Welcome to Glenn's Blog!

Here I will periodically post random thoughts and stories about what's going on in my life and the world around me. As if anyone cared. But seriously, you've found your way here, so hopefully you will enjoy at least some of what I have to say, even if you aren't entirely interested in it. At the least, it should be a good way to waste time.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kitty Trouble

Well yesterday was an emotionally draining day. One of our kitties, little Mickey, had been having some wheezing coughing the last few days, as well as labored breathing. We thought he had ingested something that was making him sick. If only we could have been so lucky. The night before last we noted that he didn't quite have the appetite or energy he normally had. So Tuesday morning I decided to take him into our vet and get him looked over.

They were immediately concerned by his breathing, although he really didn't appear to be in any distress if you just looked at him. Blood work seemed fine, but the X-rays were quite alarming. Mickey had fluid surrounding his lungs. The most common causes for this are all pretty bleak in their prognosis for his long term survival.

We were referred to the VCA hospital, which is essentially a 24-hour emergency hospital for animals. Its lobby even resembles a regular hospital waiting room, although somehow bleaker and less sterile looking. It's not a fun place to hang out, since it's not the kind of vet you take your pet to for a regular checkup. People in the lobby are invariably withdrawn into their own thoughts as they await what will likely be unpleasant news.

I spent a total of six hours there, while Mickey was somewhere in the bowels of the building being examined and treated. First on the agenda was to sedate him and drain as much fluid as possible from around his lungs. They had to consult with me first, since everything they do there is a pretty expensive endeavor. But you have to do what you have to do. And you have to treat the immediate symptoms before you can get to the underlying cause.

Apparently the type of fluid they drain can determine the likely prognosis all by itself. Milky fluid means one thing. Pussy fluid means an infection. And so forth. His fluid was clear, which usually means one thing: congestive heart failure. So the next step was to see a cardiologist, a specialist who doesn't come in large quantities apparently. Fortunately, this was Tuesday, and Tuesday is a day the VCA does have a cardiologist on site.

So I sat and waited for him to have an opening between appointments so he could do an ultrasound on Mickey's heart. If you think that sounds expensive, well, it is. The bottom line was - and here my memory of details is a bit sketchy due to grief and shock - he had clear indicators of heart failure in one of his chambers, which was enlarged and tending to flutter as opposed to pumping normally. Mickey's heart isn't pumping enough blood to support his body.

I don't really need to go into much more detail here. I was setup with several medications in the form of pills which have to be administered orally at different intervals throughout the day. He is home now and doing okay; the first night he didn't seem like himself at all, and simply sat hovering over his water dish and growling at his sister whenever she came near. Completely uncharacteristic behavior for him. Today he is a little better, though he prefers to sit by himself under the bed away from everyone. He came out a couple of times to eat, and even came downstairs once. So I guess that's an improvement. He still loves to be petted and immediately begins purring and brushing up against your hand, and even rolls over to let you rub his belly. So today is a better day.

Apparently this is not the sort of disease where you can get a very exact prognosis. No one can say how long he will have, only that this is a disease that will ultimately be the cause of his early demise. They said that with meds they hope he can go another year in relative comfort and mostly normal life. But the reality is, he may have a few weeks or a few years, no one really knows. My last cat had to be euthanized, because she was clearly suffering from a sudden onset of renal failure. It was better to see her go peacefully than to watch her struggle just to stay (barely) alive. I might have to make that same decision for Mickey someday soon.

Yes, yesterday was a sad day.

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