My cat was diagnosed as being diabetic last year and I’ve been giving her insulin shots and testing her blood glucose the way that one would do as a human ever since. My life has been wrapped around this little fur ball’s numbers, tests, shots, food and careful watching and recording ever since. As a matter of fact, it’s become an obsession that strikes fear into my gut like I’m standing on top of a girder 100 ft in the air, looking down to the ground. Let’s face it, taking care of a diabetic cat is a tough and rough road to go down. Anyone else who has had to treat and care for a diabetic pet whom they love like a family knows that our lives have been turned upside down in the blink of an eye too and, it’s not easy on any of us to have the responsibility of taking care of a much loved feline family member.
From the moment that we hear the diagnosis that our baby has diabetes, we are in shock mode. In a few short minutes, many of us are simply handed some printed sheets (if that much), given a quick lesson on how to inject insulin, a prescription for insulin, told to feed them some over our heads in cost prescription food from the vet’s shelves and told to head to the pharmacy/drug store/Walmart to pick up what we need. We don’t even get time to adjust mentally and emotionally to the situation until we’ve run around like chickens with our heads cut off, getting what our newly diagnosed furry family member needs to have his/her diabetes taken care of and, it’s only once we are once again at home that the panic sets in as we sit there with some pretty frightening stuff in front of us, not knowing if we can even do this, let alone how.
For many of us, we will flounder through the first day or two of trying to get an injection into our babies. With trembling hands, we apologize to our babies and stick them with the syringe that we’e agonized filling scrupulously to the marks on the syringes. OUCH! we think to ourselves as we stick them and most of us, will cry as we do it because we hate “hurting” our loved ones in any way.
As the days set in and the shock wears off, we decide that we’re going to learn more about this condition and do some research on the net. The more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know and that becomes even more frightening and overwhelming.
Of course, many of us will find the Feline Diabetes Discussion Board site. “Oh boy! There’s hope? There’s a chance that they will revert? There’s help? There’s OTHERS dealing with this? I’m not alone? I can talk to others who will help me?” As quickly as our fingers will type, we sign up and BOOM…we are amongst friends and there’s information galore to read and to get to know. Darn it though…we are intelligent people so, we will learn it, right? More than anything, people in here seem to know what they’re talking about, are extremely knowledgeable and will help more than our vets have, can or will, right?
So, with that in mind, we start off learning everything we can about Feline Diabetes and we may even make some posts or, if we’re totally feeling lost and overwhelmed, we’ll just post our frustrations and fears on the boards, hoping for other members to throw us a life saving ring somehow.
As the weeks go by, we learn to shoot the insulin we were told to shoot, given tips on how to do it, what foods to feed (not necessarily the bag or cans of food that we bought from the vet that cost us an arm and a leg), how to test, to set up a spread sheet (usually with the help of a member in here who has generously given up their time to help us all to do it). We’ve learned trick, tips and hints that our vets never took the time to give us and we make friends in here…even if only as a group and not individuals.
But, here comes the kicker. No 2 diabetic cats will react in the exact same way and for some, there are other health issues involved as well that separate each cat even further. We quickly realize that there aren’t many “text book cases” and we consult our vets whose opinions vary greatly from one to another, confusing us even further from what we’ve now learned and committed to memory. We may even find that our vet’s opinions differ greatly from what this forum and its more knowledgeable members have told us. Who do we believe now? What do we do? We’re feeling again, overwhelmed because we’re vacillating between what we’ve learned here and what our vets are telling us to do. Another internal battle ensues as the vet admonishes us that he/she is “The Authority” and “right” yet, we’ve learned everything we know from these boards and other members, dealing with diabetic cats and all of their knowledge about diabetes in specific, not our vets usually. Anxiety, guilt, anxiety, dread, anxiety, inner struggle anxiety. Now we’re afraid to leave our cats alone, watching them day and even all night, typing in numbers onto spread sheets that some vets won’t even look at as they don’t believe in home monitoring or in the amount of changing dosages that is done, without them telling us what to do. Do we risk ticking off our vets? After all, we have to rely upon them for other issues and prescriptions. What to do? More anxiety!
On top of that, we are now no longer able to go out freely or even away on vacations or needed trips because we worry endlessly about our Sugar Kitties at home or who will take care of them should we be unable to do so. Our days and nights revolve around these little fur balls and we feel like we’re doing “less than” our best if we don’t follow what others are following in here or, worse…our vets are ticked off at us. Everything in our days now become about blood glucose numbers, shot times, feeding times, foods, watching every move and wondering if they’re going to go “Hypo” on us. Yes, that word strikes FEAR into our minds with such a vengeance that we often miss events and even a lot of sleep because we’re either monitoring our fur babies or we’re worrying about them and what we don’t know. We’re totally obsessed with it now and neither our cats nor us, are really living a quality life anymore. We are no longer people with lives but, we’e become Feline Diabetes Caregivers. Another cry, another anxiety attack, another set of questions running through our minds.
First of all, our feline family member’s diabetes has to be important to us but, we also need a life too. Easier said than done given everything we now know about it all. We know testing is an important part of taking care of our cats so, we’re doing that but, are we doing it too much? Is there such a thing? Can we test and record too much or too little?
Secondly, there’s a distinct line between what vets will tell us to do and what we will learn in here to do. What to believe? Who/what do we follow?
The answers to this lay within you and your lifestyle in my humble opinion and experience. There is no “right or wrong” in how we deal with this as long as it’s what’s right for us and our feline diabetes patient. We love them and we want them around for as long as we can possibly can with as much health as we can. But, there’s a few key questions that I think we all need to ask ourselves.
