachel and I used to improve our swimming: “struggler”, as said by the narrator. However, since she was Australian, it sounded more like “strugglah”. “Are you a strugglah?”, she asks in the DVD. Well, I was being a strugglah, although I wasn’t struggling about it.

Eleven minutes and 51 seconds after the gun went off for my heat, I emerged from the water, raring to get on my bike. Since I was timing with my heart rate monitor watch, I decided to get the times of each event and my transitions (To see the official times on the Wisconsin Tri Series site, click here). 2:10 after getting out of the water, I had gotten ready and was leaving the transition area on my bike. 50 yards after starting to ride, one of my new water bottles, filled with water, fell out of the wire rack. I decided I couldn’t be bothered, since I still had the gatorade bottle. Two girls helping squealed in delight, fighting over who got to keep it. *sigh* I would had to have stopped if it were my only bottle.

The bike is definitely my best event. I’m certainly stronger in it than running or swimming. And since Rachel, Adam and I had come up three times to practice the course, I felt very prepared.

Immediately upon exiting the park, I turned right, and went uphill about 1.2 miles. I again insisted I relax as people pass me, despite whatever number was on their calf. I considered how some were going to pass me and I was going to pass some – it would all work out, and decided that I really needed to set my own pace and not kill myself. I used my heart rate monitor to ensure that my rate didn’t get too much over 160 bpm. The nice thing about the hills is that it doesn’t make any difference what kind of bike you ride as you go uphill – I passed plenty of guys who looked fit and were on racing bikes. Of course, their advantage was on the flat and downhill.

I had a lot of fun interacting with people during the ride – short conversations, joking around, etc. During a lot of the ride I had a silly grin plastered on my face, because I was really having FUN! It was definitely more entertaining to have all these people around me after practicing several times up there with almost no one around, and being passed by cars.

There was this one younger guy – must have been in his early 20’s – with whom I kept playing tag; he’d pass me, I’d pass him. I finally suggested to him that it was going to be him and me doing this the whole time. He laughed.

One thing that was very nice compared to the practices was that we didn’t go as far on the first road before turning around, thereby avoiding a large downhill/uphill. I knew in our practices that the distance was too long – it measured about 15.6 miles. The map on the site wasn’t very clear; later Adam, Rachel and I discussed how glad we were for the change!

Following Connor’s instructions, I ate some Gu at about mile 6. Gu is a concentrated sugar/carb used to boost energy during races. During practices I always crapped out during the run, so I thought I’d try it. As entreated on the package, I didn’t litter. <g>

Finally came the last uphill to the park entrance. I was becoming fairly spent from the bike ride, and concentrated on the latter part of the ride on using my calves/hamstrings to save my quads for the run. It was a great feeling finishing that last hill and riding the long downhill into the park. I beat my ‘icing on the cake’ goal of 1 hour on the bike! I did it in 54:11 – average speed of 16.6 mph! Much better than the 14.4 during practice. It pays to have others to ride with!

Once again to the transition area. I forgot to hit my watch right when entering it – the WI Tri Series site said 1:40 to change shoes and get running.

Once again, running is not my best event. However, I am certainly in better running shape then I was for the 10k on July 4. I again concentrated on setting my own pace. The running course was different than what we had practiced because, once again, the instructions on the site weren’t very clear. We left the park and ran to the Quartzite campsite, which is on a “nice” slope. We entered at the 6 o’clock position and ran clockwise, uphill to 12 o’clock, and downhill to about 5 o’clock, then a turnaround at a water station (water over the head while running is VERY refreshing!), and back counter-clockwise where we’d come. I had to speedwalk for a bit on both uphills. My ankle was hurting specifically running uphill – an old marching injury (really, I’m not making it up…). I had to really concentrate to run in a way that wouldn’t hurt; not great form, but it kept me going.

