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Hemi Update

4 Mar

So I dropped Hemi off at the vet specialist last Wednesday.

I was pretty upset because I couldn’t visit her on Thursday due to having to work a rodeo shift I couldn’t get out of but luckily my mom went by so she wouldn’t be lonely and think we abandoned her.

Mom's visitation on Thursday

Mom’s visitation on Thursday

Hemi had to have a Cone of Shame!!  Poor baby girl!  I gave them the approval to put in a jugular catheter because she ripped out so many of the other ones at Dr. Hartke’s office.  The regular ones were $40 every time they had to put it in and the jugular was $100 but it would be very difficult to rip out so I figured it would save me money because I knew she would rip out the others with her track record so far.  Plus, they could draw blood directly from that instead of poking her with needles every day.  Thus, the Cone of Shame. 😦

Also, since she is such a good patient (insert massive amount of sarcasm here) they had to put her under anesthesia in order to put the catheter in…apparently most cats just let you stick them in the neck without a serious fight.  Not Hemi.  She goes down swinging!  Apparently Hemi has been quite the brat there.  She growls at the workers when they walk by, hisses and swats at them when they open her cage or try to do anything…even changing her litter box.  She has been so mean that they even had to label her…

Extra Caution?!?

Extra Caution?!?

I have a bad child!  I never thought my kids would act up but apparently she has multiple personalities because she has been an angel to me when I go there.  But it’s understandable also because if you were poking and prodding me in a cold cage away from my family, I would be a bitch too.  So maybe she just takes after her mom?

Dr. Stone (the specialist) had me come in each day to feed her because she was not eating for them.  Ideally he wanted her to eat a special diet food with low protein that they had but he said whatever I could get her to eat at this point was fine.  I stopped by Petsmart and grabbed her favorite treats and some food with the lowest amount of protein I could find.  She ate plenty of treats for me and some of the food they provided.

Each morning, Dr. Stone called me (which I thought was nice because he actually called himself…not his assistants or someone else) to give me an update on her renal levels (creatine levels in her kidneys).  When I brought her in she was at 4.2, Thursday morning she was at 3.8 and Friday morning was 3.0.  Saturday morning was 2.9.  He said that he expected that she was plateauing and would know for sure on Sunday when they tested her again.

Joseph went with me Saturday morning to visit her and she was so much more alert and perky than she had been the past few days!



Sunday morning, Dr. Stone called to update me (levels definitely plateaued around 3) and to tell me that she had made a mess of herself in her cage because she had passed some stool and that they were going to bathe her.  I literally laughed and said, “Good Luck!”  Mom came with me to visit her because she missed her seeing as she hadn’t been able to go by since Thursday evening.  Turns out, they were able to bathe her to some degree…

little, wet back legs

little, wet back legs

Her legs were the only thing wet so it didn’t look like they got too far on bathing but she was semi clean and I would just completely clean her once she was able to go home.  Hemi was really excited to see us.  She loved on us and rubbed faces with me.  The Cone of Shame made it a little more difficult but I was able to get in there enough to rub faces a bit.


I thought for sure my forehead was lacerated from that stupid cone jabbing me in the head when she tried to rub faces when I wasn’t braced for it yet.  But it was totally worth it.

Sunday evening they began weaning her off fluids to see if her creatine levels would spike without them.  Dr. Stone wanted her creatine levels to be around 2 or lower so with her being around 3, it means that she is considered in Stage 3 of kidney disease.  Cats vary on their life span once getting to this stage because the better they eat and drink, the longer they can live.

Dr. Stone called me this morning and said that her levels had remained around 3 after weaning her off the fluids so she was able to go home today!!  YAY!!! He wants me to go by between 5 and 6 to pick her up because they still have to remove her jugular catheter (which may mean anesthesia since they needed it to put it in) then will monitor her a little bit longer and get her medicines together for me.  She will have to go back to Dr. Hartke Wednesday or Thursday to check her levels again to make sure they are staying down at home.  Also, she will need to be on antibiotics for a few months to keep her from getting an infection.  I requested pill form if possible because those are so much easier to give her because I can hide them in treats instead of holding her face to force her mouth open and shoot the liquid in.  He said he would give me pills if it was available so that’s good to hear.  I just hope they all come in pill form…

So right now, good news is that she is not getting worse.  She’s not necessarily good but at least she is a little better and gets to come home!  I know she and I will be much happier that she gets to be at home!

The Famous Hemidactyl

28 Feb

Okay.  So I know that I have been slacking on my posts for the past few weeks and I mentioned on Monday that I was handling issues with Hemi and I would let you know later.  So here it is.

