June 24, 2002
Feline Diabetic Panic

I'm just a blogging maniac tonight. But that, in part, is because I'm trying to stay awake. Until 2, or so, I figure, then I can snooze for a couple of hours before getting up again to check on Athena.

Its going to be a long night.

Athena is a 15 year old cat. A little grey "tuxedo" cat, who I wouldn't have called petite, but more little and round. Although now that she's getting back into the normal weight range, petite might start to apply.

Several months ago I learned that she is diabetic. This plunged our lives into chaos. She requires insulin, which means twice a day, completely on schedule, we have to give her a shot between 6:30 and 7:30, am and pm. It hasn't been easy.

And she hasn't been easy to regulate. After many many weeks of working on it, she ended up at taking 8 units of insulin twice a day. This is quite a bit for a cat. Hells, I think its more than I took as a diabetic when I was pregnant with Danielle!

The first few times we went away for the weekend, we boarded her. But the last time, during TBR, when we went to pick her up we learned that they had only been able to administer her insulin half the times they tried. And we'd been charged for it because of the great difficulties in doing it (special kitty gloves!). So they suggested that we should have her stay at home, giving her the right amount of food, the restart her insulin regime upon our return. The logic being that her sugar levels would not increase much more than if they were unable to care for her properly in the kennel anyway.

So this weekend, for WEF, that is exactly what we did. We left her the exact amount of food she should need for the weekend, and plenty of water. We arrived home tonight at 7:30, and the first thing Kevin did was come inside and feed her and give her her shot.

She nibbled a bit at her food, but didn't really get into it. But this isn't all that unusual -- she usually picks a bit, then goes away, then comes back, then goes away, and so on. But this time, after a little while, she started drinking a ton of water. She whined until I gave her more, then drank and drank. During this time Kevin and I were doing other things, like feeding the kids, and I was sorting the laundry.

Then we both heard Athena start to howl. We both ran, and just as Kevin scooped her up, worried about her, she threw up. It was like she exploded. But she seemed better afterwards, and then she went back to drinking more water.

At this point, I was starting to worry about dehydration. Maybe her sugar had gone up so high that she'd gotten severely dehydrated. Then she threw up a second time.

She was wobbling by then, and looked a little... odd... so I grabbed the corn syrup, poured a generous spoonful, and poured it down my little cat's throat. She was none too pleased, but it went down, and shortly thereafter, she really perked up. But she was acting like she was starved, so I gave her some tunafish since she was turning her nose up at her dry food. She ate ravenously.

And a half hour later, threw it all up again.

I called the emergency vet. I have to admit it, I'm thrilled that the Capital District *has* an emergency vet. I used them in the past for Tigger, when he spiked a sudden fever from an infection, or various other things that Tigger managed to do to himself. Tonight was the first time I had taken Athena there.

I walked in and explained that she was diabetic. They said, "You realize we need to take her from you." I nodded, knowing that they had to treat her immediately. If her blood sugar was low, it could be dangerous. Which is why I was so worried.

They came back out in a little bit to tell me that her blood sugar was 22.

Let me say this, if anyone out there understands diabetes. Cats actually require the same ranges as humans, which makes it really easy to remember. Humans should remain at a range of around 80-140. Anything over that is high. Anything under 60 is considered low. 22 is insanely low. Dangerously low.

In other words, its a damned good thing I took her to the vet.

They gave her dextrose, and then some babyfood to eat, which she wolfed down. Then they monitored her for a while to make sure she didn't start throwing up again. Thankfully, this time, she didn't.

They gave me a choice. I could either hospitalize her for the night, or take her home and monitor her closely, because even though she had been maintaining 100, she could go down again. Unfortunately, the visit alone was going to be expensive, and I really couldn't afford to leave her there all night, even though it would make me more comfortable.

So I am home with my little feline girl, and I am periodically checking on her. I gave her food (wet this time -- picked up at the vets) immediately upon arriving home, and water. I'm waiting until 2ish before catching my first sleep. I know that 1:30 is six hours after her last insulin, and therefore I think we're peaking right about now. So I want to make sure I monitor her through this.

Then in the morning no insulin, and we go straight to her regular vets for a blood sugar check and to start the whole figuring out her insulin again.

Its going to be a long night. Athena is my baby. My first child. I've had her since she was a kitten, and in a part of my mind, she is still the little handful that thought the front pocket of a backpack was a good place to sleep. I should find one of her baby pictures to post. *smiles*

But its 1:30 now. Time for another check (she is currently resting upstairs, still responsive, still looking good). Then soon I can snooze for a while.

Posted by Deb Atwood at June 24, 2002 01:36 AM
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