Thursday, October 6, 2011

Message from the Woman


I know that there are some Estorbo readers and friends out there who care about the kitty a lot. So here's an update.

He has been drinking excessively and demanding (howling for, in the bath) water over the last few weeks. He pees a lot more. He seems hungrier. If that is possible.

He and I went to the vet on Wednesday. I took a urine sample, which he had given me obligingly, by peeing into the saucer I held under his tail (!). They were suitably impressed. At the vet's they drew blood. That was fun. A lot of screaming. He hates vets.

As I was walking up Lexington Avenue this evening, dragging my weekend suitcase, my phone rang. I was on my way to meet Ellen and Michael on the Upper East Side to drive out to their house in the Pennsylvanian woods for the weekend. Vince would join us tomorrow. Estorbo would be fed by the feeder for two nights. On the phone was Dr Young, a vet I had not met before, from the Cobble Hill Animal Clinic. The test results were in and she wanted to talk.

In short: the blood test showed acute hyperthyroidism. That caught me off guard. I had been expecting a kidney issue, based on his history (now 'cured' for years, with water added to his pellets).

She said that a normal level is 4 and that his is 19. Off the charts. I was walking fast, not wanting be late -  cabs and traffic streaming by in the dark, me listening to these bad things about my cat. She started by telling me that radiation was a good option. I was shocked. I comprehended dollar signs and death. Then she said that if that is not an option there is a daily medication, lifelong, that is not a cure, but manages the disease well.

I got to my friends, cried briefly, thought for two minutes and abruptly bailed out of our long-anticipated weekend. Ellen and and Michael are cat people whose own cats, Sisko and Seven,  travel out with them in their two baskets every weekend. I felt terrible deserting them with no notice but I knew that I had to get home and see the cat and Vince and start planning.

Tomorrow morning I will find another vet for a second opinion ( I trust ours, but it seems common sense for a diagnosis like this). And I will read more. The little I have read tonight makes radiation sound more desirable than I could have imagined, as it boasts a 95% cure. Medication (pill, twice a day, till the end of his life) is not a cure. But I have no idea what it costs, I can just imagine. Thousands. The pills cost $30 a month, and he takes pills well (from me). It may sound awful to be talking money, but we simply are not awash in it. We will find out, and we will think. Things could be much worse.

The good thing is that this is manageable...unless he has a really rare form. But that is premature.

Perhaps this explains a lot. Perhaps he has been afflicted for much of his life. This has always been an irascible cat. Short of temper. Bitey. A hungry, demanding, and recently vocal cat. It used to be just 'eep' but now it's a whole lot more. All symptoms of hyerthyroidism (Vince says these are symptoms of being a cat). But also a purring, very funny, endearing, eccentric and very loved cat. A cat who likes to sit upside down and have his claws clipped. I mean, that's just weird.

Last night he jumped onto the bed for the first time in at least 6 months, and washed, and purred, and then slept. He looks good, weighs just under 17lbs, his fur is sleek. That surprised this vet who was not the one who examined him. She said cats like this tend be emaciated.

We will take care of him, but we need to find out more, first. Your good thoughts are appreciated. I am a small wreck.

Estorbo, of course, may dine out on this. He might say that since he is dying he deserves better food. More roast chicken for example. And now that he has typhoid disease, full fat milk in the morning, not that low fat kaka sheet.

But all in his own time.

34 comments:

  1. It is so hard when something is wrong with our animals and a shock to hear these reports. It is so good that either way he will fine and go on being Estorbo for a long time. You all will remain in my thoughts and prayers.

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  2. Thank you for the update. Senor Squeeky and I are crossing our paws for you all. We are keeping you all in our prayers and sending Estorbo our love ("") ("")

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  3. Oh Estorbo, I used to work at a vet. I don't have experience with radiation but the pill I know of for this, called Tapazole, is small. I think you can do it if that's what they decide. The cats I knew who took it usually didn't seem too bothered.

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  4. P.S. They used to offer a surgery, a small incision on the neck to remove the thyroid glands. But this was over 10 years ago. Maybe it's not done anymore. Your vet knows the best current options.

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  5. Thank you for letting us know. I live out here with my own animals and understand how difficult it is to hear a serious diagnosis. I know many of us love your little Storbie and will be sending the best thoughts to him, you and the Smoothman. He will be okay, whatever you decide.

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  6. Thank you Sherri and Anonymous.

    Porrothecat - she did not mention surgery on the phone but I see it still as an option in literature, with a risk factor for nicking the wrong gland. We'll know more, soon.

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  7. Dear Wooman of the Hermano,

    My human just read your post to me and I am very sorry to hear that my friend is sick. She thought it was hyper-T but wanted to wait until you got a diagnosis from your vet. One of our ones who came before, Tabbygail (who passed on from a totally unrelated condition), had hyperthyroidism, also "off the charts." Our vet works in concert with a TCM/acupuncturist, and a regimen was worked out for Tabbygail which combined medication, methimazole (generic for Tapazole) and a TCM formula. Tabbygail was able to used a greatly reduced dose of methimazole when complemented with the TCM formula, and within a couple of months, achieved normal thyroid levels. If you are interested, I can ask Keli'i to email you and let you know what Tabbers' treatment involved and maybe put you in touch with our TCM practitioner, who treats humans and animals.