As I was nearing the exit to the campsite, I started feeling REALLY GOOD. I was getting an endorphin rush, and decided I was going to use and not abuse it. Instead of my normally plodding pace, I stretched it out until I was pretty much running. It felt really great! As I entered the park exit (returning from where I’d run), I matched pace with a woman and had a bit of conversation. She lived in Colorado for 20 years, and moved recently to Wisconsin. She stated that any advantage from coming from a higher altitude was long gone. We pushed each other in a really great way. As we got about 1/2 mile from the finish, I suggested we pick it up. Same thing about 1/4 mile. As we neared the finish I suggested it one more time, and she told me to go ahead. I encouraged her to do it with me. I picked up the pace (and did pass her) toward the finish, and had a bit of a sprint coming down the final stretch. I was neck and neck with another woman, but her energy lasted longer than mine – good for her. I finished with a total time of 1:38:13. I had done the run in 28:21, thereby beating another ‘icing on the cake’ goal of 30 minutes! I finished overall 403 out of a field of 750 or so, and 54 out of 70 in my division. Not too shabby for a newbie.

I found Adam after I finished – he had actually been cheering me on near the finish – and we got some food. Since Rachel was just taking off on her run when I was finishing, we had at least 1/2 hour before we could cheer her to her finish. There was music playing over loud speakers, and it was a great atmosphere with everyone completing. I am, indeed, a triathlete!

We took our food back and sat near the finish, and cheered Rachel in while she finished. We went with her as she got food, then changed and went to the awards ceremony. We listened to about half of the awards, and left after all of our divisions were called. Per our custom, we went to Culvers in Sauk City where Rachel & I had turtles (you bet!) and Adam had lunch, again… Rachel and I then drove to Madison, where she dropped me off.

Another trip to the hospital

I got home, completely ready for a nap. Butterscotch greeted me, as did some cat feces by the front door. Hmmm. That looks kind of dark – is it dark enough to indicate blood? I picked up the boy and sat in the sun. I lifted his lip to look at his gum. Very white. I turned a bit white. I checked his gum for capillary action several times. I did notice some change in color, and it was quite slow. I called Cynthia, just catching her on her way out. She told me to call ahead and take him to the hospital. I got the carrier out of the basement and rubbed a towel on Butterscotch, then put it inside (I discovered he’s most comfortable with something soft that smells like him in there). I called the hospital and talked to Dr. Sartor. She agreed I should bring him in. Butterscotch didn’t want to get in the carrier. Boy, he’s a smart cat; more on this later.

I didn’t wait long at the hospital before Dr. Sartor had me come into an examining room. She stated that his bloodwork came back, and that the diagnosis was Pure Red Cell Aplasia. I didn’t go into details with her, but it seems like this we already new – that his marrow wasn’t producing red blood cells. I asked about Leukemia, and she stated that to find that out, they would have to send the cells to a lab for molecular something-or-other. (?) I thought they were testing for Leukemia. So much happens so quick, it’s hard to keep it all straight.

Butterscotch wouldn’t come out of the carrier by his own accord, or with coaxing. I finally had to pull the towel, and thus him. His temperature was normal, but she said he had a heart murmur (was it different than the ‘galloping’ sound he had, due to low blood count? I didn’t ask). She took him to the CCU to get some blood drawn and spun to measure his PCV (packed cell volume – an indicator of how many red blood cells he had) while I waited in the exam room. She came back a while later and stated it was 10. He’d left with it being 16 on Thursday. Once again, 10 is the bottom limit before long-term damage can be done to internal organs. She stated, however, that since he was so bright, that they should wait. She went to go look for steroids to give him. They normally use prednisone, but that can cause sodium retention, which wouldn’t be good for him. I sat in the exam room for about 20 minutes while she was away. I was so tired I drifted in and out of sleep, stirring every time Butterscotch’s tags made that beloved tinkling sound.

