From String to Bottle caps

You never know how important a pet is until that pet may be taken away from you forever.

September and the early part of October were insane.

2 days after I returned from Atlanta, my husband flew to Hill AFB, Utah for a three week TDY.

A few days after he left, I fed Geordi and while I was washing dishes, I saw him throw up. I didn't really think much of it, Geordi is a larger cat and he sometimes eats too fast and then throws it back up. This is something he's done since I got him and he's always been fine afterwards. I leaned down and petted him and cleaned up the mess. Gave him some fresh water and went on my way.

Over the next couple days he became more and more lethargic and would vomit bile and then seem absolutely fine.

We tried fluids, we tried anti nausea. Nothing seemed to really work.

Saturday night he started hiding out in my closet. This isn't completely unusual as it's a large closet and it's his private chamber. No one really bothers him there, he has shelves and a dresser to climb on, clothes to hide under and an a/c vent. So I would go in every few hours and check on him. Sunday morning I could tell something was wrong. He was refusing water. He was lethargic and just not Geordi. He was shaking and limp.

I scooped him up and tossed him in his carrier while I got Sami dressed and somehow remembered to put pants on myself. I called our local Emergency Vet and explained what was going on and they gave me directions and told me they were standing by.

The Emergency Vet is about 30 minutes away depending on traffic. We made it there in less than 20.

I dragged the carrier in and the vet tech helped me get him out of the carrier and on to the scale. 20.5 pounds. So he hadn't lost much weight.

The vet came in and examined him. He had no fever, but was severely dehydrated. She said he would need further testing, blood work and some X-rays and at least 2-3 nights in the hospital. I signed the paperwork, paid and was sent home.

I had to get groceries, so Sami and I went to the commissary. Which when you're emotionally stressed, isn't the best place to be. I was lucky I escaped without murdering anyone.

My cell phone has no reception while I am in the commissary. When I got out to my car and the bagger was loading the groceries, I noticed I had 4 missed calls and 3 voice mails.

It was the vet. I called back immediately and didn't even check my messages.

She said that his blood work had come back perfect. His kidney functions were good. He had the blood work of a much thinner cat. Which is YAY! Because Geordi is a fatty.

But when she did an X-ray, she noticed that his intestines were bunched up. She examined him further and noticed a tiny string caught in the back of his mouth and that it looked as if it was what was causing his intestines to bunch up.

He would need extensive surgery to go in and remove the string and repair the intestines.

So I went down to pay and to sign the consent forms. They let me and Sami visit him and he already a had an IV in place to get fluids back in to him.

He's can pull off pink. For he is a rockstar.

I left him there and made it to the car before I started to cry. My friend, and Geordi's original owner, Brandon called to see what was going on and I barely made it through the phone call without sounding like a blubbering mess. (OK, maybe I didn't make it. But B is my best friend. He's used to my emotional rollercoaster)

Dr Vinson took him in to surgery as soon as I left and called me a few hours with the results.

He survived the surgery. She had removed over 2 feet of string that went from the back of his throat to his colon. It had caused damage in a couple spots in his intestines and a spot in his stomach. She had to make 7 or 8 incisions in his intestines to remove it and 1 in his stomach.

The most expensive and emotionally destructive piece of string ever.

He was stable after surgery, although his body temperature was low and they were struggling to get it up to normal range.

The next day, I was able to go visit him and see how he was doing. His front right paw had been shaved for the IV and his back left paw had been shaved for his Fetanyl patch, his stomach was shaved for the surgery so he was looking pretty haggard.

He was also stoned out of his gourd.

My little guy is snuggly!

But still very, very cold. Holding him close wrapped in his blanket helped a bit. After our visit his temperature had risen to just below normal.

And bald. Those are very bald fat rolls.

We went home and I would call every few hours to check on him and to see how he was doing. He still hadn't started to eat and they had put water bottles in his cage in order to keep him warm.

The next day, they called and asked me to bring in his favorite food as he was still not eating. I took cat food, tuna, chicken and even baby food to try and get some food in him and he refused it all. The vet suggested we put in an esophagostomy feeding tube. They would put him under, make a hole in the side of his neck and feed a tube in to his stomach. While scary, it would not only allow him to get the nutrients he needs and to prevent major liver issues, but he would also be able to go home.

I signed the consent and paid (again) and went home. The vet called me a few hours later and said that he had some issues waking up from the medication, but that he seemed to be doing well and would be able to go home the next evening.

The next day I picked him up and the vet tech showed me how to feed him. I would need to feed him via syringe every four hours including at night. He now had the side of his neck shaved.

I do not like the cone of shame.

I got to play Kitty Nurse!

Nate came home a few days later and soon got to learn the joys of holding a cat while injecting food into a tube. Geordi seemed to be doing pretty well for the first few days. He started to drool a lot. To the point we would have to take a towel and dry him off. He also had nasal drainage. So we called the vet and explained what was going on. They didn't see any major issues and said to keep an eye on it.

A few days later, we went out to dinner to get a break from stress we had both been under for a while.

