Thursday, May 18, 2017

Week 9 - No Budget Social Media Campaign

Week 9 – No Budget Social Media Campaign

As someone who has worked with a group of people to created a social media marketing campaign for a not-for-profit organisation in North Melbourne, I understand how difficult it might be to reach a larger audience without having to spend little to no money.
Davis & Sigthorsson discuss that creating a do-it-yourself marketing campaign with little to no budget such as using cheap online tools, social media and personal networks is now a “routine element of creative practice” (Davis & Sigthorsson 2013, p. 162). It now easy for anybody with a laptop and good internet connection to utilise the internet and do their own marketing free of charge. When people look at the word “free” I would assume that they would think the quality will not turn out so good unlike paid marketing ventures. When it comes to social media, this is completely different as social media is free, interacting with individuals on the platform is free and it makes it easier without paid advertisement to reach your target audience.
Headworth discusses a case study regarding “Campbell’s” and how they successfully created a social media recruitment campaign without a budget. She talks about the strategies they used such as growing their company’s LinkedIn page followers, responding to every message received LinkedIn, generating engaging content, improving their company’s website, updating all the content on a daily basis and improved their position from the bottom of their peer group in LinkedIn Talent Brand Index (Headworth 2015, p. 70).  Here we see how the company utilised free social media in order to create a marketing company that was a complete success.

List of References:

Davis, R & Sigthorsson, G. (2013). Introducing the Creative Industries: From Theory to Practice. [ebook]. London: SAGE Publications, p. 162. Available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=9i10XFLSs5UC&pg=PA162&dq=promoting+social+media+no+budget&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihxIKxtfnTAhXCuhoKHfg9Bu04ChDoAQg4MAM#v=onepage&q=promoting%20social%20media%20no%20budget&f=false [Accessed 17 May 2017].

Headworth, A. (2015). Social Media Recruitment: How to Successfully Integrate Social Media into Recruitment Strategy. [ebook]. Great Britain: Kogan Page Limited, p. 70. Available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=bBvvCAAAQBAJ&pg=PA68&dq=promoting+social+media+no+budget&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihxIKxtfnTAhXCuhoKHfg9Bu04ChDoAQgrMAE#v=onepage&q=promoting%20social%20media%20no%20budget&f=false [Accessed 17 May 2017).

Week 8 - Augmented Tourism

Week 8 – Augmented Tourism

During this lecture, we learned about the different kinds of digital landscapes that are being updated to our everyday devices. So many different kinds of technology is always being created and users love to take advantage of the fact that we are starting to become the future of sci-fi film technology.
Augmented reality is something I am fascinated with and while it is not like virtual reality like how James Cameron used virtual reality and motion capture to create the whole world of Pandora though a camera lens for “Avatar”, augmented reality uses real world video combined with 3D models. It does not look real yet, but as our technology advances, so does the graphics. One day we might even have contact lens instead of AR glasses to see a whole new world.
What is interesting is how augmented reality is being utilised for tourism purposes. Conrady & Buck discuss that there through “webcams, virtual worlds, augmented reality, 3D virtual reality and other immersive technologies” that they are able to get a feel for a destination through the eyes of tourists (Conrady & Buck 2012, p. 26). Imagine never having to go to Hawaii as an example as you can see the whole place through the lens of AR glasses in relation to 360 degree technology.
Like the TV series “Travellers”, participants are able to go into pods and transfer to another place by creating a copy with the users current subconscious, and like “Avatar” they are able to use their vessels and have all the experiences they want in the real world without having to leave their current location. Conrady & Buck discuss that as immersive technology advances, one day our minds will able to travel instead, and even though they’ll be travelling electronically, they will still be able to have the same physically experiences as if they are there in person (Conrady & Buck 2012, p. 27).
As technology advances, so does immersive technology and tourism will be eventually soar as people take advantage of these new technologies as they come out. Will flying in planes eventually be phased out? I guess we will find out.

List of References:

Conrady, R & Buck, M. (2012). Trends and Issues in Global Tourism 2012. [ebook] London: Springer, p 26, 27. Available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=7r8FBPvRKkUC&pg=PA26&dq=immersive+technology+augmented+reality+issues&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwje8LSbr_nTAhUDnBoKHcOIAj8Q6AEIJTAA#v=onepage&q=immersive%20technology%20augmented%20reality%20issues&f=false [Accessed 17 May 2017].

