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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Never trust a doctor at face value

When we go to the doctor, we put our trust in the wisdom he/she has in their given field, at least to some extent.  I've learned to take a list of questions along with me to many of my doctor's visits, so as not to forget anything which may not have been addressed during the appointment.  I have still been disappointed in some of my previous physicians who did not do me the courtesy of informing me of side effects of certain medications before prescribing them to me, Prednisone in particular.  Because of this one medication, I became diabetic and will have it for the rest of my life.  Thank you so much, doc!  Even after I asked all the right questions, my first neurologist still never gave me the information he should have given me so I could make an informed decision as to take it or not.  I had the right to choose for myself and for this, I will never forgive him.
This post, however, is not aimed at that neglectful doctor.  I am writing about my girls' ex-veterinarian today.  I am still boiling mad at what she did with my Emmi Sue.  This woman, who runs a clinic specifically for only cats, prescribed a medication called aluminum hydroxide (a phosphate binder) to be mixed into her food in order to bring her phosphorus levels down.  I am a member of a support group and when I had mentioned, a couple weeks ago, how much binder I was putting into her food, a few members told me it was far too much, so I cut down on the amount I was using for her.  The vet had also told me that it would not harm Jinger or Allie if they ate food with the aluminum hydroxide, so I wasn't horribly careful to make sure they didn't consume it.. at least not at first.

The problem with this binder is that it makes food somewhat dry and chalky, no matter how much water I add to it, so Emmi Sue hasn't been eating nearly as much as she should.  I had been keeping her food separate from her sisters' dishes for the last week or so, since there really was no reason for Jinger or Allie to consume Emmi Sue's medicated food.  Aside from this, Jinger was vomiting quite a bit after consuming the food with the binder in it, so I felt it best to keep her away from it.

Since Emmi Sue hasn't been too enthusiastic to eat her medicated food, it has been very troubling to me as I desperately need her phosphorus levels to drop significantly!  Her not eating enough has been one of my biggest stresses lately and I hadn't figured out how to get her to take her medicine, until yesterday afternoon.
Someone in the support group had posted a message where she mentioned that she had been putting the aluminum hydroxide in capsules on her own, but then decided to have her pharmacy do it for her instead.  Ah ha!  A light went off in my head!  I called my local compounding pharmacy yesterday, where I purchase Jinger's hyperthyroid medication, and asked if they could do this for me, and they said they absolutely could.  I was ecstatic!  But here is when I started to become troubled.  They informed me that, according to what my ex-vet had prescribed, Emmi Sue was supposed to consume 3,000 mg. of the aluminum hydroxide per day.  3,000 mg.?  For a cat who doesn't even weigh 7 lbs. anymore?  It seemed like an extremely large amount but since I needed to speak to our new veterinarian to have her call in a new prescription, I would simply ask her what she thought would be the correct amount.

Our vet was terribly occupied yesterday but when she was finally able to return my call, I explained what I wanted to do and she agreed that it would be a great idea.  She then did a little research (she is not a cat specialist as she treats cats, dogs, bunnies and I'm sure there are more species!) and concluded that Emmi Sue should not be receiving more than 300 mg., not 3,000.  I was livid!  What on earth had the previous vet been thinking to overload my precious baby with 10 times the correct dosage?!  Was she insane?  AND, it is NOT ok for my other girls to be consuming the aluminum hydroxide since their phosphorus levels are perfectly normal.  There are no words to describe how angry I felt at hearing all of this, yet I was also so very proud of myself for following my instincts and taking my girls to a different veterinarian.  Imagine what would have happened had I not done that?  I refuse to even allow my mind to go there.
The good thing in all of this is that our new vet, Dr. Ecker, listens to me and is open to what I have to say, as I am open to listen to her expertise.  I am fully aware that I don't know nearly as much as she knows, yet I'm driven purely by my love and devotion to my precious little girls.  She knows, understands and respects this and I appreciate it so very much.  I feel we make a great team in the healthcare of my babies!  She is off work today but will call my pharmacy first thing Friday morning so we can get the aluminum hydroxide put into capsules.  This way I can start giving Emmi Sue her lifesaving medication in a way she will finally be getting the correct dosage into her tiny body each and every day without any problems.  I could not be happier in having a new way of administering this to her!  My baby finally has a chance at getting better and I can finally stop stressing out!  It's truly a win-win situation.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Questioning peoples' reactions to Emmi Sue's CKD

It has been three days since Emmi Sue's last appointment and I've noticed her behaving a little bit more like her old self, at least from time to time.  I can't begin to express how happy it makes me to hear my baby purring and purring while she's in my arms, licking my chin, touching my face and staring directly in my eyes as she used to do.  She no longer seems to get spaced out or sit hunched over as she had been doing last week.  Oh, my baby is feeling better, I can feel it!
I will admit that since Emmi Sue was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), I have fallen into a bit of a depression, but honestly, who could blame me?  One of my beloved babies is facing a life-threatening illness which will cut her life short, although I am doing everything in my power to not allow it to take her from me too soon.  A day like yesterday was something I needed more than anything as it gave me all kinds of hope and allowed me to smile once again.

Saturday evening I met with my parents, and a few of their friends, for dinner at a restaurant.  The lady who was seated across from me is someone whom I have known for a few years and kind of consider her more than just an acquaintance, but yet am often taken aback by many things she says .  Saturday was no exception.  As most of my parents' friends, she is Catholic, and I feel this makes her feel somehow entitled to "speak her mind" in a way she does not feel I should.  Allow me to elaborate.  When asked how I have been feeling, I explained that I have been extremely overwhelmed and a bit depressed over Emmi Sue, and her response was something to the extent of "death is a part of life."  She then went on to tell me how someone she knew had just put their dog "down" and how they missed him, but did she really feel this was the appropriate thing to say to me at this time?  If Emmi Sue were a human child with kidney disease, would her response been the same?
It sickens me how people assume my babies are just cats, simply because their pets are only animals in their eyes.  I have never treated my girls this way and it insults both me AND my babies when others treat us this way.  They are my family, dammit!  I wish people would be more considerate of how others may feel before saying such things.  I would expect such callous commentary from younger people, but not from a woman who was sitting with her granddaughter.  Had her granddaughter not been there, I would have said something, but then again, I was so completely taken by surprise by what she said, that I may not have reacted at all.  But here I am, still thinking about what she said, so it obviously bothered me quite a bit.