I got ahold of roho and enveri online and made arrangements to meet them in Vernon Hills for lunch at BD's, my first meal of the new year at my favorite restaurant. The plan afterwards was to head to Schaumburg to claim my cat and pay his bills before driving back to Z'ha'dum to pamper and love on him.
I arrived at BD's a few minutes after noon to find my party already seated and waiting for me. I ate two bowls of stir-fry and talked with a few of our favorite employees before we paid the tab and took the short drive down to the vet clinic.
When I got to the animal hospital I was actually shaking and had to take a moment to steady myself before ringing the bell for admittance (Sunday is emergency-only access at this hospital). After I was buzzed into the reception area I was left to wait for a few minutes (something that only served to increase my tension) and then was escorted into a consultation room. I was presented with the bill for services -- which tipped the scales at $928.75, a little more than half the cost he incurred during his stay from November of 2001. To say that it's worth every penny is an understatement. While I talked with the vet tech who escorted me in, another went into the back of the hospital with Ra's carrier to retrieve him. During the wait I went over the new medications Ra would be treated with and the recommended dosage plans and schedules for each of them. We'd only gotten partway through when Doctor Landoch showed up to talk with me. I shook that man's hand and thanked him profusely for everything he'd done to help my cat, then finished up the consultation over the medications. As of tonight I'm to return Ra to his regular dosage of Prednisone at 2.5mg once a day. He's being treated to prevent secondary infection with Amoxidrops (Amoxicillan in a bubble-gum flavored suspension, which he's had before and which I have not-so-fond memories of from childhood), which he receives 2cc's of twice a day. Along with that is Metronidazole, another systemic antibiotic that he receives 0.5cc of twice daily. To help with the inflammation of his digestive tract, prevent nausea and increase the contractions of Ra's stomach and intestines is Metoclopramide. Ra had Metoclopramide back in 2001 after the surgery and absolutely detested the stuff. He's getting that at a rate of 1cc three times daily, thirty minutes before food (so it has time to work on his digestive tract and get things moving).
Right as I got my credit card and receipts back we finished up with the discussion of medications and dosing. The doctor wants to see Ra on Wednesday again to run another blood workup to ensure that his ALT and GTP levels are continuing to drop. When the tech showed up with Ra in his carrier ... I think I can safely say that's when I started to fall completely apart. I gave him a few soft words of encouragement and looked in at him to find a much more bright-eyed and alert cat looking back at me. Unable to help myself I opened up the carrier and he practically bolted out and into my arms. Seeing his belly shaved from the Saturday ultrasound and the gauze taped to his right foreleg was something of a shock in spite of the reality that I knew those would be there. Having him cuddled in against me and purring, feeling his warmth and weight in my arms once again after 2 days of his absence and over a week of worry ... it was emotional overload for me and quickly cascaded into something that was more than I could handle. I started to cry. I'm sure that I made a pretty foolish sight to behold in the clinic, with my face buried in his neckruff and tears rolling down my cheeks... but I was so glad to have him back after the stress and worry that I couldn't help myself. I mumbled some more words of encouragement to him and told him how happy I was that he was coming home again before I put him back in his carrier and made my way out to the Expedition.
Forty-five minutes or so later I was pulling into the driveway and was both surprised and pleased to hear him maiowing in protest at his unjust incarceration. I brought him inside, put up his food bowl so he couldn't get at it, then let him loose. He sauntered around the house, sniffing and rubbing against all the furniture as if to say That's right, I'm back and walking tall. It was so perfectly Ra that I couldn't help but choke up again. Genet, Roho and I spent fifteen or twenty minutes watching him and encouraging him, then settled in on the couch to watch Starship Troopers on DVD while Ra opted to bask in a sunbeam. After the movie we were all quite hungry, but we couldn't leave just yet as he needed to be dosed up with antibiotics. This is when I found that he does indeed remember the Amoxidrops... and that the Metronidazole is about sixty-five times more foul than the Metoclopramide could ever hope to be. I mean, what you need to understand is that not only is the Metronidazole viscous and require vigorous shaking before administration, it comes in a "beef-flavored" suspension and causes Ra to drool like a rabid bulldog with gum disease almost immediately upon administration. It is quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever seen him do, and I had to spend a solid five minutes chasing him around the house before I could catch him and wipe the drool off his jaw, cheek and chest... then I had to go clean up all the spots around the house that he'd snotted up while I was persuing him.
We opted for dinner at Applebee's since I had a coupon. I've dined at my local Applebee's before and never had a problem but tonight the joint was in rare form. From the annoying music to the absent wait-staff to the cold food (and missing salt shakers) the restaurant pretty much hit zero for three. My food tasted mighty good, don't get me wrong, but the service was something akin to what you'd expect to receive at a ghetto Denny's. We smoked a few cigarettes, made some small talk and then went back to my house. Once we were home I filled up the third syringe of the night with the Metoclopramide and gave Ra his dosing, something that went reasonably well. I checked on Ra's bowl and found that he hadn't eaten on his own, so decided I'd have to follow Doctor Landoch's advice and force-feed him. Out came the 40cc syringe, into which I packed 30cc's of Eukanuba high-calorie wet cat food. That stuff smells like puree'd liver, and is about the same consistancy and color. Yum! Everything a growing body needs. Rather than stay to watch the side show that would undoubtedly unfold when I attempted to feed him, Roho and Genet said their good nights and left for home. A minute or so after they left, the half-hour waiting period was up and I gathered Ra into my arms to try my hand at force-feeding him.
The best way I can describe the events that transpired would be to ask if anybody remembers "Super Sloppy Double-Dare" from the 1980s. It was a lot like that. Which is to say things did not go as well as I might have hoped.
I can dose him with pills as easy as one-two-three, it's a skill you master after three years of day-in, day-out routine. I'm sure that by tomorrow afternoon I'll be just as proficient as I used to be at giving him his liquid medications as well. But force-feeding? This isn't something that either of us are going to adapt to any time soon. A 40cc syringe is immense and is nearly impossible to weild when you have a squirming, growling cat in your arms. I estimate that with this first feeding approximately 7 to 10cc's of the wet food ended up on the floor. Another 3 to 5cc's ended up on Ra's muzzle, cheeks and chest. I'm guessing that another 5 to 8cc's of the food ended up on my pants and shirt before we were concluded with the session. That leaves about 7cc's of food that (presumably) went down his gullet to his stomach. That's not even 25%. This is unacceptable, and I'm going to have to find a better way of doing this if I want him to receive nutrition and prevent fatty liver disease from setting in.
I'm strongly hoping that tomorrow and the days following go a bit better when it comes to getting him to eat. If he doesn't get sick of me ineptly trying to squirt semi-solid liver down his throat and start eating on his own I'm going to be in a world of hurt. Right now he's curled up in the den and is being markedly quiet, which isn't something I'm terribly happy to see. But after the incredibly difficult time he's had this last week, I am perhaps expecting him to bounce back a little too quickly. I might just need to readjust my expectations and give him some more time to heal and overcome this. Regardless, I will be spending every free moment that I am away from the office with him and doing everything I can to help bring him back to full health.
I've a long road to walk this coming week, but I'm going to give it my all. This cat means everything to me.
So take these broken wings and learn to fly again