Furbaby Situation: An Update

It’s been a while since I updated you on Jas’ health. To be honest, I kept putting it off because I kept hoping that the next visit or test would give us a conclusive answer to her troubles. However, we still don’t really know much.

When we last left it, Jas’ aspirated fluid was headed for a lab for further testing and we were weighing the decision to get an ultrasound of her chest. As I’m sure you all realize with this sort of stuff: all of this takes time and there are plenty of delays as this needs two days and that needs to be scheduled in advance and we should hear back from them in three to four business days. I kept wanting to remind people that we were talking about her lungs and her breathing – THESE ARE VERY IMPORTANT ITEMS/FUNCTIONS!!! Ahem. So as Jas’ breathing got more and more labored, I got fed up with waiting for the lab’s results and decided to call (last Wednesday) to schedule her for an ultrasound. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, maybe the wait is just really long), the first available time slot for her was (last) Friday morning. I’m grateful for even that appointment because they moved other appointments around to get to her.

Her lab results came back last Thursday, while we were waiting on the ultrasound appointment. They offered a small amount of good news in that the lab didn’t find any malignant cells in the sample. The lab also suggested an ultrasound for the next step, which we had already set up for the very next morning. Perfect. We dropped Jas off at the vet early Friday morning for her ultrasound. The receptionist told us that we’d have results back the same day, or possibly Saturday. However, when the vet called later that day to tell me Jas was ready for pickup, she said that we’d have results back the following week (see above: time and delays). Preliminary interpretation by the sonographer revealed fluid build-up around Jas’ heart as well though. This was something the vet wanted to tackle immediately and thus she prescribed a diuretic to help relieve some of the pressure.

Over last week and weekend, Jas slowly made improvements. As I alluded to, I was seriously concerned for her at one point (Tuesday night, to be specific – I called the vet the next day to request the ultrasound). However, that was her lowest point. She seems to have stabilized some. She’s eating regularly (albeit only a little at a time). The diuretic seemed to really wear her out at first, but her energy levels have somewhat returned. At first glance, she seems perfectly fine, but there are little things we notice now. She doesn’t run or chase her toys. She rarely jumps up on anything (her tower, the bed, the counters, the tub). When she does jump, she hesitates for a good 30 seconds as (I assume) she gauges her body and whether she’ll clear the jump. But overall, she’s perky and vocal and her usual self (er, a somewhat more reserved version of herself – like she’s aged five years overnight).

We got her ultrasound results back on Monday. They were inconclusive, although ultimately rather bleak. The cardiologist noted abnormalities in Jas’ heart muscle, consistent with congestive heart failure, as well as a potential mass in front of her heart (though not conclusively a tumor, the cardiologist noted it could just be inflammation and fluid). However, in the cardiologist’s opinion, the abnormalities in her muscle weren’t great enough to be the complete source of the problem. The cardiologist also noted the fluid around her heart, which is really the biggest worry right now because the three primary causes of pericardial effusion are congestive heart failure, neoplasia (a specific type of cancer affecting the heart), and systemic infection. The cardiologist suggested starting Jas on a heart medication, as well as sending her x-rays to a radiologist for professional interpretation to hopefully answer the question about the mass. Our vet suggested holding off on the heart medication until we got a report back from the radiologist.

Which brings me to today. The vet called and had Jas’ report from the radiologist. Again, no definitive answer. The radiologist also noted a questionable mass, but remarked that it could just be a semi-deflated lung from surrounding fluid buildup and pressure. The radiologist also recommended heart medication.

So now we’re to the try-this-and-see-if-it-works stage of diagnosing her. With no definitive diagnosis on the table (and it’s not like we can open her up to see!), we’re going to treat her as if she has heart disease. She’ll get a medication to lower her blood pressure to make it easier for her heart to work. She’ll also continue to get the diuretic to pull the fluid out of her chest cavity. In a week, we’ll do blood work to make sure the heart medication isn’t killing her kidneys (literally, which shudder). In three or so weeks, we’ll do another chest x-ray to see if the fluid has drained from around her lung. If so and if she’s stabilized further on her medication, we’ll consider heart disease as the official diagnosis. If not, it’s likely a tumor invading her lungs and heart.

Which leads me to the future, or more specifically, our outlook for Jas’ future. She’s Siamese (as you can probably tell), which gives her a typical life expectancy of 15-20 years. At just five years old, I envisioned Jas around for many, many, many more years. This health scare has obviously changed that expectation. Even in the best case scenario (which, at this point in time, is heart disease), having heart problems at such a young age doesn’t bode well. And thus, Luffy has started to gently prepare me for the fact that my darling girl might not live to celebrate her 15th birthday, or even her 10th birthday. As he reminded me, we’ve already had five wonderful years with her and she’s truly done so much for me; any more time is just gravy – icing on the cake – a cherry on top.

PS (to end on a lighter note): back when we first found out Jas might need an ultrasound, I was scheduled for my Level II scan for Little Dumpling the very next day. I kept joking that I should bring Jas to the appointment and be like “oh yeah, here’s my cat – if you could just scan her too, that would be great! kthnx!”