You know how I'm off work with stress / nervous exhaustion, right? And how I'm supposed to be relaxing and generally keeping away from all stressful situations?
El Mog and I make a trip to the vet to see how his diabetes is settling down and for a few more blood tests. Now, while El Mog is excellent about going in his carrier and never makes a sound in cars, his good behaviour ends very abruptly when it comes to giving up a wee bit of blood. (I can't say I blame him; if I didn't have the intelligence to rationalise blood tests I'd behave the same way.) He struggles, he kicks, he claws. The vet nurse has to pin him down while the vet tries to get the needle into a vein in his neck. Once, this took four attempts. Today the cat decides to start struggling while the needle is in. Inevitably the blood vessel tears a tiny bit and he spends the next five minutes spattering globs of blood all over the diagnostic table and all three humans in the room have blood on our hands. Literally. I don't know what it is about blood that makes it leak at such an alarming rate from the smallest of holes, but I wish it didn't. It's quite traumatic.
The vet called me Thursday evening with the results of some of the blood tests, and it turns out that not only does El Mog have urinary problems and diabetes, he also has slight chronic renal insufficiency (that's kidney problems to you and me). Thankfully it's only slight and the unusual kidney activity actually decreased over the last month, but it's still not back to normal so he needs to go on medication. I go into the surgery to pick it up – it's called Fortekor. The vet also tells me that El Mog's glucose levels have been perfect for the last three weeks: it's official – he's stable and doing amazingly well. (By the way, I have to give a shout out to my vet, who has been absolutely incredible.)
I give the first Fortekor tablet crushed into the cat's food. A bit later on I give him his insulin shot. In the gap between The Tudors and QI I see if he wants to come in but he's happy surveying his garden. At about 10.40pm I open the back door and he comes in with a big "MEOW!". Then he pauses, mid-stride, on the doormat, back legs half bent. That's weird.
He does it again, and again, and again. I pick him up and flip him onto his back. He never lets me do that without a fight. His paws are twitching slightly. This isn't normal. I put him in front of his food but he just stands there with his back legs bent. I pick him up and take him to the sofa to get a better look at him. His eyes are clear and his head is responding but his body is really quite limp. I watch him for about ten minutes before I think, fuck this, I'm calling the emergency vet.
Emergency vet: That sounds like a hypo.
Me: But he's stable! The only thing that's changed is this Fortekor tablet!
Emergency vet: Mmm, I don't know. Maybe he's having a reaction. But you have to get sugar into him, now.
I get fingertipfuls of honey and he's alert enough to lick it off. I give him three or four, and bring him onto my lap until it starts to take effect. After ten minutes I lift his head up and it's heavy and dropping, his eyes are closing. He seems to be moments away from unconsciousness and coma. My heart and stomach are paralysed with fear but the arms are working. I give him some more honey and plunk him onto the sofa to call the vet back – and he suddenly sits up, jumps off the sofa and goes to get a drink. The sugar must have hit his system at that moment and the sudden movement probably helps shock him back into reality.
The emergency vet says to give him some more honey (after five minutes he's now well enough to scratch me for trying to do this, but he eats some biscuits) and also says that I need to give him small meals every couple of hours until I get can to the normal vet. I set my alarm for every two hours throughout the night and wake to give him either a handful of biscuits or a bit of wet food. The honey is on standby next to the bed. It's not needed.
The vet can't believe it. The last thing he said less than 24 hours earlier was "see you in three months!". There's no documented case of a cat reacting like that to Fortekor, but he agrees it's the only variable that we know of. But, on the other hand, El Mog has a kidney problem and it needs treating. I'm going to get him stable and then try it again on Friday – half a tablet twice a day this time. And during surgery hours so I can whip him in if I have to.
The cat is fine. I wonder if cats have an awareness of how ill they are at any one time, and if they retain any memory of events like last night. Or does he just remember feeling a bit sleepier than usual? If he remembers anything at all?
I am knackered. I am unused to saving lives armed with just a telephone and bee products. Bed, please.
This photo was taken less than 12 hours after the hypo attack. Not the face of a kitteh minutes from death, is it? Actually it's more like the face of a kitteh about to rip a human's face off, but that's because my camera emits a red-eye-reducing red light before it takes a photo which I haven't got round to switching off. It makes his eyes narrow. That's all. Honestly not evil incarnate.