"Are you a doctor?"
I get asked this a lot because I'm able to talk in medical terms. I discuss treatments and make suggestions (read: demands) like a doctor, not a patient. I've written before about the source of much of my medical knowledge due to constant hospital admissions for injuries, some control freak-ism in my wanting to know what the hell they're doing to me, and the med students meeting for test preps at my bar in my uni days, with me both referee and quizmaster. Then there was the EMT-track stint for the VFD.
I don't want to lie and it might be illegal in this country to make the claim, so I use vague language. It wasn't working, so I answered, "Not anymore." Boom! Now my opinion counts a lot more, and everything makes sense to them. How else could a non-doctor discuss the effects of treatment and handling of other symptomologies? Germans just can't get their minds around the idea that a non-specialist might know something about a specialised field.
Whether doctors, bakers, builders, Germans always act the same way. If it's their specialty, it's only their opinions which count. Unless you're a "colleague". If you've worked in the field only then does your opinion also matter. So when it comes to medical treatment, I'm "not a doctor anymore". Shit gets done... correctly.
I told them that there was no way I could come in last night and that I'd be there today, as mentioned in the Hole. Keep watching her; kidney function recovery after infusion can take 3-4 days. Neither BG nor I could sleep and the sun was up before our eyes were closed. A lot of beer and vodka disappeared down our gullets. I'd pretty much come to terms with having to do the deed. She cried a lot; I had to wait until she slept to have my 30-second eye leak. Over the past few years I've gotten very good at this.
Boy, the girl cat's brother, when not searching the apartment and calling her constantly until dropping from exhaustion, would take an occasional break to sit at the window and sulk. It's the first time the two have ever been separated and he needs her. I knew I'd have to bring him with me today, and if she was to be put down, he'd have to see her before and after. Despite most of his cat-ness being bred out of him, he's a cat, a carnivore, and must instinctively understand something about death.
There were a couple of missed calls on my cell phone from the hospital when I woke up around 11. I called up and they told me she'd produced "a very little bit of urine" and had diarrhoea. I set an appointment for 2pm and shortly before that, got the boy into the carrier.
Once in the room with the cat looking much better, I took her out of her hospital cage and him out of his carrier. She was looking almost normal and not being dehydrated played some small role in that. To the onlooker, the didn't seem that interested in each other but I know these two. He needs the attention and she got so annoyed by him that she hissed and batted a paw at him before walking away. He followed quietly. I've seen many similar marriages.
Along with the doc were a couple students. We went over the treatments available and prognosis some more. The students weren't going to learn a damned thing about dealing with "normal" patients, only about discussions with incredibly single-minded former Yank doctors hell-bent on saving the life of a small, quiet, 9-year-old Persian cat.
"Are you a doctor?" came up again after I asked about being able to continue infusion at home. My supposed medical history allowed her to consider asking the chief of medicine whether it would be possible in my case. If they want to question my skills I'm more than happy to demonstrate an ability to hit a capillary on my own pinky one-handed with an 18-gauge syringe, a skill I don't seem to need these days. A big-ass femoral artery on a cat is no challenge.
Doc said that the cat peed a little more earlier in the day. I re-iterated the fact that kidney function takes 3-4 days to return and this was clear progress. I wondered just how well I was balancing hope and knowledge. We moved to the resultant anæmia and thyroid problems. My cat has a crit of 16 and needs a transfusion. The long-term prognosis without a kidney transplant is guaranteed death. Only UC Davis does those. It's not completely out of the question and before anyone jumps on my case for such an expenditure, I also donate to groups like Doctors Without Borders. I haven't ruled it out but it's unlikely. Unless I can carry her as hand luggage there's no way she'd survive the flight in her state.
I said to keep her one more night so we can watch for further progress with the infusion as well as get some fresh blood into her. The doc agreed to check up on sourcing some frightfully expensive meds and I'm searching for some other experimental drug called "OPC31260".
She's coming home tomorrow. She could hold out for two months or two weeks or only two days. That's still better than nothing. Yes it's about quality of life but we have pets to improve our own quality of life. She's not in pain. If she does fade fast here, their belief in my former medical credentials may get them to hand over the needle and barbiturates so that she can die here, at home, something that her brother needs to experience.
Having seen her and then being stuffed back into the carrier for a public transport ride home has done wonders for Boy. He's stopped searching for his sister and isn't sulking. He's more or less his old self. I was right that he needed to see her far away and know that she's not here. I'm just curious about whether he'll sit by the carrier. He hates it but knows that's what got him to his sister today.
I got a phone call an hour ago from the hospital. No blood of her type on-hand. I'd scheduled an appointment for Boy on Thursday to be checked for the same disease (PKD, "Polycystic Kidney Disease") since it's caused by a dominant gene. This requires blood testing and ultrasound. It'll now be done tomorrow. They'll check to be sure he has the same blood type and during the day, they'll sort out the other tests. Tomorrow after work I come back home with both cats. They're fucking heavy in those carriers.
Sorry for the rambling; I had to get this out. The girl's not in pain so I have no qualms about further treatment, but if she crashes shortly after coming home, I know I'll have to give up. I think I'm as ready as I can be.
If you know anyone with a Persian cat, tell him or her to have the cat checked for PKD. It can be detected with a simple ultrasound check (requiring no shaving) as early as 3 months and always within the first year of life. It's incurable but specialty food is available -- low in protein, balanced for potassium, results in low urea waste, and isn't too expensive. One third of all Persian cats have this disease. We never knew.
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