    Purrs to the Hermano ...

    Ikaika

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  8. My cat, who will be 14 later this month, was diagnosed with hyperthyoroid earlier this summer after rapidly losing weight and having some other health problems. He was still over 15 lb but had dropped a pound per month for a couple months before he was diagnosed.
    He was put on the medication, but rather than the pill form my vet recommended the ear gel form. They compound the medication into a gel which is put into a syringe (no needle) so you can measure out the dose every 12 hours. You just rub the gel inside the ear flap where there is little hair and it's absorbed through the skin. After 1 month on the medicine he was retested and his levels were normal and he had gained back half a pound. Now several months later he is doing great and all symptoms gone.
    My cat hates vets and medications. He is very opinionated about everything. He even hates getting the stuff rubbed in his ear, but he loves feeling better and not having to go to the vet all the time anymore for all the problems that I didn't know what was causing them. (He kept having abscesses was the worst thing - no more now)
    My cat and I send our thoughts and prayers to your cat!

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  9. We are sorry about Estorbo's illness. We know of several blogging cats with hyperthyroidism who are being treated with medication, pill or ear gel. The treatment with radioactive iodine would be by injection - I did read that this could be problematic if there are also underlying kidney issues, and that it means the cat being hospitalized for some time (2 weeks?) while the radiation levels go down, to protect his humans from exposure to the radioactivity. That seemed like a very long time (read $ as well as Estorbo not being happy), and I would check on that with the vet, since maybe it can be much shorter, the majority of the iodine being peed out quite quickly.
    Storbie, all will be well. This can be treated. Purrs buddy.

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  10. Ek is so sad vir julle. Hoop alles werk goed uit.
    Marlette

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  11. I was so sad to read about Estorbo's illness and I'm hoping that the second opinion might be a less gloomy one. He's almost like a furry nephew to me and I always keep up with his adventures. I wish him (and you) all the best and I'm keeping all of you in my heart and thoughts.

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  12. Sorry to hear that Estorbo isn't well!

    Our cat, Poppy, who is 14, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism a couple of years ago. She suddenly got voraciously hungry - my parents live in the countryside and there was a memorable week of carnage where she was bringing in 10-20 mice every day - and she'd literally try to claw food out of your hands. She's now on medication - I'm not sure of the name, but it's a small pink tablet - and she's a changed cat. My mum squishes the tablet into a little bit of cat food and she gobbles it up. It took a while to get the dosage right - to start with she was on too high a dose and just slept all the time - and it's not a cure, but we are managing her condition and to look at her you'd never know there was anything wrong with her.

    Hope the second opinion brings positive news and that Estorbo is on the mend soon.

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  13. Wishing Estorbo (and you) all the best. Thinking of you!

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  14. only just found Estorbo's blrug site but already i loves.. iz thinking of you all and praying for the bestest of treetmentz

    {{Estorbo the woman and the man)))

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  15. We went through this with our guy. We opted to have the radioactive iodine treatment. He was away from home for a week, then we had to wear gloves to clean his litter box and not pick him up and cuddle closely for a month. The used litter had to be stored for a month due to the half life of the radiation. The not cuddling was hard but he is great now with no signs and symptoms 2 year later. It wasn't cheap. I recommend it.

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  16. I'm so sorry to read this.

    As an animal owner and lover I truly feel your pain.

    As clearly all your other commentators and readers do also.

    And as a mere floral designer I understand the financial concerns also.

    I know you will find the solution to both the health and money issues, until then you all are in my thoughts.

    xo J.

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  17. Get well soon, Storbie! We all love you and are sending you healing vibes (and hugs to your hoomans). Many pats and much roast chicken to your health! x

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  18. Storbie, you and your humans have so many people and cats who care about you. What a wonderful community! I loved reading the positive, helpful comments. Marie: Virtual hugs as you find the best plan of treatment for Storbie.

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  19. Hang in there, repeat the test, even though Estorbo will not like it. My experience is that the thyroid hormone test is unreliable and follow-up tests can show normal levels or borderline levels. If not, then choose a treatment option, there are several. One step at a time.

    You are all in my thoughts. One way or another, I believe you will all get through this. Please give Estorbo a big hug for me.

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  20. We understand completely about wanting to be home with your furry boy...we'd have done the same in a heartbeat. Fingers crossed that all will be well with your sassy Estorbo...We had a diabetic kitty (not at all the same thing I know) and he did well with meds and lived to be 19; I'm sure your guy will be fine.

    Purrs from my Horde.

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  21. Querido Estorbo, Tizzy and Fred E. Cat join me in sending you our most heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery.
    You are fortunate to have such loving caring hoomans to help you get well.