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Before I left for vacation at the beginning of the month, I told my mom that I thought Hemi looked skinnier.  It was like all of a sudden one day I noticed it out of nowhere.  We thought that maybe it was because she was getting a little bit more exercise now that we are letting her roam the whole house while we are at home.  I asked my mom to try to watch how much food she was eating and just keep an eye on her while I was gone on vacation.

When I returned home, mom let me know that she noticed that she wasn’t eating very much and at the beginning of the week she thought maybe it was just due to Hemi being weird because I left.  Then Thursday of my vacation, she threw up her food by her food bowl, which she never does…she has a designated spot in my room where she gets sick.  So Mom made a vet appointment just to be cautious.  Our vet’s first opening was Monday afternoon so by then I was back in town.  We took her to Dr. Hartke and she ran blood tests and a urinalysis and, unfortunately, we did not get good news.

Hemi had issues with her kidneys and they were not functioning properly.  Dr. Hartke couldn’t give us much information without an ultrasound but she said that nothing concerning kidney issues in cats is ever good news.  So the next step?  Ultrasound.

We took her back to the vet and dropped her off Tuesday morning to have an ultrasound by a technician because Dr. Hartke did not do them at her office but had someone come by one day a week if she needed ultrasounds done.  They saw that her kidneys were inflamed and usually that means infection.  Infection was the best of the bad scenarios that we could hope for so Dr. Hartke was going to do a urine culture to test to see if it was for sure an infection but that would take a day or so to see if cultures appeared (meaning it was an infection) so she wanted to start pumping her with fluids and antibiotics to get a head start if it turned out to be an infection.  So Hemi had to stay at the vet clinic for a few days.  Luckily they let me visit whenever I wanted so I got to see her everyday.

Visitation Wednesday

Visitation Wednesday – Buried under a towel (because she loves being covered) and with her IV in

Now, apparently Hemi is not the best patient…imagine that.  She ripped out her IV 3 times from Tuesday through Thursday night, and hissed and swatted at the vet and her assistants.  I don’t think she has ever hissed at me.  Swatted, yes, but not hissed.  So that means she was super stressed out.  On Thursday Dr. Hartke told me that Hemi was also not eating and had thrown up her oral medication that they tried giving her earlier in the day.  I went up there on Thursday after work and noticed she had just pulled out her IV. Again.  She was also laying in her litter box because she threw up on her bed and the IV leaked everywhere in the litter box, causing litter to stick to her and everything else in her cage.

Poor Hem hunkered down in her litter box (don't worry, it was clean at the time)

Poor Hem hunkered down in her litter box (don’t worry, it was clean at the time)

So we had to get her out of her cage to clean it, which meant I got the chance to hold her so I wasn’t too upset with Hemi that she was being difficult. 🙂  They had a wet food can in her cage and I told them that she doesn’t really like wet food and asked if they had any crunchy treats because she loves those.  Dr. Hartke brought me a small bowl of about 15 treats.  I grabbed a few while holding her and she ate them from me so the vet said she would walk away (because Hemi was tense with her around) to see if Hemi would eat the rest.  I put her back in her freshly cleaned cage and hand-fed her a couple more then pushed the bowl to her and she practically inhaled them.  They said it was a good sign that she ate with me because it meant she was just stressed rather than not eating for medical reasons.  She kept that food down and Dr. Hartke decided that she wanted to send her home with all of her oral medications because Hemi only behaved with me and she thought she would do better at home.

So we scheduled a check-up for Monday to run her blood work again to see if any of the medication was helping and I took her home for the weekend.  She immediately relaxed once we got home.

Hemi cuddled up with me on the bed and was happy to be home

Hemi cuddled up with me on the bed and was happy to be home

It wasn’t too difficult to give her the medicine at first (She started getting smarter later though).

Monday I took her back to the vet and we got more bad news.  Her renal levels weren’t dropping and no cultures appeared in her urine sample meaning she wasn’t getting better but it wasn’t due to an infection.  She was getting to the point of chronic kidney disease which leads to kidney failure if the levels can’t be dropped.  Dr. Hartke recommended I take her to a vet specialist in Spring so that’s exactly what I did yesterday.

I left work early because the specialist told me the quicker I got her there, the better.  We waited for the internalist (fancy vet specializing in internal medicine) for a while because she was the only one there yesterday due to the other one being out for the day.  The assistant was very friendly and loved on Hemi when she was in our exam room while we waited for the vet.  She even wrapped her up in a towel because she thought she would like it, which she did.  Hemi was surprisingly calm for being somewhere other than at home.  She even fell asleep at one point.

