Friday, August 15, 2014

Familiar Illnesses

I think the easiest way to tell our current residence is full of negative energy is watching my familiars interact with it.  From the moment we moved in to this apartment, we've been bombarded with pet illnesses.  Pretty much immediately, our dog Artemis and our tabby Zeus developed UTIs.  Then, there was the flea infestation that was started from within the building.  Our black kitten Apollo had some inflammation and our white Siamese Hermes had bronchitis.  Hermes developed an infected sore spot on his back from overgrooming.  Zeus had a bladder infection.  Hermes was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  Disregarding all of my personal health issues, that is a lot of problems, particularly when knowing that, prior to moving into this apartment, we rarely saw the vet outside of yearly checkups.

This past week, however, has been the worst.

While walking Artie early last week, I suddenly noticed that his urine resembled fruit punch.  I was almost in disbelief, originally thinking my sunglasses were tinting it.  But sure enough, he was peeing blood.  The last time that Artie had a UTI, he peed everywhere inside the house.  So much so that I thought he'd lost his potty training during the move.  It took me a few times to realize it might be medical and, even then, I caught it spectacularly early.

This time was different.  Artie never had an accident.  In fact, he'd been acting more puppy-like that ever before, romping through the apartment and going absolutely beans.  So the idea that something was wrong actually took me by surprise.  I vetted him and discovered he had a bladder infection, a round of Clavamox and $135 later.

Then, earlier this week, Hermes had an IBD flare.  We gave him his anti-nausea medication but it just didn't work.  After a few days of relentless vomiting, we finally caved in and vetted him.  For $93, they kept him for the day to make sure it was an IBD flare and gave him a shot of anti-nausea medication, plus they gave us a bottle of anti-nausea pills for free.

Keep in mind that, as I give the totals, I'm not suggesting that I distrust our vet or feel I'm paying too much for the services.  In fact, I really quite like our current vet.  Before Nyx passed away, we were using my childhood vet clinic.  When I disliked how they treated Nyx's end-of-life situation, we switched to my husband's childhood vet clinic.  They've actually been really awesome.  Particularly this year, since we've been in there so much, they've done everything they can to minimize costs.  It's been really great.  And their service has been stellar.

That being said, I also have to keep in mind that we're attempting to move.  Every unexpected cost takes money out of our savings - savings that we're trying to build for first and last month's rent and pet deposits on a new place.  So every time I have to vet the pets, a little tinge of frustration pops up behind the concern and the sympathy.  I know getting them, and us, out of this place is the best thing for them.  Every vet run is a setback that threatens to intervene on our plans.

All of that out of the way, today was the absolute worst.  On Wednesday morning at around 4 am, Artie popped out of bed and threw up a couple of times.  Pets throw up.  It happens.  If I went to the vet every time one of my fuzzy babies vomited, I'd be not just broke, but several thousand in debt.  My intuition of course jumped up to max anxiety but, when he started eating again in the afternoon, I didn't think much of it.  By the evening, he seemed just fine.

Then, on Thursday morning, the same thing happened.  He popped out of bed and threw up.  I voiced my concerns to my husband.  We had recently bought him a new bag of treats.  It was the same brand and type of treats we'd always bought him, but we speculated that something might be wrong with them.  Instead of vetting him that day, since we had already spent over $200 on vet bills in the past week, we decided to abstain from any of those treats and see how he did.

By the afternoon, again, he started eating.  In the late afternoon, he gave me perfect number ones and number twos outside.  Nothing seemed wrong.  By the evening, I'd forgotten about the morning and figured we'd solved it.

Then, at night, something terrible happened: My dog vomited his own feces.

I know it sounds disgusting.  It was.  I gagged as I cleaned it up.  However, it had become abundantly clear that something was very, very wrong.  My husband suggested that maybe he'd treated himself to the litter box - something Artie did when he was brand new, but hasn't done since.  My intuition told me otherwise.  This time I told him that, if Artie threw up one more time, I was vetting him.

Sure enough, 4 am rolled around and we were on the ground again cleaning up stomach bile.  By the time the vet opened at 8 am, Artie had vomited 7 times, all bile.  Even when I took him to the vet, we nearly had an accident in the car.  I've never swung into a parking lot so fast in my entire life.  Throwing the door open, Artie climbed out in panic and vomited on the cement.

You know you have a good dog when he refuses to vomit in your car, but still.

Artie's typical nature is reserved but spunky.  The above picture I think illustrates it quite well.  He's friendly with other people, even strangers, and weirdly enjoys things like vet trips.  So when the vet came in and he slinked behind my legs, I knew something was very, very much amiss.

Upon examination, the vet told me all the things I already knew: Artie was dehydrated and his stomach was distended.  This wasn't your run-of-the-mill nausea or inflammation.  Something was really, truly up.

I signed off some wavers agreeing to the minimum and maximum amounts for potential treatment and left behind my beautiful baby boy at the care of the vet.

I called to check on him about every three hours.  By noon, they had determined that he had an impacted colon, and that the feces backup ran all the way into his upper digestive tract.  They were "cautiously optimistic" that he would be okay, but IV drips and a special medication to clear his colon were needed.  Their greatest concerns were (a) If he had bacteria that had been introduced into his digestive system and body because of the feces and (b) why his metabolism wasn't pushing the feces through as it should.

By three, Artie had had two large bowel movements.  Their concern now was the gas that was blocked up behind the feces.  If it didn't move down the digestive tract, Artie could be in for a difficult ride.  However, by four, the gas too had moved.  Now it was time to try him on some food.

By five, Artie was back to eating.  They said he seemed a little more energetic, but preferred to keep him on the IV drip overnight as a precaution.

