Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Happy Cat

Because the BaileyBlog was created to celebrate the kitties, let's break it down and celebrate (as only a grey kitty can!)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Memory of Kira

I have created a fund for the Oregon Humane Society, where I volunteer, to accept donations on behalf of Kira. I would very grateful for any donations you would be able to make in her memory.

The Oregon Humane Society does not euthanize any animal it takes in, if the animal can still lead a loving and productive life.  As long as their condition is not dire, animals with medical conditions are cared for and adopted out to homes that are willing to take on the additional needs of the animal.  Because these animals require extra care, they may live at the Humane Society for many months, unlike most animals, but they have no time limit at the shelter.  The Oregon Humane Society lets these animals remain and fully cares for these animals for as long as it takes to find them the proper home.  This extra care is provided entirely by donations.  Kira could easily have been one of these shelter pets, needing extra care.  We all have our own pets to care for, but even a small donation here can help out the ones that will spend a longer time in a cage, until they find someone willing to take on the extra responsibilities they require.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kira... Goodbye

Kira left us this morning.

We had the most beautiful weather this last weekend, and she was able to spend the days lying in the sun.  She didn't have energy to do much more than that.

This morning, was sunny and clear, and even the cherry trees were beautiful and blossoming.  She still had interest and curiosity as we drove to Vet office for the last time.  After she left us, she looked so sweet and peaceful

Once we got back home, a bird landed on a branch outside her window and sang a farewell song to her.

* * * * *
Author Unknown

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
I know Simba was there to welcome her.  He was always very kind to her and understood how special she was.

* * * * *

I shot hundreds of photos and video of Kira over the last few months, and here are a couple of my favorite ones from her final weeks.

Our little angel, glowing bright, reflecting, ready to slumber

Sitting up and showing off those Pretty Green Eyes

I think the Boys, Bailey and Sidney, will also miss her.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Taking Bailey "For A Walk"

I am sure you have heard that it is possible to leash train a cat.  I decided Bailey "wanted" to go for walks outside.

We did buy him a leash and a harness when he was young.  Bengals are known to be rather dog-like and I thought we could encourage him to walk with us, especially if we started him young.  Another thing Bengals are known for is their independent spirit.  Bailey absolutely HATES being held in my arms--it seems he dislikes his loss of control/options.  Put him in a box and carry the box around...  he is fine with that (he feels he is more in control of the situation if he has the option to jump out of the box), but put him in your arms and he screams bloody murder to be set free.

So I dug out the leash and harness we had given up using on him years ago.  Being slightly more mellow now, I figured I might have some better success.  At the very least, I could see if he was big enough to fit the harness properly...  as a spastic kitten he always squirmed his way out.

After a bit of a struggle to get him geared up, I picked him up and set him on the front porch, video in hand, waiting to see how much he would protest this indignity.  This is my wild boys response:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bailey Called Dibs

Kira has really been slowing down this weekend.  Purring is still there, but some of the sparkle is missing.  Time to spend extra time with Kira.

Sunday night, television was watched upstairs from the bedroom so we could spend time with her.  Monday night was more of the same, with the addition of the boys, Bailey and Sidney...   normally kept downstairs as of late, but under Daddy Supervision, allowed access within Kira's domain for the evening.

Kira was sacked out on the bed, with Mike and me petting her...  as well as keeping Bailey at bay.

Amid the affection and attention we were paying Kira, we paused to find Bailey exploring the top of the dresser, checking out Kira's catbed in the window.  Bailey is rarely allowed upstairs, so that Kira can have needed peace and quiet away from him, so it is understandable that Bailey is curious about the details of her space.

After focusing on Kira a moment more, I glanced over at Bailey once again...  he was curled up in Kira's bed, with heavy eyes... nearly asleep. 

Bailey called dibs on Kira's catbed before Sidney could...  despite it still be Kira's!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Having to Say Goodbye: Looking Back at Simba

A couple months ago, I was asked how Kira was doing.  I mentioned some of the rough patches she had recently been through, but otherwise she seemed to be doing pretty good.  We were, after all, doing every thing we could for her... so much so, that we were scheduling our lives around our ability to meet her medical needs.

"Why don't you just put her down?" was this person's response.

Time stopped for about five seconds...  Obviously, this person wasn't a pet owner and certainly couldn't understand.  But wait, perhaps it was the time to take this action, and we were blind to her needs because we were selfishly avoiding the inevitable, still unable to bare the thought of losing her.

