The vet didn't call until after 7:30 last night. I was in the middle of getting the cats in. He apologized, saying that he'd had to go to a meeting, he didn't mean to make me wait (little head voice: yeah, yeah, get on with it). So, there's good news and there's bad news.
The good news is it is NOT FIP. The bad news is because this injury wasn’t diagnosed sooner, it’s quite possible there’s nothing that can be done, that it’s possible the nerve damage is too severe. If it had been caught earlier, there’d be no problem. He said that we might consider getting her an MRI at a local teaching hospital, UCSD (my dad worked there when he died). He said this is a human MRI machine, not one for vet’s. He said the veterinary machines are not as sensitive as one’s designed for use with homo sapiens. After this, he said, there would be a better indication of the problem. Depending on what they see, either it can be repaired, or it can’t. And if it can be repaired, there is no guarantee that it will take. This might be a progressive problem.
Now, on to the chaCHING factor.
I ask him about cost. Brian was inside on the computer at this moment. I was walking around outside, cell phone in hand. He told me the bad news. The MRI will be a thousand dollars. For the surgery, he put me on hold and spoke to his wife. He came back on the line and said “thirty-five hundred” in addition to the thousand for the MRI.
Shit. Brian is not going to go for this. My head voice is screaming now. I mean, it’s roaring. I can barely hear the doctor’s words over the head voice. Then he says “and then there’s the neurosurgeon….” No more! No more! No more! Quit piling it on, making heavier, I can’t take it.
He told me that the neurosurgeon would probably do it for a bottle of wine (my little head voice has calmed down, got it’s snarky back and it’s whispering “we don’t know from bottled wine, but we could getcha a good box of the stuff”). Then he kind of chuckled and he said that truly, the neurosurgeon probably wouldn’t charge anything, this stuff is his life, it’s his passion. Then he went on to give me more of the neuro’s credentials, telling me about the brain tumors this man has removed, the spinal operations he’s done. He sounds like a fine man. I’m all for it, but then, there’s Brian to contend with.
I came inside, still on the phone. I tell Brian the cost. He shuts down. When Brian gets upset, he just shuts down. The doctor and I resumed our discussion and we’ve decided to go with the MRI (right now I’m waiting for them to call and let me know when Ciara can get in; the way it works is the animal clinic makes the appointment, I take Ciara to the animal clinic and they take care of everything else, transport and all of that). Then after the MRI, we’ll have a better idea of the options. If she can’t be fixed, we’ll say goodbye. She can’t live like this, it’s no life.
The vet says I can come down and pick her up. Brian has already left the office. I thought maybe he was putting on his boots, but he’s got the television on and he’s laying back on the loveseat. “Aren’t you going with me?” I ask. “No, it’s light outside you can drive yourself”. Like I said, he shuts down. We’ve been tossing around the idea of selling a couple of our vehicles that we never use and buying a new car later this year, when the new models come out. I said “well, we really don’t need a new car.” Silence. Fine. Be like that. I’m going to go get my little girl. I still hadn’t gotten all of the cats in, but I’d deal with that later. Unfortunately, one of the black kittens was still outside. Miss Phoebe and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get her in. But, later. I’ve got a hurtin’ cat who needs me.
On the way to the vet I’m upset. She’s only seven years old. This shouldn’t be happening. My vet effed up in his diagnosis (believe me, there’s an awful lot of hard feelings right now as far as he’s concerned, shove that frigging FIP diagnosis, I don’t ever want to hear that acronym again for the rest of my miserable life). Brian’s pissed off. I know he’s scared. I know the money is an issue with him. But she’s only seven years old! She might be able to be fixed! Then my thoughts turn to my mother. Maybe she’d pay for it. She’s offered in the past, maybe now’s the time to take her up on it.
It was 8:00 when I reached the hospital. I had my cell. I opened it. I went to my phone list. I scroll down to “mom”. I choose that one, push send. I hope she’s not sleeping. She answers. I ask if she’d been sleeping. She said no, she was awake. She’s concerned, I don’t call her at night.
