31 August 2008

The German Health Care System

Now that I have thoroughly checked out the health care system for humans (from the inside), it's clearly time for Fate to force me to check the system out for klein Tiere, or my poor cat Felix.

I haven't really mentioned Felix, but obvioulsy he is a part of the family. When we first started considering moving to Germany, we had three cats. My oldest, Petronius, his younger brother (really) Sebastian, and then Felix, a stray that the German and I had forcibly adopted in 1998. (By forcibly, I mean that we had first inveigled him into our garage, then into the basement- it's tough not to have  garage in the winter in upstate NY- and then, by dint of motorcycle gloves and leather jacket forced him into a cage and thence to the veteribarian where he lost some vital parts (his manhood), some accessories (a terrible case of worms), more body parts (many teeth removed) and after many shots came home to be with his new family).

Sebastian stayed with us through several years of diabetes and insulin injections and then a full year of sub-q fluids and care, but left us three years ago. I think Thing1 still remembers him. When she was colicky, his (extra long) tail was the only thing that would make her laugh (that and the theme song of Jeopardy! as hummed by me.

Petronius, my best boy, found his door into summer a year and a half ago We all miss him very much. I used to say that because he was a kitten alone with me for some time (I would sneak him into motels when skiing, coughing to cover his mewing) that he always thought of me as his wife, where Sebastian thought of m as Mama and perhaps Felix regards me as provider of warmth and food and perhaps, stroking and brushing. But Petronius and Sebastian were mine from long before I met the German. They were part of my single, Wall street life.

Felix is an adoptee from my coupledom. He loves the German as Papa, as much if not more than he loves me. His adoption was the first thing that the German and I really did as a couple and we have had him for practically the same period of time that we have known each other. We have never been certain of how old he is, malnutrition and no teeth have always rendered it a guess, but we assume somewhere about the 14 year range (10 years with us).

In that time he has had pancreatitis, worms, transient diabetes, basal cell carcinoma, heart murmur, chronic cough due to asthma and allergies and a few others. We micro-chipped him to bring him over and we had a scare this past winter when he had some growth on his ears and we thought we might need to amputate, but all worked out.

This latest ailment, what seems to be a liver problem, was really sudden. A lack of bodily functions and no interest in his food made me think that he might have a urinary tract infection, but a liver problem is far worse. So he's been in to the vet three times this week (we found a vet with late hours who is also open on the whole weekend- the latter was a pleasant surprise!), had blood tests, had a catheter implanted in his arm and been hydrated and given intravenuous antibiotics.

Because this is a costly process (and will be more costly if we need to do a liver biopsy tomorrow), we brought home a bag of fluids and the other materials to do the hydration and injections ourselves. This is the first time that I've done intravenuous and it is very, very slow compared to sub-cutaneous. But the vet says that it is better for him and I think he was much happier here at home. She also seemed surprised that we would want to do this, which I find surprising.

However, I think it's a good practice and as long as I get the German or C to translate for me while I am there, I am happy. I will also point out that costly as this has been, it has cost about 1/3 of what it would be in the States. I say this as one who has been down this road before. And this road has only one terminus, of course. I will be sad when we reach it.

1 comment:

Alice from Wintersong said...

So you're a cat lover! I knew there was something that I liked about you. Anybody who would go to the lengths you've gone to nurse a sick cat is someone I truly admire. I know what you mean about finding it surprising that the vet would be surprised about your decision to care for the cat at home. We also treated our cats as if they were furry, 4 legged members of the family. The only way!