Ultimately, I know that I get to take the easy way out of this emotional conundrum.  

Simba was MY cat and confidant since he had been a kitten, long before I met Mike. Mike claimed not being a pet person (and certainly not a cat person) for two years, however, when I was out of town one weekend he watched over Simba for me.  A few weeks later, photos from that weekend revealed that Simba had worked his magic on Mike---
So, a year later, we found Kira at a shelter organization for Mike to have a cat companion and to be a compadre for Simba.  Only nine months later, it seems we had missed the signs that Simba's health had severely declined, and with only three days of medical care, I reluctantly knew it was the time to say goodbye and let him go.

Such a profound moment for me.  So much so that I can still vividly recall the details of that single, early morning hour.  Simba looked into my eyes, yet through me, as to say he was tired and ready to go, Daddy. With a quivering voice, and tears welling, I said out loud, that it was time, partially to let Mike know and partially to make it real for me.  We dressed, and Mike drove us to the hospital with Simba wrapped in my arms the entire way, consciously holding on to every last moment with him.  After our private last goodbyes and love, I held him in my arms as we began the final process.

At first, he felt as he had hundreds of times before, alert and strong. Then, with the first injection, he lowered his head and rapidly dozed off..  For a few moments more, I was holding my beloved sleeping kitty. With the final injection, I felt everything change within seconds. My arms felt the life leave his body.  I remember having to adjust my hold of him, because he had become limp, almost droopy, certainly like a ragdoll, and I wanted to keep him as he had been just a few seconds earlier; always regal, always dignified, always handsome, a cat, MY cat.  I remember thinking how irrevocable that moment was, how incomprehensible -at that moment- the future would be without him, yet confident I had made the right decision... and calm. I have the easy way out of this emotional conundrum with Kira.  I had to make that decision for Simba, but Kira is Mike's call.  I assume our grief over losing Simba will certainly be matched with Kira when the time comes, yet the circumstances are entirely different.  We don't want to say goodbye to her, but it is inevitable.  As I felt with Simba, it is an irrevocable decision, and in the end, Mike needs to be at peace with it.

I visit my friend's comment regularly.  I ponder if we are still doing what is best.  Kira remains affectionate, social, hungry, observant, curious, and vocal.  For sure, she tires easy and we are seeing some decline in these activities, but absolute "bad" days are still infrequent.  She is getting more wobbly and sometimes walks like a poorly driven hook & ladder fire truck, usually right after a nap.  I think she'll let us know when she is done fighting and ready to move on... we just have to watch for her signal.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kira Health News VII

So, it seems that every time I post that Kira is not doing well, she bounces back.  I did watch Monty Python's SpamALot with her, on Google Video some time back. (If you are not familiar with this Broadway musical, knowledge of the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie, will do here.)  

Me (on this blog):  Look's like she's about to die.
Kira:  I'm not dead yet.
Me:  Gonna be any day now.
Kira:  I'm feeling much better, akshulee.

Her original 6 - 24 month diagnosis, is now solidly in its 25th month, and I doubt she'll make 26.  Since every time I post dire news, she reacts to the contrary, I refrain from posting good news in fear that she will react to that in the contrary, as well.  

So interpret my lack of recent Kira news accordingly, but I am not saying anything specific here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bailey's Groundhogs Day Prediction

Bailey saw his shadow this morning, indicating 6 more weeks or Winter. 
To this news, his shadow merely meowed in disbelief.
Happy Groundhog's Day from Bailey (and his shadow, Sidney)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sharing our **Pet Pharmacy** Experience

So, Kira has been on medications for Lymphoma etc., since January 2008 (Mike was in St. Louis at the time, dealing with the passing of his father, so I was charged with Kira's well-being)  For each visit to the Vet office I made with Kira, Mike was always on the other end of the speakerphone--but more importantly, because Mike was so far away, I tried to keep detailed notes as to Kira's health needs and all her medical requirements.

After her initial visit, Kira was prescribed six different medications.  Five of the six were smaller, "kitty sized", portions, with some requiring twice a day dosing.  As a result, I created an AM and a PM dosing schedule to make sure all her medications were given as required.  The schedule I created was:

Marbofloxin; 1/2 of an oblong tablet, once a day (AM)
Zantac; 1/4 of a round tablet, twice a day (AM & PM)
Cyproheptadine; 1/4 of a round tablet, twice a day (AM & PM)
Metronidazole; 1/4 of a round tablet, once a day (PM)
Ursodial; 1/6 of powder inside gel capsule, once a day (PM)

All the 1/2s, 1/4s, and 1/6s of each of these medications were sorted for daily AM and PM combinations, each placed together within empty gelatin capsules, so that Kira only had to suffer one dosing each AM and PM.