Week 7 - Mobile Participation

Week 7 – Mobile Participation

Since I am doing a Master of Communication, communication plays a very pivotal role in terms of technology. An example of this week’s lecture for mobile applications, participation is very important in terms of user interaction and how they interact with the App. I am currently working on a thesis of a similar venture, but it is important to note that the users are able to produce their own content and distribute it on a global scale using mobile phone Apps through the internet.
“Interactivity” is an important concept from the “Uses and Gratification Theory” in which users can create Apps in relation to multiple platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, website and blogs. Ruggiero defines “interactivity” as the degree to which participants in the communication process have control over, and can exchange roles in their mutual discourse” Ruggiero 2000, p.15). In relation to Ruggiero’s definition of interactivity, participants are able to create their own content and have some sort of control over their applications via the platform used.
One media scholar defines interactivity in more detail where he mentions online media. Carpentier discusses that it creates bigger opportunities for interacting with various users as well as engaging in new forms of communication” (Carpentier 2012, p. 5). This definition in relation to mobile applications show how advanced our technology has become in the online sphere, and how users take advantage of this form of communication in order to reach a wider audience.

List of References:

Ruggiero, T. (2000). Uses and Gratification Theory in the 21st Century. 1st ed. [ebook] Texas: University of Texas Press, p.15. Available at: http://www.kayesweetser.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/adpr5990_ruggerio.pdf [Accessed 17 May. 2017].

Carpentier, N. (2012). The Conception of Participation: If they have access and interact, do they really participate?. 1st ed. [ebook] Brazil: Unisonos, p 5. Available at:
http://revistas.unisinos.br/index.php.fronteiras/article/download/fem.2012.142.10/1001    [Accessed 17 May 2017]. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Hans Zimmer Revealed in Melbourne, Australia 2017


Thank you to Hans Zimmer for an amazing night in Melbourne! In this day and age it makes me extremely happy to know that film composers are finally out in the spotlight and giving their fans an all-around authentic, life-changing experience. As far as I know, this is a first for us Australians.

Film and film music is massive part of my life. It's why I love Directing, Screenwriting, Editing and SFX. The music gives a film more depth and meaning. It's a roller-coaster of emotions and I have over 150 soundtracks for my ever-increasing collection.

I got into film music as a 6 six year old because of Hans Zimmer. It was 1996 and "Broken Arrow" had just come out, and being a Travolta fan (and after this a Slater fan), the soundtrack blew me away. I had to know who the composer was. I played the film all the time just to hear the music. I loved it so much that I taught myself to play it perfectly by ear on my toy piano (James Horner's influence would not long after propel me to continue playing the piano because of "Titanic").

Unfortunately he didn't play "Broken Arrow" in Melbourne last night, but he played the next best thing (possibly the best track on the entire setlist), "Roll Tide" from "Crimson Tide". As soon as Hans mentioned Tony Scott I was a blubbering mess and my brother next to me had the biggest grin on his face. It was such a nice surprise. 😁

Being both obsessed Zimmer fans growing up, it was always our dream to see Hans Zimmer live in concert. Who knew that day would be ever be last night?! It was my main item on my bucket list and I can safely say I happily ticked it off. 💗

The entire concert was mind-blowing, heart-pumping, emotional and a very epic experience. One very emotional part of the experience was hearing Hans talk about his experience working with our own Heath Ledger during "The Dark Knight" and his devastation to the call that he had passed away. He talked about fighting against the opressive notion that drives people of different backgrounds apart and in a moment of his heartfelt speech, he made sure that inclusion and being united was one of the best things human beings can ever do in a state of war and turmoil that's inflicted upon our world.

The reason why Hans is so amazing as a human being and as a film composer is the fact he's so genuine, loves music to the core and can create a whole variety of musical compositions for film, documentaries and games, and still put his essence into his work to make it distinguishable. It was an even better experience knowing Lebo M and fellow Melbournian Lisa Gerrard were there to give us the most authentic versions of "The Lion King" and "Gladiator" (although I wish he did "King Arthur", "Rush", "The Last Samurai" and "The Rock").

My brother isn't much of a fan of "The Lion King", but even he can appreciate and be absolutely blown away by the amazing vocals of Lebo M and his daughter that brought the music to life. As soon as Lebo M's vocals to "The Circle of Life" boomed across the darkness of the Arena, the whole environment changed and turned everyone's expressions into pure happiness. It was like we were all kids watching "The Lion King" again.

I am so thankful for Hans Zimmer being here in Melbourne. Nearly every track was one we knew and loved and it was perfect. My brother and I were the only overly excited ones in our sections. It was the best night of our lives and while we've had the most terrible year so far with a big loss and continuous grief, this day is indeed a night we'll never forget and love forever. So thank you for making our lives! This is an experience we've waited long for so many years and one we'll never forget.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Week 6 - Is being interconnected with technology dangerous?

Is being interconnected with technology dangerous?