    Many thanks for sharing this news.
    You amd the Wooman and Smoothman are in our hearts and thoughts. WE are purring for you! =^..^=

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  22. Dear Estorbo, Wooman and Smoothman;

    It's that living in Queens that does it to you. Too many people. Estorbo, it is treatable, and is not a terminal dx, so go give your people a purr to reassure them that you will be around for many years, just as irascible as ever. This I say as the servant to a cat that scatched up my poor 88 yr old Mother only this morning. Amy
    (Yes you and your people are in my thoughts.)

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  23. Senor Estorbo, we're hoping you get better soon. Your hoomans love you very much and will do the best for you.

    Humans,
    Money/love decisions suck. Hang in there.

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  24. My lovely Kevin lived for a long and happy time with successfully-treated hyperthyroidism, and eventually he died of kidney failure aged almost 20. He had the pills for a couple of years (tiny, crushed, mixed with a drop of water and syringed into the corner of his mouth) before having surgery. I don't know about the US, but here I obtained a prescription from the vet and ordered his meds online after that, at a fraction of the cost of the vet's own dispensary.

    I wouldn't consider the radiation option because of the no-handling involved - the idea of not being able to comfort a sick cat by touching him, locking him out of bedrooms or forbidding him to come onto my lap or near the other cats was too much to bear. The surgery (frequently carried out in the UK) is delicate, excising a tumour on a very tiny gland, and was near-miraculous; it left a tiny shaved patch and scar on his throat, and all his anxious wailing and jittery behaviour disappeared as soon as it was done.

    I hope this helps you to consider what option is best for you all. Don't panic; it's treatable, and outcomes are good.

    Our sympathy goes out to you all.

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  25. Estorbo, wooman, smoothman - fear nard.

    I have had 2 cats with this disease. We lived with the pill for years - small pill. This can be a midlife cat's common ailment. You can do this.

    Its so hard when our soft and handsome sociopaths get something. They cannot tolerate stress - but if Storbie will have a pill - libe and blargs will go on.

    We await more thoughts from beeg blag cad.

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  26. So sorry about your cat. Also check his food. Iams is the worst. Avoid gravy mixes which are sometimes contaminated. Try a special formula of Science Diet, which is powerful enough to dissolve kidney stones. Also, I once had a homepathic vet in lower Manhattan, C.W. Schaubert at 241 Eldridge St. (212) 674-8640. Left Manhattan 10+ yrs. ago. Not sure if he is still here. He may have a solution that does not involve surgery or radiation. He was terrific and saved my cat from surgery to remove stones, with diet change which dissolved them. This may help any kidney problems. Have him x-rayed for stones, you may be unaware of. I asked for x-ray which discovered them, tho my former vet did not suggest. Best to you and your goods animals always.

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  27. I have never commented before but been reading for a very long time. Estorbo is a very lucky cat and I know you will make the decision that is best for all three of you. That is what matters most. My beloved Saint Bernard started having seizures and we medicated her as long as we could. It's hard when the furbabies are ill.
    Rock on Estorbo, sending healing and peace filled thoughts for you all. Oma Linda

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  28. Hugs to you all.
    Get the second opinion and a retest. It sounds as if it is quite common and treatable in cats.
    Get Storbie to keep us informed on Facebook.

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  29. Oh poor kitty -- but don't despair. My kitty was diagnosed with mild hyperthyroidism when she was about 12, two years ago. She spent about a year taking the pills, which she did quite happily if they were crushed in wet food. Then she developed a white blood cell count that suggested her immune system was damaged, and this seemed to be a result of the pills -- a pretty rare response. We stopped the pills and the blood count returned to normal. We then did the radio-iodine treatment for her hyperthyroidism. It was a very hard decision to make; I had to drive her nearly 200 miles to the nearest vet hospital and leave her there for one week. (She would have had to stay longer if she was going to be in contact with other cats, young children, or immune-compromised people). Then I brought her home and for another two weeks had to shut her out of the bedroom and avoid having her sit in my chair. Every time she jumped on my lap I had to get up and move to another chair. SO sad and so stressful. But -- the time passed and she quickly forgot about it or at least forgave me. She seems fine now (though she also seemed fine before -- her symptoms were very mild), though I feel a bit of trepidation about her next checkup, as I guess everyone does with an older cat. But so far, I think that given her reaction to the pills the radiation treatment was well worth the cost (about $1800) and the horrible time of our being separated.

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  30. Marie, I DO feel for you - these wise little beings in cat suits come bouncing into our lives and that's it . You fall. Hook, line and catnip. (My wonderfully eccentric cat mentor 'The Bean' had kidney failure when he was 15 and although the treatment and diet change helped, it eventually caught up with him 6 years ago. I still mourn for him and miss him so much) Sound like you have options so I send light and healing and hope to you all - he's a star :) xx

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  31. Dear Estorbo

    very sad to hear about your problem. I know Marie and Vince will make the reight decision about your treatment. In the meantime, hang in there and do your best to get well by not fussing too much whatever the tratment is.

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  32. Oh no! This is so sad. I hope he is feeling better soon! know you have a vet but Dr Chaitman at VIMA Specialists on UES is THE BEST THERE IS. I wish she was my Dr.

    (212) 988-4650
    207 E 84TH St
    New York, NY 10028

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