Monday, July 07, 2008

An Unhappy Holiday Weekend

So the actual 4th of July was fine. I worked all day (time and a half, so no biggie), came home to yummy chicken kabobs, and watched a movie. No, it started Saturday afternoon, and it hasn't stopped.

I got the call that anyone who's ever been owned by a cat fears: "There's something wrong with Hannah."

This is Hannah:

My roommate had rushed her to the Emergency Animal Clinic down the street after Hannah walked into the kitchen, flopped down panting, and mewled in a way she never wants to hear again. The vet was with her, but she didn't know anything else. Being at work when I got the call, I naturally rushed off the sales floor and started to cry

The second call came maybe fifteen minutes later. Hannah had a hernia in her lower abdomen, which was smooshing her kidneys, liver and intestines up into her chest, thereby compressing her lungs and heart. She was using about 20% of one lung. The injury, the vet said, was consistent with animals hit by cars, but Hannah's an indoor cat. The only explanation was that she had jumped from a great height and lost her balance. She needed major surgery to repair the damage done and put her organs back into place.

Then the really bad news fell: it would cost between five and eight thousand dollars, and her chances of survival were 50/50. One thought ran through my mind and fled from my mouth: "We can't afford that." Without it, though, she was going to die. Good thing I was in the back office, because I lost it. Completely. I was convinced I'd just lost my baby.

Once I got to the ER, I was able to talk to the vet. They had credit plans. We were shown her X-rays (which were scary). With moving in August, the added expense was daunting. It made me hate rich people, who never had to let a pet's life come down to money. But in the end, we had to give that little girl a chance. We applied and were approved for the credit, so we agreed on the surgery. We saw her for a few minutes, and then went home to wait.

The surgeon called us around 8:30pm and told us she was going in. Called back a little after 11pm when they were done. Seems Hannah had two hernias. One was older, maybe from an injury as a kitten (she's six now). The new one was what was causing her problems. They fixed a broken blood vessel in her spleen, put her organs back in the proper places. Turned out she hadn't been using her left lung at all, so it was miniscule and they worried about profusion injuries as it re-expanded. But she survived surgery, which was a major hurdle. The surgeon was very friendly, answered every question in great detail, and even said we could feel free to call the clinic for updates at any hour (they're open 24 hours a day).

Which roommate did at 4 am. We visited her around 9:30 Sunday morning. She was awake, but not moving (and very, very stoned on pain meds). By mid-afternoon, they had weaned her down to about fifty percent of her blood pressure medication. She was still on potassium and fluids to get her electrolytes back to normal. She was raising her head.

We saw her again this afternoon around lunchtime. Not good news. While they had successfully removed her chest tube, she was back on her BP meds. Her calcium was low. She'd had another transfusion to keep her red blood cells up. She was oozing from the incision site. She had developed a jerky twitch, which the vet said could have been the result of a mini-stroke (though she had no other symptoms of one). Her potassium still wasn't up. She wasn't where she should have been. We agreed to an EKG of her heart, to check for problems there. Specifically undiagnosed cardio-myopathy--a complication she did not need.

Needless to say, it was a long afternoon spent crying and wandering aimlessly. We called for an update at 6pm. Her heart was fine (yay!). Her potassium and electrolytes were finally normal (yay!). Dr. Barnes had asked a neurologist to stop by for an unofficial consult, but that doc didn't think the jerking was indicative of a stroke. It could have been her way of dealing with the pain, or reaction to the noisy, unfamiliar environment (another yay!). Dr. Barnes had a plan for adjusting her pain management meds, and was also going to try another combination of blood pressure meds, to see if her BP would stabilize.

Unless there's a problem overnight, we were told to call again between 6-7 am for another update. So here's hoping the phone stays quiet, and there's more yay-ness in the morning.

She's a stubborn kitty. I have to believe she'll pull through this.

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