Hemi all swaddled up in the towel

Hemi all swaddled up in the towel

The vet came in to check her out and after looking over her charts said we can do one of two things:

1) leave her there under their care for a few days while they pump her with fluids to basically detox her kidneys in hopes that it lowers the renal levels and keep pumping her with fluids until she hits a plateau which would mean her levels are as low as they would go.  If they plateau low enough, we could try to control them by putting her on a special diet and she could live up to years but if they didn’t lower very much we were talking about weeks to months depending on how much they lowered, if they even lowered.


2) send her home with me and keep her on the oral medications she was already on but add an appetite stimulant and nausea medication to see if she would eat more and if her renal levels could lower that way.

The first one was exceptionally more expensive but also a lot more effective than the latter method.  It was a tough decision because I had already spent quite a bit of money on her the prior week but I also wanted to do everything I could to try to save her because she is my baby.  After talking to my mom and Joseph, I decided that Hemi was worth more to me than my money and that after this I would know if there was something we could do to save her and prolong her life or if we would just have to make her comfortable for the rest of her time with us.  So I went ahead and selected the first treatment and left her there with the specialist.

Last night on my way home, I was talking to my friend Gina.  She had to go through very tragic times a while back with her dog Baron that she adopted.  I told y’all a little bit of her story in this “…pure randomness.” post.  She made a very good point last night when we were talking about how expensive it was getting.  She told me, “You either love your animals or you love money.  You can’t love both.”  And it’s so true because I know I would pay whatever I could in order to help my pets.  It definitely helped me feel confident that I had made the right decision to leave her there even though it was pretty costly.

I will keep y’all updated on what I find out.  Hopefully, the specialist can lower her levels with this method and we can save her.  I just can’t imagine my life without her.  I mean, just look at how precious she is…

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San Diego Zoo

19 Feb

Once we were back from Big Bear, Joseph and I decided that we were going to take a full day to go to the San Diego Zoo.

**WARNING:  I took a ridiculous amount of pictures so be prepared for a cuteness overload if you continue reading down**

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I’ve heard nothing but great things about the San Diego Zoo and that it was huge and you needed plenty of time to go.  Lori took Joseph’s parents and brother to the airport on Tuesday while we watched Chloe so we decided to wait until Wednesday to go so we would have the entire day.  Wednesday morning we woke up, got dressed and ready to go, made lunches and headed off to the zoo!  I was filled with little kid excitement because everyone knows what’s at the zoo that I love so much. 🙂 actually I love all animals but of course I was most excited to see the elephants…shocker.

When we walked up to the entrance, guess what we saw first?

An Elephant Plant!!

An Elephant Plant!!

We hadn’t even made it into the entrance gates before I got to see an elephant!  Sure, it was a plant but still…it got me even more excited.  AND to top it off, when we bought our tickets (by the way Lori is awesome because she has a membership to the SD Zoo and she gets little coupons and gave us two for discounted tickets so we only had to pay $15 each rather than the $30 or $45 that it normally costs) guess what the tickets were?

An Elephant and a Panda!!

An Elephant and a Panda!!

The two animals I was most excited to see!  Joseph argued with me saying he had dibs on the elephant ticket but he was just trying to ruffle my feathers.  Judge me if you will but every time I go to the Houston Zoo I cross my fingers that I will get an elephant ticket and for my ENTIRE life, it has yet to happen there.  But apparently the San Diego Zoo got wind that was making an appearance and decided to have everything turn out perfectly because it was the best zoo trip ever.  Don’t believe me?  Just wait.

First of all, I had been warned at how big the zoo was but I didn’t really grasp that whole concept.  I wish I would have had a pedometer on to see how far we actually walked because we were dying at the end of the day.  Take a look at the trail we took.

(Follow the ghetto red arrows)

Yes I did this in paint.  Don't judge me.

Yes I did this in paint. Don’t judge me. (click on the picture to enlarge)

When we went through the gates, we saw a sign that said “Baby Panda viewing from 9:30-12.”  It was about 9:45/10am so we decided to make our way to do that.  We saw a lady holding something and talking into a headset so we decided to pit stop and take a look.

Beautiful Owl

Beautiful Owl

The owl was fixated on a balloon floating in the air WAY far away.  We could barely see it in the sky but he didn’t blink the entire time we stood there.

