Warning: I'm going to use many euphemisms for boy parts1 and count how many different ways I can refer to his twig and (long absent) berries2 along the way. If you don't want to hear about Ra's dangly parts3, then you don't want to read on. I promise I won't be vulgar, but it's probably not going to be fun when you take into account the other aspects I'm writing about.
So... back on topic.
In my last entry (May 30th.. has it really been over two weeks?), I wrote that after a weekend away from the house I'd returned to find that there was considerable amounts of blood in Ra's urine and that he'd been using inappropriate items and places around Z'ha'dum as bathroom spots. roho and I went out and did some emergency shopping to procure some supplies to catch samples with. Tuesday I spent on the phone, trying to get through to my vet's office. All I got was a busy signal, over and over again. Something was wrong with their phone system and I just wasn't getting through. Wednesday (the first of June) saw the problem with the vet's phone system finally cleared up. I called in and talked to one of the evening staff members about the situation. A recommendation was made for some antibiotics and to ensure that he keeps drinking and eating. I was not impressed by this, but followed the directions. For the next few days it seemed that perhaps the plan was working.. Ra didn't sound as if he was straining in the box anymore and it seemed that he was having no more problem with his bits and bobs4. I thought maybe we were in the clear and started to feel hope that the antibiotics had cleared up the worst of it and that his immune system would take care of the rest.
This last weekend was spent around the house, doing some small-scale home improvement projects with the help of roho and enveri. Because I was spending a vast majority of the time in the house I was able to keep an eye on Ra's behavior. One thing I noticed was that he was making frequent trips to the litter box. I believe I counted something like 16 or 18 trips in one day... and those were just the times I noticed him sauntering into or out of the bathroom where his box is located. This is not a normal behavior for him, and I started to wonder if things were relapsing. I had my suspicions confirmed to some small extent on Sunday, after Roho and Genet left. I was flopped on the couch and thought I'd heard a yowl from the bathroom. When I got up to check and see if the cat was in the box, I found him sprawled in the hallway with one hindleg kicked up in the air, licking someplace South of the border5 as if he was trying to soothe an irritation. This is a behavior that a lot of pet owners are familiar with, for certain. While some of this is fairly normal, there's a world of difference between that and an animal that's just following instinct to lick the ouchy place. Ra was very clearly in the latter catergory.
This Monday I was off from work. I was planning to attend the Cubs game with spoothbrush and captain18 since they were in town and were kind enough to invite me to go along with them. I did some telecommuting to make sure I didn't fall too far behind in my workload, then got ready to leave for the Super Secret Parking Place that Cap had clued me into. As I was emerging from my shower I caught Ra copping a squat in my laundry basket, kicking his hindpaws as if he was scooting litter around. I didn't need a manual to tell me what he was doing, I could figure it out well enough on my own by the way his tail was hiked and his haunches were set. A bit of yelling and menacing later, Ra had run out of the bedroom and my socks seemed relatively unspoiled (and no, linnaeus, he does not get "the piss shiver"). But now I was on alert, so I checked his litter box. It was still clean from when I'd skimmed it that morning... not a sign anywhere that he'd been in there -- certainly there was no reason that I could find for him to avoid the box and favor my socks instead. I started scouring around the house to see if there were any other places where he might have been doing some illegitimate business and in short order I found that he had, in fact, been urinating in other unexpected places. Once again he seems to have dragged a bag out of the cupboard and into the livingroom, which he then proceeded to decorate with brightly-colored urine. By brightly colored I mean "normal urine color with an incredible splash of crimson."
I bypassed "worried" and went straight to "full-blown fear." I may not know much about biology, but even I can figure out that if a few drops of blood in a urine sample is bad, something that appears to be completely comprised of blood is very bad. I got on the horn to the vet, described the renewed symptoms and begged them find an available appointment that day. With great luck I was able to convince them to slide me into a vet's schedule at 4:20, so at 3:15 I packed up Ra and made my way North. I called up Cap to let him know what the situation was and to give warning that I might have to beg off on the Cubs trip. If they kept Ra for observation, I'd be able to head downtown to catch the game. If they didn't, or if I was kept there for a long time to do testing, I wasn't going to be able to meet up with his family and thus would have to miss the game. Then it was up I-355 as fast as traffic would allow in order to reach the vet's office.
