Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Tough Lesson Learned

I would like to introduce you to Zazu. 

She has recently been diagnosed with Feline Infectious Peritonitis. 

Basically she has what would be the equivalent to a human having AIDS. 

It's an autoimmune disease. The irony in this, is that I myself have an autoimmune disease. But I digress... 

There are two "varieties" ,if you will, of the disease. One is referred to as the dry form and the other form of the disease is wet. The dry form presents with lack of appetite, diarrhea, jaundice and neurological/ocular symptoms. The wet presents with  a swollen abdomen, weight loss and difficulty breathing and lethargy. It is not contagious for dogs or humans, but it is for other cats.

Zazu has the wet form. 

She had her first episode with the swollen belly in May 2011. Her stomach became distended and rigid. At first I thought she had simply gained weight from the change in her diet but Firefighter used his medic training to determine that it was fluid build up, not weight. The fluid build up returned at the end of January-ish. When I took her to the vet in January, he was surprised that it had been such a long time between episodes. He drained her abdomen and sent her home. We gave her Pedialyte for a little while, until she was eating on her own and it worked like a charm. Then a week or so later, I had to take her back, because it appeared that her abdomen was starting to swell again. This time he sent her home with some steroids to see if you she would be able to pass the fluid herself. It worked for a while, but Thursday of this past week I had to take her back to the vet, with a mildly swollen abdomen again. It's so very discouraging. 

I know that this condition will lead to her life being shortened. 

I know that it's probably something I could have prevented. 

The vet said that he will continue to drain her belly as long as we want to keep having it done. The end result will not change however. 

It will keep coming back.

She will continually get sick. 

I keep playing shoulda, woulda, coulda scenarios in my head. I don't know if the vaccine would have prevented it, but I shoulda had it done. Sadly, there isn't anything that can be done to cure it. 

Today she seems fine. She is eating and her belly is "normal". Of course I have been slightly paranoid and hovering making sure that it hasn't changed a bit since we came home Thursday. 

I am having a seriously hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we are, more than likely, going to have to make a decision to end a living and breathing creature's life. I love her and I do not want her to suffer, but selfishly I want her to stay with us as long as I can have her. 

I am not proud of how we have neglected Zazu and I basically feel as though we have handed her a death sentence, but I believe we have learned our lesson. 

A very painful lesson at that. 

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