We have all seen the Terminator films where Skynet, a highly advanced artificial intelligence system is made self-aware and creates Judgment Day through the interconnectivity of technology because it deems the human race dangerous. From this kind of thought, does being interconnected with dangerous make it dangerous for us?

In Lecture 6 of my Unit, the class was focused on the discussion of being interconnected with technology. It is obvious as the years pass us by just how advanced we are becoming due to the rise in technology. I still remember the days when internet was starting to rise, but we barely used it because it was so slow and there was not much need to be connected. I remember back when I was a child (1990 onwards) we had dial up for internet, a fat and bulky Panasonic television, and a thick computer monitor with large floppy disks with less than 2mb of storage. In the current year of 2017, we have fibre optic internet, 85-inch smart televisions, USB’s, and hard drives with over two terabytes of storage.

Our interconnectivity with technology now allows us to connect with the internet through many different ways such as a Smart TV, Blu-Ray Player, Xbox One, Playstation 2 as well as our smartphones and watches. In relation to how we interact with the internet, an issue arises with just how connected we are.

A discussion from John Palfrey sums up a list of perils because of interconnected systems. He states “Security and privacy risks are the most common problems that flow from unchecked levels of interoperability (Palfrey 2012).” As this is the main issue of my post, I agree with Palfrey that security and privacy are a big issue. Being interconnected can create a domino effect of problems, especially when it comes to the internet. Imagine using the internet on your phone to log into Facebook, but you also use your laptop to connect to Facebook as well as connecting through the Smart TV to Facebook. If the owner of the phone was still connected to the social media platform and it was stolen, thieves would be able to access personal information. The same situation using applications for bank accounts such as Netbank for Commonwealth Bank.

According to the ISACA, “Processes have to be designed, developed, implemented and utilised (ISACA 2010, p. 36).” In a world where our technology always changes, it has to be made first in order for change to occur. This is a risk to users who are interconnected through various technologies, it is up to us to determine just how secure and private we want to be when it comes to being interconnected with technology.

List of References:

Palfrey, J. (2012). The Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems. MIT Technology Review. [online] Available at: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/428657/the-perils-of-highly-interconnected-systems/ [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017].


ISACA (2010). The Business Model for Information Security. 1st ed. [ebook] United States of America: ISACA, p.36. Available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=Cv_Jq_23iEsC&pg=PA35&dq=interconnectivity+technology+security&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqueetwcXTAhXOFsAKHQV_AdwQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=interconnectivity%20technology%20security&f=false [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017].

Friday, April 21, 2017

Week 4 - Website Usablity

Week 4 – Website Usability

“Usability means that people can use the product easily and can perform their task in expected time” (Marcus p. 232).
It is common sense to assume that if a website doesn’t survive to keep users on their website, there is a problem that has to do with the usability of their website. How do you find out what the issue is? How do you find out what users want?

According to Aaron Marcus, “usability evaluation is becoming an important part of Interaction Design to find out user’s needs and requirements” (Marcus p. 231). This means that in order to evaluate the usability of the website, you must first evaluate your target audiences needs and requirements. It requires the creator of the website to put in extra effort to better understand their users and the factors associated with how users perceive a product on a website.

Carole A. George sums up the factors into different dot points. She states that factors such as learnability, effectiveness, efficiency, memorability, attitude, satisfaction, errors and usefulness are just some of the characteristics that users look for when looking at a product on a website (George 2008, p. 5-6). In order to understand these characteristics better, creators of a website must research in detail about their target audience, about their product, about the information and design of their website. The website needs to be easy for users to access and the information should not be detailed, as users tend to skim through websites instead of reading it like a book. If it were a scholarly website, it would be a different story. In order for a website to survive, the information has to be easy to use, this means determining how well your target audience is with technology. 

According to research done by Carole A. George, she states that there are three characteristics that must be followed in order for users to have a useful and easy experience on the website. She discusses that we need to determine the characteristics of the target audience, use evaluation methods to observe and record users’ performance in different stages of development and always redesign and never stick to one cycle (George 2008, p. 10).
This is a good method in figuring out user performance on a website. Create a beta version of the website and see how users interact, assess them with surveys for constant feedback for continuous improvement.

List of References:

Marcus, A. ed., (2013). Design, User Experience and Usability: Web, Mobile and Product Design. 4th ed. California: Springer, pp.231, 232.


Geroge, C. (2008). User-Centred Library Websites: Usability Evaluation Methods. 1st ed. [ebook] Great Britain: Chandos Publishing (Oxford) Limited, pp.5, 6, 10. Available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=meuiAgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=website+usability+evaluation&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj6qe-a3bPTAhXQI1AKHSxCBQIQ6AEIJDAA#v=onepage&q=website%20usability%20evaluation&f=false [Accessed 20 Apr. 2017].

