Suckers: AGAIN!

Chapter 29 - In Which We Seem to think SIX animals is the correct number

January 12, 2005

I incorrectly thought today was Ripley's seventh anniversary with us, but I missed it by two days. She was patient and waited until today to remind me what a doddering fool I am. Six years with the Queen of the Universe. Only she is svelte now, nicely controlled on PZI, and is very affectionate.

Homer is still missed terrifically but it has only been 3 months since he went to the Bridge. Wait a minute, that is a YEAR AND THREE MONTHS. Wow, I really do miss him. Riley Dawg has definitely aged but is still spry at age 20, that is, still spry when he manages to be awake. That would be about 20 minutes or so a day. He has conveniently added deafness to his blindness so not much disturbs his sleep anymore. Not even the new dog.

Oh, yes, we've done it again. We have a new family member, putting us back up to six animals, after we've been swearing for over a year that we will NEVER EVER have six animals again. But then along came Keltie, a Golden Retriever/Australian Shephard mix. I can't remember her age, but she is old, greying, and arthritic. Also, incredibly sweet, guilt-inducing, and easy to care for. Her owners have moved temporarily to New Zealand and couldn't find anyone to take Keltie. They were afraid they might have to euthanize her. Her coat is like a Golden Retriever, except a little curlier, but she gets her white stripe and her 2 different colored eyes from the Aussie side.

Riley asleep...still

Keltie, our newest family member.

February 16, 2005

Just had to let everyone know how rough I have it living in Colorado and working from home. This picture was taken a few hours ago as a herd of about 100 elk grazed past my window. Views like this make long hours at the computer definitely more bearable.

If you look closely at the center of the photo, you will see that my DH used DUCT TAPE to secure the tops of the wraps on the aspen trees. Also, what appears to be spots near the bottom of the aspen trunks is just that: cat nose smudges on my window as there is a kitty perch in this window where certain rugged mountain cats like to hang out. But you are supposed to concentrate on the pleasant parts of the scenery!

I've been very pleased since switching Ripley over to BCP Veterinary Pharmacy PZI insulin. Now, she does weigh quite a bit less now (11 pounds vs. 17 pounds) but her clinical symptoms are much improved. She'd been on 8 units BID of Humulin N and is now on, let's see, let me check the U-40 insulin in U-100 syringes conversion chart. Yes, Ripley is now on 1.25 units BID. I need to do some more testing on her to see how she is doing from a laboratory value standpoint, too, but I am out of test strips. It really hurts to have to go spend $50 on a new batch!

Sentimental Journey

March, 2005

Miss Ripley has been such a good buddy to me lately. She shares my glass of milk for breakfast every morning, sometimes waiting patiently, sprawled on the breakfast table, until I have emptied my glass or cereal bowl, but often sneaking her paw or her whole face into the milk when I am not looking. One day I didn't have milk and tried to give her some half and half instead. She turned up her nose until I got her some fat-free milk again.

I've been so sentimental about Miss Ripley lately. One reason is that she has lost so much weight and many cats do in their last year of life. We aren't sure how old Ripley is but we've had her for over 7 years. When we got her, she was already losing teeth and so it was speculated that she was at least 12 then, making her 19 or 20 years old now! Her appetite is good, but she is down to about 11 pounds, pretty small for her. When we got her, she was fairly emaciated and weighed 9 pounds. Ripley came to us about 6 weeks before Austin died, and we often remind her that she is our bridge back to "the boys," Austin and Eugene. I think another reason for my sentimentality and my superstition is that we are trying to adopt another diabetic cat. Dear, evil Miss Ripley, Calico Supreme, Queen of the F&%$!@# Universe. No one could ever take away your throne.

3/28/05: Ripley supervising Riley Dawg

Chapter 30 - In Which Miss Ripley decides to worry us

April 16, 2005

Came home from running errands about 3 pm yesterday and Ripley was sitting in the kitchen, looking all glassy eyed and wobbly, vaguely pawing at the air in front of her. I immediately thought, "HYPO", and went for the glucometer. Of course, I had still forgotten to buy new test strips but there was one left. Two clumsy and nervous pokes later, while Miss Ripley was an angel, I had my blood and the reading was.... 193. Not a hypo but it did seem pretty low for being a +9 test. I opened a can of food just in case and she jumped up to the window sill and started eating. Seemed fine. Probably an evil calico plot to get me to feed her some extra! I skipped her insulin shot that evening.

