Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Weekend Miracle

Warning: A long post follows!

If you follow me on Instagram (storke103), you probably already know these last few days have been a complete rollercoaster.

Most of you have 'met' my adorable kitty, Eddie, in previous posts. He's my little darling and I absolutely love him to pieces. We've been best buddies for 10 years now. Eddie was a stray kitten that kept coming around my parents' house so I ended up adopting him. In a way it's kind of like he found me - there was an instant attachment and since the beginning he's been my baby. And he's been with me since I lived at home to when I moved to my first grown-up apartment to where I live now. 

 
Besties, always and forever

 
Eddie throughout the years

Even though it's been 10 years, it doesn't seem like it's been that long because Eddie still acts like the kitten he was when I first adopted him. He still small, does daily sprints around my apartment, loves to play fetch with his favorite toys and purrs like crazy when I give him a good belly rub. He's always there to greet me when I get home from work or the gym and I look forward to coming home to the little guy. 

Eddie's happy dance when Mom comes home

Last Thursday, I took Eddie to the vet for an annual checkup and to get treatment for some recent over-grooming of the belly area. The appointment went really well - the vet said Eddie is in excellent health and prescribed some medication for the belly licking. It was super routine. Eddie had even been on the medication once before in his life for the same issue. So we went home and I gave him his first dose. 

It was life as usual until Saturday morning. I woke up and immediately noticed Eddie's breathing was shallow and rapid. I called the vet and she said it might just be a benign side effect to the medication but I could bring him in for peace of mind. So I did. When we got to the office, the vet was immediately concerned and said his breathing was definitely not normal and whisked him away to take a few x-rays. When she came back she showed me the results - Eddie had a lot of fluid build up in his lungs and needed further medical care than the office could provide. She said he needed to go to the hospital and recommended Lakeshore Veterinary Specialists. They provide 24-7 care and have many specialists that can address critical medical issues. 

At that point I still thought it was something that could be easily addressed and that Eddie and I would go back home that afternoon. I was in for a rude awakening when I got to the hospital. They took Eddie back immediately and had me wait in a room to speak to a critical care doc. When the doc came in, he was very serious and said Eddie was in an oxygen chamber and they were still trying to stabilize him. Then he mentioned ... congestive heart failure. 

I nearly had a heart attack. Eddie had just been to the vet a few days ago and was given a clean bill of health. I couldn't understand how his health had deteriorated so quickly. The vet said they were still evaluating but it seemed like the likely cause for the lung and breathing issues. He also said Eddie's heart was enlarged - a sign of heart disease. It was clear they were doing what they could to stabilize Eddie but they might not be able to in time. The vet also said if it is indeed congestive heart failure Eddie would need to be on meds the rest of his life - and that his life expectancy would be a year at most. 

I was crying away by that point and could barely sign the papers for the recommended treatment plan. For the rest of the day, I continued to get updates on Eddie's status - the same - and went back to visit him a few times. Each time I saw him was so hard - he was in the oxygen chamber but still couldn't breathe. My heart was breaking for him - no one likes to see their baby in pain. 

Before leaving to go home in the evening, the critical care doc told me another vet was on the way to administer an echocardiogram to get more information about Eddie's heart and lungs. He said once they had those results they would be better equipped to move forward with a diagnosis and treatment. So there was nothing left to do but wait.

Around 9:30pm, the vet that did the echocardiogram called. I braced myself for the worst but ... she had good news! She said based on Eddie's health history, his recent physical exam, and the echocardiogram results, she believed he had a rare reaction to the medication he was prescribed for his belly licking. She explained in some cats that type of medication can cause a rapid fluid buildup in the lungs causing congestive heart failure symptoms. What's more, this reaction can happen even if the cat has taken the medication before with no reaction. She said he was on a diuretic and believed his symptoms would ease through the night after going to the bathroom a few more times to get rid of excess fluid.

Relief. Total relief. I was still worried since I knew his breathing wasn't better yet but the vet was hopeful and said she felt positive about the situation. 

The next morning, I got a call at 7:30am. The vet that cared for him through the night had more good news. Eddie was out of the oxygen chamber, breathing normally on his own and had even started eating again! The vet said she expected he would be ready to go home that afternoon as long as he continued to remain stable with no fluid buildup. 

I visited him in the morning and was finally able to pick him up late afternoon to take him home. He was pretty skittish that evening - I think the medications were still wearing off - and he couldn't relax or sit still. But by morning he was curled up and asleep on my bed. 

At home, at last!

These next few days I'm monitoring and logging Eddie's breathing every few hours and he has a follow-up appointment on Friday to review the log and also to get another echocardiogram to make sure there is no long-term heart damage. 

For now, things are looking good and I'm so grateful my baby's life was spared. I consider it a complete miracle. Eddie's breathing has been normal so far and he has been all purrs. He even started to play a bit this morning and bit my hand! I'm still afraid to leave him alone for very long but I know as the days go by he is getting stronger again. And will hopefully be at 100 percent again soon!

Eddie spent last night curled up in my arms

Tell me: How was your weekend and have you ever experienced a pet emergency?

- ST

8 comments:

  1. Wow. You had a whirlwind of a week! I'm so glad you two are reunited and I hope his check-up goes well on Friday. That's so scary when there's an emergency with one of your pets! When one of my dogs was a year old, he broke out in hives and started vomiting one evening, so we had to rush him to the emergency vet, the vet thought it was probably due to a bee sting even though he never found a stinger because we mentioned we saw one around him at about the time it happened. Luckily, he was just fine once they have him a shot, but stuff like that is scary and it's always heart-wrenching to see them in pain. I hope you both have a better week! :)

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    1. Thanks Hailey :) I'm glad your dog is okay, too. I agree - nothing worse than seeing them in pain. It's such a helpless feeling!

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    1. Thanks Jenny! He seems to be recovering well and will hopefully be back to 100 percent soon!

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  3. Thanks for making me tear up at work this morning! It is great to hear that everything worked out for you and Eddie. I can totally understand how you feel. I have 4 cats and a dog. I had a dog prior to my current one who had congestive heart issues and it was such a hard sad day when I had to make the decision to have her put down. She was in really bad shape. My vet was kind enough to come out to the house so that Bear could be in her home surrounded by family.

    I also have a cat Chamiko that is a belly licker. His belly is clear of hair. I don't have him on any meds for it. We did try various things but just decided to let him have his shaved belly like he wants it.

    Another of my cats "Milo" has hip issues where the ball of his back hips deteriorated when he was young. He had to have an operation to basically remove some stuff from his hip joint. He had to stay in a cage for many months while he recovered. I had to nurse him back to health. Now he is still full of energy and can even jump up on stuff. Not as high as he used to be able to but I compensate by putting stuff he can climb onto in areas he needs them.

    I am sure you and Eddie will have many more years of happiness together. :) Glad he is doing well again.

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    1. Thanks Bob! I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. That must have been the hardest decision. It's so wonderful your vet was able to come to your house so Bear could be among her family during the final moments.

      Pets are so special - every moment with them is a gift!

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  4. yikes! that's super scary and i'm so glad that eddie's ok! <3

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    1. Thanks Nikki! He had a follow-up appointment over the weekend and the vet said he is looking good :)

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