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Assessment 2 - End Game 2017

Digital Story Proposal – Research Blog Post

One of the issues from my digital story proposal was figuring out a way to direct traffic towards the blog and social media pages. Usually a way to do this is constant promotion by sharing all around the social media sphere. In doing so, people are still not engaging with the content. This was difficult, because this project is mostly about learning how to do a digital story proposal, as well as learning how to promote yourself without a budget.

According to Jennifer Allyson Dooley, social media marketing promotion is “used to communicate the behaviour change idea and that both the “media message and media channels are vital components of the Promotion element of the marketing mix” (Dooley 2013, p. 17-18). While I agree that the media message and media channels are vital for promoting with social media, I disagree with how social media marketing is only used to communicate behaviour change. In terms of the digital story proposal, my group and I are filming a short narrative for our digital story. While it will be about 90 seconds, we will still be doing all the pre-production paperwork, which is one of my roles in the shoot. My group and I set up social media pages and will be promoting our digital story via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our blog which has all the information it needs. 

This also links into the Uses and Gratification Theory, where Thomas E. Ruggiero discusses in detail. According to his research, Ruggiero suggests “to explain the outcomes or consequences of mass communication, they did so by recognising the potential for audience initiative and activity” (Ruggiero 2000, p. 8). In terms of my project, my group and I scouted all the main social media platforms in order to determine which platforms we would be promoting our project on. 

We found that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the only media channels which will reach out to a larger audience, including the use of hashtags which will attend to specific audiences who use that hashtag. Ruggiero mentioned above about audience activity, and this is where we got the idea from to not use every social media channel available, especially since the audience we’re looking for might not be on every channel.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/digital-story-proposal-research-blog-post-mindy-saini?published=t

List of References:

Ruggiero, T E. (2000). Uses and Gratification Theory in the 21st Century. 1st ed. [ebook] Texas: University of Texas Press, p.8. Available at: http://www.kayesweetser.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/adpr5990_ruggerio.pdf [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].


Dooley, J. (2013). Web 2.0 and its Implications for Health-Related Social Marketing Campaigns. 1st ed. [ebook] Wollongong: University of Wollongong, pp.17, 18. Available at: http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5017&context=theses [Accessed 12 Apr. 2017].

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Week 3 - Social Constructionism

 “It is important to note that social groups differ in the extent of their access to technology, their skills, and the meanings they associate with technology” (Mesch, 2009).
                  
Communication technology is a tool. Humans build, dismantle, adapt and destroy social structures depending on the functionality of user experience create tools to promote services or attract new business.
When it comes to working practices, knowledge incorporates the technological growth, which enables users to anticipate and adapt to shifting through the media sphere and how companies promote their businesses, and the collaborative practices connected with them by their clients.
According to Vilma Barr, marketing materials that companies use include letterheads, business cards, brochures, newsletters, publications and advertising (Barr, 1995). When companies create a website for promotion and they pick website names that is relevant to their place of business. To make it more authentic, they would not use free website services such as Wordpress or Blogspot, but create their own paid domain instead. In terms of content marketing, money needs to be spend in order make their website more engaging as well as other promotional materials such as brochures, business cards and flyers.

This is where the media strategy comes in. I have created a media strategy before last year for a company in North Melbourne who were looking to promote their annual Spring Fling Festival, encourage more people to volunteer as well as expand their audience numbers. We planned a strategy plan which takes places throughout this entire year. Since the company was not-for-profit, the budget was quite low and we had to work with our group and our clients to see what sort of expenditure needed be spend and what sort of materials we could help them save the cost on. Barr discusses about what to promote and what not to promote when it comes to planning a strategy. She argues that people shouldn’t pick everything when it comes to deciding what to promote, instead she says that existing thoughts should be promoted and that outside expertise can give a clear sense of direction which also helps with budget (Barr, 1995). 

List of References:

Mesch, G. (2009). The Internet and Youth Culture. Hedgehog Review, [online] 11(1), p.1. Available at: http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/essays/40395861/internet-youth-culture [Accessed 28 Mar. 2017].

Barr, V. (1995). Promotion Strategies for Design and Construction Firm. 1st ed. [ebook] Hong Kong: International Thomas Publishing, p.1. Available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=516uQEg7x6wC&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=media+construction+in+promotion&source=bl&ots=pPq3Mph_Ar&sig=mCq6Wfjl9IVLt8ZewbzV4WZIF1k&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjupIzl8P3SAhWMJcAKHTgTDAoQ6AEIQjAH#v=onepage&q=media%20construction%20in%20promotion&f=false [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Week 2 blog post: Transmedia Storytelling

In this post, I will discuss how digital storytelling is created for distribution over any digital device such as the internet and how the fandoms and fan fiction have played a big role in transmedia storytelling. I will argue how fans participate in the expansion of storytelling by applying their own situations and characters in an already made universe and how the original narrative embraces the cultural shift of the digital age.