We can pick him up before 11 in the morning barring any further developments.

I am so incredibly thankful that he's going to be okay.  In fact, when we were still in the "unsure" stages, I spent some time in my car wailing like a toddler.  I couldn't ever imagine losing Artie, or any of my fuzzy babies.  It's such a hard situation to go through, particularly if they're taken from you unexpectedly.

We asked if there was anything we could have done to prevent this.  After a long talk about Artie's diet and lifestyle at home, the vet felt everything we do for him and give him is healthy.  "Sometimes," she said, "colons just impact.  It is concerning that we don't have a direct cause, but there doesn't seem to be one."

"However," she added. "You have in your file four UTIs since moving into your apartment.  How is your water there?"

Frankly, really awful.  My husband and I filter it regularly, but it doesn't taste good either way.

"Maybe, until you move, you should start purchasing purified water to use for drinking, eating and cooking.  It doesn't seem like the water there is very healthful."

I really hate this place.

The hardest part, now that we're sure Artie will be okay, is the final bill.  As of close tonight, we were at $495.  Much better than I was adding up in my head, but still - Ouch.  This final bill will include an extra IV cost for overnight and medications to take home.  I'm not 100% sure what we're looking at, but it's not good.  The amount we've spent in vet bills the past couple of weeks has put a severe dent in our ability to move out as of right now.

We're in such a pickle.  I feel like this apartment is terrible for us.  Despite my best efforts to cleanse the place before we moved in, the entire complex has a negative energy that simply cannot be removed.  Beyond the things that have happened here that are very clearly the apartment complex's fault, such as the prolonged leak in our bedroom or the flea infestation; beyond the things that have happened as a circumstance of location, such as the DUI driver crashing into our building or the homicide that happened in our parking lot, there have been a multitude of things that have happened that are completely unrelated to this place but that I still feel somehow have an association with us being here.  The fact that my autoimmune scleritis flare began on the very same day that we moved in.  The fact that I've spent over seven months of our time living here sick.  The fact that I have lost nearly all the friends that I had upon moving in during our stay.

And the fact that my familiars are constantly, constantly sick.

But how do I scrounge together the money to move when everything that I've just mentioned is costing us so much?  It's a total catch-22.

I want so badly to find peace with this life, but it always seems like such a struggle.  I know happiness is a frame of mind, something that you have to personally choose, but it's so hard to choose to feel happy when life hands you shit after steaming pile of shit.  I posted that previous statement to my Facebook earlier today and one of my friends responded that "not everything is shit."  This is true.  Very true.  But, keeping in line with the metaphor, it's so hard to see that through all the shit piled around you.

Like a fortress of feces.

So I'm going to sit on my fortress of feces tonight and wallow.  And tomorrow, I'm going to pick up my dog and pay the vet bill I really can't afford to pay.  Somehow, my husband and I will figure it out.  We always manage to by the skin of our teeth.  I just hate this constant feeling of barely surfacing long enough to take a breath before being pulled back under.

I want to swim.


  1. Marietta, have you looked into Care Credit? See if your vet takes it. It is a medical "credit card" and can be used for vet bills, dental, eye cares and all sorts of things. Purchases under $1000 are 6 months interest free. Over $1000 and you get 24 months interest free. We have had to use my Care Credit to pay for all of my dental work and some of the cats vet bills. We lived in a townhouse for two years and experienced the same issues you are having. I was sick; the cats were sick; it was awful, but we couldn't save up enough to move and honestly paying for our wedding in cash was more important to us at the time. But we paid for the wedding and a move all in the same month. It took an extra year to do, but we did it. You may want to look into getting one for times like this. That way you don't have to shell out $600 plus in one month. You can keep your savings and make smaller payments over 6 months. I know its not ideal, but it helps and it builds your credit! Paying $100 over 6 months is a lot easier than $600 up front, especially when its coming from your savings to move. I wish you the best of luck. If we were doing better financially (my husband lost his job right after I was in the hospital) I would gladly help you out. I know well what it is like to save and lose it all. Its disheartening and makes you feel like you are running in place. Hang in there and keep working your ass off.

    1. Thank you so much for the suggestion! I'm so sorry to hear about your tough times in the townhouse, but I'm glad you guys got through it! With my husband's student loans, we've been hesitant to take out any more debt than we already have. However, if we keep getting bombarded by vet visits, it's something I might just have to look into. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  2. Try GoFundMe. The High Priestess of our coven used it when her familiar became ill in a life or death situation and they simply didn't have the funds to cover the care. They raised a couple hundred dollars in just a few days.

    1. I second that. You'v helped me a lot with your blog in some areas of my life for the past months; I would be glad to help you in return.

    2. Aw, thank you so much guys! I've actually been watching some members of our KC pagan community use GoFundMe and Indiegogo with a large degree of success. However, those have been for things like 501c3 status for the local coven, or end-of-life bills for someone who lost their mother recently. I can't justify pet bills, particularly since they're all going to be fine and I think we can cover it. It's just going to be really, really rough and terrifying for a while. Nothing my husband and I haven't done before. But your comments have been really touching, knowing that there are readers out there who would help us if anything truly devastating were to occur. And it's something I will keep in mind if we ever get to that point. Thank you again!

  3. Hi, I'm new to your blog and I must say you have had lots of negative things happening to you. I do hope this can be broken.

    1. Welcome and thank you so much for reading! It's true that there's definitely some strange things going on with us lately. It's certainly not the norm. I'm hopeful that moving will make a huge difference!

  4. I'm truly sorry about whats been happening. I've been there before and its not pretty :-( Just stay positive and keep on keep'n on. Menifest great things!! I know use will pull through this. Looking forward to the next update x

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! We're hopeful that things will look up soon.