We grabbed a map (see picture above) and took a right where we came across a small duck pond.  Joseph was pumped.  It was rather adorable how excited he was about all the different kinds of ducks, even if he did keep saying, “I wish I had my shotgun.”  But that’s besides the point.  He had me take a lot of pictures and we stayed there for about 20 minutes so he could read the info about all the different ducks and watch them for a little bit.


Mallard Ducks, Mandarin Ducks, Wood Ducks, and some type of Geese

We continued on up Sun Bear Trail where we found all of the bears and the otter to be sleeping so we passed rather quickly in order to get to the baby panda viewing.  There was a pretty long line but we didn’t care because we wanted to see the little panda seeing as this was the only opportunity I would have to see one in person.  The line moved pretty quickly and we could see through the fence that he was hanging out where we could barely see him.  By the time we got inside he was hiding behind his mother and I was dying to see him.  I whispered for him to come out (the lady talking about the pandas said they are very sensitive to noise and to be quiet…even if the baby fell from the tree like a rag doll because they can handle it…not to scream, or laugh, or gasp loudly and that it happens all the time. yes, I secretly wished I could have witnessed a fall).  Just about that time, he popped out from behind his mother so I was able to take some pictures of him.

Bottom left is the Dad, the rest are the Baby with the Mom

Bottom left is the Dad, the rest are the Baby with the Mom

The woman said that he was about 6 months old and weighed just around 20 pounds!  Too cute!  After seeing the baby and the mom, we walked over to see the Dad, Gao-Gao.  He happens to be the only male breeding panda outside of China!  The woman talking about him said that during mating season, in order to impress the female, he stands up on his front paws and puts his butt and hind feet high into the air because he is shorter than a lot of other male pandas.  I thought that was pretty funny.

After the pandas, we saw the birds of prey but none were in very good positions to get good pictures.  It actually kind of made me sad because they didn’t really have room to fly in their cages.  Plus, they didn’t have a bald eagle like the Houston Zoo so I wasn’t that impressed.  We carried on into the Polar Rim to see the polar bears and arctic fox!

Polar Bears

One polar bear was sun-bathing, one was swimming, and the other was playing with a large white barrel.  He would fill it up with water then pounce on it to shoot the water out of the side.  It was too cute!  What was weird is that he was looking down the whole time until I said, “I wish he would look up so I could see his face,” and he did.

When we walked by the arctic fox he was running around in his pen and was along the other side of the wall and I said, “He needs to come over here and be still so I can take a picture for Mom.”  (Mom likes watching nature shows about foxes and those kinds of things…)  And guess what the little guy did?

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He came right up to the edge of the pen where I was and stopped with just enough time for me to take a picture of him.  I swear I am the San Diego Zoo Animal Whisperer.

Next we walked over to see the koalas, wallabies, and a maned wolf with really long legs.  This thing was about 4.5 feet tall.

Koala and friends

Next we walked into the Elephant Odyssey.  They had weird elephant art through the ages and fossils of the animals found in Southern California way back when mammoths ruled the land…Oh and a massive elephant statue!

Elephant Art

We walked past the lions and Joseph had to take the picture of him for me because he was laying behind a big boulder that I couldn’t see over.  There was also an interesting warning on his cage…

How mad would you be if you were sprayed with King of the Jungle urine??

How mad would you be if you were sprayed with King of the Jungle urine??

We walked by the Jaguar pen and there was a side with glass instead of the fencing.  As I was walking up, so was a smaller Jaguar.  She was sniffing the ground and I squatted down on her level.  I was about 3 feet away from her with only a piece of glass in between and it was awesome.  I told her to look up because I wanted a picture of her face and guess what she did?  Obeyed the SDZ Animal Whisperer!  Check out this shot!

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And that’s without any zoom!  I’m pretty sure that was her thinking that if the glass wasn’t there, she would make me into her lunch but I didn’t care because she was beautiful and I got a great picture out of it!

We continued on to the elephants and of course I was super excited.  They were further away than the exhibit at the Houston Zoo so it was hard to get a good picture but when we walked around the back side, the handlers were bringing one of the females, Mary, into a pen to take a blood sample for some research.  They apparently send off their blood every two weeks to some scientists that are doing elephant research but didn’t give us any details.  It was the first time I saw an elephant having blood drawn and they took a whopping 20 cc’s which is basically nothing.


We walked around to where the male was held and not many people were around us.  I said hi to the big guy and he just stared at us and continued to eat hay out of a hanging barrel above his head.