Since the arrival of the internet, new forms of digital communication over the digital age such as social media, games, chat sites and blog sites have led to the further age of communication in the 21st Century.  According to Carlos A. Scolari, he discusses that transmedia storytelling is “spreading from one end of the media ecosystem to the other, taking old and new media in its stride (Scolari, 2).” This means that active user participation is vital as they expand from one medium to another. User participation in this case are fandoms who are a group of fans of any type of film, show or book. 

Fandoms play a big part in transmedia storytelling through their creation of fan fiction, in which they expand the universe of a canon story that can include either the same characters in new situations or new characters in different situations set in the same original universe.

An example of this is the Doctor Who fandom. It is one of the most successful attempts at evolving transmedia into reality. For example, after the original airing of the show in 1964, Doctor Who has been turned into various forms of storytelling in different platforms such as comic strips, spin-offs and novelisations.  All of these provide fans with the ability to imagine and expand the universe of the Doctor Who world by fleshing out their stories.

Neil Perryman discusses that “BBC Online spent considerable amounts of money on developing its brand-specific products during the first years of the 21st century and this included a second devoted to its “cult” television output (Perryman, 6).”
The fandom is so big for Doctor Who that even the show itself incorporates fan service to appease the fans. BBC themselves accepted the massive fandom and created various interactive narrative just for fans.

Overall, overall while the world of films, shows, games and books have a large following, the use of transmedia storytelling will always be in the digital world where user participation by the fans or creators themselves can expand the worlds over a series of platforms.

List of References:
Scolari, C. A, 2014. Transmedia Storytelling: New Ways of Communicating in the Digital Age. AC/E Digital Culture Annual Report. Focus 2014: Use of Technologies in the Performing Arts, [Online]. 1, 2. Available at: http://www.xn--accionculturalespaola-tbc.com/media/Default%20Files/activ/2014/Adj/Anuario_ACE_2014/EN/6Storytelling_CScolari.pdf [Accessed 22 March 2017].


Perryman, N, 2008. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. Doctor Who and the Convergence of Media: A case study in "Transmedia Storytelling", [Online]. 14, 6. Available at: http://davidlavery.net/Courses/Doctor_Who/Readings/Perryman.pdf [Accessed 22 March 2017].

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A story of love, of negligence and bravery.



This is a long post and one that will hopefully deter anyone from ever taking their pets over to a specific Vet clinic. I won't be naming names. It's a local Vet and it's been absolutely gut-wrenching and upsetting because of what they did and didn't do. I guess this is kind of a lessen learnt sort of story, but it's also a story of how brave our wonderful family cat is, who has had to suffer over a period of nearly three months because of their negligence.

My family and I haven't stopped crying and are heartbroken over what's been happening. It's been extremely stressful for all of us. Anyone who says anything less is completely selfish and ignorant.

Our cat Shiva is 15 years old. We've had him since he was a small kitten. He was healthy, albeit a couple of tumours on his ears and nose, so we took him to the animal hospital (since 2010) on the 27th of January, 2017 to finally have the tumours removed (tips of his ears chopped off). The tumours only started showing up a couple of years ago at least, so luckily it's only the beginnings of it. It's very normal for white cats to get them.

On the day of his surgery (27th of Jan, 2017), we took him to the hospital and we encountered a woman nurse (let's call her Jane for anonymity) who came to do the pre-medical check up on our cat. She was absolutely rude when he wouldn't stay still for the rectal thermometer. *Jane* said rather rudely, "If he doesn't stay still, he'll die during the surgery. You don't want that do you?" I was shocked. I had to hold my tongue as she was treating him. My sister had encountered the same woman beforehand and made a complaint against her to the Vet who took care of him and he said it wasn't the first complaint about her. She was going to be spoken to about ber behaviour.
Speaking to so many people now since all this has happened, they've encountered the same woman before, made complaints and nothing has been done. Why is someone like her even working at there?