She came back and gave me some Dexamethasone pills – another steroid – to lower his immune response, which I gather may allow his marrow to begin producing red cells again. She showed me how to give a pill, since I’d not done that before. Seems easier than liquid, and he tolerates it MUCH better than the Doxycycline. And I could discontinue the Doxycycline – thank God. At least medicine time will be less stressful. I asked her about statistics on cats who recover from Red Cell Aplasia. She said that most end up being euthenized, but certainly not all. Ugh. More stress.

So, once again it was time to leave the hospital. I opened the carrier door, and Butterscotch walked right in without any prompting. I said he was smart. We came home, and he just as quickly walked out of the carrier. He jumped into his now-customary spot in the front window, and I turned on the fan and laid down for a nap. It was about 3 by then or so.

I woke up just before starting this entry. I went to the window to check on the boy. Still breathing (don’t parents do this?). Every once in a while I look over at him to ensure his chest is still expanding and contracting. I’m worried that I’m going to Detroit this Thursday through Tuesday morning. I’ll have to find someone to look after him. I’m going to be working at home myself until I leave. He’ll definitely need to go to the hospital Monday or Tuesday at the latest. I have a feeling the next couple of days will be like those last week. We shall see.

Swimcaps Revisited & Homeopathics


Butterscotch and me before his treatment on Thursday. You can see the shaved part on his belly.

Before work I went to Willy St. Coop & Green Earth to get the Homeopathics that Cynthia prescribed for Butterscotch. I returned home and put the Nux Vomica (great name, huh?) in his water, then left for work.
For lunch, Rachel and I went with our coworker Tony to Middleton Fitness, where I bought an ugly swimcap (to spite “the man”, who’s forcing me to wear it), and she bought a racing top. Then lunch at Hubbard Avenue Diner. Mmmmm.

I spoke with Dr. Wagner around 5, and the results weren’t yet in. I had an interesting conversation with her about what Cynthia had determined was the cause. She said far be it from her to question it. She’ll give me a call on Monday, since hopefully the results should be in then. She’ll want to start him on steroids, which should kick his marrow into action, again depending upon the results. She counseled me that if anything happens before then, I can bring him in there or to Dr. Stehr, my vet.

After work, Butterscotch was once again in the front window. He’s really pining to go outside, although he wasn’t difficult like he was this morning. I checked the capillary action of his gum, and it looks appreciably slower than it did this morning. Hmmm. We sat in the chair in the bay window for a while before I had to take off. I think his missing me overtook his desire to get outside. He sat and relaxed and cleaned himself. He seems very much his usual self.

I had a dinner meeting with Diane and Karen, and was a little preoccupied the whole time, concerned that he’s going through the cells from his transfusions. Cat red blood cells last 10 days, so by Monday he’ll likely have gone through half of what he was given. I hope his marrow kick in soon, so that he won’t have to keep going to the hospital for transfusions.

I’m really pretty tired tonight. I’ll not be staying up much longer. I want to make sure I get enough rest before the triathlon on Sunday.

Swimcaps & Antibiotics

I got an email last night from Rachel that had the rules for the triathlon on Sunday. All participants must wear brightly colored swim caps! I’m tempted to get one with flowers, but I’ll probably end up getting one that matches my tri-suit.

I woke up at 4 am and Butterscotch hadn’t joined me. I found him sitting in the window, where’d I’d left him when I went to bed! I brought him to bed and he laid on top of me for about an hour, again being very affectionate. He even dreamed again.

This morning, however, things are a bit different. He wants to go out, and he wants to go out NOW. You’d never know that he has less than half the red blood cells he should in his body. He also fought taking medicine, which is normally very easy because it’s a liquid. He’s again making his point that HE WANTS OUT. Sorry, buckaroo, no go. My roommate stated that the boy almost slipped past him when he was going in and out of the door. *sigh* This part isn’t fun.

He’s Home!

Hey everybody!

After yesterday’s update I had a rather large meal, since I needed to fast until after my physical this morning at 8 am. I then went and visited Butterscotch. He was more his normal self, reaching out his head to be scratched on top, and under the chin. Even though he was still somewhat sedated. He had a staple on his shoulder where they took the marrow sample; he’s been getting some pain medication for that.