We arrived with about 10 minutes of leeway, which was good as I didn't want Ra confined to his carrier and waiting for 30 minutes... but I didn't want to be late, either. Luckily, despite our somewhat early arrival, the receptionist got us into the exam room so we could start doing the preliminary work before the vet showed up. Ra was weighed (he's now 12.1 pounds... a much healthier weight than where he was in Jaunary!), prodded and poked. When checking his bladder he howled a bit, indicating it was sore, though the tech said that it seemed to be a normal size. After the vet came in I gave a full rundown on his symptoms, the treatment until that point, and some of his medical history. She did a bit more checking of her own before disappearing with him into the back to get a sample. I didn't ask how they were going to get him to make a sample, I just hoped for his sake that he'd be able to come through. At around 4:50 Ra was returned to me, looking a bit disgruntled and... leaking a bit. The tech said they had been able to get him to "express," and that the sample was indeed "very bloody" (emphasis is the vet's, as she felt the need to triple underscore that phrase on his worksheet). She also said that once they'd gotten him to start they had a hard time getting him to stop, which was probably why he was "leaking." While I waited for the results from the urine sample, I spent the time chasing Ra around the exam room, trying to clean up the drips and to dab off his peener6 with some of the sterile Kleenex the tech had provided. Think about that... I'm dabbing a cat's wang7 with toilet paper. Could I be any more domestic? Hey, they had already dealt with the really messy parts... it was the least I could do to try and keep their exam room clean. I think between this, force-feeding him and cleaning up the harf on a regular basis... I believe I'm fully checked out on bodily functions and bodily fluid cleanup. Who knew that playing daddy to a housecat would prepare me for that role if I ever were to have kids of my own?
Around 5:10 the vet reappeared with the results from the urinalysis. Yes, that's definitely blood in his urine (roho accused me of feeding Ra beets, a joke that goes back to his own days of being a vet tech). No, there were no crystals in the urine, so that wasn't the problem. Yes, there's white blood cells in there... which isn't surprising, given the amount of blood in the sample. And here's the kicker.... "Well, he's a very healthy cat... except for the small fact that he's peeing such incredible amounts of blood. No, we don't know why he's bleeding, so we're just going to continue treating the symptoms. If it's something like bladder stones this won't clear up at the end of the regimen and he'll have to come back for X-rays and further testing. Here's your bill and his medication."
What. The. Hell. I paid $48 for 20 minutes of the vet's time with $35 for an analysis that tells me pretty much what I already knew? I don't need a white labcoat and a centrifuge to figure out he's peeing blood. On the positive side, at least I had professional confirmation that it wasn't crystals and thus could rule that out as a factor, but I would have liked something a bit more informative. Was there any bacteria? Any other sign of what might be wrong? So anyway... at 5:15 I was handed a set of prescriptions for Ra (5mg of Clavamox to be taken twice a day for 14 days; 2.5mg of a painkiller I don't remember the name of to be given twice a day for five days) along with my receipts for the bill and sent on my way. Not impressed. Not impressed at all.
I got home with Ra around 6:20 thanks to rush-hour traffic, which pretty much ensured I wasn't going to get downtown to see the game. I opted instead to feed Ra and give him his first dose of the new medications. I've discovered that this painkiller he's on (must get the name of it off the bottle for later discussion) has some interesting side effects. The vet warned me that it might make Ra lethargic. Trust me, it has a vastly different effect -- it makes him a total cuddle whore. Sure, he's already a very tactile cat with codependence issues to begin with... but an hour or so after he takes this stuff? Forget about whatever you're doing, you absolutely must pick him up and pet him or he'll implode from the weight of his lurve and need for attention. Some people might find it annoying, I find it sort of cute. In a way I wish his pain meds didn't run out today... but that's okay, he's a very loving cat even when he's not high as a kite.
We're almost done with the first week of the Clavamox regimen. I've been keeping an eye around the house to see if he leaks anywhere and thus far I haven't seen any sign of such behavior. He's still making far too many trips to the litter box per day (based on my observations from the time when I'm home from work and before bed), but he's still drinking water. Repeated checks of his box indicate he's continuing to pass urine, which is important to monitor in case the antibiotics fail and the infection gets worse. Right now I'm crossing my fingers and hoping the little guy clears up completely. He's had a rough year so far and I'd really like him to be able to go a few months without having something happen that necessitates an emergency trip to the vet. He hasn't even had his booster shots this year because every time things start normalizing to the point that he's ready for them, something else happens and we're back to square one.
So there you have it. Seven euphemisms and a status update on the cat that really says nothing more than "I'm still watching his status and hoping he gets better."
Keep me searching for a heart of gold