As you may be aware, my cat, Vader, is sick with something. We don't know what the something is. We know what the something isn't and that's cat herpes (which is different than it is in people, according to my vet which is good because it's not like my cat spends her nights down at the docks picking up sailors, you know?). Whatever the problem is though, it's not contagious because Fat Cat isn't at all sick (except for that special way in which all cats are demented). Vader is now on a daily steroid regiment and has been for quite some time. I'm not entirely sure that it's actually doing anything for her but she seems to sound worse without it so I keep at it. I kind of feel like it's just bailing water out of a rapidly sinking boat but still, you keep bailing, right?
We were running low on her prescription so I contacted the vet earlier in the week in order to get a refill. It was then that I was informed that Vader would require some blood work to make sure the steroids weren't causing any secondary issues such as liver damage as long time steroid usage can sometimes lead to such problems. So I brought Vader in this morning. Here's what happened:
8:10: We arrive for our 8:20 appointment. The sign on the office door says the office doesn't open until 8:30. I sit in the car and ponder this development.
8:15: A second car arrives and a woman gets out, carrying a cat carrier. She goes inside. I wonder what she knows that I don't.
8:17: I decide to go inside. The receptionist will be right with me. Just as soon as she gets her computers up and running. While we wait, we talk about the impending rain. Some areas are forecasted to receive up to four inches of rain. At least it's not snow, right? Because if I understand it correctly, four inches of rain is a hell of a lot more in snow.
8:25: Vader and I go inside the exam room where the vet tech (the blood work doesn't require a full vet exam) checks Vader's weight. Vader has lost a pound since our last visit in February. This worries me as Vader is quite small and doesn't have a lot of body mass with which to start.
8:27: The tech and Vader go out to do the blood draw. I sit and wait. I can hear them out in the other room.
8:28: The tech apologizes to Vader.
8:29: The tech apologizes again.
8:30: A third apology, followed by the phrase, "Can you hand me the clippers?" I put my head in my hands.
8:31: The sound of buzzing followed by yet another apology to my cat. Vader is going to trip me on the stairs at home, the very first chance she gets.
8:50: After more apologies (seriously) and a long period of silence, they make it back into the room. They come bearing my cat with her newly shaved neck (apparently, my cat has old lady skin and old lady veins) and the recommendation for chest x-rays. As in more than one. Swell.
8:53: I give the approval for the tests because if there's a chance that my cat's lungs are filling with fluid or something, it's better to know, right? The techs whisk Vader away for a second time. I sit and wait.
8:58: Still waiting. In the exam room next to me are people trying to decide whether they should neuter their dog. I vote yes. And somewhere in the building is a machine that's making noise like an arcade game, specifically the ones at Chuck E. Cheese's. I listen to it while I wait.
9:00: I wait some more. Thank goodness I have a smarter-than-me phone with which to kill time.
9:05: I have texted Heather, emailed my brother, updated my Facebook status, checked last night's scores and got caught on on Mark Reads Harry Potter. I have exhausted the capabilities of my smarter-than-me phone. Maybe I should download some games.
9:06: I don't know how to download some games.
9:10: I look at the water damage in the wall in the corner of the exam room. It's saggy and wrinkily, like a Shar-Pei.
9:12: They will bring the cat back at some point, won't they?
9:15: They return. Vader looks pissed. Really, really pissed. She's usually the mellow one at the vet's office. Never whines or growls, never bites but she now looks as though she's reconsidering her policy. The tech strokes Vader as she tells me how the x-rays went. Four x-rays, by the way, at a hundred and something a pop. Well, this shall surely cement Joe's love of cats.
9:16: Vader bites the tech. Policy revoked.
9:17: Vader and I are left alone to await all the results. I try to pet Vader. She's not down with that. I think she's planning on murdering me in my sleep tonight. Of course, she'll probably have to flip Joe for the chance.
9:21: Still waiting. These results had better be good. Or, at least, be something. Nothing worse than running a whole battery of tests just to end up right where you started (only five hundred dollars poorer).
9:30: The results are in. The doctor will see me now.
9:31: The good news? Her liver is doing just fine. The cat's, not the doctor's, although I'm sure hers is fine as well. She doesn't look particularly yellow or anything.
9:32: The bad news? There could be cancer. Lymphoma. Or lung worms. I'm sorry- lung worms? They wouldn't have shown up on a frakking x-ray of her lungs? You can't positively rule out lung worms?
9:32:01: Guess not. What. The. Hell.
9:33: Good news...the cat is definitely eating. You can see the kibble on the x-ray. Right there in her stomach.
9:34: Bad news...the problem might be in her head. What? Like she's making it up? Oh, you meant like there's possibly fungus in her brain.
9:34:01: I'm sorry, but could we please go back to the fungus in her brain part?
9:34:03: You want me to take a swab and do what with it? Oh, not me. You'll take a swab and shove it up her nose. Well, good luck with that.
9:35: Vader bites the vet. Guess she didn't like the swab up the nose idea.
9:36: A CT scan? Are you kidding me? Oh, you're not kidding. Okay, so how much does that cost?
9:36:01: I can't feel my face.
9:37: Good news, the CT scan costs less than an MRI.
9:37:01: Bad news, the CT scan costs around $1000.
9:37:02: Would you happen to have a paper bag into which I could breathe? Or possibly vomit?
9:38: You want to talk about what now? Heart disease? Sure, what the hell?
9:38:01: Just out of curiosity, is there any disease that cat possibly doesn't have?
9:38:02: Right. Cat herpes. Forgot about that. Proceed.
9:39: Vader bites the vet. Again. I might have done it myself if I had had the ability to stand.
9:39: Why don't we hold off on the CT scan and the MRI. You know, at least until I can get that second mortgage on my house.
9:40: We have the talk. The one about quality of life. The one no one wants to have, right? If her life span is shorter but happier, isn't it better than longer and more miserable? The cat is twelve years old and I'm not looking to make her any more miserable than she already is. Except for the wheezing (and possible cancer and heart disease and brain fungus and lung worms), she's doing okay, right? I mean, you don't have any definitive answers for me. Just a bunch of scary words. Really scary words. Hey, how about that paper bag?
9:42: Right. I don't have to decide now. It's just something to keep in mind. Something not to forget. Because there was a chance I'd forget this. It's not every day you hear the phrase "brain fungus".
9:43: Can we talk about something else now? Anything else? Did you hear the Segway guy drove his segway off a cliff?
9:45: I decide to stick with the current treatment plan. Mostly because I understand and can pronounce the current treatment plan.
9:46: I put Vader back in her carrier. She doesn't bite me but she sure does hiss a lot. This makes me more sad than I am already feeling.
9:47: I put Vader in the car and go back inside to await the steroid prescription for which we actually came. You know, back at eight o'clock this morning when life was not dampened by phrases like 'lung worms' and 'brain fungus'. And heart disease and cancer and lymphoma and quality of life and questions like "am I a bad person if I don't shell out $100o to CT my cat's head?"
10:00: I get the two month supply of pills and get the hell out of there. Vader is curled up in the very back of the carrier, determined not to look at me. If she were one of the dogs, I could just bribe her with a cheeseburger in order to regain her love. Maybe I could just comb over her fur to cover her bald spot. You know, if she ever lets me touch her again.
10:15: We arrive back at home. I shut the dogs away and let Vader out of the carrier. She runs upstairs and hides under a desk. See you next week, Vader.