01 March, 2015

carrying the ghost

I note that my last post concerned Idris and the Detritus Balls. He recovered nicely, two nights in the hospital later, with no surgery.

Then, last Saturday, it happened again. The detritus balls seemed small this time. And as per usual, he tossed 'em and began galloping around, acting like he was just fine, thanks. We dutifully stuffed some Pepcid down his gullet, to deal with the nausea. He kept it down. We figured he'd be okay, since he was only showing signs of nausea, rather than turning into Sad Cat Loaf. He didn't eat dinner, but no shock there. Drank a lot of water, which is how we know our cats don't feel well; unless they puke, they don't drink from the dish. So that seemed fine.

Only this time, when we woke up on Sunday, he was way, way worse. I wanted to say--oh, it's electrolytes, he's weak. But no. He was panting, in obvious distress, trying to get as close to us as he could. This is a cat who does not whine or complain; but he looked up and made Distressed Kitten sound at me. So I knew, this was bad. Whatever it was, on this Sunday morning, when our regular vet is closed and the internet is no help at all.

And then he went into shock. Stretched out on his side, belly distended, and gasped. His feet were cold. And his muscles twitched, like he had a palsy. Spasms. A body full of charlie horses.

I scooped him into a towel, Nous grabbed the keys. I thought he'd die in my arms on the way to the emergency vet. I thought he'd die there. His kidneys, they said, were basically in shutdown. His belly was full of liquid and air. His guts were not moving at all. There was clearly Something in there, the x-rays were clear about that, but they couldn't do anything until his kidneys stabilized or he'd die on the table. They reckoned to keep him overnight, on fluids, drain his belly, see if they could transfer him to our regular vet in the morning (the e-vet and the regular vet are literally across the parking lot from each other).

So we left him there, and I came home and gathered up his toys and stacked them on the cat tree. We made much of Louhi, who was cheerful (there is no romance with that cat. No sentiment). And we prepared, because...well. Not a lot of romance here, either. Wishing something will not happen does not prevent its occurrence.

At 11:45, the vet called. His kidneys were better. They knew exactly where the blockage was. The vet said he would probably be stable for another 12 hours, if we wanted to wait; but if it were his cat, he'd operate. Do it, we said. But don't call back at 3 AM with the report. We'll call in the morning. We have to teach, no sick days, we have to be functional.

At 6 AM, I called. He lived through the surgery. The culprit appeared to be a chunk of 'something rubbery.' Oh yes. The piece of his puppy toy he chewed through a couple weeks ago, which we had hoped he had not swallowed, or if he had, that it had been in small slivers when it went down. Nope. They wanted to keep him for a few days, see if they could get the kidneys back to normal function, or if there'd been damage. And they wanted to keep him on IV for a while, to see if the guts would restart.

He did not do well as a patient. Nous reckons he'd been so out of it when we left he didn't remember it. So he wakes up in a strange place, with strange people, and dogs, and his guts all stitched up. He's a sweet cat. But there? There, he alligator rolled and swatted and bit and fought like a cornered panther. They kept him tripping most of the time, just to handle him. Then the vet said we could come, and we did. They brought in this growling bundle of rage, wrapped in a freakin' rug, rather than a mere blanket. When we said his name, his head snapped up. He became a different cat, our cat. Purring, staggering all over himself. The techs came in, pilled him. He purred at them. The vet came in. Stared. Examined him, first time she could, hands all over him. He purred.

I think she'd been concerned that we wouldn't be able to handle him at home. I think she thought he was a devil cat and we were the kind of people who would have a devil cat, either inexperienced or neglectful or something. I felt judged, anyway, until she saw him with us. Then I felt un-judged.

We took him home Wednesday. Had to. The credit card had taken all the damage it could. E-vets are not cheap on a good day, and this place is 24/7, state of the art. So home he came, firmly e-collared, shaved, stitched, with a pharmacy's worth of pills.

He's figured out the whole pill pocket thing. They're fine treats. But the pills have to go down with the pill-shooter, and Nous has to do it (I am better at holding him, prying his mouth open; smaller fingers). The pain meds make him loopy, but they also make him hungry. The guts are working again, more or less. The first 12 hours they worked, but not controllably, so things got messy. I said words I never predicted: Oh, it's just poop.

I have shared my pillow with an e-collar and the cat head inside it for a few days now. We have played milk ring, best he can. He has to reach waaay past the collar, grab the toy, hold it, and back his head up until he can scoop it up. But then he brings it to me, purring. Play, mama.

He's going to be fine. We're out of the proverbial woods. Our vet saw him yesterday, running more bloodwork (oh, those kidneys). Afterwards, Idris was so worked up he popped the knot off his stitches. But that's okay, the tech said; the skin's mended now. He's six days past surgery. He won't drop his guts out or anything.

So he's okay, on his way to fine (barring any stupidity about the kidney damage, and you know what? I can handle that.)

And I am more depressed now than I was on Monday. Riddle me that. Well, no need for riddles. I get it. It was a close thing. And I am not ready to lose a 17 month old cat, not the one who brought Kitten back into the house after Pooka died, and Louhi was so sad she could barely eat.

Idris is carrying more than himself. He's carrying Pooka's ghost, too. Easy task, plenty of room, no trouble, because Idris himself is so big.

I know--when you take an animal into your life, that it's temporary. You know that an adopted cat, from a rough start, may have issues, health problems, gods know what. It's a chance you take. And you know, even if the health gods are kind, they're going to die. But when they're old. When they're 16 and 17, after diseases and disorders that signaled, loud and clear, The End Is Extremely Fucking Nigh. You have time to prepare, when that happens. Time to think of a time Without That Personality. The dying still hurts, the grieving still happens (I still mourn my first dog, who died 21 years ago), but you're...ready, I guess. You see the monster coming. It doesn't jump out of the dark.

I guess I'm bruised. A little sore. A little suspicious that another monster's going to jump if I'm not vigilant, snapping my head up at every strange noise, every unexpected movement. If I'm not ready to fight, tooth and claw, when it comes.

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