On the same day after the surgery, we went to pick him up. When they brought him out there was blood everywhere on his ears and fur. The nurse gave us a bloodied Elizabethan collar (cleaned it roughly, blood smeared on the inside). She told us he was very aggressive and caused so much trouble for them when they tried to put the collar on him. What did they honestly expect?! My poor baby had the tip of his ears chopped off! The area was still very fresh from the surgery, still extremely painful and even more he was in even more blinding pain when they tried to put the collar on him with his ears pressed against the collar. He was screeching in pain. I've never heard him in such pain in my life and it made me cry. I couldn't believe they'd actually do that and then ask us to try it when we got home. I ended up paying for a little sedative to give him because he kept scratching at his ears and blood was dripping everywhere in the house (I won't forget him jumping on me to lie down, he shook his head and blood went everywhere). He slept for the whole night.

On the 30th of January, 2017, blood test results indicated that his kidneys and other organs were perfectly fine. A few days later he stopped eating and drinking water and we had to forcibly give him water via a syringe to keep him hydrated. When we took him to the vets, they suggested to continue using the syringe and wet foods. He started drinking from the syringe and we ended up hand feeding him to get him to eat.

The next couple of days he was walking very unbalanced and kept falling over. We took him back to the vets again and they said he had an inner ear infection and gave him a course of slow-releasing antibiotics for about two weeks. It was so bad he was barely eating and drinking water. He was given appetite stimulants to get him eating again.

We started getting extremely concerned when his unbalanced gait was worse and then he started drooling. Phlegm-like mucous would drip and sway from his mouth. We took him to the vets and they said it was his ear infection causing it. Then every time he ate or drank water he was throwing it back up. Extremely concerned, we sent him back again to the vets and they told us to wait until the antibiotics were up and that the ear infection would subside after 4 more weeks.
We couldn't stand our cat suffering the way he was and he was getting more lethargic, had an uneven gait, sleeping a lot and throwing up.

On the 28th of Feb, I made a post on Facebook regarding his situation for a second opinion. Many people before this recommended Lort Smith and I have never heard anything bad about them for quite a while now.

Then suddenly a couple of days later he started drinking heaps of water. You'd think that's good right? No. He'd drink so much while drooling out the phlegm (this was constant and we would wipe his mouth and clean out his water bowl every few minutes because it was so bad) and he'd throw up phlegm. He'd eat his food, he'd throw up. He'd keep drinking his water for 5 minutes at a time and throw up. We knew for sure this wasn't the ear infection, so we sorted a second opinion at another animal hospital. Lort Smith Animal Hospital.

We took him in on the 10th of March and on the 11th, they called to tell us our cat's kidneys were failing and he was diagnosed with Feline AIDS, bronchitis, severe gingivitis and end stage kidney failure. Outside cats are more susceptible to Feline AIDS and he hadn't been an outside cat for more than a few years. He was vaccinated against FIV many years ago and blood tests never showed he had the virus. Unfortunately we never realised, the local Vets never picked it up and we weren't told by the Vets that the FIV vaccine was a yearly vaccination. THIS SHOULD BE COMPULSORY.

We went to the hospital on the 12th of March and they told us his condition was very serious, a "grave prognosis". He wasn't eating or drinking, he was very dehydrated and they hooked him up to get fluids to rehydrate him again. They told us it was the late stages of kidney failure. Absolutely heartbroken, and seeing our poor baby so frightened and skinny, we told them to keep giving him fluids. The day before they suggested to put him down and we said no.
They gave him an appetite stimulant and he was finally eating a bit and gained a little bit of weight. They said the fluids are working and he has severe gingivitis. They said his kidneys are slowly getting better because of the fluids and they need to make sure his kidneys are strong enough to survive the dental operation. He was also diagnosed with bronchitis, something the previous vet never picked up on when they heard his laboured breathing.

After that, we were told that that his gingivitis wasn't that bad, his heart and lungs were clear (she had suspected that he didn't have bronchitis) and that during the ultrasound of his kidneys, it came out white. When it came out white, they told us it was a "white solid thick mass" covering both his kidneys. They did a biopsy the very same day and told us it could possibly be lymphoma.

When we went to visit him (Dad, brother and I), they took us into the kitty ward as he was still groggy from the sedation and still hooked up to the IV fluids. The nurse opened the door of his cage and his eyes opened. Suddenly he heard our voices and his head lifted up, saw us and sat up meowing. He tried to walk out of his cage, but being hooked up with the IV made it difficult, and the sedation was still making him woozy. My Dad lifted him out of the cage and held him. Such a beautiful sight. Then I sat him in my laps and he turned into a position he was comfortable in and slept in my laps. He was so happy to see us. Our thinking is...if we see him everyday while he's there, he wouldn't get lonely, and the healing process would happen faster knowing that he wasn't neglected or alone.
After that, the biopsy came back clean. No lymphoma. Yay! It was such a relief. They eventually sent him back home telling us that he actually has early stages of kidney disease (not end stage as we were previously told) and the IV helped a lot. They wanted to discharge him. So I went to go pick him up from Lort Smith, waited for nearly two hours (because my train got delayed and I missed the appointment) and the nurse came to speak to me about discharging him. When she brought the cat carrier out, I could hear him meowing (it was a cardboard box carrier from Lort Smith because we didn't know he was coming home until later that morning and we didn't have his cage). She opened the box and his little head popped out, still meowing he saw my face and his eyes changed. He let out a little meow and I was caressing his cheeks (he leaned into my hands really hard) while he was purring loudly. The nurse was so happy at his reaction.