Male Phant

When we started to walk further down towards the end of his area, he followed us (again with the animal whispering!).  It was really cute and I like to think that he liked me and wanted to be friends. 🙂

We ate lunch at some tables that over-looked the elephants, which was really pretty and allowed me to see the phants longer without completely boring Joseph to death.

After lunch, we walked by a bunch of random animals and saw these furry little warthogs.

IMG_2851 - CopyJoseph said he was ugly and I didn’t want his feelings to be hurt so I told him he was really cute and that Joseph was just kidding and he stared at me then tried to walk up to me but there was a big dip in the ground like they have at the bear exhibits that keep them from coming all the way to the edge.  I thought many people probably didn’t stop to visit them seeing as they aren’t the most attractive animals there so maybe he was just lonely and enjoyed the company (and the compliment haha).

We walked down Sun Bear Trail again to get over to Urban Jungle.  This time ALL of the bears were wide awake and out to play!  I think that is the first time I have ever seen a bear outside of his den and awake ever at a zoo and it was awesome because they all were!

Even the Otter was awake this time around!

Even the Otter was awake this time around!

As we were walking up to the Urban Jungle, we saw this area called Backstage Pass.  There was currently a group of people behind a barrier of trees being shown some kind of animal.  I peeked through to try to see and I think it was a Wallaby.  We walked a little further and when we looked to the right, you wouldn’t believe what we saw.  Remember how I said this was the best zoo trip ever and the timing was perfect?  Here’s another reason why…


Yes that is a cheetah and YES it is on a leash!  They were in a holding pen to our right and as we were stopped and watching it the handler told us to be very still and to not make any sudden movements because she was going to bring the cheetah outside of the pen and walk it to the one across the road right in front of us.  There was a cheetah.  On a leash.  Ten feet from us.  It could have ripped our faces off! (and by the look she was giving us, she seemed like she may want to…)  Good thing there were two people holding the leash just in case anything happened with the first handler…

We walked a little ways down the street until we saw this little zebra in a holding pen with a handler and it was doing tricks!  It was really cool!  The handler never spoke but the zebra obeyed commands given to her via hand signal.  She turned in circles, knocked over cones, picked up and carried toys, rolled a barrel, shook hands/hooves, took a bow at the end, and even smiled!  How many of you can say you’ve seen a zebra doing tricks?  In case the answer is none of you, I took pictures (and videos but you’ll have to wait to see those once I post them on Facebook).

Zebra Tricks

Unfortunately, I kept missing her smile but I got a video or picture of everything else.

We saw five giraffes, two of which were cute little babies.


That little guy in the middle was probably only Joseph’s height (which is tall for humans but short for giraffes).

We saw lots of monkeys.  Pigmy chimps, orangutans, gorillas, and random small monkeys.


That little pygmy chimp in the top right corner cracked us up several times.  When we first walked up to their exhibit, there was this little Asian family by us: mom, dad, and a little girl.  There was a chimp at the left side of the big window and the other 3 were away in the back right.  The dad of this family thought he would knock on the window at the chimp by us and I was thinking, “You should stop doing that because I’m pretty sure they don’t like that,” but I didn’t actually say it aloud seeing as they weren’t even speaking English.  All of a sudden, one of the monkeys from the back (pictured above) ran up and smacked the window really hard right where the little girl was standing!  If that glass wouldn’t have been there, that would have been one dead little girl.  It was awesome.  I felt bad for the little guy because he clearly was annoyed by them.  The chimps walked around to the other side and Joseph and I followed them to the other window.  There were families with other small children at the window and two little boys were laughing and talking loudly and that same little chimp ran up to the window and slapped at both of them.  I was thinking that maybe he just didn’t like kids.  I tried to get the second time on video but I didn’t hit record fast enough.  Sorry.

We continued past the Orangutan and Monkey Trails to the Hippo Trail then the Tiger Trail.  (as you can see from my ghetto arrows on the map up there, we did several circles trying to see everything)  The hippo was sleeping in the back and the tiger was way up high so I couldn’t get a good picture of either of them.  By the time we were done in that area, we were so exhausted and our feet were killing us so we decided to forgo the children’s section (even though I always walk through it at the Houston Zoo) and were ready to leave, satisfied that we had seen everything we wanted to see.

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We had a great time and I am so glad that we had the whole day to spend there because besides lunch, we were continually walking/looking at animals and spent a total of about 6.5 hours there!  Definitely needed a good chunk of the day for that!

Hope you enjoyed my ridiculously long post about animals and all the pictures I took.  Don’t worry you survived this post and get to see yet another California post tomorrow because I’m still not done! 🙂

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