We came home and I went upstairs to my bedroom to undress and Geordi had changed drastically. When he breathed, it made a strange popping sound. His breathing was labored and sounded as if he was in water.

The next day, the overnight vet had passed his case on to the daytime veterinarian. She called me to give an update later that morning. After consulting with another vet, and reviewing blood work and records, she felt confident to rule out heart disease. His heart was strong, his ECG was good, his chem panel was good and his blood work was in normal ranges. But they were still unsure of what was causing his issues. His breathing had improved, but they were not sure if they would return.

Once again, I called the Veterinary ER and raced him in.

It was not good. The vet saw him and her face fell. She sat down and said that this was very serious. His oxygen level was very low. In the low 70's.

She did an X-ray and said he had a large amount of fluid on his lungs and that she was not sure he would make it through the night.

We could put him in an oxygen cage and try to get his oxygen levels up. And that she would research what was going on as well as aspirate his lungs of the fluid that was preventing his ability to breathe.

I paid again, and went home. I was awake the entire night worried about him. My phone rang at 2 am.

She had aspirated 100 cc from his left lung, and 50 cc from his right. Later, she aspirated another 100 cc from his left lung. She was worried that it was his heart. And that the physical strain of the last few weeks had put a severe strain on his heart, combined with his obesity, it didn't look good. She was going to review the fluid she had extracted, and run some more tests. He had been in the oxygen cage for a while and his oxygen levels had not improved.

She said they wanted to rule out Feline Leukemia and Feline AIDS as well as repeat some X-rays.

She called back within the hour. Both blood tests had come back negative and his x-ray looked good.

But they still had no answers. And this is where I hit the lowest point of my month.

We could do 2 things. We could send the fluid out to a pathologist to see if they could pinpoint what caused the fluid. This would cost about $250+ and may not give us any definitive answers.

We could also send him to the Veterinary College in Colorado for further study. Obviously, this would be extremely expensive. At least an additional $2,000+ as well as travel expenses to get him down there. And the costs would rise from there.

I was heartbroken, I had already paid so much that I had to make a decision, do I pay even more to follow every avenue to figure out what was wrong? Or do I decide to do what I could to make his final days comfortable and surrounded by those that loved him and hope for the best?

I needed him home. The thought of him dying alone in a strange hospital destroyed me. So I made the decision, to stop treatment and bring him home.

The vet understood and worked to figure out a plan to try to manage his symptoms. She would keep him until late that day to wean him off of the oxygen and to see how he did.

She called him a prescription into Target and would have the rest of his meds ready when we picked him up.

The rest of the day I spent pretty much in a ball crying because I felt like I had failed my Geordi.

I called to check on him and got some very promising news. He has been off the oxygen for a few hours, and his oxygen levels were still low.

Why is this promising? Because the vet said that their oxygen meter might be broken. She had retested it on a new meter and his level was nearly normal.

We went and picked him up and they put us in the comfort room. A room where, I am imagining, that they bring dying pets to say their final farewells.

I opened his carrier...and out bounced my Geordi boy. Looking pretty ragged, but with a bounce to his step I hadn't seen in a while. Minus some hair. They had shaved his sides and a larger spot on his neck. Needless to say he looked pretty pathetic.

He had a pretty intensive medication regiment and his feeding schedule had bumped up to every 2 hours even at night.

And day by day...he improved. When he walked up the stairs by himself was a huge step, when he jumped into a chair...when he started to eat on his own. Each day was stressful and scary. At the same time, I was dealing with some major changes at work, preparing for Nate to leave for year long tour in the Republic of Korea.

Finally, we were able to get his original stitches removed. The vet was amazed to see him and came out to say how relieved she was when she saw him.

A few days later, he was able to have his feeding tube removed. Which left a dime sized hole in his neck which closed up a few days later.

I've wanted to write this blog since all of this happened. But part of me has been too scared to do it because I felt it might jinx him. And I am usually not someone to think like that. Fear and grief will do a number on you.

But yesterday, 40 days since he first went in for surgery, he did something that made me realize that he truly was better.

I found his new collection of bottle caps.

He's always played with bottle caps and would keep a stash of them behind the toilet or behind the television. When things got really bad, and we didn't think he would come home, I had gone through and thrown away all of his stashes.

Last night, I watched as he ran around and batted 2 bottle caps around. I later found a small collection of new caps.

Geordi is well.

Thank you everyone for the thoughts and good vibes. I couldn't have gotten through all of this without all of the support I received on Twitter and Facebook.

And Geordi says Thank You as well.


  1. I am so glad he is better. *hugs*

  2. I'm so glad that he's better now.

  3. This is my favorite! I love that last picture. Of course he would go try to do it all again! haha! Glad he's doing well though.


  4. Oh my, poor Geordi and poor you! I'm so glad he is recovering well! We had a cat (the perfect, roly poly kind) who suddenly fell ill. We took him to the vet and it turned out he had advanced lung cancer. His story didn't wind up with a happy ending. I didn't think I'd ever be able to stop crying, but I'm glad he was in our lives even for a short while.


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