Monday, 19 March 2012
Guest Blog: Jessica speaks of the impact of Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I do my best to highlight causes that need advocacy, and in my book keeping people aware of what can go wrong with their dear furbaby is one important cause. This is about the ongoing struggle of darling Brady, whose medical fees chip-in button is on the right of this blog. Thanks Jessica for a hard task in writing about something so close to you to help others be aware.
Imagine your kitty full of love and gentleness. Imagine this innocent kitty sunbathing in the window and gazing at you lovingly before he starts to stumble. Imagine his body stiffening up and his breathing becoming labored. He’s looking at you with his eyes wide with fear and crying out to you for help. He’s frightened and falling over in a seizure type episode. There’s nothing you can do but hold him and try to ease his pain. You’re helpless. HCM did not take him today, but it will be back. You’ll never know when and you’ll never know how vicious, but it will come back. There is no cure. Sooner or later, HCM will win… it always wins.
What is HCM? HCM stands for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It is a deadly heart muscle disease that is claiming more and more lives each day. HCM occurs when the left ventricular wall, papillary muscles and septum thicken, causing stiffness. This stiffness prevents the heart from expanding correctly and makes it difficult to receive blood properly. The thickening may also lead to problems of the mitral valve causing it to leak. The leaking fluid can, and in most cases does, leak into the lungs and causes heart failure.
Are there symptoms? Sometimes you’ll have symptoms such as a heart murmur, trouble breathing, weight loss, loss of use in back legs, lethargy and others. Sometimes you’ll have no symptoms at all and your kitty may die suddenly and unexpectedly.
How is HCM diagnosed and treated? An ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram) is the most recommended way to check for HCM. If HCM is present you may need other tests done to rule out other possible causes and to check the function of other organs. Again, there is no cure for HCM but some medications may help to control the symptoms and hopefully prevent it from progressing rapidly.
This is probably the hardest blog that I have ever written because it hits so close to home. My Brady has HCM. What I described to you in the first paragraph happened to my baby just a few short months ago. HCM has also tortured him with congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Brady is only two and a half years old. He continues to fight everyday and is on several medications to keep his symptoms at bay. He is the sweetest kitty you have ever met with a purr and head bonk that will melt your heart. Every day I snuggle him knowing that it may be the last time I’ll ever hold his warm body in my arms, and every night I pray to God asking Him to give Brady the strength and comfort that he deserves.
As animal lovers, we are some of the luckiest people in existence because we get to witness the love from some of the most amazing creatures on Earth. They are not our pets, and calling them so will get you the stink eye and a correction with quickness! They are our family. They are our children. I end with a request to you… Please remember my Brady and others suffering like him. If you are a breeder; please scan your babies before breeding them, if you are buying a kitty from a breeder; make sure that they have scanned the parents for HCM. HCM breaks more hearts than you may think. Please help us spread the word.
You can follow Brady’s story and adventures on Facebook, Twitter or his website.
More about HCM on wiki at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertrophic_cardiomyopathy