We can rebuild him...we have the technology

(migrated from my Tripod blog on 11/05/2011)

We had a Hell of a scare on Friday.

My 13-year old cat, Ethin, was lethargic.  Now, Ethin isn't the most active cat to begin with (I swear, your average sloth is more mobile), but something was different with the way he was just lazing around.  He seemed off.

Then I noticed that he wasn't eating.

If you've ever met Ethin, you'll know this is very unlike him.  He will eat anything that even looks remotely edible (including, at one point, the quarter-round near his food dish) and come back for more.

I tried throughout the day to get him to eat, but he wouldn't eat much more than a few nibbles of dry food.  We gave him his insulin at his regular time, and checked him a few hours later.  His blood sugar was still pretty high, but not horribly so.

I told myself I'd get him to the vet first thing in the morning.

That changed pretty fast.

About an hour after taking his Insulin, Ethin started gagging.  He projectile vomited (probably a good three feet!) all over the living room carpet, then collapsed.  I rushed to pick him up, and the smell hit me... his vomit literally smelled like shit!

Now, it doesn't take a genius to know this is not a good sign, so I grabbed the phone book to find a vet (other than Pembina Animal Hospital) that was open at this hour (9pm).

I noticed Southglen Animal Hospital was open until midnight, and that they have NO emergency fee!
I called them up, they said they could squeeze Ethin in, so Jill and I fought to get Ethin into his carrier, then made the trip across town.

It was a good thing we went when we did.

The vet examined Ethin, and found that his blood sugar was pretty high.  She recommended doing bloodwork on him, and we agreed.  One Tim Hortons run later, we returned.  The vet told us that his blood sugars were high, his ketones were through the roof, and his potassium levels were rock bottom.  He was fighting off a severe infection (Ketonic Acetosis), and he'd need to be kept overnight and put on an IV to get his levels back to normal.

The vet called Saturday morning to say he was improving a bit, but his blood sugar was still really high, and he was still expelling ketones.  They wanted to keep him another day to monitor him.  We agreed.
Sunday morning, the vet called again, saying while he was doing much better, Ethin still wasn't quite ready to leave.  We were invited to come visit him, and we jumped at the chance.

Ethin was very happy to see us, and seemed as though he really wanted to get out of there.
We spoke to the vet, and he detailed everything they'd done, and what they were watching.  Ethin hadn't been expelling ketones in his urine since Saturday night, but they wanted to keep him one more night just to make sure his sugars were at an acceptable level.

We agreed, and he gave us a cost estimate.  It was very reasonable given the nature of his illness and the quality of care Ethin received.

Monday evening, after spending the day playing phone tag with the vet and my bank, Ethin was home and happy... much to the delight of the other felines in our house, who missed him terribly.  Ditto his adoptive parents.

Ethin is largely back to his old self.

Jillian and I would like to thank Drs. Sra, Bhandari, and Tait of Southglen Animal Hospital for the excellent care they gave Ethin, and for their positive, professional attitudes throughout.

We'd also like to thank our family and friends for their love, support (emotional and financial), and prayers during Ethin's ordeal.  Thank you.

Ethin's nickname has been "The Six-Million Dollar Cat" for a number of years.

He's a survivor.  Despite his docile, lethargic, and sweet personality, he's very tough.  In his thirteen years, he's suffered urinary tract infections,  kidney and liver problems, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (enlarging of the heart), chronic clinical constipation, rapid changes in weight (from 26 lbs to 9lbs, now stable at 13lbs), and, in the last few years, diabetes.

He's been written off by others, given slim chance after slim chance by previous veterinarians, but he always seems to pull through.

It hasn't always been easy, and has left me in debt on occasion (another reason I call him "Six-Million Dollar Cat"!), but as far as I'm concerned, he's worth it.  If there's even a slim hope of survival, Ethin (and our other cats) will get the best care he can get.


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