My friend Cynthia is a retired vet and teacher, and she offered to go to the hospital and do some alternative healing work with him. As it turns out, I was quite startled to get a call today informing me that they were releasing him! While in a noisy, crowded restaurant during lunch, I got a call on my cell phone and was told that while they still don’t know the cause, he’s stable enough to be released, and would do much better being home with me and coming in for treatment than staying in the hospital. I was stunned, as I just assumed he would be staying there until done with treatments. I’m glad I left the carrier in my car. And I’m glad he’s coming home!

I left work at 3 for the hospital. Shelley, the vet tech (I believe) who did my intake, explained that Dr. Wagner was in the middle of a procedure. She went over the very detailed report they prepared that outlined his entire situation, tests and treatment to date, as well as the bone marrow tests for which we’re waiting results. When she brought Butterscotch in, I picked him up and he BURIED himself in my shoulder – I think he may have been happier to see me than I to see him. Couldn’t have been by much, though. We went over everything I need to do with him at home. There is still a concern that his belly is extremely tender – he complains very strongly when it’s touched. He actually walked into his carrier! He normally hates it; he must have known he was going home.

As I was waiting to pay, Dr. Wagner came out and chatted for a bit. I thanked her for her great care. Several of the folks there said that while they were glad he was going home, they would miss him – I’m not surprised he won them over – he’s like that.

I took him directly to Cynthia’s house for his session. She reviewed the report and did some checking of her own, then worked on him. We decided that him laying on top of me as I laid on the couch would be best – since he normally likes that. Well, not only did he like that, he buried his face against mine (strong cat affection for those unfamiliar), and over the hour of treatment he slept very deeply, going through at least two dream cycles – I could tell because he was running and moving in his sleep. He then got up and ate and drank some – very good things. Cynthia took a few digital pictures, which I’ll be placing at www.jayedgar.com as soon as I get them.

From her examination, Cynthia has concluded that he has ingested rodenticide through eating birds. (People put out poison for crows and unwittingly get smaller birds. The smaller birds are thus weaker and easier for cats to catch…) That’s the reason for the tender belly. She gave me some homeopathics to help him cleanse, and gave me more information on making him an indoor cat. This will be a project, since I worked on that before and didn’t succeed. She says he’s got a 70-80% chance of making it, as he’s not out of the woods yet. She gave me some things to check (temperature, gum coloration) and watch out for in the next few days. Dr. Wagner will be talking to me tomorrow to go over things as well. I’ll see tomorrow what the western medical doctor thinks of the eastern approach’s prognosis. <g>

I then brought him home, and he looked quite happy to be here. After he drank some, he immediately asked to go out. I don’t think so… He’s under (both) doctors’ orders to stay in the house. He’s now sitting in the window next to me as I type this. If he appears to be getting weaker, etc., Cynthia has instructed me to take him directly to the hospital without hesitation – they are open 24/7. I have a feeling that won’t be necessary, and I’m ready for it if it does.

I’m feeling much happier now that he’s home and I have a sense of what’s going on with him. That statement is actually quite the understatement – I missed him terribly. I appreciate him even more than before – I wouldn’t have thought that possible.

I probably won’t send another update until there is a clear (western) prognosis, and when treatment (if any) is complete. However, I will probably put more information more frequently at www.jayedgar.com, so you can go there and check if you are curious. Since this writing part of the process has been so interesting, I may continue it, turning my writing there into a “blog” (short for web log – a kind of online personal journal). That might be a fun use for the site. We’ll see.

One more BIG THANK YOU to everyone for their support in this process. As I discussed last night, this has been a literally incredible process for me personally. I feel so much richer. I’m actually very very blessed.

Love to all,

Jay

P.S. I’m going to be giving some money to the vet hospital to be placed in a special fund they have for folks who don’t have many funds to go toward care of their animals. When I get contact information for this, I’ll place it on the site, in case anyone would be inspired to give.