When we brought him home (he lives in two houses. My sister's and ours with only two minutes apart), he wasn't eating properly. His tongue was still sticking out, he was very skinny (actually anorexic), and his balance was as worse as ever. The next night, I spoon-fed him some homemade chicken soup I made for him (putting some on a spoon and he'd slurp it in because he couldn't open his jaw properly). He ate a little bit, not enough, but it was something. When I filled up his water, I filled it only halfway (a full bowl is too much water and because of his uneven gait and uncoordinated senses, I didn't want him to end up drowning) and sure enough later that night, HALF his face was inside the water as he drank water. I knew it. NEVER put a full bowl of water. If you know your cat has issues with his/her balance, and they're obviously not blind, don't put a full bowl of water. Especially if you aren't observing your cat 24/7, at least you'll know they won't drown because someone filled it up to the top when they didn't listen or see the signs of his/her appearance.

The next day, Dad and I took him back to Lort Smith. The family had suggested that we put in a feeding tube because he wasn't eating properly (and obviously hungry the poor bub) to help him gain weight again, which would help bring back his energy and strength. As soon I was waiting for the nurse (my Dad had left for his appointment next door), a nurse came out and she talked to me about why we were classing our cat's case as an emergency. I told her he hadn't eaten since he was discharged two days prior and that we required a feeding tube to get food in him pronto. She told me that they had a lot of other patients who would be high priority and that the wait time would be over an hour. Since I didn't want him stuck inside the cage that long, I asked her if we could use a room so he can use the little box (as he had drank a lot of water before coming) and drink some water as he would be thirsty. Unfortunately no room was available, but she took him for a while to give him water and make sure he was comfortable. Not even 5 minutes later, she comes back out again and tells me a Vet is currently looking at him and he'll call me in within the next few minutes.

Within the next few minutes, the nurse comes back out and calls me into Room 1. Our cat was all alone in the room, on the floor and sniffing the door in front of me. A bowl of water was on the ground and a little box was beside his cage unsoiled. As soon as I closed the door and he saw me, he automatically came to me meowing. I put him on the table as soon as the Vet in and he introduced himself. He told me that our cat was bitten by a snake. I was flabbergasted. What? "That's impossible," I told him. "He's an indoor cat. I'd know if there was snake in the house." He seemed confused. "Oh. You see here?" He showed me our cat's face. "I feel he has partial facial paralysis. That's most commonly consistent with a snake bite." I told him he was an indoor cat and then he went on to say that brain tumours could also be one too and that quality of life would be horrible for him (especially since he's a senior cat) and that an option would be to put him down. I automatically said no. "We don't know for sure whether or not it's a brain tumour. We're going to do whatever we can to confirm this tumour first." He told me that our cat didn't have a gag reflex which is why he wasn't eating (he put his finger down his throat and he didn't flinch or gag once). He told me that his tongue was sticking out and he wasn't blinking either (he pressed a reflex area near his eyes and he wasn't blinking. I told him that he was sleeping just before he came here and his eyes were closed. Unfortunately Shiva wasn't blinking in front of him and my guess is because he's in a new area and he was very alert with this stranger in front of him. I had my arm around Shiva and for the first time he was actually very calm and purring on the table. I held him with one arm under his head and the other patting his head. I couldn't believe how calm he was. Such a good boy.

The Vet mentioned about CT scans to confirm if there was a tumour and I called my sister so she could speak to the Vet too. After he hung up, I told him that since he felt it was a brain issue, maybe an infection could cause it too. He agreed with me. Then I told him about the bad ear infection he got after his ear surgery. I told him he started developing the balance issues when the ear infection happened and that maybe his ears are the ones causing this whole trouble. Then asked me whether or not he's had fluid in there before and I mentioned that a couple of weeks back, my sister took him to get all this fluid out of his ear. He agreed with me that it could be the ears, but he was also quite adamant that it might be a brain tumour as well. He left for a while to get the paperwork sorted and I put Shiva on the ground. He walked around for a bit and I sat on the chair and he came to me. He put a paw on my leg signalling he wanted to sit on me, so I carried him and laid him on my laps. Feeling secure and safe, he started purring and fell asleep. His eyes were closed (this signified for me that it wasn't a brain tumour for that reason).