This morning I was late to feed the animals as we were feeling pretty lazy this Saturday morning. Plus, Miss Ripley failed to come wake me up by selectively launching items off my bedside table. She will methodically knock off items until I give up snarling at her and get out of bed. So, no food until 8 when all the cats jumped to the window sill and dug in. Miss Ripley ate only a few minutes then jumped off the sill to the floor before I could inject her insulin. She collapsed and started panting loudly and rapidly. I immediately thought of Austin and his ultimately fatal thromboembolic event. I called Dr. Francis at her office and asked to bring him in immediately. Of course, that was fine, and Paul and I scooped up Ripley and got her down the hill. Dr. Francis did a thorough physical exam and said it was normal. She did want to keep Riley to watch her awhile and to do some blood work.

Dr. Francis called later in the morning and said Ripley was doing fine in observation and that all her bloodwork, including a T4 to check for hyperthyroidism, was fine. Ripley's blood sugar was 343, much lower than I would expect for her not having had insulin in over 24 hours. Dr. Francis could only speculate that Ripley might have a cardiomyopathy or a neurological problem. We decided to bring her home and, if she didn't improve, get an ultrasound of her heart in a couple of days and maybe an MRI of her head. So, $250 later (well-spent), Ripley is again the center of the universe. She was rather rude on the way home and peed so much in her carrier that I let her out as opposed to letting her drown. She waited until we were about 5 minutes from the house before she shared a very large and unbelievably smelly poop with me. Charming. Oh well. It was incentive to thoroughly clean the interior of the Bug! Keeping me on my toes, as usual, Miss R.

4/11/05: Staying out of my milk, but dipping into the pasta sauce!
Ripley, what about your pristine white paws?

April 17, 2005

Miss Ripley was extremely lethargic last night but her blood glucose stayed below 350. She didn't want any food, but did have some water. At one point, I found her in the foyer on the tile floor and she had urinated and was lying in the middle of it. Stupid me did not whip out the Ketodiastix and test her urine. She woke me up about 2 am vomiting. This morning, I really thought she was about to die.

She continued to vomit every 30 minutes to an hour and refused all food and water. No more urine, so I couldn't test the urine for ketones. We missed a call from Dr. Francis, but based on Ripley's good blood work yesterday, I tried to tell myself she was either temporarily ill or irreversibly ill. Bad mom.

About 5 pm, after being very distraught for hours, I couldn't stand it anymore and went and got the animal carrier. I told Paul I was taking Miss Ripley to the emergency clinic. Just then, the phone rang, and it was Dr. Francis. I told her what was happening and she, of course, wanted me to get Ripley to the ER right away. Dr. Francis called ahead and faxed her blood work over to Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital (

We saw a very nice young veterinary resident, Dr. Peter Erling, who felt strongly just on history and physical that she has DKA. He whisked her off to Intensive Care. Paul and I came home, simultaneously feeling that we were horrible to let her go so long and much better that we took her in finally. We have a lot of confidence in this clinic and the staff. By the way, the doctor was glad to hear that Ripley is on PZI, commenting that it is the best insulin for most cats.

So after 48 hours of things "just not seeming right," Miss Ripley is now in intensive care. We are all having very positive thoughts about her recovery and I think I will now post a note about her on the Message Board. Dear Miss Ripley.

April 18, 2005

This morning has been spent primarily on the phone, talking to Dr. Francis who called me first thing and then to Dr. Wise, the internist who is now talking care of Ripley, then to Dr. Francis, then... It is great to have vets who are so communicative.

We were hoping that Ripley would be ready to transfer back to Dr. Francis this morning but not so. Ripley is no longer vomiting but still not eating or drinking and remains lethargic. Her blood sugar is over 500 still and she has large amounts of ketones in her urine. Her heart rate is now irregular this morning. Dr. Wise may switch Ripley over to a continuous infusion of insulin rather than the intermittent IM injections of Humulin Regular that she is getting now. Also, Dr. Wise is wanting to know why Ripley suddenly plunged into DKA when she appears to be so healthy. Ripley will have an ultrasound of her abdomen to see if she has pancreatitis and then perhaps an ultrasound of her heart if her rhythm doesn't stabilize and improve. Dr. Francis and I agree that it will be better for Ripley to stay in intensive care right now. Dr. Francis is not equipped for such care and she is a solo practioner. That's one of the things I like so much about Dr. Francis. She is a good general vet who is always ready to refer my pets when she feels they need it.

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