It never ceases to amaze me how invested we can get in each others' lives online, and I'm touched that so many of you ask about Lily, and offer advice, and just generally give an actual damn about a cat you've never met. It's part of the weird and wonderful life I get to live out online - but strangely, it also means I worry sometimes about worrying all of you.
So, I haven't said much lately about Lily's health, except to mention some tests, which weren't quite as ok as I may have led you to believe. Sorry about that.
In a nutshell, Lily has hyperthyroidism, which means her thyroid is on overdrive. It's pretty common in older cats (Lily's 11), but is still life-threatening, and since it makes them lose weight it can be pretty scary when your cat's as small as Lily.
(And since we found out not too long after I was diagnosed with my own thyroid condition, I was convinced someone was punking me.)
The vet assures me Lily's not in pain, which is a relief, but when she was first diagnosed she was down at least a pound and throwing up a lot. Other than that, though, I mistook all the symptoms - playfulness, extra energy, being more vocal - as a sign that she was doing great. :(
So after a lot of research we decided to try the iodine-free cat food, y/d thyroid. This worked great, and within about 6 weeks Lily's levels were almost back to normal... but we think the food triggered her poultry allergy, because she started over-grooming again - badly.
Since that meant the food was out, and the thyroid meds have a high rate of complications and rejection, that really only left us one option. A very expensive, very hard-on-Jen option: radiation therapy.
This isn't nearly as scary as it sounds: in fact, it's just a single shot. Trouble is, the shot is full of radioactive iodine, so the cat has to be kept in isolation in a special facility for a few days while the radiation wears off.
The good news is this treatment has something like a 97% success rate, is a one-time deal, and cats who get it tend to live a few years longer than those on meds. All good things.
The bad news is it's quite expensive (Nearly $2k with all the required tests), the closest facility is about 2 hours away*, and I have to manage a couple of days without my little furball. Plus, we had to get her off the y/d food for at least a month before they'd do the treatment.
[*Actually, there IS a facility in Orlando that does radiation therapy for cats, but for some reason they charge over 4 TIMES the standard rate, which I still can't understand. On average, radiation therapy costs about $1,200. This place wants $5,000.]
So this Tuesday John is driving Lily up to the facility, and I think we'll have her home again by Thursday night. Back in ye olden days they'd have to keep the cats for 2 weeks, so really, I can't complain.
But of course I'm still worried.
I'd have waited until after the procedure to tell you guys - in the hopes of giving you nothing but good news - but this is where I could use all those wonderful good vibes, virtual hugs, prayers, and wibbly-wobbly joy juju you all might care to send my little girl's way.
'Cuz lookit dat face.
Right now Lily is still a happy camper, and other than some residual over-grooming issues and the occasional bout of crazy-eyed hyperactivity, you'd never know she had a problem. Left untreated, though, she'd only get worse from here - so we're just glad we caught it before there were any heart complications.
We've had to run a bunch of pre-procedure tests at the vet, so Lily's become extremely fond of her cat carrier. If she's not on one of us, she's in there. This reaction makes no sense at all, but we've been keeping the carrier in whatever room we're in anyway, which I hope makes the drive on Tuesday more comfy:
This is her beside me as I'm typing this.
Maybe she just likes it in there because Tonks won't fit. ;)
Other than her health, I'm most worried about the procedure changing Lily's personality. So fingers crossed she comes back her usual loving, oh-you're-taking-a-picture-lemme-get-in-on-this self, and will be photo-bombing all my craft tutorials and distracting me from "real" work for at least another ten years.
And thanks for caring, guys. You don't know - you can't know - just how much it means to me.