The Vet came back with the paperwork and checked his ears and eyes. He wasn't going blind luckily, and he told me after what I said, they'll thoroughly check his ears while doing the CT scan. They were going to put the feeding tube in that day. He told me that Shiva was otherwise healthy and stable (his kidneys are stable) and that it was just this small issue that needed to be fixed. I signed the paperwork and gave him Shiva. He looked so comfortable in his arms. "He'll be getting lots of cuddles and pets, don't you worry about that." Such a cutie.

The next day, the CT scan came back normal. No tumours! We knew it. But they did check his ears and found there was a LOT of fluid build up and they drained it out. Then they found abnormalities in the fluid and sent it off to pathology. At the moment, we don't have the results yet. I'll update it when we do though.

Now after many tests, which included a biopsy on his kidneys (as they showed white in the ultrasound) he's been okay. Everything they said he had, he didn't have. This was such a relief. With the support of family and the local Community group on Facebook (despite a couple of people who wanted attention for their own selfish reasons about this), this whole situation has been incredibly stressful for my family and I, especially Shiva. He has a feeding tube in now and hopefully this will enable him to finally get the nutrients he needs.

The tests that got it right however, are the beginning stages of kidney disease, Feline AIDS (which was never picked up by the local Vets), some dehydration, no lymphoma, no brain tumour and no Bronchitis.

He has been through so much and he is on the road to recovery with the most loving family ever. We have all banded together to do everything and anything for him. He has us all wrapped around his little tail (well...long tail).

Lort Smith is helping out our cat so much. They found more wrong with his condition than the previous place. The other Vets never listened to our concerns and they didn't dig deeper when he was getting worse. They never told us that he had Feline AIDS and it was apparently so bad that it's weakened his kidneys and caused him gingivitis (but his gingivitis isn't as bad as they said it was luckily).
The fact they never picked this up and helped him makes me so mad. My poor baby is suffering because of the way they dealt with everything! They put him into this situation, into this suffering.

I am so thankful for Lort Smith, but extremely angry at the previous place. Our family cat is suffering because of them and I don't want anyone else's loved ones to end up the same.
The staff at the Lort Smith have been so amazing. They're informative, they have a staff member who is learning human nursing sit with him all the time (only on the one day as she was there), and she even cooked him up some chicken and bought him tuna to try and eat. That is love and care! Not putting an Elizabethan Collar on him while his ears are still bleeding. They would never do that.

Shiva is a fighter, he is still well on the road to recovery at the moment and the amount of stress and tears we're all going through, what HE'S going through is nothing short of him being the bravest boy I know. 💗

I hope this post makes people question their Vets and asks them questions. DON'T believe everything they say! If your gut instinct tells you to get a second opinion, GO FOR IT. If people don't listen to you to get a second opinion, force it on them! Don't wait until the last minute when something even worse happens and it's too late. Don't let one place treat your furry loved ones.

UPDATE: Unfortunately Shiva passed away on the 1st of April, 2017 in his sleep. We still have no idea what was wrong with him. We ended up taking him out of Lort Smith (as they basically gave up on him) and took him to the Werribee Animal Hospital by Melbourne University. He was meant to go for an MRI and spinal tap pathology test, but unfortunately they told us he was too weak to go for it and they were afraid he'd die on the table. We brought him home the next day and he last for just over a week before he passed away in his sleep. I took him outside three days before he passed away for the first time in a long time (and his final time) which he absolutely loved. I miss him so much as does my family. We can't imagine our household without him, but I truly hope he's at peace.
I never got to see him the day before he passed (my sister had come home early and took him back, even though I left Uni early to spend time with him)....but he came into my dreams the morning of his passing. I didn't know at the time he had died, and he circled me and rubbed against me, thanking me, telling me how much he loves me and just how happy he was to have been a part of our lives. I know he's at peace now, but his loss is still very hard.
That last photo was taken on the 18th of March, 2017. Looking so much better!
Always question your vets, never take their word as gospel truth. Unfortunately our local vets never said cats needed an annual FIV vaccine. They do! Don't forget that. While cats can live happy lives with the AIDS (but still need careful observation as their immune system will be degraded), make sure you follow your instincts when you know something is wrong. Make sure you question them and make sure you don't let selfish individuals make you feel wrong.

Lort Smith has saved his life. Always go to this amazing place to bring your furry loved ones. You won't regret it. Trust me. They saved his life and the family and I couldn't be more happier! He is the most well-loved in our household and having him in our lives still for longer wouldn't be possible without them. 😍