Wednesday Late Afternoon

The last email before I started blogging:

Greetings:

I just talked to the doc. Butterscotch is losing fur right and left as they shave him for different things.

They sedated him and ran the ultrasound (shaved belly) earlier today. Everything appeared fairly normal, although his kidneys looked a little “bright” (that was either the ultrasound or X-ray, I can’t remember). Since he had been dehydrated, they gave him an enema to help him out, as long as he was still sedated. I thanked her for that, and she laughed, as tho it were a strange thing to be thankful for. I suppose it is. I’m thankful anyway.

One half hour ago they got a sample of marrow (shaved upper arm) and a marrow core sample, which allows them to see both the make-up of the cells and the structure of the marrow. She said the marrow appeared a bit fatty, which is not surprising, given he’s not producing red blood cells.

They will be starting him on an antibiotic this evening to take care of any possible blood parasites or tick-born diseases. This is merely a precaution, since he doesn’t have the type of anemia that would go with these types of illnesses.

So, as I’ve suspected and somewhat dreaded, the results from the marrow will probably give the information they need. Dr. Wagner stated this was most likely the case, although she cautioned me that she couldn’t promise that, of course. It takes a day to get results back from the marrow cells, and even longer to get the results on the core sample.

They haven’t checked his blood levels since earlier today, since he needs all the red blood cells he can get. They’ll only check if they need to. I’m planning on going to see him between 6 and 6:30 tonight, which should give him time for the sedative to wear off, although he’ll still be on pain meds from the marrow work. My friend Patricia helped me understand that the short visits are better for Butterscotch, since a longer visit would only be confusing to him, wondering why I’m not taking him home with me.

The human is doing very well, considering. Interestingly enough, one of the most challenging aspects of this entire chapter for me has been all the support I’ve been getting. I think everyone getting this knows me well enough to know that I tend to be a bit more self-reliant and independent than I need to be. It’s been good experience not being able to hold back the tears when talking with friends (hell, even while leaving one voicemail today). I’m riding the rollercoaster and looking forward, not afraid of the ride. Maybe not knowing or liking what’s over this next little crest, although I’m aware enough of all the possibilities.

Most of you have probably heard me tell stories of things I’ve learned from Butterscotch (as well as Molly, a previous roommate’s cat), and I didn’t anticipate this gift, so indirect. Amazing how a cat has taught me to be way more human.

Well, I thought I’d hold onto this missive until later, but it ended up being long enough. Next one may not be until Thursday.

Thanks, everyone.

Jay

Reminder: you can find all these updates at www.jayedgar.com, including a really good pic of the boy.

Wednesday Mid-Afternoon

Another email:

Greetings:

Not much to report at this time. Dr. Wagner called me around 9 to let me know that Butterscotch’s blood count was up to 16 today, after they gave him another unit of blood last night. She stated before the second transfusion his count was up to 9. (?) Either I was confused or misinformed, as I thought she said 12 yesterday late afternoon. She said that their rule of thumb for a minimum number is 10, as below that long-term damage can be done to organs.

She let me know that Butterscotch looked better and was more active. He’s been drinking and urinating, although not eating, since they needed him to fast before his ultrasound. It’s funny that I need to fast myself tonight after 6, since I’m having a regular physical done in the morning…

That ultrasound could be taking place any time now, if it hasn’t already. She couldn’t give me a specific time, since they go down the list and just do it. She said barring another animal being in more serious shape, the boy would have priority since he’s staying there (other animals are coming in from outside). You can’t buy love, but you can buy good medical care. <g>

If the ultrasound doesn’t yield answers, they will do the bone marrow test as I mentioned. Hopefully by then I’ll have information with which to make decisions about next steps.