“Mom, can I have an advance on my inheritance?” I ask. “It’s a lot of money”, I add. Without hesitation, she says “yes”. I tell her how much it might possibly be and what it’s for. She said “no problem, you need it, you’ve got it. It’s all going to be yours when I die, anyway”. What a relief. I thank God that I’m an only child and that I have an extremely thrifty mother. Brian will be able to relax now.
Ciara is brought out to me and I ask if there’s any sort of pain management she can have. The receptionist goes into the back and asks the doctor. He came back out and said “no pain management, but the doctor would like to see you”. I pick up Ciara’s carrier and walk into the back with him. The vet is happy to see me and takes me into a room where he’s pulled up Ciara’s x-rays. He points out the problem areas and shows me how he came up with this. It’s all very interesting. Something you’d not have seen on the full body, but the other views, the problem is clear.
I meet his wife, tell her that she did Marco, tell her what his problem was and what he looked like and she said she remembered him, to give him a kiss for her. I bet she says that to all of her clients.
Done with that, I went back to the checkout desk and settle up the bill. I come home. I pull into the driveway and think “I bet he won’t even open the door for me”. He did. And he’d fed the cats, too. That was sweet. He didn’t realize, though, that there were still quite a few outside.
I took Ciara into the bathroom and picked up the carrier that was in there. Gah, the cats had obviously used the small litterbox I had in there for the kittens and their butts hung over the side. That entire area had cat pee on it and under the carrier was very nasty. I ask Brian to bring me some paper towels and I started cleaning up the mess. He looked at Ciara in the carrier (I’d taken the top off) and I told him that he could pet her, she’d probably like it. It wasn’t like she had some nasty disease (FIP?), she was just hurting from her back problems. She’d like to be touched and loved, just like she always has. She doesn’t understand what’s going on, we can’t pull back now. She needs us.
I noticed that she had a little poop stuck on her tail fur and the towels under her were wet. I changed that stuff out and cleaned out the bottom with a disinfectant wipe. I put clean towels in, and put her back in.
Once I had her situated, I started getting cats in. Brian helped. That darned Phoebe was going to be a problem, though. I kicked all of the cats out of the office, shut the office door and opened the office sliding door, and tried to herd Phoebe into the office. It didn’t work. We finally got it down to three cats outside, Mystie, Ben and Phoebe. Mystie and Ben would not be a problem.
We came back inside and Brian said “where’s Ciara?” She wasn’t in the carrier. We looked all over. The living room, the family room, the bedroom, under the bed, in corners, no Ciara. Damn, where the hell could she have gone? I wondered if maybe she was in the office, even though I knew the door had been shut. Nope, not in the office. We got flashlights and started doing a more intensive search. I finally found her in the covered litterbox in the hallway (and I was thankful I’ve started doing the daily litterbox cleaning again). She’d really had to poop and it broke my heart to think she’d dragged herself all the way down the hallway to use a decent litterbox.
I put her back in her carrier and took the little litterbox out and got one of the bigger boxes (not an actual litterbox, but a storage container with four inch sides), put clumping litter in it and put it in the bathroom. The kittens didn’t eat litter (although they did taste it the first time they got in the other box), so I felt secure in using the clumping stuff. And with the bigger box, there wouldn’t be so many misses that needed to be cleaned up.
She ate with appetite last night and again this morning. She does seem to be feeling better, I hope this is an indication of success in the future.
I’m ambivalent about my vet. I don’t know what I’m going to do. One part of me wants to read him the riot act, the other part reminds me of the wonderful work he’s done throughout the years. DeeJay’s subtotal colectomy. Kirby’s perineal ureosthromy. Lola’s cancer surgery. I had an appointment this morning for the new kitties, but cancelled it. After all, my ankle is pretty sore. This misdiagnosis is a big thing to me. Ciara may die because of it.