Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Update: Fluffy. And a bit of a rant! (Sorry!)

Thank you for the messages of support. I rang the vet today but I'm not much clearer.
Fluffy went on thyroid tablets last autumn because she was losing weight and found to have hyperthyroidism. She is still on these drugs, but much improved- gained weight, etc.

The blood test he did last week, after finding a lump at the base of her neck, was meant to check for cancer. Today I was told the following-

  • her thyroid level is high, though controlled. VERY high would be "66". She is "55". Although controlled by the drugs, he recommends removal of the thyroid glands.
  • her white cell blood count is down. Possibly this means she may have been infected with FiV, as her brother, Scooter, has this. He was diagnosed some years ago, but we had Fluffy tested last November and she was clear
  • Nothing whatsoever to report on the lump.

What the?

That blood test cost over £120 ($230) and I am still no wiser re cancer.

I asked him about this, and he said that he would have to cut out the lump and send it off. NO WAY!!!!! Her sister, Figs, had a lump on her side. They removed it and tested it, only to find it was a fibrocarsoma- a particularly vicious form of cancer. Before fur had even grown back, the lump was back, twice as big. We removed it again, leaving a wide margin around it- this meant an enormous wound. But again, it came back. It seemed the more it was interfered with, the faster and wider it grew. It looked like fingers under her skin, stretching out. I kept her while she showed no change in behaviour. As soon as she was in pain, I had to let her go.

Now he wants to remove Fluffy's lump to biopsy it? NO WAY! I asked, couldn't he aspirate the lump with a needle and test to see IF it is cancer and then WHAT TYPE? At this point I was told it was the vet's lunch break!

And why recommend to remove her thyroid? Her drugs are on the lower dose at the moment- why not increase it? I've found the same drug on the internet and I know it comes in 10mg and 15mg doses. So why not increase? I'd rather be able to discuss this sort of alternative, not just give the go-ahead for an operation.

Fluffy already has lower renal function and an general anaesthetic isn't going to help her kidneys, is it?

No. I've left it at this- he wants to do another blood test in 4 weeks' time to check the thyroid function. If it's still high, I'll then talk to him about the drug dose. Maybe her kidneys can't take it. (In which case, how can he operate?)

Which is best for your pet, to try everything possible- including operations, or to say, no, I'm not putting her through that; I'll keep an eye on her and see she is ok, comfortable, etc. And then say goodbye when I have to. This might mean she lives slightly less long, but she won't be having operations and being scared, stressed and hurt.

Fluffy is 15. I'm told this is a good age. That doesn't make it easier. I once had a wee rescue-cat, Katie, who lived to be over 19. So anything less seems robbery of time due to her for lying in the sun, watching butterflies and having her tummy rubbed.

There is, of course, an element of "I don't want to go through this again." Neither does my mum- Fluffy and Scooter live with her. (She takes them to the vet and it all gets stuck on my card, so that looking after them doesn't mean she is out of pocket.)

I am annoyed with the vet anyway, as I have found another vet, "VioVet", that sells Fluffy's tablets online (so long as your own vet provides a written prescription) at 46p each, whereas mine sells them at 68p each. And some Fish Oil capsules that he sold us for her- he charged £10 for a month's supply. Now I have found the exact same brand, in the exact same packaging, at the same supplier he uses- and they are just £5. So he has passed a 100% mark-up to me.

His fees are sky high but there is no other vet in the area to take them to. I think he is taking advantage. He shrugs and says, "You can claim it back on insurance" - but my pet insurance has such a high excess now, I am lucky if I get half the bill back. No wonder the premiums are getting higher each year- if all vets take the attitude that they can charge what they please.

It's awful to love your pets, and to not totally trust your vet. I'm not sure he has Fluffy's best interests at heart. Maybe she is just nearing the end of her days, and he needs to make as much money out of her as possible. Can you tell I'm a little wound up????


mrsnesbitt said...

Go with your gut instinct honeybunch.


Becky said...

You have every right for that rant! I agree with you on the thyroid situation, too - why remove it if there isn't any problem and the med's are working? Mrs. Nesbitt is right - go with your gut instinct. Our pets are our babies - it's hard sometimes to know what to do.

Lorianna said...

Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry about your Darling Fluffy!
Yes, you must trust your instincts. She's happy, eating well, sleeping well and generally being a normal kitty? I just don't understand why some people in the medical profession seem to forget that they are in the business of health CARE. They are supposed to ease suffering, not contribute to it!
I will keep you and your kitties in my thoughts and light a candle for Fluffy. She looks so much like my Cody MacBoldly. :)
Take care okay?

Helena said...

Mrs N (Hey! You're Mrs N again!!!)

Yep, I forgot that. Gut instinct is the thing, isn't it? Yup. As Bob would say, it's in me beads.


Helena said...


I keep getting tangled up with wondering whether I'm just being selfish and thinking, I can't go through it, it's too stressful, so I'll not operate, that way I can forget about it... beating myself up... but Fluffy is so gleeful- that's the only word I can think of! A fluffy bundle of joy with attitude. Or CATitude. She's so lovely so talkative. I'd rather she had whatever time is left with as little stress in it as possible.

They certainly are our babies- I end up wishing I could take the illnesses for them.


Helena said...


I laugh every time I read that name- COdy MacBoldly. LOL!!

I had the same thoughts as you- he should be more caring and less scissor happy.


Quality of life comes first, I think. Even over length of life. Of course I'd like her around as long as possible but... she comes first. I'll end up mourning anyway, some day. Better it be after she has lived a full and happy life, not one marred with pain and stress.

Stardust said...

=( This is so tricky...

Though I'm no professional myself, I doubt vets too. =((

You're the one who loves Fluffy most, I'm sure she'll be most happy when you decide the treatment for her.

Ms. Creek said...

ahhh, so sorry for fluffy...a very difficult situation and decision for you...for fluffy...luvs and hugs...

Amy said...

Oh Helena. Our pets are like our children in so many ways. Your rant is perfectly valid and whatever you decide, I know will be doing what is best for your baby, Fluffy and for you, as well. It is sometimes better to let them live their lives happy and un-suspecting.
Medical professionals suck! I just got out of the hospital Sunday and today they are already calling me about my bill. Sheesh!

*hugs* for you!!!! (and Fluffy)

BumbleVee said...

the vet sounds like an ass. You are probably right....it is all down to the almighty dollar as usual. Are you sure there is no other vet in the nearby areas? .... I would want a second opinion ...and right now.

What a terrible amount to charge you and then tell you nothing. Ridiculous. He should be reported .....not sure to whom...but there must be an organization dealing with unscrupulous vets.

Fluffy has had a lot of good years...and you are right...what if he keeps on digging around in there, making her uncomfortable and it spreads quickly....I don't know.... I think I would let nature take its course...and if she seems unhappy or stops eating or using her litter box.... then... a humane end is best....

I wish we could do the same for our human loved ones......I'd vote for euthanasia in a hot minute... but general doctors are in it for the big bucks too .and keep stabbing and poking right up til the very last second... to charge the health care system as much as possible....

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Oh Helena, I'm sorry, i've only just found these posts.
Quality of life is what I would choose if I was Fluffy.
Sending hugs, Lynda

Dragonstar said...

A cat of Fluffy's age should not undergo anaesthesia without a great deal of careful consideration. It's so wrong that you're stuck with only one choice in vets. Do you have a PDSA near? Just a thought.
While Fluffy seems well enough, leave her alone. She won't enjoy the aftereffects of surgery.
Rotten situation to be in, I know. It's just two weeks since we had to make the final decision for our old dog, and I'm still crying.