This schedule has remained virtually unchanged for over 2 years.

After the first four months of this regime, we moved from San Diego to Portland. She had to endure a new veterinary, and we had to locate a new pharmacy in which to fill her prescriptions.  Keep in mind, these are not "people prescriptions", and thus, may be a little less likely to be at your nearby neighborhood pharmacy in the needed doses.  Fortunately, the medications were easy to come by.  Surprisingly, it was the simple gelatin capsules that were a to challenge to find.

We inquired at the Fred Meyer (Kroger), RiteAid, Costco, and Walgreens pharmacies that were nearby.  The local Walgreens seemed to be surprised at our request, but was the only nearby pharmacy that carried the supplies to meet our needs.  Because they did carry the capsules we needed we continued to purchase them from Walgreens.  The fact that the price always changed, from as low as $8 for 400 to a high of $8 for 300, only confirmed our belief that our request was out of the ordinary. (FYI, That is approximately .02 cents to .02 1/2 cents per capsule)

So, why am I writing this post?  With Kira nearing the end of her days, we went to make our (what is likely to be the last) capsule purchase.  This time, only 150, as we feel 75 days at twice a day dosing is very optimistic.  Suddenly, because (we were informed) there has been a demand for the past 18 months, that the price for 150 has sharply risen to $30... (equals .20 cents a capsule; an 800% increase in price). We questioned the price increase, but ultimately paid it, for at that exact moment there isn't really a choice in the matter.

So, I have contacted Walgreens (and am waiting a response).  It is very difficult to navigate prescriptions for ourselves, and for our pets--substantially more so.  Due to all my interactions with pharmacies due to Kira, pet requests seem unusual and foreign to most pharmacies, usually requiring lots of explanation and out-of-the-ordinary responses.  I don't want to believe that Walgreens seized an opportunity for greed, nor do I want to believe the employees were dishonest, so I hope--for the sake of all animal caretakers--that this was just a simple misunderstanding of some sort.  It is already hard enough to have a supportive voice for our pets.

w e d n e s d a y,  . f e b r u a r y . 3, . 2 0 1 0
* * * U P D A T E * * * 
I am sharing our experience with Kira's Lymphoma diagnosis and treatment in hopes that it may be helpful and provide insight to anyone else who may have to go through similar experiences. Needless to say, lacking such info ourselves, there was some shock and anger after leaving the store, due in part by our limited options at that moment combined with the eminent loss on the horizon, so I waited a couple days before contacting the Walgreens corporate customer service number.  Also, I chose not to call to complain about my experience (in which I tend to make too personal, get emotionally charged, and thus an angry situation), but instead my call inquired more generally about how to find valid Walgreens price information in the future, (I repeat:) "in hopes that it may be helpful and provide insight to anyone else who may have to go through similar experiences".

That being said, my corporate return call came about 24 hours later, and unfortunately, I missed the call.  The caller was friendly enough, and this is the message (with names edited out for privacy):

Hi… This is… the Walgreens store manager for the Lombard store and I had received a complaint about some pricing issues. It looks like the compound pharmacist… charged you $30 for 150 pills. We went back and looked at the pricing and the best that we can do on that is $8 per 100.  That basically… protects us from our margins and covers our cost. So the best we can do at this point is $8 per 100 and we have that down, so if you have any questions, you can always talk to me.  I am the store manager… and just give me a call… Thanks.

So I guess a small success.  We can't return our purchase for a lesser quantity and Kira most-likely won't be around long enough for another purchase, but any reader who is going through a similar pet experience and needs gel caps (or any other unusual pharmacy item) should inquire and establish a standard product price immediately once the need is established, no matter at Walgreens or any other pharmacy.  Had we done that, instead of being surprised at $30 for 150, the $8 per 100 is reasonable and we would have made exactly that purchase (150 was just a random number anyway; even purchasing 100 is optimistic at this point).  Walgreens did provide a satisfactory resolve for this situation; however, I doubt we'll have the opportunity to take advantage of it.  (Where to find a valid price list remains elusive)

And a bigger success...  she still is hanging in there.