Fast forward to almost a month after having Baby Loki; it's my dad's birthday and my brother and I have freed up some time to fly out to Nevada to see him and spend a couple days out there. (I personally love these trips because the expensive and intense life of living in Southern California with my anxiety gets old and I just love that for a week or two I don't have to worry about work or think about college.)
The semester had just ended so it was a really nice reward for an uncomfortable last few weeks of studying and making 100% sure that I was going to pass if I don't do so hot on the final. (I'm not a very good test-taker.)
When I left that second Sunday in June, Loki had made so much improvement since we brought him home in that white and green cardboard box.
He had gained 2 whole pounds and was fully taken off kitten formula because of this. He was now in the monitored play step of introducing him to the other two animals, a very animated 4-year-old boxer mix, and a 13-year-old grumpy adult cat. He was even scheduled to get neutered on Monday the 18th because finally, Loki was at the healthy weight a 3-month-old kitten was supposed to be for this surgery. Which, was the day my brother was coming home, so it was almost perfect timing.
My mom was okay with taking care of the kitten while I was in Nevada so I knew he was in great hands and convinced myself that it was okay to leave him at home.
The Second Call
The morning of the 18th, about 20 minutes after my brother left for the airport to head back to California, my phone began to ring. I checked the number because at this point every other phone call I was getting was actually a really annoying scam for Health Insurance in my area, so before I silenced the call, I checked. It was my mom. I was expecting good news because I was worried about something like traffic or other stupid, minor, inconvenience, would arise and Loki wouldn't have his surgery and get fixed.
Nobody expects to hear that their baby is sick. So the news that "Loki's kidney is bad and he can't have surgery" really threw my head into a spiral and my heart broke deeply as my anxiety jumped down a dark rabbit hole of thoughts.
I began to cry as the words registered in my head. It's been 2 months now since this call was made and I can honestly say I was going through a couple of steps of grief. I had fallen so hard for this kitten and so easily he became a really big part of my life.
And now he was sick I couldn't do anything to help.
My mom assured me that he was still playful and "you wouldn't know he was sick or even had a bad kidney if you looked at him." She was trying so hard to help me while I was crying, but when I was a lot younger (15 or so years younger) I had a childhood pet named Sally who got really sick and passed away in the bushes next to our house. And at that moment while my mom was trying so desperately to make me feel better about the situation, the image of seeing Sally being dug out of the bushes and placed into a white Glad trash bag was playing on repeat and in the back of my mind.
I think what really screwed me up apart from being stuck in Nevada and wanting nothing more than to go home and speak to the Veterinarian and figure out for myself what was needed to help Loki feel comfortable, was Loki was only three months old. He was so young and in the short ten to fifteen seconds after hearing "Loki's kidney is bad and he can't have surgery" while that image of Sally sat lifelessly in that Glad trash bag played in the back of my mind, I had convinced myself that Loki was given a death sentence.
Acute Renal Failure - What is it and how do you treat it?
Acute Renal Failure. That was the diagnosis that was given to Loki. And as of June 18th, he had been walking around with this undiagnosed diagnosis for three weeks almost a full month. So what is it? Acute Renal Failure is "the sudden failure of the kidneys and their filtration system" Because that's what our kidneys do, they filter out the bad and what the body doesn't need and breaks it down, absorbing what the body needs and sending what the body doesn't into waste which usually winds up in the colon which eventually builds up and becomes the feces we dispose of or through the bladder in the form of urine.
So, how do we treat it?
Treating ARF or Acute Renal Failure is a process of "removing the circulating toxins" from the inflamed kidney or kidneys as quickly as possible. Because it is a life-threatening condition and because he is just so young, our vet provided us with an aggressive form of treatment which involved a dietary change that affected not only Loki but Naomi and Daryl (my 13-year-old cat and 4-year-old dog) and their food habits as well.
Loki was given a prescription (I know right? What? But yea, there are such thing as prescriptions to animal foods) to the food Kidney Care K/D for kittens and the food routine changed from feeding all of the animals separately to feeding Loki in the back room (which is where he stayed for the first week after we got him) and feeding the other two pets at the same time separating them by a single Bungie-chord chair.
When the animals are done eating, we put their food away so when Loki comes out from the backroom, he can't get to Naomi or Daryl's food. Naomi took a while to get into this habit because for so long she would just eat when she wanted, which is a whole 'nother story and since starting this routine my 13-year-old cat has lost some weight and been really good on her health as well as Loki's.
The Morning Storm
After a couple of days of crying, because I was now stuck in Nevada when my kitten, Loki, was at home, sick. I had this nagging anxiety that he was going to get worse and die while I was away. It was a sickening feeling and had put a huge damper on my birthday plans because I, so strongly, wanted nothing more, than to hold my kitten in my arms.
Well, a week had come and gone and in that week, I cried enough to fill a small bathtub as the grieving process continued. The morning of the morning storm I contacted my brother and told him that I'm planning on coming home before Loki's next appointment, which was on July 18th. One month after his official diagnosis. I shared this information because if he wanted to squeeze one more full-trip with our dad before our fall semester at college began, this was the time to plan, schedule, and come down before the 18th.
For the first time since hearing about Loki being sick, I was taking control of the situation with a weird feeling that had come over me moments after waking up that morning. I felt like everything was going to be okay and that Loki was going to be okay.
For as long as I physically could, because this feeling is so rare when it comes to my anxiety, I held onto that feeling of "He's going to be okay," and convinced myself all the way back to Southern California that "Loki is fine."
Which was good because I really did enjoy celebrating my birthday that just so happens to have happened in the middle of all of this and I always found it really upsetting not being able to enjoy a day about you and only you.
After stepping back on Southern California soil I felt a huge relief fall over me. But much to my excitement that finally, finally, I was going to see and get to hold my kitten. When I arrived home, Loki didn't have much of a memory of me and didn't welcome me the way I had been playing up this reunion in my head. So our relationship and that trust I had built with him the first few weeks he had lived with us, was back at the first few steps and it was like all those mornings feeding and playing with him never happened.
Loki and his curiosity of me and his level of courage (that I am so impressed by) made us fast friends once again and by the end of the night, he was right there next to Daryl following me around the house which is something I have grown to love as it continues on through our day-to-day with one another.
My mom showed me the food and taught me how to portion his meals, which is probably why Loki was so onboard with the idea of making me a friend.
The Follow Up Appointment
After a week home, it was finally time to see the vet. Finally, time to ask my own questions and get my own answers about the diagnosis. They took some blood, scaled his weight, and not only had he gained weight again. Weighing in at a tiny 4 and a 1/2 pounds, he was aged once more.
His age, which we had originally thought was 3 months (at the time of the appointment) he was actually 4 months. Which only startled me more because when we thought he was just a month old he was actually 2 months and super tiny and malnourished and after a month on Kidney Care K/D for kittens, his affected kidney and all of those nasty toxins that were making him sick had cleared up.
This was great news for two reasons:
- We really wanted to get him neutered because statistically Spayed and Neutered animals live longer and healthier lives.
- We wanted him to live a long and happy life (well I wanted the long life. The idea of losing Loki was something I hadn't thought about when leaving for Nevada and was all I was fearing when I came home. So hearing that he was no longer unhealthy made my summer.)
We scheduled his appointment for surgery for the following week and bought some more Kidney Care K/D for Loki.
It has now been a little over a month since that appointment and although he is very much okay and can eat other foods, his main source of food continues to be Kidney Care K/D for kittens.