And then I panicked

September 30, 2010 at 12:19 am 7 comments

Lou the cat was 6 years old when she was diagnosed with kidney failure.

She’d always been a healthy cat, “full-figured” with a good appetite and lots of energy, so the news that kidney stones had put her into chronic renal failure was a shock. And, as if it wasn’t enough to find out she had a chronic, incurable condition and that I’d have to start giving her subcutaneous fluids and special prescription food, I capped off the day with a car accident on the way home from the vet.

Good times.

Lou the Cat

If only things could have stayed that simple.

About six months later, one of the stones lodged in her ureter, blocking her right kidney. After a terrifying evening of pitied looks from technicians and quiet but urgent advice from her vet, I managed to get her admitted at midnight to the specialty vet about 30 minutes from my house.

She spent 3 days there. Every day after work, I’d make the trek through Atlanta rush hour traffic (this was back when traffic was really only bad at rush hour in Atlanta, as opposed to now, when it’s bad 24 hours a day) to see her during “visting hours.”

She would always gaze first to me with a bit of a crazed look in her eyes and then to the doorknob, as if to say, “I know that’s the way out! Get me out of here!”

By some miracle she stabilized, and her one remaining good kidney took over for the now-shriveled-up and useless right kidney. I got used to giving her fluids and she got used to getting lots of treats afterwards.

But, as anyone who’s ever had a headache and typed the letters into their browser knows, the Internet has made it way too easy to research health conditions – and scare yourself half to death.

I couldn’t help myself.  I had bookmarked every relevant site and regularly visited all the forums where people shared gut-wrenching stories about their pets’ illnesses, treatments, vet appointments and lab results. The weird thing was, Lou was actually doing OK, even fabulous, by comparison.

And then I panicked.

Lou with a toy on her head

One day I found a site that said anemia was a potential side effect of kidney failure in cats. I opened her mouth to look at her gums, the way the site instructed, and sure enough, they looked a little pale. So, the next day at work, I called the vet and explained that Lou might have anemia.

There was a pause on the other end, followed by a stern reply:

“Ma’am, I don’t mean to alarm you, but anemia can be life threatening. You need to bring her in now.”

Throwing down the phone, I grabbed my purse and ran out of the office to my car, tearing down the highway to get home. I rushed into the house and up the two flights of stairs to the guest bedroom, where I knew she’d be asleep under the bed.

I crouched down to see her curled up and peacefully sleeping, and then yanked her out quickly, breathlessly muttering, “It’s OK, you’re fine. Don’t worry, we’re just going to see the nice v-e-t,” as I put her in the carrier and rushed her out to the car.

I made it to the 30-minutes-away specialty vet in record time. It all happened so fast, I don’t think Lou even realized she was out from under the bed until we were about halfway there.

Lou looking cute

“So what’s going on with Lou today?” the vet cheerily asked.

Suddenly, I had a twinge. Was it possible, just maybe I was overreacting?

“Uh, I’m not sure. Maybe she’s anemic?”

“Well, let’s see,” the vet replied, pulling open Lou’s mouth to look at her gums.

“Her gums look good, nice and pink. What symptoms is she having?”

Symptoms! Right…I guess that would make sense – that she would have some sort of symptoms…

What was I doing? Lou gave me a look to reiterate, “Seriously? What are you doing, crazy lady?”

Probably to appease me more than anything, the vet took some blood to test it for anemia (“We might as well since she’s here”), and we left. I got Lou home, put her back under the bed with some treats, apologized to her profusely, and headed back to work.

The next day I got a call from the vet. The normal range for the anemia test at their lab was between 29 and 45. Below 29 is anemic.

Lou scored a 41.


Lou, 14 years young and still plenty sassy

This post was inspired by the prompt from Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, “…and then I panicked.”


Entry filed under: Cats and Dogs, Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Getting an ‘A’ in Writer’s Block Don’t Mind Me

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. VandyJ  |  September 30, 2010 at 9:07 am

    We all panic a bit when we consult Dr. WebMD. Sometimes too much information is not so good. I’m glad Lou is still with you.

    • 2. marlainkontheside  |  September 30, 2010 at 9:22 am

      As the vet once said to me, “Step away from the computer!”

      Yep – she’s still here, and still putting up with me…

  • 3. Mali  |  October 4, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Hi. Thanks for visiting my site. I’m glad to find yours too.

    Sorry that you’re worried about your cat. Glad she’s ok. We lost our two aged (17 years old) cats in the last year, and it is hard when they’re part of the family.

  • 4. Kelley  |  October 5, 2010 at 11:01 am


    • 5. marlainkontheside  |  October 5, 2010 at 11:03 am

      Lol! Poor Lou and all the indignities she has to suffer being my child…

  • 6. catfurtomakekittenbritches  |  October 21, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    She’s a really beautiful cat…so glad for you that your panic was for nought!

    Totally unrelated: I just visited Nashville for the first time this past June. Had the Best Time Ever at the Bluebird Cafe. Wow. Amazing! And, given the photo you posted of your drink, you may find it interesting that the friend I went with….is named Rosemarie. We did not visit Holland House, but apparently we will have to add it to our destination list for next time!

    • 7. marlainkontheside  |  October 21, 2010 at 10:17 pm

      Oh then you absolutely MUST visit the Holland House next time! The Patterson House is also a cool place for dangerous drinks. (I was there a few weeks ago and took a picture of my drink that night, too, but decided to resist the urge to post yet another drink photo!)


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