Wednesday, January 16, 2008

update from the State of Exhaustion


he has been through hell and he's not done yet. they still cannot tell me why he's sick and at this point i kind of don't care. i just want him to get better. what i know is that at some point, for some unknown reason, he stopped eating. this has caused his body to begin to shut down, and take body fat to sustain itself. the liver processes this fat, and cannot do it for long before it becomes angry. this is commonly known as "fatty liver disease" and don't ask me the scientific term. the problem is that now duncan has no appetite. the only way he will get nutrition (and therefore, live) is if i feed him.

this is how his life looked at the time of my last post:

he had a feeding tube in his nose and had to wear this unfortunate collar so he didn't pull out the feeding tube. he was miserable, but at least getting some nutrition. the scary bit was, i had to slowly build up his calorie intake, because his intake had been exactly zero, and to all of a sudden give him a ton of calories would have sent him into insulin shock.

i took him in to the ER on saturday night. i had given him his pain meds (orally) and his breathing became shallow and fast and i thought he looked pretty miserable. i called and they suggested bringing him in. i took him in and he was running a fever. they were wanting me to leave him overnight, but money is just not allowing for that. the vet (a very nice guy) was doing his best to convince me, but also to stay within his range of what he's allowed to say. over the course of our conversation and exam, duncan's fever went down and breathing returned to normal. i could tell then that the vet was comfortable letting me take duncan home.

again on monday night, his breathing became very fast and he looked even worse. i called again, and brought him in again, with the company of my dear friend liz. same vet (still a nice guy). i took him back in. when i put duncan in his kennel to go, he was just limp and so miserable. the vet took a look and said that duncan's breathing had stabilized and he thought it would be okay to take him home - and i had hit a point that i thought i was doing him more harm than good. to me, he had gotten worse, not better. i couldn't help him. i couldn't afford to leave him in the hospital for days on end. he was miserable and i decided (with many tears and much discussion) that it was time for him to go. i just couldn't put him through this anymore.

i signed the papers (the worst signature ever, so far in my life). the vet went to get duncan. he brought duncan to me, now without his feeding tube and collar. he left duncan with me and said take as much time as i need and let him know when i was ready. i looked down at my cat ... he was like a new cat! his eyes were bright! he was looking around the room! he jumped down off the table! sniffing around! i said to liz "if i do this now i'll regret it. he's better now than 3 days ago!"

liz went to get the vet and we discussed some more. they gave duncan some fliuds under the skin to get him through the night. i made an appointment to see the regular vet the next day. she and i then discussed options. now duncan has a feeding tube that goes in the side of his belly and directly to the stomach. he even has a cute t-shirt to wear (haha!) over the tube site so he doesn't bother it.

it is very slow going. we are now 8 days into this new tube. i still cannot get his full calories into him. he vomits usually once a day. the vet assures me i am doing everything right. i was afraid i was feeding too fast. he is on 3 different medicines to help him not be nauseous and/or vomit. he is also on antibiotics (just in case) and i have pain meds i can give if i think he's in pain. his nose is snuffly (partly because of the irritation from the other tube). his eyes are a bit runny. the poor thing is almost more bald than he has hair - he has shaved spots on 3 of 4 legs (from IV's), his whole stomach (from getting an ultrasound of his abdomen), and now his side (for the feeding tube).

we are hanging in there. it is disheartening when he throws up. it's never fun to see/hear a cat throw up, but i feel pressure to not let him get sick, because if i can't keep food in him, he'll get sicker. i keep giving him his medicines and doing the best i can at feeding him. oh yeah, we are on a different food now, hoping it will agree with his poor stomach a little better.

i wish i had the money to just let the vets handle it. let him be on an IV 24 hours a day and get all the nutrition and liquids and medicines he needs. but i can't. there is just no way to do it. i mean, that would mean potentially 8-9-10 days or more in the hospital. and i can't even think how expensive that would be.

so big sister madison is helping me blog tonight. she has become very needy and clingy. i know she is scared, too, though mostly she hisses at duncan. i think it's the little blue shirt and he probably smells funny (to her). but otherwise she is still fine. eating and all.

that's life here in cold st. paul. pretty much that and work for me. and trying to get some sleep and trying not to under-nutrify myself. that's how stressed i am!! i am usually a stress-eater, but right now i really do have to make myself eat. that has never happened in my entire life. (although i'm maintaining caffeine levels in the body as i've become dependent on!) i'm not even knitting, you guys. i mean THAT'S serious stress.

though i did finally get a haircut tonight! i had to, it had been WAY too long. i mean over 2 months. that's crazy talk.
so that's the update. THANKS, you guys, for your good thoughts. i can only hope all of this is worth it. my little duncan.


tangerine23 said...

It is so hard to go through this with our pets! You're doing all the right things.) (Plus your hair looks fabulous.) Vet science is sometimes more art than science. Don't give up yet. Duncan will let you know when he needs to go.

For a mental knitting break, please visit http://blog/

Tanya said...

I only just saw this post and I hope that things are continuing to go well. I wanted you to know that my sister-in-law's cat suffered from the fatty liver disease and made a full recovering. We (my kitties and I) will be thinking of you and Duncan.