What are we truly willing to do, how much and realistically, how much can we handle? Remember that just as Every Cat Is Different (ECID), every human is different and everyone’s lives are different, with differing degrees of ability, time and responsibilities. That means that every cat is going to react differently and be either more or less tolerant than the next or even every other cat in here. We need to learn OUR limitations as well as theirs. What 30 people in here can do with their cats, may be pretty difficult with our own cats. That does NOT make us less capable than the 30 others or less effective. It only makes it us and our cats and the differences between us all. That’s quite the equation to deal with. We can all only deal with our own set of circumstances, not everyone else’s. Trying to be like “everyone else” is a set-up for anxiety, sleepless nights and avoiding leaving our homes…at least without a great deal of angst.
Knowing how far you wish to take what’s offered in the site and what YOU can deal with. Keeping the above in mind, take into account your level of “nerve” and your lifestyle. Remember that those who shoot down to lower numbers, are doing so because they feel that they are able to get their cats to do so more easily than perhaps, you can for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which includes your own anxiety/stress levels. Some people handle it all more clinically while others are a mess emotionally already because of other factors in their lives. The lower one tries to bring their cat’s numbers, the more testing that will need to be done. Don’t feel like a “Less Than” because others are testing 9 to 10 times in a day and getting their cat’s blood glucose levels down into the nice green numbers and keeping them there and you can’t handle going that low or the required testings (or your can’t won’t allow it without turning you towards taking up drinking or sedatives.) That is their level of comfort. Yours may be different. Don’t feel guilty. You are already doing more than a lot of diabetic cat parents would do so, pat yourself on the back for it and leave it there.
No one there is a vet and you still need to work with a vet for your feline family member’s health in all other areas as well as the diabetes. There are some “bad apples” in the vet world, no doubt Not all vets were created equally so, it’s important to find one that YOU can talk to when you need to and will be there for you almost as much as they’re there for your pets. Ticking them off by arguing things out because you’ve read this or that here, doesn’t help you or your pet. If you’ve found a vet that you click with and your vet is there for you and matches YOUR philosophies/thinking….listen to them too and don’t argue it out. Know where they stand on this issue but, follow your own gut given what they are telling you to do or not do. Not many vets will agree with what is being taught here, in totality. Recognize that fact and realize that there’s “compromise” between what you’re learning here and what your vet will likely give advice to do. Find your own ground but, do listen to what your vet is telling you and ask questions of him/her as well. Again, NO ONE here is a vet but, they have a lot of learned knowledge which doesn’t make them right and your vet wrong or vice versa. Go with your own level of tolerance.
Give yourself a break and don’t compare yourself to everyone else in there. Once again, every cat is different and every pet caregiver’s levels of tolerance as well as lifestyles are different so, give yourself a break from the never-ending beating you’re giving yourself. You’re trying your best and doing your best. Even finding this site means that you care enough to learn as much as you can to help your feline baby. What others can do, you may not be able to do for all sorts of reasons. Do what YOU can, to the level that you can and don’t compare yourself to everyone else. For every person in these forums, there’s 10 more feline diabetes caregivers who are NOT here and doing far less than you are likely doing while being in here, given all of the knowledge that’s available to everyone here. Your life and tolerance levels are YOUR life an tolerance levels and NO ONE should judge you on that, including YOU. So, stop, breathe, think about your limitations and abilities, pat yourself on the back for what you ARE doing and let go what isn’t for you or your cat without feeling guilty about it.
Diabetes can’t be “forced” into remission if it’s not meant to go that way. People often come into that site, seeing the “OTJ stories” (Off The Juice/insulin) and think “if I can follow all of this…I can force my cat into remission too and off of the insulin.” For SOME…that is true but, for others, it isn’t. Some cats, once diabetic, will always require insulin to some degree or another because of genetics or some other reason. For others, they were forced into diabetic status because of foods or illnesses or medications. They are more likely to go into remission with proper care and giving their pancreas a break/rest. Those are the cases where they were going to come out of it anyways with full care. Don’t feel that because your cat hasn’t been able to come off the insulin, you’ve somehow done something wrong or haven’t followed the protocol. Pushing your cat down to low, low numbers and keeping them there, may or may not bring them out of needing insulin but, it’s certainly a “risk” that you are taking if you’re unable to do as much monitoring as those caregivers can. Be realistic with yourself because there is NO real and hard fast rules that will bring your cat OTJ. What isn’t meant to be isn’t going to be no matter what you do. It can’t be forced but, you can up the chances by following this protocol *IF* you can tolerate trying and have the nerve to try. There’s NO guarantees though one way or another. Remember that you need a life as does your cat so, be realistic as to how far you’re willing to take this and try. It’s ok if you can’t do this exactly as the protocols call for. This is a set of protocols set up according to a small study, not The Golden Rule or Ten Commandments or a “Do A, B and C and you’ll come out with D” type of situation.
Most of all, take care of YOU. Without you, your cat doesn’t stand a chance of being healthy for long. Without you taking care of them, they wouldn’t thrive from treatment. YOU need to be healthy in all ways too so, remember to relax a bit and take care of yourself too. It’s important that you keep that rule above everything else that you learn and have learned. KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS AND BE REAL ABOUT THEM WITH YOURSELF.
Best of wishes from my little corner of life. (And, yes…I still have panic attacks and my vet is ready to have me put in a psych ward at times. I’m learning my tolerance, lifestyle, nerve and other limitations as I go along this road too.)