After writing last week’s article – Challenging!– I began to feel that I could deal with the emotions that were very close to the surface.  With some of the challenges that we are facing, it did bring a lot of things into perspective.  Each day is so precious!

“There are some advantages of being ill!.  Against all R’s rules, I’m allowed to sleep on the bed anytime.”  Realising how ill he was and not knowing what had caused this or whether there would be a way in which we could help him recover, we agreed that he should sleep on our bed at night!  That way we could know what was happening at all times.

Having had a mineral based injection on Saturday we started on Sunday with giving him 0.25ml of the most foul smelling liquid you can imagine.  Poor Smudge!  All this and he has to have that taste in his mouth too; but it’s the daily dose of the minerals that he needs NOW!  We set up on the dining room table with the ‘Smudge-tray’ of things so that we could give him this mineral supplement and then feed him with the yoghurt-drink like protein and mineral mixture (Fortol), which we are told that cats adore!  At least that way he doesn’t have that awful taste in his mouth.

On Tuesday my partner R had this wonderful idea.  Each time they visited the Vets surgery he was being weighed; but outside of that we had no idea if he was still loosing weight.  We didn’t want to stress him out by getting out the cat box every day, so R put him into a bowl and weighed him on the kitchen scales!  He curled up in the bowl as good as gold!

Looking back over the records that I’ve kept, he arrived weighing just 1.2kg!  At his heaviest he was around 4.05kgs.  So quickly has he lost weight and today was just 2.95kg.

Each day he is having his foul tasting mineral supplement and being fed the Fortol through a syringe!  Now he isn’t fighting it – he’s fairly weak and as long as R doesn’t give him too much at a time, is swallowing it.

Thursday – BLOOD TEST DAY!  He hasn’t eaten (or swallowed) anything for 14 hours as taking blood from a cat means taking it from his jugular – so we were told he was going to have a general anesthetic.  We weighed him just before R and Smudge left to go to the Vet and he weighed 2.985kg’s – an INCREASE!  Small maybe but a start.  They came back from the Vet – Smudge a little dopey as he had been given a sedative rather than a general.  R’s face told the story!

We have to be prepared for the worst!  Although we know that keeping him alive when he has no quality of life is not fair to him; but  we still ask ourselves ‘when do you make that decision?’  ‘How do you determine he has no quality of life?’  In tears we agreed that if we felt he was in any pain at all, had no real future outside too many trips to the Vet, continued to go downhill; we would take that decision.

R said that when the Vet was trying to take his blood he was having a huge challenge.  As he was taking Smudge’s blood it was coagulating … and the impression was ‘what red blood cells’?  He tried in three places … so had to shave him in three places – around his throat and around his knees on his front paws.  Another B12 and iron injection!  Smudge was true to form – growled at the Vet as soon as he came into the room, hissed and growled at R while all the needles were stuck into him.  We gather that it maybe the injections he was having for his gingivitis (mouth infection) that have triggered this … :(.  One thing sorted and another to deal with.  Poor Smudge!

The Vet’s own blood testing machine was not delivered or installed as planned, so we have to wait for the laboratory results.  After Smudge’s last blood test in March we know that these will be delivered to us through the post tomorrow.  The Vet promised to call as soon as he heard anything.

Friday dawned!  What were we going to hear today?  The phone rang!  Yes it was the Vet.  It would appear from what the Vet has just said that he has ‘no’ blood cells … his bone marrow (and I quote R) is ‘f****d’.  The good news is that his kidney and liver are functioning normally.  It seems that the blood tests showed no red or white blood cells, which in my very limited understanding means that his bone marrow/kidney functions are not generating blood cells. 

We’ve spent many hours on the internet this week really trying to understand what this all means.  Although fabulous, I’m still confused as to the reason you can only find doom and gloom!  I’m gaining an insight into a subject I never wanted to understand – how the body truly works!  Yes, in many ways a cats body works the same way as ours do!  Yes, cats have blood types – A, B, and AB.  Not having an O blood type can be a challenge if transfusions need to be done.

When you stop to think it just shows what a little fighter he is … and it’s no wonder he stopped eating.

What next?  The challenge now is that we need to get his bone marrow working with his kidneys to generate red blood cells … the plan is one injection (EPO) on Friday (if the Vet can get it) or Saturday at the latest.  Another EPO injection in two weeks’ time.  Then in four weeks’ time (I’m thinking positively) he’ll need to undergo another blood test.  The EPO injection is ‘interesting’ – no doctor or vet can just order it in France.  They need to prove that it’s a requirement i.e. show the blood test results.  The reason is that a number of athletes or sports people have used it for performance enhancing.  So it’s well protected to ensure that it cannot be gained for the wrong reasons.

The blood test results have arrived in the post … don’t you love it!  The letter is addressed to Mr Smudge E…… at our address.

One step at a time!  Another trip to the Vet for the first EPO injection.  His daily dose of that foul smelling mineral supplement!  A tablet and a half a day to combat a parasite (that lives in the red blood cells) that we can’t easily test to see if he has as well.  Fortol fed through a syringe three times a day, until he starts to eat again.  :)

The good news is that the Vet phoned just before 7pm – he has the EPO injection!  R rushed off with Smudge so it could be administered as soon as possible.

Although very weak we have started to see a change in him.  More of an interest in his surroundings.  Choosing where to spend his days, evenings, and nights.  Earlier this week he wanted to be on our bed 24 hours a day.  On Wednesday he expressed an interest in sleeping on the cushion on the windowsill; which he is still doing today.  Evenings are still spent on our laps watching TV.  Nights still with us on our bed.

He has had his mineral supplement and meals (Fortol three times a day).  Every time we walk into or through the library he perks up.  His fighting spirit is still there!

We know how lucky we are that he came into our lives; and as they say in all good coaching circles – one step at a time!  For us now, it’s one day at a time.

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