I’ll be going to visit him after 5. That’s about all to report for now. Oh – I recently bought www.jayedgar.com and haven’t done anything with it. I’m putting these updates up there, as well as some other stuff about the boy (over time). You can visit whenever you want to see what’s what. I will still continue these updates.

Thanks, all.

Jay

Tuesday Evening

And another email…

Hello again:

I just got back from visiting Butterscotch at the hospital. If you’ve ever wondered whether vet hospitals have visiting hours, now you know they do. Unfortunately, one isn’t able to hang out for hours visiting, wishing the dog on the other side of the curtain would stop making that really icky sound – they limit visits to 15 minutes and the doc or attending assistant need to be present.

The boy finished his blood transfusion (he’s Type A) at about 3 pm. His blood count (PCV) is now up from 6 to 12, yet still short of the normal 40. However, he’s more awake, his color is somewhat better, and he’s complaining some – this is a good thing. He looks to be resting comfortably on his warm water blanket, if not slightly sulkily. He’s now got three shaved patches on his body where the mean humans have poked him – oh the indignity – and he has a catheter in his front right leg for transfusions, saline and drugs as needed. I won’t do more than simply mention the temperature checks… He’s been eating and drinking and doing the normal activities that those two lead to. He’s even cleaning.

There are no blood parasites. His spleen is enlarged, as is his heart slightly, which isn’t surprising. They did a test to look for baby red blood cells and found close to none, which indicates his bone marrow isn’t producing red blood cells, although it is producing white. X-rays didn’t turn up anything that looks like cancer. Whatever is wrong with him has been happening for a while, since normally if a cat were to drop to 6 quickly, they would be panting, etc. His body has had time to adjust to the low blood count. His behavior lately certainly told me nothing.

Tomorrow morning they will do an ultrasound (or some such) on his abdomen. If that doesn’t turn up anything, they’ll take some marrow from his left humorous to check out in the afternoon. If it’s lymphoma, that’s bad; if it’s not, his marrow could perk back up with steroids depending upon the cause. They can’t give him more blood right now lest he build an immunity it – they have to use that sparingly. Dr. Wagner explained that I was lucky to live in Madison where there is an abundant supply of cat blood (where do they get it?), as opposed to some folks who need to drive hours. I’m glad she’s working with him – she seems very caring. She liked the idea that there were lots of folks who were thinking about him.

Thank you to all who have called or sent supportive emails. I’ll not try and explain how much that has meant to me. It did make for a challenging workday, where in the middle of writing some complex code I’d receive an email and get all bleary-eyed.

When I left the hospital I was driving home along Observatory Drive, and came to a stop at an intersection behind an Outback that had as its license plate EMOTE. I laughed out loud – I didn’t need the encouragement.

This one’s a toughie. I have a feeling I’ll be learning what’s up by the end of day tomorrow. I’m feeling myself preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. Thank you all for keeping the thoughts coming.

Love,

Jay

The Saga Begins

I sent the following email to friends and family:

Dear Friends and Family:

This morning Butterscotch, “my” cat and buddy, came home very weak – barely able to stand. I took him to the vet, where I found, happily, that he doesn’t have Feline Leukemia. However, he’s extremely anemic with a blood count (PCV) of 6 when it should be 40, and his temperature was 92°F instead of 100. He was extremely dehydrated. After getting subcutaneous saline, I took him to the Vet Hospital at the UW, where he is now getting a transfusion and staying at LEAST overnight. They’ll be running tests to figure out what’s going on in his body. While no one said it in words, I’m quite sure he’s in critical condition (the doctor asked whether they should resuscitate if he arrests). I’ve never seen or heard him in such distress before.

I am feeling profoundly sad and worried right now, although it’s really mainly sad. In terms of support, I would appreciate it if, in your own way, you would hold Butterscotch in your thoughts. I’m doing a good job of taking care of myself – working on and off at home today. I’m also feeling thankful that he’s in a good place, and I have the resources to get him what he needs.

Thank you for your support. I’ll send updates as I learn more.

Love,

Jay