At my neurology appointment last week, we discovered I have a lot of protein in my urine, which means my kidney damage is progressing, and the last time we checked I had thirty percent kidney damage, but no one knew why. We are certain this is from the autoimmune condition now. I need to see a nephrologist (kidney specialist) to see how bad the kidney damage is exactly, and how best to treat it. Kidney damage is a serious medical problem especially when it results from an autoimmune disorder, and we need to be on top of it to prevent it from turning into kidney failure. The problem is that with my state insurance, a lot of specialists can take time to get in and see. We’re having trouble getting a referral, so my doctor is starting me on a high dose of Prednisone to try to keep things in check until I can get in.
I’m not looking forward to the Prednisone. I’ve been warned it’ll make me want to eat everything in sight which might seem good because it’ll counteract the gastroparesis a little bit (won’t speed up my stomach but may make me hungrier) but I’m still overweight despite losing weight so we need to be careful. Right now we’ve been in a “try not to lose weight too fast” kind of mode and I felt like we really got things figured out. I went from losing between 1-3 pounds a week in the beginning to only losing a half pound last week. I’m figuring out how to get more calories in (admittedly, most are liquid) and we’ve been pleased to say we feel like things were getting under control with regards to my weight.
Weight gain, however, is not a good idea whatsoever. My kidneys are not working well and I am very puffy all over (edema) from it. Prednisone is notorious for making edema worse, as well as making you voraciously hungry. Not to mention, depending on the day I already have a “moon face” going on from the Florinef (which is very typical of steroids), so a high dose of Prednisone is probably going to make that a lot worse. A lot worse. Necessary it may be, but I do not look forward to more steroids. Insomnia, acne, dry skin, blah! As I said, this is a high dose too so I know all the side effects will be out in full force. I really hope I get some energy back and we can get my immune system to stop attacking my kidneys though. I’ll be able to stop taking my Florinef, too. Prednisone will do the same thing but on a much larger scale.
To illustrate the “moon face” point. Here is a picture of me taken shortly before I started Florinef at the full dose:
I look about my normal self. Okay, but with Devil Horns on instead of kitty ears. Here’s how I looked ONE month after starting a full dose of Florinef:
It’s a huge difference. I didn’t pack a ton of body weight on (waist, arms, etc) but my face got huge. It was so bad that I actually started to not want to leave the house, despite the fact that I did feel a little better. I also stopped modeling new inventory for the Mewtique because I hated how my face looked. So I’m really not looking forward to that.
I do know that the steroids will make me feel a lot better. I’ve been on higher doses of Florinef before, and when I was I felt a lot better. (Remember when I was running up and down the stairs for fun??) So, even if I’m awake all night and have a puffy moon face going on, at least I’ll feel better. Here’s hoping anyway.
We also discussed the type of autoimmune condition I have. The neurologist really feels strongly that it is Lupus based on all my testing, blood work, history, etc. However, she doesn’t feel comfortable diagnosing it as such because, in her words “Autoimmune diseases are complicated and I’m a neurologist, not a rheumatologist.” Fair enough. We can hammer out exactly which disease it is later. For now, we’re still waiting on that rheumatologist referral. (Which the neurologist is diligently working on. It just may take a little bit. At least she’s treating me in the meantime.)
And now, onto the Furbabe.
Styxxie has been diagnosed with stage two kidney failure last year, and we have been keeping a good eye on her, giving her special food and taking care of her as best as we can. The vet has been having us do blood work for Styx every three months, and so far things have gone pretty well. Sometimes her blood work is about the same, but this time it was worse. A lot worse. Her creatine went from a 2.5 to a 4.2 and the doctor says she is now in stage three kidney failure. Not good.
We’re going back to the vet to get taught how to give Styx infusions at home. We’ve done this before for Samantha, and have no problem doing it for little Styx. The training session will really be more of a refresher course, unfortunately. Poor Styx.
The really good news though is that there’s no protein in her urine, and she isn’t anemic. The vet says that if her kidney disease got bad enough she’d stop making red blood cells.
We’re going to do a urine culture just to make sure she doesn’t have a hidden UTI which would cause (or make the kidney disease) worse. I hope she does have a UTI. If she does, we can treat it and her kidney function will improve. For now though, IV therapy at home, I guess.
When I heard the news about Styx getting worse, I panicked and had to hold back tears. I’m not ready to lose her yet. I realize you can never be ready to lose a pet, but the fact is when we got her we thought she was only four! Four year old cats have a lot more life left in them and we didn’t figure we would be doing “end of life” care for her already. If we knew she was old, we would have still adopted her because we bonded. We would have been prepared for this though. We’re still not really prepared for this.
It seems a bit eerie to me that Styx and me are suffering from similar afflictions. We’re both in different stages of illness, and Styx doesn’t have an autoimmune condition so there’s that. Still, we both have kidney disease of some kind and get infusions. Strange.
I just hope that the IVs help her. They helped Samantha a lot (even though she didn’t like them) and when Samantha passed on it wasn’t even from kidney disease, but from a broken hip. So, I have high hopes. The vet says she could live years like this. I know she is right and I am just really hoping she does.