Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First day home from the hospital

Hell Week, or, what happens when your beloved pet gets sick

I really have been intending to blog more lately but the last week has just been such pure hell I haven’t gotten around to it. So what happened was…

The weekend before last my cat (who shall from now on be known as CC for Cassandra’s Cat) starting acting weird. Listless, antisocial, hiding under the chair, not eating. At first I thought he was just in a bad mood but then he started throwing up. And then I figured he was trying to get rid of a hairball, but it just got worse and worse over the next few days.

Then on Tuesday night he started wailing at me ever time I walked past. It was a really weird upset sound like he only makes when he’s really in distress. So of course I started freaking out but the vet’s office was closed. I ended up staying up all night trying to see if I could make him feel better and worrying. First thing in the morning I called the vet and made an appointment, and by the time we got there CC was clearly fading fast. He could barely even stand up by that point, and he really didn’t like the vet, wouldn’t interact with her at all.

So then the vet takes a look, asks me how old he is, feels around for his internal organs, and tells me he has kidney failure and probably lymphoma throughout his intestines and we should talk about putting him to sleep. At which point of course I go “WHAT? But he was fine up until a few days ago.” So she says that we can put him on fluids and she can take X-Rays and see what happens. I very reluctantly leave CC in her care, because I do not like this woman at all. A couple of hours later I call her (note that she doesn’t bother to call me) and she says they did an X-Ray and he has a mass near his heart that she thinks is a tumor. Again she starts talking about putting him to sleep. But I press her and she says well actually the pet hospital could run some more tests and maybe we could get him chemo, though she’s still painting the direst picture possible. So I say “OK then let’s do that right away”.

So finally at about 5PM CC arrives at the proper pet hospital. At which we finally find a vet who actually seems to like cats. By this point CC is so miserable he’s hardly responding to anything and he has no strength at all. The nice vet admits him to the hospital to run more tests and is very understanding about how upset I am and promises to call me if anything changes, and with an update in the morning.

Well, after a mostly sleepless night I get a call and guess what? CC does not have a tumor, or any signs of cancer. What he has is a benign cyst (note – NOT a tumor), weakening kidneys (he’s 17) and anemia. So they treat the kidneys with a fluid drip and the anemia with an iron shot. Later that day I go to visit and he’s weak but moving around and wanting to explore. He also actually EATS when the nice vet tries to feed him – not much, but at least a bit. I leave scared and upset but a little more hopeful.

Next day nice vet calls me all happy to say that his blood count (anemia) is getting better and he’s drinking on his own and generally looking livelier. In fact he tried to bite the vet techs when they gave him a pill. She wants me to take him home and see how he does there, and she feels confident enough to release him since his kidney numbers are also improving.

Finally I get him home on Friday night and he’s SO HAPPY. Weak and a bit wobbly on his feet, but purring and happy to be home. All weekend I’ve been watching him and giving him his medicine and trying to coax him to eat. He’s still a bit weak, but he’s eating well and drinking on his own and the fluids I give him under the skin once a day are clearly helping. He’s still not a totally healthy kitty, but he’s doing better and he’s clearly happier.

The moral of this story is…don’t give up. If you love someone or something, be prepared to fight for them. Positive thinking is powerful.

And also, always ask for a second opinion, and trust your gut. If I’d listened to the first vet CC would now be dead, and he would have died lonely and scared in a strange place. I still don’t know for sure how much time he has left, but however long it is at least he’s comfortable and happy, and I’m appreciating every day I have with him.

Also I HATE the attitude American society has towards old people and old animals. As soon as vet # 1 heard how old CC is she wanted to put him to sleep, without even running any tests to see what was actually wrong with him. I really feel sorry for her elderly parents – I wouldn’t want someone with an attitude like that taking care of me when I’m old. What is wrong with this society that it doesn’t treasure its elderly? After a lifetime of caring for others we just want to throw them away?

I think I’m moving back to Europe when I get old.

Of course now I have to figure out how the hell I’m going to pay off the massive vet bill but you know what? Whatever it takes it’s worth it. There aren’t many living creatures in this life that any one of us truly love, it’s worth holding on to the few that you do.


Zan said...

How gorgeous is he? Very, that's how. I just want to give him hugs and kisses!

My China is getting old now. She's 12, which isn't ancient, but it means I have to start thinking about the day she'll leave me. I hope it's not for another five or six years, but you never know. And the thought of my baby dying in some cold doctor's office? It breaks my heart :( I almost had to put down one of my cats a few years ago. They thought he had Feline Lukemia. But, this vet was a very good one, so he decided to do ONE more test to check something that was a long shot . . . and it turned out that Spook had the cat equivalent of malaria, not FL. So, with some antibotics, he was fine and lived another five years. But I swear...the thought of having to put him to sleep just made me sob. And there was no way I was leaving him to die alone. I think the least we owe our pets, if we have to put them down, is to have them leave this world in our arms, warm and safe, knowing that they're loved.

Daisy said...

OHHHHHH what a good mommy you are!

My Grand Old Man did exactly the same, that weird WAILING, everything. :(

Your kitty is beautiful, and I will say feline novenas for him!!!

Dana said...

Oh, little man. I don't understand that vet diagnosing renal failure without bloods. WHAT?

Now you do see cats with advanced renal failure a LOT but even our vet who has got a bit burnt out and I feel gives pretty shit service would have been more gentle and willing to work with you than that!

Is he on medication for his kidneys? Is he underweight and did they test for hyperthyroid? Or did they proscribe renal food?

Cats with kidney issues can live a long time with proper diet/medication, and be happy and active though eventually generally they'll go into end stage pretty quickly.

Good on you for caring that much, and having the confidence to push that vet. Doesn't sound like she's quite cut out for what she does! Hope kitty's feeling good. *sends internet scritches*

Cassandra Says said...

Aw Daisy, I'm sorry to hear about your Grand Old Man.

And yeah, first vet was terrible, won't be seeing her again! I really think it was mostly a reaction to his being old. He's on the renal diet plus iron supplements and sub-q fluids and Pepcid now and doing much better.

Cassandra Says said...

Also Zan, I agree completely. No way I was letting him go scared in a place he hated.

Dana said...


We put down a cat the other day who was 23! And he was in damn good nick before he started seizuring that day.

So you could have a few more years in the old boy. :)